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Thread: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

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    Default Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Hi All. Can any of the learned folk on here point me to any analysis of Bomber Command losses that may have been undertaken to assess the percentage of aircraft thought to have been lost to night fighters, over time? I guess I'm looking for something like a table, which shows how this percentage changed over each month, or something like that. I don't recall having seen anything of this nature published (but may well have missed it) and am wondering if anyone knows whether such an analysis was ever carried out - by BC's Operational Research Section, or others. If it was, can anyone advise me as to whereabouts (presumably in the NA) pertinent documents may still exist? As always, any help will be greatly appreciated.

    Cheers to all, Andrew

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Hi Andrew,

    Your best bet would be to get hold of Theo Boiten work on Nachtjagd Combat Archives it will give you the losses to both night fighters and flak. Then look Bomber Command Losses by Martin Middlebrook on how many losses there were on each raid and do the math.

    Good luck.

    John.

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Hi Andrew - ORS produced Final Night Raid Reports, Monthly Loss Reports and periodic Loss Reports (eg 22 Nov 43 - 22 Jan 44). These included detailed assessment of interceptions, combat reports, flak damage etc. They also estimated causes of loss for all operations through the period, attributing them to fighters, flak and unknown. Post War research (eg Theo Boiten mentioned above) suggests that nightfighter successes were often under-estimated.

    Richard

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Yes. ORS did extensive work on this. Paging through Basil Dicken’s summary of the ORS will get you started. Refer to the table of contents. BTW, there are two sections to this document.

    https://lmharchive.ca/wp-content/upl...d-ORS-Full.pdf

    As Richard points out, if you go through each of the Bomber Command Night Raid Reports, they detail which losses were attributable to night fighters and other causes.

    Was there a particular period or operation of concern?

    Jim

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    There are the Bomber Command Interception Tactics Reports, which began in December 1942. These give estimates of causes of loss based (mainly) on the reports of returning crews. Obviously, they were at best an estimate and not necessarily accurate.

    The Bomber Command bi-monthly Summaries of Aircraft Lost or Damaged on Operations include missing aircraft and aircraft that crashed on the continent from late 1944 onward. These provide a more precise estimate of causes of loss since the Summaries were updated to include causes for aircraft as reported by returning aircrew PoWs.

    I know of no reliable Bomber Command analysis of causes of loss that would be considered wholly accurate and not just an estimate.

    There are various surviving Luftwaffe documents that give details of totals of night fighter claims, but they only cover fragmentary periods of the war (since around 95% of all Luftwaffe records were destroyed in bombing raids while the Germans deliberately destroyed most of the remainder just before the end of the war).

    For example, a Luftwaffe High Command report prepared circa March 1945, states that night fighters claimed 1,707 aircraft destroyed in the year 1944, while Flak claimed 325 aircraft destroyed in the same year. I know of (but haven't seen) a Luftwaffe chart or table showing night fighter successes by year from 1940-44. These documents are with the Bundesarchiv-MA in Germany.

    Cheers

    Rod

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Many thanks to all for your very useful advice, which is very much appreciated.

    John: Do you know how many volumes of Nachtjagd Combat Archives there are please?

    Richard: I’m assuming that the ORS’s Final Night Raid Reports, Monthly Loss Reports and Periodic Loss Reports are held in the National Archives. If so, do you happen to know their references please?

    Jim: There are some useful snip-its of information in Dickins’s work, thank you. I will try to obtain the Bomber Command Night Raid Reports which you and Richard have mentioned. I’m particularly interested in the period 1943 – early 1944 (when the B(D)TFs were established.

    Rod: Again, I’m assuming that Bomber Command bi-monthly Summaries of Aircraft Lost or Damaged on Operations are held in the National Archives. If so, do you happen to know their references please?

    Thank you again, one and all – you’ve given me a lot of leads to follow! Cheers, Andrew

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Rod: Thanks for your thoughts on this. After reading what you have posted, it would seem that the causes for some of the losses would change from the BC wartime documents, as new information became available from POWs and the examination of crash sites. I presume that the causes some of the losses would be certain, some unknown and others based on expert judgment but still subjective. I think it would be difficult to reevaluate very many of these losses as those most experienced in interpretation have long since passed away.

    Andrew: I think the work by Theo and Rod would be your best source on this. They may be able to provide more information to you if you have a specific case you wish to look into.

    Jim
    Last edited by JDCAVE; 18th June 2021 at 14:30.

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Hi Andrew,

    I was researching the Berlin period, so the files I looked at were:

    AIR 14/3411 - Operational Research Section: final reports on operations, night raids, Nos. 416-620 1943 Sept-1944 May
    AIR14/4131 - Monthly Monthly report on losses and interceptions of Bomber Command aircraft in night operations: Nov 1943
    AIR14/4132 - Dec 43
    AIR14/4133 - Jan 44
    AIR14/4136 - Feb 44
    Air14/4141 - Mar 44

    I found the 22 Nov 43-22 Jan 44 Loss Reports in the BC WD appendices, but I'm sure they'll be collected in a separate file somewhere in the AIR14 melange. FWIW, I was impressed how clear e.g. weekly briefings for aircrew, raid reports and intelligence summaries were on losses. I've read memoirs saying 'we didn't realise how bad it was', but there's selective or faulty memory at work there. Copied below is an example of 'supporting evidence' which must have been grim reading in November 1943...

    Richard

    BOMBER COMMAND INT REPORT 3832 – 13/11/43
    Victory Claims of Fliegerkorps XII

    A complete record of victory claims from 9 Dec 42 to 31 May 43 was captured in Sicily. In addition to controlling all NJG, Fliegerkorps XII controls certain defensive day-fighter units.

    A total of 676 claims were made, 491 by night and 185 by day. 17 of the day claims were made by twin-engined night-fighters operating by day. A further point of interest is that during the whole six months, not a single night victory was claimed by a single-engined fighter, nor is there any evidence of one operating at night. Only 10 losses are recorded, although the GAF tends not to count as lost an aircraft from which the crew successfully bail out.

    Order of the Day No 106 of 2 May 43 celebrates 3 records for German NJG up to that date:

    1. Highest score for any one night-fighter in a single night was claimed by Oberleutnant Geiger, Staffelkapitän of 7/NJG 1, who claimed 5 a/c on the night of 29/30 May 43. This pilot’s death was reported in the press on 14 Oct 43.
    2. The highest score for Fliegerkorps XII in one night was 40, on the night of 16/17 April 43. This broke the existing record of 36 on the night of 25/26 Jun 42.
    3. The highest score for Fliegerkorps XII in one month was 153 in Apr 43 (subsequently revised to 155).

    Two of these records were eclipsed later in May; Hauptmann Herbert Luetje, Staffelkapitän of 8/NJG 1 claimed no fewer than 6 four-engined bombers on the night of 13/14 May 43. The score for the whole month was 230.

    The claims by aircraft type were:

    Halifax 139 Lockheed Hudson 6
    Lancaster 112 Whitley 5
    Wellington 104 Mustang 4
    Fortress 97 D.B.3 4
    Stirling 96 Blenheim 2
    Spitfire 32 Thunderbolt 1
    Liberator 26 Manchester 1
    Mosquito 9 Unident 4-engined aircraft 22
    Ventura 9 Unident a/c 7

    TOTAL - 676

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Hi Andrew,

    The first edition has two volumes called Nachtjagd War Diaries, the second edition is currently ten volumes covering from the first day of the war until the 15 October 1944, the next Volume which will cover from the 16 October until 31 December 1944 is due out at the end of July. Then will come 1945, then the Eastern front and the Mediterranean front.

    Cheers,

    John.

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    Default Re: Analysis of Bomber Command Losses Attributed to Night Fighters

    Hi Andrew,

    the Summaries of Aircraft Lost & Damaged on Operations are in AIR 14/3460. They start with a 'Summary of Aircraft Damaged by Enemy Action at Night' for 1-16 December 1942 and continue bi-monthly until the end of the war. In June 1944, the Summaries began to include aircraft damaged on daytime operations. In the second half of November 1944, the summaries began to include all aircraft destroyed and missing ("Lost") on operations.

    One interesting aspect of the late-war summaries that include lost aircraft - the BC ORS went back and amended individual entries by hand at the end of the war for causes of loss provided by returning PoW aircrew. This information was generally more reliable than the estimates given in the contemporary Interception Tactics Reports.

    Also after the war, the BC ORS obtained data on crashes from the Air Ministry and plotted this information on large maps along with corresponding information from returning crew as debriefs given in the Group Forms Z after each raid. The Air Ministry information on actual losses by that time included much more liable information on the causes of loss, given either by returning aircrew PoWs or from captured German documents. By plotting the two sets of data, the BC ORS was able to assess the reliability of the returning crew observations against more solid information on crashes/losses. Sadly, the ORS only did this exercise for a few selected months of the war. but at least the files survive, starting from AIR 14/3213. The months covered by these analyses are: Apr, Jul, Oct 1942, Mar, Apr, Jul, Aug, Oct 1943, Mar, Apr, Jun, Jul, Sep, Nov 1944, and Jan 1945. The files contain the relevant Group Forms Z for selected nights of the month along with the plotting maps.

    The Group Forms Z contain the information on aircraft seen shot down/crashing by returning crews that BC Intel used to compile their estimates of causes of loss in the various post-raid reports.

    Cheers

    Rod
    Last edited by RodM; 19th June 2021 at 11:25.

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