Nazi Germany Had, Then Lost Air Superiority: Philosophy Explains Why. Otherwise, Germany Would Have Been Nuked.

The air defeats of France, Britain, and then Germany in WWII were driven by various philosophies. And there are deep lessons therein. 

History and wisdom are entangled. They feed each other. The great historians Herodotus, Xenophon, Polybius, Tacitus were all philosophers and historians. Let alone those who made history, like Consul Cicero and leaders such as Marcus Aurelius, Constantine, Julian. Recent history has been even richer in mental intricacies: it involved more actors in much more complex situations.

We focus here on issues connected to air supremacy in World War Two.

It may look as purely technical, and military. But actually philosophy dominates. Just as it dominated in the 737 MAX scandal: the US government got so penetrated by the “Neoliberal” principle that private enterprise knows best, that it let a private company (here, thanks to Obama’s admiration for Reagan, which, no doubt percolated down his administration). Same idea as when the governments decided banks were the best regulators of banks (Many administrations were involved, starting with Clinton’s.. And extended to the EU.)

The first law for the historian is that he shall never dare utter an untruth. The second is that he shall suppress nothing that is true. Moreover, there shall be no suspicion of partiality in his writing, or of malice.” Marcus Tullius Cicero (lawyer from a wealthy family, and too fierce by half Roman Consul, enemy then friend of Caesar; rediscovered in part by Petrarch, 14 C, helping the Renaissance)

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Germany and the USSR conspired to slaughter the democracies, immediately after WWI:

At the end of WWI, the French Air Force was the world’s largest. The German air forces (land and marine) were disbanded in May 1920 as a result of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles which forbid Germany to have any air force.

During the interwar period, German pilots were trained secretly in violation of the treaty at Lipetsk Air Base, 440 kilometers south of Moscow. Notice this: it indicates cooperation between German fascists and Soviet fascists, well before the Nazis came to power. So much for the Soviets being innocent bystanders savagely attacked by “fascists”, as they used to say. Fascists love each others, no doubt.

The Messerschmitt 262, world’s first jet. If hundreds of Me 262s had been flying in May 1944, only the nuclear bomb could have enabled the democratic allies to win.

The Luftwaffe was officially established by the Nazis on 26 February 1935, just over a fortnight before open defiance of the Versailles Treaty through German rearmament and conscription would be announced on 16 March.[9] How could that happen? Roosevelt’s Washington officially detested the French, thus the Nazis, being the enemy of FDR’s enemy, felt protected.

Then rogue Spanish armies in the Canaries and Morocco entered into an insurrection. The Spanish Republic called the French Republic to the rescue, and the French announced they would help their little sister Spanish Republic. However, the UK and the US told the French to back-off. Now, at that time, France was led by a Socialist Jew, Leon Blum, who was busy passing plenty of progressive reforms. That, plus outright pro-nazism in the UK and US, made the French back off. Huge mistake.

Using Texaco fuel and Nazis planes, the rogue fascist armies of treacherous general Franco and company got transported above the blockading Republican Spanish Navy.

Thereafter the Condor Legion, a massive Luftwaffe detachment sent to aid Nationalist forces in the Spanish Civil War, provided the Nazi Air Force with a valuable testing ground for new tactics and aircraft.  

This would make all the difference in May 1940: the Nazis had honed air force fighting tactics, surprising the French and British high commands, air forces, and armies. The French and British learned very fast, in about a week, how to integrate ground forces and aviation much better… But, by then, the Battle of France of 1940 had already been lost. Modern war goes fast. Although that’s not necessarily new: Athens lost the 30 year war against Sparta by losing her entire beached fleet, and that happened in a matter of hours… And, just like the Franco-British defeat of May 1940, it may have been the result of a combination of treason and certainly, gross incompetence of the high command)

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Superior Planes Make Superior Democracies & Reciprocally:

In 1935, Great britain was Hitler’s best friend, and they shared the world in a “Naval” Treaty violating the Versailles Treaty. However, in 1936 Great Britain decided that to have a Nazi king and Nazis all over London was not a swell idea. A change of heart started… Not fast enough to avoid the Munich capitulation to Hitler: in 1938, France had the choice to go war alone with Czechoslovakia against Hitler, without any Anglo-Saxon contribution (not a nice perspective for the French to fight the crazed and mighty Germans, with the treacherous English in their back, plotting their latest version of Brexit…).

By early 1939, Spain fell to the fascists, and Great Britain finally got the message, and  aligned itself with France.

Churchill had been all for the rearmament of Germany ten years prior, and weirdly anti-French then, in Boris Johnson exuberant style (he threatened to bomb France in 1929, if France talked of preventing German illegal rearmament… Churchill was not PM then, but very influential…) By 1938-1939, Churchill had the opposite of what he used to be, and become loudly anti-Nazi. He wanted massive aircraft production… with old types. PM Chamberlain opposed that, and imposed, rightly, to wait for the new Spitfires and Hurricanes. Meanwhile, Germany was mass-producing slightly less advanced planes. This would make the difference during the Battle of Britain in the air: Spitfires were superior to any German fighter.

When Goering, the obese head of the Luftwaffe, himself a WWI ace,  asked the head of the fighter command, Galland, was he needed most, the latter, one of the greatest air ace, himself with 104 certified kills, coolly replied:”Spitfires”.  

Britain had also superior long range bombers (of which Germany had no equivalent whatsoever in quantity, or even quality; when Hitler visited Finland in a German long range Condor, the plane caught fire on landing….). And soon entire, the Royal Air Force would send German city busting fleets of these…

Britain produced superior planes systematically. An example is the De Havilland Mosquito, made mostly of light wood, which flew higher and faster, by a significant margin, than any Nazi plane (until the jets arrived).

The superiority of the British planes deployed in 1939-1943 is an expression of democracy at work: many engineers, politicians and soldiers were managed in a democratic way in the democratic system. Such a system has more checks and balances. That brought more restrained creativity. The same thing happened in the USA. US planes soon proved vastly superior to Japanese and German planes, because they were conceived and produced more intelligently.

In particular the North American P-51 Mustang… initially a plane ordered to a US company by the British Royal Air Force (and the French), it broke many preconceived notions, and ended up very maneuverable, faster, and longer range than any Nazi plane, with laminar flow thanks to NACA (the future NASA)… The prime air domination fighter of 1944-1945, Mustangs accompanied bomber streams, and soon were hunting all over Germany: they were superior to existing German propeller planes.

Dictatorship, and superlative German engineering incited more adventurism in Nazi Germany, fostering remarkable designs (one is reminded of the tyrant of Syracuse giving full powers to Archimedes to design death rays and the like…) However, because of the nature of the German dictatorial system, such designs were at the mercy of a few men, and their fancies of the moment. This resulted into the development of hundreds of types of unrealistic planes and rockets, dispersing resources. In contrast, the American Boeing flew the B 17 in 1935, and later produced 12,731 of them. The plane was crammed with guns and armor, carrying only a fraction (⅓) of the quantity of bombs the highly flammable British bombers carried.

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The Messerschmitt 262, a bi-engined jet, shark shaped with a flat belly, was superlative. The commander of the Luftwaffe’s fighter force, General Adolf Galland, flew the Me-262 in May 1943, he reported that his flight in the jet was like “being pushed by angels.” With a speed of over 540 miles per hour and combat capability far superior to any Allied plane these aircraft were hailed as the Reich’s best chance of turning round a lost war.

The Me 262 was going 200 km/h faster than the fastest Allied planes. Never more than 25 in the air, though. Too little, too late…

But Hitler slowed down the Me 262 production by maybe two years (said Galland), as he worried about its fuel consumption, and he diverted resources into trying to turn it into a bomber, and, more fundamentally, by wasting enormous resources towards long range drones (V1) and rockets (V2).

My own dad was an officer in an anti-aircraft unit, in 1944-45, and was attacked twice by bombing Me 262s… They moved very fast, indeed… 

Hitler acted as an enemy of the Nazi Reich by spending all its efforts on useless weapons. Besides the tremendous Me 262, Hitler didn’t develop the Wasserfall anti-aircraft rocket, in as speedy a fashion as it could have been developed. That guided supersonic rocket, with an enormous warhead, would certainly have brought havoc to Allied Bomber streams and formations…

US intelligence estimated that the Me 262 would have enabled the Nazis to recover air superiority by June 1945… But it was produced too little, too late.

There were never more than 25 operational Me 262s at any given time, Galland said. It is no secret that continuing engine problems, shortages of fuel, and Allied bombing and strafing of airfields and manufacturing facilities took a toll on the number of available jets.

The number of victories achieved by the jet pilots, which may have totaled more than 500 before the war’s end. Galland remained firmly convinced that the fighter jet could have been put into combat “at least a year and a half earlier” without Hitler’s interference, “and built in large enough numbers so that it could have changed the air war.”

The Me-262 was well ahead of its time. If the Nazis had had greater access to special metals for the jet engines, more fuel reserves, and more time, then things might have played out somewhat differently toward the end of the war. The engine were unreliable because the Nazis had run out of special metals that had to be imported. So they tried to make do with tricks. Similarly, to save metal, outright, a silly glued together wood jet was developed. It came unglued on the first flight, but the ace pilot was able to land it. On the second flight in front of many top Nazis, an aileron came unglued at 540 miles per hour, the jet rolled, killing the same pilot.

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What would have happened if Germany had plenty of Me 262?

I do agree with Galland’s assessments. What do they imply? With a fleet of hundreds of Me 262s, the bombing of Germany would have become impossible, so Germany would have had again access to oil (made from coal by a US process).

The disembarkment in France would also have been impossible: it depended crucially upon air supremacy; even with total air supremacy, it was a close thing, for a month. On the Eastern Front, the Nazis would have re-acquired air supremacy (which they lost spectacularly in late 1941, as Siberian cold prevented the Luftwaffe from flying).

In May 1940, over France, the French and the British were taken by surprise, because they had stayed out of the fascist aggression in Spain, forsaking gaining experience in actual combat and coordination with ground units. It’s actually poorly made reconnaissance which enabled the Nazi victory of 1940.

This speaks to  a principle for peace and comfort: having democracies engage in war, in a timely manner: not too late. As it was, it could have been worse: by launching the world war in 1939, France and Britain acquired the mastery of time, preventing the Nazis to develop and mass produced the more advanced weapons they had planned.

And here is the paradox: I claimed that democracy makes for more intelligent engineering. What about pure science? In January 1938, two top French physicists informed the Ministry of War, that an atom bomb was possible: Irene Joliot Curie had found the nuclear chain reaction. Thereafter the French and then the British, and then the Canadians and Americans pursued that program, which came to be known as the “Manhattan project.

If the Me 262 had been mass produced by Spring 1944, the Allies would have had to use the atom bomb over Germany: large suicidal raids could have gone through German defenses, with one bomber carrying the nuclear bomb, and others defending it. In 1945, the Allies could mobilize 1,000 bombers and 1,000 long range fighters, in the same raid.

So the result would have been the same as for Japan in August: an atom bombed Nazi Germany would have had to capitulate. But maybe with conditions, as Japan did (in Japan the emperor was saved in his apparent position, although he was a war instigator, thus a war criminal).

More democracy, better science, better war making…

This why Athens was able to win so much, so long, and discover so much. However, faced with the coalition of Sparta and its allies, financed by Persia, Athens was defeated. Eighty years later, a recovering Athens was defeated by the enormous resources of the Macedonian empire…

Democracies and smarts are superior, but they are not everything, and brute force can overwhelm them.

It nearly happened in 1914-1918 and again 1936-1945.

It would not have happened if Germany had been a democracy and a republic (Weimar was technically the “Second Reich”, not a republic…). Now it is.

But then who else is getting superior technologically, and economically, while not being officially a democracy, and not really a republic, either? Yes, across the Pacific, a big problem.[1]

And the Me 262? It ushered the jet age, that was blatant by May 1943, when Galland flew it. The ground-breaking jet set the course for the future of aviation.

Were Germans and other victims of WWII lucky it was not mass produced 18 months earlier as Galland thought it could have been? Because, if that had happened, the Reich would have been able to turn the war around? And thus the Allies would have nuclear bombed Germany? Maybe not. Indeed, the bombing campaign over Europe would have come to a halt, as the Me 262s would have held off the Allies.  The conditions in Germany and in other parts of occupied Europe, would not have been as dire, and, arguably millions would have been saved… Until the Reich, atom bombed, would have had to surrender suddenly as Japan did… cutting off the nonsense.

Who said nukes couldn’t possibly have no ethical use?   

Patrice Ayme

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[1] Yesterday, as an example in a tweet, I mentioned that China occupied Tibet (or words to that effect). Some French people immediately unfollowed me. I checked them up, they were involved with China. They know they can’t even look associated with me on Twitter. Does this remind you of something?

 

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7 Responses to “Nazi Germany Had, Then Lost Air Superiority: Philosophy Explains Why. Otherwise, Germany Would Have Been Nuked.”

  1. Patrice Ayme Says:

    Propeller planes couldn’t do anything against Me 262 jets… Except when they were taking off, or landing. Had the Me 262 been flying in the hundreds, it would have imposed German air superiority (not just my opinion: the US Air Force arrived at that conclusion in 1944).

    The question of air supremacy is full of philosophical entanglements. Had Nazi Germany been a democracy (!), the Me 262 would have been produced massively much earlier, and the war would have turned differently…
    Nazi Germany Had, Then Lost Air Superiority: Philosophy Explains Why. Otherwise, Germany Would Have Been Nuked. (https://patriceayme.wordpress.com/2019/05/20/nazi-germany-had-then-lost-air-superiority-philosophy-explains-why-otherwise-germany-would-have-been-nuked/?preview_id=18748&preview_nonce=bf9ce19ab2&preview=true)

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  2. ronaldscheckelhoff Says:

    “The same thing happened in the USA. US planes soon proved vastly superior to Japanese and German planes, because they were conceived and produced more intelligently.”

    I have often considered the idea you’ve articulated here, relative to the likelihood that clever, groundbreaking ideas would frequently be killed off by authoritarian fiat in fascist and other very controlled societies.

    I must agree also that there was strong sentiment towards Nazism in the U.S. There are more Americans with (at least some) german ancestry than any other nationality (something like 30 percent of all Americans). This surprises people, especially when they discover that the nationality of the pilgrims (English) comprises only about 14 percent of the population. Germany was bigger, so imported more folks.

    My father is just shy of his 90’th Bday. I’m so lucky – he’s a great guy. When I was younger he told me about the town and the demographic area where I was born – which was a stronghold for recent German immigrants (around 95 percent). He said that pro-Nazism was strong there at the beginning of WWII. Of course, none knew about the atrocities at that time (which could have tempered the views). There were many such areas in the U.S.

    About the nukes – of course being a physicists you know that Einstein’s letter to Roosevelt was prompted by the knowledge that Germany was accumulating Uranium. Do you have any of the history about that (meaning “how close were they?” .

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  3. ianmillerblog Says:

    Patrice, I think you will find the Bergius process and the Fischer Tropsch process for making synthetic fuels were invented and developed by the Germans of the same names, and it was not some US process. Of course the relevant plants could not keep up with demand.

    Also, we might suspect that the Germans did not push on with the 262 because they knew about their shortage of special metals., which is just as well for us. More interestingly the USSR could have easily supplied what they needed, but Hitler did not trust Stalin, with just cause.

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    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Hi Ian, thanks for the comment!
      Standard Oil and others improved crucially the German processes. The Nazis bought these improvements, in a trade secret plot, complete with NOT-sharing the process with anyone, including all and any Anglo-Saxon military (UK, US) !!!!!!

      The high temps cobalt, etc, problem with the engine appeared after 1943… Initially the engine worked fine for 250 hours, with the special metals… That got reduced to 10 hours when they used aluminium coated steel…. Precisely, before the Barbarossa June 22 1941 attack, Hitler was getting all his metallic supplements…j

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      • ianmillerblog Says:

        Yes, I have always considered Hitler to have been our best General. If he could see this coming, and since he was the cause he should have, he could have stockpiled before his expansionary program. Or he could have been more peaceful. But he wasn’t.

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        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Hitler caused the Fall of France in 10 days of may 1940, with his crazy plan to attack through the Ardennes. Manstein plan, authorized by Hitler. The crazy plan should have failed spectacularly, but the French High Command, inexplicably, had send the mobile reserve to The Netherlands. Had that 7th army been disponible, it would have cut the Nazi Panzer thrust of seven armored divisions like butter, and Germany would have lost spectacularly the battle of France and its most elite, most Nazified formations…

          French Commander in Chief General Maurice Gamelin feared the Dutch would be tempted into a quick capitulation (as they did!) or even an acceptance of German protection. He therefore reassigned the former French strategic reserve, the 7th Army, to operate in front of Antwerp to cover the river’s eastern approaches in order to maintain a connection with the Fortress Holland further to the north and preserve an allied left flank beyond the Rhine. The force assigned to this task consisted of the 16th Army Corps, comprising the 9th Motorised Infantry Division (also possessing some tracked armoured vehicles) and the 4th Infantry Division; and the 1st Army Corps, consisting of the 25th Motorised Infantry Division and the 21st Infantry Division. This army was later reinforced by the 1st Mechanised Light Division, an armoured division of the French Cavalry and a first class powerful unit. Together with the two divisions in Zealand, seven French divisions were dedicated to the operation.

          The French had more than 400 Somua tanks in the strategic reserve, which were better than any German tanks, and they had done hundreds of kilometers to be hundreds of kilometers north from the Nazi breakthrough in the Ardennes…

          Nazism is a bit like Brexit: the maniacs have to go through it, and lose all hope…

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