German and Allied aircraft losses during Operation Bodenplatte
Operation Bodenplatte (English: Operation Baseplate or Operation Ground Plate), launched on 1 January 1945, was an attempt by the Luftwaffe to cripple Allied air forces in the Low Countries during the Second World War. The Germans husbanded their resources in the preceding months at the expense of the units defending against the Allied strategic bombing in what was a last-ditch effort to keep up the momentum of the German Army (Heer) during the stagnant stage of the Battle of the Bulge (codenamed "Operation Watch on the Rhine" German: Unternehmen Wacht am Rhein).
This is a list of all known casualties during the course of the operation.
Despite the passage of time, there is still controversy regarding the extent of Allied losses. One author, Norman Franks, has pointed to what "some" historians call a "conspiracy to hide the true, unacceptable, total of aircraft destroyed". This theory has been aided in the conflicting totals quoted in official records and the apparent lack of detailed surviving reports. For example, some authors claim the Eindhoven airfield attack may have destroyed 141 Hawker Typhoons. RAF loss records refute this claim. Total figures give only 107 operational Typhoons; 17 were destroyed outright, nine damaged beyond repair, 10 badly damaged but repaired and 24 slightly damaged. In a more recent study, Fighter Command Losses of the Second World War: Volume 3, Operational Losses, Aircraft and Crews 1944-1945, the same author states that a report made by No. 85 Group RAF gave 127 operational aircraft destroyed and 133 damaged, while British personnel casualties were said to be 40 killed (11 pilots; six were killed in the air) and 145 wounded. In another report, dated 3 January 1945, losses were given as 120 destroyed and 73 damaged. 24 non-operational aircraft were also lost with 11 damaged. This included aircraft outside of RAF Second Tactical Air Force's control. The Air Force's losses were 73 destroyed and the same figure damaged, 12 non-operational aircraft destroyed and 11 damaged.
Werner Girbig in his book, Six Months to Oblivion: The Eclipse of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force, gives German losses, from their sources, as 137 destroyed (98 in the British sector and 39 in the American). Some 57 were shot down by Allied fighters and 80 by Allied anti-aircraft defences. Girbig notes a further 48 were lost to unknown causes making a total of around 200 fighters. The rest, the author attributes to German anti-aircraft fire ("flak"). His final total is given as 300. Girbig gives personnel losses as 151 pilots killed and 63 captured. Girbig gives Allied losses as roughly 500, including quoted figures according to Allied sources of 144 destroyed and 84 damaged for the RAF and 134 destroyed and 62 damaged for the USAAF. Girbig asserts that 65—75 were shot down in combat.
In recent years other authors have offered more detail on the losses of each side. John Manrho and Ronald Pütz, published their findings in Bodenplatte: The Luftwaffe's Last Hope. According to their figures, taken from German and Allied sources, which include the remains of German airmen found up until 2003, German casualties were 271 fighters destroyed, 65 single-engine fighters damaged and 9 twin-engine aircraft destroyed, and four damaged. Some 143 pilots were killed in action, 70 became prisoners of war and 21 were wounded in action. The Allies lost 305 aircraft destroyed and 190 aircraft damaged. A further 15 Allied aircraft were shot down and ten damaged. A further six were downed by other causes. Manrho and Pütz have also deduced that only 17 German aircraft are certain to have been shot down by German Flak. Even if aircraft with unknown fates are added, it still gives a figure of only 30—35. They state that the notion one—third of the German aircraft were shot down by friendly fire is "myth".
Jochen Prien and Gerhard Stemmer in their book, Jageschwader 3 "Udet" in World War II, quoted Allied losses as being 340 destroyed with 84 heavily damaged from Allied records. Tertiary histories give varying figures; anywhere between 250 and 500 Allied aircraft destroyed. Steven Zaloga gives figures of 214 German aircrew killed or captured and 304 aircraft destroyed. In return, Allied losses are put at 144 lost on the ground, 62 damaged and 70 lost in aerial combat.
Total Allied aerial losses
Allied aerial casualties directly related to Bodenplatte:
|Howard P. Gibboms||Flight Lieutenant||168 Squadron RAF||Hawker Typhoon||KIA||shot down by JG 3 Fw 190s|
|Don Webber||Flying Officer||183 Squadron RAF||Hawker Typhoon||KIA||shot down in error by 352nd P-51|
|Wacław Chojnacki||Flight Lieutenant||308 (Polish) Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||KIA||shot down by JG 1 Fw 190s|
|Stanisław Bednarczyk||Warrant Officer||308 (Polish) Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||shot down by JG 1 Fw 190s|
|Józef Stanowski||Flight Sergeant||308 (Polish) Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||ran out of fuel|
|Tadeusz Szlenkier||Flying Officer||308 (Polish) Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||ran out of fuel|
|Stanisław Breyner||Sergeant||308 (Polish) Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||ran out of fuel|
|Tadeusz Powierza||Sergeant||317 Polish Fighter Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||KIA||shot down by JG 1 Fw 190s|
|Zenobiusz Wdowczyński||Warrant Officer||317 (Polish) Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||ran out of fuel|
|Czesław Mroczyk||Flight Lieutenant||317 (Polish) Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||shot down by JG 1 Fw 190s|
|L Rose||Sergeant||329 Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||engine trouble|
|David Harling||Flight Lieutenant||No. 416 Squadron RCAF||Supermarine Spitfire||KIA||shot down by JG 26 Fw 190D-9|
|Peter Wilson||Flight Lieutenant||No. 438 Squadron RCAF||Hawker Typhoon||KIA||shot down by JG 3 Fw 190D-9|
|Ross Keller||Flying Officer||438 Squadron||Hawker Typhoon||KIA||strafed and killed during take-off JG 3 Fw 190s|
|Hugh Fraser||Flying Officer||No. 439 Squadron RCAF||Hawker Typhoon||uninjured||damaged by JG 6 Bf 109. Wheels up landing at Volkel airfield (after downing two German aircraft)|
|Samuel Angelini||Flying Officer||439 Squadron||Hawker Typhoon||KIA||shot down by JG 6|
|Len Wilson||Flying Officer||No. 442 Squadron RCAF||Supermarine Spitfire||uninjured||shot down by JG 6|
|Don Gordon||Flight Lieutenant||442 Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||WIA||shot down by JG 6|
|Donald Brigden||Flying Officer||442 Squadron||Supermarine Spitfire||KIA||shot down by JG 6|
|William Whisner||Captain||487 Fighter Squadron, 352 Fighter Group||P-51 Mustang||uninjured||After damage from JG 11 20 mm fire, Whisner destroyed two Bf 109s and two Fw 190s and made a "wheels down" landing|
|Dean Huston||First Lieutenant||487 Fighter Squadron, 352 Fighter Group||P-51 Mustang||uninjured||minor damage|
|James Hall||Second Lieutenant||366 Fighter Group||P-47 Thunderbolt||uninjured||shot down by JG53 Bf 109|
|Dofel Brunetti||Second Lieutenant||366 Fighter Group||P-47 Thunderbolt||KIA||shot down by JG53 Bf 109|
|William Schubert||First Lieutenant||367/358 Fighter Group||P-47 Thunderbolt||uninjured||shot down by JG53 Bf 109|
|David Johnson Jr||Flight Officer||366 Fighter Group||P-47 Thunderbolt||uninjured||shot down by JG11|
|John Feeney||First Lieutenant||366 Fighter Group||P-47 Thunderbolt||uninjured||shot down by JG11|
|John Kennedy||Second Lieutenant||390 Fighter Group||P-47 Thunderbolt||uninjured||shot down by JG11|
Other crew: Crew Sgt. Owen Stafford WIA; William Fletcher KIA
|Lieutenant||125 Liaison Squadron||Stinson Vigilant||uninjured||shot down by JG4|
|Pilot and Observer||unknown||27th Field Artillery||Artillery Spotter||both KIA||shot down by JG53|
|Pilot and Observer||unknown||XX. Art Corps||Artillery Spotter||KIA||shot down by JG53|
|? Harvey||unknown||Air Despatch Letter Service Flight||Auster||uninjured||shot down by JG53 (bailed out)|
Total German losses
|Unit||KIA or MIA||POW||wounded||Average number of aircraft deployed||Percentage of staff lost|
|Total (day fighters)||150||65||19||875|
|KG (J) 51||2|
|Total (other units)||19||4|
Jagdgeschwader 27 losses on 1 January 1945 numbered 18 pilots overall. Fifteen pilots were lost as a direct result of Bodenplatte.
- Franks 1994, p. 201.
- Franks 1994, p. 202.
- Franks 1994, p. 204.
- Franks 2000, p. 130.
- Girbig 1975, p. 112.[citation not found]
- Girbig 1975, pp. 77-78.[citation not found]
- Manrho & Pütz 2004, pp. 4-5.
- Manrho & Pütz 2004, p. 272-3
- Forsyth & Laurier 2008, p. 30.
- Manrho & Pütz 2004, pp.272-273.
- Manrho & Pütz 2004, pp.290-291.
- Prien & Stemmer 2002, p. 349.
- Weal 1996, p. 83 and Fiest 1993, p. 77.
- Zagola 2004, pp. 61-62.
- Manrho & Pütz 2004, pp. 290-1
- Melnick, Michael T. (1 January 1945). "This Day In History". The Unofficial Homepage of 439 Tiger Squadron. rcaf.com. Retrieved 2009-01-19.[dead link]
- Samuel Angelini
- Whisner, William. "1 January 1945 Combat Log". Home of the 352nd Fighter Group: The Blue Nosed Bastards of Bodney (Second to None). 352ndfg.com. Retrieved 2009-01-19.
- Girbig 1997, pp. 229–230.
- Girbig 1975, pp. 115-117.
- Manrho & Pütz 2004, pp.282-283.
- Bekker, Cajus. Angriffshöhe 4000. ISBN 3-453-87098-0
- Caldwell, Don.JG 26; Top Guns of the Luftwaffe. New York: Ballantine Books, 1991. ISBN 0-8041-1050-6
- Caldwell, Donald L. (1994). JG 26 Photographic History of the Luftwaffe's Top Gun. Motorbooks International Publishers & Wholesalers. ISBN 0-87938-845-5.
- Caldwell, Donald; Muller Richard (2007). The Luftwaffe Over Germany: Defense of the Reich. Greenhill books. ISBN 978-1-85367-712-0.
- Cooper, Mathew (1981), The German Air Force 1933-1945: An Anatomy of Failure, New York: Jane's Publishing Incorporated, ISBN 0-531-03733-9
- Cox and Gray, Sebastian and Peter (2002). Air Power History: Turning Points from Kitty Hawk to Kosovo. Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-8257-8
- Forsythe, Robert. JV 44; The Galland Circus. Burgess Hill, West Sussex, UK: Classic Publications, 1996. ISBN 0-9526867-0-8
- Franks, Norman The Battle of the Airfields: 1 January 1945. Grub Street. 1994. London. ISBN 0-7183-0448-9 & ISBN 1-902304-42-X
- Franks, Norman Fighter Command Losses of the Second World War: Volume 3, Operational Losses, Aircraft and Crews 1944-1945. Incorporating Air Defence Great Britain and 2nd TAF Midland. 2000. London. ISBN 1-85780-093-1
- Girbig, Werner (1997), Start im Morgengrauen, Germany: Pietsch-Verlag Paul Pietsch Verlage GmbH + Co, ISBN 3-613-01292-8
- Girbig, Werner (2007), Six Months to Oblivion: Defeat of the Luftwaffe Fighter Force Over the Western Front, 1944/45, Schiffer Publishing Ltd, ISBN 978-0-88740-348-4.
- Hall, Cargill (1998), Case Studies In Strategic Bombardment, Air Force History and Museums Program, ISBN 0-16-049781-7.
- Johnson, J.E. Wing Leader (Fighter Pilots). London: Goodall Publications Ltd. 2000 (original edition 1956). ISBN 0-907579-87-6.
- Manrho, John & Pütz, Ron. Bodenplatte: The Luftwaffe's Last Hope-The Attack on Allied Airfields, New Year's Day 1945. Ottringham, United Kingdom. Hikoki Publications. ISBN 1-902109-40-6
- National Archives. (2000) The Rise and Fall of the German Air Force, 1933-1945. ISBN 978-1-905615-30-8
- Peszke, Michael Alfred (October 1980). "A Synopsis of Polish-Allied Military Agreements During World War Two". Military Affairs. 44 (3): 128–134. doi:10.2307/1987437. subscription required
- Prien, Jochen & Stemmer, Gerhard. Jagdgeschwader 3 "Udet" in World War II. Atlgen, Germany: Schiffer Military History, 2002. ISBN 0-7643-1681-8
- Schramm, Percy E. (ed.) (1982). Kriegstagebuch des Oberkommandos der Wehrmacht: 1944-1945 Teilband II (revised ed.). München: Bernard & Graefe Verlag. ISBN 3-88199-073-9.
- Weal, John. Jagdgeschwader 27 'Afrika'. Osprey, London. 2003. ISBN 1-84176-538-4
- Weinberg, Gerhard. A World At Arms, Cambridge University Press: 2 edition, 2005, ISBN 978-0-521-61826-7
- Zaloga, Steven J., Gerrard, Howard. Battle of the Bulge (2). London: Osprey Publishing, 2004. ISBN 1-84176-810-3