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The Luftwaffe over the Bristol area


Introduction
Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Glossary
Weapons
Targets
Bombing
Reconnaissance
Aircraft etc.
Losses
Sources

 

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The Luftwaffe over the Bristol area - Luftwaffe aircraft, identification markings, ranks & aircrew categories


LUFTWAFFE AIRCRAFT

At the start of operations against Britain the Luftwaffe was using three principle types of bomber, the Dornier Do 17, the Heinkel He 111 and the Junkers Ju 88, all twin-engined aircraft. So, with no four-engined bombers in its inventory, the Luftwaffe was incapable of lifting an enormous weight of bombs in one night. By the end of 1940 the obsolescent Do 17 was largely phased out and, from then on, the Ju 88 and He 111 carried on the battle almost exclusively until mid-1941. The Messerschmitt Bf 110 long-range fighter used as a light bomber also saw limited service during this period but its operations were usually confined to daylight precision attacks. All four types were also employed on reconnaissance duties.

The Do 217 introduced into service on the western front during the spring of 1941 was a development of the Do 17, just as the Ju 86R which first operated against Britain in August 1942 was an experimental development of the pre-war Ju 86. This was followed in May 1943 by the Messerschmitt Me 410 fighter-bomber, which replaced the Bf 110, and in August by the Ju 188, developed from the Ju 88.

The Luftwaffe's failure to develop a strategic bomber was a fundamental error on the part of the High Command, and one for which it was to pay dearly. The He 177, its belated attempt construct such an aircraft was a complete disaster, and although it commenced operations against Britain in early 1944 it was plagued with technical problems which were never successfully overcome.

AIRCRAFT IDENTIFICATION MARKINGS

Bomber, Heavy Fighter (Zerstörer) and Reconnaissance units identified their aircraft by a four character coding system painted on the fuselage sides. The first two characters, to the left of the fuselage cross, were an arbitary identification code peculiar to each Geschwader or independent Gruppe. The third character was the individual aircraft identification letter, and the fourth and final letter in the code identified the Staffel according to a rigid sequence. For example an He 111 coded G1+AH :- The G1 to the left of the fuselage cross was the code for KG 55, while the H on the extreme right indicated that the aircraft belonged to the 1st Staffel (of the 1st Gruppe). The A was the identification letter of the individual aircraft within the Staffel. In addition all aircraft carried throughout their lives their own individual Werk Nummer (Wnr.) or airframe serial number which had been allocated by the manufacturer.

PRINCIPAL LUFTWAFFE RANKS

OFFICERS

Generalfeldmarschall (Gen. Feldm.) = Marshal of the RAF

Generaloberst (Gen. Oberst.) = Air Chief Marshal

General der Flieger (Gen. d. Fl.) = Air Marshal

Generalleutnant (Gen. Ltn.) = Air Vice Marshal

Generalmajor (Gen. Maj.) = Air Commodore

Oberst (Oberst) = Group Captain

Oberstleutnant (Oberstlt.) = Wing Commander

Major (Maj.) = Squadron Leader

Hauptmann (Hptm.) = Flight Lieutenant

Oberleutnant (Oblt.) = Flying Officer

Leutnant (Ltn.) = Pilot Officer

Leutnant zur See *(Ltn.z.S.) = Sub Lieutenant

* A Naval rank held by some members of mixed Airforce/Navy crewed units e.g. KGr 606, KGr 806.

NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICERS

Stabsfeldwebel (Sfw.) = Warrant Officer

Oberfeldwebel (Ofw.) = Flight Sergeant

Fahnenjunker-Fw. (Fhj-Fw.) = Cadet Sergeant Major

Feldwebel (Fw.) = Sergeant

Unteroffizier (Uffz.) = Corporal

OTHER RANKS

Obergefreiter (Ogefr.) = Leading Aircraftsman

Gefreiter (Gefr.) = Aircraftman First Class

Flieger (Flg.) = Aircraftman Second Class

CIVILIANS ENGAGED IN MILITARY OPERATIONS

Sonderführer (Sdf.) = Kriegsberichter

War correspondents who usually flew as gunners.

LUFTWAFFE AIRCREW CATAGORIES

Flugzeugführer (F) = Pilot

Beobachter (B) = Observer (Navigator/BombAimer)

Bordfunker (Bf) = Wireless (W/T) Operator

Bordmechaniker (Bm) = Flight Mechanic

Bordschütze (Bs) = Gunner

Bombenschütze (Bsz) = Bomb Aimer (not fully trained)

Kampfbeobachter (Kb) = Combat Observer (not fully trained)


Website produced by Paul Johnson . Last updated 3 March 2014.