Edited By James S. Corum, Olaf Mertelsmann and Kaarel Piirimäe
First Air Fleet Operations in the Baltic Region, June–December 1941
James S. Corum
Air operations in the Baltic region were a key part of the German drive that took Army Group North to the gates of Leningrad in 1941. The campaign of 1941 in the Baltic Region offered the Germans an opportunity to employ their concept of “the operational air war” to the fullest. Yet, despite many impressive accomplishments, the campaign of 1941 would reveal the inherent weaknesses in the force.
State of the Luftwaffe in 1941
The Luftwaffe was not greatly changed in numbers or types of aircraft from the summer of 1940 to the summer of 1941. Nor had the organization of the Luftwaffe changed much. The Luftwaffe still flew the aircraft models that had won its impressive blitzkrieg victories and the organization of air corps and air divisions and air fleets remained the same. There were good reasons for not changing the basics. With the exception of the air campaign over the United Kingdom in the summer of 1940, the Luftwaffe’s aircraft, tactics and organization had proven remarkably effective. Indeed, the Luftwaffe of 1941 was by any standard the most capable combat air force in the world. It was a highly trained force capable of conducting a wide variety of operations – but what it did best was to conduct major operational campaigns in coordination with the army. In Poland 1939, Norway, France and the Low Countries in 1940, in Greece and Africa in early 1941, the Luftwaffe proved its...
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