Ah yes the Luftwaffe, the symbol of Axis air power in world war two, a well oiled, well trained, well equipped and well led, key part of the German warmachine. But was it really, because there had been some catastrophically bad decisions made which, thankfully, kept the talons of the eagle cropped. This is General Ernst Udet, a WW1 veteran who was one of the key figures in getting the Luftwaffe operational. One of the key tactics that Udet pioneered was dive bombing, which became such a successful tactic that even today close air support flying still is largely based on his original plans. How right Udet was in using airpower as tactical support for the ground troops was proven in the early stages of the war where Poland, the Low Countries and France were conquered in very quick succession. But even before all of that took place there were worrying signs that not all was well. When the Luftwaffe had their practice run during the Spanish civil war there were major flaws coming to light. Such as the fact that they didn't have a dedicated strategical Bomber force, the bombing raids were at first performed by converted Junkers 52 transport planes which turned out to be hopelessly inadequate for the job. The Junkers 52 was too small, carried too little a payload to really hit the enemy hard. And subsequent types like the Heinkel 111 and the Junkers 88 faired little better. Even as far back as 1938 the Air force's tacticians were telling Hermann Goering that they needed a bomber force of heavy, long range types to really strike the heart of the enemy and not having to rely on captured airfields of the countries they invaded. Specifically, the UK's and the Soviet Union's industrial area's were of key concern. Goering insisted that with Udet's "Blitzkrieg" that wouldn't be a worry, for bombing raids on England, captured airfields in Belgium, the Netherlands and France would easily suffice. A second worrying sign to Udet that things were not as well as it seemed was the fact that during the Spanish Civil war, the use of transport planes was being all but ignored, the venerable Junkers 52 proved itself as a troop carrier but it wasn't capable of lifting heavy, high density loads into battle. It was deemed that transport of heavy machinery over roads was the way to get supplies where they were needed. During the invasion of the Netherlands something happened which in retrospect broke the camel's back. The Royal Netherlands Army Air Force, through sheer determination dealt the Luftwaffe some very sensitive blows with Bombings on airfields which held what turned out to be the most experienced paratroopers that Germany had. But those attacks and interceptions cost the Germans no less than 231 aircraft, many of which were Junkers 52's, which were impossible to replace. The reason why this happened was because strafing runs which were meant to take the Fighter force of the enemy out on the ground were carried out and the Dutch air force was thought to be completely wiped out but the few remaining survivors were quickly bundled up into a makeshift squadron and dealt a defining blow. The surviving German airmen who managed to land their stricken aircraft, were captured and brought to England where they sat out the remainder of the war. It was to that loss that the Germans all of a sudden were derived of their most experienced men and more importantly a large portion of their transport force. With their own aircraft industry poised to produce fighters and Bombers, there were no replacements at hand. Which in the long run meant that the Luftwaffe went into the Battle of Britain without having any means to actually place troops on English soil. I take it that some of you might go "Now hold on, the Germans had thousands of planes, how does a loss of 200-something made any difference?" Well the Invasion of the Netherlands took place in May 1940 and the Battle of Britain took place in August of that same year, which was NEVER enough time to replace those transport planes needed for a successful invasion of the UK. After the war, Hermann Goering declared the Battle of Britain a draw. As he put it, had the battle continued into 1941, the luftwaffe would have been able to use their new Focke Wulf FW-190 which outclassed the RAF's Spitfires and Hurricanes. But in his assessment he still overlooked the fact that without heavy transport planes, the Germans still wouldn't have any way to actually establish a bulkhead on English soil, the very nature of England as an Island with its vertical cliffs and narrow docks meant that an invasion via ships would have been impossible. If you take a book about the planes that the Luftwaffe used during the war, you will find that the least thought was given to transport planes with only eight types actually having entered service. After all, what's the need if trains were the accepted way of getting tanks onto a battlefield? But the enemy was also increasingly becoming aware and trains and railway stations were increasingly targeted throughout the remainder of the war. But it was another key thing to Udet's tactics which dealt another death knell to the Luftwaffe. Because his tactics were all about ground support, every new plane was expected to be used as a dive bomber, which rendered otherwise very impressive aircraft completely useless. The Heinkel He-177 Greif was the only true Heavy Bomber which entered service. It was designed for strategic bombing but because it was expected to do dive bombings too, the design was adapted from four separate engines to four engines clustered up into two groups each driving a single propeller because the strain of diving meant that it would tear the wings off if it kept its four engined lay out. The revised configuration robbed the plane of all stability and the synchronicity of the two engines driving a single prop shaft proved to be problematic too as examplified by the prototype actually bursting into flames during the first flight. Another plane rendered completely useless by insisting it were to be used as a dive bomber was the feared Messerschmitt 262, which was designed to be a high speed interceptor. Meanwhile the opposing forces were putting to use what many Luftwaffe Generals had been asking for since the Spanish civil war, heavy, high density transport planes and heavy long range bombers which tore the German industrial heart completely apart. In addition, the Russians were using the tactic of the scorched earth as they were retreating, which meant that a key element of the Blitzkrieg tactic: the use of captured ports, airfields, railway stations and factories was nullified. Udet never lived to see how his plans for "Blitzkrieg" went from triumph to tragedy, because when he saw the plans for the Russian Invasion, he protested, saying that just relying on the Luftwaffe as a tactical support force would never be enough to actually WIN that war. What WAS needed were long range heavy transport planes and ditto bombers and Germany had neither. Because as Udet had feared, rail ways were blown up by the Russians and the harsh climate meant that many heavy transport vehicles were either frozen solid or bogged down in the mud, so vital supplies had no way of getting where they were needed. the Junkers planes weren't up for the job. In addition the Russians had moved all their factories to the Ural mountain range, the Germans didn't have planes with enough range to reach them and with the Russians having destroyed the airfields before the Germans could capture them, there was no way to use the bombers they had. After expressing his fears of total failure to his superiors, Udet was dismissed from duty and unable to see his brainchild go awry, Udet took his own life. That was the biggest problem with the Luftwaffe: they were too much a one trick pony.