Reorganization of Aircraft Production

“Big Week” turned out to be the most traumatic event experienced by the German aviation industry in its history. The concentrated attacks caused great alarm in the German leadership and made it turn its full attention to the problems of aircraft production under strategic bombing. The concentrated attacks caused grave damage to some highly developed production facilities and severely disrupted important production programs. Karl Frydag, chairman of the Airframe Main Committee, claimed after the war that the Luftwaffe lost around 4,000 aircraft due to “Big Week” bombings.The impact of “Big Week” was deep enough to set in motion a general reorganization of the entire aviation industry and its management. It should be noted, however, that some of the dramatic measures taken after the February attacks were deeply rooted in earlier developments and trends. The main trend apparent after “Big Week” was to reinforce “two central premises of modern industrial management: control and standardization.” Udet tried to assert these two elements, so central to military related production, but failed miserably. Milch tried again, and although he succeeded in some areas, in early 1944 the German aviation industry was still badly in need of more efficient control and a higher degree of standardization. The problems the Germans faced in early 1944 were not only organizational in nature. “Big Week” proved the vulnerability of the German industry to concentrated bombing efforts. The Germans therefore urgently needed a solution to the protection of the aviation industry. Since the Luftwaffe was not in a position to challenge Allied air power in the air, other solutions had to be found on the ground. The reorganization of 1944 helped first to restore and then to increase aircraft production. Nonetheless, although output reached record figures in 1944, it did not prevent Germany from losing the war in the air. The aircraft produced in 1944 could not turn the tide and prevent Allied air power from roaming freely over the Third Reich. Hitler tacitly admitted the failure of German air crews and their aircraft in August 1944 when he ordered to dramatically increase the output of antiaircraft artillery and its equipment.This order signaled that from this point on Germany’s air defense would be primarily ground-based. However, the Germans never fully gave up the hope to regain air superiority over the Reich or at least to inflict heavy enough damage on Allied air power to force it to ease its aerial onslaught. Therefore, the Reich’s leadership viewed the reorganization of the aviation industry as the main means to this end.