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The German numerical superiority managed to deliver a severe defeat on Soviet aviation on this date. The Fw s had the upper hand and shot down scores of Soviet fighter aircraft allowing the German strike aircraft to attack Red Army positions at will. Within a space of a few hours, 50 Soviet aircraft had been shot down. The division had over claimed, but Soviet losses were around The Fw 's performance as a low level air superiority fighter was evident and it reflected the German superiority in the air on that date.

On 6 July the Fw again proved its worth at low altitude. Soviet fighters providing close escort for slow bombers enabled the Fw s of JG 51 and JG 54 to attack Soviet formations at will.

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Fw s claimed a ratio in favour of on this date; losing two fighters shot down and two damaged while claiming enemy aircraft destroyed. The situation called for a change in Soviet air tactics. Soviet fighters on airfields were placed on alert should larger German formations appear and fighters were now permitted to conduct fighter sweeps in small formations of four to six aircraft.

These changes had limited influence of the air battle and not the significant results claimed by Soviet histories. Soviet aviation would still sustain heavy losses. Two main reasons resulted in these loss rates; Soviet pilots were still limited to close escort duty and were not allowed to pursue aircraft into airspace guarded by other Soviet units which restricted their freedom, and when the experience of the German pilots is added, the result was damaging.

Focke Wulf Fw190

On 7 July, the 16th Air Army lost 30 aircraft for three Fw s destroyed and three crash-landed in German-held territory. On 8 July, the Fw units claimed 74 of the 81 Soviet aircraft claimed destroyed on that date. Actual Soviet losses were With the German armies now exhausted, the Fw units were asked to perform Jabo , or fighter-bomber missions.

Seagull Focke-Wulf FW 190 33-38cc 2032mm (matte finished)

JG 54 flew missions in this capacity. Now performing dual purposes, the Fw achieved significant recognition as a rugged aircraft.


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The air battle had been decisively won by the 1st Fliegerdivision , thanks largely to the Fw However, the ground battle was lost. Luftwaffe resistance was vital to slowing down Soviet advances. On several days, the Luftwaffe achieved numerical superiority Soviet aviation was concentrated in the south. The 15th Air Army could not prevent the Fw units gaining air superiority which allowed Ju 87 units to help the Army to restrict the Red Army's break through to the first German defence line on the first day.

But the overall situation could not be sustained, as the Soviet ground forces had made several advances further north. JG 54 claimed for the same period for 34 Fw s 24 destroyed. Even though it is probable that between 25 and 33 percent of these claims were exaggerations, the statistics confirm the qualitative superiority of tactical air units in combat.

Seagull Focke-Wulf FW 190 33-38cc 2032mm (matte finished)

The armament of the Fw was something that was needed by German fighter units. The IL-2 Shturmoviks were becoming available in increasing numbers, and the Fw was an ideal counter to the Soviet aircraft. The increasing numbers of Soviet armour led to a rethink in how to combat the threat. In the summer, , Ju 87s crews had suffered heavy losses. The Henschel Hs had suffered losses from a total production of It was decided to replace them with the Fw On 18 October, Sturzkampfgeschwader 1 , Sturzkampfgeschwader 3 and Sturzkampfgeschwader 5 were renamed Schlachtgeschwader 1, 3 and 5.

Sturzkampfgeschwader 2 and Sturzkampfgeschwader 77 were reformed as mixed fighter and dive bomber units.


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Two Geschwader , Schlachtgeschwader 9 and Schlachtgeschwader 10 were formed to deal with the threat. It was not until March that the Geschwaders were able to exchange their Ju 87s for the Fw Some units, such as the one commanded by Hans-Ulrich Rudel , continued to fly the Ju 87 and Fw until the end of the war. During these actions, Walter Nowotny claimed his th and final victory on the front, and was nearly shot down himself on 11 November This represented a decreasing victory-to-loss ratio.

However, the Soviets were gaining in number and quality. Only Army Group Centre remained in strong defensive positions. Soviet fighter aircraft were now equal to the Luftwaffe's best.

Schlachtgeschwader losses amounted to , which included a number of Fw s. By the summer, the Germans had lost the Crimean campaign and the Soviets were able to pursue operations that would break into Eastern Europe. German fighter units continued to take a heavy toll of Soviet aviation.

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However, the entry of types, such as Lavochkin La-7 and Yak-3 , presented a problem for German fighters. With wings only 9. The Yak-3 was faster and more manoeuvrable than the Bf and the Fw Further, the liberation of the Donbass region improved metal supplies. The IL-2's weakness was its wing and tail structure, which was now made from metals. This contributed to a reduction in losses. The Luftwaffe had a small number of Fw s on the Eastern Front by this time.

Fliegerdivision , Luftflotte 6 , contained SG 1 and 10 totalling 76 Fw s. Luftflotte 4 , I. Fliegerkorps contained units from SG 2, 10 and 77 numbering 27, 29 and 33 respectively. The Schlachtgeschwader were a vital part of German defences. The fluid situation on the ground meant units retreated rapidly westward. Fw units that employed the aircraft as jabo , became the first line of defence as German ground defences broke down. The Fw Gruppen sent a few aircraft out over pre-assigned areas each morning. They were able to identify any movements made by the enemy.

The Fw s were sent out after enemy armour spearheads that were roaming in the German rear. If the Soviet tanks were operating without resistance, then the targets were the soft skin supporting vehicles. Eliminating them would deny fuel and ammunition to the armour, cutting short the Soviets' advance. If the tanks were engaged with German armour, the tanks themselves would be the target to support the defence.

The Fw s would then drop to 4 to 10 m, dropping their loads just as the target disappeared under the nose of the fighter. The delay charge gave the German pilots about one second to get clear. In the battles that followed, it was not uncommon for German Schlachtgeschwader pilots to fly seven or eight sorties a day. Towards the end of August fuel shortages kept the German fighters units on the ground.

To save fuel, animals, such as oxen were used to carry fighters from dispersal to the take off point. Pilots were ordered to shut down the engine immediately on landing. The Schlacht Fw s were hard hit. The fighter units fared better. However, it seems from loss records that even experienced German units had lost more aircraft than they actually shot down in this period.

On 11 July Soviet vehicles were claimed by Fw units.

The German air units helped slow down the advance into the Baltic states. The German air units tried to eliminate the foothold. On 28 August the Fw s of the Schlachtgeschwader along with Ju 87s claimed to have sunk 28 bridging ferries.

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The assaults failed to prevent the Soviets from continuing westward. Still, the Fw s SG 2 and 77 took advantage of brief moments of air superiority to inflict heavy losses of Soviet infantry, as at times the Red Army's advance was so fast that they outran their air support, allowing the Germans a free hand. In East Prussia the Luftwaffe sent an strong force under 4.