Hitler's Air Bridges
The Luftwaffe's Supply Operations of the Second World War
Imprint: Air World
296 Pages, 6.1 x 9.1 in, 32 black and white illustrations
- January 2023
In early May 1940, the battle of Norway was nearing its climax, but General Eduard Dietl’s 3rd Jäger division was blocked by the Allies in the Narvik area. Only the Luftwaffe could provide effective assistance to the encircled troops. The special purpose groups KGr.zbV107 and KGr.zbV108 were ordered to supply the division by air. Transports delivered ammunition, food, and even boots for German sailors who found themselves on land.
This was the first of a number of occasions in which the Luftwaffe’s transport Gruppen, often equipped with the slow, but reliable Junkers 52, created an ‘air bridge’ to supply troops cut off or surrounded by the enemy. The transport Gruppen had previously been involved in supporting the advance of German forces during the Polish campaign, this being followed by the capture of Denmark, The Netherlands, Belgium, and Greece.
During Operation Barbarossa, German troops were dispersed over the vast expanses of Russia. It was a country without roads where the normal supply by trucks and trains to the troops was difficult and sometimes impossible. Often, it was only the Luftwaffe’s transport aircraft that kept the Germans fighting.
But with Hitler’s insistence that there should be no retreat despite the overwhelming strength of the Soviet forces, his Germans armies found themselves surrounded and the Luftwaffe had to create air bridges to supply the beleaguered troops. Nowhere was this more evident than the Battle of Stalingrad, Göring having convinced Hitler that the Luftwaffe was capable of keeping the Sixth Army supplied.
As the war increasingly turned against the Third Reich, air bridges were vital in supporting and maintaining its garrisons in places such as Demyansk, Holm, Korsun, Budapest, Breslau, and many others. Hitler’s Air Bridges presents the story of the Luftwaffe’s transport Gruppen more extensively and in greater detail than ever before.