At the onset of WWII in 1940, the German Luftwaffe was the strongest and most battle-experienced air force in the world. The Luftwaffe dominated the skies over Europe with aircraft much more advanced than their counterparts. The Luftwaffe was central to the German Blitzkrieg (lightning war) doctrine, as the close air support provided by various medium two-engine bombers, Stuka dive bombers and an overwhelming force of tactical fighters were key to several early successes.
Unlike the British and American Air Forces, the
| Luftwaffe early on decided not to develope four-engine bombers in any significant numbers, and were thus unable to conduct an effective long-range strategic bombing campaign against either the Russians or the Western Allies when needed. |
The new technology of radar was used effectively against the powerful German Luftwaffe during the Battle of Britain. It was the first time that German forces failed to achieve a major goal. So while Germany was on the leading edge of much technology during WWII, these two issues helped halt
| the powerful German war machine. |
- The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the most versatile and widely-produced fighter aircraft operated by the Luftwaffe. The kill ratio (almost 9:1) made this plane a superior German fighter during the war.
- The Focke Wulf Fw 190 is considered one of the best fighters of World War II. A superb fighting machine, it soon gained a reputation and the nickname Butcher Bird.
- The Junkers Ju 87 Stuka was a main asset for Blitzkrieg, able to place bombs with deadly accuracy.