“The ultimate in air superiority is a T-34 on the runway”

The capture of the airfield in Tatsinskaya by the tankmen of General Badanov. “The ultimate in air superiority is a T-34 on the runway” Alex Wood in answer to argument over German-Russian air warfare.

The Stalingrad Airlift was doomed from the start because of the Luftwaffe’s inability to consistently haul the tonnage needed to sustain the Sixth Army. The coup de grace was when T-34s broke through German lines and reached Tatsinskaya aerodrome, which was the largest and most forward base for the Ju-52s outside the pocket. Several hundred were caught on the ground and many were destroyed when Soviet tanks crossed the perimeter. After that, Stalingrad was outside the range of most Luftwaffe transports, and Paulus’ army was truly doomed.

In Tatsinskaya in the evening 23 Dec 1942 were around 180 transports [mainly Ju-52s], all ready to leave – but there was not given permit to take-off — some telephone lines were intact, specially the telephone line from the commander — other telephone lines were cut off – not by the Russians, but by the fleeing Rumanian soldiers, who used the telephone cable to lace-up their “belongings” — finally at about 0500 in the morning 24 Dec 1942, when the first Russian T-34 tanks entered the airfield and commenced shooting against the aircraft, there came the first take-off orders. — Several aircraft moved at the same time to get into take-off position — some were hit when lifting up and exploded in the air just above the ground — but the majority were lucky and escaped into the clouds — 125 transports were lucky to escape, most of which went to Novotscherkassk – 50+ aircraft and their crews were lost — exclusively due to the too late order to take-off — the following day the aircraft which had escaped went into work again – intending to supply the Stalingrad army.

A total of 125 transport planes—109 Ju 52s and 16 Ju 86s were able to take off and escape destruction at Tatsinskaya when General-Mayor Badanov’s 24th Tank Corps reached that place in the early morning hours of December 24, 1942. At least 50 aircraft were run over by Badanov’s tank troops at Tatsinskaya – 24 Ju 86s, 22 Ju 52s, 2 I./KG 51 Ju 88s, and 2 planes from 3.(F)/10. The Soviets also captured hundreds of tons of supplies — including 300 tons of gasoline and oil, and five complete ammunition stores, according to Soviet accounts – and valuable equipment such as engine-warming wagons, and tank trucks.

The last Ju 52’s left Tatsinskaya at 06:00 a.m.

….. Only one Ju 52 was still there, which was waiting for Generalleutnant FIEBIG, and some of his staff-officers.

After talking to a tank-officer – a Major BURGDORF – in a Befehlspanzer on the airfield. He told the General to leave, because the 16th Panzerdivision would be too late arrive, FIEBIG gave the order to fly to Novotscherkassk at 06:15 a.m.

This was the last and 109th Ju 52 leaving Tatsinskaya.

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