Pilot Aces of World War II

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by lwd » Sat Dec 12, 2009 1:52 am

Kyler wrote:...At the beginning of the war Germany had many more experienced air force pilots
True
and Japan more superior naval pilots than every other nation maybe with the exception of the UK.
Actually the USN pilots were in some ways superior to those of the IJN overall if the latter had an advantage it was small over the pilots of the USN. Hard to compare to the British as Fleet air arm got pretty much cast offs from the RAF.
... Had Hitler not insisted on initially developing the Me262 into a fighter bomber many of the tactics and shorting comings of the Me262 force would have been ironed out when eastern aces started flying them. Probably delaying the war's conclusion by a few months.
Probably having little or no impact is more like it. The Me 262 wasn't really suited for operational use and wouldn't have been without a major engine redesign or access to minerals that Germany didn't have access to.

User avatar
Kyler
Senior Member
Posts: 382
Joined: Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:49 am
Location: Evansville, IN U.S.A.
Contact:

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by Kyler » Sat Dec 12, 2009 6:30 pm

lwd

In quality of new pilots in both the IJN and the USN at beginning of the war was probably the same but IJN had better planes, combat experienced instructors, superior tactics which gave their good pilots an even better advantage.

It wasn't really until attrition of their good pilots, the introduction of better aircraft like the hellcat, and combat experience did the USN pass the IJN in pilot quality
"It was a perfect attack, Right Height, Right Range, Right cloud cover, Right speed,
Wrong f@%king ship!" Commander Stewart-Moore (HMS Ark Royal)

boredatwork
Member
Posts: 234
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:42 pm

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by boredatwork » Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:26 pm

Bgile wrote:Because the Germain Aces fought for the entire war, and the Allied aces were withdrawn from combat after a certain number of missions. The few German aces who survived naturally were the best and the luckiest and had the most time to accumulate high kill totals. They were also operating in a target rich environment, where they had lots of opportunity to attack enemy aircraft, where an allied pilot was lucky to even see a Germain aircraft late in the war. Hartman's last kill was against a Russian who was doing a victory loop, clearly not paying attention because he thought the war was about over. Clearly for him, it was over.
Agree with this entirely.

There was nothing inherently superior or inferior about German pilots. Kill totals, like any other statistic can give a misleading impression if the circumstances of their generation are not considered.

Hartmann undeniably has the record for most kills but that doesn't automatically make him the most talented flyer as indeed he himself denies:
"Then that would make you the top scoring fighter pilot of Germany!"
Erich shook his head.
"No," he said, "I am not the most successful German fighter pilot."
"But no other pilot in any air force shot down such a large number of aircraft," the russian argued.
Erich smiled indulgently, like a schoolmaster elucidating a mathematical fact for a dull student.
"Well, I shot down only Russian aircraft, with a few American machines. On the western front, we had a pilot named Marseille who shot down over 150 British aircraft. In our airforce, one British-flown aircraft was considered the equal of three Russian-flown machines. So I am not the leading pilot."

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by lwd » Sat Dec 12, 2009 7:56 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:... because do not suit your predisposition of thinking that only the US did achieve some level of proficiency in everything you will never be satisfied:
This is another classic staw man of yours. You attribute to me a position I have never stated or maintained and then argue against it. Please try and understand what I write and don't put words in my mouth.
but it´s your problem, not one of History.
No it's a reading comprehension problem on your part.
Just look at the record not of one, nor two, nor three, nor twelve nor fifty nor eighty but of hundreds of Germans pilots and tell me there is not a least a hint that they were, at the very least, an extraordinary cadre of pilots.
And where have I ever questioned that? Indeed I have pretty much stated it.
And the US doesn't?
Show me where Mj. Bong or Boyington are in the list.
Again we have an error in comprehension or logic. Perhaps you need another reminder. More kills doesn't necessarily mean a better pilot.
Of course not in the same degree but the Soviets depended in numerical superiority to overwhelm the enemy. In cases they deployed three or four times the number of Germans planes in an area. Even with mediocre pilots that is an incredible threat that, the US, never had because always operated in a numerical superiority basis.
I'm not sure at least in a strategic sense we can say the Soviets air force overwhelmed the LW. In the long run what it did was provide adequate support to the ground forces to allow them to defeat the Germans. The LW was still operational on the eastern front until very near the end if not at the end of the war. Not so on the Western front.
...The USAAF changed a lot from WWII (where it depended in numerical superiorirty) to the Cold War scenario where it tended to a more Luftwaffe approach on quality and proficiency.
I would argue that that is not accurate. The USAAF certainly used numerical superiority when they had it but they didn't depend on it. Indeed there were times when they gave a very good account of themselves when badly outnumbered.

yellowtail3
Senior Member
Posts: 408
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by yellowtail3 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:17 pm

Kyler wrote:lwd - In quality of new pilots in both the IJN and the USN at beginning of the war was probably the same but IJN had better planes, combat experienced instructors, superior tactics which gave their good pilots an even better advantage.
hmm... maybe some, somewhat better planes. The Aichi 99 wasn't better than the SBD, not a chance. The Kate seems to have been more successful than the Vindicator, but very fragile. And the Zero - very pretty airplane - was superior to the F4F in some areas, not others... and I think the Zero turned out to be the lesser combat aircraft. Japanese pilots? Supposedly real elite types, I've read. Very high washout level in a small training program. Some of the things they learned in combat in China, were wrong lessons, and not applicable to a war of attrition with the USN/USMC and USAAF. Events would prove US airmen to be better at adapting to the combat environment, that the Japanese.
Kyler wrote: It wasn't really until attrition of their good pilots, the introduction of better aircraft like the hellcat, and combat experience did the USN pass the IJN in pilot quality
Well... that attrition took place at the hands of USN/USMC pilots who were mostly pre-war pilots. If we're looking at the first 18 months after Pearl Harbor - I think most of the guys flying then were flying before Pearl Harbor. By the time the Corsairs and P-38s showed up in numbers, P-40s and F4Fs had done a great deal to whittle down the Japanese top guns, and were quite competitive. Once the US pilots adjusted their tactics to their opponent, things got very grim for the Japanese, well before the arrival of newer-design US fighters. I think I'd much prefer to go into battle in a P-40, than in an A6M.

Two good books on this - in my opinion? - are The First Team and Fire in the Sky.
Shift Colors... underway.

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by lwd » Sat Dec 12, 2009 10:49 pm

Kyler wrote:... superior tactics which gave their good pilots an even better advantage.
Since the others have been dealt with I answer this one. It's far from clear that the IJN had better tactics than the USN in regards to aircraft. Indeed Midway rather highligted a number of problems with Japanese tactics. At the same time US doctrine and tactics were improving rapidly.
It wasn't really until attrition of their good pilots, the introduction of better aircraft like the hellcat, and combat experience did the USN pass the IJN in pilot quality
Well at that point they had a clear superiority but if F4F and Zero were pretty much on a par if you look at losses vs each other and the F4F killed more Japanese planes in this period than the Zero killed US planes from what I remember of the numbers. The Japanese did have a better air strike doctrine at the beginning of the war but that's rather irrelevant to pilot quality.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:01 pm

lwd:
The Me 262 wasn't really suited for operational use and wouldn't have been without a major engine redesign or access to minerals that Germany didn't have access to.
The comment is valid, but as all lwd´s comments are done in such a way it seems that the Me 262 was a failure. For the 100 Me 262 that went down in the war some 150 enemy fighters were shot down. Now, of those 100 are great deal fell of technical problems, engine failures being a main issue. If that´s so, even with those problems the kill ratio of Me 262 vs allied planes reveals it was combat worthy.
Last edited by Karl Heidenreich on Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:03 pm

lwd:
More kills doesn't necessarily mean a better pilot.
Ok. Tell me the measure of a good fighter pilot: his landing... doing aerial stunts... publicity, maybe? Or being born in the US?
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:16 pm

lwd:
I'm not sure at least in a strategic sense we can say the Soviets air force overwhelmed the LW. In the long run what it did was provide adequate support to the ground forces to allow them to defeat the Germans. The LW was still operational on the eastern front until very near the end if not at the end of the war. Not so on the Western front.
Please read Glantz and House book on the Battle of Kursk. Their research on the Soviet Air Force struggle over the battlefields is different from what you said.

Best regards,
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

lwd
Senior Member
Posts: 3810
Joined: Sat Jun 17, 2006 2:15 am
Location: Southfield, USA

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by lwd » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:24 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:lwd:
The Me 262 wasn't really suited for operational use and wouldn't have been without a major engine redesign or access to minerals that Germany didn't have access to.
The comment is valid, but as all lwd´s comments are done in such a way it seems that the Me 262 was a failure. For the 100 Me 262 that went down in the war some 150 enemy fighters were shot down. Now, of those 100 are great deal fell of technical problems, engine failures being a main issue. If that´s so, even with those problems the kill ratio of Me 262 vs allied planes reveals it was combat worthy.
Since all my comments don't address the Me-262 by any means you are obviously wrong in your first sentence. As for the rest the fact that a bunch of aces had a good kill ratio hardly proves that it was combat worthy. Indeed if it was that great a plane flown by pilots that were as superior as you indicate a 1.5:1 kill ratio is very low. On the other hand look how many pilots were lost in them simply due to accidents and the fact that if they had been used in any numbers they simply couldn't have been supported logistically. The Me-262 was simply not ready for operational use.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:32 pm

lwd:

I have to admitt that your last post makes more sense and is valid. The kill ratio was not that good (1: 1.5) which calls for all those bugs the plane had. It´s obvious it was rushed into service without the proper shake up and many pilots paid with their lives this blunder. In normal conditions such a development would still have been two or three years from being part of a tender to any goverment on Earth.

However, granting that many (as high as more than half) of the Me 262 losses were due to this problems, then the ratio is a little better but do not tell us as much.

The US with their P 51 already had dominion of the air and such a small number of Me 262 with such unrealiability factors was hardly a threat.

About the "bunch" of pilots, it´s true that they were few but demostrated great skill while fighting in an untested plane against a numerical superior enemy.

Best regards,
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

yellowtail3
Senior Member
Posts: 408
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by yellowtail3 » Sat Dec 12, 2009 11:48 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Ok. Tell me the measure of a good fighter pilot: his landing... doing aerial stunts... publicity, maybe? Or being born in the US?
tactical prowess, which in US service meant ability to work as a team member; teamwork
aggressiveness, combined with teamwork
Piloting competence - being able to fly and employ his aircraft effectively; then, teamwork
ability to maintain situational awareness in combat; then, teamwork

You're right on landing -need to be able to do that. Aeriel stunts? No; that's a way to waste equipment. Publicity? No, thought it may stem from other accomplishments. Being born in the US? No, though if you're an aircrewman in WW2, being born in the US gives you a better chance of being on the winning side, flying very capable aircraft, intelligently employed.
Shift Colors... underway.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:08 am

I like to question, then:

Where the Germans not capable to fly and fight as a team? The German Squadrons were some of the most unified during the war, fighting for some six years.

Where the Germans not agressive enough? Shooting down 100+ planes (ot with the kill ratio that Luftwaffe pilots had) is a testimony of their agressiveness.

Where the German competent enough? I think the problem is that, in contrast to their enemies, there were not enough.

Situational awareness? Of course. All the items you have mentioned is fighter pilot 101. As put by some of our friends, that´s just the starting point of any pilot of any decent air force.

Of course being borne in the US was a good thing. The US presented all the advantages that other countries can´t afford, even their own allies. The question was in the way of perception of a certain character, not generally and directly refered to the fact, in itself.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

yellowtail3
Senior Member
Posts: 408
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 5:50 pm
Location: North Carolina, USA

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by yellowtail3 » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:13 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:The US presented all the advantages that other countries can´t afford, even their own allies. The question was in the way of perception of a certain character, not generally and directly refered to the fact, in itself.
I'm not sure what this means - could you expand on it a bit?
Shift Colors... underway.

User avatar
Karl Heidenreich
Senior Member
Posts: 4808
Joined: Thu Jan 12, 2006 3:19 pm
Location: San José, Costa Rica
Contact:

Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:17 am

yellowtail3:

I was refering to the perception that goes that: if something is American: a plane, a tank, a ship or the proficiency of a pilot, then is measured in a favorable way just because of it´s origin. But that directed to a single person, that by this moment has made statements that points to another direction, which means that, maybe, my previous remark is outdated.

Best regards,
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Post Reply