Pilot Aces of World War II

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lwd
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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby lwd » Thu Oct 06, 2011 6:27 pm

Indeed the numerical superiority factor is a significant one and not at all linear from what I've seen indeed not even a simple curve.
There are obviously other questions as well. For instance how often did one side have a superior position? This could out weigh a number of other factors and gives a definite edge to defending fighters that can get in position.
Lengths of flights could also be a factor of some signficance.
Frequency might also.

One could go on and on.

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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby Byron Angel » Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:29 am

lwd wrote:Indeed the numerical superiority factor is a significant one and not at all linear from what I've seen indeed not even a simple curve.
There are obviously other questions as well. For instance how often did one side have a superior position? This could out weigh a number of other factors and gives a definite edge to defending fighters that can get in position.
Lengths of flights could also be a factor of some signficance.
Frequency might also.

One could go on and on.



Numerical odds are principally important at the point of engagement. Until Doolittle let the dogs loose (figuratively speaking) US escort fighters were typically spread over vast distances (100's of miles) as escorts to protect the succession of bomber boxes. It was the LW that was able to set up it intercepts with the benefit of their ground control. And it was the LW that had the option of selecting time and place of engagement. Even in the waning days of the war, when the skies were generally perceived to be empty of German aerial opposition, those rare German intercepts that did take to the air usually involved very large numbers (50 or 100+ a/c) in an effort to swamp the defending escort fighter screen.

It has been quite some time since I researched this topic, but there is no shortage of primary source material available.


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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby alecsandros » Fri Oct 07, 2011 5:32 am

Byron Angel wrote:

Numerical odds are principally important at the point of engagement. Until Doolittle let the dogs loose (figuratively speaking) US escort fighters were typically spread over vast distances (100's of miles) as escorts to protect the succession of bomber boxes. It was the LW that was able to set up it intercepts with the benefit of their ground control. And it was the LW that had the option of selecting time and place of engagement. Even in the waning days of the war, when the skies were generally perceived to be empty of German aerial opposition, those rare German intercepts that did take to the air usually involved very large numbers (50 or 100+ a/c) in an effort to swamp the defending escort fighter screen.

B


US fighters were grouped into squadrons from the beginning of the European war. Numbers of the squadrons varied, but usualy between 12-15 fighers were present in one. The bomber boxes, and even individual bombers themselves, were very well armed and armored and were not at all easy targets for German fighters. B-17s and B-24s were teh most heavily armed mass-produced bombers of the war...
From mid-1943 onwards, escort numbers grew quite alot, and they were grouped into wings of up to 200 fighters, capable of intervening in a matter of minutes anywhere near the bomber box.

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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby lwd » Fri Oct 07, 2011 4:55 pm

Byron Angel wrote:
lwd wrote:Indeed the numerical superiority factor is a significant one and not at all linear from what I've seen indeed not even a simple curve.
There are obviously other questions as well. For instance how often did one side have a superior position? This could out weigh a number of other factors and gives a definite edge to defending fighters that can get in position.
Lengths of flights could also be a factor of some signficance.
Frequency might also.

One could go on and on.

Numerical odds are principally important at the point of engagement.

Indeed that's what I was talking about. However if the odds got bad enough then those that were outnumberded often performed better than expected. Look at the US fighters that actually managed to make it into the air at PH for instance.
Until Doolittle let the dogs loose (figuratively speaking) US escort fighters were typically spread over vast distances (100's of miles) as escorts to protect the succession of bomber boxes.

Doolittle had an impact on escort doctrine? In any case the US also initially used what turned out to be the flawed doctrine of close escort.
It was the LW that was able to set up it intercepts with the benefit of their ground control. And it was the LW that had the option of selecting time and place of engagement.

In the latter part of the war in Europe. In the BOB the British enjoyed some of those advantages although the amount of reaction time they had rather limited the effect. In the Pacfic the USN enjoyed this advantage to considerable effect.

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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby paul.mercer » Fri Oct 07, 2011 10:37 pm

Gentlemen,
It is without doubt that both Germany and the Allies had some outstanding pilots, however, many of the German victories - and I mean the very high scores were obtained against fairy inferior opposition, neither the Poles, French or Russians and the aircraft or the pilots to really compete with the Luftwaffe. When the BoB was waged the German figthers were at a tremendous disadvantage due to only being able to spend about half an hour in combat over England. Furthermore, the British pilots had the advantage of fighting over their own territory, so if they bailed out they could be back in the air in a few hours. Also, I think that pilots on all sides tended to overestimate their 'kills', but for all that there is no doubt that the German air force and their pilots were superb - but so were the British.

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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby Byron Angel » Sat Oct 08, 2011 1:42 am

alecsandros wrote: US fighters were grouped into squadrons from the beginning of the European war. Numbers of the squadrons varied, but usualy between 12-15 fighers were present in one. The bomber boxes, and even individual bombers themselves, were very well armed and armored and were not at all easy targets for German fighters. B-17s and B-24s were teh most heavily armed mass-produced bombers of the war...
From mid-1943 onwards, escort numbers grew quite alot, and they were grouped into wings of up to 200 fighters, capable of intervening in a matter of minutes anywhere near the bomber box.


..... US fighters were grouped into squadrons, groups, wings, and even large (mostly administrative) organizations. But I can think of no occasions when any US fighters ever operated at a single point in remotely the numbers you have cited. Bomber boxes flew in a column 100's of miles long and the escorting fighters were scattered all along the column in order to provide local protection; in addition, the fighters were obliged to remain with their assigned bomber group. It was not until Doolittle altered the tactical rules andauthorized (a) offensive sweeps ahead of the bomber stream, and (b) hot pursuit, that US fighters were actually able to become truly aggressive over Germany. But that was not until mid-1944 (IIRC) Probably the best example of what I have been trying to explain is the Big Week 1,000 bomber raid on Berlin in March 1944. There is some very good and detailed material on the operational and tactical management of the American/Allied forces in the air that day. I strongly recommend that you look into this mission to get a clear idea of exactly how the 8AF operated.

Another important point to note is the fact that the great majority of American fighter strength in the ETO was in P47s, even as late as 1944. It was not until some time after D Day that the P51 actually became the principal US fighter a/c in Europe. This means that until the later part of 1944 very few American fighters were able to reach into Germany beyond Lake Dummer and the standard LW tactic was to wait until the short-legged fighter escorts were forced to turn back before launching their attacks against the bomber stream.

Unfortunately, all my WW2 aviation books are in storage at the moment.


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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby alecsandros » Sat Oct 08, 2011 7:08 am

Hi Byron,
The 200 fighters figure comes from the raids over Ploiesti in summer 1944. I have a book written after the memoirs of many Romanian pilots. They all describe groups of 40-50 P-38s or P-51s, with occasional large attacks having "ceilings" of 200-300 or more grouped fighters. The pilots, flying Me-109G's and IAR-80 and 81s had only "a few minutes" to attack the bombers before the US fighters were "over them". Attaking the B-24s and B-17s with that kind of fighters was very difficult...

In the raids over Schweinfurt (aug 1943), my impression is that US fighters were packed in formations of up to 80 fighters which could intervene at the point of crisis...

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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Wed Feb 22, 2012 2:41 am

Being working now in Cali I was invited last week to a Aereonatical Musseum and Air Club. The musseum have several sponsors one of them having for last name Thyben. When I met this guy Saturday afternoon I came to know that his father was Gerhard Thyben, an Fw 190 pilot of WWII with 157 victories.
We went to see some relics and stuff and talk about aces. Basically what we talk is what several of us has sustained in this forum for a long time... a long time ago. The lack of replacements made the German pilots fatigue and anguish worse enemies than the enemy pilots. The numerical superiority of the allies imposible to beat. However it was plain clear who were the best damn pilots. It was not only a matter of score ("shooting down russians was so easy") but a matter of enduring not one campaign (summer of 43... spring of 45... etc. just 25 or 50 missions and back to Brooklyn) but year after year after year against impossible odds, cold winters without fuel to stop the Yaks, making their own replacement parts or with minimun ammo or an enemy dominated enviroment as 1943 on. With wounds, without seeing their families for years and with no hope in victory.
They hate Hitler... of course... but loved their cameraden and what they recall the best fighter of WWII, superior to the P 47 or the P 51: the Fw 190 long nose.
For them, still, Hans Joachim Marseille was the best of them all. And we are talking of a guy that shoot only a plane less than the Star of Africa.
A very good afternoon that was reassuring.
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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby Dave Saxton » Thu Feb 23, 2012 3:59 pm

There's little doubt that the best Luftwaffe fighter pilots were among the best. I find that the best pilots of the RAF or the USN or the AAF or of the IJN or IJA...ect... were probably as good. The best ones all seemed to score at a similar rate and they got shot down themselves as well. Hartman, Rall and so forth got shot down on occassion but it didn't end their fighting days. Aces that got shot down well out to sea or over enemy held territory had their opprotunities cut short in most cases. Allied aces were usually cycled out of combat flying after so many missions or combat hours and sent home to train new pilots. This ultimately proved a good policy because as the war progressed the Allies had many more well trained pilots, and attrition wittled away at the pool of Expert pilots in the Luftwaffe. Green and scantly trained Luftwaffe pilots didn't stand a chance late war regardless of the planes.

Studies indicate that if a fighter pilot can survive his first four combat situations then chances increase that he will learn to go on and become an expert pilot, but most fighter pilots killed in action are killed within their first four combat situations.

Sometimes top aces were lost in non-combat flying or by strange circumstances. many American WWII aces rate George Predy as their most talented ace in the ETO. George was killed by friendly ground fire in 1944. They mistook his P-51 for a ME-109 and fired at him. He was hit by a bullet or piece of shrapnel and landed his P-51 in a nearby field. When the GIs on the ground got to the plane George had already bled out. It is somewhat similar to the Red Baron being hit by fluke ground fire, landing his plane nearby, and bleeding to death in the cockpit. Marseilles was on a non-combat flight when his engine gave trouble. He bailed out but was knocked out when he hit the tail plane and he could never open his parashoot. Richard Bong was test flying an XP-80 in Southern California when the engine flamed out on take off. He could have bailed out and possibly saved himself, but his jet would have crashed into some nearby houses, so he glided it into field for a crash landing that he did not survive.
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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Sun May 20, 2012 3:34 am

Just found this which destroy the myth that Hartmann's victories must be considered to the times he was shot down because HE WAS NEVER shot down. According to this source:

"He engaged in aerial combat 825 times while serving with the Luftwaffe. During the course of his career, Hartmann was forced to crash-land his damaged fighter 14 times. This was due to damage received from parts of enemy aircraft he had just shot down or mechanical failure. Hartmann was never shot down or forced to land due to fire from enemy aircraft.[1]"

Toliver, Raymond F. and Trevor J. Constable. Holt Hartmann vom Himmel! (in German). Stuttgart, Germany: Motorbuch Verlag, 1985. ISBN 3-87943-216-3.
Toliver, Raymond F. and Trevor J. Constable. The Blond Knight of Germany. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1986. ISBN 0-8306-8189-2.

Which, again, makes the greatest ace in World History amongst the Luftwaffe's experten which account to the first 130+ aces of the world.

Regards,
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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby RF » Mon May 21, 2012 5:45 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:... It is somewhat similar to the Red Baron being hit by fluke ground fire, landing his plane nearby, and bleeding to death in the cockpit.


But at least it was enemy fire from the ground and not from his own side..... more than can be said for the American ace killed by his own side.
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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby yellowtail3 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 1:57 am

Karl Heidenreich wrote:They hate Hitler... of course... but loved their cameraden and what they recall the best fighter of WWII, superior to the P 47 or the P 51: the Fw 190 long nose ...
A very good afternoon that was reassuring.

Don't be too reassured... The bit about the 190D is... Well, suspect, depending upon which virtues are being considered, against which models of -47 and -51. Wasn't the -51 faster, in the rare circumstance where they encountered a 190d?

I'd say it was comparable, more or less, when they could find some experienced pilots for it.

IMHO, of course... :D
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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Jun 11, 2012 5:00 am

yellowtail,

I answer you in the FW 190 thread. :negative:
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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby lwd » Wed Jun 20, 2012 8:45 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:Just found this which destroy the myth that Hartmann's victories must be considered to the times he was shot down because HE WAS NEVER shot down. ...

It's not a myth it's simply a suggested methodology to take into account the effect of not makeing it back to base. Now I'd agree that it's a bit flawed but consider that if he had been flying in the Pacfic it wouldn't have mattered why he crash landed he would have been lucky to survive one such and certainly wouldn't have survived over say half a dozen such crashes.

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Re: Pilot Aces of World War II

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Thu Jun 21, 2012 12:52 am

:negative:
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