Dogfighting Aces WW2

Non-naval discussions about the Second World War. Military leaders, campaigns, weapons, etc.
User avatar
Jellicoe
Junior Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:27 am

Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Jellicoe » Mon Aug 08, 2011 1:29 am

I've studied World War One plane vs plane combat a bit more extensively than WW2. Though I am aware of the top aces of WW2 and the campains they would be connected to, I was curious if anyone knows of any specific WW2 aerial encounters between established aces. World War One had its fair share of them, such as Lothar von Richtofen vs Albert Ball (debated), South African ace George Lawson (5 kills) colliding with German ace Fritz Rumey (45 kills), in which Rumey died, and Hans Mueller (12 kills) shooting down American Paul Baer (9 kills - Baer surviving); but I'm having a harder time finding any sort of comparative Ace vs Ace confrontations for WW2 pilots, apart from a few snipets in the Pacific. I suppose the sheer amount of aircraft in WW2 compared with WW1 would account for much of the lack of such encounters. Does anyone have any other thoughts on this?

Byron Angel
Senior Member
Posts: 730
Joined: Sun Mar 06, 2011 1:06 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Byron Angel » Mon Aug 08, 2011 2:11 am

Jellicoe wrote:I've studied World War One plane vs plane combat a bit more extensively than WW2. Though I am aware of the top aces of WW2 and the campains they would be connected to, I was curious if anyone knows of any specific WW2 aerial encounters between established aces. World War One had its fair share of them, such as Lothar von Richtofen vs Albert Ball (debated), South African ace George Lawson (5 kills) colliding with German ace Fritz Rumey (45 kills), in which Rumey died, and Hans Mueller (12 kills) shooting down American Paul Baer (9 kills - Baer surviving); but I'm having a harder time finding any sort of comparative Ace vs Ace confrontations for WW2 pilots, apart from a few snipets in the Pacific. I suppose the sheer amount of aircraft in WW2 compared with WW1 would account for much of the lack of such encounters. Does anyone have any other thoughts on this?


..... Interestingly enough, I recently unloaded most of my WW2 aviation books to concentrate more on my first love - WW1 aviation over the Western Front. From what I recall, Hub Zemke, while leading a flight of P47s, was bounced by a staffel of JG11 led by Guenther Rall. It is not clear whether Zemke and Rall actually squared off between one another, but they definitely fought in the same immediate airspace.

B

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

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Aug 08, 2011 9:04 pm

There is an instance where Hans Joachim Marseille fought against a flight of South African pilots, some of them already aces with more than five kills each.
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
Sir Winston Churchill

Keith Enge
Member
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Keith Enge » Tue Aug 09, 2011 7:40 pm

I think that the main problem is that WWII didn't have dogfights in the WWI sense. In fact, pilots who persisted in attempting WWI type dogfights were soon dead pilots. The sheer number of planes were mentioned in other posts but, as important, was the difference in conditions. WWI combat was a much more intimate affair with close ranges and slow speeds. WWII aerial combat was a matter of diving gunnery passes and zoom climbs so you could do it again. However, because of the speed and longer ranges, you rarely made consecutive firing passes on the same target; during the interval, your original victim had moved far away. Therefore, the notion of one-on-one combat simply wasn't applicable in WWII.

User avatar
Jellicoe
Junior Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:27 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Jellicoe » Wed Aug 10, 2011 1:34 am

Keith Enge wrote:I think that the main problem is that WWII didn't have dogfights in the WWI sense. In fact, pilots who persisted in attempting WWI type dogfights were soon dead pilots. The sheer number of planes were mentioned in other posts but, as important, was the difference in conditions. WWI combat was a much more intimate affair with close ranges and slow speeds. WWII aerial combat was a matter of diving gunnery passes and zoom climbs so you could do it again. However, because of the speed and longer ranges, you rarely made consecutive firing passes on the same target; during the interval, your original victim had moved far away. Therefore, the notion of one-on-one combat simply wasn't applicable in WWII.


I think you are basically correct, that and the more fluid motion in the strategic sense of warfare during World War 2 meant less time for any specific air group to be opposed to any other for any great length of time, vs WW1 with more static fronts. All that being said, however, I have been finding more and more encounters between aces, especially in the Pacific theatre of operations, such as the following:

Sabura Sakai (64 confirmed kills) shot down ace James Southerland (5 confirmed kills) in August 1942. Southerland survived.

In the skies over Guadalcanal, Marion Eugene Carl (16.5 confirmed kills) shot down and killed Japanese ace Junichi Sasai (27 conf. kills)

I might keep this research going and see what I can find. Of the few that I have found, some were indeed incredible aerial duels, such as Sakai vs. Southerland.

Keith Enge
Member
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Keith Enge » Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:06 pm

I'm not surprised that you were able to find a few classical WWI type duels but will be if you find very many others documented. Also, even if some exist, they may not be documented since, at longer ranges and without elaborate paint jobs to identify planes, you didn't know who you were fighting. I have the very strong impression that most fighters shot down were shot down without ever having fired back at their opponent or even seen him; some previous unseen enemy made a firing pass on you and then sped away, leaving you to parachute or crash land. As the war went on, planes got even faster with more firepower so ranges were higher and combat quicker. Therefore, the number of dogfight type actions probably decreased.

If I make a suggestion, if you want to find dogfights, you should probably look at early war actions between the Germans and Soviets. Two factors improve the odds of finding them there. Action there tended to happen at lower altitudes because the air forces concentrated on support of ground forces. In the heavier lower air, speeds are lower and turns are tighter which might help produce duels. Also, the fighters tended to travel slower to match the speed of the bombers that they were escorting. The other factor was that the Soviets employed quite a few biplanes which had advantages as dogfighters. However, since you were looking for dogfights between aces, this might not be the place; most Soviet aces emerged later in the war after biplanes had been retired. On the other hand, the other stuff still applies, the Eastern Front is probably your best bet.

User avatar
Jellicoe
Junior Member
Posts: 15
Joined: Wed Jul 27, 2011 6:27 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Jellicoe » Wed Aug 10, 2011 10:39 pm

Keith Enge wrote:If I make a suggestion, if you want to find dogfights, you should probably look at early war actions between the Germans and Soviets. Two factors improve the odds of finding them there. Action there tended to happen at lower altitudes because the air forces concentrated on support of ground forces. In the heavier lower air, speeds are lower and turns are tighter which might help produce duels. Also, the fighters tended to travel slower to match the speed of the bombers that they were escorting. The other factor was that the Soviets employed quite a few biplanes which had advantages as dogfighters. However, since you were looking for dogfights between aces, this might not be the place; most Soviet aces emerged later in the war after biplanes had been retired. On the other hand, the other stuff still applies, the Eastern Front is probably your best bet.


Indeed. Just among the top German aces there are records of ace vs ace encounters. Lev Shestakov (65 kills) was shot down by
Gerhard Barkhorn (301 kills) Jan 1943, and Barkhorn also claimed shot down and killed ace Nikolay Klepikov (10 conf kills + 32 shared)
on Sept. 1943. Walter "Nowi" Nowotny, with 258 aerial victories died either as a result of engine failure, or by gunfire from one of three combatants: Captain Ernest Fiebelkorn (9 kills); Lieutenant Edward "Buddy" Haydon, (not an ace); Lieutenant Robert W. Stevens. Incidents like these certainly testify to the uncertainty of aerial claims, or even recognition of specific combatants.

Interestingly, in my probings, I discovered that one of the top scoring Luftwaffe pilots, Erich Rudorffer, with 222 victories, might very well be still alive. If so, he is the highest scoring ace still living, as well as being the oldest jet pilot still alive.

Keith Enge
Member
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Keith Enge » Thu Aug 11, 2011 9:11 pm

It looks like my Soviet suggestion wasn't needed. However, I thought of a couple of other things that made WII aerial combat different. They probably aren't news to you but may be new to others who may read these posts. Because of the greater numbers, speed, and ranges, not only the identity of the participants but often their numbers are uncertain. I'm primarily interested in naval battles, including land-based planes attacking ships. It is surprisingly difficult to find the number of planes participating. Even in a well known battle like the battle of the Bismarck Sea, the numbers in various accounts differ widely, sometimes greater than a factor of two. In those rare occasions when you do find two accounts that agree, it is often meaningless because one account merely is copying from the other.

Kill numbers are well known to be inflated, sometimes by being overly optimistic, but often through no fault by those reporting. With the speed and ranges, pilots often didn't realize that another pilot was shooting at the same target as he was. If this was realized, they split the kill but, more often, it wasn't realized and both got a full one. There is another factor often overlooked; tracers were used much less in WWII than in WWI. Therefore, there wasn't an easy visual indication that someone was shooting at the same target as you. The reason for the decreased use of tracers was twofold. One, because of the longer ranges, the differences in trajectories between tracer rounds and normal rounds became significant and tracers were not as useful for aiming those normal rounds. The other reason was closed cockpits. In WWI, you didn't need tracers sailing by you to know that you were under attack, you could hear the enemy guns. With closed cockpits, if you didn't use tracers, your victim might never realize that you were attacking him before he died. Of course, tracers could still be used by bombers in defense; the attacking fighter wasn't going to be surprised by gunfire.

User avatar
tommy303
Senior Member
Posts: 1526
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:19 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby tommy303 » Thu Aug 11, 2011 10:05 pm

Where do you get your information that tracers were less used in WWII than in the previous world war? If anything, it appears that the use of tracer increased during WW2, particularly in 2cm and 3,7cm rounds where end of tracer burn usually initiated self destruct of the round to prevent it falling to earth in armed condition (at least in those shells which did not use spin degradation).

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

Keith Enge
Member
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Keith Enge » Thu Aug 11, 2011 11:58 pm

tommy303 -

Before discussing tracers, I should clarify two previous points. When pilots in open cockpits heard enemy gunfire, it wasn't the guns firing that they heard but rather the bullet breaking the sound barrier as it flew by. Also, don't confuse incendiary rounds with tracers, incendiaries were still used. I should also point out another use for tracers that was discontinued too. Some armorers put ten or more tracers at the end of the ammo belt to warn the pilot when he was close to being out of ammo. However, once the enemy caught on to this procedure, subsequent pilots in the same situation now knew that his opponent was out of ammo and defenseless. Tracer aboard fighters still had some use. You can see their use in gun camera film on fighter-bombers equipped with rockets; the tracers were used to confirm the aim before firing the rockets.

I read that information of tracer use in several places including the operational histories of fighter groups, among them, if I remember correctly, Kenney's USAAF forces in the South Pacific. However, I don't have those in my library so don't have immediate access to them again. However, I did find the topic in a book that I do have available by Dunnigan and Nofi called "Dirty Little Secrets of World War II". I'll quote some of the relevant parts from page 194, "The aircraft were now larger, faster, and had enclosed cockpits. Tracers became a liability in World War II because the distance between the firing aircraft and the target had increased." It goes on to discuss the larger guns with their longer ranges and continues, "At these longer ranges, the hollow-based tracer bullets had different flight characteristics, with the tracer rounds going one way and the non-tracer rounds going another." Later, the effect of the changes is noted in the last paragraph, "Before World War II, there was not enough air-to-air combat for all air forces to become aware of the problems with tracers. Training did not involve pilots shooting at each other with live ammunition. Thus it wasn't until a year or so into World War II that most air forces became aware that tracers had turned from an asset to a liability. Units that dropped tracers from their ammunition supply saw their kills increase 50 to 100 percent, while their own losses declined."

I realize that this isn't definite proof although I do find Dunnigan and Nofi's various books generally well researched. But as I said, I've seen the same thing said elsewhere. I believe that I first came across it in the autobiography of one of the Japanese aces. This caught my attention and I then noticed it in other places.

By the way, this is off topic but I would be interested in others' views. Later in the war, US and British fighters tended to have homogenous armament with all guns of the same caliber. Axis fighters, on the other hand, tended to have a mix of cannons and machineguns or even multiple sizes of cannons and/or machine guns. I wonder how much of the late war problems of Axis air forces was the result of the different shell trajectories of those different guns. It seems likely, in many cases, that if you had one size gun on target, the other sizes of guns would necessarily be off target. In effect, having multiple sizes of guns might actually reduce your firepower to the lowest common denominator.

User avatar
tommy303
Senior Member
Posts: 1526
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:19 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby tommy303 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 12:53 am

I am not confusing incendiary with tracer. In cannon shells the tracer was usually an add-on assembly or a very small part of the overall weight and had little effect on trajectory. To a somewhat lesser extent, the same could be said for 50 calibre ball and tracer rounds. In rifle calibre bullets there is a difference in the trajectory of a tracer round vs a ball or AP, due to the lighter weight of the tracer filled bullet and its weight decrease in flight due to tracer burn, however most machine gunners will tell you that there is a point down range where the two will coincide over certain distances, and it is in that range zone the guns were set to converge for such aircraft as had wing mounted guns. The mounting of guns in the wings was actually more limiting of range than anything else, as convergence was necessary to inflict maximum damage at the point of aim. The exact range at which convergence was set, before the plane left the ground, was largely determined by the effect of tracer burn and trajectory, and the preference of the pilot himself. Rarely though were guns set to converge much beyond 300 to 400 yards. At ranges well under or well over convergence, the rounds were not striking where the sight was aiming.

As to aircraft with mixed armament, such as the Fw190, the common practice was to give the 7,92 or 13mm mgs one colour tracer and the cannon another tracer colour. The pilot would usually select which weapons group to fire although he did have the option to fire all, though this was normally only for very close range work where tracer was hardly necessary at all and one did not have to worry about the different ballistic properties of your machine gun and cannon armament.

As to all tracer rounds at the end of the belt, that may have once been a practice in the USAAF, but by 1944 the practice was to substitute white tracer for red tracer for the last part of the belt (at least according to one Luftwaffe interrogation report). Not every round was a tracer, just the normal every fifth or sixth, but in the last hundred rounds of the belt, every fifth or sixth was white tracer instead of red. As USAAF planes did not have ammunition counters like their Luftwaffe counterparts, this let the pilot know he was down to the last of his ammo and should break off and head for base.

It is interesting to note, from Korean War gun camera footage, tracer was still being used in aircraft 50 calibre machine guns into the 1950s. Admittedly, with the 50 cal, the trajectory of tracer rounds was not terribly different from ball.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

Keith Enge
Member
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Keith Enge » Fri Aug 12, 2011 1:35 am

I'll have to find my more primary sources of reduced tracer use. Meanwhile, I have a question about one of your statements. You said "The mounting of guns in the wings was actually more limiting of range than anything else, as convergence was necessary to inflict maximum damage at the point of aim." Which services of which countries used this type of convergence? The US Navy didn't do this. There is an official US Navy document from mid-1943 that instructed armorers how to boresight US Navy fighters. In the discussion section of my naval database (with also includes aircraft), I summarized the procedure; a copy of it is shown below (it includes a diagram that I can't duplicate here but the text should suffice).

Boresighting refers to the process of aligning the wing guns on a fighter so that their streams of fire converge at a point whose distance in front of the plane is the expected firing range. This, however, is an over-simplification. According to a US Navy document from mid-1943, different pairs of guns had both different convergence distances and locations relative to the aiming point. The reasoning was as follows. If all of the shells converged at a single point, this was overkill, the density of shells was much greater than that needed for a kill. Furthermore, if the pilots aim was off slightly, they would all miss. It was better, therefore, for the distribution of shells around the aiming point to be more diffuse to cover a larger area while still remaining lethal. This was especially crucial in the vertical plane. Horizontally, if the aim was off, the pilot could kick the rudder slightly to regain the target. Vertically, any correction was fighting against the much greater lift force and response was thus much more sluggish. You, therefore, wanted some of your guns firing above and below the aiming point. The ideal expressed in the document was an even distribution of shells within a one degree diameter circle around the aiming point. With the usual fighter having six guns, this ideal was of course unobtainable; the next paragraph describes the best approximation that they found.

One pair of guns was aligned to converge at 250 yards in the same plane as the aiming point. Another pair converged above the aiming point plane at 450 yards while the remaining pair converged at the same distance but below. Thus, at 250 yards, the bullet pattern was an X, two guns converging at the center with the other two pairs not converging yet above and below. At 450 yards, there was a diamond pattern. The pairs above and below were at their convergence points while the pair in the aiming plane had passed convergence and were now separating instead. Finally, at 600 yards, a hexagon resulted. The pairs above and below were now separating too while the pair in plane had been diverging longer and so were separated even more.

User avatar
tommy303
Senior Member
Posts: 1526
Joined: Mon Oct 18, 2004 4:19 pm
Location: Arizona
Contact:

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby tommy303 » Fri Aug 12, 2011 4:41 pm

What I was saying, was that the convergence, by whatever routine was used (in the USAAF it was normally the pilot who instructed his crew chief as to how he wanted convergence done and at what range the convergence zone was to be used, although a similar bore sight arrangement was used as your list for the USN). At ranges over or under the convergence zone, the spread of bullet pattern increased with a subsequent loss of effectiveness, hence my statement that having to converge guns meant a limiting of the range to a specified distance perscribed either by regulation bore sighting or pilot's preference in the field). This is compared to the German practice of having engine mounted guns and or guns in the wing roots. These were normally not converged as they had a concentrated zone of fire at any range they might be used (same with the P-38's nose mounted MGs and cannon). In German planes with guns mounted in the outer wings or under them, convergence was used, but these guns tended to be fired as a separate gun group from those in the nose or wing roots.

The importance of tracer was not so much range correction, as we have already stated that there were inherent problems due to trajectories, but instead for deflection shooting where one was trying to establish lead. To a degree the importance of tracer in this function was somewhat offset by the introduction of gyro lead computing sights and postwar radar assisted sights (as in the F-86), but tracer continued to be employed should there be a failure in the sight (or as was common a lag time if one was maneuvering violently to bring the guns to bear. Even with advanced sights tracer was still important, though the number could be effectively reduced from say 1 in six to 1 in eight or ten.

I believe, inspite of the Navy bore sighting doctrine, most experienced pilots arbitrarily had their armourer or crew chief set the guns to converge in which ever manner the pilot deemed fit. This was largely because in flight, the natural vibration and movement of the plane caused the pattern to disperse beyond acceptable effectiveness and for veteran or experienced pilots, it was best to set convergence for a specific range chosen by the pilot himself. In the event, natural vibration and flight influence would give even converged fire a circular pattern insuring some hits even if the range was under or over estimated. Simply put, once they gained enough experience in actual combat flying, most pilots abandoned the regulation bore sighting as while it increased the chances of hits, it diminished the effectiveness of those hits. Pilots preferred to get in closer and go for an all or nothing shot. If it hit, then it hit with maximum effectiveness. Against lightly protected Japanese aircraft, the bore sight routine had some justification as it took little to blast a Zeke or Nakajima out of the air, but against more heavily armoured Luftwaffe planes, greater concentration of fire was desired.

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

Keith Enge
Member
Posts: 138
Joined: Sat Jan 01, 2011 1:36 am

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby Keith Enge » Fri Aug 12, 2011 6:17 pm

That could be. The US Navy had little contact with the Luftwaffe. Some later Japanese planes like George and Frank were more rugged than previous planes but still not up to the standard of Thunderbolts, Corsairs, or Hellcats. I would, however, equate those Japanese planes' ruggedness with the Bf 109 but probably not the radial engined versions of the Fw 190.

User avatar
aurora
Senior Member
Posts: 683
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 2:31 pm
Location: YORKSHIRE

Re: Dogfighting Aces WW2

Postby aurora » Sat Dec 01, 2012 10:54 am

Dogfights are forms of aerial combat between fighter aircraft or a manoeuvrings combat at short range, where each side is aware of the others presence.As has been said Dogfighting first appeared during World War I, shortly after the invention of airplanes, and has since become a component in every major war. However it was believed that after World War II, high tech combat aircraft with greater speed and longer range weapons would make dogfighting obsolete.
Modern terminology for air-to-air combat is air combat maneuvering (ACM), which refers to tactical situations requiring the use of individual basic fighter maneuvers (BFM) to attack or evade one or more opponents. This differs from aerial warfare, which deals with the strategy involved in planning and executing various missions.The Spitfire/Seafire and the A6M Zero were two of the most recognizable and iconic fighters of World War II.The “ZERO” was one of the best dogfighters of WWII. In a 1 on 1 it could out-turn and out-climb anything the allies had in the beginning of the war.Though these two aircrafts were constructed for very different purposes, the Seafire were used to fly from carrier decks and Zeros were being used as ground-based interceptors and suicide bombers.
The Seafire had already proven itself during the Battle of Britain whereas the Zero gave the Japan air superiority at the beginning of WWII until the better developed Allied planes came along.
During WW2, dogfight was changed to “bounces” and quick-passes,boosted by team tactics. Maneuverability as in rate of turn was still an important asset, but fighters with powerful engines could run away,or climb their way out of an unwanted dogfight.This is why the biplane fighters,even thought they were more maneuverable than monoplanes, vanished from air combat during WW2. And this is how the American F4F Wildcats,later replaced by the better armored and faster Hellcats,achieved their victories against the nimble Zeros.
A superior dogfighter than the early Allied fighters, the Zero was able to out-maneuver its opposition. To combat this, Allied pilots developed specific tactics for dealing with the aircraft. These included the “Thach Weave,” which required two Allied pilots working in tandem, and the “Boom-and-Zoom,” which saw Allied pilots fighting on the dive or climb. In both cases, the Allies benefited from the Zero’s complete lack of protection as a single burst of fire was generally enough to down the aircraft.

In stark contrast-The Persian Gulf War started with an extensive aerial bombing campaign on 17 January 1991. The aerial combat mission was called Operation Desert Storm and the F-117 Stealth bombers aimed precise laser- guided bombs at key targets in Baghdad. The first priority for Coalition forces was the destruction of the Iraqi air force and anti-aircraft facilities. The United States immediately began a mobilization to the area by sending 48 McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagles.
F-15C, D and E models were also deployed in support of Operation Desert Storm where they proved their superior combat capability with a confirmed 26:0 kill ratio. F-15 fighters accounted for 36 of the 39 Air Force air-to-air victories. The F-15′s were used against the Mirage F1 and they achieved a high kill ratio.
F-15Es were operated mainly at night, hunting SCUD missile launchers and artillery sites and also hunting the Iraqi Aircrafts that included Antonov An-12 ‘Cub’,Dassault Mirage F1 and Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 21MF ‘Fishbed-J’.

http://www.defenceaviation.com/2010/10/ ... story.html

aurora
Quo Fata Vocant-Whither the Fates call

Jim


Return to “World War II”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest