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Old 19th February 2005, 20:28
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Juha Juha is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: Finland
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Hello Christer
You wrote:"...The Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day. "

I'm not sure on that, at end of Bob, IIRC JG 51 was the most successful of the JGs but JG 26 and JG 2 were also amongst the most successful JGs so IMHO there were no qualiative gap between JGs in West and in East at the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa, and for example on 10.5.40 or on 13.8.40 the force correlation was better for LW than on 22.6.41. Of course LW had more experience on 22.6.41 but it had also suffered heavy losses in earlier campaigns. Soviets had studied earlier campaigns and so they knew or at least they should have known more on LW and its tactics than the Western powers on 10.5.40. They also had more combat experience on 22.6.41 than Western Allies had on10.5.40 because of campaigns against Japanese, Winter War and the participation of Soviet pilots in Spanish Civil War.

On the quality of Soviet AF
Finns did not have any misconceptions on the capabilities of Soviet AF, at least not after the first days of Winter War. They had fought with inferior a/c (Fokker D XXI versus I-16 and I-153) and even if Soviet fighter tactics had been too inflexible many Soviet pilots had been good and tough. (The purges had not taken away the flight hours from average front line fighter sqn pilotsī logbooks). Soviets had also surprised Finns with some technical innovations, for ex. with the use of drop tanks to increase the radius of action of the fighters.
So how I see the question. I agree with You on the point that the quality of Soviet pilots varied greatly, probably more than in many other AFs. Also the willingness to fight varied greatly, how much this depend on motivation and how much it was the result of orders, I don't know.
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