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Old 12th October 2019, 15:28
rof120 rof120 is offline
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... and the RAF pilots 1939-1940

I think perhaps I was not clear enough on the following point: RAF pilots including fighter pilots were as brave as any, which doesn't exclude "even braver". They obeyed orders, they did their "job" and often paid with their life.

They had big flaws for which they were hardly responsible: most of them were very young and inexperienced (easy preys to German fighters), squadron leaders and possibly flight lieutenants (in French: capitaines) lacked experience, sometimes even lacked experience of flying monoplane fighters or AC with retractable landing gear. Some Sn Ldrs had nervous breakdowns (some, not all of them). The ordinary pilots were in no way responsible for all this. Worse still perhaps, their tactics, devised by RAF HQ, were hopeless. German fighter pilots who met them first in the Dunkerque battle called their combat formation "Idiotenreihe" (an idiots' row, or line). One of their wings was painted white on the underside, the other wing black for better identification by British ground troops etc. but this was very useful to the Germans. The normal formation of RAF elements of fighters was the "tight vic of three", all three fighters flying extremely close to each other. Both wingmen were terrorised by the fear of being criticized by their leader and they had to concentrate on staying in the "right" position and looking at their leader's aircraft instead of watching the sky and their tails. So they were heavily handicapped by factors they were not able to change.

Undoubtedly they (as a whole) overclaimed heavily. If you don't believe me (overclaim rate: 5) perhaps you'll believe John Foreman, who wrote just that in his book "RAF Fighter Command Victory Claims" (overclaim rate: 5). Actually this is NOT really terrible for, overclaim or not, they did shoot down many German aircraft, according to myself about 200 during the French Campaign in May-June 1940, including operation "Dynamo" (the Dunkerque évacuation). This is a very decent, satisfying result, taking the often appalling conditions into account. Possibly this overclaiming had a real drawback, though: it could mislead RAF HQ into believing that German losses were much higher than they actually were and draw wrong conclusions on Luftwaffe potential when attacking the UK, but HQ didn't quite believe the fighters' fantastic and triumphant figures, in any case not during the Battle of Britain, but perhaps they were influenced and were too optimistic. Well, I don't know. During the BoB RAF figures were accepted at face value (no denials) in order to strengthen pilots' and population's morale.

QUESTION: can someone tell us who devised these tactics including the black and white wings (undersides)?

Last edited by rof120; 13th October 2019 at 21:40.