Thread: Top Jet Aces
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Old 19th August 2007, 06:01
JoeB JoeB is offline
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Re: Top Jet Aces

Originally Posted by Graham Boak View Post
A few points to bear in mind.
1. Whatever was claimed as total scores by the propaganda/publicity machines may bear little relationship to the claims made by individual pilots, or even the sum of such claims.

2. The total of 78 Sabres lost in aerial combat has been queried by recent serious historians: it seems that the USAF was not beyond selective categorising.

3. Not every UN aircraft over Korea was a Sabre.
1. In the case of the Soviets in Korea, the victories are what was officially credited at the time in secret. There was no propaganda motive, in the strict sense of the term, in that case.
2. I found, by going through the records case by case, in view of specific Soviet claims, that while 78 is a sloppy total, the true number is not greatly higher, I estimate around 90, including damaged planes were which never repaired. Among potentially more serious people, Ken Werrell in a footnote to "Sabres over MiG Alley" estimated 'around 100'; Warren Thompson and David McLaren in "MiG Alley" gave an appendix where apparent MiG losses were in the mid 70's, and somebody above gave a link to the DPMO database that adds to high 70's (not counting 'damaged'; the DPMO listing of damaged F-86's is very incomplete, but happens to consist almost entirely of planes that were repaired). I'd defend my number in detail over those others, but the point is nobody AFAIK has been serious to the point of actually looking in USAF records and found evidence of a much higher number than 78.
3. The Soviet claims are clear as to type, time and place. I have found no case where F-86's were confused for any other type. That is, in every case I know where the Soviets claimed F-86's downed, USAF records show an encounter by F-86s against MiG's at a reasonably matching time and place. Same for other generic types (straight wing jet, prop fighter, B-29), although within those categories the idenfications were not reliable (ie. claims of F-80's match real combats with F-84's etc). In any case even considering all types, the 'real' number of UN air combat losses is higher than that in the official immediate postwar summary (the USAF FY 1953 Statistics Summary is where almost all the oft repeated numbers come from originally), but not by that much (~proportional to F-86's ~150 official, perhaps 175 actual).

For the Soviets in Korea, and Me-262 pilots, the opposing losses are known in detail day to day, though there's still the issue of how to deal with competing claiming on the ace's own side. In case of the USAF in Korea and Israel's wars the opponent losses aren't generally known day to day. Soviet losses in Korea generally are, but Chinese and NK generally not and all top US ace scores included victories after the Chinese and NK's became a significant part of the MiG force (fall 1951); only total Chinese losses have been officially published, and NK total losses are only approximately known (to have been fairly small).

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