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Old 15th January 2015, 14:58
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: Morato's Air Combat Victories

Air victory claim corresponding to enemy loss is often understood as the plane destroyed or damaged beyond repair - this being a "kill". Also when the enemy plane is forced to land behind "our" lines and can be taken as a trophy, it could be regarded as a air victory. Actually the intact or only slightly damaged captured enemy plane is a bigger bonus than to have it destroyed.

The problem arises with the definition of "kill" - it means destroyed enemy plane (or plane which is so damaged that it is written off by enemy). "Kill" means destroyed enemy plane, no doubt on that. But is the air victory necessarily same thing as the "kill"?

Mike Spick defined in his book "Luftwaffe Fighter Aces" the air victory as a such situation, in which a pilot in good faith believes to have downed a enemy plane. However this must be confirmed by someone (a fellow pilot or ground observer) to be a "confirmed air victory". The main point is that the air victory claim is made and confirmed in good faith - thus it ends up to the confirmed air victory list of the pilot and will stay there even if the later research shows otherwise. If Morato had 40 confirmed individual air victories accepted officially by the air forces in which he served, they are confirmed official air victories for him and any remark or note does not change that afterwards. If it is found out that Morato had actually 20-25 air victories, it is "unofficial" information for the interest of historians only.

More complications rise when we talk about individual and shared "kills"/air victories. If we count shared air victories to the tally, it will automatically raise the number of air victories of many pilots. Let´s say that 3 fighter pilots together claim a enemy bomber, everyone is credited with one shared - in practice 3 air victories! Quite common practice in some air forces was to credit individual pilots only with shared victories and the unit with "full" air victories.

Nowadays historians recognize that group/shared kills are the richest source of air victory inflation - just see the air victory scores of Soviet, Japanese and Italian air units. In the Winter War vs. Finland Soviet fighter units overclaimed by the ratio of 10:1, Japanese against Soviets in the Nomonhan war about 6:1 and Italians during the Greco-Italian war about 5:1 - in just one air combat Italians claimed to have wiped out the whole Greek Air Force out of sky, but somehow Greeks just kept on flying and harassing Italians!

However one must take in account that there may have been great differences in the accuracy of air victory claims of different units of same air force. The most accurate Soviet fighter unit (49 IAP) in Winter War overclaimed less than 2:1 (16:9) while the least accurate Baltic Fleet Air Force fighter units overclaimed together massive 54:1!

When it comes to Spanish Civil War just see the Spanish wiki crediting to couple of Soviet pilots more than 30 air victories - however scratching a little that score is based mostly in shared "kills" and most likely the score is the total score of air claims of the Republican air units in which these pilots served!

García Morato´s high claim score is partly explained by the fact that he was a Spanish pilot fighting through the whole conflict. German, Italian and Soviet pilots were all only limited time in Spain as they were rotated continually.

Fiat CR 32 was not the cutting edge of aviation technology in latter half of 1930´s, but it was a decent gun platform and quite nimble. And when it was flown by someone who knew all the strengths and weaknesses of plane, it did quite well.
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