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Old 21st December 2018, 17:54
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Boris Ciglic Boris Ciglic is offline
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"Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

Hi all,

I'd like to point to a excellent book in Russian/Ukrainian language entitled "Дьявольское трио в керченском небе" by Ivan Lavrinenko which has been published in Kyev a few days ago and which I just received.

The book follows the careers of Gerhard Barkhorn, Helmut Lipfert and Otto Fönnekold over Kerch from 1 November 1943 till 11 April 1944. There aren't some unknown or spectacular photos of the trio of aces in the book (even if there are some very nice photos of them inside, as well as portraits of many of their victims), but it's true value is in the text. Each of their claims has been painstakingly researched in Soviet documents and it brings answers to questions which are frequently asked on this forum whenever there is a talk about aces: who were their opponents and what did they actually achieve.

In the period covered in the book, Barkhorn claimed 72 victories, Lipfert 45 and Fönnekold 50. According to Ivan's research, 29 of Barkhorn's kills can be 100% verified and there is a fair chance that he scored 12 more, for Lipfert it is 25 plus 8, and for Fönnekold 31 plus 9. Interestingly, although we discussed here about Lipfert and high percentage of his verifiable claims (at least over Hungary later on - thanks to HGabor), Fönnekold was even better in it, at least in given time frame.

The paperback book has 266 pages in A5 size, 96 photos (if I counted correctly), a dozen or so documents and six detailed appendixes. How much it costs - I have no idea.

Book's major "flaws" are that it has been published in just 50 examples (and I have no clue if any of them remained for sale) and that it is in a language which just a few in the west can understand.

I sincerely hope that somebody from the aviation publishing business in the west will see this thread and consider translating it into English or German, as I'm sure that such a highly interesting theme would find a good response from the readers.

Cheers,
Boris


PS the author has provided his email in the book (as well as on warsport.ru web portal where he contributes regularly) so I suppose it isn't a problem that I'm sharing it here

ivan_l#ukr.net (change # with @)

https://warspot.ru/users/17612-ivan-lavrinenko
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Old 21st December 2018, 19:33
Dénes Bernád Dénes Bernád is offline
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

Who shot down who, and overclaims/underclaims are probably the two most difficult, and politicised, aspects of combat aviation history. I usually refrain in specifying such "matches", as there are many factors to be considered, not all of them always available.

One difficult question is: what is considered a "loss"? Obviously, not only the expressely specified official "combat losses" have to be considered, but also those categorised as "missing in action". Often, official descriptions are misleading, like "technical problems", "collided in mid-air", etc. Even those aircraft that somehow managed to return to their base heavily damaged, should be considered as "confirmed", as usually that particular aircraft was written off. Moreover, it confirms the honesty of the victory claimer.

And there is the flak. As far as I know, about half of all combat losses were inflicted by flak fire (of course, this varied greatly, depending on the front zone and date of combat). Based on my experience, official documents tend to attribute combat losses to flak fire, rather than enemy fighters, as it was less "degrading", as flak fire cannot really be avoided, when enemy aircraft - at least theoretically - could, and it depended on the pilot's skill, or awareness.

Summing up, I believe this kind of research cannot ever be accurate, only approximative.

Finally, it's a shame, indeed, that such works are not published in an international language (preferably English), so we can see how far one went with such an exercise.
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Old 22nd December 2018, 01:01
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

Hi Denes,


I wouldn't be so scared of comparing the claims and facts, and I know well that you aren't either After all that's one of the main points of history as a science. With the right sources and correct approach much of it can be cleared. No historical research can be 100% accurate and there will always be flaws and mistakes. Just like the wrong serial of Tomovich's B-17 that you found in my Bf 109 book (and this has nothing to do with sources but rather with fatigue). I'd say that Ivan took into consideration much of factors that you mention and took care to include them - total losses/damaged/crash-landed/belly-landed etc.



Cheers,
Boris
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Old 22nd December 2018, 11:07
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

Boris

Does the author make it possible also to verify all damaged Soviet aircraft during this period, even lightly so? I can only assume that Soviet/Russian loss documents are appx just as correct as their Western/German counterparts (they simply had to be), but when it comes to damaged it seems only the Germans were very good at recording that (or is it because they have been more and better studied/published?). You do mention damaged aircraft but is it possible for you to be more exact what Ivan has written?

I have never seen a Soviet/Russian loss document and even if I did I would not be able to understand it, but it would be interesting to see how Russian historians are tackling the damaged issue, even those only slightly hit.

I also echo Dénes point, that a lot more from the Soviet/Russian side needs to be both published and translated. The task is of course immense, but if it does not there will "forever" be an unbalanced history with the "West" coming out in front.

Cheers
Stig
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Old 22nd December 2018, 11:50
Dénes Bernád Dénes Bernád is offline
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

A sidenote, not directly linked to the title: did someone attempt to match victory claims of top scoring Soviet fighter aces to actual losses from the Axis side? If yes, is something published?
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Last edited by Dénes Bernád; 22nd December 2018 at 12:29.
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Old 22nd December 2018, 17:11
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

Stig,


When it comes to losses, the VVS documents are pretty detailed. From what I have seen, they seem to be even more detailed than the German i.e. you can find the details like "three strikes in the left wing, six in the fuselage, one in the cockpit". You can find references like minor damage, fixed in the regiment within 24 hours or 48 hours, damage required the plane to be sent for general repairs etc. You have documents from various levels - regiment, group/division, army etc. How it all looked can be seen in documents which are made public at pamyat naroda web portal, but this is just a drop in the ocean. Basically, everything was recorded but one needs to spend months in Podolsk to find it In my opinion, the greatest problem is the sheer size of VVS, as you can often come upon dozens of regiments and auxiliary units fighting on one particular section of the front.


Denes,

not sure about that, but in general, VVS fighters overclaimed heavily, I'd say much more than their Luftwaffe counterparts. You could check some articles at warsport.ru with the help of google translate. I eagerly expect to see the work about Kuban battles in the spring of 1943 which is prepared by a dear friend and a member of this forum Andrey Kuznetsov. It will answer many questions which some of us thought will remain undisclosed forever...


Cheers,

Boris
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Old 22nd December 2018, 18:51
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

That sounds very interesting Boris

As I said before, really wish a lot more from the Soviet (Russian) side could be published in English....

Cheers
Stig
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Old 22nd December 2018, 21:19
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

I wish this book could be translated into English
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Old 24th December 2018, 20:47
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Re: "Devil's Trio in the skies of Kerch" ("Дьявольское трио в керченском н

Had been translating this book but Hurricane Michael and other problems put it on the back burner. I was going to give it to Ivan to publish but he told me to pass it out. I’ll try to get back to it and see if he wants to do anything with it different now.
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