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Pre-WW2 Military and Naval Aviation Please use this forum to discuss Military and Naval Aviation before the Second World War.

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Old 26th December 2014, 01:14
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: True air combat records of Spanish Civil War?

Usually the only really confirmed Do 17 "kill" on 18.4.1937 over Bilbao is credited solely to Felipe del Río Crespo and not as a shared. On that day Republican pilots claimed in total 3 twin engined bombers, of which the del Río´s "killed" Do 17 was the only really verified as it fell to Republican territory. Panadero´s shared victory may be explained by those "unconfirmed" cases or del Río´s claim was shared with Panadero in unit records.

Republican air units did many times share air victories between their pilots even in the case when a sole claimer existed. This could mean that the whole patrulla (3 pilots) would be all credited with a share kill even though only one of the patrulla did really shoot down the enemy plane. It was considered that even the presence of other pilots played a role in the air combat and thus the one who shot the enemy plane was assisted by others and had to share his "kill" with them.

In practice this system of shared kills for pilots and crediting the unit for full "kills" created much more inflation in air victory records than crediting pilots individually of their air victories. Shared kills had a tendency to convert in full kills in statistics. This happened very often in the records of Italian, Japanese and Soviet air units. As a result there could be overclaim ratios of 6:1 or even more. Crediting only "team-work" sounds like a good idea to stop individual exaggerations but in practice it did not work and led to something which could be called as the inflation of "collectively cumulating air victory account".

For comparison Luftwaffe had fairly accurate system crediting individual pilots for their air victories. Estimated overclaiming in Luftwaffe was less than in air forces crediting only the "team-work" - according to Mike Spick the average overclaim ratio in Luftwaffe´s fighter units may have been 2:1, although individual units could differ - some overclaiming more than 2:1 and some overclaiming less. Thus the combat stats based on invidual records are somewhat more reliable than those produced by "collectively cumulating air victory account".

There were of course some German pilots with highly exaggerated claims and the confirmation process could not eliminate overclaiming which was often made in good faith. The Knights Cross and other awards were an incentive for German pilots to exaggerate claims but precisely for that reason air victory claims were more carefully checked in Luftwaffe than in many other air forces. And the other good reason to check air victory claims was to get as reliable data on combat success and airwar situation as possible.
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Old 30th December 2014, 01:58
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: True air combat records of Spanish Civil War?

Scratching little the "confirmed" air victories of Legion Condor.

As a case study I have started to look on air victory claims related to campaigns at the Northern Front of Spanish Civil War in 1937. In this case it was easy to compare to the number of claims regarding "Ratas" (I-16) with the number of available "Moscas" for the enemy.

The result showed that Legion Condor pilots claimed 17 "Ratas" destroyed during the campaigns on Vizcaya, Santander and Gijón:

4.1.1937 Harder and Houwald claimed a I-16 each
13.8.1937 Boddem claimed a I-16
15.8.1937 Rempel claimed a I-16
17.8.1937 Boddem claimed a I-16
22.8.1937 Lützow, Flegel and Pingel claimed a I-16 each
4.9.1937 Seiler claimed I-16
6.9.1937 Boddem claimed I-16
9.9.1937 Brücker claimed I-16
23.9.1937 Schlichling claimed I-16
27.9.1937 Harder claimed 2 x I-16
28.9.1937 Harder claimed I-16
30.9.1937 Flegel claimed I-16
13.10.1937 Harder claimed I-16

+ "probables" (Balthasar on 20.1.1937 + Flegel on 18.8.1937)

In total 17 "confirmed" I-16 + 2 "probable" I-16. Some of these claims can be verified by Republican records. But not all, because it is just impossible. Republicans delivered to Northern Front in total 17 I-16 planes, of which one escaped to France before the fall of Gijón on 21.10.1937 which ended the war in Northern Spain. In total Republicans lost in Northern Front 16 Moscas for all causes, and in these losses one should count one I-16 captured intact by the Nationalists.

One should also remember that Legion Condor was not alone operating against the weak Republican air forces at the North. Also the Italian Aviazione Legionaria and Spanish Nationalist pilots took part in air combats with their Fiat CR 32 fighters. They made also many claims including at least 3 confirmed "Ratas" during the Santander offensive.

Patrick Laureau´s remark in Condor: With hindsight, the claims against the weak Republican fighter forces on the northern front continued rather too quickly if one considers the number of actual airplanes available to sustain the "Red" resistance.
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