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  #31  
Old 7th June 2006, 22:15
Ludovico Slongo's Avatar
Ludovico Slongo Ludovico Slongo is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

I've joyned this thread -going a bit off topic- because impressed by the deep knowledge on 82nd FG displayed by Mr. Martin Gleeson. So I'm asking help to better reconstruct a fight between Italian Macchis from 1° Stormo CT and American Lightnings most likely of 82nd FG itself, a combat that has always intersted myself but whose details are not very clear to me.This combat took place on the morning of 5 May 1943 when a group of seven Siai Marchetti SM 82 (of 149° Gruppo T) took off at 8.45 (Italian hour) from the airstrip of Gerbini (Sicily) directed towards Tunisia under escort of 16 Macchis of 1° Stormo led by the ace Tenente Amedeo Guidi. the Italian planes were intercepted 20 miles from Zembra by some P38s .The Siais coded 602-5 (Tenente Camerini), 608-3 (Maresciallo Barba) went down in flames with no survivors. The 603-3 (Maresciallo Mascetti) exploded while ditching near Zembra island (the pilot and 5 passengers survived), the 608-2 8 (Tenente Rosci) ditched near Tunis (crew rescued), the 607-3 (Tenente Setti) force-landed in a Tunisian beach and finally the last two machines turned back. Some of the machines -at least the three that exploded- carried fuel, while Tenente Fulvio Setti was finally able to repair his kite and flew back to Italy gaining the gold medal for bravery for this mission (it is the highest Italian military award and very seldom was given to living people).It seems that the Macchis (possibly 202s) claimed seven confirmed victories plus seven damaged or alternatively only seven probables. An Italian source (Nino Arena -that sometimes appears not fully reliable) claims that two Macchis went down while another (possibly Corrado Ricci) doesn't record any fighter loss. Here is what I know of this combat. Is anyone able to add any detail of the P38s part in it (numerical consistance of the American unit, claims and losses) ? Is there any Italian expert that could add some details on the Italian claims and losses or correct any detail of the above description?Many thanks in advance.Ludovico.
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  #32  
Old 8th June 2006, 01:04
Martin Gleeson Martin Gleeson is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Hallo Ludovico,

Thank you for your kind words but I fear my knowledge is not as deep on the 82nd FG as you think ! Your detailed posting on the 5 May 1943 battle was new to me and very welcome as it revealed who were the opponents on the 'other side' of that severe engagement.

In this case, as usual, I depend on 'ADORIMINI - A History of the 82nd Fighter Group in WW2' by Steve Blake and John Stanaway. Also Frank Olynyk's 'USAAF (MTO) CREDITS for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft in Air-to-Air Combat WW2'.

The 95th Fighter Squadron of the 82nd FG were flying escort to six B-25s of the 321st BG(M) on an anti-shipping strike. The seventeen P-38s were arranged in four flights led by Capt. Osher. On sighting the enemy formation ("six Italian SM 82 transports and some escorting fighters") Osher led two P-38 flights into the attack. The following claims resulted;

Capt. Ernest K. Osher One SM 82 and one MC 200 destroyed.
2/Lt. Richard F. Kenney Two SM 82s and one Bf 109 destroyed.
2/Lt. Guido F. Lucini One SM 82 and one Bf 109 destroyed.
1/Lt. Charles R. Langdon One SM 82 destroyed and one Bf 109 damaged.
1/Lt. Julius F. Schoenberg One SM 82 destroyed.

The 95th FS lost two pilots and their P-38s. Both men were fairly inexperienced. They were;

2/Lt. Allen E. Ellerbee
2/Lt. Edgar L. Weddle

No times quoted, except the mission appears to have begun at 07.45 hours, US time (F. Olynyk).

I will ask Steve Blake, THE 82nd FG expert, if he has anything further on this combat. By the way, was the SM 82 of Ten. Setti damaged by the fighters before he was forced to land ?

Regards for now.

Martin Gleeson.
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  #33  
Old 8th June 2006, 19:50
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

dear Martin,thank you for your pieces information, I appreciated them very much. Back to your question, as far as I know Tenente Setti was shot down and obliged to force land by the fire of the Lightnings even if it seems likely that damaged suffered was not so heavy.Apart from being very interested in any additional information on the American units, I really hope that someone else could help with the Italian claims and losses (in particular if any Macchi was lost during the engagement) as well as with other addictions/corrections to the description I wrote yesterday (that is almost integrally taken by the Official History of Nino Arena, sometimes a not-so-much-reliable source, but possibly accurate on regard of losses suffered by Italian Units). I know that some of the best Italian researchers are members of this forum (Gianandrea Bussi and Ferdinando D'Amico at least) maybe they can help.Kind RegardsLudovico.
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  #34  
Old 9th June 2006, 03:16
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith A
JG2 do seem to have a reputation for overclaiming. Donald Caldwell hints at it in his books on JG26 ...
I don't think his coverage is that prejudiced, but in some cases the author may have made assumptions about the cause of loss. For example, on April 4th, 1942 the JG 26 claimed (15) Spitfires shot down near the French coast.

The known RAF losses were:
- Spitfire BM191 (64 Sqn) accident; midair collision on Circus 119.
- Spitfire BL721 (72 Sqn) shot down by flak on Circus 119.
- Spitfire BL935 (72 Sqn) missing from Circus 119, cause uncertain.
- Spitfire AB258 (72 Sqn) missing from Circus 119, cause uncertain.
- Spitfire ----- (72 Sqn) ASR mission, shot down by German fighter.

BM191 had its tail clipped off by an unidentified Spitfire, possibly BL935?
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  #35  
Old 9th June 2006, 03:34
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Quote:
Originally Posted by alessandro bray
Hi to all,

the discussion on relationship between claims and real losses is always fashinating and complex. Here I prefer to skip the confrontation between Luftwaffe and other aviations claims – in parenthesis I consider Luftwaffe claims on average more accurate
If you're referring to fighter pilots then I doubt it, except in 1941. Otherwise the proof is lacking. You've ignored the German anti-aircraft units; they accounted for many Allied planes. Axis-controlled seaports, coastal towns, supply areas, and airfields were brimming with flak guns and Allied fighters also had to contend with return fire from German shipping.

A large portion of Allied losses were due to undetermined causes and unfortunately some unscrupulous writers wish to credit all losses to German fighters. For whatever reason, they refuse to recognize accident statistics and all that messy flak business remains largely unexplored.


Quote:
Originally Posted by alessandro bray
in the case of Bühligen’s P-38 claims a good work is “ FW 190 in North Afrika”.

Lots of bogus claims of aerial victories? It was nothing new in his unit.

In 1942, JG 2 was amongst the worst offenders on Western Front. There is no logical reason why this would change in 1943. Everyone should have expected this to escalate in North Africa, and it did, as your book suggests. The pilots were further from home and the scrutiny of their superiors. Neither side had a large and reliable occupation force/police force/homeguard force to help verify crashes.

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 9th June 2006 at 17:30.
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  #36  
Old 9th June 2006, 03:50
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black baron
Well, all good stuff. This particularly. Re. P-38 losses on 8th January 1943. the 82nd FG this day apparently lost 4 Lightnings and 2 pilots.

Where is the proof that Bühligen destroyed any of them?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Black baron
As for Buehligen being a liar, seems a stretch. 800 missions, 112 kills, knocked down 3 times

Based on the huge discrepancy in numbers over time, most rational individuals would not consider some of Bühligen's claims as an honest mistake. Some German officers were awards-chasers who were obsessed with submitting the maximum number of claims.

Last edited by Six Nifty .50s; 9th June 2006 at 19:02.
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  #37  
Old 9th June 2006, 06:35
Andrew Arthy Andrew Arthy is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Hi,

I’ve read this discussion with a lot of interest. As co-author of The Focke-Wulf 190 in North Africa, written with Morten Jessen, I thought I might contribute my opinion, and most importantly, some facts.

I should start with some definitions.

Overclaiming, the accidental claiming of too many victories (‘overzealous enthusiasm’ as Jim P. puts it), occurs in most combats. Pilots believe they’ve shot down an enemy aircraft, but in actual fact it is only damaged, or was not actually hit. This is inevitable in the confusion of battle.

Falsification, claiming victories when combat did not actually happen (or ‘intentional deceit’, as Jim P. puts it), certainly occurred, but it was much rarer. There are a couple of well-known cases, most notably the J.G. 27 pilots in summer 1942.

Some Data
The original question asks about Bühligen shooting down P-38s when no losses were actually reported. In Tunisia Bühligen claimed 12 P-38s, so clearly the question refers to that period. Here is some data:

26 December 1942
Lt. Bühligen of 4./J.G. 2 claims two P-38s, Lt. Marx of 4./J.G. 2 claims a P-38, and Oblt. Tonne of 3./J.G. 53 shot down another P-38. One P-38 was claimed damaged.

German claims: 4-0-1 P-38s

The 1st FG had escorted the 97th BG to Bizerta, and the P-38 unit lost two aircraft.

Thus the German claims in this combat were reasonably accurate.

8 January 1943
This was one of the first II./J.G. 2 combats when flying from Kairouan airfield. Lt. Bühligen claimed three P-38s. The rest of II./J.G. 2 claimed seven P-38s destroyed.

German claims: 10-0-0 P-38s

The 14th FG lost three P-38s, along with two more damaged. Martin Gleeson notes that the 82nd FG lost four P-38s. Although the times of the 82nd FG’s missions are not known, they were all to the Kairouan area, and II./J.G. 2 was the only German fighter unit in the region, so we can assume that on one or more of these missions the 82nd FG met II./J.G. 2.

Again, the German claims in this combat are reasonably accurate.

Thanks to Martin Gleeson for providing some information on this date. This fills in a gap in Morten and my book.

It is interesting to note that 8 January 1943 was the last day that Adolf Dickfeld flew as Gruppenkommandeur of II./J.G. 2. This may have had some bearing on subsequent events at Kairouan.

14 January 1943
Lt. Bühligen claimed a P-38F shot down, and other II./J.G. 2 pilots claimed two B-17s damaged. An Italian pilot also claimed a P-38.

German claims: 1-0-0 P-38s

The opposition in this combat was the 71st FS/1st FG, which escorted the 301st BG to Sousse and Sfax. Two P-38s failed to return.

Again, II./J.G. 2 claims were reasonably accurate.

28 January 1943
Oblt. Bühligen of 4./J.G. 2 claimed a P-38 50 km south-west of Kairouan. Two others were claimed damaged. There were also Italian claims for two P-38s destroyed.

German claims: 1-0-2 P-38s

The 71st FS/1st FG lost one pilot shot down, and another P-38 was damaged.

Again, II./J.G. 2 claims were reasonably accurate.

15 February 1943
Oblt. Bühligen claimed three P-38s shot down. In all, II./J.G. 2 claimed ten P-38s shot down, three Spitfires shot down, and one unknown fighter shot down, as well as a B-25 damaged.

German claims: 10-0-0 P-38s

B-25s and B-26s flew a mission to Kairouan, escorted by the 94th FS/1st FG and the 82nd FG, and they were intercepted by FW 190s and Bf 109s soon after leaving the target area (the 12th BG reported 15/20 enemy fighters, while the 82nd FG noted 6/9 enemy fighters). At 17:35 the USAAF reported only one loss in exchange for claims of 3-3-5. I’m not aware of any more American losses, although I’d like to hear from anyone who has details of American P-38 losses on this day.

This is one of the more suspect II./J.G. 2 combats.

12 March 1943
Oblt. Bühligen claimed three P-38s shot down, and Hptm. Rudorffer claimed one B-17 shot down.

German claims: 3-0-0 P-38s

38 B-17s were escorted by 30 1st FG P-38s to Sousse and Enfidaville. There are no known American losses, either B-17 or P-38, in this combat.


So the only dates on which Bühligen claimed P-38s shot down when there were no losses were 15 February and 12 March 1943. On these two days he claimed six P-38s.


II./J.G. 2 and Overclaiming/Falsification
Most of the suspect II./J.G. 2 claims in Tunisia occurred while they were based at Kairouan airfield in central Tunisia in January and the first half of February 1943. II./J.G. 2 pilots based at Kairouan during the period of overclaiming included: Bühligen, Rudorffer, Werner, Karch, Schülze, Goltzsche, Engelbrecht, von Farnholz, Übelbacher, Sonntag, Gäbler, Weißgruber, Jacobs, and Marx.

II./J.G. 2 was usually the only unit based at Kairouan, and it was certainly the only fighter unit based there (except for the Stab J.G. 53 during the Kasserine operation). They were 150 to 200 km from the main German headquarters in northern and southern Tunisia, and reported to the Fliegerführer Tunis once a day, in the evening. The II./J.G. 2 detachment was usually at the most fifteen pilots (for example, on 5 February 1943 there were 13 pilots in the Kairouan detachment, and ten FW 190s).

Thus it was the perfect environment if the II./J.G. 2 pilots wanted to falsify claims. Rudorffer was the highest ranked officer, and he was surrounded by pilots who had been together in the Gruppe for a while.

Please note I am not saying that falsification of victories by II./J.G. 2 did occur, I’m just suggesting that rarely would a German fighter unit be in such a good position to submit false victory claims. The chances of discovery were very slim, so long as you had the trust of your fellow pilots.

Gaps in the American Records
This is a convenient excuse for the II./J.G. 2 pilots, but it’s simply not true. The 1st Fighter Group has complete records of its operations in the period of II./J.G. 2 over claiming. I have the 14th FG microfilms, and although their records aren’t as detailed as those of the 1st FG, there is enough information to be able to match up claims and losses. Unfortunately I’ve not seen the 82nd FG records, so I generally rely on Shores, Ring & Hess for their Tunisian operations (which is one reason why Morten and I weren’t too definite about II./J.G. 2 overclaiming in our book).

Martin Gleeson mentions the 3rd PRG with P-38s in Tunisia. This is a valid point, but generally II./J.G. 2 was claiming multiple P-38 kills, and the PRG units flew singly, eliminating it as a possibility in most cases.

Rudorffer on the Eastern Front
As for Rudorffer on the Eastern Front, I’m no expert, but I know that in at least one combat he and his wingman were very optimistic with their claims. I should note that I don’t wish to accuse him of anything (I believe he is still alive). Morten and I wrote to him in 2001 asking if he wanted to provide information for our book, but he declined. We wish we could have got his side of the story.



Even if II./J.G. 2 did falsify victory claims in Tunisia, it is understandable. Victories brought medals and hero status, as Six Nifty .50s notes in one of his posts.


I hope some of the above is of interest.

Cheers,
Andrew A.
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  #38  
Old 9th June 2006, 11:30
alessandro bray alessandro bray is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Six Nifty .50s


I you're referring to fighter pilots then I doubt it, except in 1941. Otherwise the proof is lacking. You've ignored the German anti-aircraft units; they accounted for many Allied planes. Axis-controlled seaports, coastal towns, supply areas, and airfields were brimming with flak guns and Allied fighters also had to contend with return fire from German shipping.

A large portion of Allied losses were due to undetermined causes and unfortunately some unscrupulous writers wish to credit all losses to German fighters. For whatever reason, they refuse to recognize accident statistics and all that messy flak business remains largely unexplored.


Hi,

I continue to consider german claims more accurate than other aviation's claims, particurarly for the period 1941-1943.
You have stated that you doubt of this, but don't give any indication on which Air force has more accurate claims......then if you will, can we compare numbers and data

regards
Alessandro
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  #39  
Old 9th June 2006, 20:47
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Now this discussion tends to be ridiculous for a very simple reason. You discuss verified and approved victories and not claims. Therefore bureaucrats from RLM are to be blamed and not pilots. Another point was well proven by '6' - indeed, in similar environment accuracy of JG 2 and JG 26 was similar. They were accurate over ground, where wrecks could have been counted and they were ridiculous over sea, where there were no wrecks at all. Discrepancy between JG 2 and JG 26 is just only because the former flew mostly over the Channel while the latter in the St Omer area and German clerks had just enough time to verify every claim submitted (with various results though).
That said I consider RAF late war victories most accurate, both due to quality of pilots but also methods of verification.
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  #40  
Old 10th June 2006, 01:16
Martin Gleeson Martin Gleeson is offline
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Re: Bueligens P-38 kills, disputed

Hallo Andrew,

I can add very little more on the subject but the following may be of interest. The 82nd FG 'Statistical Report' for January 1943 that I referred to shows the group flew 2 missions on both 14 and 28 January 1943. All 4 were bomber escort missions - almost certainly for B-25s and B-26s - and no pilot or P-38 losses were recorded.

ADORIMINI does not mention any activity by the 82nd FG on these two dates, probably because there were no claims, losses, accidents, etc. However this is a 'must have' unit history and one of my favoutite books. By the way I greatly enjoyed your own work on the FW 190 in North Africa and look forward to all of your proposed titles with you co-author.

As an aside from studying various published works and some records I believe USAAF units often under-reported aircraft losses as opposed to pilot losses. Aircraft that crashed on landing or were written off afterwards due to battle damage do not always seems to be included when tallying losses in action. This probably applies to most combatents.

Re. American Records.
Very interesting comments on the 1st and 14th FG records. I am both surprised and delighted that so much still exists. I do not have the 82nd FG microfilms myself - yet. From memory I seem to recall Steve Blake telling me he was unable to find any 82nd FG mission reports before a certain date in February or March 1943.

On the flip side of that the late William J. Schildt (95th FS) once sent me copies of his 'Combat Data'. It was compiled at the end of his tour of duty in July 1943 by his squadron operations office. It includes wonderful details for each mission such as his P-38 serial number, take-off and landing times, mission number, target, aircraft types escorted, etc. His family sent a copy of this to the very worthwhile 82nd FG Association website where it can happily be seen by all. www.82ndfightergroup.com

My reason for mentioning this is to suggest that very detailed records of the Tunisian campaign were available within the group - at that time. What happened to them afterwards remains a mystery , to me at any rate.

Re. Subject of Flak claims by Six Nifty .50s.
Agree with you completely. We seem to ignore what is a fascinating subject in itself. I know of no website or book devoted to Flak/AAA research or claims, as opposed to the weapons themselves. Does anyone ?

Regards,

Martin Gleeson.
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