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  #41  
Old 16th April 2007, 22:45
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

Hi Franek,

I guess Dénes wants us to think about wrong development,
wrong a/c types (Bf 109, Fw 190, He 112), no strategic 4 engine bombers,
wrong missions (e.g. BOB), bad planning (Me 262, Ar 234 and so on).
Maybe it's interesting but it would be off topic - or not?

Regards,
Sven.
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  #42  
Old 16th April 2007, 22:54
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dénes Bernád View Post
Germany didn't loose the war because of its combat pilots. Blaming the airmen for the failure of the leadership and command is not exactly beneficial.
But I didn't blame the airmen, did I? I'm perfectly clear that Germany's governing ideology led the country to ruin and defeat.

The point I had hoped to make was that having "better" pilots (in the sense of a very few who who pursued and achieved huge scores) didn't stop Germany losing the war. In fact, I'm persuaded by Stephen Bungay's argument that the regime's cult of the "warrior-hero" undermined the effectiveness of the force as a whole.
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  #43  
Old 17th April 2007, 00:57
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

But could we tell the German pilots were better? Judging by efficiency of their training system, they were not. That said, is the number of kills of some particular airmen indicative of their quality? Only to some degree, as the efficiency is measured in a less spectacular way of achieving goals. The goal was to win the war, to win a campaign or to win a single engagement, not by achieving kills but by preventing the enemy achieving his goals.
Some German airmen achieved impressive numbers of kills, but it was not reflected by actions of all Jagdwaffe, and in the result balance was on Allied side.
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  #44  
Old 17th April 2007, 02:39
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

I'm inclined to agree with Franek and Nick on separate points.

First, attaining a high victory total for a good pilot was a function of two forces - first and most important was opportunity. No air force had the 'opportunities' like the Luftwaffe who were most often encountering Allied a/c on nearly every mission if they chose to do so...

Second, 'luck' was a huge factor in surviving (I'm assuming skill or most likely they wouldn't be 'experten'). In the West a B-17 or B-24 gunner might have your number and all the skill in the world doesn't help.. and if you get to do this every day sooner or later bad things happen.

I don't really have proof but I suspect a high percentage of Luftwaffe aces were shot down by average US (or Brit, or Pole or Russian) fighter pilots who happened to catch the very good German pilot unaware of his presence or were simply run to ground by a flight of Mustangs which outperformed their own fighters.

My father shot down 7 in his first 35 missions and never encountered another German fighter in the air for the remainder of his 70 missions. Many, many US aces including Chuck Yeager had exactly the same experiences.. contrast that with the German pilot who flew and basically fought every day until killed or wounded - whereas US pilots rotated home and trained more US pilots after a 300 hour tour.

Johnny Johnson and a great number of British aces basically missed out in the great air battles of Feb 1944-May 1944 because they didn't have the range in the Spit or Tempest or didn't have the mission with their own Mustangs.. and that was a time when approximately 3000 German fighters were shot down.

So, difficult to state that Luftwaffe aces were better than Brit, Russian, French, etc, aces or US aces based on scores. Opportunity and luck (longevity in a lot of combats) were huge factors in running up scores.
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  #45  
Old 17th April 2007, 16:17
Dénes Bernád Dénes Bernád is offline
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Beale View Post
But I didn't blame the airmen, did I? I'm perfectly clear that Germany's governing ideology led the country to ruin and defeat.
I am sorry if I misunderstood you, Nick. In this case, please disregard what I wrote above.

As for the German pilots, if their assigned task was to achieve air superiority in a certain sector (if this was right or wrong from the strategic point of view is a different matter), i.e. to destroy as many enemy aircraft as possible, both in the air and on the ground, then the number of victories is relevant, namely they did their duty. However, if they were tasked to support their own ground forces, or closely escort own bombers, and they were still flying around looking for the 'kill', while neglecting the primary mission, then they did not do their duty. The Luftwaffe doctrine was usually the former; therefore, by shooting down the enemy in the greatest number possible for the given circumstances, they did achieve the assigned goal, despite the strategy being erroneous, leading ultimately to a lost war.
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  #46  
Old 18th April 2007, 12:49
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

Hello all...

As for Hartmann.....He never lost a wingman (except the ex bomber pilot that had luck to survive his clash with P-39s) so the witness was present. Method of attack almost 100% safe closing in for a certain kill with the minimum risk to himself and maximum damage with minimum amount of ammo used . Yes he was downed for 19 times but mostly from debris's of his victimes....so i guess his claims are correct or extremely near the 352 mark.

The fact is that all pilots over claimed, but its strange that no one puts the question for allied pilot victories. Not to mention American bomber crews over claiming over the Germany.
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  #47  
Old 20th April 2007, 07:02
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

drgondog

Your fathers 7 Victories in his initial 35 Combat sorties is a good achievement. For comparison, Hartmanns first 7 Victories came in 100 Combat Sorties in the target rich environment of the Eastern Front of 1942/43 and Barkhorn claimed his first victory on his 120th Combat sortie in early July 1941 having flown during the Battle of Britain without success. This is typical of the slow progress at the start of a fighter pilots career. The fighter pilots got better as they flew more missions. Imagine what your father could have achieved had he flown 1000 combat sorties in a prolonged campaign and lived long enough to achieve this milestone.

On another point, one of the leading German pilots of 1940, Werner Molders (a 14 victory Spanish Civil War Veteran) claimed 9 victories during the Phoney War (Sep 29 - Apr 40) he then claimed 16 Victories during the Battle of France (May - Jun 1940), then during the Battle of Britain (Jul - Oct 1940) claimed 29 Victories, for a total of 54 Victories to the end of October 1940. The Allied air experts can check this out but you will find that during each these phases of the war, these victory claims are comparable to the leading allied pilots victory claims. However what I have not found is an RAF pilot with previous combat experience who flew numerous combat sorties in the phoney war, the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain altogether. Very few had previous combat experience prior to WWII, and most of the Phoney War/Battle of France Veterans were rested (instructors) during the Battle of Britain.

For the Germans they had many veterans of the Spanish Civil War with 100+ combat sorties, most flew in all the campaigns of 1940, then these veterans were let loose onto a mostly raw underprepared Soviet Union?

Therefore, I believe in the early years of the War the Germans had the advantage as they had more combat experience that was imparted onto their less experienced pilots in the frontline units that led to greater success. Many of the high scoring experten started their careers during this period. In the latter parts of the war this situation changed when the Allies gained the necessary experience and improved the training programs, while the Germans shortened their training due to frontline demands.

During the period from late 1942 in North Africa to August 1944 at Normandy many experienced Jagdgeschwaders were mauled by the Allies loosing many of the veterans that would've imparted their knowledge to the new pilots. Suddenly inexperienced Staffelkapitans of few victories were teaching the new pilots. This I believe was the primary reason for the difference between the Eastern and Western Fronts, though the few units that remained on the Eastern Front had a reasonably high attrition, this attrition was mostly amongst the new pilots therefore being able to retain a reasonable proportion of veterans to impart combat knowledge to the newcomers.

This is probably a poor comparison but for an example I will use a sporting team, a team with several veteran players with high pressure game experience tend to perform better than new untested teams. The more experienced members tend to show the newer member how to win. Coaches (like combat flight instuctors) can pave the way but senior members in the team give the finishing touches with their experience on the playing field.

In summary, I believe the combat experience makeup of units is a key factor that tends to be overlooked when looking at the successes of various pilots.

Regards,

Craig...
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  #48  
Old 20th April 2007, 23:51
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

Craig - I agree your primary points... particularly regarding the mentoring role the leaders took in the Luftwaffe.

I have read perhaps 1000 USAAF Encounter Reports tring to piece specific adversaries in the same space and noted many reports in which the 190 was described as 'spinning out of control' or badly smoking and heading straight down' - in which the credit was awarded... and very sure thata percentage of those ships (and pilot) survived. I am equally sure many reported as being hit heavily but escaping into clouds actually resulted in a Destroyed vs a Damaged... for both sides- with the net leaning to 'over claim'.

To your other points about slow progress of many of the great ones, I think I have a better answer - at least for Battle of Britain and Kanalfront.
1. Luftwaffe High Command directives to 109 pilots to stick with bombers put many 109 pilots in a defensive mode to the advantage of aggressive Spit pilots. It's difficult to score if a.) you have guys chasing you all the time after you gave them an attack advantage, and b.) you are low on fuel.

2. In the summer of 44, the K-14 gunsight made aces of good pilots who ordinarily couldn't shoot very well in P-51's. Technology jumps had an effect and was complimented by aggressive USAAF tactics to always attack and dwindling leaders in Luftwaffe who could take the time to mentor low time squadron mates.

Two entirely different eras and tactical environments... including Ost Front.

my father was an average shot and a great pilot - a good combination when you have a fighter that was genrally superior to the ones you fought.

I'm glad he wasn't in a situation where he had to fly 300-500 missions in a 'target rich' environment. Luck of the draw, a moment of carelessness, a great deflection shot or a mechanical failure at the wrong time will work against you sooner or later -look how many times Rall survived being defeated!
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  #49  
Old 22nd April 2007, 06:49
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Re: Luftwaffe shared victories (was: Hartmann ....352 victories or 80?)

Drgndog

I'll give you another thought on the slow start of some of the Luftwaffe experten.

During the early years of the war the new luftwaffe pilots flew wingman to the experienced pilots. As there was not much of a rotation system (some NCO's did 6 months tours of the ErgJagdgruppes) they had to wait their turn to lead a Kette thus little opportunity to make claims while protecting their leader. Therefore by the time they gained this opportunity they were very experienced pilots with 100+ mission but few claims. On the other hand, in the allied system the pilots were rotated thus a wingman became and element leader earlier in his carreer as the longer serving pilots were rested.

The Luftwaffe mentoring system produced a number of highly skilled pilots but these were not enough in number to cover the losses. Thus overall by 1944, apart from a few exceptions, I believe the allies were more experienced, better trained, better equipped and numerically superior.

I see the rotation system having one big advantage to the allies. When they expanded the size of their forces they had numerous pilots in training establishment, resting etc. with the relevant combat experience that could man the leader positions in the new squadrons. In 1944, when the Germans expanded their Gruppes from 3 to 4 Staffeln and increased the number of pilots in their Staffeln, they lacked the leaders to lead the units often transferring these from units on the Russian Front. A bit like the old saying 'robbing Peter to pay Paul'.

There are a 1000 issues that could be discusses. As you said entirely different eras and tactical environments.

Regards,

Craig...
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