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Old 19th February 2005, 17:10
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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"often veterans tend to 'colourise' their stories"

Indeed. One has to take all personal accounts with a grain of salt, but to completely dismiss personal accounts without very strong reasons would be to go too far.

Both personal accounts and official reports from the Eastern Front seem to be more (unconsciously) tainted by prejudices than what is the case in most other combat zones in World War II. The intense political brainwashing regarding their Soviet opponents ("Untermenschen incapable of anything good") which the German soldiers were subjected to, naturally coloured their appraisal of the enemy. After the war, this was to some extent inherited by the Cold War propaganda language - not least due to the influence by the reports by old Wehrmacht officers which the West studied carefully in order to "learn what the Germans had learned about the Soviets".

In our little society (English speaking WW II aviation nuts in the West), Toliver's and Constable's book "Horridoh" has had a huge impact on many people's basic concept on the air war in the East. In this book, we are taught that "the gunsight in the Soviet fighters often was nothing else than a hand painted circle on the windscreen". (Which is absolutely false; the Soviets had quite modern reflector gunsights.) Although the authors try to balance a generally negative view of the Soviet Air Force and its accomplishments, they miss such important things as the fact that the Soviets brought into use the most rapidly firing aircraft machine gun of the war and that they pioneered the use of rocket projectiles.

Discussing this topic still creates ridiculously infected discussions, particularly when these discussions involve people from Eastern countries with personal aversion against the former Soviet oppressors. I know that people in the East are esxtremely divided in their view on the USSR. It is my impression that most of them are happy to be rid of the Soviets, but they neutrally admit the technical accomplishments of the USSR at the same time as they neutrally are aware of the flaws in the technical field. Then there are two extreme groups - one which paints everything which has to do with the USSR in black and is unable to admit any accomplishment by "those dumb Soviet people" (quite similar to the Nazi Untermenschen propaganda), and one which attempts to glorify everything which has to do with the USSR (consciously adopting old Soviet propaganda).

In this jungle of contradicting statements and passionate outbursts, we in our little society are supposed to understand the true nature of the air war on the Eastern Front. . .

My personal conclusion, after studying the air war on the Eastern Front from both sides and listening to veterans from both sides for many years, is that the Soviets produced some of the lowest quality on the Allied side in WW II, and at the same time they also produced some of the highest quality on the Allied side in WW II. And that complicates the whole thing even further! (In this situation, it is easy for anyone from either of the two extreme sides which I described above to just pick whatever suits their version and leave whatever doesn't suit their version.)

Even "in the middle" - outisde these extremist camps - there is confusion. One attempt to an analyse stated unhesitatingly that the Germans were "psychologically superior" to the Soviets. (Toliver/Constable, "Das waren die deutschen Jagdfliegerasse", p. 266.)

Possibly as a reaction against this stereotype, the team of writers around German aviation historian Jochen Prien recently has counterposed with the opposite thesis. They dismiss “die Rede, dass die Abschüsse im Osten 1941 im Vergleich zu denen an der Westfront ‘leichter’ zu erzielen gewesen seien“ simply as “a legend.” (Prien et al, "Die Jagdfliegerverbände der Deutschen Luftwaffe 1934 bis 1945", Teil 6/I, p. 25.) Instead, Prien et al attempt to present the large number of Soviet aircraft encountered in the air as a major explanation to the huge amount of success attained by German fighter pilots on the Eastern Front. This assumption, that numerical inferiority in itself is an advantage, of course meets little support from those who actually took part in the air war. It is a fact - supported by facts which can't be dismissed and acknowledged by those who flew on the Eastern Front on both sides in 1941 - that the qualitative gap between the Luftwaffe and the Soviet Air Force was larger than that between the Luftwaffe and the RAF or the French Air Force in 1940 – 1941. It is a matter of examining the reasons to this, not trying to deny it.

Speaking of personal statements by Germans who flew on the Eastern Front, they range from a few accounts clearly coloured by the effect of intense propaganda (like "the Russians flew like the first men on earth") to what seems to be denial of any flaws on the Soviet side (possibly as a reaction to the wartime tendency to dismiss air victories on the Eastern Fronts as "easy"). I suspect that this statement made by JG 51's Hans Strelow on 28 November 1941 is motivated by the latter:

"Die Ansicht, die zuerst bei den Stäben und jetzt wohl auch in der Heimat verbreitet ist, dass die Abschüsse in Russland viel leichter und ungefährlicher waren als in der anderen Feldzügen, da die Abschussziffern so ungewohnt sind. Zugegeben, die Abschüsse in den ersten vier Wochen waren leichter. Aber dann lernte der Russe so unwahrscheinlich schnell dazu, wie es der Engländer bis heute nicht gekonnt hat." (Jägerblatt 3/1963.)

My conclusion is that throughout the war, the Soviets had a larger number of top class pilots than the RAF or the USAAF had by the same time, and that some of the Soviet war material was of absolute top class. It also is my conclusion that the Soviet Air Force eventually gained on the German qualitative lead, and by the end of the war there probably was no better air force than the Soviet Air Force.

I am absolutely convinced that at any given period would no other air force than precisely the Luftwaffe have been able to stand up with such effect against the Soviet Air Force. If Hitler had been equipped with the RAF or the US Air Force (and its men, doctrines and machines) in 1941 (instead of the Luftwaffe and its men, doctrines and machines), he would not have been able to achieve such accomplishments against the Soviet Air Force. Exchange 1941 for any other year between 1941 and 1945, and the result will be the same. This may surprise some, but it is a fact that from 1941 onward, the cream of the Luftwaffe was in action against the Soviets. The Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day.

Returning to statements by individual pilots, it is interesting to listen to those Germans who fought both in the West and in the East, i.e. who were in a position to compare the Soviets with the Western Allies. What almost all of them say when I have made interviews with them, is that the Soviets improved quickly, and soon even surpassed the quality of the Western Allies. It always is nice not only when sources are given, but also when people are able to verify the source - so here I give one statement made to another researcher: Josef Unverzagt, who flew with JG 77 against the RAF and the USAAF in 1944 and against the Soviet Air Force in 1945, is quoted making the following comparison between the RAF and the USAAF in 1944 on one hand and the Soviet Air Force in 1945:

"Die Zahl der Gegner [in the East] war in der Masse weniger als im Westen, die Qualität der Jäger aber durch ausgesuchte Einheiten oft besser." (Prien, "JG 77", p. 2277; I am sure Mr. Prien will gladly provide anyone who wants to check his sources with a copy of the letter in question, since that is the essence of mentioning sources.)

I hope this posting will not provoke any heated debate from either of the extreme camps. It is not my intention to provoke anyone. I feel that the subject is important, and only because some people have a problem with the topic, we should not impose any self-censoring. After all, it is only a hobby, and as far as I know, no one of us is a professional historian, no one of us approaches the subject with the methods of a professional historian. We deal with this as merry amateurs and only because of fun, and let's keep it there.

All best,

Christer Bergström

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  #2  
Old 19th February 2005, 19:28
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Juha Juha is offline
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Hello Christer
You wrote:"...The Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day. "

I'm not sure on that, at end of Bob, IIRC JG 51 was the most successful of the JGs but JG 26 and JG 2 were also amongst the most successful JGs so IMHO there were no qualiative gap between JGs in West and in East at the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa, and for example on 10.5.40 or on 13.8.40 the force correlation was better for LW than on 22.6.41. Of course LW had more experience on 22.6.41 but it had also suffered heavy losses in earlier campaigns. Soviets had studied earlier campaigns and so they knew or at least they should have known more on LW and its tactics than the Western powers on 10.5.40. They also had more combat experience on 22.6.41 than Western Allies had on10.5.40 because of campaigns against Japanese, Winter War and the participation of Soviet pilots in Spanish Civil War.

On the quality of Soviet AF
Finns did not have any misconceptions on the capabilities of Soviet AF, at least not after the first days of Winter War. They had fought with inferior a/c (Fokker D XXI versus I-16 and I-153) and even if Soviet fighter tactics had been too inflexible many Soviet pilots had been good and tough. (The purges had not taken away the flight hours from average front line fighter sqn pilots´ logbooks). Soviets had also surprised Finns with some technical innovations, for ex. with the use of drop tanks to increase the radius of action of the fighters.
So how I see the question. I agree with You on the point that the quality of Soviet pilots varied greatly, probably more than in many other AFs. Also the willingness to fight varied greatly, how much this depend on motivation and how much it was the result of orders, I don't know.
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Old 19th February 2005, 19:55
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Christer

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Indeed. One has to take all personal accounts with a grain of salt, but to completely dismiss personal accounts without very strong reasons would be to go too far.
Simply, evere account must be verified.

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Both personal accounts and official reports from the Eastern Front seem to be more (unconsciously) tainted by prejudices than what is the case in most other combat zones in World War II. The intense political brainwashing regarding their Soviet opponents ("Untermenschen incapable of anything good") which the German soldiers were subjected to, naturally coloured their appraisal of the enemy.
This not only reflected to Soviets but also eg. Poles - see claims of Rolf Pingel for example. Anyway, this does not mean reports from other fronts are less flawed.

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After the war, this was to some extent inherited by the Cold War propaganda language - not least due to the influence by the reports by old Wehrmacht officers which the West studied carefully in order to "learn what the Germans had learned about the Soviets".
The West had more sources of knowledge but Germans. Nonetheless a racial approach was clear as evidenced by comments about Polish pilots in 1940.

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In our little society (English speaking WW II aviation nuts in the West), Toliver's and Constable's book "Horridoh" has had a huge impact on many people's basic concept on the air war in the East.
Unfortunatelly!

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In this book, we are taught that "the gunsight in the Soviet fighters often was nothing else than a hand painted circle on the windscreen". (Which is absolutely false; the Soviets had quite modern reflector gunsights.)
Cannot comment on fighter gunsight at the moment but I welcome anyone to visit an aviation museum in Cracow. There the one may see genuine Soviet painted bombsight on Tu-2 bomber and cross wire bombsight on U-2/Po-2 LNB bomber. Supposedly just effective enough and much simplier, nonetheless limited by available technology and tools as well.

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Although the authors try to balance a generally negative view of the Soviet Air Force and its accomplishments, they miss such important things as the fact that the Soviets brought into use the most rapidly firing aircraft machine gun of the war and that they pioneered the use of rocket projectiles.
Soviets indeed had quite an experience and successes with firing weapons, this including hand guns and artillery. It must be remembered here that their designs were a mix of copied designs like Mosin, Nagan or TT and of genuine ones like PPSh, the latter unsubstantially claimed to be a copy of Suomi but actually much superior original design.
Claim of pioneering use of rocet projectiles is false, however. Rocket projectiles were first used during WWI - see Le Prieur!
It must be remembered that weapon by itself do not constitute a good aircraft simply because the former must be delivered to the best firing position first.

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Discussing this topic still creates ridiculously infected discussions, particularly when these discussions involve people from Eastern countries with personal aversion against the former Soviet oppressors. I know that people in the East are esxtremely divided in their view on the USSR.
People in the East are not that divided but perhaps some people involved some way with the ancient regime. Actually most people are surprised and indignant with the Western approach to communism. Is not it surprising the communism responsible for about 100 million deaths (including whole nations) is still considered something better that German Nasism which killed some 25 million people? Is not surprising the active role of Soviet Union in starting WWII is not recognised in the West?
There is a lot of ignorance and lack of knowledge but not in our part of the Europe.

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It is my impression that most of them are happy to be rid of the Soviets, but they neutrally admit the technical accomplishments of the USSR at the same time as they neutrally are aware of the flaws in the technical field.
Yes, it is really an accomplishment what they did with the technology they had.

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Then there are two extreme groups - one which paints everything which has to do with the USSR in black and is unable to admit any accomplishment by "those dumb Soviet people" (quite similar to the Nazi Untermenschen propaganda), and one which attempts to glorify everything which has to do with the USSR (consciously adopting old Soviet propaganda).
It is more a Western perspective rather than the one here.

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My personal conclusion, after studying the air war on the Eastern Front from both sides and listening to veterans from both sides for many years, is that the Soviets produced some of the lowest quality on the Allied side in WW II, and at the same time they also produced some of the highest quality on the Allied side in WW II.
I am looking forward for examples of the latter. Soviets build several simple and effective designs but such an approach does not work in every field and does not constitute quality. The latter was always associated with Lend Lease stuff or a captured one.

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Even "in the middle" - outisde these extremist camps - there is confusion. One attempt to an analyse stated unhesitatingly that the Germans were "psychologically superior" to the Soviets. (Toliver/Constable, "Das waren die deutschen Jagdfliegerasse", p. 266.)
If this means the Germans were superior genetically, it is a pure nonsense. If this means the Germans were less exhausted psychically, it could be true.

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Instead, Prien et al attempt to present the large number of Soviet aircraft encountered in the air as a major explanation to the huge amount of success attained by German fighter pilots on the Eastern Front. This assumption, that numerical inferiority in itself is an advantage, of course meets little support from those who actually took part in the air war. It is a fact - supported by facts which can't be dismissed and acknowledged by those who flew on the Eastern Front on both sides in 1941 - that the qualitative gap between the Luftwaffe and the Soviet Air Force was larger than that between the Luftwaffe and the RAF or the French Air Force in 1940 � 1941. It is a matter of examining the reasons to this, not trying to deny it.
Quality and dislocation were key factors. Quantity only caused the Campaign to last so long.

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Speaking of personal statements by Germans who flew on the Eastern Front, they range from a few accounts clearly coloured by the effect of intense propaganda (like "the Russians flew like the first men on earth") to what seems to be denial of any flaws on the Soviet side (possibly as a reaction to the wartime tendency to dismiss air victories on the Eastern Fronts as "easy").
The former view often can be documented by an extremally low flying time of Soviets. Also, the one must have in mind comments of Franciszek Jarecki (the first pilot to escape with MiG-15) and Pepelayev (Soviet Korean war ace) which are interesting as reffering to condition of Soviet Air Force some 5 years after the war!

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My conclusion is that throughout the war, the Soviets had a larger number of top class pilots than the RAF or the USAAF had by the same time, and that some of the Soviet war material was of absolute top class.
Samples please! Proofs please!

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It also is my conclusion that the Soviet Air Force eventually gained on the German qualitative lead, and by the end of the war there probably was no better air force than the Soviet Air Force.
I would say Germans significantly dropped and the last sentence I consider a good joke. Certainly they perfected use of tactical air force and obviously drawn correct conclusions but it is still far to the best air force. Air force is not only aircraft, not only pilots but also radar network, radio communications, logistics, ground support, reserves, industry.

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I am absolutely convinced that at any given period would no other air force than precisely the Luftwaffe have been able to stand up with such effect against the Soviet Air Force. If Hitler had been equipped with the RAF or the US Air Force (and its men, doctrines and machines) in 1941 (instead of the Luftwaffe and its men, doctrines and machines), he would not have been able to achieve such accomplishments against the Soviet Air Force. Exchange 1941 for any other year between 1941 and 1945, and the result will be the same.
While I can agree to some degree on 1941 - Germans had several years of experience's advantage at the time, your comment concerning later years, especially 1944 or 1945 is pure rubbish.
By the time both RAF and USAAF(!) had a very well trained personnel, and the latter gradually increased number of experienced airmen. Both Great Britain and USA massively produced most advanced designs of the time, their mature jet aircraft entering service in 1945 for example. What Soviet Union had in turn? Yak-3s? Their PVO force consisting mostly of British and American aircraft?

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This may surprise some, but it is a fact that from 1941 onward, the cream of the Luftwaffe was in action against the Soviets. The Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day.
Exactly the same may be said about Poland, Denmark, Norway, Low Countries, France, Britain, Yugoslavia and Greece. And I am frankly surprised to hear that eg. Galland, Priller and Schoepfel to name the few, were not the cream of Luftwaffe.

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Returning to statements by individual pilots, it is interesting to listen to those Germans who fought both in the West and in the East, i.e. who were in a position to compare the Soviets with the Western Allies. What almost all of them say when I have made interviews with them, is that the Soviets improved quickly, and soon even surpassed the quality of the Western Allies.
Frankly, it would be really surprising if Soviets did not improve. But I would like to see more wartime documents substantiating any thesis or at least more exhaustive letters. This thread was intended to show that Soviet aircraft were not that superior as some still believe. This is based on their performance and their design. We can use pilots' comments here but please use something in kind of Golodnikov, who clearly explains his opinions. Simple claim that something was better without any further explanation is worthless here.

Juha

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They also had more combat experience on 22.6.41 than Western Allies had on10.5.40 because of campaigns against Japanese, Winter War and the participation of Soviet pilots in Spanish Civil War.
Add here Poland and actions against Baltic States and Rumania, which did not resulted in substantial air combats but added to overall experience. IIRC Polish Campaign was found to be dissapointing for Soviets and resulted with significant changes.

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(The purges had not taken away the flight hours from average front line fighter sqn pilots´ logbooks).
Yes, but during Barbarossa the effect was somewhat spoiled by an increase of Red Air Force. Freshers had some 15 hrs on the combat type IIRC!

Ruy
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Old 19th February 2005, 21:15
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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"You wrote:"...The Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day. . . I'm not sure on that, at end of Bob, IIRC JG 51 was the most successful of the JGs but JG 26 and JG 2 were also amongst the most successful JGs so IMHO there were no qualiative gap between JGs in West and in East at the beginning of the Operation Barbarossa"

I meant, of course, that from 22 June 1941, the Allies never encountered the level of oppositions in the air which the Soviets had to endure from the very first day.

If we speak of 22 June 1941, I think you should remember that what we are talking about is the quota between the number of German aircraft and the quality of pilots/tactics/equipment/methods. Then it should be fairly clear that what the Soviets encountered on 22 June 1941 was far worse than what the RAF encountered by that time.

From around mid-1942 and onward, the large core of immensely experienced German airmen on the Eastern Front had no similarity anywhere else. While German fighter units in the West constituted mainly badly trained rookies in 1944 - 1945 (a result of huge losses in air battles with US heavy bombers with fighter escort), the German fighter units in the East had amassed a core of extremely experienced veterans which made these fighter units stronger than ever. JG 52 alone had thirteen "plus 100" aces (each with a score of 100 or more victories) in service in October 1944. I am not saying that the number of victories as such shows how good a fighter pilot is, but undoubtedly a pilot with 100 victories has earned a huge experience from hundreds of air combats. The fact that more than every tenth pilot serving with JG 52 in October 1944 was a "plus 100" ace is quite telling, and also reveals much about the quality of their wingmen. In October 1944, the Western Allies were very lucky that they were confronted with mainly inadequately trained rookies and not with hardened veteran units like JG 52.

In January 1945, more or less the whole Luftwaffe - particularly the day fighter force - was shifted east. So while the Western Allies thus had a comparatively "easy" final period of the air war, the Soviets stood alone against more or less the whole Luftwaffe. The concentration on the Eastern Front of 1,500 Fw 190s and Bf 109s, which conducted 2,500 sorties during the first two days of February 1945 alone (to be compared with the average of 366 German fighter sorties over France in June 1944), represents a striking force which the Western Allies largely were saved from during the whole period from 22 June 1941 to the end of the war.

There were only some isolated cases when the Western Allies were faced with the same kind of massive opposition - regarding quantity/quality - in the air. One such case was 14 October 1943, when Göring's "Big Strike" dealt a disastrous blow against US 8th Air Force, causing the US commanders to cancel the whole air offensive against Germany.

All best,

Christer Bergström
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Old 19th February 2005, 22:16
Christer Bergström Christer Bergström is offline
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Franek,

The intense political brainwashing regarding their Soviet opponents ("Untermenschen incapable of anything good") which the German soldiers were subjected to, naturally coloured their appraisal of the enemy.

”This not only reflected to Soviets but also eg. Poles”

More or less, yes.

“Cannot comment on fighter gunsight at the moment but I welcome anyone to visit an aviation museum in Cracow. There the one may see genuine Soviet painted bombsight on Tu-2 bomber and cross wire bombsight on U-2/Po-2 LNB bomber. Supposedly just effective enough and much simplier, nonetheless limited by available technology and tools as well.”

The U-2/Po-2 was an improvised thing which had no bombsight. Compare with the Luftwaffe equivalence, like e.g. the old Ar 66 biplanes of the Störkampfgruppen. A Tu-2 with a painted bombsight? Interesting. Are there no other Soviet aircraft in that museum where you can see the reflector gunsights?

“their designs were a mix of copied designs. . .”

True to some extent. But nevertheless, the result often was quite outstanding.

“Claim of pioneering use of rocet projectiles is false, however. Rocket projectiles were first used during WWI.”

- Oh, I didn’t know that. Nevertheless, the Soviets used rocket projectiles en masse a long time before the Western Allies or the Luftwaffe brought such a weapon into use. Isn’t that true?

- Could you please elaborate on this, Franek: “Quality and dislocation were key factors. Quantity only caused the Campaign to last so long.” - I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are trying to say.

“My conclusion is that throughout the war, the Soviets had a larger number of top class pilots than the RAF or the USAAF had by the same time, and that some of the Soviet war material was of absolute top class . . . Samples please! Proofs please!”

- Just study the high number of very experienced Soviet pilots, with experience from 400, 500, 600 or more combat missions. Pilots with such a huge amount of experience could hardly be found in the RAF and USAAF, but in the Luftwaffe and the Soviet Air Force it was not entirely uncommon with such “super veterans” in 1944 and 1945.

Some random samples: Aleksey Reshetov conducted 821 combat missions between 1941 and 1945. Aleksandr Baturin logged over 400 combat missions until mid-1942. Nikolay Klepikov flew his 600th combat mission in July 1943. Viktor Shlepov had logged 685 combat missions by mid-July 1943. Due to the “tour system” which the Western Allies used, the RAF and USAAF pilots rarely manage to achieve such a huge amount of battle experience.

Allow me to compare with the battle experience of the best aces in US 8th Air Force: Gabreski 153 missions, Preddy 143 missions, R.S. Johnson 91 missions, Schilling 132 missions, Mahurin 85 missions, Beckham 123 missions, G.W. Johnson 88 missions, Anderson 116 missions, Wishner 137 missions.

Alfred Grislawski used to say: “You have to have 50 combat missions before you can come to grips with what it all is about.” Grislawski also said that he felt that he definitely grew better and better, the more experience he gained; there simply was no “limit”. He said that when he flew over Normandy in the summer of 1944, he felt that his experience from almost 800 combat missions made him totally superior to any enemy pilot that he met. He said that while he noticed that the enemy pilots often were confused as to Grislawski’s next step in air combat, his own huge experience had taught him to foresee every single move which his opponents would do in any given situation. He said that if the Western Allies would not have had their enormous numerical superiority at Normandy, it would have been an easy match for Grislawski.

“Frankly, it would be really surprising if Soviets did not improve. But I would like to see more wartime documents substantiating any thesis or at least more exhaustive letters.”

- I can guarantee that I will provide you with exhaustive evidence in future volumes of “Black Cross/Red Star”. If you have any wartime documents which deal with the matter, I would be most happy to see them.

BTW - thanks a lot for your help with the Hans-Ekkehard Bob biography, Franek! (Regarding the Polish fighter units.)

All best,

Christer
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Old 20th February 2005, 16:05
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Juha Juha is offline
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Hello
Christer wrote:"...In October 1944, the Western Allies were very lucky that they were confronted with mainly inadequately trained rookies and not with hardened veteran units like JG 52."

And also other way around. I'm not an expert on JG 52 but according to Lipfert, when II/JG 52 fought against 15th AF in June 44 it wasn't easy picking but it was his unit that was decimated. IIRC Lipfert's view was that the main reason was the overwhelming numerical superiority not the individual skills of US pilots but it was anyway action against USAAF and not even the most appreciated AF of the USAAF.

Christer wrote:"...In January 1945, more or less the whole Luftwaffe - particularly the day fighter force - was shifted east..."

From OoBs I could easily find (from Price's The Last Year of the Luftwaffe), on 10.1.45 there were 2,599 serviceable LW a/c in LF Reich, 2 and 3 and 342 in LF 5, which probably that time operated mostly against Western Allies if it had fuel because up north there was not much daylight at that time, out of the total strenght of 4,566 serviceable a/c. On day fighters the numbers were1,024 LW fighters in LF Reich and 3 (LF 2 didn't have fighters anymore) and 82 in LF 5 out of total strenght of 1,427 serviceable day fighters. And
on 9.4.45 the numbers were 1,261 a/c out of total of 3,331, and on day fighters the number was 505 out of 1,310. IMHO that not show that more or less the whole LW had been shifted to east. In fact on 10.1.45 a bigger part of LW day fighters were against Western Allies than on 9.4.45 was against SU and its Eastern Allies. And what more the Western Allies were not conted on this but their longer ranged fighters actively seeked the remains of LW in the east to the end of the war and they had range to do this.

It's important to remember that SU made a major contribution in the winning of the air war against the LW but IMHO it's no good to try overestimate that contribution. Same goes to the Soviet equipment, La-5FN and La-7 were very good good weather day fighters, and in fact I haven't seen anywhere in English aviation literature contrary arguments or statements that late Yaks were bad fighters. I don't know what kind of aviation literature Jens had read but from early Air Enthusiast onwards I have only seen positive commants on those fighters. So I get little bit irritated when I saw that kind of misinformation as was in that La-7 vs Spit IX comparation. And I think that kind of misinfo is also a little bit strange because the specs and handling of La-7 is in itself enough to show that it was a very good low and mid level fighter. The latter part was not against Christer but against whoever had made that comparation.

Christer wrote:"...The concentration on the Eastern Front of 1,500 Fw 190s and Bf 109s, which conducted 2,500 sorties during the first two days of February 1945 alone (to be compared with the average of 366 German fighter sorties over France in June 1944), represents a striking force which the Western Allies largely were saved from during the whole period from 22 June 1941 to the end of the war..."

Fistly the comparation of the activity during a couple peak days to a monthly average on other hand is like comparing apples and oranges. The right way is to compare peak days activity on both fronts or a monthly averages on both fronts.

Secondly, also SU was saved from that kind of fighter activity almost during the whole war, IIRC most of the time less than half of LW fighter force was concentrated against SU. For example on 31.5.43 there were 547 Jagdflugzeuge against SU and 1,077 Jagdflugzeuge against Western Allies and that is from Olaf Groehler's Geschichte des Luftkriegs 1910 bis 1980. Berlin 1981. So this isn't a info from "bourgeois history-falsifiers" but from DDR.

And if one looks where the LW lost most of its single-engined fighters the answer is that against the "those Western Allies pilots with lowly number of combat missions" and that is true both cumulatively and more surprisingly yearly, even in 1942, when the figures were closest (1,921 vs. 1849) (the numbers incl. destroyed and those damaged over 10%). Clearly, during the 2nd half of 41 the losses in Easter Front were probably higher bwcause the yearly figure is 1,474 vs. 1095. I haven't figures of 1945 and anyway they would be more difficult to analyze because the area of Reich was so compressed. If one wants to see the monthly figures in 1943 (which IMHO is a very important year in this content) please look on page 138 in Williamson Murray's Luftwaffe. George Allen & Unwin 1985 ISBN 0 04 923080 8 or if You are less lucky from same book but different and not so good edition from Eagle Editions Strategy for Defeat The Luftwaffe 1933 - 1945 on page 115.

The LW tried to use concentrate fighter force against Western Allies, from example in June 44 and during Bodenplatte, but it didn't help it much.

One point on Soviet a/c which isn't mentioned too often is that in contrary to the image of utterly disregard of own losses the Soviet AF/designers tried to protect the pilots very early on with decent armour protection. As Christer mentioned the Eastern Front air warfare and the question of Soviet equipment is rather complex.

On Grislawski, the little I know on him indicates that he had very good situation awarness and that he was very reliable claimer, which IMHO indicates that he could see the situations very realisticly. He also seems to have been able to handle stress very well. So I think that he could learn his missions more than many others, even if I think that the law of diminishing returns also apply on him. But pilots were different, there were many LW pilots whose rate of claiming diminished greatly during the later part of war. Some probably suffered from combat stress, some probably became more carefull and lost some of their agressiveness, maybe some saw that they were fighting a loosing battle for lousy goverment and did their duty but not beyond that.

And Grislawski could think that he was superior to any enemy pilots but so thought also many of the Western pilots. So IMHO one cannot draw too much on that.

Juha
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Old 20th February 2005, 16:49
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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The U-2/Po-2 was an improvised thing which had no bombsight.
Yes, it had and by no means it was improvised but factory build. Bomber variant is easily distinguishable by a removed fabric on two inner sections of port lower wing. There is a bombsight.

Quote:
A Tu-2 with a painted bombsight? Interesting. Are there no other Soviet aircraft in that museum where you can see the reflector gunsights?
No. Only Soviet wartime aircraft in Polish museums are Po-2LNB and Pe-2FT, the latter in rather poor condition. Tu-2 is a post war one and still had a painted bombsight.

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True to some extent. But nevertheless, the result often was quite outstanding.
Like with Tu-4. It was really an engineering achievement and the aircraft was only about 100 kg heavier than the original.

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- Oh, I didn’t know that. Nevertheless, the Soviets used rocket projectiles en masse a long time before the Western Allies or the Luftwaffe brought such a weapon into use. Isn’t that true?
Depending on what you consider en masse. Indeed Soviets first used rockets in WWII but reasoning of the Westerners should be checked before drawing any conclusions. Results of use of rockets on the Western front were not very promissing.

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- Could you please elaborate on this, Franek: “Quality and dislocation were key factors. Quantity only caused the Campaign to last so long.” - I’m afraid I don’t understand what you are trying to say.
That the quality and dislocation were the key factors. Had Soviets better quality and defensive dislocation, an equal number of aircraft comparing to Germans should be a hard nut for Luftwaffe.

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- Just study the high number of very experienced Soviet pilots, with experience from 400, 500, 600 or more combat missions. Pilots with such a huge amount of experience could hardly be found in the RAF and USAAF, but in the Luftwaffe and the Soviet Air Force it was not entirely uncommon with such “super veterans” in 1944 and 1945.
Considering that average sortie was much shorter on the Eastern Front it is not very surprising pilots flying there amassed such number of sorties. Average escort sortie to Germany took about 5 hours. In the same time, Soviet pilot could make 6 full time combat sorties plus a few scrambles.

Quote:
Some random samples: Aleksey Reshetov conducted 821 combat missions between 1941 and 1945. Aleksandr Baturin logged over 400 combat missions until mid-1942. Nikolay Klepikov flew his 600th combat mission in July 1943. Viktor Shlepov had logged 685 combat missions by mid-July 1943. Due to the “tour system” which the Western Allies used, the RAF and USAAF pilots rarely manage to achieve such a huge amount of battle experience.
Please note, that recent research in CAMO revealed many 'inaccuracies' in published numbers concerning Soviet pilots. Unless based on primary documents I would take the mentioned numbers with a grain of salt.
Allied system was not promoting individual pilots but produced huge numbers of well trained pilots - quality plus quantity.
Otherwise Soviets had their tour system as well. You may find that units were send back for reequipment and refit.

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Allow me to compare with the battle experience of the best aces in US 8th Air Force: Gabreski 153 missions, Preddy 143 missions, R.S. Johnson 91 missions, Schilling 132 missions, Mahurin 85 missions, Beckham 123 missions, G.W. Johnson 88 missions, Anderson 116 missions, Wishner 137 missions.
Then multiply those numbers by flight time and then compare to Germans or Soviets. Also, why you do not include other nations?

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Alfred Grislawski used to say: “You have to have 50 combat missions before you can come to grips with what it all is about.”
This may testify about the German training system, different to the Allied one.

Quote:
Grislawski also said that he felt that he definitely grew better and better, the more experience he gained; there simply was no “limit”. He said that when he flew over Normandy in the summer of 1944, he felt that his experience from almost 800 combat missions made him totally superior to any enemy pilot that he met. He said that while he noticed that the enemy pilots often were confused as to Grislawski’s next step in air combat, his own huge experience had taught him to foresee every single move which his opponents would do in any given situation.
We discussed this earlier.

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He said that if the Western Allies would not have had their enormous numerical superiority at Normandy, it would have been an easy match for Grislawski.
Grislawki's colleague, Karl Heinz Weber was downed when his Staffel of 9 was bounced by a section of 4 Mustangs. His victor, indeed quite an experienced pilot, less than a month earlier complained he did not down a German aircraft through entire war.
Through the entire Normandy Campaign, I think only once Polish 133 Wing outnumbered the enemy, when on 17 June Section of 4 bounced 2 Fw 190s.

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- I can guarantee that I will provide you with exhaustive evidence in future volumes of “Black Cross/Red Star”. If you have any wartime documents which deal with the matter, I would be most happy to see them.
How about order no 0823 of 16.10.1942 of People's Commissar of Defence of Soviet Union? This order introduced advanced flying training on fighter aircraft! So up until 1943 the training was elementary to say the least. No wonder Germans were downing Soviets one by another.

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BTW - thanks a lot for your help with the Hans-Ekkehard Bob biography, Franek! (Regarding the Polish fighter units.)
No problem.
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Old 20th February 2005, 17:38
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Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski

Quote:
The U-2/Po-2 was an improvised thing which had no bombsight.
Yes, it had and by no means it was improvised but factory build. Bomber variant is easily distinguishable by a removed fabric on two inner sections of port lower wing. There is a bombsight.

Quote:
A Tu-2 with a painted bombsight? Interesting. Are there no other Soviet aircraft in that museum where you can see the reflector gunsights?
No. Only Soviet wartime aircraft in Polish museums are Po-2LNB and Pe-2FT, the latter in rather poor condition. Tu-2 is a post war one and still had a painted bombsight.
The U2 is a poor example in any case you turn it, lets leave it at that.

Now the Tu-2 is more interesting.
Can you proof that the a/c is complete?

I've got many a/c detail books and sometimes they are in remarkably complete condition, but often gunsights and bombsights are the first item missing.

Now if you can proof that the bombsight was missing on the operational Tu-2 I'd say good for you, but taking this museum sample as your main example is poor judgement.

I certainly believe that many early Soviet types were pressed into service without certain items (gunsights, primitive gunsights, fewer than the complete gun set etc etc etc), but by the time the Tu-2 saw service as a bomber most of these, if not all of these, supply problems had been solved.

It would be interesting to learn about the specific history of your "sample" aircraft and decide how good an example it actually is based on that information.
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Old 20th February 2005, 18:34
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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The U2 is a poor example in any case you turn it, lets leave it at that.
Well, I would not underestimate importance of the type in Soviet inventory. Perhaps a little bit ridiculous and outdated, nonetheless used in quantities in bomber role!

Quote:
Now if you can proof that the bombsight was missing on the operational Tu-2 I'd say good for you, but taking this museum sample as your main example is poor judgement.
Ruy, the aircraft seved for tests of ejection seats, nonetheless thin red line is still present on the nose perspex.
bombsights similar in concept were present on Il-2s as well. Have a closer look on the front of the windscreen and the upper cowling. It was called VV-1.
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Old 20th February 2005, 21:38
JoeB JoeB is offline
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Originally Posted by Jens
Schwabedissen wrote studies about eastern airwar for USAF. The americans had no doubt about this, due their own experiences in Korea.
On that point I think it really depends on what it is " the Americans had no doubt about". And it's actually relevant to this debate for WWII IMO. That the Soviets built effective *fighter airplanes* in this general period (WWII and on to the time of the MiG-15), at least for short range air to air combat? Yes that was definitely the American experience, specifically from evaluating captured (North Korean AF) Yak-9P and MiG-15bis, besides the experience fighting against them.

That the Soviets produced first rate *fighter forces*, it's more debatable whether that was the American experience in Korea. Directly in terms of the effectiveness of forces flying WWII types, the Yak-9 force was not very effective at all. OTOH it was at least mainly NK piloted (officially entirely NK, but Igor Seidov has written recently of Soviet pilots even in the Yak-9 units, albeit without presenting clear evidence IMO). The MiG-15 force was also a composite, early on entirely Soviet units, later on substantially and eventually mostly Chinese and some NK. Russian accounts of the high effectiveness of their part of this force can be debated on two counts:

-first and mainly, a quite low % of their claims can be verified in US primary source records as losses, 10-15%.
-post 1991 writing tends to focus mainly on the two most successful units (303rd and 324th Divisions, although in fairness such selective emphasis has long been common in writing about German and Allied units of WWII as we all know), and tendency to ignore that during their most successful phase these two units had together with a by then substantial Chinese presence a quite heavy numerical advantage, and the US pilots were not in a position to say "MiG at my six, oh OK it's Chinese, now let's getting to fighting the Soviets". Even though in all seriousness they well realized that their best opponents were very competent.

But overall even the Soviets alone had a quite unfavorable exchange ratio v. the Americans according to each side's loss records. At this point the debate tends to focus on the American loss records, and that's too far off topic (anyway here we're speaking of that the "Americans knew" and it's hard to say the USAF in general knew that what it says in their secret records was greatly wrong, even if it was, which debate is too far off topic, unless somebody wants to discuss it ). Again I think it is relevant here though because the question of *actual* not claimed exchange ratio in fighter combat later in the war seems not much published. So a basic naive question: what was the exchange ratio, not estimated from claims with a general discount factor nor from total losses to all causes but from actual air combat losses, typically, in East fighter combat say in 1944 and 1945?

Joe
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