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  #21  
Old 23rd June 2005, 08:54
Andrew Arthy Andrew Arthy is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

Hi,

I spent last year researching the basic topic in this thread, the Luftwaffe in North Africa in 1942, so I thought I might add my opinion about some of the issues raised.

Regardless of the exact date of the combat, we can assume it was October or early November 1942.

Graham’s point about the loss of morale in I./J.G. 27 is valid. It was no doubt a combination of combat fatigue and the loss of senior pilots, Marseille, Stahlschmidt, and Steinhausen, that saw the Gruppe withdrawn from combat in October 1942. But don’t attribute the withdrawal too much simply to Marseille, because the Gruppe had seen 17 months of continuous combat, which was surely significant. Perhaps we can consider Marseille’s death the final straw, as Graham says.

As for lack of aircraft for the Luftwaffe in North Africa, yes, this was becoming a problem in October and November 1942 in Egypt, but it was certainly not bringing operations to a standstill. On 21 March 1942, when the Axis supply system was almost at its best, there were 159 Luftwaffe sorties in North Africa, on 6 September 1942 there were 130, and on 22 October 1942 there were 142.

To look at it simply in terms of number of aircraft available:

Luftwaffe Aircraft Strength in North Africa

17.01.42 168
04.04.42 169
10.06.42 233
20.08.42 266
20.10.42 241

What should be noted is that the DAF was consistently getting bigger, and was getting more aircraft with greater performance, notably the Spitfire.

Regarding the idea that the Luftwaffe in North Africa was dependent on a few ace pilots, I calculated that between February and 23 October 1942, the top ten Luftwaffe aces claimed 424 of the 930 victories in North Africa. To me, that indicates an over-reliance on a few pilots.

Nick’s point about bombing of airfields is very important as well.

Luftwaffe losses on the ground in North Africa, February – 23 October 1942

To bombing: 64 aircraft destroyed, 89 aircraft damaged
To special forces: 37 aircraft destroyed, 19 aircraft damaged
Total: 101 destroyed, 108 damaged.

These figures are far from complete, but are all accounted for in German records.

Serviceability is also an important issue. The Luftwaffe in North Africa was always behind the DAF in this regard. The DAF consistently maintained serviceability of 70-75%, while the Fliegerführer Afrika never rose above 67%.

Fliegerführer Afrika Serviceability

17.01.42 - 51.7
04.04.42 - 50.2
10.05.42 - 67.3
10.06.42 - 61.3
27.07.42 - 54.3
20.08.42 - 60.1
20.10.42 - 53.5

Cheers,
Andrew A.

“You’ll never silence the voice of the voiceless” – Rage Against The Machine
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  #22  
Old 23rd June 2005, 10:50
LWulf LWulf is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

Quote:
Regarding the idea that the Luftwaffe in North Africa was dependent on a few ace pilots, I calculated that between February and 23 October 1942, the top ten Luftwaffe aces claimed 424 of the 930 victories in North Africa. To me, that indicates an over-reliance on a few pilots.


These are some of my thoughts on this:
1.The flight leaders often took the kill even if the wingman was in a good position
2.What was the total of LW fighter pilots that flew in N Africa in the mentioned period?
3.The number of kills of the top aces vs other pilots should always be high imho
4.What was the number of damaged aircraft attributed to aces and other pilots?

I think that the kill ratio should always favor aces. The difference in the score of 10 pilots vs all the others might seem huge but I think that if there were, for example, 210 pilots in all in N Africa flying in that period and that each of those would be responsible for 2+ kills you could hardly say the others were not successful or able fighter pilots. Especially if you count that they survived and scored kills in a numerically disadvantageous situation.

While I don't think the LW pilots were by themselves super pilots compared to other, allied pilots, I know they were well trained in tactics, had excellent planes and at least some could watch aces in combat from up close and learn from them on the front when they needed 'em.

Also, I think many people forget about all the 1+ kill pilots that fought and survived. One kill might seem little, but it's still one kill and in war every kill counts. In a numerically disadvantageous situtation only the best pilots can hope to rack up many kills. Still, those with fewer kills that are still able to survive in such an envoriment for a certain length of time can be hardly described as rookies.

This is, of course, only my humble opinion.

Cheers,
Wulf
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  #23  
Old 23rd June 2005, 12:32
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Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

For these kinds of statistics I can recommend The Ace Factor, by Mick Spick.

Part of his thesis is that only 5% of pilots actually get kills.

One of the more interesting titles by Spick.

Frank Olynyk was kind enough to send me a copy of the original study that Spick used (at work, hence the lack of details).

Regards,
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  #24  
Old 25th June 2005, 07:16
NickM NickM is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

Hey, Andrew:
For curiosity's sake who were the top ten scoring LW pilots you mentioned in your post?

thanks

NickM
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  #25  
Old 26th June 2005, 10:18
Andrew Arthy Andrew Arthy is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

Hi,

The question of whether it is good for a few pilots to dominate the scoring could be argued about for hours without a definitive answer.

The British and Germans in North Africa were opposites in this regard, with the Germans relying on a handful of aces, and the British relying on many pilots gaining a few victories each.

Nick, I did have the ten high-scoring German pilots listed somewhere, but can't find the list. Sorry.

Cheers,
Andrew A.

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  #26  
Old 26th June 2005, 17:21
LWulf LWulf is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

I really can't agree with you Andrew. The top ten pilots you mention were the peak of the iceberg. As a ship runs into the peak of the iceberg, there still needs to be a solid base beneath the peak for the iceberg to damage the unlucky ship. There were many other able pilots that were skilled enough to down enemy aircraft and formed the base of the LW.

Reading the debate about how good or bad the attacking LW pilots were I am curious about the skill of the Spitfire pilots. They got bounced and lost two of their number in the first attack. Than they got themselves boxed by two enemy aircraft. Even if they were still in six. This really doesn't remind me of experienced fighter pilots! If my reasoning is correct, I don't think that we need two of the top ten LW aces to bag them.

Another question that keeps bouncing in my head is, what if there were two pairs attacking? The successful bounce, than a frantic defence, possibly inexperienced Spitfire pilots. Could it be that there were 4 109s Boom 'n' Zooming them? It's not that hard to lose sight of an enemy aircraft in a fight. I know, it's unlikely but I am just thinking aloud.

Cheers,
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  #27  
Old 4th July 2005, 22:13
NickM NickM is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

Lwulf:

Well...I may be only guessing but I got the impression (also known as ASSUMING--and we all know what assuming can do!) that the Spits were quite rare & therefore important to the theater and the pilots assigned to them would at least have SOME experience-either in Western Europe or Malta, maybe...
AND I do recall some fragments of another effort to find out the players of this encounter...The person's name I don't remember--he may have been a regular here who either has left or passed away...the one thing I DO recall (vaguely) is that Muenchenberg claimed a spit on the day in question--so...that's why I tended to lean towards it being JG77

NickM

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  #28  
Old 4th July 2005, 22:30
NickM NickM is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

On a hunch, I checked on Kacha's Luftwaffe Page...And well, well...Kacha's website HAS Muenchenberg's victory tally: AND this is the one I think it is: on November 9, 1942, Muenchenberg claimed 2 Spit V's:

117 9.11.1942 15:07 Spitfire Stab/JG 77 E Buq Buq; Spitfire V of 92 Sqn, RAF flown by F/Sgt Blades

- 9.11.1942 - Spitfire w.b. Stab/JG 77

I'm not too sure what 'w.b.' stands for but as a vic it was NOT confirmed; as for Buq Buq, I'm not too sure where that is either but I'll go out on a limb & guess it's near the frontlines during the time of the Alamein battles--BUT I am NOT sure; Nor am I TOTALLY sure the date is quite right for Nomis's 'around/before the battles at Alamein'---but so far, it's the best I've gotten

NickM
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  #29  
Old 4th July 2005, 22:37
robert robert is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

Hi,

w.b. means "wirksam beschossen" - damaged.

Regards

Robert
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  #30  
Old 5th July 2005, 08:26
LWulf LWulf is offline
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Re: Me's vs Spits over North Africa: Who were those guys?

Quote:
Originally Posted by NickM
Lwulf:

Well...I may be only guessing but I got the impression (also known as ASSUMING--and we all know what assuming can do!) that the Spits were quite rare & therefore important to the theater and the pilots assigned to them would at least have SOME experience-either in Western Europe or Malta, maybe...
....
NickM
If those were experienced pilots than they put up a poor show on that day. Anyway, with experienced I didn't meant how much battle experience they had but how effective they were in combat. I am sorry if I offended you with my writing. I am not a history buff but someone interested in air to air combat.

Cheers,
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