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CzechTexan
08-04-2004, 06:16 PM
I've almost finished reading this book "Attack of the Airacobras" by Loza. It is a very good account of the use of the P-39s in Soviet service, particularly of the 9th Guards Fighter Division of which Pokrishkin was a part.

Loza makes the point that contrary to beliefs in the west that the P-39 was used as a ground attack weapon, it's main use was in the fighter role. Of course, there are instances where ground targets were strafed, especially in the "free hunting" role. The P-39 played a major part in winning air supremacy in the Kuban and Crimea regions. The use of the radio and new "bookshelf" tactics were key factors in their success.

Everything is discussed in good detail within the book. I recommend it if you want a perspective of personal accounts of Russian pilots.

I was wondering if anyone has a campaign or a group of missions featuring the Kuban P-39s. If not, I think it would be a nice project for me to do.


***
80% of all German casualties in WW2 were on the Eastern Front.
http://server6.uploadit.org/files/czechtexan-000_0049B.jpg
P-63C KingCobra "Gift From Kolkhoze Workers in the name of Lenin Vitebsk Province"

CzechTexan
08-04-2004, 06:16 PM
I've almost finished reading this book "Attack of the Airacobras" by Loza. It is a very good account of the use of the P-39s in Soviet service, particularly of the 9th Guards Fighter Division of which Pokrishkin was a part.

Loza makes the point that contrary to beliefs in the west that the P-39 was used as a ground attack weapon, it's main use was in the fighter role. Of course, there are instances where ground targets were strafed, especially in the "free hunting" role. The P-39 played a major part in winning air supremacy in the Kuban and Crimea regions. The use of the radio and new "bookshelf" tactics were key factors in their success.

Everything is discussed in good detail within the book. I recommend it if you want a perspective of personal accounts of Russian pilots.

I was wondering if anyone has a campaign or a group of missions featuring the Kuban P-39s. If not, I think it would be a nice project for me to do.


***
80% of all German casualties in WW2 were on the Eastern Front.
http://server6.uploadit.org/files/czechtexan-000_0049B.jpg
P-63C KingCobra "Gift From Kolkhoze Workers in the name of Lenin Vitebsk Province"

JaguarMEX
08-04-2004, 06:26 PM
nice read indeed, It shows soviet pilots were not "farmers from the urals flying planes". It shows the true aerial combat, how the BF-109's would "disengage" from a turning battle or a fight with altitude disadvantage or without the element of "surprise"

In May 1942, Nazi submarines sank two Mexican tankers, and Mexico declared war against the Axis powers. Thus forming the 201st Mexican Fighter Squadron equipped with the P-47D and sent to fight in the Pacific
http://server5.uploadit.org/files/JaguarMEX-sig.JPG

Bearcat99
08-04-2004, 10:25 PM
A good read. It was actually the first book I picked up once the IL2 bug started to hit me hard. Its been off to the races since.

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IMMERSION BABY!!

XyZspineZyX
08-04-2004, 11:07 PM
Heh, not surprising that Pokryshkin, one of the first Sovs to realize the advantages of ALT, started having success, even with a piece of sh** like a P-39 (er, at least a P-39 that's accurately modelled).

It was a good read, though, wasn't it?

F19_Ob
08-05-2004, 03:26 AM
I haven't read this book, but I'm very interested in the use of the p39 in russia.

Thnx for the tip!

tfu_iain1
08-05-2004, 04:17 AM
hey, compared to what the germans were used to facing, the p-39 was a shock. and its a fast plane, and very aerodynamic... look at the front profile... what other ww2 plane has that small a front surface area... maybe the spitfire, but even it has a more flabby nose because of the engine.

Fornixx
08-05-2004, 04:46 AM
I've read it too and it's a very interesting account of a little known airwar (at least here in the west).

Fact wise regarding the techniqes and tactics used and the people that participated it's great and it tells a great story but IMHO it is not entirely unbiased. This bothers me.

I wasn't there of course and this is very much IMHO but I find it hard to believe that in encounter after encounter LW planes had loss rates of 5:1 9:1 10:1 and so on, even against an elite VVS regiment. This is the impression one gets after reading the book.

The other negative part is the constant use of words like "Fascists" "Nazis" and so on when describing the LW pilots and airforce. Yes of course Germany was led by a nazi regime and many of it's soldiers were very nazi indeed. And I have no doubt that this language was indeed used by the VVS pilots of the day.... but, and this is the point. When the author uses that kind of language and phrases like "We threw out the fascist invaders", and not in a quote, then it's not just entirely the unbiased fact book i hoped it would be.


But it's a great read anyways and I recommend it to anyone interested in the events.

S!

MadMacgunner
08-05-2004, 05:06 AM
I think the same that Fornixx, though the problem is not the languaje (obviously russians hated germans), but the kill ratios seen here.
If these were true, LW would dissapear in a few weeks.Russians had a lot of more planes and if these were the numbers i don‚¬īt know how some german aces could achieve such ammount of victories (up to 300).



‚¬®Vista,suerte y al toro‚¬®
Garc√¬*a Morato.Spanish civil war pilot

CzechTexan
08-05-2004, 06:28 AM
Perhaps the kill ratio is correct... for this ONE division of the VVS.
There were Many Many more VVS divisions fighting all over the Eastern Front. These many many divisions surely did not fare as well as the well-trained and experienced aces in the 9th Guards Fighter Division. I'm sure the Luftwaffe had much better kill ratios against the other less fortunate VVS divisions. Pokrishkin's group was just a small portion of the overall huge conflict so you cannot judge the entire loss ratio for the war based on one division's record.

As for the language about nazis and fascists...
I don't think the soldiers then or the veterans now care about being Politically Correct as we are in today's world.

Fornixx
08-05-2004, 07:49 AM
Entirely true CzechTexan

Pokryshkins group were no rookies, but in some chapters of the book it sounds a little to much like propaganda especially with the authors language.

All I mean by that point is that if an author uses those names for one side of the conflict without quoting a soldier of the time there is a certain bias, which can be seen in constant glorifying of one side.

I have no doubt the soldiers of the day used those names but it has no real business in a documentary, if not in quotes.

XyZspineZyX
08-05-2004, 10:26 AM
For those who dislike some of the nomenclature...

you have to consider the source. Words like fascist and Nazi don't bother me. They're accurate, for one. And for two, coming from the Russian perspective, you'd "tolerate" them the same way you'd let "Jap" or "Nip" slide when reading a book from an American POV about the Pacific.

Today, that'd be uncalled for. But at the time, well, it was common.

Also, keep in mind that things do NOT need come from an American perspective to begin with, just to make Fornix comfortable. There are several hundred other countries on this rock, last time I checked.

nicli
08-05-2004, 10:52 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by MadMacgunner:
I think the same that Fornixx, though the problem is not the languaje (obviously russians hated germans), but the kill ratios seen here.
If these were true, LW would dissapear in a few weeks.Russians had a lot of more planes and if these were the numbers i don‚¬īt know how some german aces could achieve such ammount of victories (up to 300).



‚¬®Vista,suerte y al toro‚¬®
Garc√¬*a Morato.Spanish civil war pilot<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


Well, some US FGs (like the 56th or the 4th) and British squadrons achieved impressive scores and their record is admitted by everyone to be so, even if the highest scoring Western Ace in Europe (Johnny Johnson) had 38 kills, and was never shot down, while the highest scoring german pilot (H.J. Marseille) against them had 158 kills and was shot down and had to force-land at least 5 times.

In the East, the highest scoring Soviet pilot (Ivan Kozhedub) got 62 kills (shared kills are not in this total and he scored them after the crediting system had improved greatly from its early war standard, the first being scored in 1943) and, while damaged several times, was never shot down, and the highest scoring german (Erich Hartmann) 345/6 (352 - 6/7 Mustangs, there is some confusion about the Mustang kills) but was shot down and had to force land 14 times.

One could add that late war german scores on the Eastern front were made of claimed kills, not confirmed ones, the confirmation system (which, BTW, was quite accurate) stopping to work effectively from mid-1944 onwards, this only to underline that these scores may be, not invalid, but less accurate than those in the West.

But, whatever the exact scores, what I mean is that on both fronts the best german pilots had a much more impressive record than their allied counterparts and that this didn't stop some allied units from getting excellent records... which, BTW, were not scored exclusively against fighters.

And one should consider the fact that 9 GvIAD included some of the best VVS units, including one of the top scoring IAPs, 16 GvIAP : 697 kills for about 80 pilots killed, half of them in the first year of the war.

Thus, if there is always a margin of overclaiming on every side, I can nevertheless easily believe that some soviet units got great scores.

nicli
08-05-2004, 11:18 AM
And, interresting figure, the soviet lost about 54000 aircraft in WWII, while the Western Allies lost 42000 (these figures being approximative ones).

So the difference is not so important between the allies of the two fronts as far as the total number of losses is concerned.

As for the distribution of the german losses (difficult to evaluate but inferior on both fronts to those of the allies) between East and West, there are no reliable figures, the available ones covering only limited periods when the LW's activity was much more intensive on one front than on another, the focus of the LW's fighter activity changing several times during the War:

- sept 39 - june 1941 : only Western Front
- June 1941 - mid 1943 : mainly Eastern Front
- Late 1943 - late 1944 : mainly Western Front
- Early 1945 : mainly Eastern Front

For the attack, night attack, and reconnaissance units, it seems their focus stayed on the Eastern Front from June 1941 onwards, while the night fighter units stayed mainly in the West for the whole war.

And I don't have any accurate info about bombing units...

Thus, it's very difficult to get a clear picture of the air war on both fronts along the war, even if it seems the Western allies were marginally more successfull against the Tagjagd.

Final comment is that it would be relevant to consider that besides the different allied air opposition on both fronts (tactical in the East, strategical in the West), the LW also had different tactics, the pilots being given much more flexibility in the East where they were generally free to engage or not and intervened only with reasonable probability of success, while in the West they were to intercept the bombing raids at any costs, whatever the tactical situation may be...

horseback
08-05-2004, 03:17 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Stiglr:
Heh, not surprising that Pokryshkin, one of the first Sovs to realize the advantages of ALT, started having success, even with a piece of sh** like a P-39 (er, at least a P-39 that's accurately modelled).

It was a good read, though, wasn't it?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Stig,

the P-39 was as good a fighter aircraft as most below 3000m right up through mid 1944. Above that, its performance fell off a bit. It wasn't appropriate for high altitude air combat as practiced in the West, and was not properly used or maintained in the the early Pacific campaigns.

Like the P-40, if properly flown, it was competitive with most contemporary models of the 109, especially if the 109 driver let the P-39 driver fight his fight. And it did happen, in North Africa as well as the Eastern Front.

We're not talking Yugos here, bub.

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

XyZspineZyX
08-05-2004, 03:21 PM
Tell that to the Tainan Air Group in New Guinea, as well as the poor saps who had to fly those pieces of trash in 1942.

The latter were so glad to get their hands on P-38s when those became available, you could hear the collective sigh of relief all the way to Rabaul.

Korolov
08-05-2004, 03:38 PM
What you want for a **** P-39 is a P-39D or a P-400. It's been said many times that the P-39N was a vastly better performer over the P-39D.

http://www.mechmodels.com/fbstuff/klv_sigp38shark1a.jpg

Atomic_Marten
08-05-2004, 03:53 PM
I don't understand why a lot of you folks say that cobra sux big time, while in IL-2 it is certainly not the case. I fly cobra a lot and see that bird isn't to be underestimated when comparing her advantages and disadvantages to the German A/C's of the time.

XyZspineZyX
08-05-2004, 04:13 PM
Isn't it obvious? The IL-2 P-39 is vastly overmodelled, almost always has been. That's why it's so competitive.

horseback
08-05-2004, 08:02 PM
Stig-

New Guinea is quite mountainous; much of the fighting the veteran Tainan Group did was as bomber escort, well above 15,000 ft, against mostly green former P-35 & P-40 drivers flying the 'cobra for all intents and purposes in combat at a disadvantage (comparisons with the Aleutian Zero showed that the P-39 outperformed the Zero up to about 11,000 ft in all but sustained turn). Without adequate radar warning, the 'cobras were at a severe disadvantage climbing up to meet the bombers. Against experienced IJN fighter pilots in a better performing aircraft that they were already familiar with, it was hardly a fight, and it would have made little difference what they were flying, without the ability to get to higher altitude before the raid arrived.

Add the maintenance nightmare of the time (Various flavors of early P-39s and returned Lend-Lease Airacobra Mk Is shipped to Australia in a rush, few if any maintenance manuals, & no experienced P-39 groundcrewmen), and there was a reason it was a shambles.

Even so, the record shows that in the right hands, it could be very effective even in the Pacific. George Welch added three kills in a single sortie flying the Iron Dog on the first anniversary of his combat debut at Pearl Harbor, Tom Lynch established his reputation and got his first kills in the Airacobra, and most of the critics of the type, while vastly pleased to get their mitts on the P-38 (which was competitive at all altitudes, and could climb much better), agree that the P-39 groups in the Southwest Pacific were more than holding their own once they learned to use their aircraft's strengths vs the opposition's weaknesses.

There were simply better fighters available (P-38, P-47), as well as fighters with better reputations (P-40), and our Soviet allies were screaming for Airacobras. It was simply taking advantage of the rare opportunity to make everyone happy for the USAAF to remove the P-39 from front-line fighter status.

The P-39 was almost ideal for the Soviets' need for a Western built supplement to their own stable. Good low-alt performance, heavy punch, good in the turn, easy takeoff and landing, and lots more firing time than its Soviet contemporaries. It served a niche market, to use a modern term, and it served it well.

Is it overmodelled, compared to the 109/190 in this game? I don't know, having never flown any of them in or out of combat. But it should be pointed out that dedicated on-line fliers like yourself put in vastly more stick time in one type than it's RL users did before moving on to their eternal rewards, POW camp, the hospital or the next model. It stands to reason that the skill level of dedicated online 'cobra drivers is a lot higher vis-a-vis your own than that of the VVS pilots vs the LW from '42-'44.

Do you factor that into your complaints?

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

XyZspineZyX
08-05-2004, 09:40 PM
Yes, I'm aware that, as a 21st century denizen, we have a LOT of advantages the real guys didn't.

But still, that doesn't change the stripes on the Iron Dog. Everything you say is true about the conditions it suffered in New Guinea.

But I simply refuse to believe that, simply through good old Soviet ingenuity, this plane suddenly became the scourge of the Nazis. No, no sir, no way, no how.

This plane, in every model up until (but not including) the P-63 was a dreary piece of sh**. The reason the Soviets loved it so much has to be taken in perspective: they were comparing it to early Yak 1s, LaGG-3s and worse pieces of sh** than a Cobra.

Even in Loza's book, you'll notice they do a lot of damage to Stuka formations, which isn't too difficult, as Stukas are slow and incredibly ungainly with ordnance on them. Any plane can take out a loaded Ju87, or wade into a formation of helpless He111s. Witness the Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain. Up until that campaign, Hurricanes got the **** beat out of them almost everywhere they flew (Dutch East Indies, N. Africa, Malta); this plane also has an overblown reputation; still, I do have to admit, it was exactly the plane for the job over Britain in '40.

Another part of the success of Pokryshkin has to do with his understanding the benefit of altitude. He and his boys were likely the only VVS who bothered to get any altitude before engaging, and his "bookshelf" tactic was revolutionary for the VVS; which explains why the 109s had such a fun time earlier in the war: they understood the benefit of alt since Spain, and they had a plane that could make USE of climb.

Fornixx
08-06-2004, 01:50 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Stiglr:
For those who dislike some of the nomenclature...

you have to consider the source. Words like fascist and Nazi don't bother me. They're accurate, for one. And for two, coming from the Russian perspective, you'd "tolerate" them the same way you'd let "Jap" or "Nip" slide when reading a book from an American POV about the Pacific.

Today, that'd be uncalled for. But at the time, well, it was common.

Also, keep in mind that things do NOT need come from an American perspective to begin with, just to make Fornix comfortable. There are several hundred other countries on this rock, last time I checked.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Well to start with I'm not american, Stiglr but Swedish.

Secondly, I don't take offence at all because of the language, that would be extremely childish.

My point is that if I want an objective and accurate account of a football match I don't walk over and ask the fan dressed in his teams t-shirt screaming profanity at the other team.

No offence intended in any way by the way.

S!

nicli
08-06-2004, 03:34 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Stiglr:
But I simply refuse to believe that, simply through good old Soviet ingenuity, this plane suddenly became the scourge of the Nazis. No, no sir, no way, no how.

This plane, in every model up until (but not including) the P-63 was a dreary piece of sh**. The reason the Soviets loved it so much has to be taken in perspective: they were comparing it to early Yak 1s, LaGG-3s and worse pieces of sh** than a Cobra.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

This is simply not true, because, first, the Airacobras weren't considered as really superior to the contemporary Yaks (it was considered generally equal to the Yak-1bs and Yak-9s) and lavochkins, and second, because it was considered as superior to other american airplanes such as the P-40 (considered as clearly inferior to the Yaks and the P-39) or even the P-47 (considered far too sluggish at low level where it would have had to fight in the East).

Even in American tests of various fighters (P-47D, P-51A, Wildcat, P-38J, P-39D, Corsair...) against a captured late-1942 Zero, the P-39 behaved better under 10000 ft than any of the others (except for the Corsair, which was as good at low level but better at high level), it climed faster, accelerated faster, was faster...

The fact is that many Western pilots didn't like it even before flying it because of the unusual engine and armament configuration, and others failed to exploit its potential either by entering dogfight with Zeros (not very smart), or flying it at high altitudes were it didn't compare as well with its contemporaries as at low level...

They simply had a predeterminated opinion about it, according to Corky Meyer (former Grumman test pilot), some even complained that the spinner axis passing between their legs caused them psychological problems...

American pilots didn't want to fly this plane and blamed their defeats with it on "this piece of ...." rather than on inadequate tactics, Soviet pilots decided to fly what they were given and dicovered that, with the right tactics, it could become impressively effective.

ThanasisK
08-06-2004, 03:44 AM
Red Star / Black Cross Vol II at some point has an interview of the soviet pilots about p39. (Dont have the book with me to quote or give exact page number).
2 things are obvious from this book:
1) Reliable R/T was important, VVS lacked reliable radios at the time
2) The soviet pilots were familiar with the plane's shortcomings and relative strengths in relation to LW.

VVS wasn't the only one using obsolete AC/techniques during the start of WW2, RAF and USAF did too. They all just had to learn in combat what works and whatnot, paying a heavy price.

Fornixx
08-06-2004, 04:19 AM
Exactly!

What is very obvious from reading the book is that it was a question of production quality, new tactics and radios that made the P-39 successful in the Kuban and Crimea.

I can't remember one place where the author states that the P-39 was some kind of wonder weapon. This is what a lot of people miss. It was a good plane that with the correct tactics could present the LW with a challenge.

S!

Freefalldart
08-06-2004, 06:10 AM
With the right tactics Cobras are really deadly opponents.
And that is true despite the fact that Americans were who porked the plane by removing its engine supercharger? degrading its high altitude performance.
Put P-38s against Zeros at the time of Pearl Harbour with pilots trained to TnB, that is, before AVG developed the BnZ tactics against them and see what happens... probably a lot of losses in the american side. Is it the P-38 a sh** or are the tactics?

"Cuando un loco parece totalmente sensato es hora de ponerle la camisa de fuerza"
Edgar Allan Poe (1809-1849)

Fornixx
08-06-2004, 06:24 AM
Very well said Freefalldart!

horseback
08-06-2004, 11:17 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Stiglr:
Even in Loza's book, you'll notice they do a lot of damage to Stuka formations, which isn't too difficult, as Stukas are slow and incredibly ungainly with ordnance on them. Any plane can take out a loaded Ju87, or wade into a formation of helpless He111s. Witness the Hurricanes in the Battle of Britain. Up until that campaign, Hurricanes got the **** beat out of them almost everywhere they flew (Dutch East Indies, N. Africa, Malta); this plane also has an overblown reputation; still, I do have to admit, it was exactly the plane for the job over Britain in '40.

Another part of the success of Pokryshkin has to do with his understanding the benefit of altitude. He and his boys were likely the only VVS who bothered to get any altitude before engaging, and his "bookshelf" tactic was revolutionary for the VVS; which explains why the 109s had such a fun time earlier in the war: they understood the benefit of alt since Spain, and they had a plane that could make USE of climb.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

re the Hurricane; all the campaigns you quote were post BoB, after the Hurri had passed its prime and been reduced to 'secondary front' status. Much of what has been written in English about was during the 20 years immediately post war for pre-teen boys. Considering that the Hurri was a key player in what is considered Britain's "finest hour," a little flowery language is appropriate.

Books written on the subject after 1970 are less complementary.

Even so, the primary role of a fighter is to kill (or protect) bombers. Every other role is secondary. If it is easy to kill bombers, that is the fault of their escorts, the commanders who put them in jeopardy, and their poorly designed defenses. If it is not easy to kill bombers caught without escorts, then you have an inadequate fighter.

The original P-39 design was modified at the behest of the Air Corps to improve low altitude performance and handling for the dual purposes of ground support & air superiority over the battlefield. Strangely, the Soviets were the only ones to fully exploit the aircraft's abilities in this intended role.

Undoubtedly, the first examples used by the Soviets had much better production quality than the domestic production straggling out of recently relocated factories, and having a decent radio alone made a huge difference in tactics, which had to come as an unpleasant surprise for the Germans.

In combat, if performance and communications are comparable at the point of attack, then pilot ability and tactics (use of surprise, altitude) become the deciding factors. By that standard, the P-39 gave its Soviet pilots a much better chance, and therefore, HOPE, and that begets confidence and aggression. Used properly, this leads to success. The presence of a leader, tactician, and teacher of Pokryshin's caliber was undoubtedly critical.

After shooting down dozens of frightened tyros, German pilots faced by Airacobra units had to be at least surprised and disturbed by this sudden display of aggression and skill.

But since they continued to allow the Russians to force the fight down low, where their planes performed nearly as well as the Germans', it's their own damned fault if the P-39 units were disproportionately successful while flying "pieces of ****".

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

SeaFireLIV
08-06-2004, 11:21 AM
Stiglr really ought to work on his manners and be less pompous.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v31/SeaFireLIV/bluespit.jpg

XyZspineZyX
08-06-2004, 02:18 PM
OK, horseback, add Battle of France. Pre-BoB by several months and the AEF got their butts kicked there, too.

As for the continued subject of Loza's book and it's rather trumpety pro-Soviet voice, well, I notice it just as much in American books and British books. All sides tend to be proud of their guys, proud of their countries, and the pilots tend to like their chief plane (or the one they made their kills in). No harm in that, and one can still factor out some of the more strident propoganda and still get a decent account of what may have happened.