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GazzaMataz
06-28-2004, 05:23 AM
Just came back from holiday and managed to finish me Osprey series 'German Aces on the Eastern Front' - very good.

What I don't understand is how did the German pilots manage to rack up so many kills. They scored in there hunreds not dozens, and yet the soviets and allied pilots never seemed to get anywhere near. Where most of the German kills against poor/inexperienced pilots mostly on the Eastern Front?

It cannot be that the aircraft where superior because everywhere I look I keep hearing how much better the soviet planes wehere to everyone elses...

Anyone care to comment...

Tickety boo...
Gazzamataz
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GazzaMataz
06-28-2004, 05:23 AM
Just came back from holiday and managed to finish me Osprey series 'German Aces on the Eastern Front' - very good.

What I don't understand is how did the German pilots manage to rack up so many kills. They scored in there hunreds not dozens, and yet the soviets and allied pilots never seemed to get anywhere near. Where most of the German kills against poor/inexperienced pilots mostly on the Eastern Front?

It cannot be that the aircraft where superior because everywhere I look I keep hearing how much better the soviet planes wehere to everyone elses...

Anyone care to comment...

Tickety boo...
Gazzamataz
http://www.gazzamataz.com

altamont
06-28-2004, 05:25 AM
Good training and the will to serve the german country. Nothing else. Remember those pilots and soldiers were loyal to their country and culture.

BitwiseOp
06-28-2004, 05:52 AM
Good training and the will to serve your country does not in itself imply that huge scores will be achieved. RAF pilots in the Battle of Britain were highly motivated to win but even the 'best' of them only scored around half of what the top German aces scored in the battle.

The difference in training levels was partly responsible - in the early stages of the war at least but in itself was not the deciding factor. Pre war RAF pilots were amongst the most highly trained in the world however their formations and tactics were rigid, predefined, inflexible and based in theory rather than practice.

The primary difference however was in experience and the tactics employed. Many German pilots had experienced air combat flying in the Spanish Civil War... and even those that didn't benefitted from the tactics that were developed in that conflict (and which remain the basis for tactics employed today - e.g. the 'Schwarm' aka 'Finger Four' rather than the rigid 'Vic' formation). Over the course of the war the RAF and USAAF adopted variants of the German Schwarm as the basis for their formations.

Another reason was the German doctrine of the 'Experten' - allowing specific pilots who showed the 'hunter/killer' instinct (i.e. they could shoot straight as well as fly) to build up their scores while their wingmen were reduced to a secondary role.

This is the big difference - experience is (literally) the killer. A more experienced pilot has the edge every time. Most of the German pilots fighting on the Eastern front had some prior battle experience in Poland, France and / or the Battle of Britain, and again, those that didn't had the advantage of learning from the 'old hands'.

If you look at the survival rates of new pilots compared to 'old hands' you can see that it was the spring chickens that got plucked almost every time - yes, there was still attrition through accidents and sometimes their luck just ran out, but if you could survive the first few weeks then your chances of surviving the battle were much better.

[This message was edited by BitwiseOp on Mon June 28 2004 at 05:03 AM.]

F19_Ob
06-28-2004, 05:52 AM
Some historians and ww2 pilots also claim that the Russians were poorly trained and had bad tactics throughout the war.
But when reading abit more about it This claim doesnt work so well (for me personally) exept perhaps for the first years of war, and also the chain of command was also not effective, but then in the end the German chain broke too.
The German pilots also fought continuosly until they died or so.
I think it is a good idea also to point out that the highscorers were the sharpest pilots as in all other airforces and its more easy to understand if U compare the individ√¬ļal combatflights, this way it becomes less complicated to explain the "why" and then add the time they fought and again compare.
Add to this the German advantage of attack and trained pilots and coordinated attacks against the confused defense situation of the russians.
It took awhile for the Russians to coordinate their attacks and meanwhile they filled in the gaps as best as they could, wich is not an ideal situation for creating topguns of an airforce.


Just a few thoughts.

bazzaah2
06-28-2004, 05:56 AM
More than altamont says: bet more of them were concerned with self-preservation than a fight for culture, though Rudel was perhaps an exception. Plenty more to be said about the political/nationalist side of things, but will not start nor get involved in a flame war.

German pilots, if they survived, stayed in combat duty and so had long careers and they encountered a lot of Soviet planes.

Tactics etc will have played a vital role as well.

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Crashing online as :FI:SpinyNorman

KGr.HH-Sunburst
06-28-2004, 05:57 AM
in the beginning on the eastern front germany had better trained pilots than russia
and used better tactics

the VVS had yet to find out how aircombat worked ,so thats why german pilots raked up somany kills

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''All your Mustangs are belong to us''

NegativeGee
06-28-2004, 06:09 AM
Ah, this one again.

Well, one of the problems here is some people read kill scores as directly relating to pilot ability, but they don't. We could discuss this ad nauesum but every nation produced Aces of outstanding skill, but their opportunities to shoot down the enemy varied greatly.

As to the Luftwaffe in the East, there was an issue of pilot quality for the VVS after Barbarossa began (who took losses that would have destroyed the Luftwaffe outright) as well as the "initiative paralysis" that pervaded the USSR's military as a whole. Both of these problems were overcome as the war progressed though.

The German system seems to have created the most experienced core of combat pilots in theatre, but at the expense of vunerability to attrition and lack of rotation of proven pilots to instructive postions.

"As weaponry, both were good, but in far different ways from each other. In a nutshell, I describe it this way: if the FW 190 was a sabre, the 109 was a florett, or foil, like that used in the precision art of fencing." - G√ľnther Rall

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Look Noobie, we already told you, we don't have the Patch!

tvih
06-28-2004, 07:07 AM
Hmm, yes, the opportunities definitely varied. This shows when looking at the Finnish air force kill records.

The pilot with the most official air victories, Hans Wind, had 75 (Illu Juutilainen only actually had 74 official victories, and about 19 unofficial, so officially Wind is the "best", contrary to popular belief). Yet there were often months between individual victories. Before the summer of '44, the Soviets often actually avoided combat with the FAF, because those conflicts ended up with too many Soviet losses. In '44 there were plenty of Soviet planes to shoot at, and a big portion of Wind's, as well as for other Finnish aces, victories came during those 3 months.

Now, for the German front, the Soviets simply couldn't avoid air combat, because there were so many German planes. Finland only had a handful of planes compared, so they were often avoidable. If the Finns could've constantly fought the Soviets in the air, who knows what amount of kills the aces could have racked up.

Out of curiosity, anyone have handy the number of air victories achieved by the best British, German and Soviet aces?

TgD Thunderbolt56
06-28-2004, 07:13 AM
British: 38

German: 352

Soviet: 62



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a1l0e9x
06-28-2004, 07:20 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> Out of curiosity, anyone have handy the number of air victories achieved by the best British, German and Soviet aces? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Look here (http://www.pilotenbunker.de/).
Choose "Jadflieger" at the left side to see the list of the best pilots (the list contains about 500 fighter pilots).

_____________________

Servus!

I/JG68Alex
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Sicher ist, dass nichts sicher ist. Selbst das nicht.

darkhorizon11
06-28-2004, 07:42 AM
I've always looked at it as tactics second and chances to kill first. In the latter half of the war German pilots were running into Allied aircraft almost every sortie where as it was rare for an Allies to see Germans at all...

horseback
06-28-2004, 11:51 AM
Consider also the sheer numbers of sorties available to German experten on the Eastern Front: flying an aircraft capable of less than two hours' endurance, even with a droptank, they often flew as many as eight sorties a day during good weather, with an excellent chance of making contact with the enemy every time. This allowed the opportunity to develop their talents for air combat to the fullest in a relatively short period, and the 'Hunter' mentality led to the best of them being fed a steady diet of kill opportunties. The rest of the Staffel would often 'herd' the victims toward the star player-much like a good basketball point guard feeds a 'hot' shooter.

RAF and American units had more of a team mentality, and a 'star' had to go out and make the most of his own opportunities. Throw in the fact that they had only one sorty of several hours per day possible at most. Given the weather normal in the UK most of the year, sorties on five consecutive days were quite unusual. Of course, there were also a lot fewer German aircraft available to shoot at as a rule.

Now let's add the fact that Allied fliers had limited required tours, and exceptional pilots' tours could be shortened so that the pilots in training could receive the benefits of the gifted pilots' experiences. German pilots rarely left the front unless they broke down physically, or were wounded.

The result is that the pilot gifted with a strong constitution, luck, and shooting skills got a lot better sooner, and continued to stay and score longer than his American and British counterpart. The numbers for the German aces are largely accurate, but they are comparable to Michael Jordan's scoring figures before the Bulls started winning playoff games: he did well, but his team didn't, until everybody started scoring.

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

kalo456
06-28-2004, 12:36 PM
Hi all,

I just wanted to point out one aspect I think was not mentioned, but that may be the most important. The Germans were a small force fighting a large and less experienced force.

The fact that early VVS activities tied the fighters to tactical bombers at lower altitudes played into the hunting mentality of the Luftwaffe. The Russians were so spread out that it was hard for one VVS pilot to be in a hot zone where there were lots of targets for very long. Every ao was hot for Luftwaffe pilots. The German pilots would move to where the action was hot. They transferred airbases often as needed. The russians still had to stay defending an area even if german air intensity diminshed. It wasn't until the VVS established some of those 'guards' units that they started moving their best fighter pilots around to where the action was at.

9./JG54_Kalo

JG14_Josf
06-28-2004, 01:13 PM
Horseback wrote:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>The rest of the Staffel would often 'herd' the victims toward the star player-much like a good basketball point guard feeds a 'hot' shooter.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Please offer reference to support the above conclusion.

LilHorse
06-28-2004, 03:16 PM
While I can't say about "herding" enemy for the experten, it is mentioned in both Black Cross/ Red Star and I think in Gunther Rall's bio that the experten or leaders in the squadrons were given deference in the kills department. Inotherwords, they had to be allowed to get a kill first and then other flyers could persue kills. So, it may have been advantagous for them to help out the situation.

As for the overall kill situation I'd say:
1. The Germans had experiance.
2. The Germans had superior tactics
3. In the beginning they had superior a/c. (I-16s and I-153s were slow flying tinderboxes with gasoline in them. LaGGs were slow)
4. The Germans flew til they got the Iron Cross or the wooden cross.

Plus, along with many officers lost in Stalin's purges were many experianced airmen from the wars against Japan and those who had participated in the Spanish Civil War. So there was less passing on of experiance to the newer pilots.

Abbuzze
06-28-2004, 03:29 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by darkhorizon11:
I've always looked at it as tactics second and chances to kill first. In the latter half of the war German pilots were running into Allied aircraft almost every sortie where as it was rare for an Allies to see Germans at all...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thats true!!
And keep in mind german pilots have no tours with 25 missions... as they said: We fly till we get a cross, some of us an irony, others a wodden one."

And don‚¬īt forgett Hartmann had a real bad kill per mission rato! Many allied pilots were much better in this aspect!

I./JG53 PikAs Abbuzze
http://www.jg53-pikas.de/

http://mitglied.lycos.de/p123/bilder/Ani_pikasbanner_langsam%20neu.gif

Rebel_Yell_21
06-28-2004, 03:41 PM
It all boils down to number of sorties. Many Allied pilots had a higher ratio of kills/sortie than the top German pilots. But the Germans were in it for the duration, rather than a tour (or two) of duty.

http://www.303rdbga.com/art-ferris-fortress-S.jpg

JG14_Josf
06-28-2004, 04:37 PM
Lt.Gunther Scheel....71 victories in 70 sorties

(Fighter Aces of the Luftwaffe Appendix 2, page 324)

JG14_Josf
06-28-2004, 04:41 PM
LilHorse,

Gunther Rall's biography wasn't much of a tactical manual. What is described with the words "herding" and "given deference in the kills department" can also be described as "He who is best at killing leads the pack".

I'm still having a hard time visualizing the "herding" tactic.

JG14_Josf
06-28-2004, 05:37 PM
Gunther Rall
a memoir

page 142

"Maybe it was a matter of courtesy, but we all stood back until our squadron leader had his kill, the we felt free to go on,"

That was a quip made by "Fritz" Obleser.

"We made a good team, I think," said Obleser. "He was generous in combat, always making sure he gave me lots of opportunities to score."

Now contrast the above statement with this:

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Thropp saw the bogie but was not sure if he should attack it head on. If you stole a kill away from McGuire you were in big trouble.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

From here:
Blutarski's precious link (http://www.aerothentic.com/history/articles/McGuire.htm)

Fehler
06-29-2004, 12:45 AM
Personally, I believe part of the disparity between kills from German pilots and the rest of the world had much more to do with attack/defense doctrine than most of the points made earlier.

You can even experience this in the online war arenas in IL2. If you are defending an airfield, a bridge, or a battle ground, you have to sometimes ignore the fighters and attack the bombers/ground attack aircraft. This places one in a bad position for survival.

Germany, especially early in the war, was on the offensive. This placed the Russians on the defensive mostly.

Now one could say, wait a minute, what about the Battle of Britain? For this, one would have to look at the escort doctrine of the Luftwaffe, the limited time over target of escorting fighter aircraft, and the shift from attacking military targets to populated areas. One must remember that, although the Battle of Britain has been glorified as a sweeping victory for the English, history really shows that they were on the ropes until Germany's bombers were swayed from the military targets. This effectively allowed the English to rebuild their forces.

Let's also take a look at the bombing campaign against Germany as an example of this. German fighter pilots were instructed to repel the bombers at all cost. If the ability presented itself, the Luftwaffe made knifing attacks and fled from the escorts. Many German aircraft were destroyed while landing or simply as they were parked on the ground. All this happened as they lost experienced pilots through attrition, and also lost the ability to replace aircraft destroyed along the way.

I have always believed that neither the German pilot, nor his machine was any more superior than any other country's of that era. Their "shock war/attack" doctrine was something new to the world, and probably the greatest single attributing factor to towards the success their pilots encountered early in the war. When pressed to defend, they were terrible at it.

On the other hand, defensive tactics and doctrine were what the Soviets excelled at. They learned it at quite a high price in blood, early in the war.

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http://webpages.charter.net/cuda70/9JG54.html

WTE_Galway
06-29-2004, 01:54 AM
certian non-german nationalities seem to take personal offense at the much higher kill tallies of the german aces over any other nation

the reason is quite simple the germans flew combat missions several times a day pretty much 7 days a week for years .. by the end of the war the surviving german experten had 1000's of combat hours up

talented pilots from other nations, given the same experience, would probably have been as skilled as the german aces .. but the simple fact is no-one else had that much experience

i doubt any real world ace from any other country would have relished the idea of flying against the likes of marseille or hartmann

GazzaMataz
06-29-2004, 02:31 AM
Fehler said:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR> when pressed to defend, they were terrible at it.<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Er, I find this hard to believe when you consider that Germany was fighting a war from 1943 onwards on three fronts. All the history books I have read marvel at how Germany managed to last so long...

I think that this is more relevant to the ground war though than the air war though.

Tickety boo...
Gazzamataz
http://www.gazzamataz.com

nicli
06-29-2004, 04:29 AM
[QUOTE]Originally posted by horseback:
"Consider also the sheer numbers of sorties available to German experten on the Eastern Front: flying an aircraft capable of less than two hours' endurance, even with a droptank, they often flew as many as eight sorties a day during good weather, with an excellent chance of making contact with the enemy every time."


And this happened only on the Eastern Front, where both sides had an intense patrol activity with small formations.

On the Western Front, german pilots flew much less and met the Allies much less often, but when they did, it wasn't a 2 to 2 or 4 to 8 but rather 25 to 250, which made contact with enemy formations much more dangerous.

And if you add to this different tactical situation the fact that until late 1942, the soviets suffered from inadequate training and bad tactics, the experience progressively acquired by german pilots can be easily understood.

2 more remarks : if you look at the great geramn aces, even those who scored at the end of the war, you can see that the enormous majority of them had their flying training finished by late 1942 or early 1943, before its quality started to go down.

And another remark is that the known score of the german pilots on the Eastern front includes many unconfirmed kills due to the disorganisation during the later part of the war(e.g. : Rall claimed 275 kills, but got only 233 officially confirmed, and this must be far worse for pilots like Hartmann who cliamed a larger part of their kills later in the war), even if their score remains exceptionnal anyway, and a large part of these unconfirmed kills scored later in the war can be retrospectively considered as reliable.

[This message was edited by nicli on Wed June 30 2004 at 02:47 AM.]

NegativeGee
06-29-2004, 05:15 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Fehler:
I have always believed that neither the German pilot, nor his machine was any more superior than any other country's of that era. Their "shock war/attack" doctrine was something new to the world, and probably the greatest single attributing factor to towards the success their pilots encountered early in the war. When pressed to defend, they were terrible at it.

<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ah, but what do you mean by being terrible at air defence? Thats a very broad and rather vague way of summing up the Luftwaffe's record at interception.

IMO the Luftwaffe had a great deal of success in airdefence, both in the day and night roles, at the unit level at least. However, there were strategic factors that were always against the fighter units (lack of priority in equipment production and aircrew training) when compared to the bomber units, until the latest stages of the war, when the situation was so desperate it was basically too late to do anything significant.

No, the Luftwaffe pilots who flew defensive mission over Germany and its occupied territories were very successful (look at Bomber Command losses and those of the 8th AAF). You might say they often fought with one hand tied behind their back though http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/infopop/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

"As weaponry, both were good, but in far different ways from each other. In a nutshell, I describe it this way: if the FW 190 was a sabre, the 109 was a florett, or foil, like that used in the precision art of fencing." - G√ľnther Rall

http://www.invoman.com/images/tali_with_hands.jpg

Look Noobie, we already told you, we don't have the Patch!

horseback
06-29-2004, 08:43 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by nicli:

On the Western Front, german pilots flew much less and met the Allies much less often, but when they did, it wasn't a 2 to 2 or 4 to 8 but rather 25 to 250, which made contact with enemy formations much more dangerous.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

A gross exaggeration, nicli. Escort fighters flew their escorts in relays which were very tightly scheduled, and the vast armadas of late 1944 were possible only after 18 months of hard fighting. The 8th Air Force didn't just spring into being with a thousand bombers and fifteen hundred fighters with trained aircrew on December 8th 1941. It trickled across the Atlantic for months before a coherent fighting force could even begin to operate. They flew their first bombing raid (4 July 1942) with borrowed bombers with RAF leadership.

Consider this: the first P-47 sorties weren't flown until April of 1943; up until that time, the only 8th AF fighters were approximately 50 Spit Vbs attached to the three former Eagle Squadrons. It was the summer of 1943 before there were three operational fighter groups on the Channel, and their range was limited to France until drop tanks could be devised that fall, and these were available only in driblets.

The fight favored the Germans until the spring of 1944; they had a defense in depth, and only a few Allied escorts had the range to reach all the way into Germany with the bombers. Had the Luftwaffe expended a serious effort to wipe out the new escort types while they were few and unproven, the strategic bombing campaign might have petered out in early '44. There were plenty of second guessers in the Allied air forces around to say "I told you it'd never work."

It wasn't just a matter of numbers in the West; the Germans fought dumb, and got progressively dumber as their losses mounted and they couldn't replace the skilled personnel on the ground and in the air. But they weren't outnumbered at the point of attack until May/June of 1944, and that was not just because the Allies sent more fighters and bombers over Europe, it was because they'd killed so many German defenders in the previous six months and been able to replace their own losses.

To simply dismiss the Western Front aerial successes as just a matter of numbers is inaccurate and intellectually dishonest. The Germans were grossly outnumbered in the air by mid 1944 because the USAAF and RAF imposed those terms on them by force of arms. Victories in the earlier battles paved the way for the later victories.

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

darkhorizon11
06-29-2004, 02:33 PM
certian non-german nationalities seem to take personal offense at the much higher kill tallies of the german aces over any other nation

the reason is quite simple the germans flew combat missions several times a day pretty much 7 days a week for years .. by the end of the war the surviving german experten had 1000's of combat hours up

"talented pilots from other nations, given the same experience, would probably have been as skilled as the german aces .. but the simple fact is no-one else had that much experience

i doubt any real world ace from any other country would have relished the idea of flying against the likes of marseille or hartmann"

I agree opportunity played a major part. German training or ability was no better or worse. Actually it was somewhat worse at the end of the war when they became desperate and used many young kids to fly. But even in their prime it was just the same as American or British. It was the select few that survived that built up the hours and experience that became true "Experten".
Americans were relieved of combat duty after a certain number of sorties were flown so they were never forced to stay around like their counterparts. I think the number was 100, at least in Vietnam I'm not sure about WWII.

I surrender to a source on this one if someone can come up with it. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/11.gif

Zyzbot
06-29-2004, 03:50 PM
I think it was a certain number of hours.

A few quick examles of USAF missions flown:

Lt. Col. John B. England 108 combat missions for a total of 460 combat hours in the North American P-51 Mustang. Destroyed 17.5 German aircraft.

Donald Bochkay ---123 Combat Missions-- 510 Combat Hours, 13.83 victories in P-51

Urban Drew flew 76 missions with the 361st - 6 air victories including 2 Me-262 jets.

jensenpark
06-29-2004, 06:10 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Abbuzze:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by darkhorizon11:
I've always looked at it as tactics second and chances to kill first. In the latter half of the war German pilots were running into Allied aircraft almost every sortie where as it was rare for

an Allies to see Germans at all...<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thats true!!
And keep in mind german pilots have no tours with 25 missions... as they said: We fly till we get a cross, some of us an irony, others a wodden one."

And don‚¬īt forgett Hartmann had a real bad kill per mission rato! Many allied pilots were much better in this aspect!

I./JG53 PikAs Abbuzze
http://www.jg53-pikas.de/

http://mitglied.lycos.de/p123/bilder/Ani_pikasbanner_langsam%20neu.gif
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

I agree with both of you...IMHO probably the biggest reason for the differences. I remember one book I read (not a very good one) called "Woodbine Red Leader" or along those lines...the author flew about 100 missions in a Spit before encountering his first air-to-air combat situation. Hard to rack up huge kills when encountering the enemy one every 50 some-odd missions.

http://www.corsair-web.com/thistler/rtfoxint.jpg
Buzz Beurling flying his last sortie over Malta, Oct.24, 1942

nicli
06-30-2004, 04:28 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by horseback:
A gross exaggeration, nicli. Escort fighters flew their escorts in relays which were very tightly scheduled, and the vast armadas of late 1944 were possible only _after_ 18 months of hard fighting. The 8th Air Force didn't just spring into being with a thousand bombers and fifteen hundred fighters with trained aircrew on December 8th 1941. It trickled across the Atlantic for months before a coherent fighting force could even begin to operate. They flew their first bombing raid (4 July 1942) with _borrowed_ bombers with RAF leadership.

Consider this: the first P-47 sorties weren't flown until April of 1943; up until that time, the only 8th AF fighters were approximately 50 Spit Vbs attached to the three former Eagle Squadrons. It was the summer of 1943 before there were three operational fighter groups on the Channel, and their range was limited to France until drop tanks could be devised that fall, and these were available only in driblets.

The fight favored the Germans until the spring of 1944; they had a defense in depth, and only a few Allied escorts had the range to reach all the way into Germany with the bombers. Had the Luftwaffe expended a serious effort to wipe out the new escort types while they were few and unproven, the strategic bombing campaign might have petered out in early '44. There were plenty of second guessers in the Allied air forces around to say "I told you it'd never work."

It wasn't just a matter of numbers in the West; the Germans fought dumb, and got progressively dumber as their losses mounted and they couldn't replace the skilled personnel on the ground and in the air. But they weren't outnumbered at the point of attack until May/June of 1944, and that was not just because the Allies sent more fighters and bombers over Europe, it was because they'd killed so many German defenders in the previous six months and been able to replace their own losses.

To simply dismiss the Western Front aerial successes as just a matter of numbers is inaccurate and intellectually dishonest. The Germans were grossly outnumbered in the air by mid 1944 because the USAAF and RAF imposed those terms on them by force of arms. Victories in the earlier battles paved the way for the later victories.

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<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


I didn't say it was like that from the start, but one has to remember that until mid-1943 at least, the air war in the West was of relatively low intensity, and that, while there were few allied strategic aircraft available at the beginning, there were also very few german fighters who were there only for limited fighting against the RAF.

I wasn't only talking about fighters but also about bombers, the early losses of LW pilots were largely caused by the defensive fire of bombers, and given the defensive armament of the Flying fortresses or Liberators, they couldn't be avoided, attacking their already big formations would inevitably cause losses, regardless of pilot quality.

And when the escort fighters arrived, the LW couldn't cope with the strategic air war anymore as they had to attack the bombers not the fighters (remember the goal was to prtotect the german cities), the latters being now able to operate freely and inflict severe losses.

As for the possiblity for the LW to concentrate on escort fighters, first, it wouldn't have produced much results, as the factories producing them and the areas where new pilots were trained were out of the LW's reach, second, it would have meant to let the allies bomb germany...

So, to correct my post : 1942 in the West : 12 vs. 40, 1943 in the West : 20 vs. 100, 1944 in the West : 25 vs. 250, and so on... but the fact is that the allies fully committed their air forces only with overall superiority.

And, moreover, they benefitted from the advantage of having no front line to cover until mid-1944 (which forbade the soviets to concentrate their air assets over a small area), and this can be illustrated by the air war over Africa, where the LW although outnumbered was able to fight well against the RAF and USAF in tactical combat.

Finally, I think the germans didn't fight dumb, what was stupid and appeared already from the invasion of the USSR, is that the number of efficient combat pilots was going down slowly first then more and more quickly while their opponents (the RAF, the VVS, and from late 1942 the USAF), whatever their losses had more and more of them, however they didn't create a large number of flight schools nor used their veterans (except a few) to transmit experience to the new pilots, they didn't dramatically increase the output of pilot schools until late in the war (mid-1943-1944), and then, were able to do so only by reducing their formation a lot...

And these new and badly trained pilots were sent in to replace the losses in more experienced aircrews, and then suffered themselves even heavier losses because of their lack of experience and bad training, and were themselves to be replaced and so on...

IMO, Germany would have lost the air war on both fronts, whatever it would have done, because of the basic strategic situation : powefull enemies with a far larger industrial potential out of reach of the german war machine, but this mistake about the pilots' formation lead them to an earlier catastrophe...