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Jex_TE
12-10-2008, 05:27 AM
I commonly see the Greman aces with over 300 kills and the allies score pathetically against them with something like 21. Now I think I understand that most of the German kills came from the spanish war?

Why are the German kills so high - was their opponents aircraft massively inferior?

What are the kills for each ace if taken from 1939 onwards - is it possible to get a comparison down and to set a date where we could really count their victories? (It seems to me the allied pilots would have been comparable so how do we compare them against the axis)?

Thanks,

Erkki_M
12-10-2008, 06:10 AM
Originally posted by Jex_TE:
I commonly see the Greman aces with over 300 kills and the allies score pathetically against them with something like 21. Now I think I understand that most of the German kills came from the spanish war?

You couldnt be much more wrong - I dont think any of the +100 scorers got any kills, at all, in the Spanish War. Very few of them, Galland for example, fought in it at all. Also, there are only two men with 300 or more kills: Erich Hartmann and Gerhard Barkhorn.


Why are the German kills so high - was their opponents aircraft massively inferior?

Most of the time, there was nothing wrong in Allied aircraft. However, the Germans had adopted proper, modern aerial tactics before the war (and were not to do that 2+ years after the war as some other countries) and had a very high quality of training before and early in the war.


What are the kills for each ace if taken from 1939 onwards - is it possible to get a comparison down and to set a date where we could really count their victories? (It seems to me the allied pilots would have been comparable so how do we compare them against the axis)?

Read above. Actually, the highest scoring man, Hartmann, flew his first combat sorties as late as 1943. One of the reasons that certainly effected, more or less, was that while USAAF and RAF usually sent their more experienced pilots to training duties, Germans mostly kept them at the front until they were wounded badly enough, moved to higher tasks as for example Galland and Mölders, or were killed.

See this, not a perfect list, but anyways

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_World_War_II_air_aces

Choctaw111
12-10-2008, 06:20 AM
You must also realize that the Allies would only fly so many missions and then get to go home. The Germans WERE home, so they kept on flying sortie after sortie, easily 10 times more than the Allies did.
There is also the fact that the Germans never had a shortage of Allied planes to shoot down. The Allied aircraft where everywhere.
For an Allied fighter pilot, there could be many missions where they wouldn't even encounter a Luftwaffe plane. Certainly not helping the "kill count".

GregGal
12-10-2008, 06:23 AM
Some say german kill counts were propaganda, that's why. Well, I don't think so. There were overclaims on both sides. Pierre Clostermann wrote in "Le Grand Cirque" that on the first american daylight bombing missions, the Fortresses's gunners claimed 3x as many kills as the total number of the attacking german planes. I mean these numbers have been rounded up for the sake of propaganda, but on both sides.

The main reason is what Erkki said: LW pilots flew until they were killed. If an allied pilot got a bit tired, he was off ops immediately.

another reason: the top scoring LW aces flew on the eastern front, where they could do some "turkey shooting" against poor early war russian planes.

One thing I'm wondering: I've never heard of "damaged", and "probable" kills of german aces. why?

b2spirita
12-10-2008, 06:29 AM
Originally posted by GregGal:
Some say german kill counts were propaganda, that's why. Well, I don't think so. There were overclaims on both sides. Pierre Clostermann wrote in "Le Grand Cirque" that on the first american daylight bombing missions, the Fortresses's gunners claimed 3x as many kills as the total number of the attacking german planes. I mean these numbers have been rounded up for the sake of propaganda, but on both sides.

The main reason is what Erkki said: LW pilots flew until they were killed. If an allied pilot got a bit tired, he was off ops immediately.

another reason: the top scoring LW aces flew on the eastern front, where they could do some "turkey shooting" against poor early war russian planes.

One thing I'm wondering: I've never heard of "damaged", and "probable" kills of german aces. why?

I could be wrong, but as i understand it the germans had a particularly strict set of guidelines that had to be followed to allow a kill claim to be confirmed. Therefore a probable would probably not be allowed. I do not know about damaged claims.

Don't take this as gospel though.

ImMoreBetter
12-10-2008, 06:43 AM
The German aces got more kills because they fought more.

The fought more because they flew more.

They were not rotated back from the front lines, and flew multiple missions in a single day.

Many of the aces had fought on both the eastern and western fronts.

The type of missions they regularly flew were also different, with so many allied planes around, they had plenty to shoot at. Intercept missions were very common.

tom1502_158
12-10-2008, 06:56 AM
As well as all of the above, think about how many aircraft were being sent against them constantly. Think about the fact that after the 6th June some Allied pilots would fly tours and not see a single enemy aircraft to shoot at, whereas at that point if a German pilot was up he'd have a target rich environment.

Also think about the fact that they were intercepting American daylight raids at first largely unescorted.

If they were fighting Allied aircraft in other theatres they were generally against aircraft not considered fit for front line service in northern Europe.

DIRTY-MAC
12-10-2008, 07:32 AM
Here is all info you need on most of the Luftwaffe Aces:
http://www.luftwaffe.cz/index.html

Jex_TE
12-10-2008, 07:44 AM
Great http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

Thanks for the replies everyone.

Divine-Wind
12-10-2008, 09:53 AM
Originally posted by ImMoreBetter:
The German aces got more kills because they fought more.

The fought more because they flew more.

They were not rotated back from the front lines, and flew multiple missions in a single day.

Many of the aces had fought on both the eastern and western fronts.

The type of missions they regularly flew were also different, with so many allied planes around, they had plenty to shoot at. Intercept missions were very common.
Indeed. There was nothing wrong with Allied pilots, Luftwaffe fliers just had more to shoot at (Especially towards the end of the war), and shot at them longer.

As everyone else has said, they flew from the beginning until they were killed or wounded badly enough to prevent flying, and they had targets everywhere.

I can't imagine the strain they must have been under, particularly after 1944.

Sillius_Sodus
12-10-2008, 02:49 PM
We also need to remember that even the best pilots can get shot down and if it happens over friendly territory, the pilot can fly again, provided he is not seriously injured. How many times was Hartmann shot down, eleven? he kept going, Bader? Once over France was enough to end his career.

Luck has a lot to do with it too. If Bader had died instead of losing his legs in his famous crash, or if either was shot down by a "golden bb" early in their combat career, we would never know just how good they were. I imagine this happened to lots of pilots with huge talent and potential.

Finally, a pilot's score can also depend on where the fight was. For example, P-38 ace Richard Bong is credited with 40 victories but it will never be known if some of the aircraft he damaged crashed in the ocean or inaccessible jungle on their way home since many Japanese aircraft were notoriously flimsy. For all we know his score might be much higher, some estimate his total could conceivably be double his official score.

Good question though.

WTE_Galway
12-10-2008, 04:46 PM
The only thing I would add to this thread is the fact that US and Commonwealth Aces were often withdrawn from combat duties somewhere around 30 kills and given training or administrative jobs whereas the Germans stayed at it.

Eventually after 4 years or more and 300 kills or so pilots like Hartmann must have got very very good at their job.



Given a situation with two pilots of equal talent and equal initial training in similar performing aircraft ... who would you back in a fly off ? The man who got 30 kills before being given a deskjob? ... or the man who flew several times a day 7 days a week for 5 years and racked up 300 kills ?

Erkki_M
12-11-2008, 12:01 AM
I bet every high scoring German ace would have rather sat behind a desk than flown 3-4 combat sorties a day, eating enough to barely stay alive, sleeping in some hole in the snow at minus 20 celcius. On the other hand, it was also a question of honour and comradeship - how could one even think about leaving, "betraying", his people?

And no, Western Europe was not the main arena of WW2 aerial war.

Freiwillige
12-11-2008, 01:27 AM
It comes down to three things.
A.Training
B.Tactics
C.the effective use of A. and B.

The Luftwaffe aces during the Battle of Britian outscored their English opponents due in fact to A. and B. Keep in mind that 80% of arial victorys are acheived by 10% of the airforce roughly.

If their are Luftwaffe experts who shot down 100+ aircraft in the west alone than its easy to beleive that they tripled that number in the east.

tom1502_158
12-11-2008, 04:52 AM
Bader? Once over France was enough to end his career.

Not really the best comparison...he was not shot down over friendly territory and there is the mater of a stretch of ocean to cross...and him having no legs...instead he continued to fight back as a prisoner of war through numerous escape attempts.

Also the A,B and C things...add to that numbers. The RAF was generally outnumbered when it went up to intercept the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and the training for the Pre-War RAF pilots was of a very high standard, it only started to drop when it became essential to get pilots out to the front line in as short a time as possible.

I think what you are in fact missing from that is D - Experience. A lot of the RAF pilots had their first combat experience over Dunkirk, by which time the Luftwaffe had pilots who had ben flying since Spain, then in Poland, Norway Belgium, Holland and France.

When you look at the tallies from the Battle of France the RAF shot down a large number of aircraft - especially when you consider the size of the fighter contingent over there.

Freiwillige
12-11-2008, 05:52 AM
Englands fighter force was roughly the same size as Germanys. It was the massive fleets of bombers that made the R.A.F. so vastly outnumbered. Roughly off the top of my head the R.A.F. had about 900 modern fighters being Spits and Hurri's VS 700 Bf-109s and 300 110's.

It was in tactics that the R.A.F. got behind in.
A German Schwarm/Finger four with four aircraft beats a British Vic with three.

tom1502_158
12-11-2008, 05:59 AM
That may well be the case but the entire fighter force was not sent up in one go. It was spread out across the Country with Squadrons recuperating, retraining and the rest. Generally two or three squadrons would be scrambled to intercept a raid of a few hundred.

It also depends on what point in the Battle you are talking about, by the end of the Battle the RAF had more than enough aircraft coming in, but not enough pilots to fly them. At the beginning of the Battle aircraft were not available in the same quantity but there was still a surplus. As well as this entire fighter force which added up to around 750 also included Blenheims, Gladiators and Defiants...hardly suitable front line aircraft for the time.

No one questions that tactics were poor on the RAF side, but that was due to lack of air combat experience.

Sillius_Sodus
12-11-2008, 05:31 PM
Originally posted by tom1502_158:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Bader? Once over France was enough to end his career.

Not really the best comparison...he was not shot down over friendly territory and there is the mater of a stretch of ocean to cross...and him having no legs...instead he continued to fight back as a prisoner of war through numerous escape attempts.

Also the A,B and C things...add to that numbers. The RAF was generally outnumbered when it went up to intercept the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain, and the training for the Pre-War RAF pilots was of a very high standard, it only started to drop when it became essential to get pilots out to the front line in as short a time as possible.

I think what you are in fact missing from that is D - Experience. A lot of the RAF pilots had their first combat experience over Dunkirk, by which time the Luftwaffe had pilots who had ben flying since Spain, then in Poland, Norway Belgium, Holland and France.

When you look at the tallies from the Battle of France the RAF shot down a large number of aircraft - especially when you consider the size of the fighter contingent over there. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I should have been more specific, Bader's shootdown ended his flying as a WWII fighter pilot. He certainly did drive his captors a bit mad with his antics as a POW. In East, the fighting was often right over the front lines or close enough to it. If shot down there was a better chance to reach friendly lines, as Hartmann did after being shot down.

Gandy_Katarin
12-12-2008, 02:34 AM
I just finished reading the book the "the few" which has a lot of stuff from german perspective, especially following Gallands side of the BoB. In the book there lots of descriptions of engagements where he would BnZ and enemy, see smoke or glycol poor from the plane, but being a true BnZer he would not watch the aircraft go down just pull off back to high alt. However he in these situations he always claimed it as a kill.

stathem
12-12-2008, 12:46 PM
Originally posted by Freiwillige:
Englands fighter force was roughly the same size as Germanys. It was the massive fleets of bombers that made the R.A.F. so vastly outnumbered.

...and it was those bombers that the RAF had to stop. They weren't there to fanny about running up big scores, picking and choosing their targets.

They were up there to break up formations, turn the bombers back, shoot them down or damage them, defending their homes. Much like the Luftwaffe in the West from '43 on.

Buzzsaw-
12-12-2008, 04:07 PM
The Luftwaffe aces during the Battle of Britian outscored their English opponents.

Only if you count all the claims. And the fact is, the Luftwaffe overclaimed by more than 3-1 during the BoB.

The majority of the high scoring German aces were based on the East Front, where the quality of the aircraft they were facing, as well as the tactics and training of the Soviet pilots was extremely poor. This allowed for very high scores. (although there have recently been detailed examinations of the Soviet records which suggest that the Germans were heavily overclaiming on the East front too)

As others have mentioned, the RAF and USAAF Aces were also pulled out of combat and relegated to training duties. While that may seem wasteful, in fact it was the best use of the resource, since it meant that the majority of the Allied pilot trainees had instruction from successful combat veterans, who were able to pass on the tricks of the trade. The Luftwaffe preferred to keep its aces flying in combat, and that was one of the reasons the quality of the training in the Luftwaffe fell sharply after 1943. Keeping the 'Experten' in combat meant they racked up high scores, (or died) but it also meant the quality of the instructors in the Luftwaffe schools was not as good.

mandrill7
12-12-2008, 04:34 PM
Actually , many of the top German aces flew after 1943, when the VVS was a LOT better in terms of tactics, equipment and training.

The explanation is in part as already given. They flew a lot of missions, were never rotated out of combat and always had a lot of Allied a/c to shoot at.

As well, war on the Eastern Front involved many missions over the front lines - as opposed to flying deep over enemy territory as the Western Allies did. A damaged a/c flown by a German ace would almost always be able to make it back to the German side of the line where the ace could crash land or bail out.

As well, they flew many missions a day because the missions were relatively short range.

As well, German staffel tactics involved "feeding" the ace with kills and covering his rear while he got them.

All this added up to huge score tallies for the top LW pilots. In saying this, I take nothing away from the great courage and talent of these men.

JSG72
12-12-2008, 05:00 PM
Originally posted by mandrill7:
Actually , many of the top German aces flew after 1943, when the VVS was a LOT better in terms of tactics, equipment and training.

The explanation is in part as already given. They flew a lot of missions, were never rotated out of combat and always had a lot of Allied a/c to shoot at.

As well, war on the Eastern Front involved many missions over the front lines - as opposed to flying deep over enemy territory as the Western Allies did. A damaged a/c flown by a German ace would almost always be able to make it back to the German side of the line where the ace could crash land or bail out.

As well, they flew many missions a day because the missions were relatively short range.

As well, German staffel tactics involved "feeding" the ace with kills and covering his rear while he got them.

All this added up to huge score tallies for the top LW pilots. In saying this, I take nothing away from the great courage and talent of these men.

Sounds close to the mark for me. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

It would appear that many of the questions posted on here are from "History Channel" enthusiasts. Who see the confrontations/Like some more/Look on Internet/See the figures. And then wonder how Germany lost the War?

It is encouraging to see interest. Also to see educated answers by those who enquired before.

BTW. This topic comes up Time and time again.

horseback
12-13-2008, 12:00 PM
There's another factor to consider, especially on the Western Front: The Germans' sorties were much shorter, and had a much higher percentage of contact with the enemy.

For those of you saying "Huh?", please consider the difference between flying one combat sortie from Britain in late 1943-early '44 in a P-38, P-47 or P-51B/C escorting a bomber mission over western Germany, or even fighter sweeps at medium level flying Spit IXs over France. There's a long period of time spent forming up, climbing through the everpresent overcast (in formation) to reach your assigned altitude, flying for extended periods in an unpressurized, cold (and they were ALL cold at those alts) aircraft at high alts while sucking on a crude oxygen system -here we have the underappreciated fact that this was physically draining in itself, never mind the stress of having to be alert for an enemy bounce of your flight once you cross the Channel- and only then, after an hour or more of this do we actually consider the skills needed to be an effective fighter pilot. Out of a four or five hour mission, all of it dangerous, uncomfortable, physically demanding and stressful, maybe 20 minutes were actually spent in sight of the enemy, much less in contact, for a really busy sortie.

Reading the operational diaries of many Commonwealth and USAAF fighter squadrons, one sees that a lot of time was spent between sorties, because of the weather; three or four missions a week at the height of the bombing offensive of early 1944 was considered a high tempo.

Contrast this to the German fighter pilot, who may have a couple of sorties of not much more than an hour when a bombing attack or fighter sweep reaches his assigned area; he spends much less time climbing to alt, being cold and scared meeting the physical demands of muscling his aircraft around (and it did take muscle-no fly by wire or boosted controls until later in the war if at all), and he has a clear idea of where the opposition is.

PLUS he flies a much smaller target that doesn't have to haul around bags of (highly volatile) fuel to get home, and he has the security of knowing that if his aircraft is damaged or disabled, he is over friendly territory, close to a field to land in or aid if he is injured.

The simple fact was that for much of the war, German pilots fought a defensive campaign with all the inherent tactical and motivational advantages, flew shorter, more combat intensive sorties (allowing the accumulation of experience and skill at a higher rate), and more sorties in a target rich environment.

And oh yeah, they spent considerably less time rotated 'home' for training or administrative duties where their skills could be passed on or tactics could be refined and promulgated at the training level.

The ultimate result was a corps of highly skilled fighter pilots with impressive scores thinly spread amongst a much less capable whole, which became progressively less effective over time.

cheers

horseback

squareusr
12-13-2008, 01:00 PM
Originally posted by Buzzsaw-:
but it also meant the quality of the instructors in the Luftwaffe schools was not as good.

Would this really make so much of a difference? Even the best pilot can be a terrible instructor.

Having a famous ace as an instructor can have positive effects on the motivation of the students, but so would being able to admire "pilot pop stars" with hundreds of kills.

The big difference is that only one of those deployment styles acknowledges the existence of life outside of war.

horseback
12-13-2008, 11:07 PM
Originally posted by squareusr:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Buzzsaw-:
but it also meant the quality of the instructors in the Luftwaffe schools was not as good.

Would this really make so much of a difference? Even the best pilot can be a terrible instructor.

Having a famous ace as an instructor can have positive effects on the motivation of the students, but so would being able to admire "pilot pop stars" with hundreds of kills.

The big difference is that only one of those deployment styles acknowledges the existence of life outside of war. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>A training or staff assignment doesn't necessarily mean being an instructor pilot, teaching freshly minted aviation cadets how to do basic flight maneuvers.

Sometimes these guys got a staff assignment where they'd be 'available' to squadrons or groups preparing to deploy; senior pilots would be able to pick his brain for the best formations and tactics, and confirm or deny the rumors of enemy aircraft's capabilities vs their own mounts, and just coincidentally, test their own skill against someone who had 'been there and done that' successfully.

Others were picked to develop the curriculum for advanced training; most US pilots arriving overseas in 1942 were woefully ill prepared for high altitude operations, or navigating on their own. The guys coming back in '43 made damned sure that the incoming pilots were better equipped for the demands of modern combat.

Others were used as staff for theorizing about new tactics or weapons or to help get the word out about local fixes or tricks of the trade from one theater of operations to another. US Army and Navy aviation commands published regular magazines and comic books to get the info out to the troops in the field. Experienced pilots back from the combat zone were pumped for information by the staffs of these publication.

It was sufficiently useful that the practice continued well into the seventies.

Some were tabbed for staff assignments to senior commanders; generals who earned their spurs in the infantry or bombing track might not have a fully developed appreciation of what was or wasn't possible for fighter planes to accomplish; a man able to put the right words in the right ears could save a lot of lives.

Finally, there's the matter of morale. You know that if you finish X amount of missions, you're going to go home, and if you were particularly successful, you get to go home as a celebrity. That was a powerful incentive.

The Germans did many of these things as well, but on a much reduced scale, and not nearly as effectively. Their problem was that they were not prepared to to fight an all-out war when they started one, and their political leaders were unwilling to 'bite the bullet' and fully mobilize their resources once they realized things had spun out of control.

cheers

horseback