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View Full Version : That was then this is now. A question for the wisdom of the group.



Waldo.Pepper
07-23-2007, 05:43 PM
Do you think that the present day Aviator/Military Intelligence community are/were better than their WW2 era counterparts at matters of military intelligence aircraft recognition/target recognition etc? Or were they comparable, or worse. Discuss.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v516/WaldoPepper/recognition/Pagesfromaircraft-identification-ma.jpg

Waldo.Pepper
07-23-2007, 05:43 PM
Do you think that the present day Aviator/Military Intelligence community are/were better than their WW2 era counterparts at matters of military intelligence aircraft recognition/target recognition etc? Or were they comparable, or worse. Discuss.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v516/WaldoPepper/recognition/Pagesfromaircraft-identification-ma.jpg

leitmotiv
07-23-2007, 06:22 PM
Since none of us are actualy in the CIA or Military Intelligence and if we were we would be in Leavenworth for life for talking, and since the news media has hopelessly muddled the issue of the reliability of intelligence, I would not venture to say.

JarheadEd
07-23-2007, 06:27 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Waldo.Pepper:
Do you think that the present day Aviator/Military Intelligence community are/were better than their WW2 era counterparts at matters of military intelligence aircraft recognition/target recognition etc? Or were they comparable, or worse. Discuss. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Absolutely!

Monterey13
07-23-2007, 06:58 PM
529,682. Did I get it right? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/mockface.gif

stugumby
07-23-2007, 07:01 PM
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
unfortunately due to modern technology and all that it entails, we are far worse. These days you can shoot another tank at 2800 meters just by shooting at the "hot spot" it generates, way too far out to identify it in pathetic 10power optics provided. All blobs look alike to a scared 19yr old who has to make a rapid decision at the point of contact.

Aircraft/helicopters can sling a missile at a target from far beyond positive identification distances as well. Throw in some smoke and battelfield obscurants like dust, flying debris and natural weather like fog, mist or just plain crappy atmospherics and it lends itself to potential fratricide. Then try and factor in the pucker factor, rule number 1, and little or no sleep, high stress etc.. happens all the time, it can be reduced but never eliminated, just think back to the navy shooting down an Iranian airliner years ago while under a suface attack by small boats..

han freak solo
07-23-2007, 07:08 PM
As far as that simple info page for the Fiat, that's probably all a lower level intelligence agent would need to know back then. I'm sure it wasn't meant for engineers or scientists.

Imagine the difference the data sheet for a F-18 would be. Even if it were simple.

I guess military intelligence was what it was and is what it is depending on the technology at hand and that was damn well all you could, or can, ask for.

Misidentification happened in the old days, too. History books have mentioned US bomber gunners mistaking P-47s for Fw-190s, resulting in white stripes being painted on the cowling and tail sections of the P-47s. Then you have the invasion stripe paint jobs of the allies, as well.

Shoot first, identify after it's burning. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif

berg417448
07-23-2007, 07:49 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by stugumby:
http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_frown.gif
unfortunately due to modern technology and all that it entails, we are far worse. These days you can shoot another tank at 2800 meters just by shooting at the "hot spot" it generates, way too far out to identify it in pathetic 10power optics provided. All blobs look alike to a scared 19yr old who has to make a rapid decision at the point of contact.

Aircraft/helicopters can sling a missile at a target from far beyond positive identification distances as well. Throw in some smoke and battelfield obscurants like dust, flying debris and natural weather like fog, mist or just plain crappy atmospherics and it lends itself to potential fratricide. Then try and factor in the pucker factor, rule number 1, and little or no sleep, high stress etc.. happens all the time, it can be reduced but never eliminated, just think back to the navy shooting down an Iranian airliner years ago while under a suface attack by small boats.. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


The rate and number of friendly fire deaths is less now than in WWII but it gets more media attention now. People who study these things have reported that as many as 10% of battlefield casualties were the result of friendly fire in WWII.

I've read about one French source that claimed 75,000 French soldiers were casualties of their own artillery in WWI.

During operation Bondenplatte the Germans shot down a large number of their own planes.
During Operation Wikinger the Germans sank one of their own ships.
During Operation Husky the Allies shot down a very large number of their own transport aircraft.
I've read another source that reported during the Battle of Britain the British shot down over 30 of their own aircraft. And these are but a very few of a long, long list.

So...No...I don't think they were any better at identification back then.

VW-IceFire
07-23-2007, 07:52 PM
I think its stayed about the same. For all of the efforts at IFF many of the US casualties in the first Gulf War were from friendly fire. Canadian soldiers have been bombed by an F-16 in Afganistan a few years back and Coalition troops from a few different nations have been hit by Harriers and A-10s.

I think its something that statistically may not change very much. Not without a huge paradigm shift that we haven't seen yet. We now have better ways to ID targets but our weapons are that much more lethal. Back then the weapons weren't as lethal but it was much harder to identify the targets.

na85
07-23-2007, 08:39 PM
I feel that while the ability of an individual to differentiate a bandit from a bogey has either remained the same or decreased, the ability of a fighting element (a tank + its crew, an aircraft, etc) has increased, what with digital IFF systems, GPS, radar advances, IR imaging, etc etc.

Waldo.Pepper
07-23-2007, 09:39 PM
Hmmmm. Mixed opinions so far.

OK to clarify a bit.

Do you think that the WW2 era guys were better or worse at identifying enemy equipment accurately?

During the BoB - He-100's were shot down. Something like that is less likely today right?

Gross miss identifications like that would be far less likely today.

And then if that is true do you think that this is because the level of crew training is better?

berg417448
07-23-2007, 09:53 PM
I think at times they had less information about what their opponent had. Consider the appearance of the FW-190:

"We were puzzled by the unfamiliar silhouette, for these new German fighters seemed to have squarer wingtips and more tapering fuselages than the Messerschmitts we usually encountered. We saw that the new aircraft had radial engines and a mixed armament of cannons and machine-guns, all firing from wing positions.
Whatever these strange fighters were, they gave us a hard time of it. They seemed to be faster in a zoom climb than the Me 109, and far more stable in a vertical dive. They also turned better. The first time we saw them we all had our work cut out to shake them off, and we lost several pilots.
Back at our fighter base and encouraged by our enthusiastic Intelligence Officers, we drew sketches and side views of this strange new aeroplane. We were all agreed that it was superior to the Me 109f and completely outclassed our Spitfire Vs. Our sketches disappeared into mysterious Intelligence channels and we heard no more of the matter,. But from then on, fighter pilots continually reported increasing numbers of these outstanding fighters over northern France."

RAF fighter pilot Johnnie Johnson on the appearance of the FW-190



Or consider these comments by Saburo Sakai:

Interviewer: Other than by actual combat, how did you learn of new enemy planes? Was there any intelligence on this? How did everyone share information on fighting against different enemy planes such as the P38, the Wildcat, the Hellcat and the Corsair? What did you think of these planes?

Saburo Sakai: The only information we were given on enemy planes was a single page of specifications of pre-war American, British, and Dutch planes. As the war went on we were also not given any information about new enemy aircraft, and were forced just to deal with them as we could when we encountered them."

Grand_Armee
07-23-2007, 11:08 PM
Obviously we are still humans...just as we were back then. We haven't evolved any more. What has changed is our means to gather intelligence.

The biggest and worse change, IMHO is the ability of the PRESS to go to places where they have never gone before and shouldn't go.

I was in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait through 1990 and 1991, and the only nuisance greater in numbers than the press were the limitless number of flies.

zardozid
07-23-2007, 11:32 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Obviously we are still humans...just as we were back then. We haven't evolved any more. What has changed is our means to gather intelligence.

The biggest and worse change, IMHO is the ability of the PRESS to go to places where they have never gone before and shouldn't go.

I was in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait through 1990 and 1991, and the only nuisance greater in numbers than the press were the limitless number of flies. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


Actually the Presses access to battle zones and areas of "military restriction" is LESS then it was just 30 to 40 years ago...
During the Vietnam the Press could go anywhere they wanted to, today that is NOT the case...

In anycase (for better or worse) freedom of the press is a constitutional right...


p.s. Question (no judgment made) do you think the press should NOT report "friendly fire casualties"?

leitmotiv
07-24-2007, 12:37 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Grand_Armee:
Obviously we are still humans...just as we were back then. We haven't evolved any more. What has changed is our means to gather intelligence.

The biggest and worse change, IMHO is the ability of the PRESS to go to places where they have never gone before and shouldn't go.

I was in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait through 1990 and 1991, and the only nuisance greater in numbers than the press were the limitless number of flies. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Could not have put it better in a million years. I wasn't there, but I saw the press in action, as I have in the current war, and it is enough to make a gag yak, or is it the other way around?

Stuntie
07-24-2007, 02:03 AM
Was reading some BoB stuff last night.

One after action report was an attack on an "Me-110" that refered to return fire from both the top and 'bottom' gun positions.

A second one was a log book entry of a shoot down of a Do-17 complete with gun camera image of what is clearly a Me-110.

I also read in another book of an early scramble that ended with a 'bounce' by one RAF squadron on another. (Can't remember if it was Spits bouncing Hurricanes or the other way round. Will check tonight)


With modern equipment gives much more information - IFF, AWACS feedback etc. making identification easier. However when that information fails, such as with fast moving front lines and confused communications then it goes to 'traditional' methods, which results in an increased likelyhood of friendly fire.

Increased ranges help reduce friendly fire as well as even very close fire support can be at much longer ranges than in WW2.


I was reading this moring about a unit in the Battle of the Bulge that was being overrun so called in an artillary strike on it's own position. No doubt US soldiers died in that hail of shells. Would that be classed as combat loss, or friendly fire?

rhinomonkey
07-24-2007, 05:26 AM
The first plane shot down by the RAF in WW2 was an RAF hurricane shot down by a spitfire

jimDG
07-24-2007, 05:38 AM
Someone I knew in the UK (a WW2 tank buff) once told me of someone he knew in the UK who had a friend in a "lets identify this piece of hardware on a picture taken by satellite" unit.

So, she (in the unit), gave her friend pictures of 10 tanks, to see if he would identify them correctly. He got all 10 right, down to the correct subvariant ("chinseese modification of a soviet modification of tank X") while most people she knew didn't get more than 5 right.

That said, I'm sure that this story is too apocryphal to be true.

Rammjaeger
07-24-2007, 05:42 AM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by VW-IceFire:
I think its stayed about the same. For all of the efforts at IFF many of the US casualties in the first Gulf War were from friendly fire. Canadian soldiers have been bombed by an F-16 in Afganistan a few years back and Coalition troops from a few different nations have been hit by Harriers and A-10s.

I think its something that statistically may not change very much. Not without a huge paradigm shift that we haven't seen yet. We now have better ways to ID targets but our weapons are that much more lethal. Back then the weapons weren't as lethal but it was much harder to identify the targets. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

I recall reading that more American tanks were lost to friendly fire (mostly from ground attack planes) than to Iraqi fire during the 1991 Gulf War.

With that in mind I wonder about how many friendly fire incidents would've happened in another world war if the great land battles in German plains that both NATO and the Warsaw Pact were preparing for had actually taken place.