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Erich Rudorffer and his fraudulent claims - article.

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Hey all!

 

My first article was published.

 

It is about Erich Rudorffer and his multiple claims on 09.02.1943 and 28.10.1944.

 

Take a look. It is in russian, but may be easuly translate using browser.

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I will have to check at home. My "corporate filter" raises an alarm of prohibited cathegory "Weapons". Yeah,I work for peace loving organisation  :biggrin:

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Great work Panzer  :salute:  keep it up mate.

Edited by [MA]_Goblin

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Finally had a chance to download the article into my mobile phone. Good one,as I like it. Facts and datas without unnecessary emotions.

Spasiba Panzerbar,you gave me smtg to kill the time during 2 hours of absolutely boring audioconference (with germans :ph34r:  :biggrin:  ;) ).

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My first article was published.

Nice reading, thx! One can - rarely - find hints in the German veterans literature on pilots overclaiming regulary. But *very* rarely a person is named, so that topic is somewhat "in the fog" - but the pilots knew those guys. It's always a good reason to ask yourself questions, if high ranking and (formerly) popular pilots are ignored in the veterans reports ... no praise and silent ignorance it's their way of punishment.

 

How's the state of the Russian research - are there trustworthy loss records, more or less free of the former force to re-paint the not-that-golden parts of the Soviet history?

Edited by 216th_Retnek

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How's the state of the Russian research - are there trustworthy loss records, more or less free of the former force to re-paint the not-that-golden parts of the Soviet history?

The army's archive was classified, there were no embellishments for public morale's sake because the logs were for military use only. In general I've found Soviet records to be very detailed and accurate, it's a shame so little of it has been translated as I'm sure most folks here would love to dog into it.

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very interesting and well done ;)

 

but i think sooner or later i have to learn russian, the browser Translation into german is sometimes very strange :mellow:

 

thx

panzerbar

Edited by II/JG11ATLAN

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The army's archive was classified, there were no embellishments for public morale's sake because the logs were for military use only. In general I've found Soviet records to be very detailed and accurate, it's a shame so little of it has been translated as I'm sure most folks here would love to dog into it.

A free and full access to Russian (ex-Soviet) first-hand military sources would be worth so much. Often the only way to complete the fragments left in Germany or the only reference at all.

 

A lot of German sources vanished after WW2. If they weren't destroyed intentionally they were stowed away in archives and rarely revised and published as a solid, critical investigation. There was nearly no established procedure to rescue other important sources like residues. These often were lost to closed circles of strange "collectors". The academic historians in the FRG - ignoring an intense public interest - never cared much for military history, too. So the topic was wide open for a lot of dubious authors ignoring any standards of proper publishing. Resulting in many bad books, written gladly with a strong rightist rifling, were one has to check each and every sentence.

 

So Panzerbär's publication is particularly commendable with presenting a well researched topic and pointing on a worthy source not that much present to the interested readers.

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Rudorffer has gotten a pretty bad rep from LW-"historians" lately, which I think is unfounded and exaggerated.

If you read what he said about the air war (hint: get your hands on Eric Mombeek's Jagdgeschwader 2 books!*), you'll see, that he certainly isn't full of crap, but does have a differentiated view. He also admits that he probably wouldn't have survived if he hadn't been sent to Russia. In fact, he actively seeked to be sent to the eastern front. He admits on being exhausted and "flown down" (as in close to a nervous breakdown) after coming back from Africa and he admits that the atmosphere in his unit in Tunisia was rather toxic after Dickfeld was wounded: There was a race going on for kills and there was an enormous pressure to succeed, as few fighter forces were in the area to provide support.

Rudorffer says he put a lot of effort in making angles-calculations and putting marks with a grease-pencil on his windscreen so he can better achieve the correct deflection-angles.

Sounds like he was a "one pass haul a$$" guy and if he saw strikes he deemed critical, he assumed a kill. Not very thorough, but very good for your own survival. He has been shot-down several times and had to take the silk-elevator several times, too. He also takes pride in having lost only one wingman in his whole career.

 

Here are some thoughts on the obsession wih kill-claim accuracy by some authors and historians.

 

1) A fighter pilots' raison d'être has not been providing accurate lists of kills, so hobby-historians of today have something to do in their spare-time.

No, there was a war going on and a crapton of people were dying all around them and the main task was not dying yourself. If that got in the way of observing a stricken airplane, then that was good enough. A kill-claim is just that: A claim.

Every pilot may have had a different idea of a kill. Some might have been more "honest" in only stating that a plane wich has struck the ground is an actual kill. That requires watching your wounded foe till splashdown/ impact or some definite structural failure, which is a big NO-NO in dogfighting rules. Others might have interpreted a reasonably good hit-picture and/ or fluids leaking as a "good enough" means of establishing a kill.

 

2) Dogfights are a very confusing environment. Once everybody in an 8 vs 8 has made two or three turns, your situational awareness is pretty much in the sink and most of your time is spent looking out and not getting shot down. If two people have attacked another formation, each having scored scored some hits and only one enemy aircraft going down in flames can be seen, both pilots are likely to claim the kill as theirs. Confirmation bias big time.

 

3) If you're flying a fighter, you're really moving. A common cruise-speed is around 250kts, which is more than 4NM a minute. At that speed, fighters flying in opposite directions are going to lose sight of each other quickly and a fighter that had been seen trailing smoke, going in the opposite direction, can be visually lost very easily. Again, confirmation-bias has a foot in the door here and it's easy to claim a target that has last been seen trailing smoke and vanishing an instant or two later as a kill.

 

4) Wingmen were mostly looking up to the old hares, admiring them and not talking against them - certainly not disputing false or unreliably/ unlikely claims. They were not only reliant on those leaders for their own survival, but they were reliant on their goodwill in teaching and getting across the tricks and knowledge (which appearantly many Experten were reluctant to do**).

 

5) More claims means more medals, more fame and a quicker advance in the career-ladder. Rank has it's privileges, after all. Fighter-pilots are a very competitive type of persona, so they'll naturally try to advance their score on the board. You don't have to be actively fraudulent - most of the time, confirmation bias will do the job for you. Some people (and Rudorffer may be included) might have had a reputation for putting in "easy claims" (as in having scored some hits and claiming the kill without further proof of the airplane having actually gone down). Also, he flew with a single wingman for most of the time in Russia, which makes it easier to "agree" on kill-claims. I don't think they (Rudorffer and Tangermann) actively fabricated kills.

 

6) At the end of the day, fighter-pilots are just human and are subject to the same limitations as any other human being. To err is human - certainly under dicey and highly stressful circumstances as they usually are when in combat. A fear for life doesn't generally help in being objective, thinking critically and rationally or having the greatest situational awareness.

All of those circumstances play into the phenomenon of overclaiming.

 

_____

* Particularily the germen version, as the translator is a former Luftwaffe fighter pilot (IIRC from Jagdgeschwader 1) and he does provide a couple of very interesting sidenotes

** See the Falkeeins article about the Experten-centered culture that set the Luftwaffe up for failure.

Edited by Bremspropeller
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Good analysis by bremspropeller.

 

Rudorffer most probably didn't really get 224 victories but unless he agreed with wingmate or other pilots to create fraudulent claims which i don't believe, he did most probably hit at least those 224 planes which is something quite amazing itself...

 

On 10/5/2018 at 10:33 AM, Bremspropeller said:

** See the Falkeeins article about the Experten-centered culture that set the Luftwaffe up for failure.

Can you put a link... Can't find it...

 

Edited by StaB/Tomio_VR***

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There you go - the first entry of this page of the blog (artice "why the Luftwaffe failed (3)":

https://falkeeins.blogspot.com/search/label/Why the Luftwaffe failed

 

There also is an answer of Dr. Jochen Prien who puts some of what has been written by F1 into perspective:

https://falkeeins.blogspot.com/2018/08/notes-on-cult-of-fighter-ace-example-of.html

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8 hours ago, Bremspropeller said:

There you go - the first entry of this page of the blog (artice "why the Luftwaffe failed (3)":

https://falkeeins.blogspot.com/search/label/Why the Luftwaffe failed

This is interesting as the article quotes Stilla. His published PhD Thesis got a lot of attention as it is definitely one of the most entertaining writings on the topic of the failure of the Luftwaffe. If Stilla only had made the effort of a translation, I‘m sure he would be one of the most quoted authors. Stylistically, I‘d be everything on he having read Budrass‘ work, THE outstanding work on the genesis of the Luftwaffe and some of its inner workings and then was inspired to write about what is intentionally missing, namely the people actually conducting a war with those tools. It is however apparent that Stilla is not as briefed in the aircraft in question as some of the forum lurkers here are.

 

The other interesting link on those pages on the topic of pilot taining is Roger Bohns „Not Flying by the Book“, a book on the progressing formalization of scientific discoveries. I have been in extensive contact with Roger while he was writing the book. The book is now nearly complete, and I think it turned out to be rather interesting. Although using aviation as an example, it deals more with the principle of formalizing a skill (such as in Taylorism) than just the Luftwaffe per se. But he uses the different air forces to depict how things were done and what kind of possibilities people earned from having their way.

 

Same as Budrass book, it is a bit more MBA style literature. But if you are interested in organizational matters, they are great writings.

 

 

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Who was the ace in N Africa who padded his claims with false claims? His schwarm was broken up because they were complacent in his false claims. 

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Why the Luftwaffe Failed is a telling article. Most damning is the fact that German aces did not like to pass on their knowledge. They all but ignored the new men, because, why bother? They are all going to be dead soon.

The USAAF was the polar opposite. The fighter units of the 8th Air Force formed what came to be known as "Clobber College." Before a new man was sent into combat, he went through an air combat course with one the groups aces to get him "up to snuff." He at least had a vague idea as to what to expect when s&%t hit the fan up there. The poor Luftwaffe newbie, it seems, was on his own. He had to figure out what was going on, himself. Is there any wonder they fell prey, by the hundreds, to marauding Allied fighter pilots? 

And over claiming was rampant. The Japanese were really bad. Even writer Henry Sakaida admits to the high numbers of overclaiming by Japan's pilots. It seems that if a Japanese pilot came home and claimed a kill, that was all that was needed. 

But all air forces did it. I recently read an interesting article about the day that James Jabara supposedy became the first U.S. jet ace over Korea. The mission that he claimed his fifth and sixth kills do not match with declassified Russian records. Three MiGS were claimed that day. Two to Jabara. Russian records show one MiG-15 lost in that fight. And it wasn't Jabara's. The downed Russian's combat report matches the report written by the othe Sabre pilot that claimed the single vicory. The Russian says that after he punched out, the Sabre that got him passed right over his chute. The Sabre pilot's report states that after he shot down his MiG-15, he almost ran into the guy in his chute and pulled up passing a few feet over him. Obviously, that wasn't Jabara's kill. 

But even the Soviets were quilty. They claimed four Sabres. No F-86's were lost in the fight, although one Sabre pilot had to land his badly damaged jet at an emergency field. 

Obviously some of this was not intentional. U.S. pilots, in WW2, had a harder time lieing about thier claims because of the gun cameras. If they claimed a kill, their film was taken to headquarters. An enemy pilot had to be seen bailing out, or the plane had to seen exploding, or a major part of the airframe had to be seen departing from the aircraft to get it confirmed. Or, of course, the airplane was seen to crash. If not, the best you could do was a damaged claim. Many a fighter pilot was absolutely positive that he got that guy....but, sorry. Not according to your film.

So, I tend to believe the U.S. scores more than others. 

 

Edited by Poochnboo

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10 hours ago, Poochnboo said:

Why the Luftwaffe Failed is a telling article. Most damning is the fact that German aces did not like to pass on their knowledge. They all but ignored the new men, because, why bother? They are all going to be dead soon.

The USAAF was the polar opposite. The fighter units of the 8th Air Force formed what came to be known as "Clobber College." Before a new man was sent into combat, he went through an air combat course with one the groups aces to get him "up to snuff." He at least had a vague idea as to what to expect when s&%t hit the fan up there. The poor Luftwaffe newbie, it seems, was on his own. He had to figure out what was going on, himself. Is there any wonder they fell prey, by the hundreds, to marauding Allied fighter pilots? 

And over claiming was rampant. The Japanese were really bad. Even writer Henry Sakaida admits to the high numbers of overclaiming by Japan's pilots. It seems that if a Japanese pilot came home and claimed a kill, that was all that was needed. 

But all air forces did it. I recently read an interesting article about the day that James Jabara supposedy became the first U.S. jet ace over Korea. The mission that he claimed his fifth and sixth kills do not match with declassified Russian records. Three MiGS were claimed that day. Two to Jabara. Russian records show one MiG-15 lost in that fight. And it wasn't Jabara's. The downed Russian's combat report matches the report written by the othe Sabre pilot that claimed the single vicory. The Russian says that after he punched out, the Sabre that got him passed right over his chute. The Sabre pilot's report states that after he shot down his MiG-15, he almost ran into the guy in his chute and pulled up passing a few feet over him. Obviously, that wasn't Jabara's kill. 

But even the Soviets were quilty. They claimed four Sabres. No F-86's were lost in the fight, although one Sabre pilot had to land his badly damaged jet at an emergency field. 

Obviously some of this was not intentional. U.S. pilots, in WW2, had a harder time lieing about thier claims because of the gun cameras. If they claimed a kill, their film was taken to headquarters. An enemy pilot had to be seen bailing out, or the plane had to seen exploding, or a major part of the airframe had to be seen departing from the aircraft to get it confirmed. Or, of course, the airplane was seen to crash. If not, the best you could do was a damaged claim. Many a fighter pilot was absolutely positive that he got that guy....but, sorry. Not according to your film.

So, I tend to believe the U.S. scores more than others. 

 


From what I read the German aces always passed on their knowledge, I could be wrong and maybe the ones I have heard are the exception to the rule,

maybe on the western front the aces in late 1944/ 1945 felt no need, as any engagement they had they would be out numbered and so an finite tips on maneuvering to get behind the enemy where pointless.

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10 hours ago, Poochnboo said:

Most damning is the fact that German aces did not like to pass on their knowledge. They all but ignored the new men, because, why bother? They are all going to be dead soon.

I am not sure whether this entirely accurate. Or much rather it paints a wrong picture of the mindset of those aces.

 

A good portion of those aces did care for the fresh cannon fodder that was issued to their units. But when one says „they didn‘t pass on knowledge“, one should acknowledge that „passing on knowledge“ is a two eay deal. It requires the student being remotely up to his task.

 

Initially, it did work. Werner Mölders was probably one of the best and most respected „teachers“ since Boelke and Galland badically owed everything to that man for learning how the job is done.

 

The poison pill killing any hope for a thorough pilot education came from a different side. You have to keep in mind for that, that when the Luftwaffe was formed, it consisted of a bunch of enthusiastic youngsters and it had absolutely no structure and procedures to build upon. Very much in contrast for instance to the British, where training with your aircraft was ingrained as much as training with your rifle.

 

If you have a group that intrinsically just assumes that they can just do their job and being good at it is just a question of attitude, then you have all ingredients for failure once you come under pressure.

 

It is not really the aces that didn‘t pass anything on. It was the Luftwaffe that didn‘t feel like offering training to new pilots in the first place. In the late 1930s, the total fighter output was around 100 A/C per month. Toward 1940, this was to be raised to 1000 per month. It left squadron leaders baffled, as there was no increase in number of trainer aircraft and airfields for training courses at all. I mean, none. Making matters worse, once the war got in full gears and the GL was enforcing their „standard type“ program for aircraft, this program didn‘t include a single type of trainer aircraft. They just had what they had and just progressively shortened education to get fresh victims to the front.

 

If you have this brute force approach in finding out who has the right stuff for hunting planes and staying alive, you inevitably will end up with a couple of dozen folks who are by no means „normal“ in a statistical sense. If you are realizing that you are failing at your task in creating a substainable service, the worst thing you can do is in fact what seems your only option: listening to those „not normal“ folk who are all too willing to tell you how thing should be done.

 

The big notion of success in combat being an attitude problem is seen in all corners of the Luftwaffe. The best illustration is when Goering confronted Galland (again), accusing him to be a coward because the Luftwaffe was failing their duty. If success being an attitude was not ingrained by Goering, he wouldn‘t have made such an accusation. If Galland wasn‘t thinking likewise, he wouldn‘t have taken it personally.

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And, by mid-1944, the Luftwaffe had effectively stopped training their new guys for combat at all, thus making the vicious cycle all that more vicious: Peter Crump and Hans Dortenmann had this to say about the new pilots being assigned to III./JG 54 in September 1944:

 

Crump:

 

Quote

I went up with the pilots who were farthest along in their training one at a time in order to evaluate their comprehension and ability. I checked out each one of them. First I tried by means a series of flight maneuvers, ranging from easy to difficult, to assess their piloting skills. I observed in all of them a lack of flying experience due to the rapid training. They had no self-confidence.

 

Dortenmann:

 

Quote

I didn't find much that was commendable about the replacement training Gruppe at Sagan. The best pilots were introduced to me. I checked out each one of them. My God, what have they been learning? My nerves, which had just settled down a little, started rattling again. But at least some of the pilots were talented, though totally inexperienced, and those were the ones I picked.

 

Edited by LukeFF

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One shouldn't paint with too broad a brush here.

 

There certainly were aces that wouldn't give away any tricks, hints or knowledge altogether, but those are probably relatively few.

It also depends on the circumstances: If there is a race for kills going on in a unit (think McGuire vs Bong), the pilot with the greatest ambition will not have any of his squadron-mates get in the way of his increasing tally. Thus, he'll see everybody to fly along and just count/ note down the kills, instead of actively seeking to shoot down enemy aircraft themselves.

That is a non-productive operation, where the commong goal stands behind the needs of individuals and it's certainly no way of attaining air-superiority - especially when the numbers-game is stacked against you.

 

Then there were aces who tried to bring across some knowledge but either sucked as a teacher or just didn't care enough.

Then there were also aces that cared a lot and made an effort to get knowledge across to their Nachwuchs.

At the end of the day, it's just each person's persona and character coming into play. If you're a greedy ba$tard, chances are you won't see to make the best of your squdron mates capabilities.

 

The underlining factor that is common troughout the war is that there was no advanced training to fine-tune air combat skills, fed by people from the frontlines with fresh and valuable experience of actual frontal operations. Also, there was no rotation-system and only very late would there be a "Verbandsführerschule" to teach the now very young unit-commanders how to lead a unit in battle and on the ground.

It was assumed that officers (no matter if commissioned or after a battlefield-commission) automatically brought along leadership-skills and knowledge in how to lead in combat.

The truth looked very differently.

 

This was later an important factor in re-building the german armed forces in the form of the Bundeswehr.

 

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5 hours ago, MiloMorai said:

Zach, what do you mean by no trainer a/c? Do you mean dual control a/c that the new pilot will use in combat?

I mean no aircraft like anything that is a pure training aircraft. The analog of the AT-6.

 

They had some dual control aircraft, but there was no program for building „modern“ trainer aircraft, nothing that invested in infrastructure for training etc. Much like the Japanese they just ran on their pre war outfits that were of course wholly unfit for the task during the war. 

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3 hours ago, MiloMorai said:

The AT-6 first flew in 1936.You don't consider the Ar-96 a modern trainer a/c (1st flight 1938)?

 

No, it is not that the basic „tools“ needed to educate new pilots were not available.  The Germans knew as much as the Americans what it took to learn to fly. Maybe I rephrase.

 

The Americans (for instance) had a system to precure primary and advanced trainers as well they had a program for developping and maintaining training airfields. That program scales directly and proportional to the numbers asked from the armed force.

 

In case of the Germans, thraining units had some leeway to procure material. However, and that is the main difference, that this procurement was tolerated almost in a way that binge drinking of squadon pilots at local towns was tolerated.

 

The Arado was not part of the standardization program, effectively cancelling its production had the Germans really kept to their plans.

 

In sum, I‘d say all of Germany gave little thought to training, and not just the aces. The aces were supplied largely with victims that couldn‘t be taught anyway how to fight properly, they were lacking much more badic skills and everyone knew it. All the aces could try to do is keeping the fresh ones away from the fight.

 

I would guess that the percentage of good teachers amongst the aces was not so much different on the German side than on the Allied side. It‘s just that most German newbies couldn‘t make much from the good advise given.

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That's some interesting stuff. I was rather surprised to read that the U.S. Navy lost just two dive bombers and five torpedo bombers in airial combat in the last EIGHT months of the war. Seven airplanes in eight months!? And none of them fighters! Almost doesn't seem as though that could be possible. 

6 hours ago, MiloMorai said:

Japanese and American pilot training, https://pwencycl.kgbudge.com/F/i/Fighter_Pilots.htm

 

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8 minutes ago, Poochnboo said:

That's some interesting stuff. I was rather surprised to read that the U.S. Navy lost just two dive bombers and five torpedo bombers in airial combat in the last EIGHT months of the war. Seven airplanes in eight months!? And none of them fighters! Almost doesn't seem as though that could be possible. 

 

It is just an illustration that it took in fact way more to break the Germsn Air Force beyond repair than it took the Japanese Navy and Air Force.

 

The Japanese Navy was defeated by destroying 4 of their irreplacaple main carriers. This includes the kowhow of the personell that made the carrier group the best in the world. The US Navy in turn by 1944 was not the same anymore as in 1942. In 1942, there was no knowhow present in the US Navy on how to use a carrier group as a combined force projection (something that the Japanese could do in 1941, and they were the only ones to be able to do so). But by 1944, the US Navy not only made a new Essex class carrier per month, it also improved force projection constantly.

 

The only thing the Japanese were left with after losing their experienced personell is a sense for abusing new pilots. Hard to win a war like that.

 

Regarding the losses, it was abundantly clear to the Japanese that individual planes shooting up oxcarts etc. were mostly irrelevant. What they needed to fight were the ships. If the ships were gone, so would be the planes. The operators of radar picket ships (usually peripheral to the force) surely were well entertained.

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3 hours ago, ZachariasX said:

It is just an illustration...

Oh, I know all of that about the Pacific Air War.  But that is obviously not just an illustration. I assume that it's a factual statistic. The U.S. fleet was operating over the Japanese home islands in the last months of the war. It's hard to believe that the losses were that light, and that not a single Hellcat or Corsair was shot down by Japanese fighters. What better illustrates the poor state that Japan's fighter forces were in at the time. With Kamikazes falling on Halseys fleet like rain, the most dangerous place to have been would have been on the carrier! 

 

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8 hours ago, Poochnboo said:

I assume that it's a factual statistic. 

It should absolutely be factual. Sorry if my phrasing presented as otherwise.

 

Carrier of course were the target of choice for the Japanese, however you have to take into account the present realities. With an Ohka, you‘d be fast enough to cross the ring of defending ships to make for the carrier. With a prop plane, depending on the situation that can quickly become a very dim hope to make it that far. In the end, you (try to) take out what you think you can reach.

 

Of 47 ships sunk by Kamikaze, only 3 were carriers.

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