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unreasonable

Red Baron and the Damage Models

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This sounds like a good name for a rock band, but actually I wanted to see if there was anything to be learned from the Red Baron about DM issues in FC.

 

I think there is. 

 

My source is "Under the Guns of the Red Baron" by Norman Franks et al, 1998. In this book Franks and his team show the combat report Manfred von Richthofen filed for each claim (in translation) and assess it against RFC records, debriefings of POWs returning at the war end, and anything else they can find. Their conclusion is that MvR was an accurate observer. He needed to be, since he had to get confirmation of his claims for other fliers or officers on the ground, so it was in his interest to make sure he recorded the sorts of things another observer could confirm: place and time, type of enemy, damage it took and how it fell. He also, sometimes, gives information on ammunition expenditure and shooting range.

 

MvR made 81 claims, of which only one was unconfirmed. Franks thinks that this was a real victory, and that only three of the others were not, the planes MvR attacked being able to RTB.

So we also have a good size sample, this is not cherry picking anecdotes.

 

Next we need to make an assumption that if, for instance, MvR did not say that a victim was a flamer, it was not a flamer. Sometimes absence of evidence really is evidence of absence. 

 

Having read all the claims and Franks' notes, I have compiled a spreadsheet in Open Office,  see zip.

 

I have noted where MvR said that the victim was on fire, suffered structural collapse or obvious engine damage. I have also looked at Franks' notes which include some information MvR would not have had. I have tried to  make an assessment of the principal cause of the victim going down. So for instance if MvR said "I killed the pilot, then the plane fell burning and the wings fell off" I count that as a Pilot kill.

 

Damage types: The results & implications

 

One thing is very obvious when you line up the claims as a time series with the principal damage type colour coded: something happened in mid 1917 that made flamers far more likely, from being in a small minority to being commonplace. At some point MvR started to use incendiaries (or even explosive bullets - I am not an expert on WW1 ammunition). He complains about their poor quality and describes them as "new" on 26th August 1917.

 

The table shows my analysis of the principal damage type for early and late periods which I take as July 6th 1917, when MvR was shot down.

 

In FC currently we seem to have a single bullet type with tracer. It seems to me that for the German side we need a mix that includes an incendiary or incendiary/explosive round. We should be seeing far more flamers given the 1918 setting. More research on French and RFC practice needed, but I expect they were using them too. Earlier in the war use was restricted to balloons and Zepplins but this is looks anachronistic for FC. (Can we not get into a "they started it" or "was it a war-crime" debate?)

 

The other obvious point is that while structural collapse happened often enough, both wing and fuselage, it was much rarer than victims falling to engine or pilot damage, with early 2 seaters perhaps more prone to shed parts. 

 

I thought I would leave discussion of ranges and ammo expenditure for now, but I have put what is mentioned in the spreadsheet.

MvR Victories.zip

MvR damage time series.JPG

MvR Damage analysis.JPG

Edited by unreasonable
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Nice work! I like it.

 

More accurate belting based on time periods would be cool.

 

The pre-hotfix DM was really a step in the right direction and seems to line up with your math pretty well - I was causing structural failures around 1 out of 5 kills and pilot kills and catastrophic damage to the engine around 50% of the time. Post patch, it's back to buzzsawing wings and such.

 

I have yet to cause a flamer in FC.

Edited by Space_Ghost

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Good research and very nice data sheet! Thank you!

 

Comparing it to my own experience in FC so far I've got to agree with Space_Ghost: I have not managed to make an enemy engine burst into flames yet.

Edited by Fritz_X

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Thanks!  I am sure there are other series of combat reports out there somewhere but this one was the only one I have seen in a mainstream book. BTW I hugely recommend the book if you have not read it: it is one of my top WW1 recommendations to anyone who is past the pilot memoirs phase: a piece of serious research but still interesting to read.

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I would be interested to know if you're opinion changed from previous thread regarding deflection shooting based on this research? Do you think it was common or for only few pilots with expert marksmanship.

 

I personally believe that most pilots were shooting at about a plane's length from the enemy.

 

Also, there is another book which might interest you by James Miller.

 

image.thumb.png.122c6ed70a3c111df8d9aa8a7a5896b0.png

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12 minutes ago, yaan98 said:

I would be interested to know if you're opinion changed from previous thread regarding deflection shooting based on this research? Do you think it was common or for only few pilots with expert marksmanship.

 

I personally believe that most pilots were shooting at about a plane's length from the enemy.

 

 

 

 

 

I think deflection shooting was not uncommon - but clearly took above average skills to do it well. 

 

I think you are wildly out with your second point:  Not even MvR was usually shooting at a plane's length from the target, look at the spreadsheet. He mentions range 21 times (out of 81). There is no reason to believe that he was "a plane's length" behind all the other 60 victims.

 

If you count closest/shortest, 20m and 10m as being a plane's length,  you get about 8 mentions. Close or 50m you get another 9 or so. 

So you have an indication that MvR was shooting from "a plane's length" on about 10% of his reports. 

 

In one, which I suspect is much more like his practice, he mentions firing from 50m to 10m.  In other words he is firing from further away (100m is nothing for a MG) and continuing to fire all the time closing the range. This would be a typical attack on a 2-seater, especially if it had a lousy rear arc like an FE.  The closest range attack is then the destruction of the victim whose gunner is already dead or whose prop has stopped. 

 

In several cases where he records very close range shooting he also explicitly notes that he was apparently unobserved.


All the evidence is that MvR was exceptional in how close he got, not typical. The people who shot him down in July remarked on it. And he did not just get a plane's length behind his victims and blast away. Reports of people shot down by him in the book include an account of MvR making almost head on diving attacks: that is a deflection attack. 

 

IIRC from his memoirs he had to encourage his pilots to get close because most of them did not. When he was not there the scoring rate of his units dropped sharply. When you look at WW1 victory counts it is remarkable just how few fliers accounted for a very large proportion of  victories. The majority of WW1 scout pilots never shot down anyone. If they had been getting that close surely they would have.

 

 

 

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very nice work! This is the kind of thread I like where someone actually goes out and does the reasearch so you have actual hard facts to debate.

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One other issue which I forgot to mention is that pilots commonly overestimated ranges. Gunnery practice in flight training schools did not really develop until 1917 and even in 1918 some pilots completed gunnery school without firing a shot. So, skilled marksmen were the only pilots who would be able to fire at long ranges. And there weren't that many compared to the common pool of pilots and MvR would not be considered a common pilot. So, his practice of shooting would not be common.

 

We can agree to disagree on this point. 

 

 

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The increase in flamers in MvRs victory’s may also be due to his evolving personality as well as ammo.  When he started the war, air fighting was a hunting novelty. Speaking with his downed enemy was exciting.  As the war progressed, his hunt took on a more personal venture as he lost friends to combat.  During that change, he got to a point where he said something to the effect of “I no longer give quarter to my enemy.” Combined with the squadron toast to “In flames?” I suspect many of his late war burning enemies was due in large part to his continued attack which ensured their planes burning.

 

i also don’t think he ever claimed a plane he didn’t shoot down.  His ego was too great for that, and his hunting instinct to strong to record something that didn’t happen.  

 

Fonk on on the other hand...

2 hours ago, unreasonable said:

Thanks!  I am sure there are other series of combat reports out there somewhere but this one was the only one I have seen in a mainstream book. BTW I hugely recommend the book if you have not read it: it is one of my top WW1 recommendations to anyone who is past the pilot memoirs phase: a piece of serious research but still interesting to read.

 

I enjoy this book as well! I disagree with their treatment of misidentified planes, and I attribute their position to a lack of experience in both flying WWI aircraft and the psychology of combat.

 

 In flying my Dr1, I find aircraft recognition to be a lot more challenging due to the immense shaking and beating my head takes from the wind.  Everything is shaking on my face.  In contrast, with an enclosed cockpit, I see and ID planes as if I was watching them from my front porch.  

 

The psychology of combat causes jumbled and overlapping memories.  It can cause time distortion and recall for a combat report may be challenging.  

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On 7/25/2018 at 12:39 PM, Chill31 said:

i also don’t think he ever claimed a plane he didn’t shoot down.  His ego was too great for that, and his hunting instinct to strong to record something that didn’t happen.  

 

Fonk on on the other hand...

The French had an even stricter confirmation system in regards to witnesses than the Germans.  Georges Madon had only 41 of his 100 claims confirmed.  Personal/character attacks are uncalled for and have no purpose in this thread especially attacks against those that are dead and provided great service to their country. 

Edited by US103GarvenDreis

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When I was getting into WWI aviation, 'Under The Guns of The Red Baron' by Grubb St was one of the first books I read... very interesting read (I had the later 1998 version).

Well worth the purchase if you can find a reduced price one...( you can find a HB edition on Amazon uk for under 5 quid!)

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14 minutes ago, Chill31 said:

The increase in flamers in MvRs victory’s may also be due to his evolving personality as well as ammo.  When he started the war, air fighting was a hunting novelty. Speaking with his downed enemy was exciting.  As the war progressed, his hunt took on a more personal venture as he lost friends to combat.  During that change, he got to a point where he said something to the effect of “I no longer give quarter to my enemy.” Combined with the squadron toast to “In flames?” I suspect many of his late war burning enemies was due in large part to his continued attack which ensured their planes burning.

 

i also don’t think he ever claimed a plane he didn’t shoot down.  His ego was too great for that, and his hunting instinct to strong to record something that didn’t happen.  

 

Fonk on on the other hand...

 

I enjoy this book as well! I disagree with their treatment of misidentified planes, and I attribute their position to a lack of experience in both flying WWI aircraft and the psychology of combat.

 

 In flying my Dr1, I find aircraft recognition to be a lot more challenging due to the immense shaking and beating my head takes from the wind.  Everything is shaking on my face.  In contrast, with an enclosed cockpit, I see and ID planes as if I was watching them from my front porch.  

 

The psychology of combat causes jumbled and overlapping memories.  It can cause time distortion and recall for a combat report may be challenging.  

 

He never claimed a plane he did not think he had shot down, is how Franks sees it. The problem was on a couple of occasions when he was over the British side of the lines with poor visibility, and the only planes he could have been attacking were known to have returned safely.   I find Franks' assessments convincing.  Anyway, his estimate is 78 victories vs 80 officially confirmed: so it does not affect the overall outlook.

 

On your first point, although he undoubtedly got more cold as the war went on (who did not?),  even in his very first combat report he is attacking an FE, he had stopped the prop, the machine was gliding down on the German side, he continued the attack until the crash. There are a few like that, victims absolutely riddled with bullets long after there was any need, but which did not burn.  The last period however he is mostly fighting single seaters that go down or burn after a brief attack.  If you look at the ammunition expended the 1918 numbers are all much lower.  

 

So I am convinced that the main reason must be incendiary ammunition, but it would be good to find some other relevant information. There was a thread on the Aerodrome forum I will try to find again.

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1 hour ago, US103_Furlow said:

The French had an even stricter confirmation system in regards to witnesses than the Germans.  Georges Madon had only 41 of his 100 claims confirmed.  Personal/character attacks are uncalled for and have no purpose in this thread especially attacks against those that are dead and provided great service to their country.

 

You'll be okay.

 

Now back to the discussion...

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2 hours ago, US103_Furlow said:

The French had an even stricter confirmation system in regards to witnesses than the Germans.  Georges Madon had only 41 of his 100 claims confirmed.  Personal/character attacks are uncalled for and have no purpose in this thread especially attacks against those that are dead and provided great service to their country.

There was an article in WWI Aero that, like many have done with Richthofen's claims, examined claims versus losses for a number of pilots. Fonk scored exceptionally low on the claims vs losses list.  Not a personal attack. Just the way it is.  

 

Learn about Fonk's history from his contemporaries. They are, almost without exception, of the opinion he was an egomaniac.  His personality and the records available that were used in the study I mentioned before lead me to believe the majority of his claims and credits were not real. Perhaps your research will lead you to a different conclusion.

 

James McCudden is another ace who scored very high in claims to losses. He would probably be another pilot worthy of research into what type damage cause his enemies to fall.

 

Edited by Chill31

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@unreasonable: Great stuff and thanks for taking the time to compile the spreadsheet! A bit short on time before the weekend but some preliminary observations until then: First of all to me it looks like MvR's victory list confirms our suspicion that most victories were due to pilot, engine or a combination being incapacitated: Second, while some of the structural failures surely were due to battle damage, it's not unlikely that some pilots simply overloaded the structure when they came under fire: Does not require a vivid imagination to understand that you may dive or haul back on the stick a bit more than you would under normal circumstances when tracers are whizzing by your head.....

 

Anyway I think your spreadsheet supports the notion that the wing shedding that is seen in RoF and now alas has been ported to BoX is not consistent which what one would expect IRL. Of course, one could always argue that 78 data points and only one pilot as input does not provide a strong enough statistical base om which to draw conclusions but I would be very surprised if gathering more data would result in any change of the trend. OTOH I think you mentioned that MvR was exceptional in that he got in much closer than was the general practice so there is that to consider as well: If you fire from really close you are more likely to hit center mass as in fuselage, pilot and engine while if you fire from longer ranges errors in aiming due relative motion, errors in lead and bullet drop estimation will inevitably lead to more spread meaning a higher incidence of unintended hits in wings. But that does not change the fact that now in BoX when I aim for the wings in earnest on a somewhat cooperating AI, it does not require that many rounds before the wings fall off and that definitely goes against what I would expect from an engineering perspective.

 

@Chill31: On the subject of the increased rate on flamers late in the war, there is of course the question of correlation and causality and while MvR's personality may have developed in such a way that he pressed his attacks differently earlier on I find the connection to the introduction of incendiary ammunition as a more plausible cause for the increased rate of fires but for sure, a hardened attitude may have contributed as well.

Edited by Holtzauge
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One pilot as an input is certainly a problem if you are trying to draw conclusions about typical pilot behaviour! Especially when you choose the highest scoring pilot. :)  Hence my scepticism that most pilots fired from close range (50m or less) or even that MvR only ever fired that way. 

 

As a sample size for damage 78 (or 81 if you take all claims) is a pretty decent number of aeroplanes to riddle with bullets and see what happens, but of course if someone has a source with similar information for other claims it would be good to expand the survey. But we can only make fairly broad conclusions: in fact, I think that first bar chart might as well just show three damage types: fire, structural and pilot/engine, since the pilot and engine damages are harder to disentangle in the data  since both happen often. 

 

On the wings shedding I entirely agree: most of the victims that suffered this were 2-seaters that had taken a real pounding, especially BE types that were highly stable and not designed for manoeuvring. They may have had a particularly low allowable g load, but I am no expert on that. If you take the BEs out of the equation, wing shedding becomes an uncommon cause of loss: MvR shot down 20 BE types, of which 7 suffered wing/fuselage collapse. There was clearly a type issue.

 

Given all this I wonder how to proceed? There is a process for getting FM observations into the system: will it work for DM observations too?  The main problem is that systematic in-game testing of DM is difficult. The alternative might be for some players to make a note of their victories as they play categorizing them as Flamer/Structural/Pilot&Engine kills.  Then we could get a quantification which would be easy enough to compare with MvR's claims against single seaters. 

 

 

 

 

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@unreasonable I'd highly recommend Norman Franks' 2016 book, The Red Baron: A History in Pictures. I believe he takes the opportunity to correct any mistakes he made in Under the Guns of the Red Baron.

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On 7/25/2018 at 3:34 PM, Chill31 said:

There was an article in WWI Aero that, like many have done with Richthofen's claims, examined claims versus losses for a number of pilots. Fonk scored exceptionally low on the claims vs losses list.  Not a personal attack. Just the way it is.  

 

Learn about Fonk's history from his contemporaries. They are, almost without exception, of the opinion he was an egomaniac.  His personality and the records available that were used in the study I mentioned before lead me to believe the majority of his claims and credits were not real. Perhaps your research will lead you to a different conclusion.

 

James McCudden is another ace who scored very high in claims to losses. He would probably be another pilot worthy of research into what type damage cause his enemies to fall.

 

Problem is the French, from what I've read, didn't document victories as well as MvR victories are documented even though confirmation requirements were extremely strict.  That coupled along with if I remember correctly the Germans don't have as detailed of loss records as the British.  A number of Fonck's and other French pilot victories just list date, location, and that an E.A. (without type being listed) was shotdown.  This makes it impossible to tell who or what he shotdown like you can do with MvR's records.  Simply due to a combination of the French requiring wreckage or two independent officers on the ground to witness the combat for victory to be confirmed along with the fact Fonck had a lot of unconfirmed victories leads me to trust his official score.  Going through pilot victory records that aren't as well documented and comparing them to a pilots whose records were well documented simply isn't productive in my opinion.

Edited by US103GarvenDreis

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6 minutes ago, FFS_Cybermat47 said:

@unreasonable I'd highly recommend Norman Franks' 2016 book, The Red Baron: A History in Pictures. I believe he takes the opportunity to correct any mistakes he made in Under the Guns of the Red Baron.

 

Thanks, I will take a look. What I would really like, though, is books/sources that look at other pilots, or the air war in general, in systematic ways that can be analysed quantitatively at least to a general level. 

 

Unfortunately most aviation books do not do this, general histories or pilot memoirs both focus on the interesting, which tends to be the exceptional.  Unfortunately the source documentation in WW1 was much sparser, plus the Germans sulked after losing and destroyed most of their records. 

 

On the incendiary bullet issue, read this thread from Aerodrome that gives details of Australian Airforce usage on the Western front. See the post by totalspoon.

Both sides definitely using incendiaries as a matter of course in 1918 according to the Australian Official History. 

 

http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=49899

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I would love to see all that ammunition type modeled and consequences of it use simulated in  Flying Circus some day.

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1 hour ago, 307_Tomcat said:

I would love to see all that ammunition type modeled and consequences of it use simulated in  Flying Circus some day.

Their use against aeroplanes was a war crime during WW1 and remained so for decade or two after, which led Germans to research into autocannons (they were artillery, therefore legit). WW2 was most "liberal" here,  incendiary and explosive bullets were already de-criminalised against planes while shooting parachutists hasn't been criminalised yet. 

I hope we won't be given well-modelled option to simulate war crimes in BoX, ever.

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2 minutes ago, J2_Trupobaw said:

 

Their use against aeroplanes was a war crime during WW1 and remained so for decade or two after, which led Germans to research into autocannons (they were artillery, therefore legit). WW2 was most "liberal" here,  incendiary and explosive bullets were already de-criminalised against planes while shooting parachutists hasn't been criminalised yet. 

I hope we won't be given well-modelled option to simulate war crimes in BoX, ever.

 

If that is the case: and many lawyers disagree, then every single German and RFC pilot flying in the main operations during 1918 was a war criminal, including MvR, since it is clear that incendiaries were used by both as a matter of routine.  (I have no information on the French). That is just how it was, and if FC wants to be a simulation of 1918 air warfare it should reflect that.

 

If we have player control over belting no-one has to use them. ;) 

 

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Incendiaries were found in MvR's belts when he was shot down from what I've heard.  Personally I think the whole "11.43mm balloon guns against aircraft was specifically outlawed meanwhile the Red Baron's incendiary bullets were perfectly fine" is B.S. as no one has given a source. 

Edited by US103GarvenDreis

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I'm for historical representation of used ammo, if you Trupo are not for that I very disappointed.....furthermore you guys know that  in ROF even tracers were just added gfx sprite without any given properties. 

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I want a one balloon gun and one Vickers setup like pilots in the USAS had mounted in their SPADs on occasion. When you read the accounts everyone thinks the other guys are using explosive or incendiary bullets. It's hard to tell any given day. A lot of the guys loaded or supervised loading their belts and many checked each round so as not to jam the guns. It would also depend on what ammo is available at the time of loading. I doubt very much the men in the aircraft were worried about war crimes, you have to live for those to matter.

 

S!

Hunter

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5 minutes ago, US103_Hunter said:

I want a one balloon gun and one Vickers setup like pilots in the USAS had mounted in their SPADs on occasion

Do we have the ability to fire just one gun/ left or right?

Edited by HiIIBiIIy

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I think in principle yes, but only if the two guns such as a regular MG and a balloon gun were defined as separate weapon groups. In BoX you can for instance fire cannon and MGs separately or together. In the settings they are called weapon group one and weapon group two.  I cannot see how to do it for two identical MGs.

 

I mean the game could do it if it were defined that way, but we do not ourselves define the groups.

Edited by unreasonable

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Great work, I also got the impression from what I have read , or docu showed from WW1 that Pilot kill was very often the reason for a victory. 

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29 minutes ago, HiIIBiIIy said:

Do we have the ability to fire just one gun/ left or right?

As far as I know not at this point, but we should because there are two triggers on the SPAD's stick.  That being said I would shoot both most of the time.

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Perhaps this could be mod-able. In RoF some weapon attributes were, hence the historical rate of fire mod.  Then you could have one gun with regular tracer and ball, and another full of incendiaries for when you meet Trupobaw.   :)  

Edited by unreasonable
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interesting read on aerodrome forum regarding incendiary/explosive rounds... seems ordinary bullets couldn't do much structural damage from this excerpt...

 

The increasing numbers of aircraft which were shot down in flames on both sides during 1918 must be given its proper significance. Neither aeroplanes nor airships could be so destroyed in air fighting by the use of ordinary bullets, or even of tracer bullets, which latter merely contained at the base of the ball sufficient phosphorus to mark to the gunner’s eye the track of the bullet through the air......The armour-piercing bullets were inserted for effect against the engine of an opponent’s machine. The Buckingham (incendiary) bullet was highly effective, and was used by British aeroplanes in everyday air fighting. The Pomeroy (explosive) bullet was deadly enough to smash the strut of a machine’s wings where an ordinary bullet would merely pierce it; it was, in fact, so deadly that it had to be packed 111 cotton-wool in the ammunition cases. It was never used in machine-guns firing through the propeller on account of the danger of its striking a blade. It could, however, be used from a forward gun mounted above the centre section, or from the Lewis gun of an observer. British pilots were convinced, from the loss of British machines in flames in duels with the Germans, that the enemy was using the best explosive bullet he could manufacture; hence the Buckingham, and more rarely the Pomeroy, bullet was employed against German aircraft by way of reprisal. Towards the close of the war British inventors evolved a bullet even more destructive, which would explode upon striking even a sheet of brown paper. This bullet was never used against the enemy.

 

From headquarters of the Royal Australian Air Force it is stated officially :-I’ The explosive bullet generally was not so effective for incendiary purposes (that is, for setting the aeroplane on fire) as the purely incendiary bullet, non-explosive, but with a phosphorus base to the incendiary mixture. The most effective German incendiary bullet contained an armour-piercing point and an explosive pellet in addition to the purely incendiary portion. The British air force never use a combined bullet of this nature, but achieved the same effect by mixing bullets of different types, each type intended primarily to full fill one function only. The British pilot aimed at setting the enemy machine on fire and thus making sure of its complete destruction. When a machine was definitely reported to have been seen in flames, there was never any need to obtain further confirmation of its fate. Although it was possible to set a machine on fire with a Pomeroy, Brock, or other explosive bullet, these bullets were more effective for bursting petrol-tanks, the streaming petrol to be subsequently set alight by incendiary bullets. Explosive bullets are not nearly so effective as are incendiary bullets for the purpose of setting petrol tanks alight.

 

From 'The Official History of Australia in the War of 1914-1918, Volume VIII, The Australian Flying Corps'

APPENDIX No. 9. USE OF INCENDIARY BULLETS.

Edited by yaan98
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If, by 1918, pilots were using incendiary bullets as a matter, of course, it should really tell you everything you need to know about the effect, or lack of effect,  that normal bullets had on an airframe.  Of course by 1917- 1918 aircraft construction tended to be better understood, engines more powerful and airframes less likely to fall apart, unless they were built by that stupid Fokker that is.

 

One problem with trying to draw conclusions from victories is that it doesn't tell you how often a particular tactic was tried but to no effect.

Edited by HagarTheHorrible

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In earlier victories you essentially had to physically damage the pilot of engine to make them inoperable.  With incendiaries in the mix, that will still happen at just about the same ratio of rounds fired to pilot/engine hits, but in addition you short circuit the whole process if you start a fire: presumably in the vast majority of cases because you have holed a fuel tank.

 

Here is the ammunition reported shown in the same chronological style.  It is true that more of the later victories were against scouts, and I will work on separating the scout data series from the 2-seaters when I am in the mood, but overall the trend is fairly stark. 

 

 

 

 

MvR Rounds.JPG

Edited by unreasonable
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Well the graph seems to have an clear direction of travel". It might be hard to draw any conclusions from it though as a pretty profound understanding of all the variables would be needed. Opportunity, his tactics, enemy tactics, mind set (mood) aircraft type, bullet type, fashion, to mention but a few, of the more obvious ones.

 

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2 hours ago, unreasonable said:

Here is the ammunition reported shown in the same chronological style.  It is true that more of the later victories were against scouts, and I will work on separating the scout data series from the 2-seaters when I am in the mood, but overall the trend is fairly stark. 

He might have gotten better at shooting.

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49 minutes ago, HagarTheHorrible said:

Well the graph seems to have an clear direction of travel". It might be hard to draw any conclusions from it though as a pretty profound understanding of all the variables would be needed. Opportunity, his tactics, enemy tactics, mind set (mood) aircraft type, bullet type, fashion, to mention but a few, of the more obvious ones.

 

 

I disagree: no need to make the perfect the enemy of the good. We know with a month or so when MvR started using incendiaries, also that they were regarded as more effective and in general use by the British by 1918. The big change in the typical ammunition required to down a plane by MvR corresponds exactly to the time when he started to use incendiaries.  There really is no need to over-complicate things. 

 

 

19 minutes ago, ZachariasX said:

He might have gotten better at shooting.


That is a possible contributory cause in theory, however, there is no evidence for this since there is no real trend in the first 50 or so claims, or in the last period. The contrast is only between  the incendiary use period and the pre-incendiary period.

 

 

 

  

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1 hour ago, unreasonable said:

That is a possible contributory cause in theory, however, there is no evidence for this since there is no real trend in the first 50 or so claims, or in the last period. The contrast is only between  the incendiary use period and the pre-incendiary period.

Ok. Let‘s assume that shooting practise didn‘t help his scoring and that the not reported cases follow the same trend as the reported ones.

 

If I say that I require less incendary rounds than ball rounds, then it must be due to starting a fire on the target. Else, the rounds don‘t really differ for the practical purposes of the target.

 

Thus, the logic would go that I either use 700 ball rounds that cause sufficient perforation of the target to go down, or I use incendaries that after 300 perforations are expected to start a fire, causing the demise of the target.

 

Would there be an explanation for higher efficiency of incendary rounds on targets that didn‘t start to burn?

 

Not having that book at hand, did also planes catch fire that were shot at using exclusively ball rounds? 

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Not sure that I can answer the second question because I do not know if he, or anyone else, ever shot exclusively ball rounds. Tracer was I think used from a much earlier date, and this could presumably ignite leaking fuel if inside the range at which the tracer was still burning, which must have been much of the time. Even ball rounds can cause sparks.

 

What I can say is that MvR reported planes on fire well before the time he complained about his own incendiaries. The are are three mentions even in early 1917. So whatever the load out then (I assume ball & tracer) it could cause flamers but not very often.

 

On the first point: there is no direct evidence "for higher efficiency of incendiary rounds on targets that didn‘t start to burn?" and I think this is not a correct analysis.  BTW,  almost all of the reports that mention ammo use in the late period also noted burning, with two exceptions, one with a rather high usage one rather low.  Having said that, I would expect the later usage without flamers to be lower than the earlier, but not because they have "higher efficiency of incendiary rounds on targets that didn‘t start to burn" but because the use of incendiaries has eliminated a large class of results from the sample.

 

If you use incendiaries - all or probably in a mix - you will increase your average efficiency. You are still going to get occasions when a bullet - incendiary or otherwise - hits the pilot and the plane is downed without burning. So these cases are still in the mix. The cases that are removed are those where bullets hit a fuel tank and then near leaking fuel without igniting it.  In those cases MvR usually pounded on until he eventually got a disabling hit.  With incendiaries producing flamers these occasions are removed from the mix.  Given that reasonably accurate shooting in the cockpit area is going to produce this effect often,  you are not going to get many cases with huge numbers of bullets hitting and the plane not suffering a disabling hit.


 

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