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Legioneod

Analysis of Aces and their victories.

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S! 

 

Ilmari Juutilainen also had a phenomenal 3D vision. Could see and evaluate the situation in a glance. He was also a really good marksman. A documented incident of him flying his Bf109G-6 against La-5FN where Ilmari was doing a spiral climb with the LaaLaa following and shooting. Wingman warned him of the pursuer and got an answer:"Do not worry, rounds still fall 2m short from my tail. He can not pull enough lead without stalling!" Eventually the LaaLaa stalled and Ilmari kicked rudder swingong his plane behind the enemy. A short burst and the LaaLaa was a flaming wreck. 

 

This just tells that the pilot had excellent SA, training and knowledge of the performance of the adversary's and his own plane. Juutilainen also was a calculating pilot, not going into a gaggle with a too high risk. 

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On 10/27/2019 at 9:24 AM, csThor said:

Pre-war training in Germany was very comprehensive and complex, the selection process for aircrew and their eventual roles was very thorough. Compare that to 1944 with fuel shortages and the vicious circle of high losses - shortened training to make them up - even higher losses and you'll spot the difference between "averages" for those groups of pilots.

 

Indeed, and this can also be said of the Japanese pilots. 

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On 10/27/2019 at 10:26 AM, JtD said:

If the Luftwaffe used tactics in 1939 that were copied by all other air forces towards the end of the war, is that something that made German pilots better or not? Because, as it was, superior German tactics played a huge role in their early successes, well into 1942.

 

Absolutely, and again this can also be said of the Japanese Air Forces, an example of which was their ability to operate at extreme range, believed impossible by the "allies" at the time. Philippines 8th December 1941 being a case in point.

 

On 10/27/2019 at 8:44 AM, Legioneod said:

Some people think that the German pilots were supermen because they got extremely high kill counts, but the reality is the Germans were no more skilled than any Allied pilot. The Germans were just forced into situations that enabled them to get these extremely high scores.

 

I think this whole idea is an effort to look at what happened through rose tinted prisms. Not uncommon these days, but not my cup of tea :coffee:

Edited by Pict
Spelling, tweaking etc.

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5 hours ago, J2_Trupobaw said:

First thing first, the German pilots were very well motivated and their training came from (Prussian) military culture of comrades-in-arms going out of their way to keeping each other alive. This sense of purpose led to high number of sorties flown and enabled combined arms warfare involving Luftwaffe and Heer. So yeah, in a sense they were supermen - they would not stop flying while there was difference to be made, allowing some of them to gain lots of experience. Hans Rudel and Gerhard Barkhorn started as below-average pilots; both spent years working to improve their skills before breaking out (Rudel spent 1939-1941 as reserve / ferry pilot, Barkhorn flew 120 sorties before his first victory). 

During Fall of France, French pilots flew 1-2 sorties a day, going up to 3 when situation was desperate. Germans were consistently flying 5 sorties. 

The Western Allies had training, but didn't have that kind of motivation outside Battle of Britain. The Soviet authorities aimed at cultivating similar atmosphere, and were getting there in second part of the war.

 

The German fliers did not fly constantly because of their motivation - they flew constantly because this was GAF policy, exacerbated by a failing war plan and inadequate numbers of pilots in training. Those that wanted to stop risked court martial. The French flew few sorties in the BoF partly because their high command was trying to preserve their strength, and partly because the serviceability rates of their aircraft were dreadful, especially the newer models, due to their late and chaotic rearmament. 

 

What is true is that the top German aces seemed to compete for numbers of kills - and were used in propaganda -  in a way that other air forces discouraged. Some of them might also have been motivated by dreams of Aryan conquest. But to suggest that other air forces' pilots did not have a "military culture of comrades-in-arms going out of their way to keeping each other alive" is absurd. Quite the reverse is true: the RAF for instance emphasized the team over the individual, sometimes, perhaps, a little too much. 

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I have question - would you prefer to fly with +100 victories ace or a wing-man who had 0 recorded victories but was always there to do some posturing/marginal shots forcing your 6 bandit to break?

 

Which one you would prefer to fly with? That's an exaggerated comparison but it shows there is more to quality of a fighter pilot than victories alone.

 

Then there is a survival bias - if you had to fly to the end (of war or your own) then just by chance many of survivors would accumulate big scores. That's one side which is talked about; the other (masses of killed pilots) is just ignored...

Edited by Ehret

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9 minutes ago, Ehret said:

I have question - would you prefer to fly with +100 victories ace or a wing-man who had 0 recorded victories but was always there to do some posturing/marginal shots forcing your 6 bandit to break?

 

You mean the ace as wingman? Surely I‘d prefer to have a faithful dog than a stray hound that is out for scoring to himself.

 

Ideally, I‘d fly in a Rotte with the other guy being equal partner and positional advantage dictating roles in the fight. If you find a score racking ace that is willing to share like that, all the better. I suppose that ace would also have better SA which is what I would value highly as well.

 

Lasting pilots in a squadron were usually people that liked each other. They even regularly switched positions between missions. That‘s how you last.

 

What I certainly wouldn‘t like is one that sees war as one big occasion for collecting trophies on his wall while deeming anything else „nonsense“.

 

I value survival much higher than score, as long as one stays with the mission.

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47 minutes ago, Ehret said:

I have question - would you prefer to fly with +100 victories ace or a wing-man who had 0 recorded victories but was always there

 

I guess it depends a lot on what kind of ace we are talking about. Could be quite different experience to fly with someone like Hans-Joachim Marseille (stay out of my way, while I shoot down my enemies) or Günther Lützow, who had several of his wingmen becoming aces themselves and according to anecdotes used to take inexperienced pilots of his squad as his wingmen and lead/guide them to positions, where they could get their first kill "out of the way".

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1 hour ago, II./JG77_Kemp said:

Could be quite different experience to fly with someone like Hans-Joachim Marseille (stay out of my way, while I shoot down my enemies)

 

Marseille didn't need to say that lol

He was the proud of his squadron and comrades were fine to let him shoot at any opponent

because he had exceptionnal aim and used very few rounds to down an aicraft in any position and everyone knew it.

 

Inflicting the first loss between two groups who meet in combat gives a big advantage for the final battle result.

Edited by StaB/Tomio_VR***

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14 minutes ago, StaB/Tomio_VR*** said:

Marseille didn't need to say that lol

He was the proud of his squadron and comrades were fine to let him shoot at any opponent

because he had exceptionnal aim and used very few rounds to down an aicraft in any position and everyone knew it.

 

He was definitely a very remarkable and skilled fighter pilot, but I have read that he actually did tell his wingmen to stay away, when he "went to work" to avoid risk of friendly fire and when he died his unit had to be taken away from front line, because there were just not enough pilots that could operate as efficient fighter pilots, because they had never had a chance to develop these skills in their secondary roles. Compare that to the reputation of Lützow, who had several of his wingmen becoming aces and many less experienced pilots getting to score an air kill, while flying wing to him.

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2 hours ago, Ehret said:

I have question - would you prefer to fly with +100 victories ace or a wing-man who had 0 recorded victories but was always there to do some posturing/marginal shots forcing your 6 bandit to break?

 

Which one you would prefer to fly with? That's an exaggerated comparison but it shows there is more to quality of a fighter pilot than victories alone.

 

Then there is a survival bias - if you had to fly to the end (of war or your own) then just by chance many of survivors would accumulate big scores. That's one side which is talked about; the other (masses of killed pilots) is just ignored...

It would very much depend on the reputation of the ace. But if the guy had a reputation for haring off after glory while Ivan Shootsmyassov saddles up on his wingman's six and feeds him a hundred rounds of premium-grade A communist lead, I think I would go with the dude who would at least cover me. Shooting down enemy planes is all well and good but survival is the spice of life.

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15 hours ago, [Pb]Cybermat47 said:

As someone with Asperger’s syndrome, I feel like Helmut Wick might have been autistic. Apparently, while training, he struggled in subjects that held little interest for him, while excelling in those that did interest him, which I found very relatable.

 

I think Marseille hits the same spot.

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I think Marseille hits the same spot.

I'd consider a notorious womanzier like Marseille as far from an Asperger as possible. He was an incredibly social creature. I've worked side by side with an Asperger for 4 years, and while I appreciated some of his incredibly funny antics, I could safely bank my life on the fact that wouldn't get laid the same night with any new girl he might have met that day (regardless of how much she wanted).

 

 

How well did EF aces do when transferred to the ETO and MTO?

Not too well. I wouldn't know of a single one maintained scoring like they did on the eastern front while they became clearly aware of a drastically more dangerous Gesamtsituation (situation as a whole). IIRC Steinhoff got shot down soon after being transferred to Italy. For him the new situation was a rude awakening. The fact that the entire opposing air force was indeed organized on a very effective level was news. Bad news. Even for in principle better trained individual pilots. They had to adjust their style and tactics.

 

 

Edited by ZachariasX

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15 hours ago, [Pb]Cybermat47 said:


As someone with Asperger’s syndrome, I feel like Helmut Wick might have been autistic. Apparently, while training, he struggled in subjects that held little interest for him, while excelling in those that did interest him, which I found very relatable.

 

Reading this again, that describes a lot of people including me. I couldn’t be bothered to spend time on certain subjects in school, but excelled at what interested me. So while it might mean Aspergers, it might also be a simple lack of discipline.

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1 minute ago, Gambit21 said:

Reading this again, that describes a lot of people including me.

Trust me, there's an obvious and very clear difference between just selective interest and Asperger.

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Just now, ZachariasX said:

Trust me, there's an obvious and very clear difference between just selective interest and Asperger.

 

I’m not saying otherwise.

The point is that selective interest happens also without Aspergers as well.

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15 minutes ago, Gambit21 said:

 

I’m not saying otherwise.

The point is that selective interest happens also without Aspergers as well.

Yeah, I mean...doesn't everyone usually do better with subject matter they like, and struggle with doing stuff they don't like? Or hell, it could be the reverse, people like things that they are good at and don't like things they aren't good at. 

Anyway, I'm always extremely hesitant to apply modern medical diagnoses to historical figures. Partly because society was often so different and would have shaped how those disorders manifested (or masked them entirely) in such a way as to make it unrecognizable, and partly because we have so little real information about many historical figures other than what they themselves or others decided to write about them. We're seeing their personalities through a filter, sometimes several. 

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While there is certainly that aspect of some not wanting to kill, it seems to be, mostly an ETO issue. When fighting the Japanese pilots were pushing each other out of the way to get kills. During the Marianas Turkey Shoot, U.S. Navy pilots were becoming aces in a day. No qualms about killing there.

 And I was, just last night, reading the history of the 375TH Fighter Group. Lindbergh flew with them for a while, and was not happy about the fact that they sometimes attacked Japanese pilots in their chutes, or strafed them in the water!

 It was very mush a racial issue, of course. They felt that Europeans were humans. The Japanese were not.

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2 hours ago, Poochnboo said:

While there is certainly that aspect of some not wanting to kill, it seems to be, mostly an ETO issue. When fighting the Japanese pilots were pushing each other out of the way to get kills. During the Marianas Turkey Shoot, U.S. Navy pilots were becoming aces in a day. No qualms about killing there.

 And I was, just last night, reading the history of the 375TH Fighter Group. Lindbergh flew with them for a while, and was not happy about the fact that they sometimes attacked Japanese pilots in their chutes, or strafed them in the water!

 It was very mush a racial issue, of course. They felt that Europeans were humans. The Japanese were not.

I'd say this is due to the way fighting in the Pacific was and the way Americans viewed the Japanese at that time. The savagery of the fighting in the Pacific can only be matched by the eastern front and even then the Pacific was more brutal in some ways.

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5 hours ago, Poochnboo said:

While there is certainly that aspect of some not wanting to kill, it seems to be, mostly an ETO issue. When fighting the Japanese pilots were pushing each other out of the way to get kills. During the Marianas Turkey Shoot, U.S. Navy pilots were becoming aces in a day. No qualms about killing there.

 And I was, just last night, reading the history of the 375TH Fighter Group. Lindbergh flew with them for a while, and was not happy about the fact that they sometimes attacked Japanese pilots in their chutes, or strafed them in the water!

 It was very mush a racial issue, of course. They felt that Europeans were humans. The Japanese were not.

 

It was equally brutal on both sides.

As Legioneod mentioned, from an air war perspective there really was nothing like it in any other theater of the war, Eastern Front included. 

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On 10/29/2019 at 10:39 PM, Gambit21 said:

 

It was equally brutal on both sides.

As Legioneod mentioned, from an air war perspective there really was nothing like it in any other theater of the war, Eastern Front included. 

Yes, I know. It's the difference between going out to fight someone just because someone told you that you have to...and going out to fight because you really hate the S.O.B.!

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On 10/28/2019 at 10:28 PM, Feathered_IV said:

Also, when you swear an oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler and embark on 'race-war of annihilation' - fudging a few numbers probably isn't a real biggie for you.  ;)

 

It was a lot more complicated than that and you are a smart guy, you know that. 

   Most of the reasons for ww2 can be traced in the Versailles treaty at the end of WW1 and the way Germany was treated.

    But history is written by the victors.

It wouldn't hurt  to check for yourself why a whole country got behind that lunatic. 

It's always more complicated than the black and white bullshit, the official narrative will try to make it look.

I'm not cheering for the Nazis.

I'm just saying that history is never black and white. It always comes in shades of gray.

 

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1 hour ago, Jaws2002 said:

Most of the reasons for ww2 can be traced in the Versailles treaty at the end of WW1 and the way Germany was treated.

So they say.

1 hour ago, Jaws2002 said:

I'm just saying that history is never black and white. It always comes in shades of gray.

Oh yes. Now look at the above.

 

Evilness is mostly banal. There is not always need to overexplain it.

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40 minutes ago, ZachariasX said:

So they say.

Oh yes. Now look at the above.

 

Evilness is mostly banal. There is not always need to overexplain it.

 

 Yes. That was a bit too broad generalization. A lot of the reasons for WW2 can be traced in the Versailles treaty.

 

You can't just say that a country of 80 million people woke up one morning and just wanted to be evil. There were many things that lead Germany to the path it took. Why is it wrong to ask questions?

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1 hour ago, Jaws2002 said:

A lot of the reasons for WW2 can be traced in the Versailles treaty.

 

The Germans hardly satisfied any of the Versailles treaty requirements and began getting out of them almost immediately.

 

The Treaty was attacked by Germany before the ink was dry.

 

Quote

The terms of the peace settlement were attacked vehemently by the Germans at the time and subsequently, and these attacks came to coincide with the general disillusionment about the new world which had emerged from the war and the peace among the former allies. There was a popular delusion, widespread at the time, sedulously fostered in the 1920s and 1930s by German propaganda, generally believed then and remaining the staple pabulum of history textbooks today, that Germany had been most terribly crushed by the peace settlement, that all manner of horrendous things had been done to her, and that a wide variety of onerous burdens and restrictions imposed upon her by the peace had weakened her into the indefinite future. On the basis of this view, a whole series of modifications was made in the settlement, all without exception in favor of Germany. The occupation was ended earlier than the peace treaty indicated, the commissions to supervise disarmament were withdrawn, the reparations payments were reduced and eventually cancelled, and the trials of war criminals were left to the Germans with predictable results [no Germans were ever convicted by Germany], to mention only some of the most significant changes made. If at the end of this process, Germany—a bare quarter of a century after the armistice of 1918—controlled most of Europe and had come within a hair's breadth of conquering the globe, there was obviously something wrong about the picture generally accepted then and later.
 

 

Some Germans recognized this as late as 1940 that an imposed peace after a second invasion of Belgium might be far harsher than Versailles. The Allies never did settle on dismantaling Germany completely, but strong consideration was given to that, while at Versailles Germany was simply asked to clean up a mess they made in Belgium and France.

 

Quote

As late as February 19, 1940, one of the higher officers in the German naval command, Heinz Assmann, wrote a memorandum arguing that as long as Germany kept the United States neutral and refrained from an attack through Holland and Belgium she could not lose, but any attack into the Low Countries would probably lead to war with the United States. Recognizing—as few Germans did—that the Treaty of Versailles had left Germany a united and relatively strong country, he warned that if Germany lost this time, she could not expect a second Versailles Treaty. "Entwurf: Beurteilung der Kriegslage (19. Februar 1940)" BA/MA, III M 502/4
 

 

Edited by cardboard_killer

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2 hours ago, Jaws2002 said:

 

 Yes. That was a bit too broad generalization. A lot of the reasons for WW2 can be traced in the Versailles treaty.

 

You can't just say that a country of 80 million people woke up one morning and just wanted to be evil. There were many things that lead Germany to the path it took. Why is it wrong to ask questions?

 

I can think of a lot of nations that were treated far worse after losing an all out war and still didn‘t feel like having another try at the same, doing worse soon after.

 

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Swinging back to the subject of aces, I just ran into the story of Captain Henry Elrod, and I think it illustrates how kill counts do not always tell the entire story. As near as I can tell, he got only two air to air kills, and one ship, in his first. However, that was his first airborne combat engagement, and in fact only aerial combat engagement, because after he landed, he was leading the troops on the ground in their efforts to halt the assault on Wake Island, where he was mortaly wounded manning a machinegun that he had captured from the assaulting Japanese.

 

https://themedalofhonor.com/medal-of-honor-recipients/recipients/elrod-henry-world-war-two

 

Did he have what it took to be a top ace? I would have to argue the only thing he didn't have was the luck not to be on the receiving end of an invasion force of 5 to 1 numerical superiority. 

 

I wonder if the better question we should be asking is, what made them special? Was it just that killer instinct? Or is it a skill that we can isolate and learn? Why did some take so long to get their feet under them? What did others do differently? What can we learn from them? 

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I believe there's a book that's treating exactly that question called "the ace factor". Didn't read it - but I think it came down to situational awareness as the most important factor. 

 

Mike Spick asks the same question in his aces books and adds shooting skills to SA as equally important...

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I am always concerned about attributing a result to "skill" when the attribution of the "skill" is only determined by the results.  This is circular. 

 

The idea of actually analysing WW2 aces and their victories is interesting enough, but I do not recall ever seeing anyone actually do it.  What we have is some lists and a variety of qualitative descriptions. Nothing you could use to model a population.

 

 

 

   

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29 minutes ago, unreasonable said:

I am always concerned about attributing a result to "skill" when the attribution of the "skill" is only determined by the results.  This is circular. 

 

Further to this, if there is 'skill' involved in something, it can sometimes just be the consequence of experience. Put simply, the longer you live, the more 'skilled' you get, and the better your chances of surviving your next mission. The best pilots could just be the luckiest ones. I'm not saying this is true, but it is the null hypothesis that needs to be disproven if one is trying to make any sort of objective statements about any specific attributes of fighter aces.

Edited by AndyJWest
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I vaguely recall - but cannot remember where I have seen this - that an experience effect was analysed by Bomber Command. The crews tended to stay together for a tour, casualties permitting.  Over a tour the probability of a plane being lost decreased fairly clearly for the first ten or so ops, flattened out, and then slightly increased for the last few.  Experience plus something else, perhaps just fatigue.   

 

  

Edited by unreasonable

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14 minutes ago, AndyJWest said:

 

Further to this, if there is 'skill' involved in something, it can sometimes just be the consequence of experience. Put simply, the longer you live, the more 'skilled' you get, and the better your chances of surviving your next mission. The best pilots could just be the luckiest ones. I'm not saying this is true, but it is the null hypothesis that needs to be disproven if one is trying to make any sort of objective statements about any specific attributes of fighter aces.

Actually if I remember correctly the top aces of the Luftwaffe all agreed that luck was of utmost importance.

 

take Hartmann as example - shot down several times if he was killed or severely injured his carreer has ended. Same if couldn't escape after being shot down behind enemy lines. 

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On the experience factor, I've been listening to episode 69 of the Jocko Podcast. He's interviewing a former, among other things, Marine Top Gun instructor. One of the things he points out is that beyond the knowledge and experience you get becoming a Top Gun Instructor, the sheer number of reps, flying every day, multiple times a day, put you into exceptional fighting form. The day before you leave Top Gun is the best you will ever be; everything after that is trying to manage the decline. 

 

I'll note, this is also where I heard Captain Elrod's story: 

 

 

I've noticed this in professional YouTube gamers; they always note how, if they've been away from the game for a while, and it doesn't have to be long, their skills perish and they need to put the work in to get back up to speed. 

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2 hours ago, Voyager said:

On the experience factor, I've been listening to episode 69 of the Jocko Podcast. He's interviewing a former, among other things, Marine Top Gun instructor. One of the things he points out is that beyond the knowledge and experience you get becoming a Top Gun Instructor, the sheer number of reps, flying every day, multiple times a day, put you into exceptional fighting form. The day before you leave Top Gun is the best you will ever be; everything after that is trying to manage the decline. 

 

I'll note, this is also where I heard Captain Elrod's story: 

 

 

I've noticed this in professional YouTube gamers; they always note how, if they've been away from the game for a while, and it doesn't have to be long, their skills perish and they need to put the work in to get back up to speed. 

 

I'd say this goes for any skill, you need to keep practicing it in order to maintain or get better at it.

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