Purple fang wrote:Fonck claimed about 127. He may well have done it, most of his kills fell on german side & he often flew solo. Saying he exaggerated his kills is not something that can be said with any certitude. We weren't there, so can't say either way.
Yep, 75 confirmed and 52 unconfirmed. Many pilots (including German) have unconfirmed kills in or added after their totals.
There's a couple of different aspects. The process Renner talks about is what one might do today. Certainly for those "Under the guns.." books that is what happens. I've been lost in the hopeless task of reconciling the various Grub Street books on the German aces with Trevor Henshaw's the Sky Their Battlefield, which logs British losses. But this is completely retrospective process and of course could not be used at the time.
"Unconfirmed" kills at the time (and still used mainly in this sense) describe claimed kills that the authorities (higher command of the various air services) could not confirm due to unavailablity of wreckage or witnesses. Many of these have since been "confirmed" by such cross referencing. Only a few pilots have had their "usual" total revised as a result. More often, such figures emerge to give consensus when wildly differing totals are bandied about. Books on Mick Mannock include totals varying from 50 to 73. 61 is now the agreed number, after painstaking research about 20 years ago which excluded some duplicates. Pilots on all sides have had unconfirmed kills "confirmed" and confirmed kills indisputably overturned. None of which makes much difference to the offical scores.
The German system encouraged people to claim what they knew could be confirmed and forgot about the rest. As a result, there are very few German records that are NOT confirmed, and few pilots with unconfirmed kills on their list. Few, but not none.
France had a double system where confirmed and unconfirmed were separated, but not by much. Medal citations will usually quote both figures for French pilots. So they made a distinction, but still acknowledged unconfirmed kills.
The British really didn't make much distinction between the two, and they didn't really keep an "official" total - the figures for British aces is something of a retrospective list to match the official German (and French?) lists. In citations at the time, a pilots kills will be mentioned, so there is some level of "officialness", but these were rarely if ever the reason for the citation. Bravery, leadership etc. Not effectiveness (When did Britain EVER give a medal for that?) Notwithstanding the list on non-winners, in the main for German pilots, you got X number of kills, you got some cutlery. The French gave a medal at relatively low scores and just kept adding palmes to that award. But the VC winners of the top Brits includes:
Bishop (72) - for a raid on an aerodrome that may never have happened, not for his kills
Barker (50) - for a dogfight that may never have happened as described, not for his kills
Mannock (61), McCudden (57) and Beauchamp-Proctor (54) for leadership, not for their kills.
I think thats all (of the top ones). Collishaw (60+ or -), MacLaren (54) got DSO's, which you could pretty much get just for staying alive for six months. So for the Brits, giving out gongs was unrelated to kill totals, so it reduced the need for bookkeeping accuracy. I note also nobody has made a doco saying Collishaw didn't get 60. Nobody cares. I don't know why they do about Goering.
Some would argue that the different approaches stem from the differing strategic position of the airforces, such the "well known fact" that the British fought mainly over German territory, which mean they could never get the same level of evidence.
Of course, others would argue that that "well known fact" is a load of tosh.
PS: Thanks for the leg work Peter. Like I said "at least one"
It was Dorr I was thinking of, but thought I misremembered - couldn't believe a 35 victory ace would have missed out. But then, as your list shows, quite a few good 'uns did.