Aces

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Luftwaffe air units and general discussions on the Luftwaffe.
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Aces

Postby Ezboard » 30 Sep 2002 18:16

Samuel
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(10/1/01 8:09:02 pm)
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Why were the german aces so good?
I mean they scored so many kills so they had to be very good did they not?

daft
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(10/1/01 8:37:47 pm)
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I think one reason was the fact that as a German fighter pilot you couldn't complete a "tour" as most allied pilots did. You were in it for the duration of the war or at least until you were killed or wounded to such an extent that you couldn't fly anymore.

Secondly, many German pilots racked up huge tallies on the east front, a very target rich environment, often faced with inadecuately trained russian pilots in obsolete aircraft. Of course this was only true for the beginning of the war in the east since the russians did get substantialy better in both men and materiel towards the end.

Thirdly, consider the numbers of allied aircraft employed in raids on ocupied europe after the US 8th AF entered the stage. As a German pilot you were almost guaranteed to see action every time you took off. There were simply a lot less targets to shoot at for the allied pilots.

Also, the Luftwaffe had the opporunity to try out their tactics over Spain during the Civil War and hone their dogfighting skills.

Thats my take on it.

~Henric Edwards

Edited by: daft at: 10/1/01 11:20:25 pm

schwalbe
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(10/1/01 11:54:53 pm)
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i would say yes. Many got over a 100planes. There planes where somewhat better than the allies. After 1943 piolt training went down.

Lars EP
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(10/3/01 3:39:46 pm)
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Of the very same reason U.S bomber squadrons could clame hundreds of kills on fighters after every mission - when dozens of gunners empty their weapons at enemy targets and they see hits, they are all willing to swear they got the kill.

British and U.S. fighter squadrons had much, much more demanding conditions to meet before they could claim a kill.

Another factor was of course the inferior planes many of Germanys early adversaries had - Polish, Greek and early S.U. fighters simply didn't measure up. The S.U. didn't get a fighter that could take on a german fighters before lare -42, the YAK-1M.

Lars

Source: Pierre Glostermann - Le Grand Circus

Edited by: Lars EP at: 10/3/01 3:40:39 pm

daft
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(10/3/01 3:44:24 pm)
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Lars,

With all due respect, and I could be way of base here, but I was under the impression that the German claim system was even more rigorous than the allied one. I remember reading it in some book that I can't really reacall at the moment. I'll see if I can dig up a source on the net somewhere, and post the link ASAP.

~Henric Edwards

daft
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(10/3/01 3:46:18 pm)
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Found one. Didn't take long. :)

http://www.xs4all.nl/~rhorta/jgscor.htm

~Henric Edwards

Marcus Wendel
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Re: Aces
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"Before a victory claim was conirmed it underwent rigorous checking by the Abschusskommission (the Commission for the Adjudication of Victory Claims). No claim was ever considered unless there was an independent witness of the action, or a wrecked enemy aircraft that appeared to link with the claim. If the action took place over German-held territory and no wreck was found, a pilot would have considerable difficulty getting the victory confirmed. No credit was given for shared or probable victories. If more than one fighter had engaged the enemy aircraft shot down, the pilot judged to have played the major part in its destruction recieved the credit.
This is not to say that every German pilot's victory score was 100 per cent accurate. The Abschusskommission was not perfect. Sometimes mistakes were made, and in all air forces there were some pilots who claimed dishonestly in action. But the German organisation was as effective as could be expected in time of war, and it was more thorough than any counterpart run by the Allies"
(from "The Luftwaffe Data Book" by Dr Alfred Price)

/Marcus

daft
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(10/3/01 3:54:01 pm)
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Marcus,

Thanks! That's what it said on the page I linked to too.

~Henric Edwards

Lars Daft
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(10/3/01 6:14:59 pm)
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Your arguments accumulated to the fact that they only faced inferior
men and machines.
But how do you explain the huge successes they enjoyed in Africa.
Or were the British being dismissed for the same reasons.
Remember "Der Stern von Africa"
( Lt.Marseille).I wonder did the Allies ever come close to this guys
combat victories over all the war years.The only big name in WW|| comes to mind is A.Murphy but he was not a pilot=or!

daft
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(10/3/01 6:57:53 pm)
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Lars Daft,

I didn't mean to imply that the Luftwaffe pilots were inferior to the allied pilots. They did have a cadre of pilots that were true "Experten", but I don't think that the average Luftwaffe pilot were significantly better than his allied counterpart. It all came down to training and experience and as the Luftwaffe losses began to mount, their pilot quality declined. I would say that early in the war, over France and the low countries the Luftwaffe had the "edge" over the allied pilots, but as the war grew older, the gap closed and finally towards the end, the allied pulled ahead in quality. Once again, that's just my theory. :)

BTW The highest scoring allied ace of ww2 was Ivan Kozhedub with 62 kills. Quite a difference between him and Hartmanns 352. :)

~Henric Edwards



Edited by: daft at: 10/3/01 6:58:48 pm

Fridolin
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(10/3/01 8:14:16 pm)
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The problem was, in the latter part of the war, a few experten were accumulating a disproportionate number of kills... until, sooner or latter, they were also downed (often ) or killed (just once...).
But most German pilots in the latter part of the war were much worse than the average WA pilot, because thy got very little training (this because lack of fuel and lack of time (1)). So, while in 1939 a German pilot got close to 250 training flying hours (as against 200 in the RAF), in July 1944 a Luftwaffe pilot got only 120 hours, as against 325 (RAF) or close to 400 (USAAF).

QUOTE:
"those Luftwaffe pilots who had survived the attrition of the first air battles of the war had little difficulty defeating new Allied pilots no matter how many hors the latter had flown. In fact, the ratio of kills-to-sorties climbed as those Luftwaffe pilots who survived built up experience. However, few German pilots survived the attrition of the first war years, and thus the Luftwaffe BECAME, IN FACT, TWO DISTINCT FORCES: the few great aces -the Hartmans, Gallands, and Waldmans- and the great mass of pilots who faced great difficulty in landing their aircraft, much less surviving combat. ONLY 8 OF GERMANY's 107 ACES TO SCORE MORE THAN 100 VICTORIES JOINED THEIR SQUADRONS AFTER MID-1942".

In retrospect. it is difficult to understand how the Germans were able to get individua1s to fly against such overwhelming odds. Several factors undoubtedly carne into play. The most obvious is the fact that from the summer of 1943. German fighter pilots were desperately struggling to save their homeland from A1lied bombing. In such circumstances and considering their ideological indoctrination. it is not surprising that German pilots continued to fly in the face of terrible odds. There are several other factors. The most important of these was the outstanding qua1ity of middle-level leadership. The explanation for how squadron and flight commanders kept their organizations together lay in a rigid refusa1 by the Germans to lower the standards in the officers corps. "Better no officer than abad officer.. might be a characterization of how the Germans viewed recruiting for the officer corps. There was one additional element in the Germans. ability to continue the flight. Like the army. the Luftwaffe until almost the end prized unit cohesion. Units were not left in the frontline for interminable periods of time, with replacements arriving one or two at a time. Rather. when units had been badly shattered by heavy losses. they were pu1led out of the line to be physica1ly rebuilt with new crews and new aircraft. The Germans were thus able to renew the bonds between those who would fly and fight together and who would depend on each other for survival"

"Concurrent with production problems went the difficulty of finding pilots to fil1 cockpits. Up to the summer of 1942, the training program had run on a peacetime leisurely basis, with dancing classes and skiing holidays for future pilotS.I97 Thereafter, the training program ran into difficulties. Fuel shortages and demands from the front for more pilots led to reductions in training hours. Air transport commitments to Tunisia and Stalingrad curtailed instrument and bomber training programs. In 1943, more fuel was available; and through better management, the Germans doubled the number of new fighter pilots coming out of training schools. The rise from 1,662 new fighter pilots in 1942 to 3,276 in 1943 was barely enough, however, to cover wastage at the front (2,870).198 In fact, training schools produced barely enough pilots to keep up with losses. Thus, there was virtual1y no opportunity to build up a pilot reserve. More dangerous for the future of the fighter force was the fact that flying hours in schools for German pilots were less than half of what British and American pilots received. Production shortages meant that German pilots received their training almost entirely in obsolete aircraft. Ironical1y, the massive production program of spring 1944 final1y solved that problem in late summer. However, by that time there was no fuel eft for training.
The result of these training weaknesses and the attrition taking place in early 1944 was that the experience and the skill level of German fighter pilots spiraled downward. In July 1944, Luftflotte 3 discovered that, with few exceptions, only Gruppen and Staffeln commanders had more than six month's operational fighter experience. A small number of other pilots had up to three months' experience, while the bulk of available pilots had only between eight and thirty days' combat service.
All of these factors by 1944 had become mutually reinforcing. The declining skill of German fighter pilots pushed up the level of attrition taking place, which increased the demand that the training establishment tum out more pilots. The viciousness of the circle received its final impetus and the Luftwaffe its death blow when the May attacks on German petroleum sources robbed the training program of the fuel needed to produce new pilots."

From W. Murray. The Luftwaffe (not for begginners, full of statistics and tables, but one of the must for Luftwaffe)

daft
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(10/3/01 9:24:42 pm)
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Fridolin,

Great post. That book is on my wishlist now. :)

~Henric Edwards

Scott Smith 01
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(10/3/01 9:45:51 pm)
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Williamson Murray's book is superb!

Lars EP
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(10/4/01 9:45:23 pm)
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You might be right, and Clostermann wrong. After all, where would he know the german system from...

One of the other responders seems to have misunderstood me. I did not mean to imply that Germans was only fighting inferior opponents. What I am trying to say is that most of the kills obtained by the highscoring Luftwaffe-aces, was not RAF or USAAF, but all those countries with inferior airforces.

The Sovjet Union had had good results with the I-16 fighter in Spain against Me-109 A and B. Also in Mongolia -39 and in Finland -39 it had been adequate. Therefore the Sovjet Union had only slowly replaced it with MIG-3, LAL-3 and YAK-1, whom all still was inferior to even the ME-109 E, not to mention the F, G and K versions and the Focke Wullf 190.

As I pointed out, it was not before the introduction of the YAK-1M, the SU got a fighter that stood a chance against the Germans, and only when the YAK-7 and 9, and the LAL-7 became standard, was the odds evened out.

Therefore Luftwaffe got all these easy kills early in the war.

About the German top-aces, Clostermann actually points out that when he returned to frontline duty in -44, Luftwaffe consisted of 15-20 % very, very dangerous pilots, and the rest, who where rather unskilled, if brave.

Lars

LeoAU
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(10/5/01 12:51:22 am)
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Russian pilots had duties to cover ground troops, or cover territory, or bomber/shturmovik formations instead of going for a free hunt, Russian pilots had less personal/professional/soldier pride than Germans, personal victories wasn't an objective as such... Air forces belong to the front were given orders by its commanders, not like Luftvaffe - separate from the Wehrmaht.

Plus of course, ally's air forces and Russian for that matter were larger than Luftvaffe, which of course creates less targets for more planes, where Luftvaffe had more targets, combined with better training -here's the result!
10000 pilots with 10 or so victories against 1000 with 100... pure math!

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Re: Aces

Postby Peter K » 05 Apr 2009 12:46

Let's compare:

German ace / number of flights / number of air combats fought by this ace / number of victories admitted (by Germans):

Maj. E. Hartmann - 1404 flights, 825 air combats fought, 352 victories admitted (however, Russian archives - researched by Khazanov - confirm only around 70 - 80 of his victories);
Maj. G. Barkhorn - around 1800 flights, 1104 air combats fought, 301 victories admitted;
Maj. G. Gollob - 464 flights, 340 air combats fought, 150 victories admitted (until 08.1942);
Maj. E. Rudorffer - around 1000 flights, 302 air combats fought, 222 victories admitted (what is surprising is that until 07.1943 he was fighting in the West).

Soviet ace / number of flights / number of air combats fought by this ace / number of victories admitted (by Soviets):

Maj. I. N. Kozhedub - 302 flights, 120 air combats fought, 62 victories;
Col. A. I. Pokryszkin - around 600 flights, 156 air combats fought, 59 victories;
Cpt. N. D. Gulajew - 250 flights, 60 air combats fought, 57 victories;
Cpt. G. A. Reczkalow - 450 flights, 122 air combats fought, 56 victories;

Simple conclusion is, that:

Colonel A.I. Pokryszkin was the best and the most efficient of all of them who are listed above (he achieved 57 victories in 60 air combats, according to the Soviets - so his ratio air combats : victories admitted is the best).

One more thing:

Any single ace of the Western Allies did not fly more than 300 flights during the whole Second World War.

So the final conclusion is, that:

No, German aces were not "so good", they simply had got much more opportunities to fight than any other aces.

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Re: Aces

Postby antero59 » 08 Apr 2009 18:22

Reasons why germans had so many big aces (over 25 killings) is rather the same than the reason why tiny Finnish Air Forces has relatively many aces. Fighter pilots of both countries were skillfull, that's true, but also they fought trough the whole war all the time - no retirement.

There is also one interesting thing - Luftwaffe fighter pilots and finns used rather same kinda tactic - hit back fast and run method while french and russians were dedicated followers of "acrobatics". At least finns had also system where there was a combat pair - the other who gave the shelter to other who was a killer. Shelter pilot was flying higher taking care of that enemy can't catch in the act the killer = ace. This system gave amazingly high killing number to Finnish Air Force.

As most of the reliable sources are telling the biggest non-german flying ace was a finn, warrant Ilmari Juutilainen (94 confirmed numbers of enemy aircraft shut down, 30 aircrafts shut down during 30 days in june-july 1944)

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antero59
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Re: Aces

Postby antero59 » 14 Apr 2009 17:17

BTW i have strong doubts about Soviet aces and their "killings". I tell why. Soon after the war one of their aces visited in Finland and he with the other russians ( a comission) noticed that not a single of his claims was not true. Every single Me-109's he claimed to have shut down were available in hall. This episode was written by finnish military historician Tapio Tiihonen.

I give a advice not to trust at all to claims of Kozhedub, Pokryszkin or Gulajew ( or any other Soviet aces).Besides germans have also asked the details of claims of Kozhedub but russians have never given any precise info about this case. So it's more or less dogma not a fact. At least in Korea war americans found claims of Kozhedub very much just a myth.

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Re: Aces

Postby Peter K » 16 Apr 2009 21:21

BTW i have strong doubts about Soviet aces and their "killings". I tell why.


Similar thing is with many German (and some other also) aces.

For example according to Khazanov only around 70 - 80 of Hartmann victories can be confirmed in Russian archives.

At least finns had also system where there was a combat pair - the other who gave the shelter to other who was a killer. Shelter pilot was flying higher taking care of that enemy can't catch in the act the killer = ace. This system gave amazingly high killing number to Finnish Air Force.


As far as I know sometimes even the whole unit was "working" for one ace - their only task was to protect the ace (not to kill enemy planes), and the ace was killing - I am talking mainly about Luftwaffe.

Similar practice was also in use in the Soviet Air Force.

Both countries wanted very much to "generate" aces - which was in fact usually much less profitable than "normal" methods of combat (more pilots achieve lower numbers of victories instead of a handful of Experten with many kills).

BTW i have strong doubts about Soviet aces and their "killings". I tell why. Soon after the war one of their aces visited in Finland and he with the other russians ( a comission) noticed that not a single of his claims was not true. Every single Me-109's he claimed to have shut down were available in hall. This episode was written by finnish military historician Tapio Tiihonen.


Remember that a shot down plane not always mean a destroyed (so damaged in over 60%) plane.

Sometimes a plane is being shot down and later repaired - and comes back to service.

On the other hand - sometimes a plane is not shot down (and "only" damaged), but due to over 60% damage it has to be scrapped.

So destroyed is not always equal to shot down.

Fighter pilots of both countries were skillfull, that's true, but also they fought trough the whole war all the time - no retirement.


And many of them, apart from killing high number of enemy planes, were being shot down by the enemy many times.

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bf109 emil
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Re: Aces

Postby bf109 emil » 20 Aug 2009 18:32

For example according to Khazanov only around 70 - 80 of Hartmann victories can be confirmed in Russian archives

as No part kills or scores where allowed in the Luftwaffe so as to tabulate 1 kill 1 award...and in cases where more then 1 pilot downed an aircraft, the Luftwaffe pilots where to decide among themselves who was to be credited with the kill if no decision could be found or worked out the unit there after was awarded the kill and no individual would be able to claim this on his total...IMHO it was unlikely anyone would argue or fret the chance of a Hartmann or indeed argue with him as to whom should be awarded upon a kill being credited thus helping to build their gruppe leaders score...source Adolph Galland as quoted as to Luftwaffe scoring
The German obsession with precision elminated controversy by a simple set of rules. Where more than one pilot was involved in the downing of an aircraft, the piltos had to decide between themselveswho was to get the kill credit. In the event of an impasse, the confirmed kill was awarded to the pilots' UNIT, with no individual credit awarded.

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Re: Aces

Postby Mangrove » 21 Aug 2009 11:21

Domen121 wrote:For example according to Khazanov only around 70 - 80 of Hartmann victories can be confirmed in Russian archives.


I wonder if this has any to do with Soviet way to mark down the losses. According to C. F. Geust (see the link; in Finnish) if the Soviet plane crash-landed after the fight on their side and the pilot survived the plane was not regarded as a loss. This must explain some of the differences between claims and losses.

http://www.virtualpilots.fi/hist/WW2History-ErkkiPakarinen.html

Geust: Titarenko, 29 GIAP teki pakkolaskun ilmataistelun jälkeen (= tuli alasammutuksi) Humaljokeen, koneena Jak-9D. Huomatkaa terminologia: mikäli kone on tullut alas omalle puolelle rintamalinjaa ja ohjaaja hengissä (vaikka vakavasti haavoittuneenakin) spotapäiväkirjaan merkitään että "kone on tehnyt onnistuneen pakkolaskun". Neuvostosotapäiväkirjojen mukainen "tappio" tarkoittaa taas että kone ja/tai ohjaaja on 100 % menetetty - kun tämän tiedostaa ymmärtää paremmin syy valtaviin eroihin ilmavoittojen ja menetettyjen koneiden lukumäärien välillä!

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Re: Aces

Postby uhu » 22 Aug 2009 03:55

Most of the war saw the Luftwaffe pilots fighting over their own territory, so if shot down, they could return to combat. Some were shot down eighteen times. Allied pilots shot down usually ended the war in a Stalag.

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Re: Aces

Postby VtwinVince » 20 Sep 2009 17:01

Some good arguments here. My uncle was "Abschussoffizier" of JG 27 in 1942. He was a lawyer and sometime judge at the Volksgericht, so he had a very sharp mind. The proof required for acknowledgment of a claim was very stringent, as you can imagine from German bureaucracy. To merely dismiss the Luftwaffe pilots as overclaimers is simplistic. Certainly they did not overclaim any more than their Allied counterparts.

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Re: Aces

Postby Peter K » 20 Sep 2009 17:07

if the Soviet plane crash-landed after the fight on their side and the pilot survived the plane was not regarded as a loss


Usually planes with extent of damage between 60% and 100% are considered as destroyed. For example completely destroyed engine = 60% damage. Planes with extent of damage between 10% and 59% are considered as damaged.

A particular plane can be never shot down, but so seriously damaged by enemy bullets that it must be scrapped. Some other plane can crash-land but still survive, with relatively low extent of damage. This is how it worked.

"Shot down" is not always destroyed and "managed to get back from combat mission" is sometimes also destroyed.

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Re: Aces

Postby Optiow » 22 Sep 2009 08:21

uhu wrote:Most of the war saw the Luftwaffe pilots fighting over their own territory, so if shot down, they could return to combat. Some were shot down eighteen times. Allied pilots shot down usually ended the war in a Stalag.

Very true.

~I also think that many chalked up big scores near the end of the war because they were the ones being attacked. Just like the British during the Battle of Britain, the Germans were fighting to keep the bombers away and so they fought a lot harder. It was not uncommon for German pilots to have over 30+ kills, although not many saw the end of the war.

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Re: Aces

Postby flyingdoctor » 12 Feb 2013 00:20

Russian tend at least on the finnish front try to avoid flying ,problably because the were shot down in big numbers.
The russian pilots came in big numbers when the russian ground offensive started in june -44 but as fast as the Finns army for the first time in history stopped a russian strategic multi army offensive mid july -44 the fighting area became empty of enemy planes. Finnish top ace Juutilainen writes that in his book.
Juutilainen shot down a total 94 planes in 5 years of war. But 28 in 17 days at the russian 1944 Karelian istmus offensive.
Juutilainen never got a bullet hole in his figter from enemy pilots, and never lost a wingman , witch he was most proud off, just like Hartmann. But Hartmann was shot down about 10 times but could shot down many more russians bacause groundfighting was harder and the russians had to get upp in the air.
Most of the war finnish pilots just patroled the fronline but saw little action, the were forbidden to engage groundtrops or russian airfields because of fear of losing their few fighters to groundfire.
I dont think there was a more deadly fighter in the air of WW2 then Juutilainen, but he didnt see so much action.
The finns with the Me109 had exchange ratio og 25:1 and with the older Brewster fighter (rejected by us airforce) 32:1

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Re: Aces

Postby Thor4711 » 19 Feb 2013 12:55

Well I got the book: THE GERMAN ACES SPEAK by Colin D. Heaton ansd Anne-Marie Lewis with their reports and lifelines, very interesting! ISBN: 978-0-7603-4115-5 , there the "Count" is mentioned (Walter Krupinski), Adolf Galland, Eduard Neumann, Father of the Night Fighters: Wolfgang Falck .
A lot of reasons were mentioned: at least among the reasons were the preparation for war by training the youth on gliders, using fighters and bombers in the Spanish civil war as well and of course : better planes for the first years of the war !
As the other countries hesitated to believe that there was a war at the doorstep, the efforts to put up fighter production etc were just small !
And don´n t forget: the tide turned against Nazi-Germany when all modern developments (Me 262 Ju 290, He219 etc) were slowed down as the Nazi leaders thought that there would be a quick end of the war!
Eginhard

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Re: Aces

Postby flyingdoctor » 21 Feb 2013 19:04

Germanys biggest ace , and Finlands biggest ace and Russian second best ace were all glider pilots before the war !
Coinsidence ? Do airforces still try to recrute young gliderpilots ?

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Re: Aces

Postby Thor4711 » 21 Feb 2013 19:34

Well as far as I know: NOT any more! There are of course here in Germany (and perhaps other countries) glider clubs where young people can join and learn to fly ! And often people try to step into Air Force training. But compulsory it is not. And think that todays jet fighters are very sophisticated and I doubt that the training on gliders is of much use? It could be a "FIRST STEP"!
But THEN when the fighter pilots where trained in the 1920ties and 1930ties, they could start on gliders ( party youth organisations) or started on open double-deckers (that really gives you a real sense for flying!) . Today it seems that the pilots on modern computerized fighters are just a part of the plane!
Some NAVIES (the German I know for sure) still trains their navy officers on a sailing ship !


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