confirmation procedure

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the old Sage
May 20, 2004
Platonic Sphere
well here is a tidbit of info

Luftwaffe Claims Confirmation Procedure

As noted on the Luftwaffe Scoring and Awards System page, "victory claims" and "points" were two seperate issues. Whenever an Abschuss (Destruction) of an enemy aircraft was claimed a strict proceedure was followed before the claim was allowed.

Following the policy of "one pilot-one kill", the investigating authorities would determine if the claiming pilot was solely responsible for the destruction of the enemy plane. Every Abschuss had to be observed by a witness: either a ground observer or the encounter, the pilot's wingman, or a Staffelmate. Witnesses were necessary unless the victor's aircraft had been fitted with a gun-camera and the destruction of the plane or the vanquished pilot's bailout had been recorded on film, if the wreckage of the downed pilot or other crew crew member had been captured by German forces. In effect: No witness or tangible evidence - no victory.

Every Abschuss had to be confirmed by the Oberbefehlshaber der Luftwaffe or Commander in Chief of the Air Force. Jagdwaffe pilots were at all times required to note their geographical position as well as the type and number of the aircraft in enemy formations engaged. Naturally, the victor was required to log the exact time of a kill, while he maneuvered for a tactical advantage over the remaining enemy aircraft! In addition, he had to observe other actions in the air in order to be able to witness victories by his Staffelmates. Upon landing, the claimant prepared his Abschuss report for review by the immediate supervisory officer, who either endorsed or rejected the claim. If endorsed, the pilot's report to the Geschwaderstab, or Wing Staff, which, in turn, filed its report and sent both to the Reichsluftfahrtministerium (RLM), or Air Ministry. After checking all the papers that were submitted, the official confirmation was prepared and sent to the unit. This very long bureaucratic proceedure sometimes took as long as a year! During 1944, another authority was created: the Abschusskommission, which received all reports on crashed aircraft remains found by search units. This commission checked conflicting claims between antiaircraft batteries and fighter pilots, and awarded credit for the victory to one claimant or the other. This system ensured that no more credits would be awarded than wrecks found.

The German system of confirming aerial victories was very effective in keeping human errors and weknesses within limits. Despite this, the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe, or Luftwaffe High Command, considered the large victory totals during the early days of the Russian campaign as incredulous. On many occasions, they accused the Jagdgeschwader Kommodores of exaggerating the victory scores. In effect Goering was calling the frontline pilots liars. This was one of the grievances that brought about the Mutiny of the Fighters, or the Kommodores' Revolt Conference, in Berlin during January, 1945.

When a German fighter pilot scored a victory, he would call "Horrido" on the radio. This distinctive announcement of victory alerted his fellow pilots to watch for a crash or a flamer, as well as notify ground stations, which helped to confirm many victories.

note that during the fall of 1944 claims going through this process were almost completely done away with and only marks in the pilots flugbuch or the historian of the fighter group placed the "kills" within the Geschwader historie. You can obviously see that this has it's short comings.

Question for you:

Suppose a bomber was shot up with no visible evidence of fatal damage, yet the aircrew were all killed or incapacitated. The plane then goes into a shallow dive into thick clouds and crashes many minutes later with no witnesses of this happening.

Days or weeks later, the wreckage is found. How did the Luftwaffe handle this type of kill? If they cant figure out who shot it down, how could the credit be assigned if there were multiple fighter groups or squadrons attacking the same bomb groups?
credit may not be given to an individual crew but placed in the overall tally of the Luftwaffe, especially true in the night fighters case, an example is a German crew say attacking an RAF Lanc, with fire within the craft not visible in the destrctive mode to the German nf men, the RAF craft goes down in a lazy decent not seen again due to clouds.

In daytime activity in may have been given as a HSS or bomber shot out of formation, and there are also a couple of other designations below that when a "kill" is suspect.

is this clear syscom ?
let me further this...........

in late 1944 when the Ju 88G-6 was placed into the operational units a fourth crew menber was added to take on equipment details as well as add another pair of eyes, for Mossie watching; and what better way to add substance when a crew made out their after action report for a "kill".

tough as it was to confirm even with 4 crewmen at night, a Pilots Flugbuch could read 1 4-mot in the kills table
In your books, do you have a final tally of kills where the pilots were not given credit due to no witnesses, but the wreckage of the plane was proof someone had shot it down?

Im just wondering how many pilots were shortchanged.
No unfortunately

probably will never be known really. Also when an a/c went down at night the area was radio'd in but as we have discussed the RAF crew could and did many times bail out and the English machine could fly low and away for miles until crashing, with the idea it was confirmed by someone else in that general area. Overlap.....definately, unconfirmed most likely or ? another item of course over large industrial centers is Flak claims vs night fighter claims and that can be mind boggling
Excellent reading, and one thing that seems interesting to me is that the kill verification system of the Russian (Soviet) air forces held many similarities with that of the Luftwaffe.
Witnesses, verbal account with location and time, and the founding of the e/a remains was the rule.

I guess it has to be with the fact that both Air Forces were mainly intended to cooperate with the ground forces in a tactical role. The Soviet case included whole Air Armies subordinated to the Front Commander, and with a full General acting as an air ad visor.

Most of the Russian planes' wreckage lied into the advancing German armies path during the early stages of Barbarossa. The same was true for the Soviet Fronts after Kursk, with most of the German planes falling into Russian held territory.
I wonder if the allies reading the "Ultra" intercepts had any idea their claims of German planes being shot down were a tad exagerated.

Just one note regarding the soviet procedure to confirm victories:

it was everything but reliable. Of the main combatant nations in Europe it was easily the worst system.

The relied heavily on partisans reporting to confirm victories...something that speaks pretty much for itself.
syscom3 said:
Actually it did.

Ultra intercepts were regarded as solid gold intelligence.

And that's why, if through that intelligence the exagerated claims were allowed to stand. Do you really think that those who had access to this information were going to tell 8th AF folks "Hey you guys are off on your claims." That would royally compromise a link to that intellegence product - it's a matter of tipping your hand to those (even they are on your side) who had no "Need to know." :rolleyes:
As well as the risk of compromising security, Ultra intelligence was limited. To decrypt a message, you first have to intercept it. That means it has to be sent by radio, rather than telephone or courier. Much of the Luftwaffe traffic within Germany would have gone via telephone line, and the allies would never have seen it.

Ultra was at it's best picking up information from forward field headquarters, ships and overseas theatres like North Africa, where radio was almost always used, and landlines rare.

After checking all the papers that were submitted, the official confirmation was prepared and sent to the unit. This very long bureaucratic proceedure sometimes took as long as a year!

How does that square with the medals German fighter pilots were awarded? As an example, Galland claimed his 40th kill on 24th September 1940. To quote Galland:

"I then succeeded Gotthard Handrick as Kommodore of JG.26 and received the Oak Leaves from Hitler on September 25 for my 40th victory."

The long involved procedure allowed Galland to make a claim on the 24th, and be in Berlin recieving a medal for it on the 25th.

I believe there is a similar pattern with Marseille, of the medals that followed kill claims being awarded within days of the claims being made.

Is this the case with most of the famous aces? Or were these cases special, or is it just a case that the famous aces were treated differently to the rank and file making their 1st or 4th or 9th kill?
I would have figured that after the war, when the brits and americans were analyzing the air war, ultra dispatches might have been cited.

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