Incentives and it's possible negative results in a war effort.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Rufus123, Sep 28, 2013.

  1. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    In economics they talk a lot about the sometimes negative effects of an incentive that had good intentions.

    I wonder If once in awhile instead of getting the next kill on your score there was something the pilot should have done instead but was not.

    Perhaps it would have been better for the war effort to do X instead of Y but it became engrained to get that next kill towards ace status or enhance ace status.
     
  2. silence

    silence Active Member

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    I recall reading once that one of the major fighter arms - I want to say the IJN - didn't acknowledge individual kills but only unit kills, in order to foster teamwork rather than competition.
     
  3. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    The RFC (Early RAF.), in WW1 did not count individual "kills".
    What is it exactly, you are asking?
     
  4. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    Stephen Bungey's book Alemein (he of the Battle of Britain book) talks about Marseille in North Africa, who ran up a massive score against allied fighters.. and contributed just about nothing to the war effort.

    While he was larking about, German troops on the ground were being bombed to all heck. But he got lots of medals and it made good propaganda (he was also quite good looking and did a good photo).

    That was definitely a case where someone should have given him a good kick and told him to do his job, like kill bombers before they blew the heck of the guys on the ground. Instead he was rewarded (which of course encouraged others to do the same). A classic example of what is called 'perverse incentives', where the incentives encourage people to do the opposite of what is (at least claimed) to be wanted.
     
  5. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    OklSkeptic gave an example.

    Things like this.

    Sometimes it might be positive for the war effort to pursue a cripple heading for home but other times it might be better for the war effort to let that one go and go after a healthy plane still attacking your forces. It would just depend but the added kill for the individual causes him to act in away that is not to the best benefit.

    In the work place there are times when someone does not want others to gain knowledge and skills so that they can be the best of the group. Perhaps someone in a fighter group wants the highest score refuses to help others. Maybe even make choices in flight that are more helpful to his own score than the war effort.

    Maybe someone has been allowed to free hunt for awhile and has four kills. Later they are ordered to support ground forces in a critical situation and instead he runs off to go hunting.

    This could be a possibility... A person might not put the same effort in taking out a train since it he does not count towards ace status.
     
  6. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    I can think of examples in different arenas, but specifically within this one, Leigh Mallory's Big Wings were self serving and in reality were more effort to create in the air than their actual worth once the aircraft were in formation, since in the time it took to form the massed formations, the enemy aircraft had scarpered, or so the argument went.
     
  7. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    Dead (as in many RAF pilots dead) true. Too complex, too slow, hard to manage, target rich environment for the enemy and so on. The 'leaning towards the enemy' approach by LM (etc) in 41/42 was disasterous.
    Bader's 'big wing' fallacy' was proven to be also disasterous. But Bader (as good as he was a pilot and a squadron leader) was a throwback to a different era, with useless tactics.

    You know (and LM backed on this) he wanted to have his 'big wing' swan around all over the place and never listen to ground control, or even tell them where he was going. HE would control it..
    So he could go into 11 group's airspace or wherever he wanted, when he wanted, or just for the nice view or something. Miracle there wasn't more blue-on-blue attacks because of it.

    Over that 'leaning' period the RAF threw away about a 1,000 planes and pilots and achieved precisely nothing. And always complained against any going to Malta or North Africa (NA), naturally Portal (head of the RAF) sided with LM (as he did Harris) and Douglas. What a man Portal was, worth many, many divisions to the Germans (or Grupes to the Luftwaffe).

    I have mentioned here before about the proven documentary proof of Portal working assiduously to sabotage a LR fighter. Even right to the very end.
    You can add his fighting against resources to Coastal Command, against night fighter support for the bombers, Spitfires to Malta and NA (let alone Asia) hatred of CAS and so on.

    The blimpish Bomber Command (over the top chaps and run straight at those machine guns, shout and scream loudly too just in case they they don't know you are coming) was perfectly captured in RV Jones book, trying to get just one Mossie for finding out the German night fighter radar freqs. And this person just wanted to talk about model trains.... while his crews were being slaughtered nightly.

    Hate to he so scathing, but when you read the details about these people and the decisions they made ... a very sad and sorry tale. The RAF's successes were because, usually in the bitter teeth of official opposition (the classic was the Battle of Mareth, when the RAF in NA perfected CAS ... the RAF HQ censored), there were an incredibly large number of very talented people at the lower levels of command who went and did things. Interestingly the Banff strike wing doesn't come into this, mainly because it's head was .. Max Aitkin, who's father was ... Beaverbrook ... who just happened to own how many newspapers...? So they were left to get on with the job and got all the goodies that Coastal Command had been hanging out for years (Max would go straight to the top if something got in his way) and showed what could have been done in so many areas much earlier.
     
  8. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    And, in 1941-42 at a time when other theatres (eg Malta) desperately needed up to date fighters like Spitfires they were thrown scraps, while FC in Britain piled up and squandered its resources in the useless "leaning toward France" policy inspired by LM.
     
  9. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    Great educational posts you two.
     
  10. bbear

    bbear Member

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    OldSkeptic, that's qiitie a firm line to take on Portal. Are you sure no other interprtation of the facts is possible? For example could it not be that he was playing politics? The 8th was wedded to precision daylight raids. By about 1942 the RAF were certain this was an impossibility. To avoid large US losses that he could see coming (and the political consequences thereof - weakening of US commmitment to ETO) Portal would have every incentive (that word again) to deny all fighter support he could to the 8th including witholding support for a VLR fighter and tying up FC with Mallory''s 'rhubarbs' etc. After all if Malllory had been right he Portal wold be vindicated - if not then at least he would have proven that day precision fighter bombers were obsolete. Portal was a 'bomber theorist'. He woud want he US bombers to be successful, not to fail. Where's the incentive?
     
  11. Hop

    Hop Member

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    If you think Fighter Command was being squandered in 1941/42, imagine how much worse it would have been using Spitfire Vs with an extra 700 lbs of fuel to carry out deep penetration raids into Germany.

    Portal needed more fighters. He wasn't prepared to have production reduced so that longer range fighters could be built. He didn't really want longer range. He knew he didn't have enough fighters to carry out daylight raids on Germany, his aircraft were seeing all the combat they could cope with over France. So what was the point of longer range? What was the point of Spitfires hitting the coast of France, and Luftwaffe interceptors, with an extra 700 lbs of internal fuel? It would put them at more of a disadvantage than they were historically.

    When the 8th AF started flying escorted missions in to Germany they had RAF fighter cover at the start of the mission. That RAF fighter cover made it difficult for the Luftwaffe to intercept the US aircraft over the channel or coast. Without the RAF cover, the obvious option for the Luftwaffe would have been to intercept the 8th AF Mustangs over the channel, forcing them to drop their tanks and making it impossible for them to continue the escort in to Germany.

    In 1941/42 the RAF just didn't have enough fighters to provide both the short range and long range escort forces.
     
  12. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    What is Portal?
     
  13. bbear

    bbear Member

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  14. Reegor

    Reegor Member

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    According to a very interesting thesis by Dr. Ernst Stilla, unfortunately mainly in German and never published as a book, the Luftwaffe made a very serious error in how it selected and promoted leaders. THe incentives were for individual effort, not collective effort or mentoring new pilots.

    I had parts of it translated and used them in a working paper, which compared flight discipline of different AFs during and after WW2. Here is an excerpt. More on this subject in my paper, on which comments are very welcome.

    The Luftwaffe Fighting For Air Supremacy

    Excerpts from:
    Ernst Stilla,
    Die Luftwaffe im Kampf um die Luftherrschaft: Entscheidende Einflussgrößen bei der Niederlage der Luftwaffe im Abwehrkampf im Westen und über Deutschland im Zweiten Weltkrieg unter besonderer Berücksichtigung der Faktoren „Luftrüstung“, „Forschung und Entwicklung“ und „Human Ressourcen“.
    PhD thesis, Rheinische Friedrichs-Wilhelms-Universität, Bonn, 2005

    Translation by Carola Betzold December 2012
    ETH Zurich, Centre for Comparative and International Studies
    IFW, Haldeneggsteig 4, 8092 Zurich, Switzerland
    +41 44 632 4858, [email protected]

    Edits Prof. Roger Bohn, UC San Diego,
    [email protected]
    version: December 11, 2012

    Tentative translation of thesis title:
    The Air Force in the battle for air supremacy: Major influences in the defeat of the Luftwaffe in the defensive battle in West Germany in the Second World War, with particular emphasis on the factors of "air defense", "research and development" and "human resources".

    pages 243ff
    g) Flight discipline and team spirit

    .....
    In the end however, the decisive [harmful] element of the army's promotion policy, with regard to its direct effects on fighter units, proved to be two factors that started with the Spain mission: focusing on the individual's kills – highly relevant for propaganda purposes – and accentuating the fighter pilot as a fierce individual, in line with how he was perceived as "knight of the skies" by both the Air Force and civilian society. "As their number of kills soared, so did their officer career. Within only a few months, they had advanced to the level of squadron commodores, with the corresponding promotions. He who did not kill could not assert himself as unit leader for long. (…) The front units were exclusively led by "aces", whose main focus and ambition consisted, and had to consist, in leading the squadron's kill list, and in the squadron's kills, in turn, being ahead of those of other fighter squadrons."1391
    The results of such a staffing policy were twofold. On the one hand, this focus on kill numbers largely marginalized planning, logistic, or pedagogical abilities or even experiences and natural authority as promotion criterions. This meant that [the army] promoted officers who were not up to the leadership tasks, neither in terms of character nor in terms of intellect, and who were unable, as described above, to clean the disciplinary conditions, rather worsening them.1392
    Furthermore, serious operational difficulties emerged. When a fighter group attacked [American] bombers, they rarely achieved any kills on their first pass. The enemy's concentrated defensive firing prevented precise target approaches, and the armor of the heavy American bombers was too strong to be destroyed with a few short bursts. Hence, the first attacks aimed only at dispersing the bomber formations that protected each other, so as to neutralize [the enemy's] exponentiating defensive forces. When, as a result of evasive maneuvers or declining aircraft performance due to initial damage, a unit broke into single aircrafts or tiny groups of two to three bombers, it was much easier to fight them. The Air Force consequently distinguished between "shooting out" and actually "shooting down". "Shooting out", that is, damaging an enemy bomber and its leaving the formation as a result, was of crucial importance for how the general situation in an air battle developed, since it allowed to disperse and thus to destroy the unit.1393
    The "team players", however, were at this point in time no longer in a position to assert such claims, since preference of the "aces" had led to the "team players" stagnating at lower ranks.1394 Furthermore, Göring, in consultation with Galland, had until 1943 campaigned for replacing such "unproductive", older fighter pilots and transferring them to battle pilot units and reconnaissance units, and thus focused attention on "shooting down" instead of "shooting out".1395
    These problems were acknowledged over the course of 1943 and rhetoric changed accordingly;1396 similarly, a point system was introduced which rewarded shooting out accordingly. However, such partial solutions could obviously still not solve the fundamental problem. "Serious commodores (…) have identified [picking over the bones] as the basic problem of our failures," noted Galland in the fall of 1943.1398
    Because promotions were based on shooting down and shooting out, respectively, and not the number of missions, or in the case of leading officers on their tactical decisions, some had a narrow view of the total [situation]. Squadron and group leaders, who actually should have been supposed to keep the unit together, to lead them to the correct attack position and to gather them after a first wave [of attacks] and start a new attack, ended up being assessed according to the point system, just like their subordinates. The tactical leadership was often neglected because of the "kill pressure" that accordingly also applied to the unit leader: "This not only led to the captains, commanders and even commodores being evaluated like section leaders or flight leaders in the best of cases; it also resulted in most of them behaving as such in the air."1399
    Integration of young pilots into the unit and preparing them for the front suffered from this, too. A large part of the unit leaders remained focused on their own success and neglected to support young pilots. Because serious pressure from higher levels was lacking, integration of young pilots continued to rely on the individual character disposition of the respective unit leader.1400
    Targeted promotion of leadership capacities only begun in the Air Force at a stage where the number of experienced fighter pilots was rapidly decreasing and taking individual personalities out for 3- to 4-week unit leader courses left gaps that were hard to fill and which in turn led to further heavy losses: all reform efforts were too late.1401

    (the 4 digit numbers are footnotes).
     
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