Kill Counts

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by MrMojok, Mar 22, 2016.

  1. MrMojok

    MrMojok New Member

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    I have been thinking, not so much about individual pilot claims but overall claims. We know overclaiming was rampant in WW2, all participants did it. It seems any time there has been a detailed study done, through detailed analysis and comparison of one side's records to another's, that the figures are inflated. Sometimes by as much as two or three planes claimed shot down for every one that was REALLY shot down.

    As an example, in Bruce Gamble's "Black Sheep" book, sorties and claims are broken down pretty much day by day for the history of the squadron, and where combat took place and Japanese Navy/Army records were available to research (in addition to the US records obviously), every single time without exception both sides overclaimed by anywhere from 50%-300%. There is literally not a single engagement described in the book where either side was correct in the numbers. There are very few occasions when either side was even remotely close.

    You may think Gamble is a hack or whatever, but look at any decent history of the Battle of Britain, written by anyone, and the discrepancies are similar. Or choose any theater/campaign/author you like. In some instances, over a period of time, claims on one side exceed the total inventory of fighters possessed by the enemy in that particular battle or theater. I think this was the case for Luftwaffe claims vs. the VVS, or vice-versa, at some point on the Eastern front.

    So isn't it really impossible to say something like "Plane X shot down 8.1 enemy planes for every one of its type shot down by enemy planes" ? And aren't even the numbers which are repeated as gospel in "America's Hundred Thousand" and every other respected source out there, highly suspect, at best?

    I mentioned "America's Hundred Thousand" but I am not talking specifically about Allied claims. The numbers across the board are all off. Nor am I suggestion the inflated numbers were intentional; it was more due to the chaos and confusion of aerial combat, two fighters shooting at and claiming the same aircraft, planes seen going down trailing smoke that never actually crash but manage to limp home, etc.

    Isn't the only thing we can really say, with any degree of certainty, something like "The Germans and Japanese had more planes shot down than the Allies did" ? Or am I just totally off base here?
     
  2. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Waaay to much emphasis is placed on numbers to try and prove or disprove some pet theory as to how good/bad a particular force or airframe was, in reality it came down to logistics, the VVS may have lost more aircraft against the LW but they won the campaigns and the war on their front.

    If you can sustain higher losses than your enemy and keep fighting your going to win, Russia was able to do just this, and whilst they ultimately took greater casualties they were able to replace the losses and grind the LW down, and along the way they produced improved pilots and aircraft reducing their casualties whilst increasing their enemies!

    That's how wars are won.
     
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  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I have always reckoned cut any claims by half and you wont be too far from the real figures. Some campaigns seem to have terrible overclaiming like the Battle of Britain, Operation Barbarossa first week and Malta. It was only a handful of pilots who seem to have overclaimed deliberately.
     
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