Mis Idents

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1st Lieutenant
Apr 14, 2005
niagara falls
I've noticed in books and in listening to pilots most weren't aware of what the opposition was flying . Yes they would know it was a 190 but they were differentiated by the term longnose , a 109 was a 109 not a 109e or an 109f and many a b17 would fire on anything that flew near by . If you look at the US ident manuals in another thread some of the aircraft listed I wasn't even aware existed and what is depicted is almost kidlike renderings (I could draw a better he111 and my art is stickmen) . So when these guys got into a furball they didn't have the knowledge of whether their foe was good in the weeds or up top it was come as you are . I wonder how accurate claims of types shot down are considering the speed and time that you had a visual on your foe
The real kills for most air-to-air claims are about 1/3 to 1/2 of the number claimed.

The reason is not dishonesty, but combat. If two B-17 gunners were shooting at the same aircraft and it caught fire and went down, both probably thought THEY had killed it, and claimed it that way. If the fire later went out and the palne glided or landed safely and was subsequently repaired, then we claimed two that resulted in a real loss of zero.

Much the same can be said of fighter-versus-fighter combat in many situations, and a sudden burst of fire doesn't always mean a kill.

Happened in ALL WWII air forces, but happens much more infrequently today since most missions are flown with MANY fewer aircraft and, MUCH better weapons, and modern radar confirmation of the real losses.

As for bomber gunners, they thought EVERYTHING was hostile. The educated bomber gunner who could recognize a P-47 from an FW 190 was something of a minor rarity.
Another example I read about in the book Mohawks over Burma is the RAF Hurricanes always were a constant worry for the P36 pilots as the Hurricane guys figured if it was a radial engune it was Japanese and hence attacked.

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