Need a source....

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by diddyriddick, Jul 8, 2010.

  1. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    I'm having a debate with a fellow on another forum regarding the relative experience of Japanese and Commonwealth pilots at the outbreak of war. Anybody got any info?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Is that the outbreak of war with Japan, or the oubreak of World War Two? If the latter, then at least some Commonwealth pilots and aircrew who would combat Japanese aircrew would have had some combat experience perhaps in the ETO and North Africa, which would, presumably, make a difference.
     
  3. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Chris Shores' Bloody Shambles Series has some good info-commentary. I've yet to find a better reference for the period covering the SRA fighting. IIRC, the UK/Commonwealth, of the three major Allied airforces, the Commonwealth enjoyed a mixture of combat veterans and raw recruits. Unfortunately a curious paradox came into effect whereby at times this 'combat experience' actually worked against these vets because they were used to enjoying certain advantages in their equipment. This worked against them when taking on the Japanese as these tactics backfired. They were not alone in this of course and all three airforces suffered from overconfidence vs. an opponent that was typically portrayed as 2nd rate at best....inept at worst.
     
  4. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    Saburo Sakai in his book Samurai went into a lot of detail about the training program the Japanese pilots had to go through and it was some pretty rigorous stuff.

    One thing to remember, the Japanese pilots had been flying in combat over China since 1937.
     
  5. Markus

    Markus Banned

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    "Bloody Shambles" Almost all so called fighter in Malaya pilots had next to no air gunnery and air combat tactics training. Many were reservists who were kept in Malaya because they were judged not fit to fight the real war. Veterans from the Med and Europe were scarce.

    The Japanese pilots not just had more hours but almost all had fought over China.
     
  6. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Shores' commentary summarized it well:

    "Regarding personnel, the Dutch and American pilots and crews were well trained as a rule, but with the odd exception, none possessed even a modicrum of actual operational experience."

    "Apart from some Vildebeest and Blenheim crews, a large preportion of the British Commonwealth aircrew were direct from wartime flying training programme; most were young and low on flying hours. The one advantage the RAF enjoyed over the other friendly airforces in the area was its very thin leavening of personel who had gained some combat experience, albeit under very different conditions and against a different foe. In the six months up to December 1941 manpower of RAF Far East Command was doubled, but as almost all additional personnel were direct from training establishments, by December three quarters of the men were new to Malaya."

    "The picture on the other side of the fence could not have been more different. Both the Army and Navy Air Forces were elite organizations - the naval particularily so. The training of aircrews was one of the most thorough in the world and was, without doubt, the most harsh and stringent. The majority of naval aircrews had gained experience of actual combat conditions in China, some having very considerable operational flying time. Many of the Army pilots and crews had also fought the Russians over the Manchurian plaines during the Summer of 1939, taking part in some of the biggest air battles since World War I. Nearly all their equipment was battle tested, as were their tactics."

    -Bloody Shambles vol 1
     
  7. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    Thank you all very kindly! This fellow whom I am debating insists that the Japanese were inferior in experience, training, and equipment to their Commonwealth counterparts in Malaya.

    I'm just trying to get chapter and verse to prove him wrong. I wonder if Sakai is available as an e-book....

    Again, thanks!
     
  8. Propellorhead

    Propellorhead Member

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    Worth recalling that even RAF pilots in the battle of Britain were expected to fly preposterous Vee formations and only learned the hard way to adopt the Luftwaffe's fingers four.

    Commonwealth pilots in Singapore, Malaya, or Burma, with or without BoB experience were still struggling with incompetent RAF formation doctrines.

    Also recall that the Singapore pilots had Brewster Buffalos. Though some Hurricanes had been landed on the warves these were still in crates when Japan captured Singapore.

    Pilot skills or not the Japanese fighter aircraft had superior agility to both the Buffalo and the Hurricane. I recall some Flying Tigers P-40 aircraft attempted to resist Japan's invasion of Northern Vietnam and engaged japanese fighters whilst the british withdrew through Burma. Flying Tiger pilots were the most experienced Allied pilots in theatre at the time.
     
  9. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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  10. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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  11. Micdrow

    Micdrow “Archive”
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  12. Markus

    Markus Banned

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    Ok, their equipment did have flaws that turned out to be fatal if the enemy had good equipment and used the right tactics but the RAF in Malaya weren´t the AVG. I´m confused how anyone could make such a statement.

    Fortnight of Infamy is another good read as it also includes the DEI and PI.
     
  13. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    That is kind of my thinking, M. It has turned into rather a row.

    Thank you all , again for the info. It has helped a lot!
     
  14. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    #14 JoeB, Jul 11, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2010
    That would seem to make no sense logically, even without any specific knowledge except the numbers and types of fighters arrayed against one another and the outcomes. Japanese fighters in the opening campaigns had only moderate numerical superiority over the Allies overall, and a large % of their force was the Army Type 97, which was decidedly inferior, at least on paper, to types like Buffalo, Hurricane and P-40. If the newer Japanese fighters (Navy Type 0 and Army Type 1) were also inferior and their experience and training as well, it would be very hard to explain the consistent Japanese success in fighter combat against the Allies in those campaigns, not only Malaya, but also in Philippines, Dutch East Indies and Burma, the only major exception in those early months being the AVG, which attained most of its success v the aforementioned Type 97's. Unless one were to deny that fact of Japanese fighter success (which some still do, but not everybody on the internet is willing enough to accept facts to be worth debating, but I'll leave that up to you :)).

    There could be many ways to compare the level of training and experience among fighter arms, but a few simple comparisons would be:
    -how many high v. low hour pilots? A peacetime force of static size would tend to have a relatively flat distribution, somewhat fewer very high time pilots because some would have quit, and others would have been killed or disabled in accidents over the years, which were common in peacetime flying in those days. But still there would be relatively similar numbers of low, medium and high hour pilots. That's what Japanese fighter units of late '41 tended to look like. A rapidly expanding war time force in contrast has a more distinct pyramid shape with rookie pilots far outnumbering high hour pilots, survivors of the smaller pre war air arm or early battles of the war. That's what RAF fighter units of late 1941 tended to look like, and USAAF too, except USAAF wasn't quite as thin at the top not having expanded as much yet from peacetimes size, nor having suffered 2 years of pilot combat losses like the RAF. In the AVG, in contrast to either RAF, USAAF, or Japanese, a disproportionate % were quite experienced military (though not combat) pilots; the AVG had few real rookies.

    -what was the training level of the junior pilots?: because the British were still trying to expand their force despite 2 years of often heavy pilot losses, and USAAF was frantically trying to expand though not suffering losses yet, pilot training before posting to units was not really strong, and as importantly the units often didn't have time to coalesce with experience fully shared between the experienced leaders and least exerienced pilots just posted to the units. The Japanese again were more like a peacetime military force in structure, not under the same pressure to produce large numbers of pilots (at that time, late 1941), nor expanding the number of units that much either.

    -what combat experience was there?: US air arms and AVG had almost none, in RAF the experienced pilots almost always also had combat experience. The Japanese had a somewhat thicker slice of their more experienced pilots with combat experience in China, but this is sometimes overstated. For example in Sakai's unit, Tainan Air Group, less than a third of the pilots profiled in Henry Sakaida's "Winged Samurai", as notable early in the Pacific War had flown in China, and it would surely be a smaller % among pilots not deemed notable. There was a healthy leavening of China veterans in JNAF fighter units, but it wasn't most of them.

    The keys were a manageable % of really junior pilots who were also well trained, and time for the unit to coalesce and the experience of leaders really benefit the less experienced before the unit was thrown into combat. However this situation was difficult or impossible to achieve in case of continuous demand for more fielded units in the face of continuous pilot losses. Later on, the Allies threw such resources at training that they actually could do this, produce ever expanding *high quality* fighter arms, but the British were really struggling with it ca. 1941, and the Japanese failed at it ca. 1943.

    Joe
     
  15. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    I can believe it. There are more than a few out there who still believe the AVG scored a 20:1 ratio against Japanese fighters. Daniel Ford's book on the AVG even has a supporting website but still one will see such statements forwarded and linked to the website as "proof." The first time I bothered to try to correct it (on a another forum), I was called an Axis Fanboy and told i have "no credibility" (despite naming sources) :|
     
  16. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    Regrettably most of my personal WWII library is campaign centered or theater centered. I let most of my aircraft centered books go to make room on the shelves. And I have exactly zero information on commonwealth vs. Japanese in the early stages. So this was all a trememdous help.

    Again, thank you all kindly! As I mentioned in a previous post, it degenerated into verbal insults and said poster was canned for 15 days for it. I've let it go, but he may challenge when he comes back.

    I'm ready if he does.
    ;)
     
  17. Markus

    Markus Banned

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    In their various books of Cull and Shores routinely compare one sides claims in an air battle to the other sides reported losses. 100% overclaiming was the norm for the Germans and the RAF during the French Campaign, over Burma both sides got it more than 100% wrong on many occasions. I´ll look up the fights of the AVG later but the exact ratio is IMO a moot point. One thing we know for sure is that their losses were far lower than that of anyone else and if wiki is correct -it often is in such matters- they scored a ratio around 10:1. Each by itself is most impressive compared to everybody elses performance.
     
  18. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    #18 Nikademus, Jul 13, 2010
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2010
    For the full period (Shores 12/41 - 5/42 :Ford 12/41 - 6/42) I show the AVG scoring a 1.5:1 ratio against IJA fighters while estimates from Ford's work spits out a 2.3:1 ratio by end of June. This is the end summary and should not be considered a constant. (For example, after the first round of exchanges, using Shores, the AVG was actually behind 1.1.2 facing Ki-27 exclusively....ironically they did better after the 64th Sentai entered the picture....due in part to their ambush/guerilla tactics)

    I personally trust Shores' figures better. Ford's work is less well organized and he tends to give benefit of a doubt to the AVG consistantly over RAF claims in battles where both Allied forces participated. Ford's book was valuable though in it's rich collection of pilot accounts which help distill the variables that benefited them during the campaign.

    On why they more competetive vs. other theaters, My observations after reading both books were that AVG pilots were fond of setting up ambushes and tried to set themselves up to attack individual elements of a strike or fighter escort at moments of maximum vulnerability. Several fighter "kills" for example were the result of a tactic done by some AVG pilots whereas they would fly a couple P-40's to a projected spot along an enemy strike's return course to base, hoping to intercept them when they were tired and not alert....then they'd bushwack em and after a pass would run for home. Several 64th Sentai Oscars were downed in this manner. Guess one can say the Oscars were at "low power" at the time. Hardly cricket! [Inside joke this.......one person on the forum where i got the Axis FB label was fond of saying that situations whereby a US plane element lost the vaunted kill ratio in tactical combat was due to them being "at low power" at the time]. While crude, the RAF/AVG also benefited more from early warning systems than in Malaya, a key difference. Not being caught trying to claw for altitude was a major help. Lastly I noted that the RAF fought side by side with them for many of the battles so the AVG were not a one unit wrecking machine.

    In the end though, their pattern of exchange (and that of the RAF which fought by their side) was not any different from the averages i've tallied from other theaters when the opposing sides are within a certain range on the vis-a-vis technology and training scale. The Ki-27 experience was a close match for what the Italians initially went through with their Cr-42's after the RAF started shipping in Hurricanes. Intiially the Falco's held their own quite well but as the campaign lengthened the superiority of the Hurricane began to make itself felt and the gap widened in terms of losses.......but the ultimate exchange ratio still fell within the expected range, not in small part due to the fact that even in cases of large numbers, losses tend to be small on a per battle basis.

    Because the loss numbers tend to be small, it makes it harder to create large gaps in exchange ratios. Unless one or more variables are majorly out of wack, one can expect this time and time again and there's no one reason why. While Chennault stressed BnZ and the pair element, ultimately many fights and skirmishes turned into free for alls where crazy flying, twisting, diving and climbing are described. Thats the norm. The exceptions are the incidents that fall exactly into the docrtinal box used to describe basic tactics. Here the hell for leather approach of many of the AVG pilots probably helped them. It does seem apparant that as the campaign wore on the slow maximum speed of the Ki-27 became more and more of a handicap. The Japanese realized this and by the end of the campaign began shipping whole Sentais back to Japan for re-equipment to Ki-43.
     
  19. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    In short...The Japanese Navy Pilots were far superior in experience training and equipment at the beginning of the Pacific war.They went through a very tough and brutal training process that weeded out all but the best to become aviators, coupled with the zero fighter and experience in China they were well prepared to fight a war. The Commonwealth pilots on the other hand did not yet, and for the most part have combat experience nor did they have frontline fighters that could match the Zero and it's pilots....fastforward 6 months and things were changing dramatically, experience came with time, new aircraft, pilots from other theatres, massive losses at Midway to experieced Japanese pilots and the ballance of aerial power was tipping in favour of the Allied Pilots.
     
  20. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    You pretty much summed up my argument, but he had other ideas. As I said, he got himself canned for 15 days for being disrespectful. Being a general troll, I don't expect him back.
     
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