USAAF confirmed kills

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Soren, Sep 24, 2008.

  1. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Knowing that the USAAF didn't divide confirmed kills into ground or air victories I'd be interested to know just how many of the kills scored by the Allied escorts were infact shooting down a/c that were about to land or already sitting on the ground.

    By 1944 the Allies had a habbit of catching German a/c trying to land, shooting them down in the process. The Allies also managed to carry out hundreds of strafing runs on German airfields, knocking out a lot of German a/c.
     
  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Usually, they seperated them. So a pilot might have 15 air kills and another 10 ground kills. Not sure if anyone still counts the ground kills.

    More of an accounting trick to get pilots to go down to ground level and chance it with the AAA batteries to destroy the Luftwaffe when it wouldn't come up for every bomber penetration. While destoying an Airforce on the ground is the most effective way of winning an airwar, getting it done over Germany in 1944/1945 was extremely dangerous. Most of the allied aces that ended up in POW cages during that time were knocked down while strafing airfields.
     
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    USAAF did separate air and ground kills. 8th AF was only unit that awarded ground scores toward 'ace' ranking and USAF rescinded that after WWII.

    You might want to get someting like 8th AF Victory Credits Board microfilm from AHRC if you want the separation. None of the other AF (9th/12th/15th/5th, etc) awarded ground scores although pilots frequently added them on fuselage in the case of some 9th AF pilots.

    If the aircraft just touched the ground in landing and was destroyed - it was a ground score. If it crash landed and was strafed on the ground it was a ground score.

    Kent Miller's two volume book has some errors (as we all do) but he clearly separates the two types of scores for every pilot in the 8th AF. Ditto for all the unit histories. The spreadsheet I sent you last year differentiated between the two types also.

    As to catching a/c taking off or landing it wasn't so common and really didn't play much of a role until the war progressed into late 1944 and so many more Mustang units were available for sweeps deep in enemy territory.

    True about strafing runs which is another reason why the Mustang was so destructive and posed planning issues for LW commanders with regard to dispersal, fuel dump camo, takeoff and landing security, etc as more and more Mustangs were turned loose from bomber escort.

    Strafing also caused more losses to 8th AF FC than all other causes combined.
     
  4. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    as Bill points out and truthful ground strafing took it to the LW due to a variety of reasons and it was a terrible danger to the US pilots but so was to the Lw strafing Soviet A/F's and they did to a large extent, even JG 7 in April of 45 with 3cm and R4M's fying 262's.

    as to stating it was a habit of US fliers not so, check on the air reports; but it really does not matter the least, however to bring your foe down you are going to pursue it
     
  5. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    It would affect kill ratio comparisons though.
     
  6. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    since air to air only compared air to air there were no effects to ratios.

    the only time I have attempted to make anything out of ground score ratios is to try to analyze strafing related losses to number of a/c destroyed - and even that doesn't make a lot of sense simply because a/c were lost shooting up trains and troops, etc that had nothing to do with airfields..

    the air to air ratios that I put together are all about shoot downs compared to 'shot down' or 'unknown - but LW observed in area' - I lump the two together for air to air ratios.
     
  7. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    But wouldn't aircraft shot down while coming in for landing count as Air-to-Air kills. (particularly important in the case of the jets)
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    absolutely - and more than a few times marauding Mustangs caught a/c taking off, climbing out, coming down, getting into a pattern and landing. Same as German fighters managed during Bodenplatte but with far less success.

    If wheels were on the ground it was a ground score.

    As there were no other distinctions it would be impossible to state "this % was shot down in the area of an airfield and we presume it was, or might have been, preparing for a landing". I don't think anybody cared, don't know why it is important - other than a reference to the target pilot's lack of situational awareness... and he doesn't care anymore.
     
  9. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    I agree with Bill's comments, downed is downed in terms of military result. For that matter even destruction on the ground is the same for the a/c, but as he said those statistics were not mixed together.

    However on jets 'shot down while taking off and landing' I think the impression of that tends to exceed the reality. Go through the German and Allied sides of each Me-262 combat in Foreman and Harvey "Me-262 Combat Diary". There are other later sources examining some combats in more detail but that's still a good book IMO. Not many cases were jets literally landing and taking off (as in wheels down). A higher % may have been in general vicinity of their fields though a lot don't obviously fit that description either. Many downed jets may have been fuel critical on the way back from a mission, but short legs was a disadvantage of early jets. And, long range and endurance was the strong suit of the P-51 even among piston planes. And it didn't come for free: the P-51 was relatively big and heavy for the power of its engine compared to the real piston hot rods of its time, but size allowed it to carry lots of fuel.

    WWII situations where one side's fighers had a big (real) air-air kill ratio advantage often involved preying on the opponent around his airfields, with the lopsided air-air results occurring alonside additional losses inflicted on the ground (Japanese v Allies in early months of Pac War, F6F carrier raids v. land bases ca. 1944, Germans v Soviets 1941, Germans v various in Continental Europe campaigns of 1940, etc).

    Joe
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    and taking off, while vulnerable with not much airspeed and no altitude, wasn't same as helpless as JC Meyer and Bill Whisner demonstrated shooting down three as theri gear was coming up ay Asch during Bodenplatte.
     
  11. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    For credited USAAF shoot downs, you might want to look at USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, WWII by Wesley P. Newton, Jr., Calvin F. Senning, et al, published by the Office of Air Force History, Headquarters USAF, 1978

    http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/numbered_studies/1039707.pdf

    27+ Mb and some 678 pages but interesting data and text info, especially this part

    “Furthermore, for the Army Air Forces to record a claim for the destruction of an enemy aircraft as a credit, the flyer had to be a member of the Army Air Forces or an allied flyer assigned or attached to an Army Air Forces unit engaged in air-to-air combat during the period 7 December 1941 to 14 August 1945.” (Page 7)

    Note “air-to-air combat”; nothing about planes on the ground.

    Further, the document goes on to say, “An aircraft was deemed as destroyed if it were a heavier-than-air craft, manned and which one might expect to be armed, that, as a result of air-to-air action, crashed into the ground or water, disintegrated in the air, or was abandoned by its pilot. Credit was also given for intentional ramming of an enemy aircraft or for maneuvering in such a way as to cause the enemy plane to crash.” (Page 8)

    Pretty much eliminates the concept of “credit” for hosing down parked airplanes, especially for the USAAF.

    This site, a re-write of the USAAF Statistical Digest gives generic by general type but separate air and ground totals.

    United States Army Air Forces in World War II

    If you're interested and have the patience to deal with the clunky interface, you can also look at

    Air Force Historical Research Agency - Aerial Victory Credits

    Here, once you break the code, you can bring up large numbers of entries and, indeed, after some deft copying and pasting, end up with a spread sheet version of Newton and Senning . . . probably a couple of slight differences . . . N S follow the custom of some night fighter squadrons of awarding the credit to each member of the crew; becomes pretty obvious when you see a PFC with a victory credit. The afhra.maxwell database, as I recall leaves, those out or at least makes them easier to find and cull out yourself if you want (been a while since I've looked at the complete results).

    Rich
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Dr Frank Olynyk did some great work gathering late war VCB reports and returning POW de-briefings for April/May 1945 that were in some cases left out of 8th AF VCB totals, plus gathering most of the Encounter Reports and assimilating them into a slightly more complete set of tables - but unlike USAF 85 he also includes Americans like Lance Wade who flew for RAF, and also includes the USN/USMC totals.

    There are differences between the USAF 85 and Olynyk at the squadron level totals/group HQ records which normalize ok at Group level so I still tend to go with USAF 85 as it is slightly more conservative. I think 85 has fifteen fewer air to air awards than Olynyk for 8th AF.
     
  13. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Lots of outside factors influenced kill ratios....thats what makes them so tiresome to argue at times. :twisted:

    Depended on the nation and the time period. The Germans and British counted any A2A interaction that resulted in a downed aircraft as a kill. This included causing a plane to crash even without bullet strike. The phrase....all's fair in love and war comes to mind. Timing one's attacks to catch an enemy in the act of landing or taking off was an oft sought situation and not just involving the jets.
     
  14. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    The whole ground kill thing was something of a scam, thought up by 8th Air Force Fighter Command, in keeping with the change in mission that occured when Doolittle came in and the emphasis went from Bomber Support to Destruction of the Luftwaffe. At that point, 8th Bomber Command also took on the unwitting but effective job of being bait for the German Fighters. Not sure that made anyone happy in 8th Bomber Groups.

    After the Big Week and similar air battles in the earlier part of 1944, the Luftwaffe started picking it's fight, taking advantage of the initiative that derived from a somewhat predictable enemy. 8th Fighter was less effective at destroying the Luftwaffe when the Luftwaffe didn't come up to fight all the time.

    The solution, awarding kills for ground attacks, was more an administrative act than a natural evolution of the Air War. It gave aggressive 8th Fighter pilots an incentive to attack very dangerous air bases. Otherwise, the desire and number of attacks would've been significantly less.

    The tactic worked. It pressured the Luftwaffe on their home bases. It also cost the flying careers and lives of plenty of American fighter pilots.
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    That pretty much sums it up.

    On the positive side the far ranging, unpredictible attacks from Berlin to Munich on those airfields provided logistical nightmares for Luftwaffe planners who could no longer count on leisurely taking off, forming up and climbing to altitude - unmolested. In Galland's opinion this was the 'unsung' value the 51 brought to the ETO - and the visible value was turning the fighters loose and letting 8th AF pilots get aggressive... seeking fights everywhere.
     
  16. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Yeah, the LW should've been allowed to go after the fighters instead of being forced to cencentrate on the bombers, it was like marching into machinegun fire sometimes. The LW should've been allowed to be more aggressive.
     
  17. wh1skea

    wh1skea New Member

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    After looking at over the lists, it makes me wonder how many were left off. I noticed Lt. Edward Pogue wasn't on the list. Does this mean that the 7 kills painted on the canopy of his P-51D, Chatanooga Choo-Choo, weren't actual kills? Or did he just suffer the same fate as the submarine commanders in the Pacific with the JANAC report. (not getting credit for a kill due to lack of enemy paperwork after capitulation.)
     
  18. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Edward Pogue was credited with 6 destroyed and 4 damaged - all on the ground and thus will not show up on an air ace list.

    Regards,

    Bill
     
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