USAAF Study 85

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by GregP, May 27, 2015.

  1. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #1 GregP, May 27, 2015
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    I deleted this file because I found a few entries with text in place of victory credits.
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Greg I perused that file some time ago - perhaps before you made corrections. I found duplicate records and missing records that might have happened when you did the conversion. I did mine the hard way and line by line entered the 15000+ and then spent a man month cleaning up my mistakes by a.) organizing each squadron by date, then checking the totals, and line by line compare my spreadsheet squadron/unit to the USAF 85 Book - Then I researched transition dates for new a/c types as well as first VC date in the new one. Then I collected units into groups by AF.

    Damned long process and I am still cleaning up the MTO. In retrospect I wish I had not consolidated multiple victory entries for a pilot into the total because that is where most of the errors existed

    For those that wish to get the data I would suggest that they start with your spreadsheet and have the hard copy PDF available and organize it into Alphabetical by Date ,as well as Victory Credits by Unit so that the user can first organize the spreadsheet by Unit and date - to check with Victory credits by Unit.

    I estimate that I put well over 2000 man hours to enter and clean mine up. Frank Olynyk found a way to scrape the USAFHRC data base and populate an Access data base - but the HRC data base is down


    Make SURE that the Unit record count and totals are correct
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #3 GregP, May 27, 2015
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    Hi Bill,

    Thanks for the review above, I had the same issues and went back for a second go at it ... this was actually my second try at the file, and I corrected a LOT of things from the first attempt.

    Actually, if you have any time, it would be nice if you could check a few things and see if any issues remain. Not a LOT of time, but maybe a few things you remember from the first attempt. I checked and found issues with the first one, but this one went MUCH smoother and I haven't found any issues against the original data file. Maybe a quick look at MTO victories against yours?

    Doing a conversion on a text file in Excel has issues until you do one and then look over the results for better ways to do things. My first attempt took 3 weeks and this one took about a 6 hours with better understanding of the record structure and how to deal with missing fields in some records. There were instances of things like "1st Lieutenant" in thousands of records and "1 LT" in a few.

    So ... a short review should reveal if this file has issues. If it does, the issues are with the data or the original text type file. I did not check the original data file against the Report 85 pdf that was scanned.

    When I retrieve scanned Report 85 today it is not very usable for me. The scanning did not result in a format useful to even a character recognition program. The file I used for this came from Air Force Histocial Research Agency website some years back, but was in a format that resulted in readeable text. I'm not even sure if it is there today. It has the same first record on the first 10 pages, the middle 10 pages or so, and the last 10 pages. It has the same last record, and the same number of records and pages.

    Maybe someone could help out with a cursory check. I have done several and found no discrepancies in this one. It is still a file that was done some time back, but this is the file I use for US WWII victories today.

    My inent here is to provide a start for those interested in WWII victory totals by giving out the US data. I have no other aganda and welcome feedback.

    Now if only I could find a similar data file for the US Navy / Marines!

    My Navy data comes from such sources as I could find, but the real meat of the data for the Navy has victories by Type and theater and base (land or carrier), but does not break it out by pilot name. That is frustrating, and I'm still looking for data at least several times most months even when I'm busy.
     
  4. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #4 GregP, May 27, 2015
    Last edited: May 27, 2015
    Hi Bill,

    You were right. I did some more detailed checking and found several records with roman numerals instead of numbers. I fixed it and deleted the above file.

    There wasn't any interest anyway, but now at least I know what they did.

    They blew up the Report 85 pages, scanned the enlargements, and ran them through a character recognition program, all without checking them for consistent results. If I had doine that as an engineer, I'd have been fired. If you can find a column with errors in it, it's at least easy to check for more.

    Your feedback made me go look through it. Thanks. It's up to snuff now.
     
  5. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I'll give you mine when I am done
     
  6. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I'd be happy to swap some files with you.

    This time I'd just burn a DVD and snail mail it. Some files are emailable.
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #7 drgondog, May 28, 2015
    Last edited: May 28, 2015
    Greg - you have put your finger on precisely why I do not yet have any 'trust' in the USN/USMC Victory Credits. Until I find a repository purported to be Encounter Reports vetted by Intelligence Officers and signed by witness confirming the destruction of the aircraft claimed - and subsequently awarded the VC's, are to me are about like reviewing each 8th AF Bomb Group victory credits and accepting them as reasonable... or more seriously accepting all claims passed on by fighter squadron Intelligence to 8th AF VCB. I know from my own research of Group Intelligence roll ups to 8th AF FC for claims of A/c destroyed that perhaps 10-15% were reduced to Probable or more often Damaged on the subsequent VCB report.

    All of the reports from 8th and 9th AF Fighter Groups were accompanied with all Encounter Reports, witnessed - and the combat film in varying condition and clarity,

    Frank Olynyk devotes page 4 and 5 of Stars and Bars to specifically touch on the diversity of reporting, usually limited to a report prepared by an intelligence officer which listed the claims. In all cases he was the single and sole arbiter of the classification - the pilots did not prepare an Encounter Report and the records as you noted were all kept at squadron level - rolling up to the Ship monthly report. The USMC had a similar process. The construction of pilot victory lists were performed at USMC HQ and constructed from the field reports sent from the field. All the subsequent USN individual credits were painstakingly gathered by hand from each of those reports post war as individual entries for each pilot by squadron by ship, the added to the same pilot's record for service in another squadron,.. with no supporting detail and unknown edit process.

    Simply stated - there was no review process or victory credits board with an established process or rules to make judgments for either the USN or USMC based on a reported individual encounter. The IO ruled. Case closed. Report prepared and sent on - as is - with no supporting detail.

    All formal VCB's have the inherent flaws of trying to make judgments based on written reports but at least ETO and MTO AAF processes were written, and the paper trail from claim to Board Credit is available for third party assessment.
     
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  8. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I haven't found a good source for Navy data either. Until I do, their reports and studies are all I have to go on. I view them as the best I can do given the data at this time. I think they were more accurate than reports from the ETO, but "more accurate" doesn't mean without error.

    If I don't use the data I can find, I have no basis for discussing anything other than books which claim sources I largely distrust.

    I don't think other countries' data are any better and sometimes much is missing or lost. Not all the German data survivied for sure.

    Leaves me with little to really hang my hat on, but the subject is interesting to me.
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    That would beg the questions:
    1.) If individual statements are documented and witnessed and accompanied by combat film, is that in your opinion less likely to be accurate (ETO) than a summary report written up without attached individual statements or attested to by a witness or unaccompanied by combat film (USN/USMC)

    2.) If an official body of persons (AAFVCB-8th and 9th AF)responsible for the parsing of all inbound Encounter Reports and attached combat film as available - whose duty is to act as an audit to the victory credit claims issued by separate fighter squadrons following Their detailed de-briefings of the fighter pilot's claims and written statements and review of the film, is that less likely to be accurate that compilation and retransmitting individual reports with no supporting personal statements ant attestations (USN/USMC) ??

    What are your thoughts regarding why the USN/USMC process is more reliable with respect to accuracy - granting that neither is perfect?
     
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  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I think the Pacific data was a bit more reliable due to much smaller engagements, better weather, and lower altitude. If 4 Wildcats engage 4 - 8 enemies, it would be MUCH easier to keep track of who did what than in a large engagement higher up over clouds. The combat was generally MUCH lower than in Europe. So, when someone went down, you could probably see the crash a much larger percent of the time than if the combat were above clouds at 20,000+ feet.

    It is a matter of numbers, average weather, and lower altitude.

    I'd like to see some comparison of Japanese day-to-day data with US claims and vice-versa, but I also don't think a Zero with bullet holes in the tanks usually made it home over more than a hundred miles or so. They had a habit of flying much farther than that on missions.

    A real study of WWII aerial data from all sides would be a welcome read indeed!

    However, we have what we have until that study appears. If I were really "retired," I might like to participate in it. The problem for me would be (1) finding the data and then (2) reading Japanese, Russian, and German. I'd address the problems as best I could if I could find the data.

    Until then I don't like arguing over how much overclaiming there was. Without the study, overclaim percentages are a SWAG by somebody, and my SWAG or yours is as good as anybody else's. I use the numbers I have and leave the overclaim reductions to such time as when we KNOW, if that ever happens.

    When I do calculations on the numbers, it is to the data I have access to. I make no claims as to how accurate the data are. But if everyone overclaims to about the same percent, then the deductions we can make are pretty good relative to one another. If there is someone out there with real data, then maybe our comparions aren't so accurate. So far, I don't see anyone coming out with data that are claimed to be thoroughly reviewed and vetted against enemy loss data.

    I don't think we all even agree what a "victory" is. My definition is probably different from another person's. To me, if the enemy plane went down out of combat, then that is a victory even if parts of it were later returned to the air. No pilot has control over the resourcefullness of enemy crew chiefs. So if one of us does come up with a "vetted" list, the other would justifiably have some doubts as to what the real "victory" count should be if the term "victory" doesn't mean the same to everyone.

    It's a big subject, isn't it?
     
  11. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    My disagreement with your approach was only to highlight that the USN and USMC did not have a documented and followed Process to itemize and report each engagement by the pilot claiming an aircraft destroyed, evaluate each based on the interview, then pass the evidence to a dispassionate and objective (no ownership in unit records or pride of accomplishment)- then have the evidence available and verifiable for future investigation.

    The AAF ETO had and followed this process, the USN and USMC did not - and my question to you was "how and why does USN/USMC reporting become more accurate in your opinion, than the ETO)
     
  12. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #12 GregP, May 31, 2015
    Last edited: May 31, 2015
    I answered that above.

    Fewer aircraft in the combat at the same time, better weather, and lower altitude. Together it means that everyone could usually, but not all the time, see more of what was happening, see the crashes into the water, and the damaged participants were usually many miles over water from home with no way to force land and walk away leaving parts to be salvaged, making limping home several hundred mile MUCH more improbable.

    All that together adds up to more accurate reporting in general to me.

    If it doesn't to you, then we just don't see things alike. It's a theory, not proven fact. I've heard it maybe a hundred times from Naval aviators involved in presentations, so it is a theory with a bit of credence to me personally ... they were there and I wasn't.

    This is a discussion forum, not a court of inquiry. I put the theory out there for people in here to consider. They are free to not like the theory and it won't change the real story one way or another and, untl we see a study that makes sense of the claims and "awarded" victories with wide acclaim as the truth, we are left to look at the numbers in the various lists from the services of the countries involved ... if we can even find the data. Many kill lists I find on the Magnus site have data I have seen nowhere else. Are those data any good? I don't really know and have little chance of proving it one way or another.

    I'd agree to participate in a group study with defined parameters, but I also don't have the same time available a retired person does.

    Your take on the US victory list is probaby a very good one and could well be the best in the world. I think mine is pretty good, too. But I don't really care ± a few kills, not because I think I am right and you are wrong, but because nobody KNOWS for sure. We're just saying, "My list is better and here's why I think that ..."

    Great subject to discuss, but someone always throws a curve in there somewhere with data out of thin air referenced from some source I can't even prove exists. It makes my tolerance for dicussions like this about "proof" very low.

    If you have some good proof the Pacific victory list is NOT a decently good one, tell me. I really can't justify anything about victory lists I didn't have a hand in generating. They were what they were before I was born. I'm just trying to decide how to make use of them or if, indeed, there is any good use for them at all. The jury is still out at this time.
     
  13. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I thought I asked a simple question regarding level of credibility based on process - namely a.) eyewitness and/or combat film versus narrative at the squadron level, and b. Review of individual claims and squadron credits by a duly constituted review Board versus no review at all.

    I would cite a very specific example of 358FS William Allen, who while returning with an oxygen problem encountered 15+ 109s with bombs heading west. He bounced them and returned with a claim of 5-0-2. His claim was rejected by the VCB and he was awarded zero because him combat film was fogged. March 2, 1945

    Do you have a comparable claim in mind by USN in which any claims were rejected after submitted by squadron intelligence - at any level.

    As to better assessment due to small engagements - how would Marianas Turkey Shoot or the many raids on Truk and Rabaul fit in to your equations?

    I'm not knocking your belief system - you gather facts differently from me and we can agree to disagree on judgment based on our own methods.
     
  14. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hope you wont mid it, Bill, I'll start a thread about the Marianas turkey shooting claims and losses.
     
  15. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The turkey shoot is on of the exceptions to the small enagements. I think the Douglas Devestator attack on the Japanese fleet and the Yamamoto mission are great examples of knowing the exact losses and victories. They may argue over hwo gets the credits, but everyone agrees on the losses.

    When I look at victories I am not very interested in individual missions unless I am specifically looking up a mission for a specific pilot. That is, I have almost never been curious about a mission for a specific squadron or group. The two above are exceptions. Usually I am looking to see if I can find totals by name, data, etc.

    It is a source of frustration that we didn't record the aircraft type of the victor and victim along with the score. Not recording all the data is just plain od stupid. Later generations will not have the resources to fill it in all correctly and the real story is just loast to history through laziness. At least the Germans recorded the victom type and coordinates and altitude of the victim a good deal of the time. It makes at least that data available to those who are interested.
     
  16. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    But Greg, the AAF Encounter Report Did record the type a/c flown and shot down, the time, the place, the squadron - and in many examples the number of rounds fired.
     
  17. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Are they summarized anywhere or do we have to read each and every encounter report? If we have to look ateach one, is there a good place to find them online" If not, can they be ordered via snail mail?

    The online encounter reports I have come across are just a few and were definitely not inclusive of much of the duration of the war.

    A whole lot of the problem with analyzing data is finding it!
     
  18. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    USAFHRC has the 8th and 9th AF VCB which has a.) a roll up alphabetically for total air and ground credits, and b.) individual records by pilot by day - the latter has the enemy a/c destroyed, damaged or probably destroyed by type - or in the case of ground credits will have u/I t/e or s/e for 'unidentified twin engine/single engine'. Offhand I don't recall a case where an air credit was an 'unidentified' but there were a significant count of Me 209 or Long Nose Fw 190 when no such a/c existed at the time - like March, 1944
     
  19. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #19 GregP, Jun 1, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
    It is very easy to misidentify an aircraft with a fleeting glimpse of it or else just a view from the rea quarter, so I'm not at all surprised about a few mis-ID's. I thank you for the information ... but what is a "VCB?"
     
  20. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Actually, I think the Yamamoto Mission highlights the problem of accounting for pilots' claims. USAAF pilots engaged in the mission claimed 3xBetty and 1xZero shot down when, in reality, only 2xBetty aircraft were destroyed. The intense focus on that raid prompted a thorough review, even though there was no official debrief of the pilots immediately following the raid. I'm pretty certain that Lanphier's claim to the Zero was later declined (although he was originally credited with the kill) while Holmes' claim to one of the Betty airframes was subsequently shared with Barber. These conclusions were only reached after intensive, multi-year investigations. Such focus was not given to every single engagement so who knows how many other "small engagements" resulted in 100% overclaiming as was the case here?
     
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