WWII aerial combat altitude. Reality check.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Aug 23, 2013.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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  2. redcoat

    redcoat Active Member

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    What reality check ?
    We all know that the Soviet Air force was a tactical formation and therefore operated at a far lower altitude than the strategic bomber forces in the west.
     
  3. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    The Germans produced around 55,000 fighter a/c during WW2 and had 1,500 to 2,000 serviceable when the war ended.
     
  4. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    I'm impressed with the number of P-39s claimed.
     
  5. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I copied the data for his 352 awarded victories into Excel.

    There were 319 altitudes recorded in his 352 kills and the average of all 319 is 2,608.37 m (8,557.6 ft).
    The highest was 6,500 m (21,325.4 ft).
    The lowest was 20 m (65.6 ft).

    Of course, as was pointed out, this was on the Russian Front, not in western Europe. Just thought I'd post it since I was interested and thought somebody else might be, too. His kills break down as

    A/C Type Kills
    LaGG 189
    P-39 81
    Yak-9 25
    Il-2 12
    LaGG-5 10
    LaGG-3 8
    Pe-2 6
    Yak-3 3
    Il-2m.H. 3
    La-5 3
    Boston III 2
    Mustang 2
    Boston 1
    MiG-1 1
    U-2 1
    I-16 1
    Yak-7 1
    E/a 1
    B-26* 1
    R-5 1
    Grand Total 352
     
  6. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    I always wonder,... The claims in the west can be checked, against real records of losses, (and this is not to start a flame war), but, are there equal records from the Russian side that support the claims?
    This has been a fascination of mine over the years.
    Namely, How many of the "Kills" awarded were actually, in fact, "Kills"?
    And this is from all sides. We all love the quote from the movie, "The Battle of Britain", something along the lines of, "if we are right, then they will stop".
    Yep. Couldn't have expressed it better.
    Except that the real numbers have never matched up.
    History has happened. There were real pilots and planes that never showed up again. But did the "Awarded" kills match up?
    As I say, always a question for me.
     
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I'd like to find those data, too.

    Not sure if I'd believe the Soviet data ... it might depend on how many times it has been "revised" to support the history being taught by the party in power at the time ... but if we could find it, we'd at LEAST have aplace to strat. Better than we have now.

    I'd also like to see a complete list of Soviet claims and victory awards checked against German loss data. That MIGHT be tough to find, but would be worth finding.
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    This will end in tears :)
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  9. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #9 Juha, Aug 24, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 24, 2013
    Hello Greg and meatloaf
    in fact SU kept good records, there are holes in data from chaotic days of summer - autumn 1941 also some from Summer 42, but SU was very byrocratic state and because it was so monologic and secretive and military records were highly secret, there were no need to forger the raw data. During Yeltsin years access to the military archives tended to improve from year to year but during Putin's time there have been some tightening in access practices. As I have wrote there was a database in net some years ago, which had all known Soviet AFs' personel losses, not a/c only personel, but if the pilot was lost there was also info on his/her a/c IIRC and of course the date and the place if known. IMHO the database was kept by independed Memorial Foundation but at least its site of that time is now down. But if you one see what can be done by reading LW and Soviet docus side by side look e.g. these links:

    42 GIAP on the 14 Mar 1943 - Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
    JG54 losses, 7.3.43, South of Staraya Russa - Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
    Libau 28 October 1944 - Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum
    659 IAP KOLDUNOV - Luftwaffe and Allied Air Forces Discussion Forum

    And a good book on a VVS unit is Vlad Antípov's and Igor Utkin's Dragons on Bird Wings The Combat History of the 812th Fighter Air Regiment (2006) as a plus it had some photos of typical VVS docus with translations next to. One sees that most docus are like in other AFs but the loss docus has more info than usual.

    On Hartmann I have noticed the low portion of Il-2s, the most common a/c in the Eastern Front, and bombers among his kills.

    Juha
     
  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, Juha! I appreciate these links and the info.
     
  11. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    My two pence, I think it is likely that the Putin-esqecu Russia might have 'accidentally lost on purpose' those Yeltsin released old records. But the figure of 352 is from the Soviet agreeing when they charged and inprisoned him, and not the 356 claims he or his squad claimed.
     
  12. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    Regardless of whether this was a "reality check" or no, because of the aerodynamics of the aircraft involved, maneuvering aircraft will almost always end combat at a lower altitude than where it was started. Turning combat will either cost altitude or airspeed; diving will obviously cost altitude.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree. However aerial combat which ends at 2,000 meters probably didn't begin at 9,000 meters (i.e. where some people think most aerial combat took place).
     
  14. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    Most likely correct, although that altitude would depend on what the Luftwaffe pilot's initial target would be: when attacking a B-17 or B-24 bomber stream on a strategic mission would probably start at between 8,000 and 9,000 meters, while attacking a medium bomber on a tactical mission would probably start much lower.
     
  15. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Where do you get these numbers?

    About 30,000 Bf 109s were produced alone!
     
  16. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Possibly the 55,000 means single engined fighters excluding Jabo versions.
     
  17. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    During Yeltsin era many foreigners and Russians copied many docus and saw many more, so its difficult to "just lost them" without uproar. Something might happened parts of still secret Central Committee papers, because leadership now knows that it is possible that also these will be opened some day to all researchers.

    If Hartmann really was charged for destroying 352 Soviet planes, I have not seen any copies of the indictment, IMHO that doesn't in itself mean anything. In Stalinist system the relationship between an indictment and reality wasn't necessarily very strong. It isn't always easy to try to figure out who shot who down, even in Eastern Front in 1943-45, where Germans usually fought in small formation, so why would Soviets have bothered even try to do that, because it would not matter was Hartmann accused for shooting down 50 or 500 a/c, if the the Soviet hierarcy wanted that H would get 25 years prison term, he would get that anyway. Already simply crossing Soviet border armed would give 5 years sentence.

    Juha
     
  18. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    We're really gonna argue numbers from 70 years ago?
     
  19. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    Are you surprised?
     
  20. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Njaco.
    Not really, but it is good to understand that wartime claims, even those confirmed by the parent organization are only the impression gathered by it, not reality, only more or less close to it. And that of course goes to all AFs. IMHO it would be impossible to be absolute sure the number of Hartmann’s real kills, or any other high scoring ace. And that isn’t important, more important is the real number of kills achieved by e.g. JG 52 during a particular operation, not how many of them were achieved by Meyer or Schmitt. Even that is not nearly as important than the knowledge how well the unit succeeded to protect its side ground troops from enemy CAS and bombers and stop enemy recon planes to do their duty and how well it could make possible the ops of own CAS, bombers and recon a/c. Of course taken in account the operational environment. As one said once, the best indication of air supremacy is a T-34 standing on a runway.

    Juha
     
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