WWII Fighter Combat Statistics

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GregP

Major
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Jul 28, 2003
Chino, California, U.S.A.
If you go to warbirds and airshows, there is a table there of U.S. aerial victories. The URL is: Warbirds and Airshows- WWII US Aircraft Victories

For many years, we didn't know much about it, but Barrett Tillman recently volunteered that he generated the table using Frank Olynyk's data, putting credence into the table. Let's take a look at it. See below. It is the same table recreated by me in Excel, just in a different format.

Fighter Combat Statistics.jpg



Sorry, there is no reason the 157 above is in red; I just didn't want to redo it. Let's look at percentages, especially those with two digits.

In the ETO, the P-51 got 56.4% of the aerial victories. That pretty much stands to reason since the P-51 was the main bomber escort in a target-rich environment. Next was the P-47 with 35.7% of the aerial victories. Between them, they accounted for 92.2% of the ETO aerial victories. Add the P-38 in and you get 98.8% of all aerial victories in the ETO. Lots of people think the ETO was the main war theater, and it likely was in most respects, but it only generated 29.5% of the aerial victories for WWII.

In the MTO, the top scorer was the P-38 with 37.8%, followed by the P-51 (28.0%) and P-40 (15.6%). Add these up to get 81.4% of the MTO aerial victories. The MTO generated 14.9% of the U.S. aerial victories for WWII.

In the PTO, the winner, hands down, is the F6F with 40.7% of the aerial victories. It is followed by the F4U (16.9%) and P-38 (13.4%). These add up to 71.0% of the PTO aerial victories. Throw in the Wildcat and we get to 89.2% of the aerial victories scored. The PTO generated 49.7% of the U.S. aerial victories for WWII, making the PTO the number one theater for U.S. aerial victories.

In the CBI, top dog was the P-40 with 64.7%. This is no surprise because the P-40 was the main fighter in the CBI for most of the war. Add the P-51 (22.9%) and P-38 (10.4%) to get 98.1% of all CBI aerial victories. However, the CBI as a theater only generated 5.9% of the U.S. WWII aerial victories. Definitely the backwater of four main theaters.

As far as aircraft types go, the P-51 finished in 1st place with 23.4% of the U.S. aerial victories. It is followed by the F6F (20.3%), P-38 (14.8%), P-47 (14.4%), P-40 (8.7%), and the F4U (14.4%). Considering the praise heaped upon the F4U Corsair, I would never have thought it would finish the war just behind the P-40 in aerial victories. It DID finish second in the PTO behind the F6F, but didn't deploy anywhere else. It entered land-based service in Dec 42. It didn't get approved for use on U.S. carriers until Apr 44.

One aspect of generating aerial victories is the assigned missions and, when on those missions, how much of the time did they encountered the enemy. Naval Aviation Combat Statistics World War Two has something to say about that.

The F6F flew 66,530 combat sorties and encountered enemy aircraft on 6,975 of those sorties. That is 10.5% of the time. It engaged 9,324 enemy aircraft during those 6,975 sorties and shot down 5,163 of them (55.4% of the engaged aircraft). It is worth remembering that the Naval fighters usually only engaged 4 on 4, 4 on 8, or 8 on 8 unless they were engaged in a large Naval action.

The F4U flew 64,051 combat sorties and encountered enemy aircraft on 3,300 of those sorties. That is 5.2% of the time. It engaged 5,305 enemy aircraft during those sorties and shot down 2,138 of them (40.3% of the engaged aircraft).

So, the F6F and F4U flew about the same number of sorties. The F4U engaged about 57% of the number of aircraft the F6F did, but the F6F shot down 2.4 times as many enemy aircraft. This tells me the F6F is firmly in the number one slot for U.S. Naval fighter aircraft.

I highly recommend looking at Naval Aviation Combat Statistics, World War Two, and especially the tables for aerial combat results. Unfortunately, we don't have the same type data for USAAF fighters as we have for USN/USMC fighters, so it's hard to compare apples to oranges. We CAN look at the ETO because Ray Wagner's American Combat Planes has a nice table for the ETO.

Do a Google search for "Naval Aviation Combat Statistics, World War Two pdf" and you'll find it available in scribdid.

Perhaps in another thread.
 
I highly recommend looking at Naval Aviation Combat Statistics, World War Two, and especially the tables for aerial combat results. Unfortunately, we don't have the same type data for USAAF fighters as we have for USN/USMC fighters, so it's hard to compare apples to oranges. We CAN look at the ETO because Ray Wagner's American Combat Planes has a nice table for the ETO.

Do a Google search for "Naval Aviation Combat Statistics, World War Two pdf" and you'll find it available in scribdid.

Perhaps in another thread.
I'll save everyone the trouble. Is this the complete PDF GregP GregP ?
 

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Yes, it is, and thanks!

I have many of the tables entered into Excel, and they give a nice picture of the subject, but the Navy/ Marines and USAAC/F do NOT save the same data for air combat results. making direct comparison difficult except at the level of victory totals and sorties.

Still, it is a good, if not the best, source for WWII U.S. Navy aviation data ... except for lack of an individual victory compilation by name, unit, aircraft, and victim type.

I was very happy to see Barrett Tillman say that he created the table of victories you can find at Warbirds and Airshow. It lends credence to it.
 
However, the above table does not entirely agree with other sources when it comes to the AAF stats. USAAF Statistical Digest, USAF85 and Ray Wagner's American Combat Planes are pretty close in agreement with the above statistics for the ETO; but less so for the MTO, FEAF,CBI and PTO. The Stats Digest and Ray Wagner are very close when it comes to the combined stats for the ETO and MTO, but Wagner also wrote that he could not make a similar table for the theatres versus Japan because the data wasn't available (???).
 
One f the books in my shelf makes the claim that the Hurricane had more kills than any other single type.

Of Western Allies' types. Even then, I'm dubious it hae more claims/kills than the Spitfire or the P-51.

The Hurricane certainly had less claims than the Me 109 and the FW 190.

It may also have less claims than some Japanese types or Soviet types.
 
One f the books in my shelf makes the claim that the Hurricane had more kills than any other single type.

The Hurricane most certainly was the top scoring allied fighter for the first half of WW2, certainly better than the Spitfire, which wasn't even deployed beyond the UK's borders until the late spring of 1942. In the meantime the Hurricane had been deployed and shooting down enemy aircraft everywhere in Norway; France, the Battle of Britain, the Balkans, Greece, East and North Africa, as well as on the Eastern Front, over Singapore and Ceylon.

The Spitfire might have gained an even higher kill rate in the war if it had actually participated in much more of it. From 1941 onwards the Hurricane would be used more in ground attack operations, especially in North Africa.

In any case there were only two-thirds the number of Hurricanes produced compared to the figure for the Spitfire.
 
The Hurricane gets no respect.
From, "The Hawker Hurricane" Francis K Mason,
Pub 1987, page 211.
"Compared with claims recorded in 11,400 traceable air to air combat reports(Forms 1151), covering all RAF fighter pilot's claims, 55 per cent were by Hurricane pilot's, 33 percent by Spitfire pilot's, and 12 percent by pilot's of other fighters.
11400 x .55 = 6270 claims,
not including those made by the FAA or Hurricanes in other air forces.
 
Wonder where he managed to get the numbers when all of us seemingly haven't found them?

We have some lively discussions but, in here, we are chock full of air combat buffs, if nothing else. We may have some "discussions," but we are all looking for the real numers every time the subject come up. We should have run across those numbers if an author can find them, don't you think?
 
The Hurricane gets no respect.
From, "The Hawker Hurricane" Francis K Mason,
Pub 1987, page 211.
"Compared with claims recorded in 11,400 traceable air to air combat reports(Forms 1151), covering all RAF fighter pilot's claims, 55 per cent were by Hurricane pilot's, 33 percent by Spitfire pilot's, and 12 percent by pilot's of other fighters.
11400 x .55 = 6270 claims,
not including those made by the FAA or Hurricanes in other air forces.

That number for the RAF seems oddly low.

Foreman's Fighter Command War Diaries, covering the ETO only, has 10,735.5 destroyed credits awarded, plus a further 437 on the ground. Along with 4,779 probables in the air and 24 on the ground.

When you consider the Mediterranean and Pacific theatres, that number from Mason seems off.

Fighter Command ETO losses were 3,484 Spitfires vs 1,379 Hurricanes. And 2,304 other types.
 
The numbers are what the numbers are but when it comes to "type" from recent posts here there were 2 squadrons of RAF Mustang Mk IIIs in service during big week rising to 12 squadrons of IIIs and IV by the end of the war, these were the same as P-51 B/C Ds frequently taking part on the same missions. In another place another "Greg" is adamant the the P-47 outperformed the P-51 in all respects but the bomber mafia were and still are conspiring against it.
 
The numbers are what the numbers are but when it comes to "type" from recent posts here there were 2 squadrons of RAF Mustang Mk IIIs in service during big week rising to 12 squadrons of IIIs and IV by the end of the war, these were the same as P-51 B/C Ds frequently taking part on the same missions. In another place another "Greg" is adamant the the P-47 outperformed the P-51 in all respects but the bomber mafia were and still are conspiring against it.
The P-51 had its good points too and was a fine fighter so the P47 did not out perform it in all respects and Greg explains this in both the speed and the climb performance videos And maybe in "maneuvering". But he does point out, correctly that the P-47 was responsible for crippling the Luftwaffe before the Merlin powered P-51 was a factor. High scoring German aces moving from the Eastern to the Western front were often killed fighting the USAAF and some had nervous breakdowns. Robert S Johnson killed a German ace with 230 odd kills. At bomber escort altitudes, 25000 ft, the P-47 was superior to virtually all the Luftwaffe fighters except a few very late variants. It was faster in all respects and with 130 and 150 octane fuel it was as good a climber at most altitudes. P&W engineers came the England and taught the crew chiefs how to increase boost so that even before the later engines were in use P-47s were running 2600+ hp with the better fuels. And all the leading P-47 pilots, remembering the leading US aces in Europe were P-47 pilots, survived the war. Robert S Johnson in an interview and Greg both point out that the P-47 had decimated the highly experienced Luftwaffe pilots by the time the P-51 arrived on scene in significant numbers. This and the total losses were the primary reason that the Luftwaffe was powerless to interfere with the D-Day landings. Johnson pointed out that many of the P-51 victories were over low time pilots with little or no combat experience. That the Bomber Mafia lied about the range of P-47 is proven with the actual facts. From their arrival in Europe the P-47s were equipped for drop tanks and Republic had a 200 gal fully tested to 30000 ft belly tank but Hap Arnold had ordered that NO pursuit a/c were to use drop tanks. "The Bombers would get through and could not be stopped". And the Army would not even pay for development. The various companies did it on their own. Then when their arrogance and stupidity had killed a LOT of bomber crews they cooked up the false "insufficient range" story to cover their butts. And thus the myth of the P-51's range "allowed escort of the bombers" was born. This no drop tank idiocy was much like the US Navy submarines fighting almost half the war with torpedos with a 50% or higher failure rate. Why? Because high ranking people had said they were OK but they only tested 2 of them and one of these failed. And the LT Commanders actually using the things were at fault. Heck John Wayne made a movie about this. And Johnson had a higher kills per mission rate than Rall. In the P-47. And he was fighting harder targets.
 
The P-51 had its good points too and was a fine fighter so the P47 did not out perform it in all respects and Greg explains this in both the speed and the climb performance videos And maybe in "maneuvering". But he does point out, correctly that the P-47 was responsible for crippling the Luftwaffe before the Merlin powered P-51 was a factor. High scoring German aces moving from the Eastern to the Western front were often killed fighting the USAAF and some had nervous breakdowns. Robert S Johnson killed a German ace with 230 odd kills. At bomber escort altitudes, 25000 ft, the P-47 was superior to virtually all the Luftwaffe fighters except a few very late variants. It was faster in all respects and with 130 and 150 octane fuel it was as good a climber at most altitudes. P&W engineers came the England and taught the crew chiefs how to increase boost so that even before the later engines were in use P-47s were running 2600+ hp with the better fuels. And all the leading P-47 pilots, remembering the leading US aces in Europe were P-47 pilots, survived the war. Robert S Johnson in an interview and Greg both point out that the P-47 had decimated the highly experienced Luftwaffe pilots by the time the P-51 arrived on scene in significant numbers. This and the total losses were the primary reason that the Luftwaffe was powerless to interfere with the D-Day landings. Johnson pointed out that many of the P-51 victories were over low time pilots with little or no combat experience. That the Bomber Mafia lied about the range of P-47 is proven with the actual facts. From their arrival in Europe the P-47s were equipped for drop tanks and Republic had a 200 gal fully tested to 30000 ft belly tank but Hap Arnold had ordered that NO pursuit a/c were to use drop tanks. "The Bombers would get through and could not be stopped". And the Army would not even pay for development. The various companies did it on their own. Then when their arrogance and stupidity had killed a LOT of bomber crews they cooked up the false "insufficient range" story to cover their butts. And thus the myth of the P-51's range "allowed escort of the bombers" was born. This no drop tank idiocy was much like the US Navy submarines fighting almost half the war with torpedos with a 50% or higher failure rate. Why? Because high ranking people had said they were OK but they only tested 2 of them and one of these failed. And the LT Commanders actually using the things were at fault. Heck John Wayne made a movie about this. And Johnson had a higher kills per mission rate than Rall. In the P-47. And he was fighting harder targets.
I see you are following Gregs line. The P-47 started operations in Europe in March 1943, they were grounded until radios were sorted and restarted in April 1943. Arnold decided in June 1943 that all missions would be escorted on the offensive starting in 1944. The order you refer to forbidding the use of drop tanks was in April 1939 when no one was at war with anyone in Europe. If he had ordered tanks be fitted for an offensive in Europe he would probably have been sacked but in any case the bomber mafia had around 20 B-17s and its front line fighter was the P-36.
 
The numbers are what the numbers are but when it comes to "type" from recent posts here there were 2 squadrons of RAF Mustang Mk IIIs in service during big week rising to 12 squadrons of IIIs and IV by the end of the war, these were the same as P-51 B/C Ds frequently taking part on the same missions. In another place another "Greg" is adamant the the P-47 outperformed the P-51 in all respects but the bomber mafia were and still are conspiring against it.
That Greg is not me.

I'm sure there are conspiracies.

I'm not too sure there are a lot of conspiracies left over from WWII, except maybe where Hitler is living ... or that it might make any difference today.
 

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