Dedicated to the 75th anniversary of the Great Victory
I have been fond of since childhood history aviation. And this is already more than 60 years. During this time, I read a huge number of books, memoirs, magazines, articles, websites, reviewed a large number of chronicles and documentaries. I talked with veterans of the Great Patriotic War and with aviators of the 60-90s of the last century. As a passenger, he flew many times on almost all types of Aeroflot passenger planes of the 60-90s - from the Kuban, Crimea, south and west of Ukraine, the Baltic states and Leningrad to Vladivostok and Sakhalin. He lived half his life next to a large military airfield in the town of military aviators. He himself worked at the airline as a technologist and a leading equipment engineer (not for long, unfortunately, in the 90s).
For the past thirty years, I have been very interested in the so-called phenomenon of “huge personal accounts” and “unsurpassed highest skill” by expert experts of the Luftwaffe. At first, when he first found out about it, he was amazed. Then, after reading the data of the best experts, doubts arose, which, after studying the activities of German aces, increased significantly.
Today, when I am quite familiar with this topic, I can judge who the German aces and the best German expert experts were in fact and how they fought.
Many people wrote about this, including Soviet pilots, WWII veterans in their memoirs, such famous Soviet and Russian historians as Isaev, Mukhin, Bakursky, Bodrikhin, Smyslov, Krivosheev, Zhukov, Drabkin, Zhirokhov, Kornyukhin, Morozov, Khazanov , Bear and less well-known aviation experts in Runet. They wrote quite convincingly, bringing a significant amount of supporting documents, materials, facts. But everyone, in my opinion, considered the problem somehow incompletely, partially, some separate points. I rethought everything and decided to cover the topic comprehensively, as broadly as possible, more fully, but at the same time quite briefly, without going into lengthy arguments and proofs. For this, I deliberately do not cite facts and materials confirming my words: their introduction will turn a small article into a book, and my theses, although they will become more convincing, will lose their brevity and turn into something bulky, and the main advantage of the article (relative brevity) will be hopelessly lost. If desired, any honest, objective, attentive and thinking person himself can quite easily find confirmation in my memoirs, historical literature and the Internet and make sure of their correctness.
An article was written not for a narrow circle of sophisticated historians and experts in aviation (they know everything themselves), but for a wide circle of aviation enthusiasts, primarily for ambitious amateurs and "experts" of aviation such as the "Kolya boy" who thoughtlessly swallow the "real", " truthful "information from the opus of the popularizers of" honest "memoirs and" grandiose "feats" of "heroes" - experts of the Third Reich: illiterate translator Zefirov, anti-Russophobe Rezun-Suvorov, Belarusian Taras and Beshanov, those "historians" who are hiding under pseudo Nimami Degtev (very accurate for his "creativity"), Bazhenov (new storyteller?), Teeth, Sokolov and Slavin. It should also be noted the scandalous film of an independent "researcher" Zakharov.
The article, of course, is not dogma, not the ultimate truth. I would be very grateful to knowledgeable and cultured people for polite, friendly and significant comments and additions in fact, based on reliable information and facts.
Not aces, but experts
At the beginning of World War II, the air forces of all countries of the world called an upscale pilot who perfectly knew the fighter, the methods of air combat and had at least five enemy aircraft shot down. It was an honorable, but not an official title. The Germans during the war constantly raised the standard for the title of ace. After the attack on the USSR, the beginning of World War II and the initial German success, the ace on the Eastern Front began to be called a fighter pilot, who first had 10, then 20 or more victories. But the Germans did not call their most successful aces as aces. The German ace, having on his account the number of victories exceeding the unofficial standard and awarded the Knight's Cross, was called an expert.
So what confirms and disproves the phenomenon of “huge personal accounts” and “unsurpassed excellence” of German experts? And what was the difference between German aces and Soviet pilots?
1. Significant combat experience of the Luftwaffe at the beginning of World War II.
2. Very good organization and coherence of the Luftwaffe (especially in the first half of the Second World War).
3. Continuous combat activity throughout the war of German air units with constant replenishment of well (before and in the first half of the Second World War) trained pilots with a large raid and rifle training. Until the middle of the war, the air units of the Red Army of the Red Army went to the rear for reformation and retraining, and were replenished in the first half of the war with poorly trained pilots.
4. The effective maneuverable flexible use of German aviation, the constant transfer and concentration of it in the areas of active operations of the ground forces to create local numerical superiority of aviation in order to gain air supremacy for the successful operations of the ground forces (almost the entire Great Patriotic War).
5. Many targets (enemy aircraft) throughout the Second World War.
6. The strategy of the German fighters is different than the enemy’s: aggressive, offensive, aimed at gaining air supremacy and destroying the maximum number of enemy aircraft — without strict binding and responsibility for bombers, ground troops and objects (almost the entire war).
7. In the first half of the Second World War, other than the enemy’s advanced tactics of German fighter aviation actions (not 3 units, like the Red Army Air Force at the beginning of the war, but 4 fighters = 2 pairs; rational methods for building a flight group and conducting combat with minimal risk) .
8. Excellent equipment, airplanes, radio communications (especially in the first half of the Second World War).
9. More intense than most Soviet pilots, the activities of German fighter pilots (up to 6 sorties a day for almost the entire war).
10. Experts are a small elite group that everyone else worked for. These were mainly commanders: squadrons (air divisions), groups (air regiment), staffel (squadrons), less often - a svarma (link).
11. The experts acted solely and exclusively by the “free hunting” method, usually by the four (apart from the others + 3 escort = 2 pairs), flying apart and significantly higher. Other pilots fought stripping before the bombers raid, guarded the bombers, and performed other routine tasks. And the experts just shot down.
12. The main and favorite method of expert attack, perfected to perfection, is a “falcon strike”: diving from a great height (usually from the side of the sun or from behind a cloud) at maximum speed with a powerful blow - in one volley from all trunks from a minimum distance - rapid departure at high speed again to a height with evasion from a maneuverable viscous battle (hit and shot down, did not shoot down - ran away) to again take a convenient position for the next attack.
13. The favorite and main prey of German aces is single, stray, crashed, extreme, terminal aircraft (preferably transporters or bombers) of newcomers, wounded or weak pilots. But not strong and experienced opponents, especially aces!
14. German commanders usually appropriated and recorded for themselves those shot down by the entire flight group, sometimes - shot down by their individual subordinates (by agreement). What was not accepted among pilots of the anti-Hitler coalition and Soviet pilots.
CONS OF CONS:
1. None of the surviving German experts have intelligible reliable and complete documents (flight books) confirming ALL of their sorties, fights and victories (no one showed them!). Which is very strange: everyone knows about German punctuality. But Soviet pilots could confirm with irrefutable evidence and documents every shot down plane! Moreover, many Soviet pilots claimed that they did not count part of their victories for various reasons.
2. None of the German aces in his memoirs convincingly confirmed or described all of their sorties, battles and victories: all the memoirs of German pilots are slurred, piecewise science fiction on the theme of air war, sometimes interesting with picturesque details and pictures of everyday life. And the memory of Soviet pilots was much better than German: in their memoirs (even heavily trimmed and adjusted by censorship), they clearly and convincingly described places, circumstances and details of their sorties, battles and victories!
3. The number of sorties and fights that some experts have indicated is highly doubtful. No, of course, they fought continuously, intensively and fairly productively. But ask those who have flown and are flying: is it possible to complete 2-3 sorties with many battles almost every day for 3-4 years? (Again, injuries, a hospital, an illness, a rest home - albeit short-term - holidays to Germany ... And the weather for all these 2-3 years, of course, was not - especially in autumn and winter - every day flying, which should double , triple the number of flights in the following flight days to achieve the stated result ...) they will answer you that this is possible only theoretically! That is, both the sorties and fights of these experts were probably less. More, of course, than the Soviet pilots, but not the huge amount that they recorded for themselves.
4. With careful documentary verification, it turned out that there were simply not many German “victories”, nor were there so many planes shot down by the Germans in certain areas. The most famous examples are: “The Battle of Britain” (the Germans claimed 3050 victories, and confirmed - about 1000), in the Kuban (2280 shot down declared, and confirmed - 750).
5. The record of the German “victories” was simple and did not require the obligatory (as with Soviet pilots) confirmation of the ground forces and the presentation of the wreckage of a downed plane. A questionnaire of 21 points (with confirmation of a partner and members of his flight group!) Was filled out formally, easily and without difficulty, which made it possible to record in the “victory” as soon as it hit the target, the plane hit (according to the shots of the photo machine gun), and generally mythical “victories” ". Moreover, the “victories” of the “hero” were confirmed by his sole signature by his commanders (groups, squadrons), very interested in increasing the authority and fame of their unit. Usually they did it purely formally.
6. German propaganda not only loudly praised the German “victories” and the “heroes” themselves (including the pilots), but also pushed them to “records”, which also encouraged the German command, which looked indulgently through the fingers at the doubtfulness of many “ victories ”experts and easily claimed them.
7. There was a “cervical disease” among German experts: a rapid increase in the number of “victories” on the eve of reaching the anniversary figure and the mandatory follow-up award hung on the neck.
8. Flying German commanders usually always appropriated and recorded for themselves all those shot down by their group, and often shot down by subordinates (by agreement with them) with a promise of further benefits and promotions.
9. Experts (like all German fighter pilots) have always evaded and avoided fighting with an equal and - especially - superior enemy in numbers and skill.
10. All German experts (with the rare exception) repeatedly lost their way. Even the best experts went astray repeatedly: No. 1, Hartman, - 14 times, No. 2, Barghorn, - 9 times, No. 7, Rudorffer, - 16 times, No. 8, Rem, - 18 times, No. 15, Lippert, - 15 times, No. 34, Dupman, - 19 times. And the most vaunted and titled pilot of the Third Reich, dive Rudel, is already 32 times, wounded several times, his right leg was amputated! At the same time, Kozhedub and most famous Soviet aces have never been shot down!
11. More than half of the German aces died in general, and 2/3 of them died on the German-Soviet, Eastern Front.
12. The most famous and successful German fighter squadron, JG54 “Green Heart” (“Grünherz”), began combat operations in the USSR by 112 pilots, and only 4 of the original 112 ended the war (only every 24 survived, 108 died) with casualties 2135 aircraft (Soviet pilots destroyed more than 19 squadrons of the Gruherts squadron!). And this is the best Luftwaffe fighter squadron! What can we say about the rest ...
13. But the main and most significant argument “against” is the fabulous performance and the fantastically huge number of “victories” of German experts for a flight, a day, several days, a month and several months in a row. No, of course, a high-class ace is able, under favorable conditions, to shoot down a large, record number of enemy planes both in a single departure and in total for a day and for some period of active battles, to set a record. But for the ace (albeit excellent) to make daily, monthly records for 2-3 years in a row, spend 10-13 battles per flight and shoot down the same number of planes, make several sorties a day, shoot down 14-18 planes per day, for 4 days - 30 aircraft, shot down 3,5 aircraft in 98 months - I can’t believe it at all! But these very figures are indicated as real “victories” by German experts! And the official “achievement” of the “most effective expert” of the Luftwaffe - Lieutenant Scheel looks like a frank invention: 71 “victory” in 70 sorties !!! Despite the fact that no one confirmed his “victory” (he flew all the time alone: “Believe me, gentlemen!”) They were counted and approved for him! It is not known how many more enemy planes this “ace” would “bring down” if he did not die soon! The "13 shot down" expert Rudorffer planes in the same flight on November 6, 1943, which "fell into Lake Ladoga and drowned", also look like a fabulous invention. Subsequently, it turned out that there were then so many Soviet planes there did not fly!
Masters of air combat?
To summarize. Were the German experts such masters of air combat as they were unsurpassed by anyone, as they wrote about themselves and about them, and how enthusiastic fans and “all-knowing” “honest” Western “researchers” - “historians” (“knights without fear and reproach ”,“ the greatest aces of the twentieth century ”,“ the greatest aces of all time and peoples ”), and did they personally shoot down each huge number of aircraft that they themselves announced and which all Western historians still blow?
First about the “victories”. By virtue of what is written above (cons): of course not. The number of their personal REAL victories was actually much less than what the experts declared and counted. According to the majority of knowledgeable and objective researchers, the number of TRUE victories of German experts is 2-2,5 times lower than their declared "victories." So, the number of reliable Hartman victories should be somewhere between the 146th and 176th downed planes (and now nobody will ever know the exact number). However, it is also a lot and far superior to the accounts of the best Soviet and Union aces! But if almost the entire war in a powerful high-speed fighter was only scouring in search of easy and safe targets, and exclusively engaged in shooting down the wounded, novices, inexperienced, weak pilots on wrecked and slow-moving aircraft, in every possible way avoiding not only strong and equal rivals, but also battles in general, then the number is quite real and achievable with intensive flight activity and a huge number of goals throughout the war. About the same for all other experts.
I will not argue that all German aces were engaged in postscripts and falsifications on the same scale as the top of the list of experts, but the fact that they all did this was absolutely accurate. This is eloquently indicated by the data of losses of aircraft of the Red Army Air Force in the Great Patriotic War (declared by the Germans and true). So, the Germans announced that they shot down 95 thousand Soviet planes on the Eastern Front: 46 thousand with 900 experts (including more than 15 thousand shot down by 104 experts with more than 100 “victories”), 6 thousand - another 1000 pilots, 31 thousand - anti-aircraft gunners, 12 thousand - gunners. But after all, the USSR had only 46100 combat losses of aircraft during the entire war! And if we add to the German “victories” the “victories” of the German allies, who also fought on the Eastern Front (and they, although less than the Germans, but also in the reports, gloriously “heroed” and “won”), then the number “ victories ”of the Hitlerite coalition will become even more fantastic! To the chagrin of the “real” and “honest” today's “historians,” all this is not Soviet or Russian data, but rather honest and decent Western researchers found, counted and published after the end of World War II. There were then. Insinuations and falsifications began later.
About the outstanding achievement of "highly effective expert" Scheel. An absolutely fantastic fairy tale, cleaner than the stories of Munchausen, looks like this “record" of the commander of the 3rd staffel of group 1 of group 54 of the Luftwaffe fighter squadron, Lieutenant Gunther Scheel, officially declared and still considered the most effective fighter of the Luftwaffe and the world, which for 3 months of 1943 (since mid-April to mid-July) in 70 sorties, allegedly “destroyed” 71 aircraft. Of course, there are no questions for the enthusiastic admirer of German experts. But for any normal person in this story there are VERY many questions and doubts. Why, in mid-April 1943, was the unknown newcomer lieutenant, who had not shot down a single aircraft before, appointed commander of the staffel of the famous squadron? What is so wonderful happened to him that this lieutenant suddenly immediately began to “shoot down” an airplane in every single flight? What did the rest of the squadron do while its commander shot down the planes alone, and who led it? Why did the “outstanding expert” Scheel complete three flights in THREE MONTHS (70-4 times less than the average expert), although he should have performed (according to German statistics) 5-270? Why did the “magnificent master of air combat and piloting” fight so little, accomplish so few “feats”, and so quickly and plainly die in battle with an ordinary Soviet pilot?
Now about the "unrivaled highest mastery of air combat" by German experts. Yes, most of them were skilled gunners, very good pilots with excellent training, great flying experience and excellent command of excellent fighters. First - Me-109, then - FV-190. (No matter what they say, the Me-109 of all modifications is an excellent combat aircraft: a very well thought-out design, powerful engines and armaments, excellent radio communications and a comfortable cockpit. Who doubts, try to "sit" on the pilot's seat: the Internet gives such an opportunity. The same can be said about FV-190.) But again, from the above (the pros), it follows that even the most illustrious German experts not only did not surpass most Soviet aces, but often lost to them in personal air combat skills fights cat They were usually shunned as best they could. This is evidenced by the scattering after well-known warnings on the air: “Ahtung! Achtung! In the sky ... (and not only Pokryshkin)! ”The“ unrivaled expert ”Hartman himself said that he had repeatedly scuttled deep into his territory after such reports. It is evidenced by the number of times even the most illustrious German experts were shot down on the Eastern Front, and the fact that 2/3 of the vaunted "Hitler eagles" perished on the Soviet-German front. And forever landed them in the Russian land is precisely the "Stalinist Falcons", which the Germans contemptuously called the "Bast Ivan".
In principle, most German experts were not real aces (high-class masters of air combat in the usual sense of the term). And who were they? They were upscale DISASTERS! After all, what is air combat? Air combat is a fierce, uncompromising battle in which the mind and skill of the winner are fully manifested, and the loser, as a rule, dies. Air combat is deadly! Group air combat is much more dangerous (pilots of all nations and countries call it the “dog dump”), in which even the most experienced and most skilled ace can die from chance. All German pilots avoided and avoided fights not only in the minority and with a strong rival, but also with equal skill and strength (dangerous!). Entered into such fights only when absolutely necessary or in view of inevitability. But they loved fights with great numerical superiority. Even more - unexpectedly dive, knock down a wimp and flee on the afterburner. Pure jackals tricks and tactics! But “heroes” themselves could not be called that way, and German propaganda called their “knights” jackals ... Therefore, the Germans had a cult of “noble” predators. Especially venerated was the "orderly of the forest" - the wolf ("wolf packs", "wolf den", etc.). Experts counted a large number of battles. But can it be called a battle what Hartman and Co. did: dived - shot - fled? Of course not. This can be called an attack, an attack. But do not fight! But if we consider such “battles” as a battle, then indeed it is possible to achieve those astronomical figures that were recorded by experts. No, German experts were neither “knights without fear and reproach”, nor “unsurpassed masters of air combat”, nor “greatest aces”! Although locked up against the wall, they fought fiercely and often skillfully, in most cases they were difficult rivals.
For the sake of excuse
And where and why did the assertion about the unsurpassed highest craftsmanship and phenomenal huge scores of German experts? Firstly, they claimed this themselves in justification of their defeat, which (in their arrogant opinion) was not a defeat at all: “Wehrmacht and the Kriegsmarine lost, and the Luftwaffe were not defeated!” Secondly, they wrote and write about this, Confirming what was said by beaten experts, the modern “honest” and “objective” Western “researchers” and “historians”, who, as at all times, portray Russians as incapable of oriental savages and barbarians, and praise European Germans. For them, writing the truth means recognizing the strength and high skill of the Soviet pilots, recognizing that the USSR and the Russians made the greatest contribution to the overall victory over fascism in World War II. And they, the inveterate Russophobes, will never agree to this! Moreover, now in the "enlightened" and "democratic" West, a new wave of super-impudent and unscrupulous rewriting of the history of the Second World War is growing with silence, distortion and understatement of the role of the USSR and rabid rabid Russophobia, where Russians have no place among the winners!
And Germany lost the Second World War, largely due to the fact that its best pilots enthusiastically increased their personal accounts of “victories” to receive awards and privileges instead of conscientiously and selflessly performing tasks for the victory of Germany. Who were the German experts and all Soviet pilots really? The Germans were free hunters, choosing victims easier, safer, and, as it turned out, were talented science fiction writers. Soviet pilots were laborers of the war, reliable defenders of their bombers, attack aircraft and ground troops, which is personally dangerous, disadvantageous and does not bring large personal bills, awards and glory.
And for what, for which German experts and Soviet pilots fought? German experts (first of all) - for great personal accounts, awards, fame. For the sake of Great Germany, of course, too ... Officially. Although German propaganda carefully concealed the obvious ambition of the “heroes,” trumpeting the selfless, selfless struggle of the selfless heroic Teutonic knights against the hordes of eastern barbarians for the victory of the Third Reich, the Fuhrer of the German people. But what's the point in the huge personal accounts of “victories”, the loud glory of experts, if Germany lost the war? Soviet pilots fought for the Soviet people, for the dead comrades, for the death of fascism. For your near and dear ones. For the Motherland and Victory! And they won !!! Although the then Soviet propaganda claimed that the Soviet pilots fought not only for relatives, friends and the Fatherland, but also for Stalin, the USSR and the party. But then almost everyone sincerely identified these concepts.
Did the Soviet pilots and the Red Army Air Force have flaws? Of course there were! But this is the topic of another article. And the "Stalinist falcons" defeated their own shortcomings, and the "greatest aces of all time and peoples" with their huge accounts of "victories", and Nazi Germany, and liberated half of Europe. No matter how Western and homegrown haters, spiteful critics and falsifiers try in every possible way to discredit, denigrate, obscure and downplay their patriotism, selflessness, heroism, feat and decisive role in the struggle and victory (then it seemed forever) over fascism in World War II!
A few final words
In conclusion, I will say a little about the results of the air war on the Soviet-German (Eastern) front. Unfortunately, absolutely exact numbers do not exist. Especially (with all German pedantry, organization and order), it is precisely the German data that are incomplete and doubtful: their USSR losses are clearly exaggerated 2-2,5 times, their own losses are significantly (equally) reduced, and about the end of the war (for obvious reasons) none at all. But most objective researchers call the following numbers of combat losses: the Luftwaffe - 58850 aircraft and 50883 pilots, and the Red Army Air Force - 46100 aircraft and 34500 pilots (with a significant number of non-combat aircraft losses, mainly in the initial period and the first half of the war). And if we take into account the losses of the German allies and volunteers from the enslaved countries of Europe, who fought against the USSR together with the Germans, then the losses of the Hitlerite coalition will be even greater. So who then and whom did he “fill up with corpses” and “downed planes”?