Military Review

The question of the victories of the Air Force of the Third Reich

When you look at the aces of the Second World War, a number of questions arise, and the main one is: why did the fighter pilots of Germany and Japan shoot down more airplanes than the pilots of the winning countries, the USSR and the USA. So, 23-year-old "Aryan" Erich Hartmann officially knocked down 352 enemy aircraft - of which 345 (according to other sources - 348) Soviet. His comrades in the 52 th fighter squadron of the Luftwaffe Gerhard Barkhorn - 301 victory, Gunter Rall - 275 victories. For comparison, our best aces: Ivan Kozhedub shot down an enemy's 64 aircraft, Alexander Pokryshkin - 59.

The question of the victories of the Air Force of the Third Reich

Erich Hartmann.

In addition, the Reichs had more than 3 thousands of pilots - those who shot down more than 5 enemy aircraft, another 13 pilots shot down 200-275 aircraft, 92 ace - 100-200 aircraft, 360 people - 40-100. It turns out that the German aces-fighters of our packs poured? In the Pacific, it was the same, the Japanese aces shot down more than the American ones: Tetsudzo Iwamoto - 202 wins (according to other data - 80), Hiroyoshi Nishizawa - 147 — 150 (according to others - 87), Shoity Sugita - 120 (according to others - XNUM ). Top American fighter pilots: Richard Ira Bong - 70 aircraft, Thomas Buchanan McGuire - 40, David McCampbell - 38.

Richard Ira Bong

During the war, Halkin-Gol conducted very intense air battles: the best Soviet pilot (in terms of downed enemies) Sergey Gritsevets - 12 Japanese aircraft, Japanese al Hiromiti Shinohara from May until his death 27 August shot down 58 aircraft, 27 June 1939, he for the day shot down 11 Soviet aircraft.

Different authors raised this question, but did not reach a unanimous opinion, someone believes that the enemy pilots lied, in reality about as many were shot down as the best Soviet aces; others believe that the German pilots were simply better and knocked down inexperienced enemy pilots by dozens. Still others believe that the problem is in the calculation method. But it is interesting that Japan and Germany lost the war, including the air war.

Gunter Rall

Calculation Techniques

Blame the Japanese and Germans for serious mistakes, perhaps conscious, with the method of calculation, does not work. If you study the air battles, it turns out that all sides have serious mistakes, not just German or Japanese.

So, after the fighting on Khalkin-Gol, the USSR declared that 588 had shot down Japanese aircraft and another 58 was destroyed on the ground, the Japanese declared the destruction of 1162 aircraft in the air and 98 on the ground. But in reality, the Soviet Union lost 207 airplanes in battle and 42 more - not combat losses, the Japanese reported losing 88 airplanes in battle, and 74 were written off due to combat damage. That is, the Soviet data on the losses of the enemy were overestimated in 4 times, Japanese in 6 times. This ratio, 1 to 4 approximately, was preserved in the Air Force of the Red Army and the Great Patriotic War.

The main reason for the divergence of reality and the messages of the pilots is not their lies, but the complexity of the battle and the uncertainty of the fate of the "wrecked" aircraft. Many planes were literally riddled, but returned to the airfields. Often the plane avoided battle, for example: the fuel was running out, the ammunition left the fight, fell into a tailspin, leaving the enemy's fire, but then could even out — it could also be considered shot down. Hence the fantastic accounts of the shooters of the “flying fortresses”: the German “Messerschmitts”, when they got out of the attack, due to the characteristics of the engine, always smoked, they were also recorded as “shot down”.

So, in July 1941 of the year Moscow air defense planes made 89 battles, reflecting 9 raids by enemy bombers, in August - 81 battles with 16 raids. They said they shot down 59 aircraft in July, 30 in August. According to the Germans: in July 20-22 of the aircraft was lost, in August - 10-12, that is, the difference is about three times. The Germans were just as wrong: 30 June 1941, an air battle took place over Dvinsk, our bombers, just 99 units, bombed bridges, they were attacked by German fighters. They claimed 64-65 downed aircraft, according to our data, the 34 of the aircraft was lost, another 18 downed could successfully return to the airfields, that is, the difference is about 2 times.

Another example is already the Western Front, 6 March, 1944, a raid on Berlin: the Americans (fighter pilots, bomber gunners) declared that they destroyed 179 enemy aircraft (83% reflecting German air strikes), while the Germans lost 66 fighters. German pilots said they shot down 128 bombers and fighters, another 12 aircraft allegedly shot down, in reality, the Americans lost 69 bombers and 11 fighters.

The battle near Kharkov 13 May 1942, the Germans said that they shot down 65 aircraft, our losses on this day - 20 aircraft. 14 May Germans report on 47 aircraft, of which Herman Graf shot down 6, Adolf Dikfeld - 9 aircraft. Our real losses are 14 aircraft.

Moreover, an attempt to explain the difference by “points” and “victories” does not solve anything - these systems existed in the Luftwaffe in parallel - “points” (twin-engine aircraft - 2 points, four-engine aircraft - 4) were taken into account for awarding and for awarding titles. Also in the Soviet Air Force in parallel with the accounting of "victories" there was a system of cash bonuses based on the value of the downed aircraft.

Gunter Rall (second from left) after his 200 air victory. Second from the right is Walter Krupinski.

Assistance of photo guns, posts VNOS

Photo guns improved the ability to correctly calculate, but also did not solve the problem. On our planes, the photo-gun “PAH-22” began to be put even before the war. The photographic machine gun shot at a lower speed than the movie camera - approximately 8-10 frames per second, and, most importantly, he stopped working after releasing the fire control trigger, so he did not fix the target’s last projectile, nor did he record the behavior of the enemy’s aircraft after it hit. In fact, he could fix the death of an enemy aircraft only when he was killed in the process of firing. Their massive use did not change anything, the problem remained.

Aerial surveillance, warning and communication posts (VNOS) also could not give a correct picture, usually the battle went far, and it was difficult to determine the type of the downed and fallen aircraft visually. Just one example: April 19, 1943, the battle near Murmansk, VNOS recorded 4 aircraft shot down, they were recorded in the "victory". Later, the search groups found the 4 aircraft: one enemy Messer and three of ours.

What result can be made from these data: the number of victories was overestimated several times on each side, and if the victories of the German aces were reduced several times as they were really shot down, the victories of the pilots of the anti-Hitler coalition should also be reduced. The gap still remains. So what's the reason? Germans and Japanese were better pilots than Russians and Americans?

Messerschmitt Bf.109.

The main reason for the difference in downed aircraft

Germany used its air force more intensively, roughly 6 departures per day for the pilot during major operations. In addition, given that the enemies had more aircraft, they could more often be met by German pilots. So, Erich Hartmann made 1525 combat missions, Gerhard Barkhorn more than 1104 combat flights, Walter Krupinski scored 197 air victories in 1100 combat missions. For comparison: I. Kozhedub all 330 sorties. As a result, if we divide the number of departures from the German aces and the best pilot of the USSR, then it turns out that the 4 victory is on the 5-1 departures. If Kozhedub made the same number of sorties, the German aces were skolko, the number of his victories could also have been two or three hundred.

But the command of the Soviet Air Force did not need to use pilots for “wear”, we had enough machines and pilots, so they made fewer sorties. German pilots fought almost continuously, the Third Reich simply did not have enough resources to create the necessary number of aircraft and train a large number of pilots. In addition, the Luftwaffe units were forced to constantly move from site to site. Thus, the first group of the 51 th Fighter Squadron, re-armed on the Focke-Wulf, was thrown into battle near Leningrad in September-October of the 1942 of the year; then participated in Operation Mars, at its completion until January 1943, fought in the Great Bow region; then Operation “Buffel” - withdrawal of the Model 9 Army from the Rzhevsky bulge. Or the first and second groups of 54 of the Green Heart Fighter Squadron: from the beginning of the war to 1943, they fought in Army Group North, from May 1943 were transferred to Army Group Center — fighting in the Orla area, Operation Citadel "After the defeat - a withdrawal to the" Hagen line ". Since August 1943, the first group has been fighting in the South army band, remaining under Poltava until October; then they were transferred again to the army group “Center” - battles near Vitebsk, Orsha; in the summer, 1944 was transferred to Army Group North. The second group was transferred to Ukraine after the Citadel, and in March 1944 returned to Army Group North. Other fighter units were also deployed.

Soviet aviation the units were mainly used only on “their” front, were not shuffled, and every 1-2 months they were withdrawn to the rear for reformation - replenishment of equipment, rearmament. Only from the middle of 1943 began to replenish the unit immediately at the front, like the Germans. So, the 16th Guards Aviation Regiment A. Pokryshkina departed for retraining for Aerocobra at the end of December 1942, and only returned to the front on April 9, 1943. The 434th regiment of Major Kleshcheyev (380 sorties, 16 individual victories and 15 in the group) was reorganized three times from May to September 1942. Naturally - this reduced the ability to replenish your personal account.

The Japanese had the same problems on Halkin-Gol - 4-6 departures per day, so the pilots of the Germans and the Japanese were "the most tired people of the war." They had more opportunities to become aces, but they lost the war, including the air war.

Bell A-Cobra P-39 - Pokryshkin's aircraft in 1943 — 1944.

Ivan Ivanovich Kleshchev

Sources of:
Isaev A. Antisuvorov. Ten myths of the Second World War. M., 2006.
Mukhin Y. Asy and propaganda. Luftwaffe inflated victories. M., 2006.Список_лётчиков-асов_Второй_мировой_войны#.D0.AF.D0.BF.D0.BE.D0.BD.D0.B8.D1.8F

The game Bakugan, created based on the eponymous Japanese cartoon Bakugan, fully reproduces the various scenes and scenery, offering himself to become the director of events. Board game Bakugan consists of an arena for battles, plastic balls, turning into monsters, a variety of cards, sets for battles and much more. You can buy in the online toy store

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. mitrich
    mitrich 26 May 2011 12: 02
    I specially researched this issue, for myself, of course, and came to such conclusions. If we do not start from the reports of the Soviet Information Bureau and Deutsche Wochenshau, then the method of counting downed enemy aircraft in the Red Army, like that of the Americans, was much more correct than that of the Germans. At the same time, the indisputable fact is that the Luftwaffe pilots were more trained than the Soviet pilots, especially in the first period of the war, since they were trained thoroughly, for several years, and not like ours, according to reduced programs (which can also be understood, given the disastrous Air Force losses in the initial period of the war).
    There are more German aces on the account of German aces because:
    1) the number of shot down was taken into account by the number of engines. Let's say the 4-engine TB-7 was counted as 4 downed aircraft;
    2) the Germans took into account how planes destroyed in battle, shot at basing airfields (remember the hot June 1941);
    3) the Germans practiced the method of "free hunting" over the territory of the enemy, then they believed the pilot's word (our aces did not practice this method for the above reason);
    4) the Germans had a rule in which led pilots gave their victories to the leader (usually the flight commander or squadron);
    5) the machine gun, as a rule, recorded only the hit of a bullet projectile in an enemy aircraft, and not its fall to the ground.
    The main fundamental difference in the calculation of the shot down enemy planes by the Soviet aces was that they could confirm the victory only with reports of the ground forces. Well, if the enemy’s plane crashed in our territory, and if in the territory occupied by the enemy? Thus Kozhedub missed many of his victories, including over the Americans (during the war in Korea). If we counted our victories as Germans, then the same Hartmann would have been shot down three times by the end of the war.
    That’s why the difference in numbers.
  2. olifus
    olifus 26 May 2011 12: 49
    left for retraining for Aerocobra at the end of December 1942, and returned to the front only on April 9, 1942

    what is that supposed to mean?
  3. Skills
    26 May 2011 13: 33
    Before the re-formation, from the beginning of the war he fought on the MiG-3 and Yak-1, re-armed on the P-39 "Air Cobra", there was a typo in April 1942 - April -1943 return to service
  4. slan
    slan 26 May 2011 21: 06
    If they do not lie, the USSR had really clearer accounting and not 1.5 times. I would not be surprised if among the passing German aces there were copies that were not shot at all, but stupidly sawing fictitious victories with the same thieving bosses. The main thing is not who votes how, but who counts the votes (c) It is strange to realize that 60 years ago the Russians won in practice, and the Germans on paper. This is how things have changed since ..
  5. DAGESTAN333
    DAGESTAN333 27 May 2011 10: 26
    Well, now everything is clear, but it all looked strange.
  6. Denzel13
    Denzel13 April 26 2012 01: 07
    Another author of the article, having read Toliver and Constable, or their retellers like Zefirov.

    Just like that for an example:
    24.08.1944/290/296 (you understand in what state at that time the situation was in the air and who dictated the conditions to whom) - Hartman flew in the morning to hunt and on his return reported that he no longer had 5, but 11 downed aircraft. That his follower apparently confirmed under oath, or rather signed in a special form. Then he had lunch and flew again. This flight was monitored by radio communications and our "superhero" did not disappoint. He said 2 more victories in the second sortie on the radio. 1944 shot down in 52 sorties in 24.08.1944 !. He returned - flowers to him, etc. etc., but there is such a fact - in the JG-39 combat log it is worth that on XNUMX/XNUMX/XNUMX Hartman shot down one P-XNUMX. One! All!
    Still have questions about Hartman?
    There is something to continue.

    And according to the accounts of German "experts", there are such considerations. I strongly advise you to read the book by Y. Mukhin "Aces and Propaganda" on this matter. If we discard the excessive, in my subjective opinion, politicization, then very interesting facts remain:
    1) Once on the Eastern Front, the German "experts" began to increase the astronomical accounts of the downed Red Army planes.
    2) Having fallen to the Western front after the Eastern Front, the same experts very sharply lost activity, bringing down 10-20 times less in a longer period of time.
    From the foregoing, the conclusion suggests itself that the Anglo-American pilots were better prepared and it was harder for the Germans to shoot them down.
    But fact No. 3 - the best ace of the Allies, excluding the Red Army, had 38 shot down (remember how many aces we had shot down more than 40), and in quantitative terms the Allied pilots who shot down more than 5 aircraft of the Axis were more than 10 times less than in the Red Army .
    You can also correlate the losses on the Eastern Front among the Germans and on the Western. Often the Germans, according to their accounts, "destroyed" more than there was in any sector of the front of our aircraft. Take, for example, the air battle over the Blue Line in the Kuban in 1943. This is because how could a German pilot fill out reporting forms for 9-10 American bombers shot down in one battle in the sky over Berlin, when everyone saw how many of them actually fell, also taking into account the strongest anti-aircraft cover? The Eastern Front is another matter - who will check how many downed Soviet planes fell, especially behind the front line?
    And fact No. 4 - German pilots were given a cross on the Eastern Front for shooting down, at different times of the war, from 50 to 150 aircraft, and on the West they received a similar award for 10-15 aircraft (which, incidentally, corresponded to our GSS). Here again, you can apply the above fact number 3 regarding the pilots of the Allies. In general, on the Western Front, with postscript was more difficult, because in sight. And then the system of points, and not guaranteed destroyed aircraft, did its job there too.

  7. Alf
    Alf 12 June 2012 15: 25
    Application form for counting downed aircraft in the Luftwaffe:
    1. Report of the pilot himself. (Well, it’s not even worth discussing, you can ascribe 20 to yourself at a time)
    2. Report slave. ( See above)
    3. Report of the group commander. (Same above)
    4. Film machine gun film. (If the plane exploded in the frame, then there are no options, but if it smokes, it goes down, but it leveled off and went home, then how?)
    5. Confirmation of ground units. (The German fighters were mainly free to hunt for the front line. Since 1942, the front line stood roughly in place, since 1943 it moved to the West, so it was quite difficult to verify the victory)
    I do not claim that all German victories were fictitious, but classmates of all countries were approximately the same in terms of performance characteristics, in some ways better, in something worse. The training of pilots is about the same, again, plus or minus (the German pilot, falling into the unit in the summer of the 44th, had a 28-hour raid, the American -100-120). So why is there such a wild difference?
  8. Pelican
    Pelican 24 December 2012 22: 16
    It would be good to calculate the dry residue. Our combat losses of 46 thousand vehicles. And the Luftwaffe on the eastern front? I did not find sensible numbers on the Internet.
  9. Alex
    Alex 23 June 2014 18: 52
    The article is a complete blizzard. The way Hartman achieved victories for himself, even in a feverish delirium, will not be imagined, and Rall's surname with the letter "B" in front to write just right. One thing is not clear: how did such eyewash work in the army of "the most pedantic nation in the world"?
    The article is a clear minus.
      ALEXEY TSENTILLO 24 August 2017 15: 41
      This is propaganda, at the beginning of Goebels and then the CIA .....
      It’s profitable to blacken the Soviet ones and it’s not so scary
      Hartmann began to be promoted by Goebbels’s department after the previous Aryan super duper died (I do not remember the surname but was more cute than Hartmann)
      In the book “Hauptmann’s diary of the Luftwaffe”, G. Lippert describes how the Luftwaffe pilots took turns firing on the IL-2 and several times, each wrote himself two three downed ..... this is the answer ....
      Most of Goering's “aces” were destroyed on the eastern front .....
      Yes, read the "Blond Knight of the Reich" by Tolliver and Constable - Hartmann is directly above the Americans; ......
      And the chapter is about how "hordes of Asians of diagonal Mongoloids surround German cities and rape everyone" ..... it's just a masterpiece ....
  10. err322
    err322 21 November 2014 16: 54
    The article is richly composed.
    But to remove from it 2 useless "conclusions":
    1. "But what is interesting is that we lost the war, including the air one."
    2. "... but they were losing the war, including the air one."

    Reader alex
    and not only

    feverish hartman?
    You are about ace Erich Alfred Hartmnnand?
    Just how artistically he escaped from captivity ...

    Is it ace Gunter Rall?
    see wiki: 621 sortie, shot down 8 times
    (KA-ARROCHE, scribble-liar, hiding in the rear!),
    3 times wounded.
    For 1 departure, 0,44 shot down. Suggests thought. Who really what.

    If it’s just a shame for you, then again in the wiki:
    G.-J. Marcel in Africa on the same mess 06.06.42 shot down 6 in 11 minutes. 01.09.42/17/XNUMX he shot down XNUMX.

    Annoying "eyewash"?
    But on the Eastern Front, there could be condescension to death row
    (already in the Soviet Air Force, "some" flyers as soon as possible bombed in the woods and their own).
    In the West, over densely populated resorts
    the pilot, who did not want to thunder on the East, behaved more modestly.

    I'm not running into you, I'm talking about the point of view / reference from "their".