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dieseltaylor

Film of Stuka 87G in action

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Basically as this link to the film comes on page 6 of the "Thorn in the Tiger' side" thread it was unlikely to get much viewing.

That thread has become quite groggy about planes killing tanks. The general agreement is that they were very effective against soft targets and caused great morale problems.

The nub has come to the point where, based on research on normandy battles, some are decrying the supposed aces of Russia with tank kills in the hundreds. If you want to read about all the details please go there. As the formatting has also gone a little loopy I will bring the arguement to here. Edit format back to normal on page 7

The film is here

http://www.ww2aircraft.net/

Look in " Aircraft Requests"

You may need to join, it is instantaneous, to download the film. If anyone speaks German it would be handy. It is poor quality and late war by the look of things and we may not be looking at proper Rudel attack techniques. It does give the rate of fire beautifully though.

[ August 12, 2005, 12:51 AM: Message edited by: dieseltaylor ]

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I watched the movie, the text says nothing about kills by the plane. It does not link the disabled IS-2 to the plane attack directly, at best it is an indirect link due to the juxtaposition of the tank and the air attack in the movie, but without watching the whole movie of which this clip is a part, I would not make that link, and if I were to make it I would call it propaganda. smile.gif

As I posted in the other thread, I do not believe for a second that Rudel got 500+ tank kills. Unless each of those involved someone walking to the 500+ tank wrecks in question and verify it.

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No that plane did seem a little more rapid than slow speed. I assumed it ewas not a breakthrough area and the plane was worrying about flak hence a speedy pass. Propaganda film for sure but nice to enjoy.

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Originally posted by dieseltaylor:

No that plane did seem a little more rapid than slow speed. I assumed it ewas not a breakthrough area and the plane was worrying about flak hence a speedy pass.

On what do you base this assumption? I could equally well assume it was a breakthrough area, because of the presence of the IS-2 - a tank generally assigned to support infantry breakthroughs in Soviet doctrine.

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Andreas if you recall from the other thread it was armoured breakthroughs that were regarded as the best target as they often would outrun or lose their AA support.

If it is an infantry breakthrough I think we can asume that mobile AA would also be there hence my comment . I bitterly regret not mentioning I did not see it as an armoured breakthrough. : )

I have posted on the other re: your last comment

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As a private pilot I'd say that plane was going pretty slowly, maybe 100 knots which is probably fairly close to stall speed for a plane of that size without flaps down (which I can't see in the movie). Worked out very roughly, he fires for about 2 seconds and in that time flies for about 10 or 15 plane lengths, say 100 meters which gives 180kph or about 100 knots.

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Thank you very much Captain Pies that will be so useful in our debate : ) Now to find out if Typhoons and Thunderbolts were going faster in their ineffective efforts : ) Actually I am sure the answer is a big yes!!!

In case you are interested I have seen the 87B quoted with a cruising speed of 180mph and the 87D at 115mph. How true I know not but an interesting reduction!

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The only informative part about it, for me, was the rounds fired. 3-4 at each pass. Most unlikely to hit with so few rounds, it seems to me.

The IL-2 carried 150 rounds per gun for its 23mm, and fired them at 550 rpm per gun or about 18 rounds per second. Likely firing 20-40 rounds on a single pass, an order of magnitude more.

There is an interesting interview with an IL-2 pilot here -

http://www.iremember.ru/pilots/khukhrikov/khukhrikov.html

Notable that he flew 84 sorties and was never engaged in air to air combat.

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Jason C

"A certain amount of dogmatism and pigheadedness is necessary in science." - Karl Popper

"The only informative part about it, for me, was the rounds fired. 3-4 at each pass. Most unlikely to hit with so few rounds, it seems to me."

You seem to carry your motto into the realms of WW2 history also. If it was really that unlikely that 87G's hit anything with so few rounds do you really think they would have gone on producing them? Perhaps it can be explained as a conspiracy by pilots to talk them up so they could loaf around the battlefield. Your opinion sixty years later does not seem to weigh as much as the probability that in fact it did hit and kill targets.

Thanks for the link.

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Andreas,

only the confirmed kills are counted.

Each one needs to be confirmed undoubtedly by another soldier and if two claimed the self hit, it wasn't counted twice.

The Germans were extremely strict about that.

If you are interested in Stuka usage, i suggest to read Rudels war-diary.

There you get a good impression of the effectiveness of the Stuka, which seems to be quite a mysterium here.

The ineffectiveness of Stukas in CM against tanks, where i.e. ILs perform better, indicate, there should be researched a bit more.

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Originally posted by Steiner14:

Andreas,

only the confirmed kills are counted.

Each one needs to be confirmed undoubtedly by another soldier and if two claimed the self hit, it wasn't counted twice.

The Germans were extremely strict about that.

If you are interested in Stuka usage, i suggest to read Rudels war-diary.

There you get a good impression of the effectiveness of the Stuka, which seems to be quite a mysterium here.

Why would you recommend reading a propaganda-laden missive such as STUKA PILOT when much of the discussion so far has revolved around the theme of just how inaccurate that book was?

a) did Rudel consult Russian sources when writing his book? No, because it is a memoir and not a history

B) has anyone attempted to reconcile Rudel's claims with, as JasonC suggests, Russian records? Again, I have to believe the answer is no.

So why, then, would you wade into the middle of a conversation regarding the subject of claim veracity and then suggest doing the exact thing which is at issue?

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Nice clip, not relevant for the reasons Andreas mentioned.

Rudel was, without a doubt, one of the most acomplished pilots of all time. But his kill record, like any pilot's, must be taken with a grain of salt for a great variety of reasons. But even if he actually destroyed 1/5th of what he is claimed to have done, he's still head and shoulders above everybody else. I'm really not sure what all the fuss is about because those trying so hard to defend Rudel's stats don't have a leg to stand on.

Steve

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Originally posted by Battlefront.com:

I'm really not sure what all the fuss is about because those trying so hard to defend Rudel's stats don't have a leg to stand on.

I've noticed over the years (and I am far from the first to do so) that the most furious arguments are those where neither side can present compelling proofs.

;)

In the present case, we have on one side those besotted with the romance of air power, a powerful dream at that. On the other side, the debunkers, those who have had a similar dream punctured and are now eager to convert the world to their side. That's the emotional underpinning.

There is a rational truth out there somewhere, but whether mortal men will ever lay eyes on it...

Michael

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"one side those besotted with the romance of air power"

I do not know if that was aimed at me but in case you were wondering I am not mad on air power and fully accepted in the other thread the figures provided. I agree that in effect it was very good for terrorising the Germans and quoted from their records.

What I found irritating was the extrapolation of the relative ineffectiveness of the Western Allies air against tanks to in some way prove that it could not be done on the Eastern Front in Stuka's.

Jason C. inadvertantly has raised the bar by saying he did not see how, with so few shots, the pilots hit anything. If they therefore could hit neither soft vehicles or tanks then you have to ask why where they in action at all. If you say they can shoot up soft vehicles by the same token they must be able to hit tanks.

The arguement then comes down to the penetration of and target area on the tank. These I have raised on the other thread - apparently without drawing any further discussion.

I do not care what the claimed scores were I am simply not prepared to take West Front figures to the East and declare something is impossible. If someone has more information then let us see it.

I am endeavouring to get to the truth and I care not a jot whether tank-killing is proved effective or not. Either there was a huge conspiracy to make up figures involving many pilots or it could be done and then we are in the realm of how often.

I would suggest that looking at WW1 aces [who operated at the same sort of speeds] and see that some people where much better pilots than others and had a killer instinct. The first Canadian VC winner in WW1 for instance.

Please do not feel I am defending the stated figures, I am asking for more evidence that they are baloney and if so by how much.

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First of all, I for one have not said that it was impossible to hit a tank with gunfire or even to score a kill by that means. Nor do I recall anyone else saying so. What I do say is that it was not done so regularly as to justify the attempt. I know the Germans and all other airforces continued to try, but they continued to do a number of things of doubtful effectiveness. War is like that, you try everything you can, and hope that some of it, enough of it, will work.

So the fact that the Germans persisted in their efforts, and even created a propaganda hero in the process (they did a lot of that too), proves nothing either pro or con.

Originally posted by dieseltaylor:

Please do not feel I am defending the stated figures, I am asking for more evidence that they are baloney and if so by how much.

But that's exactly the problem. Until the Soviet records have been thoroughly searched and happen to turn up some useful figures on losses and their causes, the best that can be said for Rudel's claims are that they are unproven. Since I doubt that the Soviets engaged in the kind of OR that the Western Allies did, it's very likely that there the matter will stand forever.

The best information that we have on the subject of air to ground anti-armor is the information contained in the OR reports that Jon posted. You may well feel that they don't apply to the Eastern Front, and there really is no way to reasonably debate that issue. It may and it may not. But the fact remains that so far those reports are the closest thing to scientific evidence that we have on the subject.

Michael

[ August 12, 2005, 03:35 PM: Message edited by: Michael Emrys ]

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dieseltaylor

Please do not feel I am defending the stated figures, I am asking for more evidence that they are baloney and if so by how much.
Problem with that is you can't prove a negative. Or put another way, the absence of evidence does not mean anything.

It is generally understood that kill scores are inflated for a variety of reasons. Some nations are thought to inflate more than others, some "aces" more than others. The evidence for this is not specific to one ace, but rather to the general examination of evidence. For example, in one air battle (BoB? German claim?) had more enemy shot down that records showed were available for the battle. USAAF revised its early wartime reports downwards later on, especially on strategic boming successes. There are countless other bits of info like this around that indicate a general trend.

So instead of saying "prove Rudel didn't do what he said he did" you should be saying "prove Rudel did do what he said he did".

Like I've said above, I believe the truth is somewhere inbetween. And if Rudel is off by a factor of 5, then probably others are too. So that guy that claimed 5 tanks killed might have only actually killed 1. This is not about knocking down a single guy's record.

The problem with this thread is that somehow this anecdotal kill claim stuff has become entwined in the discussion about the effectiveness of air to ground combat. I say that is a flawed argument. The stuff JonS posted is far, far more relevant (though still contextual).

Steve

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"you have to ask why where they in action at all"

First, few were. Almost all Stukas attacked with bombs - there were precious few Gs, a specialty model. Almost all air to ground missions had soft targets.

Second, I am not merely extrapolating from the west, I am applying the same standards. Only the kill reports on the shot-at side mean anything, given the proven inaccurary of own-side air to ground claims in general. And there aren't even German ground unit reports to confirm the scale of claims, as I've shown. Read the reports of half a dozen panzer divisions heavily supported in the battle of Kursk, and they report one count one platoon of Russian tanks taken out by Stukas. Without specifying whether guns or bombs did it, incidentally.

Third, they would continue to use them if the pilots claimed hits even if the pilots were completely wrong. Nobody is claiming they knew at the time they weren't hitting anything. Pilots in the west thought they were taking out hundreds of tanks when they were taking out only single digits. No evaporating Russian armor columns are in evidence. Detailed op research studies showed pilots were entirely wrong about which of their weapons worked, underrating napalm (lethal even in the wide splash) and overrating strafing and rockets (requiring point accuracy), for example.

Four, high ROF weapons did get occasional hits on soft vehicles, but only occasional ones, and did not destroy gobs of tanks with e.g. multiple 20mm from Typhoons, or paired 23mm from Sturms. They are throwing 10 times as many rounds on a typical pass. There is no reason to think the hit chances per round were appreciably higher with slower firing guns. A fraction of a small fraction were therefore all that can be expected to have hit. Their effect might be slightly better, but behind armor effect of modest AP is limited anyway.

Meanwhile, the other point I have been continually urging is that people have entirely unrealistic expectations about what counts as an effective weapon. So high, very few weapons can count as such. The average weapon system fails to take out a single comparable value item on the other side over its entire operational life. Given their inaccuracy, there is no particular reason to expect FBs use air to ground were above average weapon systems. On the contrary. They were a large investment and did something rather than nothing, no doubt. But resource for resource, the light flak shooting them down in large numbers was probably ten times as effective, maybe a hundred times.

Why do I say that? Well the Russians estimate half their aircraft losses were to ground fire, most of them to light flak. Allied losses to flak almost equally their losses to fighters when the Luftwaffe was intact, and certainly exceeded them after it wasn't (or in areas from which it had been withdrawn). The allies lost many tens of thousands of planes. Total output of German flak was about 100k (roughly 1/3rd heavy and 2/3rds light). The average flak gun probably got one plane, and it cost vastly less to produce.

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Originally posted by JasonC:

The average flak gun probably got one plane, and it cost vastly less to produce.

And was cost efficient also in that it could be used as an effective ground support weapon if the occasion demanded it.

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