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Viking

The top 3?

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@malpaso  That sounds interesting, does he have any photos, history etc. Any new info is good info.

 

@Antoine   From a strictly logical point it is better to kill anyone on the opposing side, old men, women and children included makes war much simpler. Let's face it, the Americans could have won Vietnam hands down if they had just employed a scorched earth policy and killed everyone in sight, same goes for Iraq and Afghanistan in more recent times. They had the resources to do it, even send in a nuke or two but rules of war prevented them from doing it. Many pilots didn't just have chivalrous intentions in letting enemy pilots survive once they were out of the fight. There was a hope that, should you find yourself in the same position then at least you would have a chance of surviving. A lot of pilots had an intense dislike of those in their own ranks who 'finished off' pilots who had bailed out or crashed for this very reason. I am willing to bet that, when his squadron mates and others called Caldwell 'Killer', they didn't mean it in a positive way. I gather a case in point is Caldwells' own reason for doing it was the very thing that pilots were afraid of. That is he started doing it because he had seen it done to a friend of his by the opposition.

 

Like I said earlier every man sets a line they will not cross for their own peace of mind and some don't have a line at all. Typically the 'atrocities' occur when the lines are crossed.

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14 minutes ago, Beardie said:

Typically the 'atrocities' occur when the lines are crossed.

 

We've just crossed one!

We're completely O/T!

:smartass:

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I would agree with 'Viking's' top three, myself.

 

Boelcke definitely as the founder of the trade, its first systematic thinker. Claims of 'chivalry' mean little to me, but the man who emerges from his letters is an engaging individual. He was forward looking, highly intelligent, and his character an odd mixture of the self-disciplined striver, and imp and rebel. A man it would probably be fun, and expensive, to play cards with.

 

McCudden embodies more than anyone else, I think, the workaday character of a citizen-soldier. That he did come up from the ranks is a reflection of his character, of his precision and studiousness. He was the supreme technician of the air in the Great War, and a meticulous observer of what he did and saw. His memoir is indispensable; the em-purpled title under which it is sold notwithstanding.

 

Guynemer was the most inspirational of all the men who emerged as 'aces' in the Great War. Many were lionized, but Guynemer came to embody the fighting spirit of France, to the point that even when he finally was brought down, a generation of school-children nodded at the tale he had simply flown too high to come down. Even with a full weight of national media behind the effort, only an extraordinary character could strike so deeply home to its people.

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On 30/07/2017 at 10:12 PM, Beardie said:

He claimed two kills flying the elephant

Considering the RFC's way to confirm claims, those "kills" may well have been just an aircraft diving out of view...

But maybe they've been confirmed since by checking the other side's records?

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No, the RFC/RAF were very strict on their accounting.

A 'kill' was only allowed if an independent observer on the ground saw the machine crash out of control.

A pilot could claim a 'possible' of an aeroplane seen diving out of control

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3 hours ago, Black Knight said:

A 'kill' was only allowed if an independent observer on the ground saw the machine crash out of control.

Well, the RFC was in fact the only air force to award credit for a claim WITHOUT any verification from the ground.

And "out of control", "driven down", "forced to land", all just count as the same: A kill or victory.

It was only late in 1918 that RFC (RAF?) ceased to count "out of control" as victories.

This is acknowledged by most British historians working on the subject.

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At this late date it is very hard to say anything with certainty about the victories of different pilots so I think it we have to take these things at face value.

Going back to my sources it is actually three successes he is credited with while flying the Elephant (whether they are absolute victories aside). One shared with other aircraft (Albatros D.I), one listed as destroyed by him alone (Fokker Eindekker) and one credited as driven down out of control (Fokker Eindekker).

 

Gilmours' medal citations suggest that he was a very talented pilot, fighter and leader.

 

Many pilots tallies have been called into question by researchers and historians over the years which, to me, serves no constructive purpose and I can't quite see why some seem so determined to belittle the efforts and achievements of men who went over and above the call of duty.

 

 

 

 

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Hello

Antoine, are you sure those types of victory claims had been abandoned by RAF? USAS copied British system, so ˝out of control˝ and other similar claims appear on victory lists to the end of the war. To me it looks more like Brits had relatively quickly realised that air war is little different from fighting on the ground in sense that both are basically war of attrition. So, accuracy of claims is secondary to its moral building and propaganda value. Victories had been ˝reassigned˝ (2nd Lt. Bishop's first victory had been initially attributed to 2nd Lt. Bower, who had been killed two days after that) at squadron CO discretion. I am not certain about RFC/RAF, but in USAS victories had been confirmed by squadron commanders and those who also flew in combat confirmed their own claims. IIRC, two Rickenbacker's victories, that fall into ˝forced to land˝ category, are actually two German planes, which landed on their own side of the front. On the other side situation was hardly any different as Göring at least twice attempted to persuade pilots under his command to falsely testify in support of his claims. Cheers

Jure

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5 hours ago, Beardie said:

Many pilots tallies have been called into question by researchers and historians over the years which, to me, serves no constructive purpose and I can't quite see why some seem so determined to belittle the efforts and achievements of men who went over and above the call of duty.

The constructive purpose is just to write History, and not fairy tales.

I don't see this as a matter of determination to belittle the dids of anybody.

 

4 hours ago, Jure Miljevic said:

Hello

Antoine, are you sure those types of victory claims had been abandoned by RAF? 

Jure

No, I'm not sure, Jure.

Beside, it's from memory, as I don't have my books handy.

I stand to be corrected.

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The problem with written history is that everyone sees it from their own perspective, highlights the things they want and twist, ignore or even downright change the things they don't. The older I get the more I come to think that history(as written) is to some extent a fiction and you have to best guess what is most likely to be the truth.

I am not even sure that the RFC/RAF as an organisation was terribly interested in how many individual victories any given pilot acquired. From a tactical standpoint it is somewhat irrelevant as an operation has been more successful if the enemy has simply been denied the ability to operate over the battlefield and gain intelligence on your movements or that their bombers have failed to reach their targets. If anything pilots who go off scrapping for their personal tally are not helping with the tactical aim of gaining air superiority.

 

I think that, unless there is proof that victory claims are wrong, we have to take them on face value until such time as proof becomes available otherwise by calling into question claims made for individuals who are no longer able to defend themselves we are doing a dis-service to their memory.

 

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1 hour ago, Beardie said:

I am not even sure that the RFC/RAF as an organisation was terribly interested in how many individual victories any given pilot acquired.

Indeed!

During the first part of the war, their name weren't even communicated to the press for the daily report.

It was exactly the reverse in France.

Things changed in september 1916 with Albert Ball and an article published by the Daily Mail, even taken over by the French press.

He's sent back to the UK as an instructor a month latter, welcomed as a hero, and receiving a bar to his DSO at Buckingham.

From then on, the RFC changed his mind about the way to deal with "aces".

 

1 hour ago, Beardie said:

I think that, unless there is proof that victory claims are wrong, we have to take them on face value until such time as proof becomes available otherwise by calling into question claims made for individuals who are no longer able to defend themselves we are doing a dis-service to their memory.

This is not my point, as I've asked if there was confirmation from the other side.

As after all, claims are just that: Claims.

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Well in answer to that in this particular case, no, or at least I am not aware of it. I know some claims from the Great War have been verified (and some discounted) by checking of German records but that task is gargantuan plus a great deal of the German records were lost forever due to bombing raids by the allies during the second world war.

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That's true, but a few crosschecks are still possible through a few very good books.

I will, as soon as I get my bookshelves back.

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Posted (edited)

This is an excellent and very interesting thread.

 

This poor fellow could be in the top three just for having to endure such a long name!

Captain Andrew Frederick Weatherby Beauchamp-Proctor, VC, DSO, MC & Bar, DFC

Edited by gregair

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At #1 I'd have to put all those nameless, forgotten pilots of both sides who crawled into obsolete or inappropriate aircraft to drone slowly over the lines observing, photographing, and being more or less helpless targets for everything the enemy could bring to bear.  They are of course the real reason for air forces, with fighters being derivative.

 

Of the pilots we do get to know well, I'm a fan of Mannock.  Partly because I share his politics in a service that was well-populated with ruling class types.  Partly because he was a very human personality: older than most, it took him a long time to master his fear and tendency to think things through (maybe not a great habit in so dangerous a job), and clearly like most Great War pilots he was severely anxious and mentally ill for much of 1918.  I believe his hatred of the Germans and his wish to kill his adversaries was heightened greatly during 1918, when as a commander he was responsible for the young, dubiously-trained pilots sent to the front.  He had probably also reflected on the reasons for the world being in the situation it was, murdering a generation of young men, and made his conclusion. In part, this determination to kill is partly just a rejection of the 'chivalry' many saw in the fighting.

 

There are many individuals from the history of air fighting whose skills in a plane I can admire, but perhaps in part because it's such a young man's game there are far fewer whom I respect as men.

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On 8/18/2017 at 5:13 AM, Beardie said:

From a strictly logical point it is better to kill anyone on the opposing side, old men, women and children included makes war much simpler.

this was the approach of guys like 'Bomber' Harris and Curtis LeMay. by the Great War, Part Deux chivalry was not an option, except on occasion (the German ace who escorted a B-17 to safety comes to mind. can't remember who he was but there's a book about it) 

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Collishaw's claims seem to have stood up very well. Bishop's, partly due to the nature of his tactics (lone wolf) and partly due to his penchant for self promotion, has come under a lot of scrutiny, including by some with an apparent ax to grind... 

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