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2001 Closed threads from 2001 (read only)

 
 
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Old 18 November 2001, 05:59 PM   #1
leo
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I understand that training for fighter pilots differed from one country to another. How did it differ? I imagine that it varied from time to time, depending on the situation at the front. Supposedly German training was considered to be better than English or French training. Was that because of method or length of the training regime?
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Old 1 December 2001, 06:18 PM   #2
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Leo:
* * This is only an opinion, based on what I have read and conversations I had years ago with British and American pilots and one German pilot. *I would characterize the British system as the best sytem and the French the worst. The Gosport system became the standard for the U.S.Army after WW1. *The training of fighter pilots seemed to be better with the RFC/RAF system. It is only an opinion. The biggest influence on me was my many conversations with Paul Winslow (flew S.E.5a with 56 Sqdn RAF). He told me that he was slated to go out to a Camel squadron and was sent Ayr Scotland for fighter training. He absolutely detested the Camel, he crashed one on his first takeoff. He went to the C.O. and asked for S.E.5s and that is what he was trained. They were taught acrobatics, air to air gunnery, combat formation flying and were encouraged to go play!
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *Bluer skies,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Dan-San 8)
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Old 1 December 2001, 11:49 PM   #3
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And this is my differing opinion, Leo:

There was never existing “the British System” or “the German system”. Systems were changing with the time. As well the word “systems” is hiding that - despite of common rules – the quality of training could be very different in different schools. And even the quality of training in the same school(s) knew ups and downs. So the quality of single pilots could differ a lot despite of a common “system”. Therefore you can always find pilots who will tell you that their training did not consider this or that exercise which was offically demanded!

There is absolutely no doubt for me that the German system was better than the British system until Gosport – and the latter came very late in 1917 and needed also time to be pressed through. So for the most of the time the German system was definitive better, additionaly the German figher pilots were in general – I am not speaking about 1918 – not bloody beginners but experienced double seater pilots who were easier to train than the British newbies. Already the German training for double seater pilots required an amassing of many starts and landings ( a pilot making his third examina could have 150 and more!) under very different conditions – so the common killings in landing accidents etc. were lower than in the British Air Services. On the side of quality all the above mentioned activties by Dan-San were not unfamiliar to German pilots and possibly introduced earlier than by the Britons. As well the German training seemed to be focused more on practical use value. Also psychological checks of pilots were already introduced early in the war (but I assume with insufficient methods).

IMHO in April 1917 the training of the German fighter pilots with the examinations for double seaters, the additional examina for fighter pilots, the Kampfeinsitzer-Schule and the Jagdstaffel-Schule was on the top of all. Only the more hastily training after April 1917 and especially in 1918 did not improve and maybe even worsen the average quality of German fighter pilots. Nevertheless the high scores of the German fighter pilots against Gosports-examiners also in 1918 were not only the result of the Fokker D.VII and “furor teutonicus”. I think the British pilots should have had more success if Gosport was significant superior in 1918, especially under consideration of the superior British numbers.

For more information about the German training I advice the relevant chapters in Neumann: “Die deutschen Luftstreitkräfte im Weltkriege” and Potempa: „Die Königlich-Bayerische Fliegertruppe 1914-1918”.

BTW from todays point of view the most training procedures of this time in all states were insufficient and heavy losses already in training were the result.

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Old 2 December 2001, 05:41 PM   #4
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The camel was responsible for a large number of training casualties. Did the Germans have any planes that were anywhere near as problematic as the Sopwith.

Thank you Dan-San And Rammjaeger.
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Old 3 December 2001, 09:27 AM   #5
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Rammjaeger, thanks for an illuminating discussion. We just don't seen enough material on German flight training. There is definitely room for a book on pre- and WW I pilot training in the major countries; just depends on availablity of primary sources.
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Old 5 December 2001, 08:17 AM   #6
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The camel was responsible for a large number of training casualties.
British primary training aircraft (especially Farmans) probably killed more cadets than did Camels.

I think that in terms of design, the Gosport system (and it was a system) was superior. In terms of application, I think that the German system may well have been superior (though I think that the German system was also responding to different demands and could afford to be more selective).

If the British suffered high casualty rates at times in 1918, it's likely because aircrew were rushed to the front with insufficient training, just as was the case in spring 1917.

I'm curious, Rammjaeger: do you know what methods the German air service used to select scout pilots? The RAF used an early form of psychological profiling once the Gosport system was established, but I'd love to know what sorts of exams or interviews a prospective Jasta pilot had to go through.
 
Old 5 December 2001, 09:54 PM   #7
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I came last night back from a research travel and have a lot to do. Therefore I will answer to the question of this thread and others later.

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Old 6 December 2001, 03:29 AM   #8
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How do the french tarining compare with the UK and German one any idea?
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Old 6 December 2001, 12:00 PM   #9
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Leo,

I am not aware of such a killer as the Camel or Farman but that is possibly the result of lacking statistics about “Which German machine was how often used and killed how many people”. Every old plane could kill its crew very fast if the airmen reacted wrong in a dangerous situation. Steep turns or a simple short wind blow finished off many lives because the difference between cruising speed and stalling speed was low. Sloppy quality checks in production demanded many victims etc. etc. Repeatedly I have noticed that specific machines were called “Verbrechermaschine” (Criminal machine) because these machines were infamous for injuring or killing trainees but I won´t generalize considering the type without statistics.
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Old 6 December 2001, 12:09 PM   #10
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The typical career of a German fighter pilot coming to the field in April 1917 shows the following basic stages (rough overview):

1. Volunteering to the German Air Force: The candiate was often wounded before and therefore unfit for infantry or other services!

2. Untersuchungskommission/Truppenarzt (Army doc): First check (healthiness: eye sight, nerves, reactions etc. but also clean service record etc.), transfer to a Replacement unit / airfield.

3. Untersuchungskommission/Flugplatzarzt (Air Force doc):
Main check in a FEA or Park (like before but on a higher level, more aviation specific).

4. Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung *(Aviation Replacement Unit): * * *Test flight („Einschaukeln“) as Passenger,Basic training with simple duties like cleaning the hangar, help in repairs etc.,transfer to Fliegerschule.

5. Fliegerschule (belonged to a FEA, responsible for training until 2. examina): Flights with trainer in 2-seater (av. 60-65 reported by Potempa but I have seen also cases of only 13 or so) before Soloflights
I. Examina (Pilot)
II. Examina (Feldpilot/Field Pilot) then back to FEA

6. Flieger-Ersatz-Abteilung: * * *
III. Examina (Flugmeister/Flight Master)

7. Armee-Flug-Park (near the front):
III. Examina, if not already done in FEA,preparation for service in a Flieger-Abt.

8. Flieger-Abteilung: ACTION!!! Double seater pilot, hopefully with experienced old observer,
after a determined number of front flights *(or an especially bolt action) awarded with the Pilots badge.

9. Volunteering as a fighter pilot: send back for further training via AFP/FEA to

10. Kampfeinsitzer-Schule: Re-training for oneseaters with examina for D- and E-Flugzeuge (Oneseaters).

11. Jagdstaffel-Schule: Training for better mastery of the fighter plane and flying in close units etc., newest tactics, air combat, ballon attacks etc.

12. Jagdstaffel: *(A good) Jastaleader examines the newcomer and then: ACTION!!! Fighter pilot.

I have many more to say and to explain - maybe tomorrow.
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