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Other WWI Aviation Airfields, equipment, tactics, training, uniforms and all other WWI aviation topics

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Old 14 October 2002, 11:31 AM   #1
GrzeM
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Hi!
Various countries had various "aces-systems".
For example Austrians credited with the victory ALL the aviators who participated in shooting down enemy plane. Germans credited victory to only one pilot.
I wonder how it affected tactics and general combat efficiency of the fighters.
I know that sometimes German pilots went too far in rivalisation, and tried to shot down a plane which was attacked by other German pilot (Lothar vR?).

It all looks like cooperation vs. rivalisation dilemma.

What do you think about it?

Cheers!
G.
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Old 14 October 2002, 12:16 PM   #2
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In general, I'd rather see cooperation than a bunch of guys trying to gain the upper hand over the enemy AND his flight mates.

But that's just me.
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Old 14 October 2002, 03:53 PM   #3
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I really don't think a case can be made to support the theory that victory credit systems had a significant effect on combat tactics.

While German records do indicate that pilots often fought over kills, even chasing some to the ground after they were clearly doomed, this premise assumes that the victor has such absolute control over the fight that he can disregard his own personal safety and concentrate only on scoring kills.

I suggest that in the vast majority of cases, the situation was exactly the opposite... pilots were so concerned for their own survival and so threatened during combat that they had little time to fuss over victories in the heat of battle. If debates over victories were to occur, the would occur circumstantially after the fact and have little or no effect on a pilot's conduct or strategy during the action itself.
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Old 15 October 2002, 08:04 AM   #4
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Concur. While I won't state that concern over credits NEVER effected combat behavior, it would be rare and probably short lived(!) Basically, you do what you gotta do at the time.
Often lost in the static is the basic reason why victory credits were established in the first place: to assess damage to the enemy. Shortly it became almost an end unto itself, but from a professional perspective the German system clearly is superior to the others. The French system comes second with the Brits a lap and a half back from there. In the French system, as long as distinction is made between individual and bottom-line "scores" we're OK. With the OOC/DD/FTL nonsense, it's easy to look at the total and determine that Our Side is doing splendidly when in fact it may turn out below parity. The system might have had some merit in 1915; not in '16.
Combining "moral" victories with honest error among the "destroyed" categories, it's likely the Brits overclaimed by a factor of 5 or 6. Of course, if you have absolute air supremacy, it doesn't matter much. In times of crisis (i.e., situation normal) it can lead to dangerous conclusions.
Lest I seem too parochial, the USAS didn't do a lot better. Far too many "kills" were credited not only for OOCs, but "e/a dived east" and even "Fokker last seen in vertical bank." >
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Old 15 October 2002, 02:01 PM   #5
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Thanks all!
But, Barret, what do you think about Austrian system? I'm mostly interested in Austrians!
Cheers!
G.
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Old 20 October 2002, 03:25 PM   #6
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Barrett: At one point it seemed logical to me that indivdual victories were a good measure of how your team was doing, but I now wonder about that, at least in regards to the RFC. I read recently about Trenchard's mistrust of claims made by individuals. My understanding is that he much preferred information that came from broader avenues. Reports from squadron or wing that passed victory and loss information and its implications through the more discerning eyes of commanders who sent men out every day had a larger impact than individual accounts. Of course, there was the problem of complainers being removed (degummed), so reports must have strained with objectivity. Individual victories (aces) took on importance as a propaganda tool rather late for the British, but I suspect the first instances where accounts of British pilots being able to hold their own came during the "Fokker fodder" discussions in the House of Commons. So reports of individual successes were first directed at politicians. With the need to smooth the public's feathers and, through them, the politico's after the Somme, indivdual victories became more important as a propaganda tool aimed at the public. This reflects a change not in the RFC command's attitude, Trenchard did not like the creation of aces, but in the Army Council's and GHQ's attitude toward propaganda and something positive for the folks back home.
 
Old 21 October 2002, 01:53 PM   #7
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Oh, the AUSTRIAN system! From the way Marty O'Connor explained things, I'd say it's a combination of the poor aspects of the French and British systems: shares count for a full credit, including FTLs. :P
But evidently no OOCs. 8)
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Old 22 October 2002, 04:18 PM   #8
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Exactly!
Shares count for a full credit - which can promote team-working. Or don't?
I'm interested if it really worked.
BTW, Austrians needed solid confirmations to be credited.
Cheers!
G.
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Old 23 October 2002, 03:46 AM   #9
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Whether it "worked" or not depended on if the true intent of the system was indeed to promote teamwork.

Personally, I doubt it. And in my limited reading on the subject, it seems as if the Itlians didn't actually have better teamwork and organizational training than the Austro-Hungarians. The death of Joseph Purer seems to be one of many combat examples, though I realize that any such analysis is hopelessly subjective.
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