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1999 Closed threads from 1999 (read only)

 
 
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Old 30 December 1999, 09:17 PM   #1
Barrett
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First things first. OK, *I* know it's not yet the end of the millennium, even if Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and the other blatherers don't. However, seeing as it's IMPOSSIBLE for anyone else to claim the title in the next 12 months, I feel safe in announcing the finalists. Based on the criteria of innovation, leadership, personal record, and lasting influence, they are:

5. Erich Hartmann
4. Manfred von Richthofen
3. Werner Molders
2. John S. Thach
1. Oswald Boelcke

With the exception of fifth place, which is subject to amendment, the above results are historically, factually, and interpretively beyond debate.
Commentary, however, is inevitable.
"Let the games begin!"
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Old 31 December 1999, 01:00 AM   #2
Axel Schudak
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Live to learn...

Not that I would argue your ranking, but who is John S. Thach?

I am not so deep into aviation history, so I would like to learn about the ace you put at nr. 2.

Thanks

Axel
 
Old 31 December 1999, 01:44 AM   #3
Rich Hicks
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Axel,

John S. "Jimmy" Thach was a Naval Aviator, who was in command of VF-3 when the attack on Pearl Harbor brought the US into WWII. The F4F Wildcats with which the USN was equipped at that time were generally outclassed by the Japanese Zero fighter. Thach's best known contribution was the "Thach weave", a defensive maneuver performed by two Wildcats, which, if done correctly, became Offensive. This is one of the reasons the USN was able to gain Air Superiority, and hold on with inferior planes, until better aircraft like the Hellcats and Corsairs came along. One of the best-known early war photos is of Thach and Edward "Butch" O'Hare (the USN's first Medal of Honor winning fighter pilot in WWII), flying in formation in their F4F-3's. Thach is credited with 6 victories.

After the Battle of Midway, Thach was on the staff of the Chief of Naval Operations Training.In 1944, he was on the staffs of Adm Mitscher and McCain in the Pacific. Thach was invited by Adm Halsey to participate in the surrender on board the USS Missouri.

During the Korean War, he was in command of the USS Sicily, and served 2 tours off the Korean coast. Later commanded the USS Franklin D Roosevelt. Retired in 1967, as CinC. US Naval Forces, Europe. The frigate USS Thach (FFG-43)is named in his honor.

Rich
 
Old 31 December 1999, 04:09 AM   #4
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Barrett

Don't stop at five. Go on. Where would you place Hans-Joachim Marseille?

VBR
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Old 31 December 1999, 08:43 AM   #5
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Rich's description of Jimmy Thach's contribution is right on. Only thing to add is that his "beam defense" tactic formed the basis of "loose deuce" in the jet age, which held (holds) up even in an air-air missile environment. Thach's doctrine essentially supplanted Molders' finger four, which some air forces still use. The USAF retained finger four throughout Vietnam and sometimes got hammered as a result.
Anyway, the enduring nature of Boelcke and Thach's contributions easily rates them No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.
I considered Marseille as No. 5 but he and Hartmann essentially did the same thing--led staffels while building huge scores. Hartmann eventually was a nominal group CO but he remained much more a shooter than a leader.
Marseille would be waaaay up there on the list of Fighter Pilots of the Millennium, especially since we now know that over 80% of his claims were valid. Russell Guest in Australia is tracking that subject.
As for Nos 6-10--hoo boy! I'll toss out five names that occur to me and the forum can thrash 'em over. Remember: we're looking for influential leaders & innovators.

Douglas Bader (RAF WW II)
Robin Olds (USAF WW II & VN)
Keith Park (BrisFits WW I, RAF Fighter Command WW II)
MTS Pattle (S Africa WW II)
Alexander Pokryshkin (USSR WW II)

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Old 31 December 1999, 11:39 AM   #6
leo
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I would include Hauptmann Godwin Brumowski. He flew quite successfully for an airforce which was deficient in numbers and equipment. His boss, Major General Emil Uzelac, the only WWI AF commander who was a licensed pilot and a diplomaed
engineer.

By the way, I was not able to access the Aerodrome for about three days. Did anyone else have a probleM?

Happy New Year, everyone.

leo
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Old 31 December 1999, 10:29 PM   #7
Cliff Presley
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Barrett:

I am curious where MG Frederick C. Blesse, USAF might stand in your list? "CHECK YOUR SIX"

Cliff Presley
 
Old 1 January 2000, 06:35 AM   #8
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<< 5. Erich Hartmann
4. Manfred von Richthofen
3. Werner Molders
2. John S. Thach
1. Oswald Boelcke >>
Boelcke I agree... Richthofen, yes..
I don't know the WWII aces, but I do remember from the game Aces over Europe that there was this one amazing German ace with over 400 kills..

now as for my top 5 WWI aces:
Boelcke, MvR, Ball, Rickenbacker (disputable yes I know but have you read his autobio?), and for number 5... I'd say Nungesser, because he survived the whole war as a flyer.
 
Old 1 January 2000, 08:09 AM   #9
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First things first, I guess. Hartmann is THE world's top fighterguy with 352 credited kills. Nobody got 353!
I published Gen. Blesse's memoir, "Check Six," at Champlin Museum Press. He was a talented stick but not an innovator along the lines of Boelcke or Thach by any means. Largely, he synthesized the corporate knowledge of the F-86 community with "No Guts, No Glory," along with some other folks like Joe McConnell and Ralph Parr.
BTW: there's a beautifully restored P-47D flying these days with the colors of a 9th AF Thunderbolt named "No Guts No Glory."
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Old 1 January 2000, 09:24 AM   #10
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Barret
Does Sailor Malan fit into the picture?
I've heard the story that he used to shoot up a German bomber and then leave it to the rookies to finish off. That way they could get some much needed experience and self confidence. Any truth in this?

VBR
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