Article from Russian war-history magazine.
Autor: Yuri Muchin.
Soviet historians have been writing for a long time now that
Russian aircraft that were "shot down" by German aces were in fact aircraft that
the Germans merely shot at and not really shot down. At the moment of the shooting,
photographs were taken. Film was taken from the German fighters. There is no doubt about
the fact that the Germans shot at the Soviet aircraft but there is not enough proof that
these planes were destroyed.
Without a doubt, especially in the encyclopedias, the thought of German flawlessness was carefully planted. As it turned out, for every plane that was shot down, the Germans, used the photos made with a special photo machine-gun to fill out a 21 question form. Question 9 asked for confirmations from witnesses that a plane was shot down. Could the Germans have truely lied in such circumstances? When the Americans and British had a plane that was shot down in a group battle, they divided their results fractionally-lets say 6.5 kills. For Soviet pilots, such a plane was recorded individually to every participant. This kill would not enter into personal victories. For the Germans the kill would of course be given to that person who made the kill. German fighters flew in pairs so it is understandable that there was a mentality of "you confirm mine today" and "I will confirm yours tommorow." In that case the Germans had no problems with witnesses. The only obstacle to a notice would be the pilots laziness towards the filling out of the 21 question form. But they weren't lazy.
Declarations of victories over Soviet pilots were writen mercilessly. For the example of German "love of work", I will cite the following from "Encyclopedias to also show the level of writing: "November 6, 1943 - during a 17 minute battle over Lake Ladoga. Rudorffer declared his 13 Soviet kills. It was, of course, one of the biggest successes in fighter aviation and one of the most antagonistic battles. Rudorffer's rivals (maybe-critics-U.M.) pointed to the fact that for this day there were no documents confirming these victories. On the other hand it is unknown as to how Rudorffer had enough ammunition; nor how the vicories were confirmed. In the end, this matter can be verified by ground documentation on the losses of Soviet units (if they really existed. For this, the planes really needed to be shot down U.M.). In addition to his work, the hard-working Rudorffer, given blisters from a pen, was entered into the Guinness Book of Records despite the fact that another pilot had the right.
July 6, 1943 - Guards Junior Lieutentant A.K. Gorovets, attacked a defended formation of Ju-87 dive-bombers alone. He shot down 9 aircraft. He didn't fill out any forms for his kills and when he ran out of ammunition, he was shot by 6 Messerschmidt bombers. The 9 "Junkers" kills were confirmed on the ground. To hell with the book of records, it isn't the main point. I'm looking at the list of 324 of our best pilots. Not a name from any "civilized" nation. Even something like "Rabinovich" isn't there. Everywhere there are Russian, Ukrainian, Tatar, Georgian, Armenian names. There are even two "Mukhins." Is today's pilots nationality much different? How should our pilots fight "them" today if "they" were shooting down our fathers by nearly 10 times more? One thing remains for our pilots to do upon seeing a plane with a "civilized" German or American - raise your hands in surrender and shout "Yeltsin is Kaputt."
Upon describing the hardships of their beloved Germans, some
authors cannot leave out how Hitler awarded his aces. Thus in this case they begin to have
Awards are different but they have one goal: to stimulate great triumphs. Without this goal they are simply toys and there is no value to them. To fulfill the goal of the award one must fulfill and equal a principle. Eliminate this principle during awarding and you eliminate the award. Lets assume, in the USSR the highest decoration is the Order of Lenin. But seeing as how it was given deserving its stature, and the obkom secretary's birthday. Many in the army sought to earn the medal and not simply own it, it seemed, a less important Order of the Fighting Red Banner.
The Germans of those days were born to be in the military. One can say, they loved war and, corresponding in such, they knew exactly what a decoration was and the purpose it served. Their main decoration was the Iron Cross with its many levels. First the Iron Cross, Second Class was given, then first class and then the Knight's Cross. In addition, the Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds were added. All the Crosses were given for fairly equal accomplishments. But when you involve a fighter pilot, these different decorations varied in stature depending on the front the pilot flew in. There were three such fronts:
1) Western- Territory in Western Europe under Germany's control-and the British Isles
2) Southern- Italy, Greece and North Africa.
3) Eastern- USSR
To earn a Knight's Cross on the Western front, a German pilot
must have accumulated 40 aerial victories. Lets say, the best of the decorations including
the Diamonds, the pilot fought exclusively on the Western Front until death. H. Lent
(totaling 113 kills) recieved his Knight's Cross for 16 kills (Polish and English). G.
Jabs (totaling 50 kills) recieved the coveted cross after 19 kills (French and English).
G. Gollob (totaling 152 kills) got his after 42 kills. F. Muller, by May 9, 1945, he had
30 kills. He recieved his Cross in July of 1944. At the same time on the Eastern Front, V.
Batz (totaling 237 kills) recieved the Cross after he filled out his 101st form
declaration of confirmed kills. On the Western Front, H. Lent recieved his Oak Leaves for
his Knight's Cross after 60 kills. G. Jabs, having killed a total of 50 during the war,
recieved his Leaves in March of 1944.
On the Eastern Front, E. Hartmann (352 kills) recieved the Leaves after his 200th kill. V. Novotny (258 kills) after 190. G. Barkhorn (301 kills) after 175. Diamonds for the Ritterkreuz on the W. Front were given after 80-100 kills (W. Melders, A. Galland, H. Lent), but on the Eastern Front - after 250-300 kills(W. Novotny, E. Hartmann).
THESE BAD SOVIET PILOTS
Some authors gave extraordinary and elaborate excuses to this outrageous and obvious mistake. Soviet pilots were so much worse than British pilots, their planes so obsolete that their destruction counted for very little. This idea needed to be confirmed with facts. Strangely, no one seems to be doing this since the facts tell a much different story. English and French pilots fought longer than Soviet pilots by 1.5 times. Besides that, to the end of 1941, Russian pilots did not make any individual records, but aircraft, shot down in group battles, were not recorded as personal scores. This is why if English and French pilots were not just better, but at least a bit worse than Soviet pilots, the victories of their best pilots for the most part would have been much higher than that of Soviet Pilots. But reality looked like this. The best English ace, Col. D. Johnson - completed 515 sorties but achieved only 38 German kills. The best French ace, Lieutenant (Lt. Col. in the RAF) P. Closterman - completed 432 sorties during the war but had only 33 kills. But Ivan Nikitich Kozhedub, flying exclusively on Soviet aircraft, from 1943 onwards completed just 330 sorties with 62 German kills. In the Royal Air Force, only 3 pilots achieved 32+ kills. In the the Soviet Air Force, there were 39 of these people. Where should A. F. Klubov be placed with his 31 kills + 19 in group combats? What about L. L. Shestakov, whose personal score was just 29 aircraft + 45 kills in group combat? Even if but one-third of the 45 was killed by him personally, then L.L Shestakov, took 52nd place in the list of Soviet aces. This pilot overtook the best English ace.
WHO WAS KILLING THEM?
The publication "Eastern Front" released a collection
"Soviet Aces" from an anonymous author. Judging by the text, the author was
Polish. He could hardly hide his conflicted feelings towards "Stalin's Falcons."
Through his teeth he was forced to write the following:
"Combat with the Me-262 wasn't the worst in Kozhedub's career. He lived
through more difficult times in the end of summer 1944, when in the skies
over the 3rd Baltic Front suddenly appeared a Luftwaffe volunteer group of
aces under the command of Major Wilhe (130 kills). This group was able
to cause such a mess that for the liquidation of the group, the 14th
Air-Army was forced to include the forces of the 176th Guards Fighter
Regiment under Kozhedub's command. The arrival of the Soviet veteran
pilots signalled the quick dispatchment of the German volunteers.
Kozhedub's men shot down 12 German aircraft at the cost of 2 La-7's. It
was reported that Kozhedub personally shot down Wilhe, however who
truly became the victim of the Soviet ace is still uncertain."
The British and Americans bombed Germany mercilessly, meanwhile the Germans tried to constantly maneuver their aircraft to protect their cities. According to their data, they sometimes left no more than 400 fighters on the Eastern Front. Nevertheless the Germans lost one-quarter of their aviation in the Western and Southern theaters but suffered three quarters losses to their airpower on the Eastern Front. Was that because Soviet pilots were worse than the British?
The stupidity of similar arguments is supported even by this fact: in the beginning of the war the Germans faced obsolescent aircraft such as the TB-3 and SB bombers that were converted from a totally-wooden passenger aircraft. The fighters I-16 and I-153 were flown by inexperienced pilots. Within a year, the Germans were met with modern Yak, LaGG, and MiG fighters. They were attacked by the nimble Pe-2 dive bomber and the IL-2 Shturmovik (known as the "Black Death" or "concrete flying tub" to the Germans). German fighter pilots remarked that fighting the IL-2 was like attacking a porcupine. German ace O. Kittel (267 kills) was put to rest forever by the IL-2.
It seemed that for this reason, in the beginning of the war in the East, the German command was obliged to give medals for vast quantities of destroyed Soviet aircraft. In the end, it simply became harder to shoot down Soviet aircraft. In reality, everything was the other way around! In the beginning of the war on the Eastern Front, the Oak Leaves for the Knight's Cross were handed out for 40 kills. In 1942 it was 100, 1943 it was 120 and towards the end of 1943 it was 190. An important question: how is this meant to be interpreted?
German ace Walter Novotny was a favorite in the Luftwaffe, like
Bukharin in the VKP(b). By February 1944, he had filled out 255 forms for his kills
against Soviet aircraft. In February he was transfered to the Western Front into a
regiment of rocket-propelled fighters. Within a period of 8 months the super-ace didn't
manage to shoot down one enemy aircraft! On the 8th of November he was shot down. It is
thought that in this final battle he managed to "neutralize" 3 American bombers.
But from this "neutralizing" one gets a sense of a "death flight."
German Graf was in the Luftwaffe since 1938. But before the war with the USSR, he didn't manage to shoot down a single British or Polish aircraft. In August of 1941 he was transfered to the Eastern theater. Here, until the end of 1942, he was simply destroying "packs" of Soviet aircraft. He filled out forms for 202 kills (over a period of 17 months). From January 1943 - in France until the end of the war (29 months) he managed to shoot down 10 enemy aircraft! Notice the discrepancy between East and West: in the the USSR, he was doing 10+ per month, whereas in the West he did 10 over 29 months!
Gunther Rahl began fighting in May 1940. In France and Western Europe (until the end of 1941) he shot down 4 aircraft. On the Eastern Front from the end of 1941 to April 1944 (28 months) he shot down 275 aircraft. Again in the West: April 1944 to May 1945: only 2 aircraft. One might think that Western airpower was almost non-existant according to these records. The records for the East are nothing but correct!
One gets the impression that for the German aces of the Eastern Front, the Western Front was a sort of "Bermuda Triangle." Easily shooting down Soviet aircraft, they were incapable of defending the skies of their own country fighting with weaker pilots of the West. What exactly is the problem here. What was it about the East that the Germans had so much trouble with? One might only begin to wonder.
Translatred by Sergey with Michael A. Balis advice. USA.
Klick here if frames are missing