Home Forums Air and Sea Air WW2 Air-to-Air Combat Exchange Ratios Reply To: WW2 Air-to-Air Combat Exchange Ratios

John D Salt

Now that the link to the statistical digest for the USAAF is working (it wasn’t last night), I can actually follow the citation given in the RAND report. Never cite your sources, kiddies, some utter swine might look them up.

Where the RAND report gets its figures for USAAF fighter losses is anybody’s guess, but it can hardly be the source cited.

Table 104, Fighter airplane losses overseas, p. 196:
1st line losses (combat and accident) for 1944 in the ETO: 4,758, of which 674 for June 1944.

Table 159, Airplane loses on combat missions in ETO, p. 255:
Fighters lost in 1944 to enemy aircraft, 1,293, anti-aircraft, 1,611, other causes 861
(suggests 993 accidents).

Table 167, Enemy aircraft destroyed in ETO, p. 263:
1944, by fighters, 5,602 in the air, 2,375 on the ground.

The summary was published in 1945, and so must be relying on kill claims (which we expect to be exagerrated considerably when fighting over the other bloke’s country) rather than captured enemy sources. Even at that, the kill ratio claimed (fighters against enemy aircraft in air to air combat, so not quite the same thing as the RAND report’s single-seat fighters against enemy fighter pilots) is 4.3 to 1.

By the SWAG method, I would suggest something like 100% over-claims and a real kill ratio of about 2:1 would be altogether more believable.

Since the sources quoted don’t back up the assertion, I’d hazard a guess that the RAND report is the origin of the 9:1 claim in the original article referenced. The trouble with exciting numbers like this is that people remember them, quote them, and cannot remember where they got them from, thus helping bullshine to propagate. I recall when I was working at Fort Hatstand that numerous defence analysts would quote the figure at me that only 25% of infantrymen contributed to the firefight, but when asked their source most could not name it, and had not even heard of S L A Marshall.

All the best,