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  • #82614
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    I was reading this article on modern US infantry training and equipment, when I saw this sentence:

    “During World War II and the Korean conflict, the “exchange ratio” for American air forces was extremely favorable. The ratio between enemy and friendly killed in air-to-air combat over Europe versus the German Luftwaffe was nine to one and, against Japan, 13 to one. In Korea, against North Korean and Russian pilots, the advantage was also 13 to one. For a time in Vietnam, however, the ratio dropped embarrassingly: In 1967, it approached parity.”

    This seems unbelievably high for WW2.  Does anyone know of any more definitive studies on this?  Or where the quoted figures come from?  It looks to me like an uncritical acceptance of credited kills, even where the claims in total are known to be wildly optimistic (e.g. AVG, 8AF bomber crews).

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #82620
    Just Jack
    Participant

    John,

    Nothing scientific here, but I think those wild kill ratios come from the end of the war when the Allies were king of the hill in terms of quantity AND quality, in both aircraft and pilot training and experience, and the Axis was throwing up pure drivel in terms of pilot and aircraft quality.

    I’ll point directly at the Japanese, who were able to throw up large amounts of aircraft  (many of which were obsolete, including trainers and biplanes) up to the very end, but these guys had maybe four flight hours of training and barely had the capability to run their airplane into a large ship.

    V/R,

    Jack

    #82640
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Pages 86-87 of the following RAND report

    https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/rgs_dissertations/RGSD147/RGSD147.chap6.pdf

    quote a 9.1:1 loss-exchange ratio between USAAF and Luftwaffe single-engine fighters to June 1944, although reading carefully it seems to be comparing Luftwaffe pilot losses with USAAF airframe losses. I do not think USAAF single-engine fighters were the only cause of Luftwaffe single-engine pilot losses, but even so it suggests a very favourable ratio. Having no safe airspace to train in must have been a bit of a handicap for the Luftwaffe, and I wonder what the effects of G-suits, computing gunsights, and 100-octane aviation spirit were.

    Morse and Kimball’s “Methods of Operational Research”, written shortly after the war, mentions a fighter kill ratio of 10:1 between USN and IJN for 1943-44, by which time I think it is fair to say the small cohort of high-quality Japanese naval aviators from 1941 had mostly vanished.

    Since both sources are post-war, I imagine that access to enemy records was possible (and if anyone had the patience to chase references I’d guess the US Strategic Bombing Survey might be the ultimate source for the numbers). US fighters in both theatres really do seem to have given their opponents a mighty beating.

    As to the linked article on infantry training, I am perpetually dismayed by the emphasis the defence acquisition establishment in both the US and the UK continues to put on high-tech wonder-junk instead of fundamental combat skills.

    All the best,

    John.

    #82645
    Etranger
    Participant

    There’s something odd about such an extreme ratio, although I can just about accept it for the Pacific given the Japanese’ dire situation in 1944-45. In the RAND paper that John links to they do specifically compare ratios for air to air combat between single engined fighters, but it doesn’t include US losses from other causes in the analysis, most notably ground fire which was the main killer.

    Do some of those numbers include destruction of aircraft on the ground? The USAAF (at least) at one point added strafing ‘kills’ to a pilots tally.  https://ospreypublishing.com/down-to-earth-039-strafing-aces-of-the-eighth-air-force  (introduction) but it looks like practices varied according to (US) organisation and date.

    Overall numbers lost are in a somewhat different ratio. The numbers below are at most a ‘best guess’ since there are some significant omissions, including British Commonwealth forces (unless incorporated into British), Dutch East Indies forces & British losses in the East, which were significant. Looking at the raw numbers, the USA lost two thirds as as many aircraft in the ETO as the Germans did in the whole war. They can’t all have been heavy bombers surely?

    “Aircraft losses

    Finland: Reported losses during the Winter War totaled 67, of which 42 were operational, while 536 aircraft were lost during the Continuation War, of which 209 were operational losses. (Overall 603).[1]
    France: From the beginning of the war until the capitulation of France in 1940, 892 aircraft were lost, of which 413 were in action and 234 were on the ground. Losses included 508 fighters and 218 bombers.(Overall 892)[1]
    Germany: Estimated total losses for the war totaled 27,875 aircraft, of which 7,000 were total losses and the remainder significantly damaged. By type, losses totaled 4,452 fighters, 2,037 bombers, 5,428 trainers, 1,221 twin-engine fighters, 8,548 ground attack, 3,733 reconnaissance, and 3,141 transports.[1]
    Italy: Total losses were 5,272 aircraft, of which 3,269 were lost in combat.
    Japan: Estimates vary from 35,000 to 50,000 total losses, with about 20,000 lost operationally.[2]
    Netherlands: Total losses were 81 aircraft during the May, 1940 campaign.[2]
    Poland: Total losses were 398 destroyed, including 116 fighters, 112 dive bombers, 81 reconnaissance aircraft, 36 bombers, 21 sea planes, and 9 transports.[2] 
    Soviet Union: Total losses were over 106,400 including 88,300 combat types.[3]
    United Kingdom: Total losses in Europe were 22,010, including 10,045 fighters and 11,965 bombers. (This figure does not include aircraft lost in Asia or the Pacific.)[2]
    United States: Total losses were nearly 45,000, including 22,951 operational losses (18,418 in Europe and 4,533 in the Pacific).[2]”

    From wikipedia, tabulated here: https://ww2aircraft.net/forum/threads/air-forces-losses-in-wwii.13403/

    From the same thread:

    Type Sorties Bombs Dropped Tons Combat losses Kills in air Kills on ground   Loss Rate Kill Rate Kill/Loss
    P-39   30547           121                                       107               14                  18                        0.4          0.0         13.1
    A-36   23373         8014                                    177                84                  17                        0.8          0.4         47.5
    P-40   67059         11014                                   553              481                40                       0.8          0.7         87.0
    P-47    42343(5)  113963                                3077            3082           3202                      0.7          0.7        100.2
    P-61     3637           141                                      25                 58                    0                        0.7          1.6         232.0
    P-38   129849      20139                                  1758             1771               749                       1.4          1.4         100.7
    P-51    213873       5668                                  2520             4950            4131                       1.2          2.3        196.4

    Apparently from http://www.schifferbooks.com/americas-hundred-thousand-u-s-production-fighters-of-world-war-ii-93.html

     

    Looks like I’ll have to dig Williamson Murray out again. https://www.awm.gov.au/index.php/collection/LIB16282

     In the period through the late summer of 1942,
    German pilots were receiving at least as many training hours as their opponents in
    the RAF. By 1943, that statistic had begun a gradual shift against the Germans until
    the last half of the year when Luftwaffe pilots were receiving barely one-half of the
    training hours given to enemy pilots . In terms of flying training in operational
    aircraft, the disparity had become even more pronounced: one-third of the RAF
    total and one-fifth of the American total . But those Luftwaffe pilots who had
    survived the attrition of the first air battles of the war had little difficulty defeating
    new Allied pilots no matter how many training hours the latter had flown. In fact,
    the ratio of kills-to-sorties climbed as those Luftwaffe pilots who survived built up
    experience (see Table LXXI16) . However, few German pilots survived the attrition
    of the first war years, and thus the Luftwaffe became, in fact, two distinct forces: the
    few great aces-the Hartmans, Galands, and Waldmans-and the great mass of
    pilots who faced great difficulty in landing their aircraft, much less surviving
    combat . Only 8 of Germany’s 107 aces to score more than 100 victories joined their
    squadrons after mid-1942.” (Murray pg 316 http://uploads.worldlibrary.org/uploads/pdf/20121011002456strategy_for_defeat_pdf.pdf )

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Etranger.
    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by Etranger.
    #82652
    Don GlewweDon Glewwe
    Participant

    What’s the point?

    https://brawlfactory.net/

    #82656
    MartinRMartinR
    Participant

    What’s the point?

    Because it is interesting?

    Relative loss ratios are an indication of relative combat effectiveness, amongst other things, although force ratios and loss ratios in air warfare behave very weird ways (and nothing like Lanchester predicted).

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #82663
    Chris Pringle
    Participant

    Pages 86-87 of the following RAND report https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/rgs_dissertations/RGSD147/RGSD147.chap6.pdf quote a 9.1:1 loss-exchange ratio between USAAF and Luftwaffe single-engine fighters to June 1944, a

    It’s not comparing like with like at all.

    Against total LW fighter losses in Europe, the figure it gives for US losses seems to be (a) only fighters, not bombers and (b) only for the 8th AAF. The Germans were usually busy trying to shoot down bombers. If you add in losses of B-17s and B-24s with 10 or so crew a time you get a different picture; also if you add in the non-trivial losses suffered by 15th AAF. The RAF may have made some small contribution too.

    Not to say that the LW wasn’t being overwhelmed and wiped from the sky. But that 9:1 ratio is misleading.

    Chris

    #82690
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    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,

    John.

    #82691
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    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.

    I did as advised and checked the US Bombing Survey.  It is a big thing altogether, and I make no comment about what it say sregarding Japan, but the summary makes it clear that it is working from kill claims.

    A brief internet search, combined with what I remember from reading Christopher Shores’ stuff, makes me think that the figures for the Pacific are at least as far out.

    Just as interestingly, the claims for the Korean Air War seem even more contested.  At least in the case of WW2, no-one doubts that the Allies did achieve genuine air superiority over the Axis powers: with reference to Korea, the Russians seem to feel they got rather the better of it.

    Genuinely untangling all this seems like a real job of work though!

     

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #82692
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    Never cite your sources, kiddies, some utter swine might look them up

    One could make an argument that the reason the TMP Napoleonic forum is such a bear pit is that John Elting, Houssaye and Lachoque didn’t cite their sources – but people have started looking them up…

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #82729
    John D SaltJohn D Salt
    Participant

    Just as interestingly, the claims for the Korean Air War seem even more contested. At least in the case of WW2, no-one doubts that the Allies did achieve genuine air superiority over the Axis powers: with reference to Korea, the Russians seem to feel they got rather the better of it.

    Indeed. The capacity for over-claiming seems to be greatest in the air. I am not aware if any set of wargames rules that let a player get the impression they have zapped more of the enemy than is really the case, but it seems a real omission in air combat. Apart from anything else, I quite like the idea of having a game where both sides can end up claiming victory. The big thing, to me, is that tactical wargames invariably sem to give the player vastly more complete and up-to-date knowledge of what is going on than they wuld ever have in real life.

    I cannot remember who it was with whom I discussed the idea fo deferred combat results for a land tactical game. The idea was quite straightforward; shooting at someone successfully cast the target element into a limbo in which it could neither move nor fire, and, like Shroedinger’s cat, nobody knew if it was alive or dead. If the other side got people with fixed bayonets to its location first, they would discover whether it was dead or had surrendered. If it own side spent command effort to find out, they would discover whether it was dead or in need of rallying. It is possible to imagine battles in which it was not obvious how many casualties had been suffered until everyone finally turned up from wherever they had been at the end of the day’s action.

    In naval games, it is a good idea to have attackers roll for hits, and the targets roll for damage, so that it is not entirely obvious what damage an enemy has suffered (apart from strongly obvious things like magazine explosions). The same should apply in air combat, it seems to me. If one had some reasonable method of modelling where a pilot is directing his attention — my idea is an “eyeball” marker for each pilot, so you can see if he is keeping a general lookout, searching a specific part of the sky, or padlocked on a target — then one might find that it is not sensible to stay padlocked on a target until it is seen to explode or strike the ground.

    All the best,

    John.

    #82731
    Etranger
    Participant

    Those mechanisms would tend to require a blinded, umpire controlled game to work. (Not that I have any problem with that.)

    #82746
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    I apologize for going on a tangent from the OP. Paddy Griffith’s “A Book of Sandhurst Wargames” included a WWII infantry squad level cardboard miniatures game “Men Against Fire”, written to illustrate SLA Marshall’s theories, that limited the players’ information about the tactical situation to what a real-world squad leader might know. Checkitout:

    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/22094/book-sandhurst-wargames

    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/2976/men-against-fire

    Never played it, just skimmed through my copy a few times. (Most of my games are in that condition. Cut, never played. Sigh.) It would be easy to play with 3D miniatures, but the benefit would mostly be for the umpire and any onlookers, since the players aren’t supposed to look at the game…

    Hey, lookee, I found a detailed AAR for a game! The GM didn’t bother even with the cardboard miniatures. He played the whole game on graph paper, since none of the players could see the game anyway. This illustrates the conflict in goals between realistically simulating imperfect information for wargamers, and playing a game with a moving diorama of toy soldiers.

    https://boardgamegeek.com/thread/1693561/dec-19-2016-tinian-jig-day-inland-white-2

    • This reply was modified 2 years, 6 months ago by zippyfusenet.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #82749
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    I cannot remember who it was with whom I discussed the idea fo deferred combat results for a land tactical game. The idea was quite straightforward; shooting at someone successfully cast the target element into a limbo in which it could neither move nor fire, and, like Shroedinger’s cat, nobody knew if it was alive or dead. If the other side got people with fixed bayonets to its location first, they would discover whether it was dead or had surrendered. If it own side spent command effort to find out, they would discover whether it was dead or in need of rallying. It is possible to imagine battles in which it was not obvious how many casualties had been suffered until everyone finally turned up from wherever they had been at the end of the day’s action.

    I remember this discussion too.  I have been using this mechanism in some experimental Napoleonic games on paper, so that the main effect of artillery firing roundshot and infantry skirmishers is to produce hits of indeterminate effect – the results of which are only discovered when a general tries to rally the troops or they are attacked.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #82750
    WhirlwindWhirlwind
    Participant

    What’s the point?

    Because it is interesting? Relative loss ratios are an indication of relative combat effectiveness, amongst other things, although force ratios and loss ratios in air warfare behave very weird ways (and nothing like Lanchester predicted).

    And because, as the original article indicated, this has entered a nation’s military lore as an achieved – and thus an achievable – result.  By implication, it doesn’t allow for the possibility that, for example, the USAF in Vietnam was just as effective as in Korea, but better recording of results made them feel that they were doing worse.  Both these things are worth knowing in the real world today, as well as hopefully allowing us to produce better games.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

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