Battle of Britain pilots actually crap shots

Discussion in 'The Quarterdeck' started by Random, Oct 30, 2007.

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  1. ---------
    Copied from The register

    A historian has claimed Fighter Command's finest - "The Few" who legendarily administered Goering's Luftwaffe a bloody nose during the Battle of Britain - were actually often woefully undertrained and incapable of hitting a barn door with a banjo.

    That's the opinion of Dr Andrew Cumming, who analysed National Archive documents detailing the "kill/loss ratio" for the critical period of 24 August to 6 September 1940, and found the figures "unimpressive". He further claims the RAF's performance against the enemy during late 1940 was "ineffectual", and that Britain owes "far more to the Royal Navy and the Merchant Navy than we are prepared to acknowledge".
  2. Yet another 'expert' (or should that be ExSpurt.. ?) expounding on something that he probably never experienced.

    I bet the Luftwaffe survivors may just have a different view.. ??

  3. Well they must have done something to make Hitler decide that the Luftwaffe could not win air superiority and cancel the plans for invading Britain!
  4. Revisionist Historians make me puke... :pukel:
    During the Battle of Britain these guy's were all crack shots, how can I tell, because they shot down enemy planes, the German Airforce didn't just fall out of the sky ffs...

    Bet he took a count of bullets/shells expended, fired them into a computer simulator and voila, for the per shell and downed aircraft ratio, we stunk...get a fecking life....

    We just went through a similar episode over here at the War Museum, so called experts wanted some of the displays for the bombers (during the bombing campaign against Germany) to read, basically that we were murderers, until the Veterans stepped in and created a fuss, and they had to tone it down..

    Pretty soon Revisionist Historians will have it that we actually started the war and that we are the ones who killed over 6 million Jews and were mostly responsible for Stalin killing millions of his own people, oh and we raped Nanking not the Japanese, let's see what else can we quietly take the blame for.....[​IMG]
  5. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    1. We were able to recycle downed pilots and crashed aircraft which helped.

    2. Crabs were helped by FAA pilots.

    3. If Goering had not called off the attacks on the RAF and radar stations and gone for London instead ... then what?

    4. None of this should detract from the courage of the young men who went up several times a day, properly trained or not.
  6. :thumright:
  7. Some of these poor lads only had 7 or 8 hours on A/c type before being pitched into battle. When I was learning to fly, after 8 hours I could just about keep the thing in the air straight and level, and no b/stard was shooting at me!
    C/mon give em a break Prof. Cummings.
  8. Calm down, calm down. Doesn't sound like too much revisionism to me.
    Quote from Register article
    "Dr Cumming told the Telegraph: "Whenever anybody criticises the RAF it seems to be taken as a slight against the pilots themselves, which of course is ridiculous. But for some reason - national identity - we are very proud of the original story and people can't tolerate any revisionism. That many could not shoot straight is a pretty important allegation. However, the evidence is that there was a lack of facilities, including not enough aircraft to tow practice targets."

    To support his case, Cumming added: "Serious historians recognise that a lot of German bombers that were brought down were stragglers. This inadvertently exaggerated the British kill statistics. Five or six would have a go at the aircraft and then all claim a half-kill."

    I think any semi serious look into real, rather than mythical BoB history would have to agree that a lot of young, inexperienced pilots were involved. That most of them would have been pretty crap shots due to their inexperience is a no brainer.

    The problem is that you'r not allowed to question the myths that grow up around great military acts without being attacked.

    Was there not a huge furore from the Crabs last year when another historian claimed that is was the threat from the RN more than the inability to gain superiority over the RAF that scuppered operation Sealion?
  9. I am not doubting the results but what value is there to anything by Dr Andrew Cumming doing this research? What difference does it make?
  10. And what's wrong with thinking those pilots were all aces, they did the job, so now because someone with letters exposes it to cold hard facts, that's it these guy's were just a lucky bunch of pilots...sometimes the myth is better then the truth...why pick it apart?

    Deep down I'm sure most of us in the military understand that the majority of these young inexperienced pilots were probably not like Michael Caine and were shitting bricks each time they went up, but is that better in the telling then the alternative...civilians wouldn't understand either, but now they will think oh yeah, kinda knew they couldn't have been that good...just plain lucky...yep down another notch in the public eye.. :thumright:
  11. I think that sometimes, unless you create mythicality(is that a word) around, for example, ww2 pilots, people tend to very quickly forget them.

    Besides, who cares anyway, aces or not they got the job done, and thats all that matters.

  12. As he was researching the National Archives I suppose we should take it that he was being paid by us the taxpayer to come up with this drivel ?
  13. Honesty?

    sorry I don't adhere to the argument that history should not be understood just because there were servicemen involved.
  14. wet_blobby

    wet_blobby War Hero Moderator

    It's probably worth remembering those pilots were using browning machine guns with .303 rounds which are pathetically small compared to the German 20 mm rounds that were getting shot at them.

    You need alot of little holes to bring an airplane down compaired to a couple of big ones.
  15. Is it really being "honest" or are we just splitting hairs, for the benefit of other's, why denigrate the past heroism of these pilots, was it really necessary for this person to highlight these facts this close to what is obviousley an emotional time for the families of these pilots (Remembrance Day) or am I being too Politically Incorrect?...and other's are too Politically Correct? :hockey:
  16. It might be considered that you're being too politically correct, what makes your pet segment of society immune from criticism?
  17. I should probably have asked this before, but what do you mean by politically correct?

    Is it really revisionist? Or are you just characterising it as such because you don't like the sentiment?

    fwiw I have little problem with revision as it's usually good preparation for exams ;)

    Indeed it is, and our understanding of the past is ever evolving. I still don't see any justification for closing down research on it, or not publishing the outputs of that research if they don't suit the mythos.

    You're previous couple of posts have indicated that conclusion, or perhaps that's not what you meant by suggesting that he shouldn't have published.
  18. Interesting little thread this. Apart from my obvious bias I see little to be gained in re-writing history. For WBs information, yes we used 303 calibre machine guns, but the Luftwaffe did not always use 20 mm, they mostly used 7.92 which balistically is only marginally better than 303.
    As for the training, the Luftwaffe had a shortage of good pilots from the very beginning and the situation became worse as the war went on. With us we too started out with very few experienced pilots but by the end our training was far superior to that of the Luftwaffe.

    So I suppose that an analysis of rounds fired per kill would reveal that there were a lot of misses, but the fact is the Luftwaffe experienced losses in the Battle of Britain that could not be sustained. The Luftwaffe was NEVER designed or trained for a lengthy strategic bombing war, it was designed more for the Close Air Support (CAS) and Battlefield Interdiction (BAI) at which it was very good.

    A little dit to close. At a party in Detmold (ARMY Air Corp in Germany) in the mid eighties I met an old German pilot who had been an instructor during the war. He told me that he trained pilots in Czechoslovakia, I asked him why there. His reply "It was the only place we were safe from the f*cking RAF, they kept shooting down my student pilots in Germany".
    As it was an Army camp I did not bother to mention my real identity. :whew:
  19. Oops..apologies for deleting, didn't think you were that fast Karma, but as you C&P pretty good, it's still there for all intents and purposes..

    Too often lately, the society we live in today has leaned too far to the left in it's liberalisation and will find any excuse to apologise for past wrong doings even though it's done, it's history, like why do we feel a need to hit ourselves over the head for dropping two A bombs on the Japanese 50 plus years happened and the times justified it, let it be written as so..yes a lot of people's a war...

    Honestly?...okay I don't like the sentiment...

    No I am not suggesting he shouldn't have published, my take on it, is what is being served by undertaking this in the first place, the fact he has done so is immaterial at this point, however I think my feelings were more along the lines of timing.
  20. Not a problem, I've used fora for a while, used to moderate on a couple of other sites as well.

    Personally I'd consider liberalism and left as completely different things, but then I look at liberalism from a classical perspective with the emphasis is on opportunity, responsibility and freedom of choice, rather than equality of outcome and constraint on behaviour.

    I'd agree that there is little value in apologising for history, but I do think there is value in understanding how things came to have been as they were and seeking to avoid that in future. Rarely are decisions and outcomes as clear cut as some would like us to believe; good and bad are arbitrary and merely points on a continuum, rather than polar opposites.

    In this sense, and reflecting the use of nuclear weapons, the benefits of the research leading to the deployment you refer to have been huge, not least in our own field the ability of SSNs to conduct the missions they have done being a step change in capability over their diesel predecessors.

    Indeed. It's not clear who commissioned the work, or why. It is clear that his comments have been cherry picked, both by the Telegraph and the original poster.

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