Having a dispute in a non-aviation forum with a Brit who claims USAAF pilot kill numbers were inflated. Nimrod says RAF criteria for a combat kill were more stringent, American pilot kills would only be counted half as many under Brit standards. In particular, he attacks Yeager because he scored two combat kills without firing a shot, enemy collision of two fighters were counted in his column.
How much more substantiation is there than photographic proof from gun camera film? When there were circumstances when the enemy aircraft destruction was delayed and the camera wasn't on a witness was required. That's what the Fighter Victory Credit Board used to determine confirmed from probables or damaged enemy aircraft.
requirement was that any pilot responsible for an enemy aircraft being
destroyed was given credit. Why would anyone not credit non-fired upon
kills? The plane is destroyed! That thinking would tend to lead to
saying that the pilot should have also been killed in order for a kill
to be awarded. Certainly the pilot would continue to be a combatant and
do damage using other aircraft. That is just weird logic to split hairs
and specify that a plane must be "shot" down to count.
Having a dispute in a non-aviation forum with a Brit who claims USAAF pilot kill numbers were inflated. Nimrod says RAF criteria for a combat kill were more stringent, American pilot kills would only be counted half as many under Brit standards. In particular, he attacks Yeager because he scored two combat kills without firing a shot, enemy collision of two fighters were counted in his column.Claim accuracy varied a lot for both the RAF and USAAF in WWII, certainly overlapping a lot. Formal verification procedure is one aspect of claim accuracy but not the only one, AF's supposedly requiring absolute gun camera evidence could still overclaim a lot (Soviets used gun camera's in Korea and overclaimed as much as 10:1). It's the real tightness of the procedure, not what's on paper or the existence of a gun camera. The only way to know is when the enemy's real losses can be determined against specific claims and the ratio calculated.
Your "friend" might be speaking of late WWII ETO where USAAF and RAF claims were both relatively accurate. Some people who do know aviation history maintain the USAAF ones were less accurate than RAF, but it seems to me a topic on which the jury is still out, comprehensively tying together claims v. losses for that part of the way hasn't been done in a published book AFAIK. Also the USAAF (ca. 1944) was involved in many more big furballs (over Germany), the RAF relatively inactive in daylight fighter air combat at that time (not inactive, *relatively* inactive). Big battles tend to yield less accurate claims. Ballpark though both claims were less than twice the real German losses, typically, sometimes much better than that. For example I've looked at US claims against the German jets, because there are good books on both sides; those claims are quite accurate, the Me-262 losses at least 3/4 of what the USAAF credited its pilots with. But some earlier ETO US claims substantially less accurate than that.
And at times earlier in the war both Brit and US claims were much more exaggerated, for example when fighting the Japanese in '41-'42 (AF's on the short end of the real exchange ratio to exaggerate claims more than ones who are winning). In that period 3:1 overclaim or more was typical, sometimes much worse, but again not consistently noticeably different between US and Brits AFAIK. Brit claims over France and in Med ca. 1941 were also often badly exaggerated, worse than in Battle of Britain.
Stuff like "maneuver kills" etc. is going to be statistically trivial, in the big picture; the main issue is limiting the cases where natural wishful thinking of pilots ends up as official "kills" (which the enemy's records show, postwar, not to have been scored). Another note, all above is for *fighter* claims. US bomber claims were much more exaggerated than fighter claims, all countries' were but the US had many more bombers in day combat than anybody else late in WWII; rough estimate in ETO official US bomber victories were 4* the real German losses.
It is generally accepted that WWII kills are exaggerated across the board. This is due to a number of reasons, mainly that the people involved were fighting, and had to concentrate on combat, not on complete follow-ups of shoot-downs. My area of study, the Royal Hungarian Air Force, and the MTO, shows clearly that the USAAF's 15th and 9th Air Forces claims were so high that it would have meant they destroyed the entire 8 Fighter Corps of the Luftwaffe and the entire RHAF by July, 1944!!
The only way to really get it right is to get combat reports from all the sides involved, compare them, and get an estimate!
A good example of this was an engagement over the skies of France while escorting a bombing raid, a squadron of RAF Spitfires and squadron of USAF P-47's intercepted a large gaggle of FW190's. The combat reports for the whole RAF squadron were 3 FW190's destroyed and a couple of damaged, one single P-47 pilot claimed 7 FW190's destroyed alone. The Luftwaffe records showed three aircraft had been lost all to Spitfires with a further one destroyed due to damage. This report is well documented, including in "The Big Show".
The differences in scoring methods between the allies caused a great deal of friction between the air commands, especially prior to D-Day, because if the USAAF figures were to be believed the entire Luftwaffe would have been wiped out, which couldn't have been further from the truth.
The previous mention that the RAF was nearly inactive in the
later days of the war is totally false. The RAF was the most dominant
air force in the European theatre during this period with many more
sorties flown than the Americans. Secondly, the
Battle of Britain claims were verified by actual aircraft crashing over
mainland Britain, in actual fact more German aircraft were shot down
than actually counted by the RAF command due to damaged aircraft
crashing in the English Channel.
1. I'm afraid your 'friend' is right, the RAF criteria was far more stringent than the USAAF. There is however a sound reason for this, the British command where literally fighting for their homeland and relied enormously on accurate figures in order to carry out that defense. The USAAF did not fit cameras as standard on fighters operating in the European theater because of politics: The heavy loses of the aircrews on the daylight bombing raids over Germany meant the US government were happy to accept inflated claims of shot-down enemy aircraft for public moral back home.
2. A good example of this was an engagement over the skies of France while escorting a bombing raid, a squadron of RAF Spitfires and squadron of USAF P-47's intercepted a large gaggle of FW190's. The combat reports for the whole RAF squadron were 3 FW190's destroyed and a couple of damaged, one single P-47 pilot claimed 7 FW190's destroyed alone. The Luftwaffe records showed three aircraft had been lost all to Spitfires with a further one destroyed due to damage. This report is well documented, including in "The Big Show".
3. Several comments made by other posters in this thread need addressing: Firstly the mention that the RAF was nearly inactive in the later days of the war is totally false,
-Greece v the Germans and Italians:
see Shores "Air War Over Yugoslavia, Greece and Crete": Brit fighter
claims badly exaggerated, several to one, especially against the
-Early Pac War: again Shores "Bloody Shambles" in 2 vol. All Allied claims in that period were quite overstated, Brits, other CW, Dutch and US all fighting the same enemy, no noticeable distinction in claims accuracy again around 3-4 Allied claims for every real Japanese loss (the Japanese seriously overclaimed too, but were in fact still kicking ass on the Allies).
-Compare the US fighter claims to have shot down Me-262's (in 44-45) in Hess "German Jets v the USAAF" with actual German losses in Foreman "Me-262 Combat Diary". The US claims were around 75% accurate, very accurate by any WWII standard. RAF claims in this period seem to have been similar.
It's so obviously wrong to say US fighters didn't have gun cameras standard later ETO it's hard to believe you'd say it. Do any technical reading about the planes, besides numerous published GC photo's in books and even film camera clips (they sometimes carried those) you can see on the web. Anyway it's doubtful gun camera's were a major factor either way; the Germans used them and their claim accuracy stunk in 44-45 (whereas it was very good in some earlier periods when they didn't have them); the Soviets used them in Korea and made around 8 claims per real kill.
You also seem to be conflating "daylight bombing raids" with fighter claims. USAAF *bombers* consistently overclaimed much more than Allied fighters, not USAAF fighters much more than RAF fighters. USAAF heavy bombers made total claims of the same order as USAAF fighters, and the bomber claims were published, but intelligence did not use them at face value, the typical multiplier there was 25% (v assuming 75% for fighter claims). In the de-nationalized comparison of the Pacific War, same is true: compare B-29 claims to real J fighter losses in Sakaida "B-29 Hunters", then look at US fighter claims and J fighter losses in any of his books documenting both sides of those combats, considerable difference. The apples-apples question is *fighter* claims, no documentable consistent difference US and Brit over the whole war.
2. One example. what's the date, what units? The US P-47 units were inexperience in 1943 and claims of inexperienced units tended to be more exaggerated.
3. The statement was: "RAF relatively inactive in daylight fighter air combat at that time (not inactive, *relatively* inactive)" which you have misquoted as "nearly inactive". In fact for most of 1944-45 USAAF (8th and 15th AF) fighters could reach Germany, escorting bombers there, and that's where the bulk of the German fighter force was at that time. So it's just a fact they saw more intense fighter combat action, and in bigger furball fights where claims on both sides tended to be more overstated. The US 9th and 12th AF fighters, as well as Brit Tactical AF's, saw relatively little action comparatively against German fighters in this period because there weren't that many operating over Occupied Europe and Italy where they flew, by that time. In some periods (weeks after D-Day, Ardennes counteroffensive, and last days of war) there were bursts of fighter action, but the strategic AF fighters encountered heavy fighter opposition almost all the time. And the tactical AF combats tended to be squadron and flight scale, strategic ones group and multi group scale. Smaller combats yielded more accurate fighter claims for all AF's in WWII.