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How different countries treated claims historically?


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I would like to make this a sort of discussion thread here because I find it very interesting how claims worked throughout history. As a good example the way German pilots in WWII were expected to actually see the pilot bailout or watch the plane impact the ground and they needed a wingman to confirm it is pretty much as strict as it gets. That's a far cry from how claims were handled in the RAF which seem to not need any witness and its pretty loose as to what gets claimed as damaged, probable, or destroyed.

I am curious if we have specific ways we are supposed to claim in Richthofen vs Oesau vs Schmenkel. I did read the "kill policy", and I am wondering if that is generally accepted as the way the German Air Force, in all of its iterations, claimed kills, or do we just have a kill policy within the squadron for consistency.

Additionally, I am wondering very specifically how US forces claimed kills in WWI, WWII, and after.

If anyone wants to chime in with how the USSR, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, or anyone else, did it, I would be interested to know.

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1 hour ago, Shadepiece said:

I find it very interesting how claims worked throughout history.

I don't have access to any books (as I'm at work), but during the First World War the German Air Service used the following policies:

http://www.theaerodrome.com/forum/showthread.php?t=23226&garpg=4

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First, both the Nachrichtenblatt, and the Wochenbericht normally indicate js or ds for each claim; js = jenseit = their side, ds = diesseit = our side (of the lines). A ds claim means that wreckage, or the pilot, or both were available to the Germans. This is pretty substantial evidence for a victory (although I have heard of one shootdown of a DH bomber, at high altitude, which disintegrated while falling to earth, and ended up in three widely separated piles, which actually produced three victory credits – this is a most unusual occurrence). A js claim means that a forward observer (artillery or balloon) saw the aircraft crash, and be destroyed. If the aircraft force landed, almost undamaged, behind the lines, so that it could be repaired and continue in service, it would only be credited as zLg (zur Landung gezwungen), and this was part of a pilot’s total score, but never given a victory number. If it force landed behind German lines, it was considered a victory for the pilot. After claiming a victory, a pilot would prepare a combat report, which would go to the CO of his Jasta. From there up the chain of command, being approved or denied at each level, until finally to Berlin. If approved, a document crediting the pilot with a victory, on the given day, of the type claimed, and also indicating the victory number for the pilot and the Jasta, would work its way back down to the unit. Claims could be disputed (strittig), and this would be hashed out at the appropriate level, usually within the Armee. They seem frequently to go to the biggest Kannone, but not always. The final two victories of Udet, which appear in both the Boddenschatz and Udet books were actually awarded to another unit; they do not appear to have been awarded to him (which makes his score 60). Disputed victories which cannot be settled are awarded to the unit, not to an individual; if two different units are involved, credit goes to the unit controlling them. Victories are never shared between pilots, one victory, one credit, is the rule in the Jastas. Multi-seat aircraft however are different, since each crewman received one credit for each victory. Starting with the 60th victory of Manfred v Richthofen, his combat reports give the aircraft type, serial, and paint job. The 1918 combat reports I have seen, or have seen referenced, all have this information. Göring’s early combat reports (1915-1916) have serial numbers.

What constitutes an official German victory credit? Any claim in the Nachrichtenblatt is accepted, as well as claims in the Wochenbericht which fill in holes in the Nachrichtenblatt (remember that the Nachrichtenblatt listed the victory number of the pilot). For the period of 1914-1916 we frequently have to rely on wartime, and postwar biographies; these are frequenly very useful for early recipients of the Pour le Merite. Some wartime newspapers are useful, but especially in the 1914-1915 period they frequently do not give names, just an announcement from headquarters that a German pilot had shot down an enemy aircraft.

 

For the Luftwaffe during the Second World War, things were similar.  This is well documented in books, but here is a write-up from a website:

https://rhorta.home.xs4all.nl/jgscor.htm

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The Luftwaffe scoring system was rational and realistic. "One pilot - one victory" was the straightforward scoring rule. If more then one pilot claimed a kill they had to settle who would get it, if in the end they still remained undecided, the kill was awarded to the Staffel.

Without a witness, a Luftwaffe pilot had no chance of victory confirmation. Such a claim, even if filed, would not pass beyond his Gruppenkommandeur.

The final destruction or explosion of an enemy aircraft in the air, or the bail-out of the pilot, had to be observed either on gun-camera film, or at least one other human witness. This witness could be the pilot's wingman, squadron mate, or a ground observer of the encounter. there was no possibility, as with some RAF and USAAF pilots, of having a victory credited because the claiming officer was a man of his word. The Luftwaffe rule was simple "no witness - no victory credit." This rule applied universally in the Luftwaffe, no matter what the pilot's rank or status.

This made the Luftwaffe claim procedure possibly the most rigid and trustworthy of all World War Two combatants (as always mistakes have been made, but nothing points out that this was deliberate or significantly higher then on the Allied side).

The Luftwaffe system was impartial, inflexible and far less error-prone than British or American procedures. Luftwaffe fighter pilots sometimes had to wait more then a year for victory confirmation to reach them from the Luftwaffe High Command.

The Germans differed radically from the Allies with the Luftwaffe's introduction of a complicated "points" system, instituted to bring a modicum of uniformity into the bestowal of higher decorations.

In effect only on the Western Front:

WF_claims.png

The German set a great store by the ability of a fighter pilot to separate individual Allied bombers from the box formations in which they flew. Thus, a Luftwaffe pilot could not win points for damaging an Allied bomber unless he separated it from the box. The system recognized the fact that achieving a Herrausschuss of a bomber was a more difficult task then the final destruction of a damaged straggler.

The point system had nothing to do with the total number of victories (and claims), only with awarding decorations and promotions through proven ability and worth. Many people think the Luftwaffe awarded multiple kills for multi-engined aircraft and even for damaging them, this is totally false!

Decorations were awarded after the following point totals had been reached:

WF_claims2.png

his point-decoration system was used only on the Western Front, because the Germans believed it was easier to shoot down Soviet fighters and bombers than to down Western-flown aircraft.

The Knight's Cross, which was worn on a ribbon around the neck, even in combat, was recognized in the Jagdwaffe as a sign of a true Experte. Glory-hungry pilots were said to have a "neck rash", "itching neck" or "sore throat", it was a common desease in the Luftwaffe, sometimes even a fatal one - although not always to the one contaminated - which only the coveted award could cure (quite similar to the Pour Le Mérite, or more commonly known as the Blue Max, in the Great War of 1914-18).

The Luftwaffe pilots, and Wehrmacht personal in general, wore all their all their decorations in combat unlike their RAF and USAAC/F adversaries.

The Knight's Cross to the Iron Cross was not the highest order, there were several higher orders created during the war which were basically additions to the Knight's Cross.

  • Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves
  • Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords
  • Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds

Decorations were awarded on the Eastern Front after the following kill totals had been reached (1943/44):

WF_claims3.png

Note that the Wehrmacht's decoration system was a progressive one, unlike the Allied decoration system you could not attain a higher decoration without the previous medal.

Oberstleutnant Hans-Ulrich Rudel received the highest order available for combat personal (especially created for him!), the Knight's Cross with Golden Oak leaves, Swords and Diamonds. He kept flying the Ju87, although upgraded variants, almost until the end of the war, when finally he too was forced to use the Fw 190 Dora. His final score standing at 2530 combat sorties, at least 519 tanks, more then 800 vehicles,150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, many bridges, 1 battleship, 1 cruiser, 1 destroyer, and he shot down 9 Soviet aircraft including 7 fighters in air to air combat!

Regarding the LSK (Luftstreitkräfte der Nationalen Volksarmee), they never went into direct combat.

So I have no idea what system they would have developed for victory claims.

However, I imagine it would be something similar to both the First World War and Second World War systems.

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1 hour ago, Shadepiece said:

I am curious if we have specific ways we are supposed to claim in Richthofen vs Oesau vs Schmenkel. I did read the "kill policy", and I am wondering if that is generally accepted as the way the German Air Force, in all of its iterations, claimed kills, or do we just have a kill policy within the squadron for consistency.

Mostly, our Kill Policy is the same for Richthofen, Oesau, and Schmenkel.  There are a few differences here and there, but nothing substantive.

The Kill Policy, as written, is primarily based on the WW2 system used by the Luftwaffe.  However, there are clear areas that deal with how virtual JG1 views streaks, tournaments in general, and the need to report quickly so as not to overburden the command structure (specifically me).

 

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1 hour ago, Shadepiece said:

Additionally, I am wondering very specifically how US forces claimed kills in WWI, WWII, and after.

If anyone wants to chime in with how the USSR, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, or anyone else, did it, I would be interested to know.

I'm not sure about this.  Perhaps someone with more experience knows?  I can do some research and get back to you.

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