All throughout conflict, the claims of damage caused to the enemy has been far in excess of the actual damage incurred. Partly to keep morale high, but often in the honest opinion that the damage had been inflicted upon the enemy. This discrepancy has been highlighted in the 20th Century where the claims made by U-Boat & Submarine Commanders, Pilots and Air Gunners became of great importance to the various propaganda units and the inflated claims passed on to history. Ludovic Kennedy, in his book “Pursuit” which covers the chase for the Bismark and its destruction refers to the attack by Admiral Vian & his Destroyers;(I have paraphrased this) “Claims were submitted by the Destroyers for 3, possibly 4 hits on Bismark. However no hits were made, equally Bismark claimed to have sunk a Destroyer and damage caused to others. All claims were made in good faith, the crews after hours at action stations EXPECTED to make hits, and they saw what they assumed they would see, so any unusual explosions were assumed to have been hits and were claimed as such.” Similarly for the Fighter Pilots, I have fired at the enemy, I believe I had hit him, that ‘plane going down in smoke must be mine. After WW2, the claims by USN Submarine commanders were officially reviewed and a substantial number of claimed sinkings disallowed, and in a few cases, increased. The claims made by RAF & USAAF fighter pilots were discounted (and often ridiculed) after access was allowed into the records of the Luftwaffe and Japanese Air Forces. However, despite the awarded victories soaring above 350, the victory claims of Luftwaffe pilots were considered above reproach, that the Luftwaffe had a system that was meticulous and carefully researched and checked. The Decoration system of the Luftwaffe was also closely tied to the Victories awarded, Aircraft types had points allocated to them and a certain number of points resulted in the award being posted. Added to this, was the Political situation which could have easily been used to “coerce” other pilots to confirm claims. Some Pilots, Marseille for one, seemed to have their claims confirmed much faster than the system implies, and whose careers were closely monitored by the Armed Services Press. Recently however, the information has surfaced which allows us to compare the “kills” awarded to Luftwaffe Pilots against the losses incurred by the RAF on a day by day basis. Startling discrepancies appear between those numbers which were awarded as kills and the actual losses suffered by the RAF. The period up to the end of the Battle of Britain, November 1 1940 provides a capsule in time where claims and losses can be compared and where a good base of data appears. Specific USAAF 8th Air Force & Bomber Command Raids can also be compared, though while Allied information shows the total losses, they often do not distinguish Flak, & “Other” losses from those where the Aircraft was Shot Down. It is therefore not unlikely that Allied losses can be greater than the claims made for their destruction. In this article I will try to compare come of these Days, comparing the claims approved by the OKL Administration which tally up to the claims made by the Luftwaffe experten, you can see each of the Victories awarded to Galland, Marseille, Steinhof, Munchenberg etc, against the losses suffered by the RAF. Some days, usually when the numbers involved were highest, the discrepancies where high. On the quieter days the numbers were closer. I do not attempt to denigrate the efforts and skills of the Luftwaffe Experten, they fought a much harder war than the RAF and their chances to accumulate Victories much higher. Neville Duke, one of the high scoring RAF pilots with 28 “kills”entered the action in April 1941,was sent on 2 , 6 month rest periods and left combat about 6 months before wars end, therefore being in action for about 36 months flying about 490 sorties, added to this was the rarity in which Luftwaffe aircraft were sighted after late 1943. The Luftwaffe wore their Pilots into the ground, though the number of Allied Aircraft in the skies made finding their foe much easier. Hartmann did not get posted to JG52 until August 1942, was consistantly flying up to 4 missions each day flying over 1400 missions through some of the worst flying weather on earth. I am unable to compare any figures for the war in the East, I am unsure that even the Red Air Force knew the actual size of their losses, and leave this field for someone else to investigate. 18 DECEMBER 1939 HELIGOLAND BIGHT On 18 December 1939, the RAF decided to mount a raid on the German fleet at Wilhelmshaven and orders were drafted for 24 Wellington Medium bombers to carry out the raid. 9 aircraft from 149 Squadron, 9 from 9 Squadron and 6 from 37 Squadron were selected to “Attack enemy warships in the Schillig Roads or Wilhelmshaven. Great care is to be taken to ensure that no bombs fall on shore” While 24 Wellington’s took off, 2 from 149 Sqn returned to base early leaving 22 to carry on. The bombers managed to succesfully fly over the German Fleet, but their Orders about bombing German soil caused the abortion of the raid as the leader decided the ships, tied up in Port where too close to shore to be bombed. It was only after they turned for home did the German Fighters attack. The ensuing massacre saw thew shooting down of 10 Wellingtons, nearly 50% of the attacking force, however the Fighters claimed to have destroyed 34 Victories, over 150% of the attackers though OKL pruned this down to 26, still more than the force started with. What happened to the excellent Luftwaffe system which has been held above reproach, and stand as the solid base for the amazing claims by its pilots? In a frantic, swirling battle, it wasn’t hard to ASSUME your shots had caused the fatal damage, especially to a Bomber which took a good amount of damage to destroy. You make your run, score solid hits, flash past at 300mph+, when you turn you see a ‘plane fall out of the sky, It MUST be yours, and your wingman confirms it as he sees the same thing. An excuse can be made that the action was over the sea, and destroyed aircraft could not be investigated. JULY 1940-OCTOBER 1940 THE BATTLE OF BRITAIN. The Battle of France was a wild melee, Allied Units continually falling back and the advancing Germans meant that both sides could be excused for poor paperwork. After the collapse of France , the Luftwaffe turned to England and afetr some sparring over Convoys, on 10 July began what is known as The Battle of Britain. Through out the Battle, which continued to 31 October 1940, the Luftwaffe Propaganda machine claimed to have destroyed over 3000 RAF aircraft, clearly exceeding the size of the RAF at the time. OKL officially credited its Pilots with the destruction of about 1955 Spitfires & Hurricanes (I have deducted Defiants, Blenheims and other aircraft) which compares unfavourably with the RAF losses of either 932 (“The Narrow Margin” by Wood & Dempster) or 755 Spitfires & Hurricanes (Fighter Command Losses & Casualties by Frank) Included in the RAF losses are those which were shot down by Bombers, and not included in the OKL figures but not those which “crash landed at an airfield” and were repaired. It is hard to pick out those shot down by the Bombers as many final moments are not clear and they are only listed as shot down. In this period, the reputation of many Luftwaffe experten were built upon, but it appears that their tallies must be inflated. Marseille, The Star of Africa, was awarded his first kill on 8 September for a Spitfire, on the same day 4 other Spitfires were claimed though the RAF only lost 1, was Marseille mistaken and he destroyed a Hurricane, OKL awarded 8 Hurricane kills but Franks details only 4 as being shot down!! Marseille went on to claim 6 other victories over the Channel, none of which are detailed in any official records but go to make up his tally of 158 “kills”. Other days with “interesting” results Date OKL Awards Narrow Margin/Franks 10 July 27 5/1 11 July 2 4/7 29 July 18 3/3 8 August 38 19/15 11 August 55 32/26 15 August 87 34/30 18 August 86 27/29 31 August 97 37/39 6 September 58 23/20 7 September 72 28/23 15 September 69 26/27 27 September 79 28/24 30 September 54 20/14 By the end of the Battle RAF losses were only 47.67% of OKL awards according to The Narrow Margin or 38.62% according to Franks. (Some of this difference are the Defiants, Blenheims etc. which I didn’t tally in the Franks figures.) Added to these figures are the accuracy of aircraft types (a problem throughout the war to all sides) OKL awarded 712 Hurricane kills and 1243 Spitfire kills , Franks tallies to 470 Hurricanes and only 285 Spitfires. This would probably be attributed to the “desire” to shoot down the better aircraft. Claims were also awarded for some odd types, a continual reference to Hawks or Hawk-75’s, a Radial engined aircraft tottaly different to any RAF fighter, some Morane’s, a Bloch MB 151, and a Bregeut Bre693(more possible as this was close to the fall of France) To be continued, 8th Air Force raids on Schweinfurt in 1943 are interesting, as are the victories awarded over Dieppe in August 1942 Reference Sources OKL reports at www.luftboard.ndo.co.uk The Narrow Margin by Derek Wood & Derek Dempster Test Pilot by Neville Duke Bomber Command by Max Hastings Horrido by Raymond Toliver & Trevor Constable The Story of Air Fighting by J.E (Johnnie) Johnson Fighter Pilots of the RAF 1939-45 by Chas Bowyer & too many other to note.