WWII Pilots

Discussion in 'General' started by jimbotosome, Apr 27, 2006.

  1. jimbotosome

    jimbotosome Discharged

    Who were the best pilots in WWII? That can mean who is the best in ranking order but specifically which nation had the best pilots. You can probably take the cream of the crop of each nation and you have a draw.

    Having just finished "Alert in the West" a book by Willi Heilmann who was the commander of the III/JG-54 Staffel. Here is what I could deduce from his encounters and commentaries:

    German Pilots - He viewed them as good (of course) but their losses were incredible.
    British Pilots - Tenatious dogfighters. Probably the best pilots overall even though they have a funny accent. They had a lot of experience.
    American Pilots - Good tactics but greener than dogcrap. The rotation system allowed pilots to return home after 200 missions. This reduced their experience level considerably.
    Russian Pilots - A joke to him. They thought of the Russian air force as a shooting gallery. It took 5 kills on the western front to get an Iron Cross. It took at least 20 to get one on the Eastern Front.


    Now the prop planes:
    P-51 - They only feared these in numbers. Believed they were less dangerous than the Spitfire. Possibly has more to do with the experience level of the pilots since these two planes are close in performance specs.
    Spitfire - Without question the best dogfighter. Could turn inside his plane easily. This was a very feared plane when they saw them. He was shot down once by a Spitfire.
    Tempest - The believed it to be faster than their plane and could escape until the in-line FW-190s came along. Fast and could escape the 190s.
    P-47 - This plane was not as dangerous as the Spit in a dogfight. Terrified of it in its high-altitude patrolling roll and frustrated that they could not get up to it. Amazed that they couldn't destroy it when they had the numbers at low altitude. This plane probably saved the lives of countless of the inexperienced American pilots. The US group with all the aces (8th AF - 56th - Zemke's wolfpack) flew this plane exclusively. Heilmann was shotdown twice by Thunderbolts.
    Typhoon - Considered it dogmeat in 44-45. Said it was feared earlier in the war but was relatively retired by 1944. They were very vulnerable to the FW-190.
    Lightnings - No match for their later version FW-190s. Hunted in packs with the Mustangs.
    ME-109 - Said they were unbeatable in the early days of the war but had lost their advantage since Messerschmidt didn't advance them much during the war. No match of any Allied fighters unless in numbers.
    FW-190 - He believed it was the best fighter in WWII after they came out with the long nosed version.


    He was insensed that Hitler used the ME-262 to bomb london. It could carry a single 1000 lb bomb and carry it to the citizen of London. What a waste. He believed it could have changed the outcome of the war. Was totally unaware that the P-80 Shooting Star existed.
     
  2. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Ginger Lacey.
     
  3. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    Are we just looking at fighters here? Maybe a seperate thread for bombers then.
    Okay - Best nationality for pilots: - Commonwealth. How can you seperate the Brits, Ozzies, Kiwis and Maples from the pthers?
    Best Pilot: - Tricky. It's a toss up between Catseye Cunnignham and Douglas Bader in fighters. i think differently for bombers.
    Best Aircraft: - need you ask? Spitfire!
    Kitty
     
  4. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Are we just looking at fighters here? Maybe a seperate thread for bombers then.
    Okay - Best nationality for pilots: - Commonwealth. How can you seperate the Brits, Ozzies, Kiwis and Maples from the pthers?
    Best Pilot: - Tricky. It's a toss up between Catseye Cunnignham and Douglas Bader in fighters. i think differently for bombers.
    Best Aircraft: - need you ask? Spitfire!
    Kitty

    I read a book on Catseye Cunningham a long time ago and it said that he detested being called 'Catseye'.
     
  5. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    I hate being called Lucy, but it doesn't stop one of my lecturers doing it. Besides, I can't remember Cunningham's first name.
     
  6. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    I hate being called Lucy, but it doesn't stop one of my lecturers doing it. Besides, I can't remember Cunningham's first name.

    I've got a mate at work who calls me Mark all the bloody time, he does my head in.
    By the way I wasn't being critical, I can't remember his first name either.:confused:
     
  7. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    I know you weren't being critical mate, I'm just a little stressed at the moment. So does anyone know Cunningham's first name? I only ask because I can't be bothered to Google it.
    Do you think anyone would mind if i whacked in Leonard Chesire as a top Pilot too?
    Now there was a nutter of the first order. Wonderful man.
     
  8. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    Guy Gibson. Suppose to be a hard task master who didn't take fools gladly but what a brave man.
     
  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    I believe Galland had a cigar lighter installed in one of his personal craft???? (maybe a myth but I'm sure I've seen a diagram of it's installation somewhere.)
    This would definitely make him a top Pilot for me regardless of his other successes.
     
  10. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    Guy Gibson. Suppose to be a hard task master who didn't take fools gladly but what a brave man.

    My lad worked damned hard and expected the same level of commitment from everyone else. If you worked hard and did your best he'd defend you with his last breath. If you didn't pull your weight then it was God help you, cos he'd have you over a fire. I understand people either loved or loathed him, and his mates would follow him into Hell when he whistled. However, all of the reports i have ever read of him state that he was a brilliant technical flier, but he wasn't naturally gifted. He just worked chuffin hard at it.
    In bombers Mick Martin was by far his superior.
     
  11. Kitty

    Kitty Very Senior Member

    I believe Galland had a cigar lighter installed in one of his personal craft???? (maybe a myth but I'm sure I've seen a diagram of it's installation somewhere.)
    This would definitely make him a top Pilot for me regardless of his other successes.
    Top bloke! I read in Bader's biography when they were returning from a Big Wing intercept he would regularly grip the yoke between his knees, fling back the canopy and light up his pipe at Angels 15. The rest of the wing would scatter and then watch in case he blew the aircraft up. Definitely a top bloke there.
    They don't make them like that any more.
     
  12. johnny sadiq

    johnny sadiq johnny sadiq

    Major Erich Hartmann of the Luftwaffe= with 352 kills he is the undisputed fighter top scorer in history. I think that both Cheshire and Gibson were equal for the bomber 'title'--although Gibson did some time on night fighters.

    Group Captain Cunningham's first name was John--he trained some of our initial crews on the Tident 1E. He hated being called 'Catseyes.' He looked younger than his age and at a party in Karachi he put this down to never being married!

    Adolf Galland did have a cigar lighter fitted to his Me 109 and this did not go down well with the Nazi top brass.

    All the best

    Johnny
     

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