Three times hero of the Soviet Union, pilot, guards Colonel Alexander Pokryshkin, 1945 © /
In Soviet times the names of the best pilots of the great Patriotic war , Alexander Pokryshkin and Ivan Kozhedub were known to everyone. Is that “Stalin’s falcons” were much better “aces Goering“, no doubts — in the end who won the war?
The magic of large numbers: as the aces of the Luftwaffe struck the imagination of the Russians
But in the early 1990s, our country began to publish statistics of the best pilots of the Luftwaffe, which, bluntly, shocked — 104 German pilots had in their account 100 or more downed enemy aircraft.
The best German ACE Erich Hartmann had scored 352 of the downed plane, of which 347 were Soviet.
The best representatives of the allied Kozhedub counts “only” 64 victory. Alexander Pokryshkin — 59, but this number is considered exaggerated some.
After the Soviet collapse more than a decade, the shelves of bookstores are filled of memories of German aces, which enjoyed great popularity among the Russian public.
About Pokryshkin, bringing terror to the Nazis, remembered perhaps with a smile, considering it a product of “Stalinist propaganda”.
The best Soviet aces of great Patriotic war. Infographics
The struggle for air supremacy
But why did the “shock work” of Hitler’s aces did not help Germany?
“Littered with corpses” — love to write some reformers. That’s just to do it in the air pretty hard.
A rude term could still come to the events of 1941-1942, when the loss of Soviet aircraft were indeed very large. However, in 1943 the red army air force won the fight for dominance in the air, and no longer gave him until the end of the war.
But Erich Hartmann, according to his statistics, most of their air victories scored in the second half of the war. For example, only in January — February 1944, he shot down 50 Soviet aircraft. However, the situation at the front is for some reason not affected.
The most productive year of Alexander Pokryshkin became 1943. In the battle of Kuban he personally shot down 22 enemy aircraft, and then replenish your account during the Soviet offensive in the Donbass, the battle for the Dnieper, the blocking of the Nazis in the Crimea.
Achtung, Pokryshkin! Legends and mysticism accompanied the pilot since birth
Different goals, different challenges
But why Hartmann”s statistics are much higher?
There is a fundamental difference in the approaches. Most of the flight career Pokryshkin was involved in support of the troops on the ground — cover river crossings, defense of the Soviet bombers, repel attacks by bombers of the enemy.
Erich Hartmann during the war was a “free hunter” who was looking for “victims” without being tightly tied to the actions of ground forces.
Such tactics in the Soviet air force has been used only since the middle of the war, when Pokryshkin began to make much less crashes. The reason is simple — in March 1944, the Soviet pilot was appointed commander of the 16th guards fighter aviation regiment. And in June 1944 he took command of the 9th guards air division.
For personal part in the fighting possibilities almost does not remain. And it is not required from Pokryshkina now needed management skills and training of subordinates.
The best German ACE Erich Hartmann. Source: Public Domain
The best German ACE had fallen from heaven 14 times
Hartmann flew until the last days of the war, by making the total 1404 sorties, which spent 802 of air combat. Personal statistics counts 650 sorties, 159 fights.
If you look at indicators such as the efficiency ratio, it appears that Hartmann 0,43 he downed aircraft in one dogfight, and counts of 0.37. The advantage on the side of the Nazis, but it’s not amazing.
You can talk about defeats. Soviet ACE who fought in 1941, was shot down not once (according to others this has happened twice), and Hartmann lost 14 aircraft. However, he himself claimed that he was forced to escape by parachute by the fragments of shot down of enemy aircraft, but let it remain on the conscience of Hartmann.
It seemed that the logic of war led the two aces to meet each other. But in fact it was not and could not be.
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The winner of The strongest and weakest hunter
Alexander Pokryshkin was outlining his tactics: “to Determine the strongest of the enemy group. And to strike at him, despite the risk. It desorientiert the rest.”
Here’s what he wrote about Pokryshkin war correspondent Malyshko and Feroleto in his essay “the Master of the sky — Alexander Pokryshkin”: “All firing points for the car counts were translated into a single trigger. Four against 50, three against 23, against 8 alone engage in Pokryshkin. And never knew defeat. Moreover, in every battle he took upon himself the most dangerous — attack the leading German groups.”
To fight with equal and even superior competitors for Pokryshkin was the norm. But to take this fight had the nerve not everyone.
And what about Hartmann? Here’s how he described his tactics: “If you see an enemy plane, you are not obliged immediately to throw myself at him and attack. Wait and use all of its benefits. Estimate what formation and what tactics the enemy uses. Rate whether the enemy is errant or inexperienced pilot. A driver is always visible in the air. In order to Surmount it. Much more useful to set fire to only one, than to get involved in the 20-minute carousel, having achieved nothing”.
Rage “Normandy”. As the French aces served comrade Stalin
Highest scoring German ACE spoke frankly that in the “dog dump”, ie melee, a large number of aircraft, does not want to participate. Confrontation with enemy fighters, Hartmann believed a waste of time. He even avoided attacks on the bombers, next to the job under dense cover.
Thus, Erich Hartmann attacked just frankly poorly trained pilots or aircraft, which obviously could not provide decent resistance. This is not a warrior, but a real vulture.
Of course, this style has ruled out an appointment in the sky by Pokryshkin. But to achieve victory in the war in this way was absolutely impossible. While “aces Goering” was added to personal accounts, the Soviet air force provided the approach of the armies of Zhukov and Rokossovsky to the capital of the Third Reich. The final result is known to all.
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