Ace Of Aces

Discussion in 'The War In The Air' started by adamcotton, Oct 27, 2005.

  1. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    Adrian can you post a pic of this Czech pilot ?

    will agree that the German and RAF night fighter crews get no limelight in any poll but consistantly provided necessary air protection for their country during the terrible night sorties during the war. I think of ace and friend Heinz Rökker who had 64 kills or the man I had mentioned to Aaron on another thread, Martin Becker with 58 kills. Another unknown was Gerhard Raht with 58 kills Kommandeur of I./NJG 2

    and this is just a sampling ≈
  2. adrian roberts

    adrian roberts Senior Member


    here is a picture of Kuttelwascher

    His Hurricane on these flights was Mk IIc BE581, "Night Reaper". The Battle of Britain Memorial Flight's PZ865 is currently painted in the markings of this aircraft.

  3. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    </div><div class='quotemain'>has decided that Coltishall is to shut for the last time on February 6th 2006 because they are fazing out the Jaguar fighter which is based there. [/b]

    The Jags are moving home but Colt is still closing :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :( :(
  4. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    Karel Kuttlewascher was the subject of a full-length biography by Roger Darlington entitled "Nighthawk". It was published in 1985.

    If I may play Devil's Advocate for a bit: I always find it interesting that "Kut" achieved all his success while flying alone, at night. There was no one around to confirm his victories, and I don't know what use the cine camera would have been in the pitch black! Yet, while flying a radar equipped Mosquito with a second crew member, he was unable to replicate his earlier success.... if I was a cynic I might suggest cheating had taken place. What does everyone think of that possibility?
  5. adrian roberts

    adrian roberts Senior Member

    Kut Cheating?! (I didn't realise the pun until I had written that)
    well I suppose its a possibility. I haven't read the book, only shorter articles. But the RAF seemed to swallow his account at the time - or did it just make good propaganda? I suppose they wanted to believe it at the time, as I do now. Could it have been verified by agents, or even news reports, or post-war records?
    Assuming he was telling the truth, could one explanation be that this was the time of the Baedecker raids on the UK, so assuming he knew or could guess what airfield the bombers were using and could calculate the time they would return there, all he had to do was hang round the airfield and shoot at any other plane he saw. The difficult bit was navigating at night, alone - you're a pilot, you have a better idea than me whether this was feasible.
    Whereas later in the war, the night fighters were on intruder missions against German night-fighters, which could be anywhere along the bomber route. So even with radar, it was a needle in a haystick job. And if you saw a target, you had to visually identify it in the dark first in case it was one of ours - I don't know when IFF came in, but I bet they didn't trust it.
    So this may explain the discrepancy in the scores, but does not help with the truth about the Hurricane operations

  6. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    Hi Adrian,

    Yes, I am sure you are right. Was just trying to be a bit contentious.

    I imagine it would have been a simple matter to verify Kut's claims post war against Luftwaffe records, but not sure how they could have been verified during the conflict....

    Navigation alone at night without navigation aids, particularly over a blacked out landscape, is indeed a feat of airmanship. It becomes somewhat easier on nights with a full moon, but otherwise it's tough.....

    I well remember training for the Night Rating to my PPL at Shoreham some years ago. Flying over Brighton illuminated by countless lights was a breeze, but as soon as I turned north over the downs and the countryside beyond there was nothing but inky blackness. I wouldnt rate my chances of finding an unilluminated bomber base in those conditions....
  7. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    It just puts into perspective how brave the RAF Bomber Crews were to be flying at night with only the navigator to get them there and home again.
  8. egbert

    egbert Member

    Of course Erich Hartmann, not only because he was our direct, next door neighbour for so many years images/smilies/default/tongue.gif
  9. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    So Egbert,

    What was Erich Hartmann like as a person?
  10. adrian roberts

    adrian roberts Senior Member

    </div><div class='quotemain'>how brave the RAF Bomber Crews were to be flying at night with only the navigator to get them there and home again.[/b]

    The Wireless Operator and the Bomb Aimer also played a part in navigation, especially in later years as they tried to use more electronic equipment (H2S etc) to get more accuracy. But this only shows just how difficult it was, and how labour intensive a big aeroplane was before computers.

    And this highlights Kuttelwaschers feat - I don't know if he managed to squeeze any extra navigational aids into his Hurricane. The one picture I have, admittedly a painting not a photo, shows underwing tanks but not a D/F loop, so maybe it was down to having a map on his lap after all. Doubt if there was room for an Elsan either....

    And there was the feat of Cyril Barton VC, when his nav, W/Op and B/Aimer all mistakenly baled out and he had to bring a damaged Halifax home at night using a map only, sadly to be killed in the ensuing crash-landing

    Anne-Marie1 likes this.
  11. egbert

    egbert Member

    (adamcotton @ Nov 3 2005, 03:01 PM) [post=41067]So Egbert,

    What was Erich Hartmann like as a person?
    I was young and my interest for aviation just lit; I remember he was a respected person about in his end 40s, early 50s; he looked pretty energetic and i believe he was a wing commander in the new Luftwaffe than; and when he signed his book "Holt Hartmann vom Himmel" with a personal dedication, boy I was so proud.
    I think he stood with both feet on earth , as we say, and was no primadonna

    The dedication says:
    "Egbert.....with my best wishes for a more peaceful future
    Erich Hartmann
    28 Nov. 1971
  12. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    Thanks for that insight on Erich Hartmann, egbert. I must say, he always came across well on the TV documentary interviews I saw. Obviously no Nazi.
  13. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    And his skill and bravery are above reproach too. Anyone that can climb into a cockpit and manage to shoot down over 300 aircraft deserves respect :)
  14. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member


    Kut's Hurricane was modified only by the addition of underwing fuel tanks (which you identified on the painting) to confer extra range/endurance. No navaids of any sort. D/F existed then, but required a seperate pair of hands to operate the rotating loop. ADF - or Automatic Direction Finding - as fitted even to most light aircraft today, hadn't then been invented (certainly not in a form small enough to incorporate into a single-seater's cockpit) and nor had the necessary accompanying NDBs (Non-Directional Beacons). So all in all he was reliant on the Mk 1 eyeball and a map, and a spot of geusswork and luck, although nights with a full moon would have obviously helped - assuming the sky was clear of cloud also!!! Yes, a remarkable feat of airmanship indeed.
  15. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    </div><div class='quotemain'> The Wireless Operator and the Bomb Aimer also played a part in navigation, especially in later years as they tried to use more electronic equipment (H2S etc) to get more accuracy. But this only shows just how difficult it was, and how labour intensive a big aeroplane was before computers.[/b]

    The Wop could do D/F and the bombaimer could be used to identify landmarks. On a trip in a varsity as a space cadet , I was asked to the same!
  16. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    I still say the Night fighter pilots and their crews were the most outstanding
  17. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor

    Agreed Erich, they where amazing in what they did, I take my hat of to them.
  18. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member

    The nightfighter crews of all nations did of course an outstanding and dangerous job, but it was one far removed from the traditional concept of the fighter pilots war, which was small single seat fighters operating together in daylight.
  19. Erich

    Erich Senior Member

    adam the only reason why hartmann, rall, and other ost front pilots are getting the thumbs up as the best is because the german propaganda machine pushed the day fighter pilots success, since it could be seen, for the civilian populace at night it was the flak crews that got the acclaim. The nf crews sat back at did their duty hardly ever recognized except for the schnuafer crew whom were praised and pushed through the propaganda machine.
    still today the day fighter exploits are pushed to the limits and for many the kills, at least some cannot be confirmed with cross checking of allied losses.......marseille being just one
  20. adamcotton

    adamcotton Senior Member


    Of course you have a very valid point. I geuss when I started this thread I had in mind a discussion on day fighter pilots only, but that is no reason why night fighters shouldn't be included also.

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