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 Post subject: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 10:27 pm 
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Have we decided how to integrate the various fighter and bomber models to rate an air force mix of aircraft types?

I'm interested because I have acquired a listing of RAF/RFC aircraft for 1917 and 1918 by squadron and type, and am working on acquiring one for the Germans for the same period. What I'd like to do is calculate a weighted average effectiveness for said air force, and see how it fluctuates.

Should one do an average effectiveness for, say, the fighter arm, the two-seat arm, the bombing units, etc, ad not bother trying to integrate it into an effectiveness of the RFC as a whole?

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 6:42 am 
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Johnnie Lyle wrote:
Have we decided how to integrate the various fighter and bomber models to rate an air force mix of aircraft types?

I'm interested because I have acquired a listing of RAF/RFC aircraft for 1917 and 1918 by squadron and type, and am working on acquiring one for the Germans for the same period. What I'd like to do is calculate a weighted average effectiveness for said air force, and see how it fluctuates.

Should one do an average effectiveness for, say, the fighter arm, the two-seat arm, the bombing units, etc, ad not bother trying to integrate it into an effectiveness of the RFC as a whole?

I would say the best approach would be to work squadron by squadron with type and number of aircraft at regular intervals. That should give you a theoretical "maximum plausible strength" for each unit at regular points throughout the war. Then take a hard look at what we've got. This will be an enormous analysis problem but splitting out the solid factors is a help. We'd also need to know the kill/loss ratio for the given periods in question.

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Fri Sep 11, 2015 8:52 am 
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Francis Urquhart wrote:
Johnnie Lyle wrote:
Have we decided how to integrate the various fighter and bomber models to rate an air force mix of aircraft types?

I'm interested because I have acquired a listing of RAF/RFC aircraft for 1917 and 1918 by squadron and type, and am working on acquiring one for the Germans for the same period. What I'd like to do is calculate a weighted average effectiveness for said air force, and see how it fluctuates.

Should one do an average effectiveness for, say, the fighter arm, the two-seat arm, the bombing units, etc, ad not bother trying to integrate it into an effectiveness of the RFC as a whole?

I would say the best approach would be to work squadron by squadron with type and number of aircraft at regular intervals. That should give you a theoretical "maximum plausible strength" for each unit at regular points throughout the war. Then take a hard look at what we've got. This will be an enormous analysis problem but splitting out the solid factors is a help. We'd also need to know the kill/loss ratio for the given periods in question.


At least for the RFC in 1917 and 1918, http://www.airhistory.org.uk/rfc/home.html has a list of every aircraft on inventory, by serial number, from 24 Feb 1917 to 30 September 1918. There's also almost complete lists of every aircraft purchased, assigned to France, and allotted to squadrons. It's an AMAZING body of work. Provided we have analyzed and rated all the necessary planes, it should be really easy to have a squadron "score" and RFC score for a given time period - it's really just a matter of plugging the tables and aircraft ratings into SAS and doing some means.

Kills would be more difficult, though operational losses over the period might work.

Finding corresponding German numbers is more difficult than I had thought, since the Luftstreitkräfte never wrote their official history, what with not existing post-war, and the Luftwaffe apparently deciding they couldn't be much bothered (they only . I'm trying to find the Nachrichtenblatt der Luftstreitkräfte (biweekly summaries of air activities) which should work for machine strength, kills and losses for the Germans, but my Googlefu is lacking. There also doesn't seem to be anybody as interested in what they had when, so there's no readily available .csv files to download.

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 12:54 pm 
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Rating an air force gets into not-especially-quantifiable things like C4ISR effectiveness, the impact of doctrine, and morale factors.

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Sat Sep 12, 2015 1:10 pm 
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Poohbah wrote:
Rating an air force gets into not-especially-quantifiable things like C4ISR effectiveness, the impact of doctrine, and morale factors.


Which is the whole point of the model we have developed - to see where technical capabilities explain outcomes, and where technical capabilities suggest it should have gone the other way.

That's why something like Bloody April is a good test case. Bloody April is often explained by the Germans having better aircraft (Albatross D.II and D.IIIs vs DH-2s). Other simulations suggest that, though they may be overly biased towards the Germans having 2 MGs, and the Allies only 1, in their kites.

Once we get the aircraft numbers for the Germans, we should be able to rate the RFC and the Luftstreitkräfte on, say, March 28th 1917 and see whether the aircraft superiority factor is sufficient to give a big German advantage.

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 8:47 am 
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Johnnie Lyle wrote:
Other simulations suggest that, though they may be overly biased towards the Germans having 2 MGs, and the Allies only 1, in their kites.


Looking at the data, I think it was more important that the Spandau was a better aircraft machine gun than the Vickers. Two Vickers guns firing through the prop arc are significantly inferior to a pair of Spandaus doing the same. However, a single Vickers not firing through the prop arc (as on the DH2) actually has a slight edge on a single Spandau that is firing through the prop arc. So, what the twin guns did is eliminate the DH2s edge in that department. However, there are prices to be paid; the Spandau is heavy and a twin Spandau more so. Interestingly, the one mount that seemed to work very well is the Lewis gun on the top wing setup (ie not firing through the prop arc). It's light and it fires fast. It has a significant edge over a single synchronized Spandau (and suddenly the effectiveness of the Nieuport falls into place.) Its significant that the British kept that wing-mounted Lewis gun until late in the war and there are tails of some pilots actually replacing their Vickers with a second wing-mounted Lewis gun.

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 3:57 pm 
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A quick google for "twin lewis machine guns" finds this interesting picture of a Camel with twin wing mounted Lewis guns.
From this forum. http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=133909


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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:01 pm 
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bekosh wrote:
A quick google for "twin lewis machine guns" finds this interesting picture of a Camel with twin wing mounted Lewis guns.
From this forum. http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=133909


Some home defense Camels carried twin Lewis on Foster mounts. They were very useful for ripping up bombers, since underneath and behind is the place with the least incoming MG fire.

Camels mounted on ships often had 1 Vickers, and 1 Lewis on a Foster mount.

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:05 pm 
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Francis Urquhart wrote:
Johnnie Lyle wrote:
Other simulations suggest that, though they may be overly biased towards the Germans having 2 MGs, and the Allies only 1, in their kites.


Looking at the data, I think it was more important that the Spandau was a better aircraft machine gun than the Vickers. Two Vickers guns firing through the prop arc are significantly inferior to a pair of Spandaus doing the same. However, a single Vickers not firing through the prop arc (as on the DH2) actually has a slight edge on a single Spandau that is firing through the prop arc. So, what the twin guns did is eliminate the DH2s edge in that department. However, there are prices to be paid; the Spandau is heavy and a twin Spandau more so. Interestingly, the one mount that seemed to work very well is the Lewis gun on the top wing setup (ie not firing through the prop arc). It's light and it fires fast. It has a significant edge over a single synchronized Spandau (and suddenly the effectiveness of the Nieuport falls into place.) Its significant that the British kept that wing-mounted Lewis gun until late in the war and there are tails of some pilots actually replacing their Vickers with a second wing-mounted Lewis gun.


When did the DH-2 get a Vickers? I thought they always had a Lewis?

The wing-mounted Lewis gun on the SE5 and FAA Camels was actually on a flexible Foster mount. It gave you a better range of fire overhead, and made changing the drum and clearing jams a lot easier.

The Sopwith Dolphin was probably the ultimate in that department, with twin forward-firing Vickers, and twin Lewis fixed firing upward for bomber and recon busting. While most removed the Lewis, 83 Squadron kept them for a while.

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 4:34 pm 
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Johnnie Lyle wrote:
When did the DH-2 get a Vickers? I thought they always had a Lewis?

You're right. My mistake. Which reduces the significance of the Albatrosses twin guns a bit further,

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 6:59 pm 
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Johnnie Lyle wrote:
The Sopwith Dolphin was probably the ultimate in that department, with twin forward-firing Vickers, and twin Lewis fixed firing upward for bomber and recon busting. While most removed the Lewis, 83 Squadron kept them for a while.

An interesting foreshadowing to Schrage Muzik...

(And, also, to the 'turret fighter' idea, which had it been able to be used in the operational scenario it had been designed for would have a very, very different reputation today than it got. Nobody expected German fighters to be using French airfields though...)

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 Post subject: Re: Rating an air force
PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 10:15 pm 
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The Bushranger wrote:
Johnnie Lyle wrote:
The Sopwith Dolphin was probably the ultimate in that department, with twin forward-firing Vickers, and twin Lewis fixed firing upward for bomber and recon busting. While most removed the Lewis, 83 Squadron kept them for a while.

An interesting foreshadowing to Schrage Muzik...

(And, also, to the 'turret fighter' idea, which had it been able to be used in the operational scenario it had been designed for would have a very, very different reputation today than it got. Nobody expected German fighters to be using French airfields though...)


Dolphins were designed as interceptors to go hunting Gothas and the Staaken. Those things are bloody damn huge by WWI standards, and two machine guns will not bring it down unless you get damned lucky. Since the Lewis only carried 97 rounds, a twin-Lewis fit on Foster mounts (to give the necessary field of fire in the vertical to avoid the MGs by sitting under the tail) is insufficient. Conversely, twin Vickers can't give you the kind of elevation to the mount, and also probably can't carry enough ammo to bring one down alone. So a British compromise occurred, and the Dolphin got both. (It'd be interesting to see if the PM has enough data to rate the two separately).

We did have turret fighters in WWI - the Bristol Fighter (twin Lewis in the observer's cockpit, single Vickers firing through the propeller. The interesting thing is that flying a Biff like a turret fighter got them shot down. Fly them like a conventional fighter, with a useful sting in the tail, and they did quite well. That twin-Lewis in the back is REALLY REALLY annoying on any vector but the Biff's six, since it gets a shot at your tail if you fly past.

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