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I wonder how many WW2 (the eastern front kind) and early-jet dogfights were won not because of airplane damage, but because one of the pilots GLOC'd himself and hit the ground.

Or just exhaustion. There's an interview with a Japanese ace Honda Minoru on yt in which he talks about how pilots were so exhausted from flying eight hour combat missions every day of the Guadalcanal campaign that they would fall asleep at the controls, slowly fall out of formation, and hit the water. They (amazingly) had no radios in their aircraft at the time, so they just watched it happen.

IIRC they did have radios but those were so unreliable due to poor quality of vacuum tubes that many pilots chose not to use them, sometimes to the point of removing the antenna mast.

The Japanese had a variety of issues with radios. Some Type 0 pilots did remove their radio system, to save weight, but only on land-based fighters. For carrier-based ships radios were still essential, because they used radio direction finding for navigation. Japanese carrier-based operations also suffered issues because they tended to use a single radio frequency for all air operations (meaning the channel could get disorganized). Japanese carriers also had their antennas on the sides of the ships rather than at the top of the island, which meant they often couldn't receive longer ranged transmissions, so it would be up to escorting cruisers to receive messages and then transmit them to the carrier. The book "Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway" has some good information about some of these nitty-gritty details.

I'm pretty sure I've read that exhaustion was a factor in the Battle Of Britain - the RAF took measures to ensure that pilots were reasonably well rested between sorties whereas the Luftwaffe just kept throwing them in again and again.

The Germans tended to put their trainers into combat roles meaning that they had trouble training new pilots. In the later days of the war they sometimes told pilots to eject if they saw an enemy plane over friendly ground - there were plenty of airplanes so better to make it back alive and try again than to risk death.

The Japanese did the same thing, toward the end of the Pacific War. It wasn't by preference in either case, but because they were so low on pilots that it became a question of whether to use instructors as combat pilots or just not have anyone to fly those missions at all.

Dive bombers actually subjected pilots to some serious g-forces. Some planes (at least the Stuka) had an automatic pull-out that would cause it to pull up at a certain altitude (or when the bomb is released, I'm not sure), so the plane could recover even if the pilot blacked out. Though apparently some pilots didn't like this feature and disabled it, because they felt always recovering at the same height made it easier to anti-air defenses to target them.

Another fun fact about the Stuka: you know that weird whining noise you hear in WW2 movies when a plane is dive bombing, almost sounds like the engine is acting up (like this https://youtu.be/5uvqhA4_2tU?t=39 )? So that noise is unique to the Stuka. It's not the engine, the plane has sirens fitted to the dive brakes! It was meant to scare soldiers on the ground.

I've definitely heard stories from old pilots of blacking out and coming too while out of control, and then having to wrestle control back while coming round. I wouldn't be at all surprised if many more never recovered in time.

I remember a WWI era flight-sim called Red Baron that included this in it's mechanics. If you tried to pull a turn too fast you'd start to black out and lose control.

Most flight sims model gloc, I remember it as far back as the 1980s Chuck Yeager series and it's definitely a thing in the F18 and F16 in DCS today.

From this talk [0] I get the impression that a large part of the "chess game" of a dogfight is about the aircraft's momentum. You're trying to get the enemy into a situation where his aircraft has too much or too little energy to respond to you, and can't accelerate / decelerate in time.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22u4qxm1YjY

There's an excellent biography about Boyd (https://www.amazon.com/Boyd-Fighter-Pilot-Who-Changed/dp/031...) the pilot who formalized using energy & momentum into actual combat techniques. The book is really good reading.

I wonder if the planes from back then could handle G-forces like that back then.

(they probably could)

As early as it was, their construction was probably sturdy. It’s only now that we calculate material margin at 110% instead of x5 or x10. The B52 is so stretched it famously leaks fuel at ground level, the operating guideline says “6 droplets per minute” to 20 droplets per minute for a dozen points of the aircraft (mostly around the wings).

Why only the eastern front? Pilots of the RAF were completely exhausted during the Battle of Britain and the Blitz since they had such a numerical disadvantage compared to the german air force.

Especially when you consider that most of the German Luftwaffe were jacked up on "pilot's salt" (meth) [0]. Makes sense that the US AirForce now has a widely known Modafinil kick ;)

0 - https://worldwarwings.com/the-hidden-risk-faced-by-german-pi...

Not just the Luftwaffe, either, and not just speed. Tablets formulated with both methamphetamine ("Pervitin") and, later, cocaine, were issued throughout the Wehrmacht. [1] Some branches also had speed-laced chocolate bars, Fliegerschokolade and Panzerschokolade for pilots and tankers respectively. [2] They also broadly issued opioids - including oxycodone ("Eukodol")! - and drunkenness was likewise extremely widespread, at varying times both with and without official sanction and material support (i.e. liquor rations).

[1] https://www.spiegel.de/international/the-nazi-death-machine-...

[2] https://time.com/5752114/nazi-military-drugs/

Thanks for your reply, I had no idea the germans issued go-fast chocolate bars! The implications of alcohol rations are also interesting - especially for the social bonding aspect the germans sought to exploit among their troops.

I don't know so much about that, especially in that the Wehrmacht inherited the Prussian tradition and thus generally looked with severe disfavor on vertical fraternization among the ranks. The Waffen-SS maybe, but they also always struggled to be taken seriously by the Heer, who not without cause regarded them by default as dangerously incompetent pretenders to the profession of arms - some units and formations eventually became very effective in combat, but many didn't, and Heer commanders frequently complained about and sought to avoid operating with the Waffen-SS overall. The Heer's contempt also had much to do with the conflict between the aforementioned Prussian military-aristocratic tradition of their officer corps vs. the SS's origins as an offshoot of the "working-class rabble" of the SA, with its reputation for fraternization-driven collapse of discipline so severe that the whole organization had had to be purged. (We know now that this isn't really true; it was the SA's broad populism and redistributive political tendency, and the concern these caused among the corporate elite Hitler and the Party establishment had so carefully cultivated during their rise to power, which drove the purges - debauchery and indiscipline were mainly just a convenient propaganda cover, but the propaganda worked and these were understood at the time to be the driving cause behind the purge.) So, for political reasons alone, it seems unlikely the Waffen-SS had much use for liquor as a bonding tool. Too, the SS overall had their own weird "New Aryan Man" ideology thing going already, which tended to frown somewhat on alcohol even before that was reinforced by party leadership about halfway through the war. And finally, as social bonding promoters go, I suspect booze doesn't add up to much next to the total experience of shared purpose and adversity that is WWII-style mobile warfare.

I can think of a few reasons why liquor might feature heavily in the WWII German experience of war. Primary among them, I think, has to be that it acts as something of an emotional anesthetic, and soldiers in both wars often used it to help cope with what would otherwise be intolerable. In WWI that was mostly the manifold horrors of life in the static trench warfare of the Western Front - you see something similar in WWII Stalingrad, for example, though only sporadically and briefly due to the ever-straitening circumstances of the besieged Sixth Army. Put simply, they ran out of everything before Paulus finally threw in the towel, but while they still had liquor, this was the way they used a lot of it.

Alcohol also helped support the rapid, continuous advances required in the WWII style of mobile warfare, serving as something of a dual to benzedrine. The ferocious German materiel buildup of the 1930s notwithstanding, their entire war plan, again much as in WWI, was predicated on the knowledge that their only path to victory lay in finding a way for a smaller force to beat a much larger one. Technical and training superiority was one aspect of the solution; another was the speed, precision, and decisiveness of action that that individual superiority enabled. All of those grow steadily harder to maintain over time, as action takes its toll, and countenancing alcohol use helps blunt this effect for a while. In the long run I'd expect it to be more a hindrance than a help, but German plans in both wars were intended to ensure that the war was won before there could be a long run - because, in the long run, the Germans knew they would lose.

And, of course, alcohol helped blunt the psychic damage of participation in atrocity, for the vast majority of soldiers and others to whom it did not come naturally - this, along with suicide, was in particular a problem among early Sonderkommandos and prior to the industrialization of massacre for which the Nazi regime is most deservedly loathed today. Part of the purpose behind that industrialization was in fact to provide enough emotional distance, for those tasked with carrying it out, to stop them constantly drinking themselves insensate or eating their guns or both.

Not just the Luftwaffe. Benzedrine was a normal thing to be given to Army Air Corp Pilots (in fact it was issued to almost all US military units).

Eastern front dogfights were generally fought at lower altitudes, where GLOC is much more dangerous.

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