Dangerous thing to say these days

The Royal Air Force has admitted for the first time that black applicants are significantly more likely to fail its selection tests than their white counterparts.

Documents seen by The Telegraph reveal that white and Asian applicants to the RAF consistently score up to 36 per cent higher than black candidates on tests of technical skills and spatial awareness.

Defence chiefs have insisted the Airwoman and Airmen’s Selection Tests (ASTs) had been proven not to be biased against any ethnicity, and blamed the disparity on “underlying inequality” in education.

“It is also important to recognise there can actually be true differences between groups,” the RAF added in a statement.

Differences between groups? Anathema!

What would be interesting would be to see the gender differences as well. For we do tend to think that – on average – there are differences there in such things as spatial awareness.

BIS Test of Spatial Aptitude 2015-2020
Ethnicity declared / five-year average score

Any Chinese Background 60.1

Asian Indian 50.1

Black African 40.6

Black Caribbean 44.0

Mixed Black Caribbean And White 51.4

White British 55.4

48 thoughts on “Dangerous thing to say these days”

  1. I understand that racism is politically uncorrect, and that for that reason it is deemed scientifically uncorrect, but what I don’t get is why it is even a controversial ideas that – when genetics is currently tantamount to God in the deterministic power we attribute to it – that DNA couldn’t have an influence on intelligence at the same time as influencing skin colour, or whatever. In aggregate of course.

  2. Bloke in North Dorset

    They have a point when they point at the education system, not that it is racist but it highlights the same racial disparities and when you look at the AST its not surprising:

    RAF aptitude test – Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST)
    The Airman/Airwoman Selection Test (AST) is a standard suite of aptitude and psychometric tests. There are seven tests in total:

    Verbal reasoning (15 mins, 20 questions.)
    Numerical reasoning (11 mins, 15 questions. Standard arithmetic & data interpretation.)
    Work rate (4 mins, 20 questions. Speed of work is measured.)
    Spatial reasoning (Part 1 (2D) is 4 mins, 10 questions. Part 2 (3D) is 3 mins, 10 questions.)
    Electrical comprehension (11 mins, 21 questions. Electrical concepts.)
    Mechanical comprehension (10 mins, 20 questions.)
    Memory/Recollection (20 questions interpreting & remembering order patterns of letters, grids & colours.)

    They’re looking to find the best candidates through a combination of testing their education and aptitude, why wouldn’t the get the same results?

    If they were looking for the ability to run for miles at a fast pace or perhaps the explosive energy of the sprinter they’d get a completely different set of results but wouldn’t be calling that racist.

  3. There are five races, those that evolved in Africa, Eurasia, Oceania, East Asia and America.[1] The races evolved different average IQs: Africa 71, Eurasia 100, Oceania 62, East Asia 105, America 86.[2] IQ differences between races are heritable.[3]

    [1] https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-1809.2006.00287.x
    [2] https://www.washsummit.com/product/race-differences-in-intelligence/
    [3] https://doi.org/10.1037/1076-8971.11.2.235

  4. It’s also a small sample of the black candidates. May not be a good selection.

    Also, note that the RAF can correct the average scores by getting poorer quality white applicants.
    I suspect – on a pure guess – that the RAF is seen as an elite. White people of lower education don’t apply. That skews the results. Just a guess.

  5. @Theo,

    Washington Summit Publishers aren’t exactly an unbiased scientific organization. I would take anything published by Richard Spenser with a huge pinch of salt.

  6. Last I heard, our education system didn’t have a class in ‘Spatial Awareness’, so the educational level in spatial awareness of all candidates would be the same. Maybe there is / are other reasons for the disparity in results…….

  7. Gunker
    WSP have an agenda, and Richard Spenser is a nutjob, but they do publish research by credible academics, like Richard Lynn, who are now effectively barred from mainstream academic publications.

  8. I wonder if there is any info on success in dogfights between different race groups. I can’t think of a theatre of war where this might have happened to the extent it did over Europe in WW2, where everyone was white. I don’t think Japanese and white septic pilots in WW2 were really ever in such a situation? And if there is such a comparison how would you adjust for the different planes?

  9. The Royal Air Force has admitted for the first time that black applicants are significantly more likely to fail its selection tests than their white counterparts.

    You see how they spin this.

    How about “Blacks have admitted that they are significantly more likely to fail its selection tests than their white counterparts.”

    Regarding black pilots in WWII, there were some, and they performed very well indeed. Braver men that me that’s for sure.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuskegee_Airmen

  10. Bravefart

    In the Marianas in 1944 the US Navy flyers massacred the Japanese fighters. But this was largely down to the American planes being better armoured than the Zeroes and also by the time there were proper fighter-fighter engagements, the Japanese aeroplanes were heavily outnumbered.

    I don’t know enough about Korea and Vietnam to comment on Russian/Chinese comparisons, but it is telling that Arab fighter pilots massively underperformed in all operations from 1948 onwards. Israel hired mercenary fighter pilots in the war of independence and flew second-hand Spitfires. Thereafter with US and French hardware and training they could overcome their Soviet trained and equipped enemies. Similar for Desert Storm and Gulf II, where the US, GB and Saudi airforces slaughtered the Iraqis.

  11. Theophrastus.. Lynn may have been an “academic”. Credible has never been one of his epithets. He’s the Spud in psychology.

  12. Bravefart,

    wat dabney already mentioned the Tuskegee Airmen, and Japanese aviators (especially on the naval side) wiped the floor with the opposition in the first year or two of the conflict. However, there’s a lot of selection bias (the Tuskegee pilots, in the spotlight, were going to be the very best of their group and performed well as a consequence: Japanese pilots had a murderously demanding training system and prior experience in China, and when those top-tier aircrew were lost the quality declined precipitously with the Japanese ending up as targets in the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot and resorting to kamikaze tactics)

    Other examples would be North Korea (anecdotally, performing very poorly in the air until heavily assisted by Chinese and Soviet ‘volunteers’), and North Vietnam (doing surprisingly well in a small number of encounters by exploiting their opponent’s weaknesses). You could also point to the Middle East (Israeli air force wipes the floor with Arabs in 1967, 1973, 1982… stand fast a surprise to surface-to-air weapons in ’73, they were still shooting down any Egyptian or Syrian aircraft that showed up; Iran mostly won the air war against Iraq; Iraq got trampled into dust by the US-led coalition in 1991…)

    Don’t think there’s a pattern there except that training hard, good logistics, and fighting smart are big advantages.

    Regarding selection criteria, having both been through the Navy’s Admiralty Interview Board and then had a behind-the-scenes look at the process, it bends over backwards to ensure that candidates are assessed on how they perform, not on colour, creed, or other side issues. The written assessments are marked blind (and have moved from paper to PC, making it even harder to know which one to mark down for ‘reasons’), so if there’s a systemic underperformance on a particular test it won’t be because the melanin detector in the computer is marking them down.

  13. We had 3 Nigerians on my engineering degree course. Academically they were OK: average in all subjects except technical drawing which none of them could do. They all failed the exam, then failed the retake in the summer. However as it was a year one subject only, they were allowed to retake it in the second year. They failed in the second year, and again in the retake. Rumour has it that for the final year 3 attempt which they had to pass in order to be awarded a degree the Technical Drawing instructor helped them pass the exam to the extent of “put your pencil on the paper here and draw a line to here ……”.

    It’s not that they were stupid: their brains were just wired differently and didn’t have the spatial awareness needed to interpret a 3d object from its 2d representation on paper.

  14. So Much For Subtlety

    wat dabney December 16, 2020 at 9:59 am – “Regarding black pilots in WWII, there were some, and they performed very well indeed. Braver men that me that’s for sure.”

    There is no evidence the Tuskegee airmen performed particularly well. It is noticable that there has been a concentrated effort to lie on their behalf for years. For instance, they were awarded 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses. For shooting down a total of 112 airplanes. This seems a little excessive.

    The fact is that only affirmative action allowed them to fly. On an equal playing field, the air force would have been a lot whiter. But that is one of the great things about the Air Force. In the Army, the officers lag behind in relative safety and the OR go out to die. In the air force the ordinary soldiers remain behind and the officers go out to get shot down.

  15. AndyF:’ It’s not that they were stupid: their brains were just wired differently and didn’t have the spatial awareness needed to interpret a 3d object from its 2d representation on paper.’

    And no one had the balls to suggest that this meant perhaps this career wasn’t one for them?

  16. I note that no one has suggested that the wicked Chinese are being favoured by this disgusting racist system.

    It’s all whites bad, whites bad, whites bad.

  17. So, let’s see if I understand this correctly:
    Having an objective test with a score that is blind to any race aspect of the participants, is “racist”, but deliberately altering the pass criteria for specific races is “anti-racist”.

    I never realised the Waffen-SS were vanguards of the anti-racist movement.
    My history teachers need some re-training!

  18. My own hypothesis is that spatial reasoning ability as an adult is influenced by childhood activities, such as playing with Lego, Meccano, or Tetris, rather than components of formal education.

    I’m convinced I found structure related topics in chemistry (such as chirality) straightforward because I made so many Airfix models as a kid.

  19. Also I forgot to mention the Argentines, American trained but mostly equipped with obsolete fighters, they inflicted heavy damage on the Task Force. Although they were beaten by the FAA and RAF pilots air-to-air and lost a fifth of their complement, that was again down to superior equipment of their enemies.

  20. Noel C: I’m sure you’re correct. Black African babies have the security of being tied to their mothers’s backs into toddlerhood. They are also generally precocious compared with Caucasian babies in learning to walk and may live in riskier ens where crawling about is not a good idea. Crawling at a neurologically sensitive period helps the brain develop good focal vision, necessary later for reading and close work, it may help in the development of spatial skills, although that doesn’t explain the amount of football talent in the black community as that surely requires good spatial as well as motor skills?

  21. AndyF ” the spatial awareness needed to interpret a 3d object from its 2d representation on paper.”
    Ljh “he amount of football talent in the black community as that surely requires good spatial as well as motor skills?”

    Are these the same ‘Spatial Aptitude’? Is being able to imagine an object in 3d and how it might appear when rotated the same as being aware of where things are in real space?

  22. “when those top-tier aircrew were lost the quality declined precipitously with the Japanese ending up as targets” – Jason Lynch

    Correct. The Germans had the same problem. They couldn’t make good the loss of their experienced pilots.

  23. @djc: two completely different things.

    football talent ( and any skill requiring athletics and ballistics ) is an enhanced version of Flinging Poo. And pretty much baked into humanity as a whole. Even in women ( irate women instantly aqcuire deadly accurate aim even when they usually can’t reliably toss a ball 10 meters…)

    3d mental interpretation is a learned skill, and aptitude for it is rare as it is. Easily tested with a random IKEA flatpack..

  24. ‘I suspect – on a pure guess – that the RAF is seen as an elite. White people of lower education don’t apply. That skews the results. Just a guess.”

    ooooh! Now we get into the class system as it actually exists.
    This will almost certainly be true for both Officers and Other Ranks.

    You can get into the army officer selection with almost nothing, though a large proportion will have a degree of varying levels of Mickey Mousosity. Air Force Officers are a different bunch – I’m going to say almost exclusively graduates and very very much higher proportion of proper hard subjects, Engineering, Physics etc.

    They’re unspeakable oiks though all of them.

  25. “3d mental interpretation is a learned skill, and aptitude for it is rare as it is.”

    Rare, indeed.

    Played golf once pairing with a mechanical engineer friend and a pipe designer friend. Engineer told me later that he is in awe of pipe designer’s ability to think in 3d.

  26. ‘blamed the disparity on “underlying inequality” in education.’

    If UK is like US, government spends way MORE on blacks’ education. I.e., “inequality” is a lie.

  27. Like Noel C, I’d wonder about the toys these candidates has as children. It could easily be a wealth or culture thing – maybe white children are more likely to have a variety of console games which involve shooting things and spatial awareness, so the ones who are bad at it don’t apply, and the ones who are good think of applyingh to do it in real life. Maybe the Chinese parents thought they were buying the kids something to make them do computery things, while the kids used them for a variety of games. It is extremely difficult to eliminate the possibility that it is an environmental difference. Unfortunately, it seems that many people are eager to find inherent superiority in some groups of people, so leap to the conclusion that that is the cause of the difference.

  28. Gamecock, the US funds education locally. Hence blacks will generally have underfunded schools when taken nationwide. It’s a stupid system which in-bakes wealth advantage (with race following along as a result).

    SMFS, it’s lovely that you think army officers sit at the back and the ORs get killed, but it’s not true. The guy standing up shouting the orders is the prime target for everyone. The guy in the staff car is an even more juicy target.

    Something like 78 British Generals (Brigadier or above) died in WWI. Despite it being trench warfare with them “at the back”. It turns out *not* being in the trenches during artillery fire is worse.

  29. @Charles Childhood could well play a part. Not computer games per sé, but there’s (used to be) plenty of puzzles in kids’ mags of the 2D/3D variety, certainly in popscience and brainteaser mags. Then there’s LEGO’s, model kits, car mags (or anything that’s suited for “explosion” drawings of Stuff) .. plenty of stuff to lay a foundation.

    And then there’s the test questions themselves which can be trained for. There’s only so many types… (Never forget that Asians get trained to take tests, not necessarily solve problems in school..)

    Miss any of that, and you’ll have to re-invent the wheel when solving those puzzles..

  30. ‘Gamecock, the US funds education locally. Hence blacks will generally have underfunded schools when taken nationwide. It’s a stupid system which in-bakes wealth advantage (with race following along as a result).’

    Bullshit. White flight has produced non-white schools. Government schools spend twice what private schools do per pupil. I repeat, the U.S. spends way more on black education.

  31. SMFS,

    I tried (and failed) to be a part-time Army officer: it’s not a safe job.

    At platoon or company level, you’re the one who keeps sticking his head up like a meerkat (because your job’s to command, and you can’t do that if you don’t know what’s going on), the one shouting orders (because your job’s to command, which means issuing orders loudly enough to be heard or passed on) and the one being followed around by a signaller with a prominent whip aerial sticking out of the PRC-351 backpack (back in the Clansman days, which dates me)

    Hence, why in WW1 the overall average was about 9% of Other Ranks killed in action during the war… but nearly 25% for officers.

    Indeed, as late as the 1980s, a secondary purpose of the UOTCs was to provide a pool of emergency replacements for young Ruperts. When a platoon loses its commander, either the sergeant can step up to take over (and if he gets slotted that’s a decade of experience gone) or a brand-new 2Lt still suffering from postpinneal dampness can be dropped into the job with an injunction of “listen to your sergeant and remember your training” – which is more expendable?

    (It was, of course, debatable whether any efforts to stop 3 Guards Shock Army’s tour of northwest Germany would last long enough for this to matter, before battlefield use of chemical and atomic weapons escalated into a no-holds-barred game of Global Thermonuclear War…)

  32. . . . the U.S. spends way more on black education.

    But how much actually gets to benefit the kids, as opposed to the schools and teachers?

  33. So Much For Subtlety

    The Pedant-General December 16, 2020 at 5:09 pm – “Air Force Officers are a different bunch – I’m going to say almost exclusively graduates and very very much higher proportion of proper hard subjects, Engineering, Physics etc.”

    It is ironic that the Air Force, when it was founded, was determined not to do the class-based regimental-system thing of the Army. They wanted to be more meritocratic. But they went with a demand for Higher Education. In the US, the Army Air Force wanted every pilot to have a university degree – until they were told that there were fewer graduates than pilot slots. It has become the de facto norm in the West.

    Despite no evidence at all that Higher Education makes for a good pilot. In fact Air Forces are very reluctant to study what makes for a good pilot which suggests to me they know but they don’t want the rest of us to find out.[1]

    Ultimately it means that the Air Force is class-ridden. They just want an Upper Middle Class Air Force, for which the obvious filter is university education, rather than the Upper Class Army for which the right school, knowing how to hunt that sort of thing has always served well.

    [1] It seems that being a good pilot is about getting behind someone and killing them before they know you are there. The sort of street fighter who likes to sneak up behind someone and hit them with a brick. It takes a special personality but not one they really want to advertise.

  34. So Much For Subtlety

    I have often said here, and sometimes been flamed for it, that the main measure of a successful Army is the willingness of officers to die. I have a US Army study somewhere that says the under-performance of the US Army in WW2, compared to the Germans, was precisely because officers in the former were not killed in large enough numbers. In fact many of the same names here criticised me when I said Lt.Col. H Jones’s death in the Falklands was due to him doing precisely his job – leading.

    But there is a distinction between the junior officers who say “come on chaps” and then get their head blown off and the generals. You cannot (we cannot) lump them all in together.

    I don’t think the figures for WW1 are all that impressive.

    “here is a detailed analysis on pages 22/23 of ‘Bloody Red Tabs’ which I will summarise:

    “Of the 78 Generals who were killed in action, died of wounds or died as a result of active service:

    “34 Generals were killed by shellfire = 43%

    “22 Generals were killed by small arms fire = 28% (of which at least 12 were killed by snipers)

    “3 Generals were drowned – 1 accidently, 1 inadvertently poisoned himself, 1 died from cholera,

    “1 died as a result of a flying accident and 1 died from accidental injuries.

    “Of the remaining 15, no direct cause of death is known – the authors suggest it being likely that the majority would have been killed by either shell fire or small arms fire.”

    So 4% of the dead Generals drowned? I hope not in their bath. About 1 in 500 or so (I forget the number of Generals there were in WW1 but I dimly remembering something like 1,200) were shot? 5 million British people served in WW1 and 660,000 or so died. Close enough to 1 in 10.

    It is odd that the really dangerous things in WW2 turned out not to be a pongo sitting in a trench but being a civilian in the wrong place at the wrong time, especially if you were the wrong sort of civilian, flying an airplane or serving in a German submarine.

  35. So Much For Subtlety

    Ottokring December 16, 2020 at 12:22 pm – “Although they were beaten by the FAA and RAF pilots air-to-air and lost a fifth of their complement, that was again down to superior equipment of their enemies.”

    It is one of the interesting things about Argentinians, and Italians too come to that, that they are useless collectively once in uniform but they do not do badly individually. You have to admit the Air Force was brave. It is true that the Argentinians were not utterly out classed. Their planes were mostly old and not very good even then, but the British were flying Harriers which weren’t ideal either. There was a big difference in weapons as the Americans sold Britain the latest Sidewinder the “all aspect” AIM-9L. Allegedly that meant success rates went from 15% in the Vietnam War to 80% in the Falklands. But I suppose the Argentinians did not know that.

    They did know they were attacking ships that had big radars with very fast missiles attached to them. Lucky for them those missiles did not work all that well. But they were not to know that when they started either.

    I don’t know of any case where the Argentinians waved off due to a failure of nerve. Or even when they dropped short. They do seem to have been a little unsettled, perhaps anyway, it is hard to say. And they were very poorly served by their ground crews.

    The difference with the Army, or even the Navy, is huge.

  36. I have a US Army study somewhere that says the under-performance of the US Army in WW2, compared to the Germans, was precisely because officers in the former were not killed in large enough numbers.

    “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.”
    George S. Patton

  37. SMFS: “There is no evidence the Tuskegee airmen performed particularly well. It is noticable that there has been a concentrated effort to lie on their behalf for years. For instance, they were awarded 96 Distinguished Flying Crosses. For shooting down a total of 112 airplanes. This seems a little excessive.”

    That was covered in the movie, when a visiting Senator pointed out how relatively few aircaft they had shot down. The response was they their job had, for a long time, been to attack things on the ground.

    Their record includes 150 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground, and 950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed (including over 600 rail cars).

    For some time they flew the P-47 Thunderbolt, which was very much designed for ground attack.

  38. SMFS,

    Argentine pilots in 1982 planned some 440 or so anti-ship sorties, mostly in Skyhawks and Daggers between the 21st and 28th of May. Interestingly, an Australian researcher was able to get at their records and tally the numbers of sorties planned; the number that actually got off the ground; the number that made it to the general vicinity of the Falklands; and the number that actually encountered British forces. (This made it into a DOAE report, and from there to a Royal Navy TACNOTE)

    On the 21st, over half the sorties planned, made it all the way out and attacked. By the 25th, it was only a quarter: three out of four aircraft meant to be attacking British forces either were grounded before takeoff, or turned back en route.

    Part of that was technical: after flying through San Carlos where everyone and their dog is shooting at you, an aircraft that seemed serviceable when it landed, turns out to be sitting in a spreading puddle of Skydrol the next morning.

    Part was casualties: with a 25% loss rate of aircraft if they made contact with British forces, the pilots who pressed their attacks hardest, were the ones who died quickest.

    And part was simply human nature: courage runs out, and the second or third time into the crucible leaves a pilot in a single-seat, single-engine aircraft making a long, low-level overwater flight (in a South Atlantic winter with no hope of rescue or recovery) very skittish about the way that oil pressure gauge is fluttering.

    As well as aborts en route, there was also a definite tendency to unload on the first target seen and then escape: Commodore Clapp organised the defence of San Carlos (the Clapp Trap) on exactly that principle (hence why several frigates were damaged and two sunk, but the essential transports survived), and on at least one occasion an Argentine transport (the ARA Rio Carcana was bombed by her own side… whereas the only documented case of Argentine pilots confirming a target and manoeuvring to attack it most effectively, was by a flight of CANA Skyhawks against the already-damaged HMS Ardent – they sank her but the entire formation were shot down (one by Ardent’s fire and the others by Sea Harriers)

  39. SMFS

    Lt Gen Grierson died of a heart attack on his way to the front in August 1914. He was replaced by Smith-Dorrien.

    Lt Gen Stanley Maude the conqueror of Baghdad died in November 1917 of cholera. He contracted it from the milk in his coffee. He died in the same house as Gen von der Goltz, the German soldier who led ( until he died) the Turkish army that defeated the British at Kut.

    There was a cartoon in Private Eye where two WW1 soldiers are going through some personal effects of a fallen comrade :

    ” A conker, some string, a beetle in a matchbox and 2/6. Not much for a major general is it ?”

  40. “That was covered in the movie, when a visiting Senator pointed out how relatively few aircaft they had shot down. The response was they their job had, for a long time, been to attack things on the ground.”

    Which was a very dangerous activity, far more so than dogfighting. Certainly in the latter stages of the Western Europe campaign the most likely cause of death for an Allied fighter pilot was AA fire. Pierre Closterman writes very vividly about the fear of making ground attacks. One pass only was the rule, when you had surprise on your side. If you missed and went back for another pass, more often than not you’d get nailed. And getting hit at zero feet means no chance of bailing out either.

  41. Gamecock’s father was a B-24 pilot, 467th BG, (H) Rackheath. He said that he never saw a German fighter in the air. But flak was nasty, dangerous stuff. You can see a fighter coming, and shoot back at it. Flak is instant death with no warning.

  42. Which was a very dangerous activity, far more so than dogfighting.

    And also apparently remarkably difficult to even spot (let alone hit) a tank in cover when you’re going flat out at tree-top height. I think it might have been the Bovington Tank Museum youtube channel that had some footage up recently of just how hard it was, but I can’t seem to find it right now.

  43. “But how much actually gets to benefit the kids, as opposed to the schools and teachers?”

    Outcomes are poor. The schools and teachers actually think black kids are inferior, and proceed accordingly. Which rational whites flee. Good teachers flee as well.

    It’s an absolute fact that the black high school in my home town – pre-desegregation – demanded excellence from their students.

    *Desegregation is not the problem.

  44. So Much For Subtlety

    Gamecock December 17, 2020 at 12:36 pm – “*Desegregation is not the problem.”

    Actually it might be. One of the few ways we have to improve education for Blacks – and God knows everything has been tried – is more Black male teachers. It has a measurable effect. Unlike, well, everything else we have tried.

    My take on this is that young Black men, feeling the testosterone flowing through their bodies, do not like to be told to sit down and shut up by ineffectual female White liberal teachers. If you have to buckle under a SS storm trooper, at least you have the excuse that he is an SS storm trooper. If she is a wet hen, what excuse do you have then?

    So, in order to save young Black men they need more segregation.

  45. . . . demanded excellence from their students.

    High expectations seem to be important. I remember as a six-year-old in Singapore seeing the Chinese kids crammed into, and even hanging off, the rickety school busses. They meant it. Look at them now.

    And I shall lift a glass to your brave and accurate dad.

  46. @So Much For Subtlety
    December 17, 2020 at 12:11 am

    “It is one of the interesting things about Argentinians, and Italians too come to that, that they are useless collectively once in uniform but they do not do badly individually.”

    Rommel was very impressed with the performance of some Italian units under his command – GOC 55 Savona Infantry Division, for instance…

  47. So Much For Subtlety

    PJF December 17, 2020 at 2:55 am – “The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.”

    On that, as on many other things, Patton was wrong. The object is to win. You can’t do that without people on your side dying. As the Spartans said of the Persians, their error was that they were willing to kill but not to die.

    CJ Nerd December 17, 2020 at 8:40 am – “The response was they their job had, for a long time, been to attack things on the ground.”

    I always thought that mostly they escorted bombers?

    “Their record includes 150 enemy aircraft destroyed on the ground, and 950 rail cars, trucks and other motor vehicles destroyed (including over 600 rail cars).”

    Allegedly destroyed. By the end of the war this is not hard. So over 1000 Black pilots are trained and they claim – by the end of the war when there are no Germans flying – to have shot up 600 rail cars, some 350 assorted farm carts and they *claimed* 150 aircraft on the ground?

    “For some time they flew the P-47 Thunderbolt, which was very much designed for ground attack.”

    Well no. It was designed for high altitude escort. That is why it is so big and the shape it is – they needed a really good turbo-charger. But by the end of the war there was little reason because there were so few German planes in the sky so they shot up railways instead.

    Jason Lynch December 17, 2020 at 10:03 am – “Part of that was technical: after flying through San Carlos where everyone and their dog is shooting at you, an aircraft that seemed serviceable when it landed, turns out to be sitting in a spreading puddle of Skydrol the next morning.”

    A lot of planes were likely to be unserviceable. Argentina had a peace time Air Force. Their planes probably looked great. As long as they were not used. And they probably worked fine. The first few times.

    “And part was simply human nature: courage runs out, and the second or third time into the crucible leaves a pilot in a single-seat, single-engine aircraft making a long, low-level overwater flight (in a South Atlantic winter with no hope of rescue or recovery) very skittish about the way that oil pressure gauge is fluttering.”

    Indeed. Very brave indeed. I wouldn’t do it. Not when my plane had been built by striking French workers and maintained by Argentinians ever since.

    Jim December 17, 2020 at 11:26 am – “Certainly in the latter stages of the Western Europe campaign the most likely cause of death for an Allied fighter pilot was AA fire.”

    There being a hell of a lot more guns on the ground than in the air. The sky is a big place. AA fire is not that good. It is often given credit for kills for openly political reasons. Its main value seems to be deterrence. But I am sure it is scary. I wouldn’t turn around and go back for a second try.

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