Sunday, 2 June 2013

Cheating at Statistics

Some individuals that played too many video games like to use kill to death ratios in order to calculate how good a particular tank or unit was in battle. Despite the fact that tanks don't exist in a bubble, and are assisted by aircraft, artillery, and infantry, the very idea of a kill differs between sides. You would think that unlike penetration, the idea of a kill is much more universal, but you would be wrong. For example, the Germans counted losses, at least for aircraft, this way:




So we total those up, and get 85% damage, less than one plane lost. I'm no airplane expert, and maybe the missing propeller, bent engine, fallen off bits, and generally being on fire are all reparable by German technicians. However, even if you don't know the source of the photographs (Russian archives), the Red Army uniforms should give it away. Two of these airplanes are in Soviet territory, and thus 100% lost, and yet, out of the three lost planes, barely one is recorded. In a similar fashion, there are instances of shot up/ burnt out tanks that were beyond repair, or worse, left on Soviet territory, that are listed as "in long term repair".

9 comments:

  1. I consider a "kill" when vehicle is no longer can be repaired.

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  2. And here I was thinking "creative accounting" was a modern day phenomenon.

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  3. How did they manage to get any losses with such a system in place?

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  4. I knew the Germans got exceptionally creative with awarding kills to their own pilots, but I didn't realise they applied the same talent to their losses. This is gold.

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  5. So who attributed damage ratio to these wrecks? Was it common for planes lost over hostile territory to be "10% casualty", or did Soviets send damage assessment to Luftwaffe for keeping tally? Is the English legend present in pictures at Russian archives or is this a reprint? Needs more context.

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  6. Out of interest, were those in soviet teritory when they crashed. Because a more lenient interpritation might be that when the plane crashed, the wreck was visited by a technician who ruled that about 60% of the wreck could be recycled (i.e. engines repaired and re-used, aluminium melted down a re-used) but due to the combat situation, no salvage work was done. During the Battle of Britian, a supprising ammount of shot down Spitfires were repaired.

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  7. they aren't kills. the soviets will just give them back ;-)

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  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  9. Hs129 are extremely rugged airframes, partially armoured at all leading edges. This lead to the plane negotiate tough landings. Apparently, none of these planes was destroyed as all pilots could execute emergancy landing, dealing various degrees of damage to the plane in turn. These planes, if recovered, could be returned to operation and would not be lost to the german war effort. However, that being said, while they would not be counted as "destroyed", they would all be tabulated under "forced landing" -which is about as good as a loss for historians.

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