Dogfights on the History Channel

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Dogfights on the History Channel

Post  Acroyer on Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:18 am

My wife picked up a couple of DVDs for me, from our local library. They are the 1st season of a TV show on the History Channel, called 'Dogfights!'. The first one covers some WW2 battles (the Flying Tigers in China, the air battles of Guadacanal), and then a Vietnam era fight between Phantoms and Mig-21s. The second DVD is all Korea/Vietnam era fights, gun battle between the early jets.

I was kind of disappointed in the videos, but there were some nice moments. The show has good music and some decent CGI graphics, but its very much 'dumbed down' for civilian audiences. They show very little of the actual maneuvers that the pilots used. The high point is the interviews with some of the pilots (now very elderly).

As I watched the show I tried to look at it as a pilot (not a history buff), and I kept saying 'No, no, no! Don't go head on with them, are you crazy?' It was interesting to see that they made the same kind of mistakes you see in our game.

- regularly accepting head on engagements, and getting their planes shot full of holes
- climbing to meet oncoming bad guys, so starting the fight with a big disadvantage in energy
- underestimating closure rate when diving on a target and overshooting

The biggest advantage they had was the plane itself. The P-40 was well armored and absorbed amazing amounts of punishment but kept flying. There is one scene where they talk about how many bullets were found in one propeller after a head on fight. The weight of the bullets threw the prop out of balance and nearly shook the plane apart on the flight home. They pried 27 thirty caliber bullets out of the prop.

One of the veterans in the interview said "Of course, we were all very new to this, and we didn't know any better. We'd just charge the enemy head on, and trust the Warhawk to soak up their fire, while our heavier gun package just shredded the much lighter enemy planes."

Chenault's tactics were classic boom-and-zoom, using the P-40s climb and dive ability to fight vertically. He told his pilots "Never, under any circumstance, try to turn fight with the Japanese planes. It is certain death in a P-40."

There wasn't much real world gun camera footage in the Flying Tiger segment, but there was some nice footage of strafing and bombing ground targets, as well as a couple of kills on Oscars and Nates. All in all, a nice 'beer and pretzels' kind of show to waste 30 minutes or so of your life, but not something I'd be willing to buy and add to my collection.
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Re: Dogfights on the History Channel

Post  MJDixon on Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:25 am

I'm still trying to get my head around this one if I'm honest Razz :



(I get the feeling the bloke who made the 3d animation misundersood the Pilot's recollection.)

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Re: Dogfights on the History Channel

Post  Acroyer on Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:38 am

MJDixon wrote:I'm still trying to get my head around this one if I'm honest Razz

(I get the feeling the bloke who made the 3d animation misunderstood the Pilot's recollection.)

I remember that one, the Snap Roll animation thing. There was a whole thread about that in the WW2OL forums a long time ago, if I recall correctly.

I just watched the rest of the DVDs, and the Guadalcanal segment was much better. This one pits F4F Wildcats (USMC pilots) against Japanese A6M3 Zeroes (and Val dive bombers). They mention the P-400 (i.e. the P-39 in our game) as well. I didn't know the P-400 lacked oxygen gear, so the pilots couldn't fight above 14k altitude. Therefore they routinely flew at 12K, and the Japanese knew exactly where to find them. The Wildcats (who had oxygen) flew at 15-18k and would pounce on the Zeroes while the Japs were bouncing the P-400s.

This segment was a good deal more technical, though still very simplified for civilian audiences. They actually showed plenty of maneuvers, and the interviews with the pilots were just as entertaining and interesting. There was one pilot from Louisiana who was very amusing, when he described getting his watch shot off his wrist by a Zero who bounced him. "Now I gotta tell you," he says with an embarrassed expression and a chuckle, "this kinda scared me a little." Later he talks about being rescued by some natives and traded to the Americans for supplies. "Most folks go through their whole lives, and they ain't sure what they life is worth," he says in his Louisiana accent. "I know exactly how much my life is worth. One ten pound bag of rice, yes sir." He shakes his head and wags a finger at the camera, "Ten pounds of rice."

All in all, I enjoyed the second episode more than the first. As I watched the DVD, I realized that the events they were describing (the attacks on supply convoys around Guadalcanal) tied in with the book I have just finished reading. That would be Japanese Destroyer Captain by Tameichi Hara, which describes the war from the viewpoint of a Japanese naval officer (a very good book, soon to join my collection). I have a much better understanding of that part of the Pacific War now.
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Re: Dogfights on the History Channel

Post  MJDixon on Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:01 pm

If you're interested in the Pacific stuff you might find these Japanese dogfights style animations I posted a while back interesting (although there's not much by way of technical explanation, other than badly translated text. Wink ):




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Re: Dogfights on the History Channel

Post  Acroyer on Sun Dec 04, 2011 12:22 pm

They are interesting examples of animation. I wish I had the skills to do that. I know I could choreograph a much better fight scene than most of the ones I've seen.

I was amused at the translations, and at the clumsy propaganda in the first movie. "Warning shots" indeed... Laughing We call those 'misses' here in the USA.

I did recognize Saburo Sakai's name, though. He was a great Japanese pilot. He is the man credited with downing Colin Kelly's B-17. Sakai's flight back to Rabaul with half his body paralyzed, and blind in one eye (mentioned in the 1st video above) is legendary. He was Japan's 4th ranked ace, and one of the very few that survived the war.

Iwamoto, the subject of your 2nd video above, was Japan's top ace that survived the war. He was not as popular or successful as Sakai after the war (Sakai wrote a book). Iwamoto died of complications from appendicitis in the 1950s I think.
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