Monday, March 24, 2014

Shooting Your Watch?

2nd from left: Adolf Galland
2nd from right: Werner Mölders
Adolf "Dolfo" Joseph Ferdinand Galland (19 March 1912 – 9 February 1996) was a German Luftwaffe general and flying ace who served throughout World War II in Europe. A flying ace or fighter ace is a military aviator credited with shooting down five or more enemy aircraft during aerial combat. He flew 705 combat missions, and fought on the Western and the Defense of the Reich* fronts. On four occasions he survived being shot down, and he was credited with 104 aerial victories, all of them against the Western Allies.

Werner "Vati" Mölders** (18 March 1913 – 22 November 1941) was a World War II German Luftwaffe pilot and the leading German fighter ace in the Spanish Civil War. Mölders became the first pilot in aviation history to claim 100 aerial victories—that is, 100 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft, and was highly decorated for his achievements. (He had 115 total victories, according to some sources. 101 in World War II and 14 in the Spanish Civil War. - The Sarge) He was instrumental in the development of new fighter tactics which led to the finger-four formation. He died in an air crash in which he was a passenger. - Wikipedia
I offer this photo (which I got here) to my fighter pilot friends with a question.

Once upon a time, this picture was featured in a post...

Yours Truly and Tuna
Channeling our inner fighter pilot...

FRaVMotC Juvat remarked - I'm glad to see that you did remember the prime fighter pilot rule when hand flying. "Always shoot your watch".

Apparently this doesn't apply to Luftwaffe aces with more than a hundred victories. (And the photo was reproduced correctly.) Note that Dolfo Galland is shooting his "non-watch" hand.


* For the "Western front", think the campaigns in 1940. For the "Defense of the Reich front", think flying bomber intercept missions over Germany. Sometimes these things don't translate well from German.

** Vati is the German equivalent for Papa or Daddy.


  1. They lost Air Supremacy, and then the war, didn't they! Just sayin'

    1. Damn. Just because they didn't know how to "hand fly". For want of a nail and all that.

      (Good answer Juvat. Good answer.)

  2. Not wanting to cast aspersions on an accomplished ace, I pulled out my vaunted "Fighter Pilot Rule Book" and did a little more research. (It didn't take long there's only the "Always shoot your watch" and "There ain't no rules" rules.) BUT, in the very fine print of the first one, there was "unless you're demonstrating the world renowned Double Snatch Back maneuver." To accomplish this maneuver, you lured the other pilot in close, then snatched the throttles to idle and pulled hard on the pole. This was demo'd by Tom Cruise in THAT Movie. Having attempted this maneuver myself on several occasions with the same result, it was guaranteed! Guaranteed to get you shot by the guy directly behind you or by his wingman. So. I'm pretty sure Adolph Galland is in the early stages of demonstrating to his colleagues what happens when you try this maneuver and thereby remaining with in the confines of the Fighter Pilot Rule Book

    1. Hhmm...

      You may be on to something here Juvat. The right hand in the photo is Dolfo's Me-109, the left his adversary. So my theory is this: the splayed fingers on the right hand means he's got his flaps and slats deployed and we're seeing the moment just before the watch hand overshoots Dolfo and gets gunned. (You might say Dolfo is "riding dirty".)

      But what do I know? I just fix 'em after you flyboys break 'em.

      Then again, that whole "not shooting at the watch hand" may be why they lost the war. More research is required.

  3. I read The Pilgrimage...a beautiful post.

  4. Love the haircuts. What size bowls did they issue?

    1. Heh. The Wehrmacht issued these Schüsseln in 7 standard sizes. And yes, I made that up.

      Those are standard Teutonic military haircuts for the 1940s.


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