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Thread: Fighter pilot numbers in WW2

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    Default Fighter pilot numbers in WW2

    Can someone tell me the total number of fighter pilots who flew for the RAF in WW2 between 1939 and 1945?

    Norman Franks suggests that around 5,300 allied fighter pilots lost their lives between 1939 and 1945 flying for the RAF.

    I am trying to work out the % of lives lost for an article.


    Thank you

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    Default Re: Fighter pilot numbers in WW2

    Hi Tim

    Whilst the following does not give you an outright answer for the entire war, it will give you an indication of the attrition rate faced by the pilots of Fighter Command in 1942 and was the basis of a study carried out by the Command’s Operational Research Section with a view to improve the health and efficiency among flying personnel.

    I believe when the study was carried out in 1943 most Hurricane units had been sent overseas, so consequently they only looked at Spitfire and Typhoon squadrons. This comprised 30 squadrons of Spitfire and 3 of Typhoon. At this time a tour of duty constituted 200 flying hours. The start of 1942 saw 730 British and Dominion pilots with a further 1203 being posted in through the year. During this period they carried out 35724 defensive sorties with 25 casualties and 17715 offensive sorties which resulted in 187 casualties, with a further 67 casualties on non-operational sorties, thus a total casualty rate of 279 personnel (these being either killed, missing or POW). Of the balance 1037 were transferred abroad or to non-operational duties leaving a Command strength 617 at the year end. Of course statistics can be sliced and diced in many ways but if you express the 279 losses as a percentage of the opening tally plus intake (giving 1933 pilots) then you get a result of 14.4% losses. There were many other facts gathered from this analysis but it showed that by far and away the majority of losses occurred in the first five sorties, further more offensive sorties constituted the greatest exposure to combat losses as you might expect. That said even non-operational appears twice as risky in loss terms to defensive flights. The data is extracted from The Royal Air Force Medical Services – Volume II – Commands, printed by HMSO, London, 1955, Chapter 2: Fighter Command, pp215-219.

    Anyway, plenty to mull over and keep the statistician’s quiet! Hope it helps.

    Kind regards
    Pierre

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    Timobeanie (22nd April 2021)

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    Default Re: Fighter pilot numbers in WW2

    Quote Originally Posted by Timobeanie View Post
    Norman Franks suggests that around 5,300 allied fighter pilots lost their lives between 1939 and 1945 flying for the RAF.
    I am trying to work out the % of lives lost for an article.
    I suspect that Norman Franks is counting only Fighter Command and not other theatres or training accidents with fighter OTUs and other non Fighter command units. etc.. just by eyeballing the second to last chart here http://www.rafcommands.com/database/wardead/charts.php

    I get way more than 5300... for Hurricanes Spitfires and Typhoons.. add other single engine and dual engine types by unit etc.. you will have some work.

    I would suggest using our RAF War Dead/ CWGC Database to get the right numbers by type. I expect the stats to be 99% accurate. Use the query page here http://www.rafcommands.com/database/wardead/

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    Timobeanie (22nd April 2021)

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    Default Re: Fighter pilot numbers in WW2

    Hi Pierre Many thanks for this info ... yes quite a complicated process to go through" Much appreciated. Tim

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    Default Re: Fighter pilot numbers in WW2

    Many thanks for this info ... I will have a look and try to work out numbers!

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