Aces 3 - (Aircraft Specials series 6088)
By W. Wayne Patton
Publisher: Squadron/Signal Publications 2004 64 Pages
PDF 35 MB
The Aces series talks about aces, their machines, and their tactics. Emphasis is placed on air aces, with occasional coverage of other aces, such as tank and submarine commanders, to provide contrast.
What is an ace? Air aces are fighter pilots with five or more aerial victories over enemy aircraft. Tank aces must destroy five or more enemy tanks, while submarine commanders must sink 50.000 tons of shipping or five ships to reach ace status. Targets must be seen by witnesses to catch fire, explode, be deserted by their crews, sink, or crash. Enemy machines must contain people to be counted as 'kills.' Barrage balloons and World War Two VI 'buzz bombs' did not count toward ace status because no people were on board those vehicles. Controversy continues to this day, because the North Vietnamese Peoples' Air Force (NVPAF) allowed its fighter pilots to claim victories over unmanned reconnaissance drones as 'kills.'
One of the first aces to be acclaimed as such was the World War One French fighter pilot Jean Navarre (12 kills). French newspapers of the period made a hero out of Navarre and started the 'ace' or 'top card' concept. Navarre had five kills to his credit at the time. That number, almost by chance, became the official mark at which point a fighter pilot could be designated an ace.