Fighter Pilots Can’t Fight If They Can’t See
War Is Boring

A major reason that so many Luftwaffe pilots scored higher than Bong was that Germany had a “fly till you die” operational policy: Luftwaffe pilots could fly from September 1939 until May 1945 if they survived, giving them nearly six years to rack up victories (often against far-inferior forces, as one commenter has already pointed out). U. S. pilots flew a tour (or two, if they so chose) that was strictly delineated by calendar time and/or number of missions flown. No U. S. pilot ever flew the full three and a half years we were at war. Also, high-scoring pilots were sometimes involuntarily retired from combat because it was felt their value as an instructor or PR personality was greater than their potential as gunners (plus the risk of negative PR if they were shot down).

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