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Song Parodies -> "Aerial Heroes"

Original Song Title:

"Celluloid Heroes"

Original Performer:

The Kinks

Parody Song Title:

"Aerial Heroes"

Parody Written by:

Susanna Viljanen

The Lyrics

Everybody's a dreamer
and everybody wants to fly
And many made it pilot
and flew the war-torn skies
There's an ace in every squadron,
in every air force, every land
and if you read the books of history
I'm sure you'll understand

I remember "Bubi" Hartmann,
he was the greatest of them all
His guns three hundred-fifty-two
Russian planes made fall
The second best, Gerd Barkhorn
three hundred kills plus one -
and Marseille, Star of Africa
faulty engine had him undone

You can read of the aces as you read the books of history
if you visit museum or play a game, it's not mystery
Men who flew and fought and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

Dick Bong is always smiling
in his P-38
Then there's Tom McGuire
who in dogfight met his fate
Francis S. Gabresky
was top ace in Thunderbolt
And many a Jap and Jerry
George Preddy shot with Colt.

If you peppered him with bullets
Robert Johnson would still fly
Don't forget Dave McCampbell
who on one flight shot down nine
But please be kind to Pappy Boyington
he had such broken life
A wartime hero at peacetime -
it can lead to fight and strife

You can read of the aces as you read the books of history
if you visit museum or play a game, it's not mystery
Men who flew and fought and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

Then there was the battle of Britain
Royal Air Force finest hour
Eric Lock and Sailor Malan
Doug Bader and some more
Pat Pattle was greatest in RAF
his score was fifty-one
and at the Cretan skies of '41
Luftwaffe shot him down

I'f you've heard of Saburo Sakai
or read "The Samurai"
you know Ota and Nishizawa
high up in Japan's sky
Russian Alexandr Pokryshkin
and Grigori Rechkalov
they flew Lend-Lease P-39
and they showed it was no dog

I'm a prisoner of Earth and I yearn there high up in the sky
it's the mankind's greatest dream to learn how to fly
The aerial heroes they fulfilled the dream
Some lived old and some came down with scream

You can read of the aces as you read the books of history
if you visit museum or play a game, it's not mystery
Men who flew and fought and struggled for fame
Some who succeeded and some who suffered in vain

La la la la...

The aerial heroes they fulfilled the dream
Some lived old and some came down with scream

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Rob Arndt - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
Triple Aces (15+in a day): Emil Lang shot down 18 Soviet fighters on 3 November 1943. Hans-Joachim Marseille was credited with downing 17 Allied fighters in just three sorties over North Africa on 1 September 1942. August Lambert shot down 17 Soviet aircraft on a single day in 1944. Hubert Strassl shot down 15 Soviet aircraft on 5 July 1943 near Orel.
Susanna Viljanen - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
While overclaiming was rife in all air forces (according to Wikipedia, only 6 of Marseille's victories that day can be corroborated on actual Allied losses), those are still horrible numbers. Not many pilots scored that many victories during their whole career.
Rob Arndt - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
Allied claims for Marseille admit to 10 of 17. But I disagree with you on gross overrating. German claims had to be stricter than the Allies, corroborated by both air and ground witnesses whenever possible and the Germans had gun camera footage to add as well. Germany had nearly 2500 aces in WW2 ranging from 5 to 352! but no big deal. They had the best aces in WW1 as well!!! I noticed that you seem to omit Finnish aces and their counts in your claim. Why? Btw, modern Luftwaffe beat the USAF, USN, and USMC with their detuned MiG-29s inherited from E Germany in mock combat and recently the LW Typhoon beat the F-22 in Alaska.
Susanna Viljanen - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
Rob, I omitted Finnish (and Italian and French and other) aces simply because I didn't have enough verses on the original song.

The German claims were stricter initially, but the further the war progressed, the less they were verifiable until the whole system disintegrated in 1945. And as in any Totalitarian bureaucracy, the claims of the favourites tended to get approved more easily than those of nobodies.

The rule of thumb is that on big aerial battles, the ratio of overclaiming against actual losses is roughly 3:1. That is pretty much the same in all air forces. The other rule of thumb is that defender always scores more and has more aces as he flies in target-rich environment. Likewise the scores of the defender are more likely to be correct as the plane wrecks fall on his side and can be verified. The Finnish victories in Winter War are all correct as all plane wrecks had fallen on the Finnish side and have been verified. Not necessarily so much in the Continuation War, as much of the aerial activity occurred on the Soviet side.

Worst overclaiming ever has happened in the Khalhin-Gol incident 1937-1938 where the Russians overclaimed by 10x the actual Japanese losses and Japanese overclaimed the Russian losses by 8x.
Rob Arndt - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
Susanna, the Luftwaffe didn't mythologically shoot down 120,000 aircraft in WW2. Second, the Bf 109 was by far the greatest fighter ever built with 36,000 produced and hundreds of Aces. It shot down est. 15,000+ aircraft. The P-52D Mustang? Roughly 6,000. Hartmann got 7 Mustangs easy and said they were "nothing special" to him. The Me Bf 109K-4 in 1945 was far from obsolete. It was faster at 452 mph powered by the DB 605 ASCM/DCM 1550/2000 HP with MW50 boost, had higher climb over 4835 fpm, could reach 42,000 ft with greater firepower of 2x 20mm MG-151/20s upper + a 30mm MK-108 in the nose vs the Mustang's 437 mph with 1560 hp Merlin, 3475 fpm climb. same ceiling, but only 6x .50 cals in the wings. Btw, Germany had jet aces in WW2 while the Allies did not. The Me-262 shot down 509 aircraft including fighters, bombers, recon while the He-162 got 4 aircraft before the end. Me-163 got 15 bombers but was not a true fighter, just a point defense interceptor. Most sat with no fuel as did over half the Me-262s that made it from the factory to a base. Consider also in WW1 Germany ended with the 4 best aircraft in the world: the Fokker D.VII, Fokker D.VIII Flying Razor, Pfalz XII with motorcannon (1400 rpm), and the SSW D.IV ( only 55 reached the field and were flight training).
Patrick - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
The German aces didn't rotate home, they had to keep on fighting, or die. Production numbers of WWII aircraft are almost incomprehensible by the standards of today's more expensive craft. Not really an "ace", but a significant name in combat aviation: Major Hernando Soto. Do you know who he was, and what he is noted for?
Rob Arndt - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
Do you mean Fernando Soto Henriquez who flew (During The Soccer War) a F4U Corsair of the Honduran AF. He scored three kills in combat- a Cavalier F-51D Mustang and two Goodyear FG-1D Corsairs of the Salvadoran AF on July 17, 1969. Last prop fighter duel?
Rob Arndt - February 08, 2016 - Report this comment
http://www.airspacemag.com/history-of-flight/last-piston-engine-dogfights-180956250/
Rob Arndt - February 09, 2016 - Report this comment
Patrick, as for non-rotation, that makes the case for better pilots even stronger. Means sorties were higher and of course improved accuracy with extended combat experience. Most aces are excellent marksmen. I don't buy the simple explanations of early scores against inferior French, Dutch, and Soviet aircraft. France had the Dewoitine D.520 , the Dutch had the Fokker D.XXIs, the Russians had the Yak-1 and 1b, LaGGs, and MiG-3 covering everything from low to high altitude and in-between. The Luftwaffe had better pilots plus the Bf 109E/F/Gs and Fw-190As. As the US and Brits stepped up bombing and introduced long-range fighters, yes, there was a target rich environment. The numbers superiority of men and machines beat the LW, but the LW pilots kept on racking up scores no matter how impossible the odds. That speaks volumes of their courage and tenacity not to mention skill of introducing higher tech while being bombed 24/7. Germans got operational jets into combat with evolving revolver cannon and missiles by 1945. They altered the future of aerial warfare that has lasted to this day. They also developed SAMs. The German pilot was best in the world, then Finns, then Russians, then British and American. The Brits in 1944-45 had the Meteor operational against V-1s and they flew over N Germany with strike missions. They had the Spits, Typhoons, Tempests and had lined up the MB.5, Fury, Sea Fang, Spiteful (at 494 mph), Hornet, and Vampire jet. US lagged with bugged plagued P-80A, but had P-51H, P-38L, P-47N, XP-58, and XP-72. All the Russians had was the Yak-9. But Germany had the Do-335, Fw Ta 152, and second generation jets, even supersonic types under construction and SS secret disc craft. The Allies were shocked by what they found and openly stated that they had no immediate counters to those weapon systems had the war lasted into 1946. Operation Blue Book tells of certain developments in Germany at the end of WW2 that could match UFOs in the '60s!!! They were NOT talking about the Me-262!!!
Patrick - February 09, 2016 - Report this comment
Great article. I think most of those Honduran and Salvadoran Corsairs arrived in time to appear in the TV show "Black Sheep Squadron".
Susanna Viljanen - February 10, 2016 - Report this comment
The overclaiming is a well-known phenomenon, and Luftwaffe was no exception. It can be assumed all claims were made bona fide. Yet an aerial battle, especially on squadron or group level - is an extremely chaotic situation, and in such situation it is almost impossible to keep account who shoots down whom and if planes, which are seen falling by one pilot, are not the victories of another. In the Battle of Britain, Luftwaffe claimed to have shot down 3058 British planes whilst RAF lost only 915. RAF claims (2698 vs actual 1733) appear to be more correct as the wrecks fell on British soil.

The rule of thumb is that if an air combat has been waged with 6 or less planes per side, the claims are usually always correct, especially if a lone plane has been shot down. On squadron level action, the overclaiming is 1.5 to 2:1. On even bigger level actions, the overclaiming is 3:1. The bigger the aerial action, the more error in the claims. Finnish victory tallies have been checked against the Russian losses, and they appear to be surprisingly correct - mainly because the aerial combats were small in size compared to those at Western front, and it was easy to spot any wrecks. In 1944 during the Soviet great offensive in Karelia the claims versus scores begin to show similar 3:1 overclaiming as the air was full of red-starred aluminum and air battles were big. But once the offensive had waned and the aerial action also waned, the claims vs actual scores again began to be quite correct. Ilmari Juutilainen's tally of 94 shows 78 cases where the claim is directly verifiable on Soviet losses.

The most accurate German tallies are those of the nightfighters as the nocturnal war was waged almost solely on German airspace. Paul Zorner (59 kills) himself examined all his claims on British archives and was able to find the corresponding planes and their crews and serial numbers. But only 100 of Hans-Joachim Marseille's 158 claims can be verified on RAF losses - mostly because the battles occurred over British-controlled area and wrecks could not be checked and scores corrected.
Rob Arndt - February 10, 2016 - Report this comment
Susanna, I do not doubt cases of over claiming; however, I do take offense at anyone trying to downplay German ace skill. German pilots were the best in both World Wars bar none and had the best fighters. In the Treaty of Versailles the Fokker D.VII was mentioned by name to be handed over and the LSK had the top Aces. In WW2 the Bf 109 and Fw-190 are legendary. Bf 109 most produced in history and used by Germany from 1935-45 killing over 15,000+ aircraft with its hundreds of Aces. Fw-190 from 1941-45, 20,000 produced, did massive damage with its Aces. No one comes close to Germany for aces in modern times. Highest scoring are Israeli and US. However, in mock combat with the modern Luftwaffe the F-15, F-16, F/A-18, and F-22 have all lost to LW pilots flying MiG-29s inherited from E Germany as well as the Typhoon. German Tornados have flown in the US in joint strike training too... only the Tornado unlike US strike aircraft can blitz a valley at treetop height at 920 mph with outstanding TFR! Also, defending Finland in WW2 is bothersome as alot of your aircraft and air weapons were supplied by the Reich to you (even foreign captured aircraft). The LW operated off many of the same rough runways but came in for 2 point landings letting the tail drop vs your "safe" 3 points. Finland even tried to make a VL hybrid 109 which sits in a museum. So drop how great and credible Finnish pilots were. They don't even come close to the Luftwaffe Experten and Aces. Fact. Today, your land-based F-18 would fall to Luftwaffe Typhoon or the other two Eurocanards Rafale and Gripen plus members of the Sukhoi 27 family extending to 35. Get a grip.
Patrick - February 10, 2016 - Report this comment
Finland was equipped with Dutch Fokker DXXI fighters (fixed landing gear) and the obsolete Brewster Buffalo, which the Americans were eager to dispose of. Smaller population and no domestic aircraft production. Finns were fighting for survival against overwhelming odds and an enemy command that was willing to sacrifice huge chunks of Soviet manpower, a policy only slightly removed from Islamist suicide bombing. Didn't Spain continue to operate the Bf.109 (with Rolls-Royce Merlin engine) until the 1960's, when they were incorporated into the film "Battle of Britain"?
Rob Arndt - February 10, 2016 - Report this comment
Patrick, before Susanna gets to you... Finland had indigenous combat aircraft from VL (States Industries). VL Myrsky, Humu, various K-bombers, a Pyorremyrsky prototype, and designs for the Puuska light fighter and Wihuri (Finn Mosquito). Finland used aircraft from West and East as well. Germany provided captured aircraft as well as Messerschmitt fighters and German air weaponry. As for the Bf 109 postwar, several nations used them for a time: Spain, France, Czechoslovakia, and Israel.
Rob Arndt - February 10, 2016 - Report this comment
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hispano_Aviaci%C3%B3n_HA-1112

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