American Fighter Aces
By J. Ward Boyce with expanded text by Bill Martin
The American Fighter Aces Association currently recognize 1,442 fighter pilots as Aces.
In general, the World War I list includes those accepted by the individual services under the rules at that time. For example, pilots in the U.S. Air Service were awarded full credit for a shared victory. This was not the case in later years. For the World War II list, heavy reliance was placed on victory credits awarded by competent authority (i.e., VII Fighter Command) at the time. Although post-war “adjustments” have been made by the military services in some cases, reducing an individual’s score, the AFAA has chosen to accept the contemporary ruling.
In verifying the aces of the US Air Service, US Army Air Forces, and the US Air Force, we primarily accepted data provided in the Air Force Aerial Victory Credits, World War I, World War II, Korea, and Vietnam, a USAF Historical Research Center document. No such official aerial victory lists exist for the US Navy or Marine Corps. Accordingly, we relied on research conducted by Dr. Frank Olynyk, who reviewed hundreds of documents in the Naval Historical Division of the Operational Archives section in the Washington Navy Yard and ships’ logs kept by the National Archives, also in Washington. For the aerial victories credited to the American Volunteer Group (“Flying Tigers”), we referred to original AVG records filed with the extensive Chennault Collection in the Hoover Institute at Stanford University. We relied on research conducted by British historian Christopher Shores for initial verification of victory claims of Americans who flew with the Royal Air Force.
The Association does not recognize the “guys in the back” – the observer/gunners in World War I, the radar officers in P-61s in World War II, and the WSOs (weapon systems operators) in the F-4 Phantom II of Vietnam – as fighter aces. The American Fighter Aces Association maintains the position that a fighter ace is one who was credited for aerial victories while in control of the aircraft. Those back-seaters who were teamed with aces, however, are listed in the Aces Album Appendix (see Aceology). Although this book is the most comprehensive treatment of all known American fighter aces to date, it is still incomplete.
As we build this website, If any Ace, family member, group or individual can supply photos, missing postwar data such as an ace’s combat accounts we would be indebted. Any material of this kind received will be treated with great care. After verification all information will be added to this site and the bio of the individual Ace and Legacy of the American Fighter Aces.