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How many planes did Billy Bishop shoot down?

Originally published under Ask Mr. History. Published Online: June 11, 2013 
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Okay, so how many German airplane were really shot down by Canadian "Ace," Billy Bishop? If it's going to start a U.S.-Canadian war you don't need to answer.

All the best,


? ? ?

Dear Fred,
In response to a similar request from a previous reader, I have done a pretty detailed study of German losses against Billy Bishop's claims with No.60 Squadron, though I have yet to cover all his claims while commanding No.85 Squadron. As things stand now, however, I have only been able to find one German loss with 60 Squadron and only one or two for 85—and even some of those require discounting a squadron mate or two's claims in the same action. I can only conclude that Bishop's ratio of 72 credited victories to corresponding enemy losses is one of the most disproportionately low in the RFC and RAF.



Jon Guttman
Research Director
Weider History Group
More Questions at Ask Mr. History


One Response to “How many planes did Billy Bishop shoot down?”

  1. 1
    Dan McCaffery says:

    The renowned American historian, Peter Kilduff, has just published a book that includes the names of 21 German pilots who may have been Bishop's victims. Kilduff also makes the case that German records are extremely incomplete.
    Kilduff is the internationally recognized expert on German First World War aviation. He is the winner of more than a dozen awards with 16 books to his credit.
    Bishop's record is not out of whack compared to other Allied aces. Mick Mannock has only 21 of his 61 claims possibly verified by the other side. Albert Ball has only 17, Billy Barker just 15 and Eddie Rickenbacker less than 10.

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