Distribution joint authorships

As you can see, the vast majority of papers were authored by a single author. However, in future visualizations I will show that these single authors came from a rather small number of research institutions, and personal links (i.e. favoritism) played a big role in getting published.

Top 10 of authors

Perhaps not surprising, the three most senior figures in German aviation medicine were also the persons with the most publications. “Senior” referring to independence here rather than quality of the work (Ruff's publications were solely accident reports in the first couple of years). Strughold, Ruff and Benzinger were heads of research institutes (Ruff: Medical department of the DVL, Strughold: Aeromedical Research Institute at the Air Ministry, Benzinger: Medical Department at the Luftwaffe Aeronautical Establishment at Rechlin) and thus in control of their work. Most of the other authors were in a more dependent position, either as assistants to one of the three mentioned before, or their departments were under the supervision of Strughold. In 1941 most research institutes — including university departments — dealing with aviation medicine were put under Strughold's command; excluding Ruff and Benzinger. The DVL was formally a civilian association and the establishment in Rechlin was under the control of the technical director of the Air Ministry (and its medical department answered to General Surgeon of the Luftwaffe, Erich Hippke, directly). Consequently, Ruff and Benzinger were out of Strughold's “reach”.

Top 10 of authors (single authorship only)

Not much change from the previous chart. Ruff, Strughold and Benzinger still the top three.

Publications per year

The chart correlates nicely with development cycles in the Luftwaffe. Between 1935 and 1936 there is a big hike in numbers, because the Luftwaffe was officially incepted in 1935, i.e. now the German government could fund research in aviation openly. In 1938 there was the peak of R&D spending in the Luftwaffe, i.e. all airplane design for the upcoming war was finished that year, hence a peak in funding. After the successful beginning of World War II the Germans did not spend too much on aviation related research. Only after the “Battle of Britain” was lost in the summer/autumn of 1940 did the Germans increase funding in the hope to even out the odds. It soon became apparent though that issues in engineering and materials (i.e. shortage thereof) were the main concern, and thus aviation medicine was neglected (and many researchers drafted into the Luftwaffe to serve as flight surgeons etc.). The small peak in 1942 is largely through the high-altitude fighter and bomber program, which increased funding for medical research shortly. However, engineering issues turned out to be more serious than medical questions (the main problem was that the engines the Germans had were not powerful enough to go up to superior heights, compared to the Allied air forces), and medical research consequently dropped.

Publications per year per journal

Not so much difference to the previous chart. The proportions between the journals are rather constant. Perhaps the only thing of note is the relative increase in ZWB reports around 1941 (although the total number of publications dropped). As mentioned above, the lost Battle of Britain meant increased research activity towards a high-altitude flight program by the Luftwaffe Command. While a good number of ZWB reports were later published as articles in the journal Luftfahrtmedizin, some of them were classified at the time (as they were concerning secret projects). The increase in numbers in ZWB reports compared to articles in Luftfahrtmedizin hints at the then secret research into high-altitude flight, as many of the ZWB reports did not make it into publicly available journals.

A Venn diagram of the distribution of journals' authors, showing the overlap of distinct authors in Luftfahrtmedizin (Lfm), Luftfahrtmedizinische Abhandlungen (LfmAbh) and Acta Aerophysiologica (Acta).

A Venn diagram showing authors between 1933 and 1945, and those authors found in German Aviation Medicine in World War II (GAM WWII). As you can see, there were only a few authors in GAM WWII that have never published anything in the field before — chiefly because GAM WWII has chapters on metereology and engineering in it and those authors wouldn't normally publish in the field of aviation medicine.


Number of distinct authors per publication
Overlap between the different publications

The tables with the data used to generate previous Venn diagrams. The table on the left shows the number of distinct authors per publication; the table on the right shows the overlap between publications, i.e. the number of authors who published in either publications. Perhaps the only surprise is the relatively low number in overlap between authors who have published in Acta Aerophysiologica and other journals. This is first and foremost due to the rather high number of foreign authors in Acta Aerophysiologica. Not only would it publish articles in foreign languages (there were articles in French and Italian), but its editor Ludolph Brauer would also encourage foreign authors to send in articles. Later publications were less open-minded, i.e. there were fewer foreigners.