1941: the best airframe for a single engined fighter

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Mar 31, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    In other words, this time on we should discuss the capabilities of the airframe, independently from the engine it was mounted on it. What designer/manufacturer got it best? The capabilities to be accounted for are "upgradedeability", structural strength, capacity for decent firepower fuel tankage, suitability for engines different that the original, adaptability to work as bomber and/or reccon plane, pilot protection, ability to lend itself for the mass production etc. The carrier-borne planes yield no points for such capabilities.

    Again, we will NOT look at the engines historically installed, nor the abilities acquired by the engines aboard, but the categories inherent to the airframe.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Can use a variety of engines including BMW801 radial and DB603 V12.
    Wide track landing gear.
    Bubble canopy.
    Standard airframe carried enough fuel for most missions. Space for wing tanks if you need extreme range.
    Designed for high speed maneuverability which was becoming more important as engines became more powerful.
    Space for 4 cannon in wings if desired.
    No bad handling habits. Very important for green wartime pilots.
    Inexpensive to mass produce.
    Can be adapted into a relatively effective CAS aircraft.
     
  3. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    IMO the Japanese A6M was the best airframe in 1941. Its subsequent failure was due to poor engine development, not so much a failure of the airframe. And in 1941 it contained all the best ingredients for fighters, bar one.....structural defence. That was a conscous choice brought about by the engines available
     
  4. jim

    jim Banned

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    I choose Machi Mc 202
    a)Liquid engine with the best possible solution for the radiator b) good landing gear c) capabilityfor cental cannon d)wings that -in mc205 -recieved internal cannons, d) higly manouverable e) adequate structure strength e) development potentional.Db 605 was installed with almost no modifications to produce Mc205 in 1942 and Mc206 was proposed with Db603 though more extensive modifications were needed f) almost performance parity with Bf 109F and Spitf V on less power and italian propeller of lower performance.. I believe that a Db 601E powered Mc 202 with 20mm engine cannon would be easily the best fighter of the year A big disadvantage was the time and cost of its production

    Mr Dave bender
    All the positives of Fw that you mentioned are true but led to the fact that the airframe required more power to be competitive with similar timed european fighters .Late in the war 109s on B4(plus Mw50) clearly outperformed Antons on C3 fuel and bigger capacity engine!Also while its landing gear was good for green pilots, its very high wing loading wasnt. Also although its high speed stall could be exploied usefully by experienced pilots, it certainly was a flaw. Too heavy to use DB605 (35 lt engine) despite the fact that it was of similar size with the Spitfire (27 lt engine) and only slightly bigger than Bf 109
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Not the fault of the Fw-190 airframe. Stick an overweight radial engine in the Me-109 or Spitfire and performance will suffer just as happened with the Fw-190.
     
  6. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Historically you could look at the Spitfire airframe as one which was developed heavily. Though the airframe did change the basics remained the same - and the Spitfire V airframe spawned the IX and the XII.
     
  7. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Or you could say the P-51 was an airframe waiting for an engine worthy of it....
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree and that engine was a DB603 or RR Griffon. Too bad it didn't get either one except for a few post-war P-51 racing aircraft.
     
  9. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Apart from the tendency of the controls to stiffen significantly above 300 kts.
     
  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The F4U Corsair generally outperforned anything it went up against.

    It first flew in May 1940 but was not introduced until 1942. Nevertheless, it was available, was fast, rolled well, climbed with the best, was robust and was decently armed. Great potential.

    If that mount is not in the population, I suggest the Me 109 as one of the obvious best in 1941. It certainly shot down more enemy aircaft than any other plane in history. Whatever the characteristics of the other fighters, the Me 109 was the fighter with the most shootdowns of enemies. Want a good performance measure? How about combat results. The Me 109 had them, in spades. Nothing else even comes close, though some piston fighers obviously outperforme it. Coult be the plane, could be the pilots, could be the environment in which it was utilized, and is likely a combination of the three but the Me 109 was a winner from the first flight. just the top three aces in Me 109's shot down 950+ enemy aircraft.

    Can any aircraft of any time in any war claim better combat performance? No. Not even CLOSE.
     
  11. Dcazz7606

    Dcazz7606 Member

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    In Warren Bodie's, Thunderbolt he has a few interesting pictures of the airframe of a P-47N. Republic called it "the Skinnless Hotdog" so Republic empoyees who worked on a component of the P-47 could see how complicated the plane really was and try the controls from a remote station. It gives a great view of all the equipment stuffed into the plane. No wonder it could survive. IMG_1266.JPG IMG_1267.JPG IMG_1268.JPG IMG_1269.JPG
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    For me the best AIRFRAME was the P-51. It was the original airframe with 4 x20mm, had slightly more drag than the P-51B, and achieved excellent airspeeds with an engine operating at only 60% of its more famous successors.

    From the time its immediate successor, the Mustang I and P-51A's rolled off the assembly lines it would remain the lowest drag operational reciprocating engine driven fighter.

    The airframe was altered to accept the Packard Merlin, achieving alightly better aerodynamics, and continued with same or better aerodynamics as the original production version through every modification and growth of gross weight.

    It (P-51 and P-51A) also handled superbly in its original form. While the P-51B/D later would suffer a little degradation in handling qualities the later airframe/engine combinations were still very good despite a 20% growth in gross weight.
     
  13. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    I think it would be hard to dispute this. The airframe was utterly Brilliant in terms of aerodynamic efficiency and at low altitude where its single stage single speed supercharger was not at much of a disadvantage it outran other fighters of the same power by 40mph. An interesting change occured in the transition from P-51A to P-51B was the use of internal pressure balanced ailerons that greatly alleviated pilot joystick force at speed. This made the P-51 probably the fastest rolling aircraft of the war when over 350mph (Possibly the laminar profile P-63 Kingcobra could excede it). This was only possible because the thick laminar profile wings made room for it. Latter version of the P-51D also added metalic elevators to get rid of the twitchy trim. Modified with a longer tail as the P-51H the low speed handling was considered suitable for carrier use.

    The only limitation seems to have been the P-51 inabillity to handle a bigger engine like the Griffon easily.


    Imagine of the P-51A had of been equiped with the Allison V-1710-121 which had a two stage supercharger from its first days of service. It really would hav shortened the war dramatically.
     
  14. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Again I'd rather judge by results. The Me109 may have been a little dated by 1941, by by one method or another the Germans managed to kept it close to the leading edge of performance, not at the leading edge, but close enough. Most of the other aircraft allied and axis, was a reaction to the the Me109.
    And like Greg already mentioned, the results of the Me109 use in combat speak for themseves.
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    All very good points. Had the 1710-121 been available and had the US swallowed its pride and accepted the Brit 20mm cannons it would have been an incredible contributor in both MTO and PTO in 1942.. but the airframe was both extraordinary at the beginning and the internal wet wing/external wing hardpoints of the P-51A contributed much to the role/mission expansion of future dive bomber, low altitude recce, air superiortiy and CAS. Having said that there were always other fighters that could perform the same roles individually, even better.
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    As an airframe in combat service, think it's hard to argue against the Fw-190. The prototypes in 1941 are all another ball game, the P-51 looks like a winner.
     
  17. jim

    jim Banned

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    What was the accelaration of early P-51s? Their power loading? their rate of climb? Their manouverability? What would be P51D without superior fuels given the inability to accept bigger engine?
    I accept the brilliance of the design as superb escort fighter but i see shortcomings as far as air superiority fighter.
    Finally i believe an important factor in the low drug of P51 was the amazing quality of its construction which of course is not a property of the airframe but of the factory that had the ability and conditions for such quality . When i saw a P51 live i was amazed by the smoothness of its surfaces.
    I honestly cannot see how P51 airfame defeats Bf109F-4, or P51D defeats bf109K-4 on 1v1 combat given same quality of fuels and same building quality and same quality of pilots. Or against Ki 84, Fiat G56, Spitfire XIV, Tempest,Fw190A-3/4,etc
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I'm under the impression this topic concerns only the airframe.

    Historically the 1941 Mustang and Fw-190 were handicapped by less then ideal engine choices. When these airframes received better engines they performed just fine.
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hi, Jim,

    Dave is correct here - the topic is about the airframe. As you know already, with Packard Merlin installed, the P-51 transformed into a great fighter.
     
  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    My bad, i thought it was al parts of the aircraft, other than the engine.....so things like props armament etc are considered
     
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