1950: Lavochkin La-9 v.s Grumman F8F-1B Bearcat

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by ShVAK, Sep 22, 2012.

  1. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    Two of the last piston engine fighters from two families of aircraft with successful WWII combat histories, and on opposing sides at the onset of the Korean War not long before MiGs and Sabres usurped the fighter throne. Both very impressive performers, the Grumman setting a number of records and later a Reno favorite.

    I can't find any evidence of KPAF La-9's and Bearcats (cannon armed -1B models or otherwise) shooting it out but from looking at the numbers, they seem like a pretty close match. From Wiki:

    Lavochkin La-9

    [​IMG]

    General characteristics

    Crew: 1
    Length: 8.63 m (28 ft 4 in)
    Wingspan: 9.80 m (32 ft 2 in)
    Height: 3.56 m (11 ft 8 in)
    Wing area: 17.6 m² (189 ft²)
    Empty weight: 2,638 kg (5,816 lb)
    Loaded weight: 3,425 kg (7,551 lb)
    Max. takeoff weight: 3,676 kg (8,104 lb)
    Powerplant: 1 × Shvetsov ASh-82FN air-cooled radial engine with a two-stage supercharger and fuel injection, 1,380 kW (1,850 hp)

    Performance

    Maximum speed: 690 km/h (428 mph) at altitude
    Range: 1,735 km (1,077 mi)
    Service ceiling: 10,800 m (35,433 ft)
    Rate of climb: 17.7 m/s (3,484 ft/min)
    Wing loading: 195 kg/m² (40 lb/ft²)
    Power/mass: 0.40 kW/kg (0.25 hp/lb)

    Armament

    4 × 23 mm Nudelman-Suranov NS-23 cannons, 75 rpg

    Grumman F8F-1B Bearcat

    [​IMG]

    General characteristics

    Crew: 1 pilot
    Length: 28 ft 3 in (8.61 m)
    Wingspan: 35 ft 10 in (10.92 m)
    Height: 13 ft 9 in (4.21 m)
    Wing area: 244 ft²[38] (22.67 m²)
    Empty weight: 7,070 lb (3,207 kg)
    Loaded weight: 9,600 lb (4,354 kg)
    Max. takeoff weight: 12,947 lb (5,873 kg)
    Powerplant: 1 × Pratt Whitney R-2800-34W "Double Wasp" two-row radial engine, 2,100 hp (1,567 kW)

    Performance

    Maximum speed: 421 mph (366 kn, 678 km/h)
    Range: 1,105 mi (1,778 km)
    Service ceiling: 38,700 ft (11,796 m)
    Rate of climb: 4,570 ft/min (23.2 m/s)
    Wing loading: 66.7 lb/ft² (192.1 kg/m²)
    Power/mass: 0.22 hp/lb (360 W/kg)

    Armament

    Guns: 4 × 20mm M3 cannon
    Rockets: 4 × 5 in (127 mm) unguided rockets
    Bombs: 1,000 lb (454 kg) bombs


    Given pilots of equal skill in our hypothetical over Korea, which fighter would've won the day? Discuss.
     
  2. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Even if I'm Bearcat abd Sea Fury fan I must admit that according to Ray Hanna La-9 was even better than those 2 carrier fighters. Oh, at least Bearcat climbed better.

    Juha
     
  3. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    La-9 did seem more aerodynamically advanced than the Bearcat. Laminar flow wing and all that. That doesn't necessarily make it a better dogfighter, even Griffon Spitfires could always outturn a P-51.

    The Bearcat made up for a lot in brute P&W power. Would've probably been the fastest-climbing fighter on Earth in '46.
     
  4. spicmart

    spicmart Member

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    Off topic, the La-9 is much more pleasing to the eye imo.
     
  5. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    I agree though the Bearcat has its own appeal. Kind of like a 60's muscle car with wings.
     
  6. Gogler

    Gogler New Member

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    From what I have heard the F8F has a excellently designed airfoil which has exceptional low-speed performance while also having fairly low drag at high speed. Unfortuanatly I have not heard anything about the La-9. Hope that helps.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    A few notes, The ASh-82FN engine used a two speed, supercharger, not a two stage one.

    Either plane has enough firepower to destroy the other given even a second or more with a good firing position/solution. However the MV of the Russian guns are are almost 150m/sec slower than the 20mm guns on the Bearcat meaning it needs more lead at a given distance/firing angle. The Russian plane has about 9-10 seconds of firing time, give or take. The Bearcat has about 14 seconds on the outer guns and 17 seconds on the inner guns. Bearcat carried 188rpg for the outer guns and 225rpg on the inner guns and the Bearcats guns had a higher cycle rate.

    The R-2800 engine on the Bearcat is a bit under-rated. It had water injection and the 2100hp rating is for 100/130 fuel and no water. It was good for 2300hp dry using 115/145 fuel for take-off/military power and 2100hp at about 3200ft. It also had 1700hp at 17,000ft. I can't find figures for the water injection.

    The ASh-82FN may have had 1850hp for take-off and 1650hp at 5400ft military rating and 1450hp at 15,200ft in high gear.

    ranges given for both planes seem to require drop tanks.

    In air to air combat both planes would be operating at "normal" loaded weight or below so the given wing loading for the Bearcat is nonsense. Both planes would have a wing loading within 2-3% of each other.
     
  8. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #8 Koopernic, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    Bearcat has NACA 5 digit: same as every other USN fighter and the Fw 190. The deft choice of wing platform, wing twist of course make a big difference as does other aspects such as tail moment arm, decollage. Bearcat canted its engine down and to the side by 2 degrees to neatly overcome engine torque issues. It was refined.

    See:
    The Incomplete Guide to Airfoil Usage

    I see the La 9 as belonging to the same era as the P-80.

    La 9 did have a laminar airfoil, Russians took a lot of time getting this right as the La 7 needed slats to tame the stall/spin.

    One poster mentioned the Griffon Spitfire v the P-51. I believe the appropriate comparison would be between the P-51H and the Spitfire and I suspect the P51 might come out on top.

    One aspect that I believe will be absolutely decisive assuming the aircraft are matched in other areas is the bubble canopy of the Bearcat. When the Soviets captured a F-86 Sabre during the Korean war they were stunned at how much a difference the bubble canopy made: the Satbre pilot could not only seen behind himself but slightly below both by turning or by using his mirror. This is a big factor in situational awareness and the decision making loop of the pilot.
     
  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #9 GregP, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    This is a tough call and I like both airplanes.

    I'll have to waffle and say the better pilot would likely prevail ... though I've never seen a roll-rate comparison or a turn-rate comparison between the two. Seeing one or the other might sway the argument, but all I have seen is a one-man general statement from Ray Hanna, who well might have been drumming up business for the La-9 ... I don't know.

    I have no trouble believing the La-9 was a very good airplane, and really have no basis for choosing either one as a winner except for a climb-rate advantage for the F8F. That is important, but so are roll and turn.

    One definite advantage for the La-9 is centerline armament. I understand the NS-23 cannons are VERY hard-hitting, MUCH more so than our cannons. The Germans always said one in the nose is worth two in the wings. If that is the case the La-9 outguns the F8F, even with synchronizing.

    Though I love the Bearcat, the La-9 is a more pleasing look to me, sacrilege though it might be to say.

    I'd really like to see performance graphs (not just speed) for the La-7 before engaging mouth here any farther.

    Good subject! Maybe some real performance numbers will show up!
     
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  10. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #10 tyrodtom, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    Why would the Russians be " stunned" by the view from a bubble canopy ? The Mig 15 had a full 360 degree view also, just one small reinforcing rib to the rear, as did the Mig 9, even the piston engine Yak 9 had a full vision canopy, and several other Russian aircraft.

    The Mig-15 pilot might have been more down in the fuselage than a F-86 pilot, so no matter if his canopy was a true bubble canopy or not he still wouldn't have been able to see below him to the rear.

    They might have been a little surprised by the clarity of the Plexiglas, because their clear plastics of that era tended to be a little less clear than ours.
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I think the ASh-82FN was rated at 1,650 HP for [email protected]" HG, 1,430HP @ 40.7" HG @16,404 feet, and 800HP @ 32,808 feet.

    The 1,850 HP was the ASh-82FNU. Now some later La-9's might well have had the FNU, but all the specifications I can find say FN, not FNU.

    It might be interesting to compare an La-9 with the FNU engine to an F8F-2 as both has slightly more HP.

    For those of us who followed the great fighter gun debate, the Q-factor for the cannons was 10.1 for the AN/M3 and 11.8 for the NS-23. The NS-23 had a muzzle velocity of 680 m/s and the M3 had a muzzle velocity of 840 m/s, but the close Q factors tell us the NS-23 hit about 10% harder. The F8F firee from the wings without synchronization and the NS-23 fired through the prop with synchronization. I do NOT know the rate if fire reduction to allow for synchronizing, but the four NS-23's were mounted centerline while the four M3's were in the wings. I'f think that if the F8F got a bead on the La-9 and got hits, it would surely have maybe 25 - 30% more hits in any given timeframe. With the Q-factors being close, I'd give the hitting power advantage to the F8F but would give the liklihood of getting hits to the centerline mounted La-9's 4 guns.

    Using the 1,650 HP for the FN model ASh engine, I have the power to weight ratios as almost identical. I think the rate of climb difference might indicate propeller efficiency or maybe airfoil differences or evena combination of both since the wing loading at normal weighs are 39.3 lbs/ sq ft for the Bearcat and 40 lbs/sq ft for the La-9.

    I can say from personal experience that clear Plexi was an advantage for the F8F. I have yet to sit in a WWII/post-war through Korea Soviet aircraft that had a CLEAR windscreen and canopy. All I have been in (at least 10) have been slightly brownish in tint except for one that had a new canopy fitted here in the USA. I have one friend who had a Yak-52. He retrofitted a US plexi front canopy and left the rear canopy stock. The difference is quite noticeable between the seats.

    A winner would be a tough call, again!
     
  12. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #12 Koopernic, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    The pilot sat higher in the F-86 and the F-86 had a somehat lower tail than the MiG 15. The superior view over the rear was quite noticeable and it was considered harder to sneak up on an F-86.

    But I digress:

    The La 9 does not have a bubble canopy, the Bearcat does and I suspect a rather good one. Hence I would give it to the Bearcat just on this. The view over the nose on the Bearcat might be better too given the apparently higher seating arrangement. Navy aviators tend to be fussy about this due to the need of a good view when landing. It might help in combat as well.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    #13 tomo pauk, May 12, 2015
    Last edited: May 12, 2015
    FWIW: I recall a comment made on the Sabre vs. MiG-15 seating: the Sabre's pilot was sitting on the aircraft, while the MiG's pilot was seating in the aircraft.

    The ASh-82FN was doing 1850 CV in low gear, using overboost, for take off and at 500 m (~1500 ft). In second gear the over-boost was not allowed, max power was 1430 CV at 4650 m (~1410 HP at ~15260 ft).

    The R-2800-34W in the Tigercat:

    rW.JPG

    The SAC for the Bearcat gives 2750 HP (!, S/C in 1st speed ) on SL; 2450 HP at 9500 ft (S/C in 2nd speed probably), but the speed graph suggests like the RPM was restricted for engine with S/C in second gear and using WER?
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    View over the nose helps a lot when defection shooting.

    lavochkin-la-9_pics102-10232.jpg

    DSC_1824.jpg
     
  15. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    I would say that a bubble canopy has to 'bubble out' i.e; the lower edges of it relative to the pilots P.O.V positions must give at least some more downwards 'over the side' visibility when they move their head and neck to one side - in the 86 (not the Toyota 'Hachiroku' but the Sabre..) and certaily the F-14 from memory the lower edge of the canopy where it is mounted in the canopy frame rails, is inside the widest portion of the canopy which 'bubble out'-wards. You could say the original Zero-sen had a 1st operationally in service bubble top (in looks) /or a Malcolm hooded Spit.
    Or Mustang D (E, F, etc) where it was a single piece blown canopy affectively called a bubble canopy by pilots, grunts, erks and civies in general - without the downwards view boosting of the canopy mid draftage/wide-ness overhanging its frame - something the 'Stangs share with the both Lavochkins earlier Yakolevs.

    But like the usage of the term 'bike' by both bicycle, motorbike motorcycle users to be 'their' understanding of the word, so to does bubble canopy have such a wide mixture of peoples intpretations of meanings - I'd say the original descriptive one was the naval or bombers transparency that had a 'blown/bubbled out' aspect to to give improved downwards viewing ability.
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I can find more references that say 1,650 hp than I can find that say 1,850 hp. I also found one that says 1,700 HP max. At least one give 2 numbers, but does not say whether the numbers are takeoff/maximum or dry/wet (WER).

    My opinion is still out on the HP rating of the ASh-82FN's real power capabilities. Since it is Soviet, what is a definitive source? I have wrestled with this for 25 years when looking up specifications for USSR technical items.

    Either way, the La-9 is formidable. I am now wrestling with why the power-to-weight should be so similar but the rates of climb should be 30%+ different. Rate of climb is almost but not completely tied to power-to-weight. Wtih a 30%+ difference, maybe the real power is being revealed. Of maybe the quoted rate of climb is wrong?
     
  17. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    Between the two aircraft, how do their differences or similarities relate towards that roughly 30%-ish, by that I mean weights, wing, tail and control surfaces areas, clean drag co-efficients, power loading ranges etc, if they are all say well within 10% of the other ones, and ignoring air temperature pressures at tests, then it could be some organisation has certainly fudged the facts, or at least, given the fact at lowest flight loadings of fuel and empty ammo for the mission/record attempt to get such a climb figure - perhaps to keep Stalns NKVD from executing them or their staffs.
     
  18. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I can probably locate all those data for the F8F. I seriously doubt I can find those data for the La-9. And it's not a task I'd take on unless I was really interested to the point of investing the time. I'm curious, but the La-9 and F8F didn't figure into much combat, so I'm not interested enough to invest the time. It isn't really related to any piston-on-piston air combat war.

    Now if I owned one, that would be different. I'd reseach my plane to the end, out of nothing but interest in my trusty steed.
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Good theory, except it's the La-9 that has the 30% shortfall in climb performance.
     
  20. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The graph and table for ASh-82FN, with 3 engine sub-types that have different prop reduction gearing. Take off rating is again specified at the bottom part of the table (1850 CV at 2500 rpm and 1200 (-20 tolerance) mm Hg, 5 min). (open the pic separately for hi-res)

    82 power.JPG
     
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