American Hellcats vs the LW

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #1 Jenisch, Mar 12, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
    I know there were some combats between LW aircraft and Hellcats (I think most British Hellcats).

    Comparing the Hellcat being flown by the USN against LW aircraft, specially the MW50 Bf 109s, the plane seems to be inferior for a not so small margin. Howerver, I think the Hellcat didn't have a disadvantage that many other aircraft of the war that were also inferior in the speed against the competition have: inferior structrural strenght. The Hellcat was very strong, and could dive with the German planes. Perhaps more importantly: it could dive from an advantageous position to very high speeds for a successful energy attack, standard tactic. The aircraft was also more agile than the German planes, and the USN pilots were very good in teamwork in the Pacific; familiar with tactics to deny similar superiories the Zero had with the Wildcat, such as the Thach Wave, and in deflection shooting they probably were the best trained of the war. The Hellcat also had superior range over the German machines, specially the 109, which is a very valid advantage as well.

    I think the Grumman cat was a competitive machine against the LW in the hands of the USN (and probably the FAA).
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Tens of thousands of heavily armored IL-2 attack aircraft were shot down with 2cm or 3cm mine shells. The F6F won't fare any better.
     
  3. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    a couple of questions, what theater of ops was the hellcat used ?

    did it ever face Bf 109's in combat and where ?

    or was it used in the over the See capacity against LW recon A/C ?
     
  4. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    if i remember right some were used in the sbark in south france
     
  5. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #5 Jenisch, Mar 12, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2012
    I meant strong structurally, but it certainly was able to take some good punishment. Figthers differ from ground attack planes in the sense they are less exposed to enemy fire, and are in better conditions to avoid it at least partially. Even so, the IL2 was a fast, agile and heavily armored plane when it was introduced as a single-seater. When the two-seat models came, it lost a lot of speed and maneuverbility. The IL-10 came to adress the problems.
     
  6. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    For a comparison, the P-47 and the F6F were very similiar. The "Jug" could take a serious beating and dish out a world of hurt.
     
  7. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    In USN service the only F6F action over Europe transpired during Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France in August 1944. USS Tulagi with VOF-1 (Lieut Comdr WF Bringle, USN) and USS Kasaan Bay embarking VF-74 (Lieut Comdr HB Bass, USN), both squadrons, operating F6F-5s, provided coverage for the landings. VF-74 also operated a 7-plane F6F-3N night fighter detachment from Ajaccio on the island of Corsica. On the day of the invasion, 15 August, VF-74 flew 60 sorties, VOF-1, 40 sorties, all ground support missions.

    On the morning of 19 August, the first German aircraft, three He 111's, were spotted by a four-plane division of VOF-1 pilots. The Americans were too short on fuel and could not attack. Two of the Americans were forced to land on HMS Emperor due to their fuel state. Later that day, two He 111's were spotted by another VOF-1 division and were promptly shot down, this occurring near the village of Vienne. Lieut Poucel and Ens Wood teamed up to bring down one and Ens Robinson brought down the second. Soon thereafter, in the same vicinity, a third He 111 was shot down by Ens Wood.

    That same morning, a division of VF-74 pilots led by Lieut Comdr Bass brought down an Ju 88 and in the afternoon another division attacked a Do 217 with split credits to going to Lieut (jg) Castanedo and Ens Hullard.

    On 21 August, pilots from VOF-1 shot down three Ju 52 transports north of Marseille. Two were credited to Lieut (jg) Olszewski; one went to Ens Yenter. Operating for two weeks in support of the invasion, these two squadrons were credited with destroying 825 trucks and vehicles, damaging 334 more and destroying or otherwise immobilizing 84 locomotives. German aircraft shot down: VOF-1: 6, VF-74: 2.

    Although the two navy squadrons lost some 17 aircraft, combined, all were to ground fire or operational accidents. None were shot down by German aircraft. Among the 7 pilots lost (2 from VOF-1 and 5 from VF-74) was the CO of VF-74, Lieut Comdr H. Brinkley Bass, awarded 2 Navy Crosses from early actions, killed by antiaircraft fire while strafing near Chamelet on 20 August.

    The Royal Navy’s Fleet Air Arm also employed the F6F in air action over Europe. The only fighter-to-fighter FAA F6F action took place in May 1944. On 8 May, F6F's from the Fleet Air Arm's No. 800 Squadron (Lieut Comdr SJ Hall, DSC, RN), off HMS Emperor, while escorting a flight of Barracudas was attacked by a mixed group of Me 109's and FW 190's. Two F6F's were lost, one, probably, to anti-aircraft fire (one source indicates that both F6Fs were lost in a mid-air collision, not to any German fire of any kind); the Germans lost 2 Me 109's and one FW 190. The FW 190 was claimed by Sub-Lieut Ritchie. Luftwaffe losses in the area for this date were noted as three 109G’s, #14697 (Ofw Otto) and #10347 (Uffz Brettin) both from 10/JG5, and another from 8/JG5 #unknown piloted by Fw Berger; there no record of an FW 190 loss. On the Luftwaffe side, Uffz Hallstick claimed two F6Fs and Ltn Prenzler claimed one.

    On 14 May, 800 Squadron's leading scorer, Sub-Lieut Ritchie (now with 4.5 victories) added an He 115 to his tally and the shared another He 115 with the CO of 804 Squadron, Lieut Comdr Orr, giving him a total of 6 victories for the war. Interestingly enough, for this date, the Luftwaffe losses noted as specifically to F6Fs numbered five, all He 115 from 1/406; these were #2738 (Obltn Gramberg), #1879 (Obltn Zimmermann, #2085 (Fw Jänisch), #1867 (Ltn Carstens), and #2721 (Obltn Ladewig)

    Prior to these actions, FAA F6F's were used for anti-aircraft suppression on raids against Tirpitz on 3 April 44 (Operation Tungsten). These included - from Emperor - 800 Squadron (Lieut Comdr Hall) and 804 Squadron (Lieut Comdr SG Orr, DSC, RNVR).

    USN F6F pilots's were credited with bringing down 8 German aircraft, 3 He 111; 3 Ju 52; and 1 each Ju 88 and Do 217 with no air combat losses. In Fleet Air Arm service, F6F pilots were credited with bringing down 5 aircraft to 1 loss: 2 He 115; 2 Me 109G; and 1 FW 190. The F6F loss was in the 8 May 1944 FW 190/Me 109 engagement.

    Rich
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Are there historical statistics which show how many 2cm mine shells were required to shoot down a P-47? That data must exist somewhere.
     
  9. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Among many well documented cases, one that might interest you is the experience that Major Robert Johnson, of the 56th FG, had on 26June43 versus Fw190s.

    His P-47 was hit by 20mm cannon fire, damaging his tail, the canopy and shattering his engine. Unable to bail out (cannon damage to the canopy) he headed for home, but not before being attacked repeatedly by another Fw190, who tore his aircraft up with MG fire. Long story short, he made it home safely...
     
  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    So davebender thinks the Hellcat ... the fighter with the best kill-to-loss ratio in history until the F-15 ... is roughly similar to the IL-2? Must be smoking a strange weed or maybe had too much beer.

    The Mustangs were not shot down in tens of thousands and neither were the Thunderbolts. Methinks the Hellcats would do just fine, and maybe better due to maneuverability combined with enough speed and climb and toughness.

    Comparable with an IL-2? I'm not even in the same universe, metaphorically speaking. Doesn't mean dave is wrong ... it means I doubt it in the extreme and would even bet beer on it. Too abd we can't get together and discuss it over beer. Even if we disagreed, we'd still have the beer and maybe a steak.
     
  11. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    The sample size of the Hellcat vs the Luftwaffe S/E fighters is probably too small to draw meaningful conclusions.

    My opinion (apologies for length):

    Compared to the primary USAAF fighters in the ETO – the P-51 and the P-47 - I’d suggest that the Hellcat enjoyed an advantage in terms of slow speed manoeuvrability – particularly right near a stall - overall controllability, control harmonisation and maybe overall dogfight ability under about 20,000.

    With its large wing, lower stall speed and excellent controllability, the F6F would handily turn inside a P-51 or P-47 in a slow/sustained turn.

    This is gleaned from an old discussion on the Aces High BB, but data from the Society of Experimental Test Pilots gives the F6F a 95 knot stall speed at 3g, compared to 109 knots for the P-51D and 122 knots for the P-47D

    STEP also has the following data for a level 180degree turn around at METO power at 220 knots at 10,000 feet:

    P-47D: 9.7 sec
    F6F-5: 9.9 sec
    P-51D: 10 sec
    (F4U: 8.5 sec)

    America’s Hundred Thousand list the F6F-5 with a 3 g turn radius of 16.5 ‘units’, while the P-51D was at 21.5 and the P-47D was at 24.7.

    This suggests very little advantage to any aircraft in hard manoeuvring, at least at lower altitudes. I’d need to see an EM diagram, or – heaven forbid – do some of my own calculations, on harder manoeuvring – although from what I can recall, the P-51 was better above 275-300 mph.

    I’d suggest that the P-47D and P-51B/C/D had outright advantages in speed and rate of climb – particularly as altitude increased – as well as rate of dive, rate of roll and possibly high speed manoeuvrability. Moreover, I’d also posit that these traits were more favourable for combat in the ETO than the better slow speed handling of the hellcat.

    Pilots at the post-war Patuxent River evaluation trials listed the P-51 as a better fighter below 25,000 ft and both the P-51 and P-47 as a better fighter above 25,000 feet.

    Just 2% of pilots surveyed listed the F6F as the best fighter below 25,000 ft and just 3% as the best fighter above 25,000 ft.

    There two sets of USAAF and USN (TAIC) comparative trials against the Zero, one with P-51, P-38 and P-47 and the other with the and FM-2, F4U-1 (maybe) and F6F (not sure if -3 or -5) that would allow for some reasonable although not direct comparisons.

    On speed, the USN and RAF tests give the F6F top speeds of around 370 for -3s without WEP, all the way up to about 391 for later -3 and -5s with WEP. Peak performance altitude was between 23,000 and 25,000 ft.

    There is a TIAC test out there that suggests that the F5F-5 was only 8-10 knots (9-12 mph) slower than the F4U-1, which would give it a top speed of a little over 400 mph. However, I don’t think this is the place for that discussion.

    At high altitudes, the P-51 and P-47 appear to have a decisive speed advantage over the F6F. Hellcat’s top speed at 30,000 ft was reported as 355-360 mph and 320 mph at 35,000 ft.

    In comparison, P-51D’s were pulling 410-430 mph at 30,000 ft and 400-425 mph at 35,000 ft.

    P-47s were capable of 420-430 mph at 30,000 ft and 395-415 mph at 35,000 ft.

    Rate of climb for the Hellcat seems to have been about 2700-2900 fpm for early versions, reaching about 3600 fpm for the later, more highly powered versions. Better than most of the P-51s and P-47s (yes, even the paddle bladed ones) at sea-level, but falling behind by about 20,000 ft.


    For me, the two most outstanding features of the USAAF front line fighters in the ETO in 1944/45 was their excellent high altitude performance and their excellent manoeuvrability at high speeds.

    Combined with excellent pilot training and sufficient weight of numbers, this was enough to defeat the Luftwaffe - and its more manoeuvrable S/E fighters - over Germany.

    While the Hellcat had the range to go to Germany, I believe that the margin of performance in the ETO lies in favour of the 109 and 190 from the time the F6F could be introduced (around mid to late 1943).

    I believe the Hellcat performed so well in the Pacific because it had a sufficient reservoir of performance (both speed and altitude) over the most common Japanese types, combined with enough manoeuvrability to force Japanese into combat.

    In the ETO, I believe that the situation would be reversed. The 109G and 190A would be at least as fast as the Hellcat at medium to low altitudes and faster at higher altitudes, although less so for the 190A. If the Hellcat had been a primary USAAF fighter in the ETO, a very different style of combat may have evolved, one fought at slightly lower altitudes and one that may have emphasised the better turn and slow speed performance of the Hellcat.
     
  12. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Errr...the Buffalo had a better kill-to-loss ratio than the Hellcat, indeed it probably had the best kill-to-loss ratio of any fighter in WWII. Just goes to show statistics aren't worth a damn...unless "best kill-to-loss ratio in history" is shorthand for "best by a US-built aircraft flown by US pilots".

    We will now return to our regularly scheduled programme.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Are we clear about the kill ratio Hellcat scored, and I'm not talking about the claims?
     
  14. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Corsair might fair a bit better.
     
  15. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    #15 Ratsel, Mar 13, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2012
    Neat story. I surprised that any P-47s were shot down by the inferior Me 109 Fw 190 weapons platform (2cm 3cm cannon very effective against B-17 B-24, useless against P-47/Hellcat if I read various threadsright). Its also clear that the RAF, USAAF, USN, had much greater pilots, and a much more sound tactical planning to face every scenario presented by the Luftwaffe. Thanks for the information!
     
  16. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    to set the record straight for DaveB about 2cm Minengeschoss it was not standard on LW fighters until spring of 1944. so what was used was HE and HEI but not the concentrated form of the (M) round.
     
  17. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    On the Williams site there is a comparison run by the USN between an FW190A-4 and an F6F3 and F4U1. Makes for interesting reading. The FW out climbed and was faster than the F6F and was not as dominant with the F4U but the two Navy fighters could follow the FW in any maneuver and the FW could not follow the Navy fighters in maneuvering. The Navy advised that the FW should be closed with but not to try out climbing or out running. Of course the 6-50s and large ammo capacity of the Navy planes made them extremely dangerous to any German fighter.
     
  18. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    I think the report shows the three to be very close overall, i was actually astonished a "used" Fw 190 A-5 held up so well against a factory-fresh F4U-1D. It's a good example how top speed figures don't tell as much as some people think they do. The American fighters were, no contest, the better in-fighters but if the Fw pilot played his cards correctly he could probably escape combat with a climb in his comfort zone.
     
  19. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    Thanks for the additional info! I doubt however the Brandsprenggranatpatrone/Brandgranatpatrone /Minengeschosspatrone /Panzergranatpatrone /Panzerbrandgranatpatrone (Phosphor) /Panzerbrandgranatpatrone (Elektron) rounds would make any difference against the P-47/Hellcat. One needs pilots that can shoot accurately, and weapon platforms that can catch turn with them, which the Luftwaffe did not have. I could be wrong? I read that some German pilots were aces (maybe not becouse of their exagerated/overinflated kill counts)? Thanks again for the info. :)
     
  20. DonL

    DonL Banned

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    I agree

    It was a FW 190 A5-U3 what was definitive a fighter bomber and the prequel to the FW 190 F-2 serie.

    So in reality it would be a FW 190 A-6 clean fighter with 4x 151/20, 2 x 131 or 2 x 151/20, 2 x 131.

    To my opinion the FW 190A had an advantage against the Hellcat because it could outclimb, outdive, outrun and outroll the Hellcat and we all know that the FW 190A wasn't a turn fighter in all it's career and the pilots don't fly her as turnfighter.
     
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