Battle of Britain: Zeros instead of Me-109s

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by bowfin, Feb 12, 2012.

  1. bowfin

    bowfin Member

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2012
    Messages:
    52
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Hello, new to the forum, but I have been kicking this idea around for a couple of years.

    One of the biggest drawbacks for the Germans during the Battle of Britain was the range limitations of the Me-109 (or Bf-109, if you prefer). The Spitfire's legs were just as short, but that's not a problem if you are fighting over your own airfield.

    So what happens if you replace the Me-109s with the A6M Zero? Would the Zero be able to fly to England, dogfight the Spitfire dry, and then fly back? Would the Spitfire squadrons be decimated before they figured out not to dogfight the Zeros? Would more German bombers live to fight another day to swing the battle of attrition?

    Mind you, I think there are very few single issues that would make a major difference in the outcome of the Secon World War. However, this scenario is one of the few I find intriguing.

    I apologize if this subject has been covered ad nauseum, but a brief search didn't show a similar thread, though one (or several) may exist.
     
  2. krieghund

    krieghund Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Avionics Engineer Advisor to RSAF
    Location:
    Riyadh
    Well first off there are only about a squadron strength at the time of the BoB and they are being blooded in China. As to their combat range capability, on Dec7/8 Zeros took off from Formosa and attacked the Philippines and returned. From the Formosa bases to Clark Field is greater than 440nm radius. That is longer than the Bf109E could fly one way.
    Next they could out-fly the Spit 1 and Spit II except maybe for the diving speed. Roll capability is probably the same the early spits. Armament is another story, the spit and her eight guns will make swiss cheese quickly of the zero. However a majority of Spits don't have SS tanks or Armor at the beginning and even further on the fuel tank protection is not complete so they are even in this regard.

    Academically speaking the zero could cover the UK but the real technology the axis has to beat is the integrated air defense system put in place to defend England. Nobody had anything close to it and the Germans did not realize the scope of its effectiveness--- that is what won the BoB plus stupid blunders on the part of the Germans. Of course Spitfires don't hurt but the system could have endured with lesser types albeit with greater losses but the Germans still could not prevail against it.

    Just my two cents
     
  3. Hop

    Hop Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    624
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The biggest problem for the Germans was that the 109s couldn't achieve a good enough kill/loss ratio to defeat the RAF.

    More range wouldn't really help the Luftwaffe. They had plenty of targets within range of the 109, indeed they didn't manage to do sufficient damage to any of them. Radar stations, 11 Group airfields, Supermarine in Southampton, London. The Luftwaffe attacked them all with forces that were too small to do sufficient damage. How would launching attacks on the Midlands or North help? It would reduce the strength of attack on 11 Group and allow 10, 12 and 13 Group to take some of the strain.

    More range would have helped the Luftwaffe if the RAF had either abandoned the South East (in which case they'd have needed the range to bring the RAF to battle) or if the RAF had concentrated all their fighters in 11 Group (in which case the Luftwaffe could have forced the RAF to disperse by attacking targets elsewhere).

    What the RAF actually did is concentrate about 40% of their fighters in the 11 Group in the South East of England. The Luftwaffe put nearly all their fighters in France to oppose them, and still failed. If the Luftwaffe had dispersed their effort, with fighters attacking elsewhere, it would have made the job of the RAF easier, not harder.
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    Don't forget tactics. It doesn't matter what type of a/c, if you're tied to bombers and not free flying, it reduces your effectivness.
     
  5. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    #5 Glider, Feb 12, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
    The important point is as mentioned by Krieghound, there were no Zeros when the BOB was being fought apart from a handful being tested in China. So the question is when do you want to fight the BOB?

    The Japanese were very impressed by the Spitfire during the BOB. They considered its speed, climb and firepower to be excellent and called it an ideal interceptor in reports sent back to Japan.
     
  6. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    The Spitfire mk1 was faster than any Zero so the Hurricane would be the main loser here.

    Range is less important that loiter time. If you can loiter you can escort all the way to London and hang around when the RAF come up.

    The Zero could hang around much longer than an Emil could and that certainly would have helped with Emils lost due to fuel starvation.
     
  7. krieghund

    krieghund Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Avionics Engineer Advisor to RSAF
    Location:
    Riyadh
    The speed difference is only around 15 mph and the planes would coming into battle at or near max continuous power setting not full power. That speed would help you break off but if you need to stay to protect something...... The only real problem area for the Zero is its armament. Most of the high scoring IJN aces have related they made their kills with the two 7.7 MG and the Spit has 4 times as many.

    You ever played MS Combat Flight Sim and substituted a Spit Mk1 instead of a P-40 in the Pearl Harbor Scenario? ...oh man can you chew them up until they turn inside of you and that cannon will tear you a new one.
     
  8. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    The main Zero variant possible in 1940 would be the A6M2 Type 0 Model 21 which had a top speed of 331mph which is far below Spitfire mk 1.

    If you saying A6M5 Type 0 Model 52 then thats just cheating:D
     
  9. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2007
    Messages:
    2,281
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    none
    Location:
    Lazio
    #9 Vincenzo, Feb 12, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
    For true i think model 11, and also if it's slower of Spit i think this is not a large trouble, the model 21 get good results vs Spit V(trop)


    however i 'm agreee with people that tell Zero it's too late plane for BoB
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I agree. The A6M would not be available in quantity by the summer of 1940.

    In any case there was nothing wrong with the Me-109E. The Luftwaffe just needed an adequate supply of drop tanks.
     
  11. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2009
    Messages:
    517
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    retired
    Location:
    Northern Ireland
    #11 Gixxerman, Feb 12, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2012
    This x 1million, everytime.

    (and the RAF actually having sufficient numbers of fighters which were of similar tech level)

    The ability to detect attacks early gather defense forces to apply them in the correct numbers and at the right points is such a huge 'force magnifier/multiplier' it meant the LW's paper numberical advantage meant very little.
    There were times when mistakes were made or wrong choices taken but overall it was simply unbeatable back then.

    The RAF Group system was an advantage too, during the war the LW got forced into the habit of having to fight until you fell, the allied policy of tours the ability to have squadron/pilot rotation was a luxury they had less and less.
     
  12. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Interesting thread and idea, but I have to say that I don't think that the result would have been any different, even if the Brits had Bf 109s and the Germans had Spittys or Zeros or whatever. For the result of the BoB to be different would have required different heads at the top of the Nazi food chain, no Dowding or Park, nor any Churchill, nor Beaverbrook for that matter...

    All we need is someone to do a Zero in 1940 LW colours!
     
  13. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,934
    Likes Received:
    105
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    retired avionics engineer
    Location:
    Southern California
    Please don't reference flight simulators as examples of real combat. There is no way they could simulate the ballistics of real bullets nor simulate accurate effectivity of each round nor calculate the probabilities of weapons strike.
     
  14. krieghund

    krieghund Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Avionics Engineer Advisor to RSAF
    Location:
    Riyadh
    Didn't think I did that but I agree with you that a $49.95 sims can not replicate real combat. The sims needs to have a cost about $49M to do that justice. I have been in and flown an F-16 and F4 and flew the F-16 sim and the experience is very different from the cozy chair in front of the monitor.
     
  15. krieghund

    krieghund Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2006
    Messages:
    611
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Avionics Engineer Advisor to RSAF
    Location:
    Riyadh
    A recent research paper by Rchard Dunn, http://www.warbirdforum.com/zerodunn.htm, gives the A6M2 about 328 at full throttle and 345 mph with full boost.
     
  16. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    664
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    So did the Me 110 but it did not stop it from shooting down a lot of Hurris and Spitfires. Ditto - Hurricanes shot down a lot of 109s. And the Zero was more manuver than any to boot.

    Of course what the Germans needed was simply droptanks for 109s and/or a lot more 110s.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I agree but that's not going to happen. 1940 DB601 engine production was inadequate and most existing Me-110s were needed by the rapidly expanding night fighter force.

    Simple aluminum drop tanks are a different matter. With better planning there's no reason 1940 Germany couldn't produce them like hot rolls as they had plenty of aluminum.
     
  18. kielczyslaw

    kielczyslaw New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 7, 2012
    Messages:
    6
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    Hi, I'm new on this forum but I've been watching it for quite some time.

    Sorry but I can't agree with your statement davebender that the Germans needed more 110. Whenever they were used during BoB they were always suffering heavy loses. 110's were doing great work as fighter-bomber units, with insist on bomber role, but not as a pure fighter or (even worse) as an escort fighter.
    What the Germans needed the most was greater number of 109's and a better bombing tactic.
    The endurance of 109 was never a problem during the BoB because RAF never moved it's squadrons beyond the Emil's combat range.

    Tante Ju, I can't agree with you either. 110 destroying a lot of Spitfires and Hurries? Check dogfight reports day by day and you will see that 110 had a win/loss rate of 1/5 or even worse. LW had to apply at least such rate on it's favor to defeat RAF. And it didn't have nor sufficient amount of fighters ready to fight nor production possibilities to let their loses be that high.

    Maybe some of you won't agree with me or even consider my opinion unjust. I don't want to insult any of you but I had to say that the BoB wasn't won by the British. It wasn't lost by them and by the Allies who helped them. It was the Germans who lost this battle. Due to bad tactics and even worse LW organisation and management.
    That's why I don't think that any change of the aircraft flown by either of the sides would have changed anything.
    Maybe some changes among the commanding officers but this is yet another story...
     
  19. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    664
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think droptank was used by Ju 87R in Norway campaign? And same type as later on fighters? So I guess what would be needed is to modify quickly all existing 109/110 to carry droptank. I really can't see why German would not make it a simple to apply field mod (system was very simple) earlier, after all British managed to change propellors to CSP on all planes in (less than) two months.
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    That won't help unless you have a factory producing 500 drop tanks per day during 1940. Which means Germany would need to build the factory during 1938. The guy responsible for Luftwaffe operational doctrine needs to think this through two years prior to the BoB.
     
Loading...

Share This Page