Best German fighter for the Eastern Front

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wiking85, Apr 1, 2013.

  1. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    What was the best fighter that the Germans could have fielded on the Eastern Front? I know they kept weighing down their single engine fighters with heavier weapons to knock out the big bombers of the Western Allies, but on the Eastern Front maneuverability and speed was more important. What did they have or could they have fielded that would have kept up with the late generation Soviet fighters?
     
  2. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There are really only two contenders, the Bf109 and the FW190. Fighters on the eastern Front were important, but a far more important mission was the direct effects on the ground battle. There simply were never enough German fighters after 1942 to make much difference to Soviet operations or operational tempo. Thats not to say Soviet losses were not heavy. they were, but never enough to interfere with their operations. The Germans could deny sections of airspace to the Soviets, for longer periods, or wider sections of the front for shorter periods, but could never hope for long term air superiority after Stalingrad. They could inflict quite severe losses on the Soviets, but never enough to halt or curtail Soviet operations.

    The reality is that the germans, whatever choices they made as far as equipment was concerned, really could not have done a lot after 1943 to stop the Russians. however in my view, given perfect 20/20 hindsight, instead of wasting effort on trying to regain complete control of the air, the germans should have accepted that the primary mission for them after Stalingrad was not the Soviet air force but rather the application of survivable direct ground support. That would suggest to me that the best a/c suited to German priorities after 1942 was the FW-190 F8 Fighter Bomber
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Pretty well said, Parsifal. I concur, though the Bf 110 could have helped stem the tide, too, and was not all that useful in a daylight attack role in the west.
     
  4. alejandro_

    alejandro_ Member

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    It would depend on the time frame. In 1941-42 my choice is the Bf 109 because Fw 190 was not reliable enough. After that I would pick the 190 because it was better suited for fighter-bomber tasks. The Fw 190 main disadvantage -drop in performance at high altitudes- was not an problem in the Eastern Front. The flight characteristics were also less demanding, and the wide landing gear would have certainly helped.
     
  5. J dog

    J dog Member

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    I agree with this during early on the Fw 190 was still in its infancy and needed growing space so the obvious choice was the best plane that they had which is the Bf 109. Then later the kinks were worked out and the Fw 190 surpassed the Bf 109.
     
  6. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    What about the Bf109 series and its potential given the lower altitude requirement AND less need for heavy armament like the 30mm cannon? Could something like the K-series have been available for the eastern front sooner without the need for the two stage supercharged DB605L and 30mm cannon that was ditched anyway for the K4?

    From what I can tell the K-series was cleaned up compared to the G-series, so was much faster than anything the Soviets had at the time, but was hindered by having to drop the 30mm cannon due to the jamming problems and add 20mm cannon pods on the wings, which slowed it down. On the eastern front the 20mm guns were adequate, so it could have just mounted a 20mm on the engine mount in place of the 30mm, not needed the higher altitude modified engines, and just taken the clean up because it wasn't hunting heavily armored strategic bombers in the East.

    Would the Me109K then have been just as good as the FW190D for the Eastern Front, since the K offered nearly 450mph?
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The Bf-109 always held a healthy performance advantage vs. Soviet fighters, especially above 3-4 km. Of course, any improvement is welcomed. The cleaning-up might help (better streamlining of 13mm installation, fully retractable tail wheel, wheel well covers...). The DB should use MW installation, it gives quite a boost at typical EF altitudes.
    The K series was never featuring the two-stage DB-605, prototypes aside; it was always using the 30mm? The Eastern front provides plenty of opportunities for the 30mm to be used, mostly on Sturmoviks, but also at Pe-2 and US-built bombers.
     
  8. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    #8 riacrato, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    Double post
     
  9. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    #9 riacrato, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    I don't think the mk108 was ditched for the K. Only it was supplemented by the two mg151 with at least a few squadrons and for some time due to reliability concerns.

    I don't think its that obvious that the FW 190 is superior for the east. The relative performance advantages (medium/high altitude power and climb and zoom) of the 109 seem to have given even mildly experienced german pilots a set of combat maneuvres that allowes them to come out on top unless surprised by the enemy. The FW 190 has its strengths, too (like mentioned ) but the Bf 109 pilot could nearly always dive, climb or simply accelerate away from trouble. Or at least thats what i get from many pilot accounts.

    The 190 is maneuverable, but so are most Lavochkins and Yaks. It is heavily armed, but for the east the 109s armament seems to suffice. And at least its initial climb and acceleration is inferior to the 109 and probably some or most of the low weight soviet fighters.
     
  10. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    #10 wiking85, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    What about a FW190C with the DB603N?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daimler-Benz_DB_603
    Looks like I was thinking of the Me109 K-14, not the historical K-4.
    http://me109.airwar1946.nl/family/109K.htm
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #11 GregP, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    Fighting on the eastern front was almost all at low altitudes. If the Germans few high, the Soviets simply went under them and killed German troops in support of the ground mission. So the German had to come down and fight or stay high and watch their soldiers die. The Bf 109 was pretty good at altitude, but the Fw 190 was better at low altitudes and I think Parsifal is right ... Fw 190F would be the mount of choice.

    That natrually assumes a timeframe in which the Fw 190F was available. If not, then the only alternative really available was the Bf 109 since they had already abandoned the He 112 and He 100. The other realistic options were a DB engined D.520 derivative, A Caproni-Vizzola with a DB or a Macchi with a DB. Given the development time associated with starting up production of a derivative, I'd say the Bf 109 would have been chosen despite any potential advantages the others might possibly bring.

    Of course, they COULD have brought in some dedicated ground attack planes like the Henschel HS.129, but it would have needed fighter protection from the Soviet single seat fighters during employment. Still. it would have been better at ground support action if it could have been protected. It had two 13 mm MG plus two 20 mm cannons and could take a centerline 30 mm armor-piercing cannon in lieu of bombs, giving it a hard punch. I don't think it would have done very well if it were the only aircraft employed since it wasn't a fighter and would have a hard time with the Yaks and Lavochkins.
     
  12. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    That's ignoring the threat that Soviet fighters posed to German attack and bomber aircraft. The FW190F was a dog and regularly hunted by Soviet fighters without trouble. This thread is asking which German fighter either was or could have been the best air superiority fighter against late war Soviet fighters like the La-7.
    I'm currently suggesting their the historical Me109K-4 or prototype K-14. Also the hypothetical FW190C with DB603N engine looks like a beast a now altitude, as the 603N generated a continuous combat power of 1900hp and take off HP of 2800 with two-stage supercharger, but no mention of the MW50 fuel injector. Perhaps with that the 603N could have reached over 3000hp.

    Now if you guys want to talk about ground attack aircraft or bombers, there are several other threads about those. I personally think the FW190F was the best thing the Germans had by 1944-45, as the Hs129 was too vulnerable, but that's outside the scope of this thread. The OP is focusing on fighter-fighter combat in the east in 1944-45.
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #13 GregP, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    Sorry Viking, you didn't mention air superiority in the thread title or first post, so I assumed you wanted the best ground support plane because the Eastern Front was all about the ground unit success. As they did, so the country did. If you are just thinking of air superiority, I'd go with the Fw 190A model, probably an A-8. It wasn't a dog in any sense of the word. Later, when the D-9 became available, I'd transition right away. The Bf 109 was not up to fighting the Yak-3, Yak-9, and La-5 at under 15,000 feet, and the Fw 190 is the only other available choice, but the A, not the F, unless you wanted a ground support plane for that particular mission.

    I really don't see any other real, live alternative unless we "what if" the Germans putting a French, Italian, or Japanese design into production. I also think that would take time the Germans wouldn't be willing to spend. Hence the Fw 190. As an outside possibility, they could have built IAR-80/-81's, but the Fw 190 would probably have been picked well before that option was even seriously considered.

    Let's see, they had Messerschmitt, Heinkel, Junkers, Focke-Wulf, Blhom und Voss, Dornier, Arado, and a hand full of smaller firms. I wonder that Junkers, Arado, and Dornier weren't asked to design single-engine, single-seat fighters? Whatever the case, the Fw 190 would probably have been picked by the people in power at the time in Germany over an updated model from any of the Axis partners.
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The answer is still the Fw 190.Pick a dash number according to date.
    Ignoring the tactical situation which Parsifal accurately alluded too,the Luftwaffe was never going to achieve anything more than localised and temporary superiority,it was still the fighter most suited to operations in the East. It was far more robust than any of it's Bf 109 contemporaries and an air cooled radial engine is a big advantage in marginal operating conditions and with an uncertain supply chain.
    You aren't going to see a Bf 109 G-14 before the summer of 1944,a G-10 before October and a K-4 around the same time. These are really late war types. The Luftwaffe had far more pressing problems in the West by then. There is no realistic way I can see that those dates could have been brought forward significantly,particularly given the parlous state of airframe and engine production by 1944.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. wiking85

    wiking85 Well-Known Member

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    As far as hypotheticals go the HE100 was redesigned for a 1944 reentry as a high altitude aircraft to compete with the Ta-152. Frankly though if the Germans had focused on lower/mid altitude designs who knows what would have been available. I think a DB603 FW190 (the C-series) would have been better bet in 1943-44 than the historical Me410 for all fronts. It was the D-series, just earlier.

    Also why do you think the Me109 wasn't good enough against the Yaks and Lavochkins below 20k feet? The K-series seems like it would have been good enough.
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The Bf 109 was good enough. It is a matter of logistics and serviceability. I think you'll have a better chance with the Fw 190 than the Bf 109,given the operating environment and supply problems in the East. There may well be data to support (or disprove) that supposition but I don't think I have it. It's just my opinion.

    I don't think the late Bf 109s (G-14,G-10, K-4) are particularly relevant,anymore than the Fw 190 D or Ta 152.

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    #17 riacrato, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    Hmm depending on version. At mil rating there is really very little to choose between e. g. Bf 109 G-2 and FW 190 A-4 under ~5,800m. Bf 109's performance is somewhat hampered at the time due to wep restrictions, but how much effect that really had is hard to tell for me at least. The Bf 109 still has a considerable edge in climb at all heights, which to me seems a more important advantage than a ~5-15km/h top speed difference. As is widely known many a Russian pilot looked with envy at the 109's ability fight in the vertical. A rather simple tactic that might not work so well with an FW 190 vs an La-5 (FN).

    From reports it doesn't seem to me that the FW 190 was considered a markedly superior low altitude fighter (to the 109) by the pilots of either side in the east in 1942-1943.

    For Bf 109 G-6 vs. FW 190 A-8, I think the Focke-Wulf ist now somewhat better, especially with C-3 injection. The DB605s performance increase due to WEP clearance is wasted somewhat by the Bf 109 airframe getting "dirtier".

    In general one should note, I think, that while most of the combat may have taken place under 20,000 feet on the eastern front, it doesn't mean that one party may not have entered that combat from a somewhat higher altitude and with a considerable energy advantage. If you are better than your opponent 500-1000m higher, that's where you'll want to be flying most of the time, no? You can engage if you feel confident to win, or not if you don't. And if you 'boom and zoom', there's little the enemy can do.

    Not trying to make a big case for the 109 here, overall I think FW 190 is the better choice from 1943 on. Simply due to robustness, "user friendlyness", flexibility and safety.
     
  18. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    I'll wait for someone to provide the numbers (or maybe dig them up myself later) but I think if you combine G-14, G-10 and K-4 strength in operations they will be more significant than FW 190 D. Ta 152 is a no-brainer.
     
  19. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I think the Bf 109 wasn't up to low-altitude combat with the Yaks and Lavochkins becasue of all the low-altitude losses they experienced after the two Soviet birds showed up. Many a Bf 109 stalled and spun in trying to follow a Yak in a tight turn at low altitude, according to the Russians. They must be correct, at least in most of their assertions about the German fighters because they shot most of them down in the 1943 and onward timeframe.

    It is possible the quality of the German pilots was the primary deciding factor as the war dragged on but, if so, then the aircraft isn't going to make any difference anyway. Either way, the survivability of the Bf 109 on the Soviet front after summer of 1943 was pretty low no matter how you cut it.

    Just my take on it, especially after taking with guys who have flown both the Messerschmitt and the Yak-3. At low altitude, the Bf 109 compared very favorably with the P-40. It got its advantage up higher with the greater altitude capability provided by the DB engine. The Yak-3 and La-5 were very probably the top dogfighters of the war at low altitudes along with the A6M Zero. At low altitude, the superior rolling cability of the Fw 190 coupled with the rugged, air-cooled engine and more than adequate armament makes it my choice of the available German fighters.

    Naturally, that is just my opinion; others may choose as they think. They could be right. Anything goes in a "what if" world. Either way, they'd have to come down from altitude and fight in the weeds or the Soviet planes would simply decimate the German troops, so they would be stuck with a low-altitude war in any case, even a "what if," at least if it were to be realistic.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #20 stona, Apr 2, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2013
    They will be, by a long way.
    None of them were in service before mid 1944. The G-10 and K-4 were around October 1944,the first few "Doras" around the same time (actually 20th September 1944). They are all irrelevant to the Eastern Front. In fact they are all irrelevant...period. The war was already lost.
    The more Germany produced and put into the hands of undertrained pilots the more the allies shot down. A Bf 109 or Fw 190 flying a similar sortie on the East or West front was seven times more likely to be shot down in the West.There were plenty of G-6s around in late '44 and early '45.

    From Don Caldwell:

    [​IMG]

    The Luftwaffe was minced,particularly by the USAAF,in the West,not the East

    Cheers
    Steve
     
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