Best US escort fighter in ETO during 1943?

Best US escort fighter in ETO during 1943?

  • P-39

  • P-38

  • P-47

  • other (explain)

  • P-51A

  • F6F-3

  • F4U-1A

  • Spitfire


Results are only viewable after voting.

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DarrenW

Staff Sergeant
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Dec 24, 2017
Warren, MI USA
Due to the spirited debate still raging in a separate thread (HERE), I felt there was a need to see which side was making the most headway with their position. So which of these candidates would you fly in an escort role, before the advent of the P-51B\C\D Mustang?
 
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Historically - P-38.
If we are allowed to fiddle with engine reliablity and improvements on fuel takage, P-47.
 
Historically?

From AHT.

"Oct 15th 1943. The 55th FG goes operational in England with the first use of P-38H models; The 343rd Squadron has P-38H-1s. With two 75 callon drop tanks the the aircraft of the 55th can escort bombers 450-520 miles compared to the P-47's 340 miles. However there are seven P-47 groups already operational."

I would note that the first P-38H aircraft left the production line in March/April of 1943. Aircraft didn't show up in service anywhere near as quick as Mr Expert thinks.

You pretty much had the P-38 showing up at the end of the year with a lot of problems but long range or the P-47 showing up much earlier (operational in April of 1943) and while taking a while to sort out it happens sooner than the P-38s getting sorted out. It takes Until Dec to get the Paddle blades and water injection and in Jan 44 for wing racks for drop tanks.
 
Not all escort duties were high altitude long range missions, there were 5,000+ B26 Marauders and 7,500 A 20s. who escorted them?
 
Of these three fighters, I find it easiest to eliminate the P-39, based solely on range requirements and it's ability for future growth. And as discussed in many threads to ad nauseam, its speed at heights above 20,000 feet (where escorting heavies primarily took place) was inferior to other aircraft of it's day, such as the P-38, P-47, F4U-1, and F6F-3. Any one of these types would make a far better escort fighter than the Airacobra and luckily the people making the decisions way back in 1943 knew so as well.
 
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I've heard that some people around here like "official government charts" (you know who you are), so I thought it best if I provide one or two right now and again as the need arises.....

Advantage : Thunderbolt :cool:

P-39Q-1 (Dec 1942):
upload_2018-4-1_22-40-10.png



P-47B/C/D/G (Jan 1943):
upload_2018-4-1_22-41-47.png
 
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Being that the charts were rather large, I didn't want to post the finer points regarding these flight operation Instructions at the same time. Note that there are NO power settings less than max continuous (full throttle) above 20,000 Feet. This basically means that there isn't enough power to maintain a safe operational flight below this setting. How comforting must that have been to pilots back in the day??? The P-39Q (and very similar N model) had a max range of 215 miles, which was less than half of the P-47. Put a drop tank on and the P-39 suffers even worse in the comparison. It's maximum speed plunges an astonishing 93 mph below that of the P-47 at similar power settings, and it STILL comes up short on range by 86 miles (note that we haven't even looked at putting external tanks on the P-47 yet).

P-39Q w/75 gallon drop tank:

upload_2018-4-1_23-10-38.png
 
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I chose P-38, but not decidedly so. If I had the paddle bladed props for the -47, then I'd choose that. The -38H still has a lot to sort out as well... tough choice. Went for the range and acceleration in the end. Range being most important for the escort role- as the P-51 taught us.
 
Although the Hellcat and Corsair never performed escort duty over Germany (just like the Airacobra), and after looking at operational charts it's quite apparent that even they would have been a better escort choice over Germany than the P-39..

Knowing this (and being a "fanboy" of the Hellcat) I decided to change my vote as well. :cool:
 
Changed my vote as well from the P-38 to P-47. Picked the '38 first strictly on the premise of long range escort. Pbehn made a great point that not all escorts were long range.
 
Due to input from our members and being that the nature of this poll is somewhat hypothetical, the P-51A, F4U-1A, and F6F-3 have now been added to the poll. Now let's get out and vote!
 
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Changed my vote as well from the P-38 to P-47. Picked the '38 first strictly on the premise of long range escort. Pbehn made a great point that not all escorts were long range.
In the curious way things work in war, Typhoons escorted Mosquitos in daylight, Mosquitos escorted Lancasters at night while later Spitfires escorted Typhoons.
 
Due to input from our members and being that the nature of this poll is somewhat hypothetical, the P-51A, F4U-1A, and F6F-3 have now been added to the poll. Now let's get out and vote!

Ah, the F6F-3. Spitfire V performance in late 1943....

Excellent choice for escort work!

In a similar discussion some time ago, I suggested that the best use of the F6F and its apparent ability to carry sizeable drop tanks was best used for carrying Spitfire XIVs over Europe, so they could do the final leg of escort duty.
 
Hey that was mean! :p But knowing the load carrying capability of the Hellcat a very good idea!!! :cool:

And while it obviously was never considered for high altitude escort work in ETO, the Hellcat performed admirably in a medium/low-altitude PTO scenario while escorting Navy types such as the Avenger, Helldiver, Dauntless, and yes, even the ultra sexy Corsair at times (when it was being utilized in the fighter-bomber role).
 
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