Bf 109 = hard to fly?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jenisch, Mar 24, 2014.

  1. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Hello,

    Popularily, it's common to heard that the Bf 109 was a hard airplane to fly, specially in take offs and landings. However, given that there are so many myths about WWII in general, I'm wondering how the 109 was really evaluated under critical eyes at the time, both by the Luftwaffe and the Allies.

    Someone has information about this to share?
     
  2. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    It was. i.g. Mölders after flying them noted that the Hurri and Spit were childishly easy to land. 109 wasn't difficult to fly when it was flying.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It's all relative. The Bf 109 was a little trickier to handle, particularly on landing, than some of its contemporaries. It also had some features, like a lack of rudder trim, which could make it tiring to fly. That doesn't make it 'hard to fly', at least for a properly trained pilot.

    An aircraft that is genuinely difficult to fly is not suitable for service life. At a time following rapid expansion and when literally hundreds of pilots were being produced by the various nations' flying schools every month (very different to a modern situation) it would suffer the same fate as the Me 210. Experienced pilots actually quite liked the 210, but it killed those less well equipped to fly it.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Training, training, training....

    Once airborne most if not all aircraft are pretty easy to fly unless you start doing aerobatics, upset maneuvers and stalls that would put you within a spin envelope. The I-16 and D.520 were difficult during taxi, takeoff and landing, but like anything else it's a matter of training and staying alert during these periods of operation.
     
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  5. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    The Martin B-26 Marauder was notoriously "tricky"

    From Wikipedia:
    After entering service with the U.S. Army, the aircraft received the reputation of a "Widowmaker" due to the early models' high rate of accidents during takeoff and landings. The Marauder had to be flown at exact airspeeds, particularly on final runway approach and when one engine was out. The 150 mph (241 km/h) speed on short final runway approach was intimidating to pilots who were used to much slower speeds, and whenever they slowed down below what the manual stated, the aircraft would stall and crash.]
    The B-26 became a safer aircraft once crews were re-trained, and after aerodynamics modifications (an increase of wingspan and wing angle-of-incidence to give better takeoff performance, and a larger vertical stabilizer and rudder).
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    That could be said for a number of twin engine aircraft
     
  7. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    Didn't Gen. Doolittle kind of save the B-26 program by flying around on one engine?

    Geo
     
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  8. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Or aircraft with undercarriage, in the early days, I dont know if it has been exaggerated but quite a few Poles and Czechs were said to have belly landed hurricanes, being used to fixed wheels in their home land. I cant see how a plane is to blame for a pilot taking it below stall speed while landing. Mind you I suppose for the time 150MPH is fast to be a landing speed. Few people ever travel that fast on wheels.
     
  9. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    none of the fighters were particularly easy to fly. each had its quirks that had to be respected. i just ran a very quick accounting of 357th ac loses....they lost approximately 190 ac....KIA, POW, bailed out, bellied in and escaped...bellied in friendly territory, intered in sweden or switzerland, etc. of those ~190 lost ... ~ 53 were lost to taxi/landing accidents. so that is about 25% of the write offs. granted some of those were probably shot up during the mission and hard to land...but this is only the planes deemed '"lost". there were many more pranged on landings that they rebuilt so i figure the numbers probably even out. i know of one pliot who put 2 or3 ponies on thier nose before he "got the hang of it" and those werent written off. of the 78 members killed by wars end....14 were killed in training accidents ( an additional 12 not in that number were killed in training in the us ). these pilots had probably 300+ hours including 60+ hours in P40s or P39s ( the early members ).
     
  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I heard several former WWII Luftwaffe pilots give a talk once about the Bf 109 ... in the 1980's. They said that if you were trained to fly it, it was easy to fly. It was designed for operation from grass, not pavement, and required type specific training.

    By way of example, I read an article once where it was said the Bf 109 had a large trim change when you lower the flaps. But an old Luftwaffe pilot said there was NO trim change if they were lowered correctly. There are two trim wheels on the lower left side of the cockpit. One raises and lowers the flaps and the other one changes the incidence of the horizontal stabilizer. If you wind the two wheel together with the same hand, there is NO trim change. So whether or not you felt a large trim change would seem to have a lot to do with technique (type-specific training).

    Personally, I have no knowledge of the Bf 109's handling characteristics other than what I have read and heard ... I never flew one. But it stands to reason that one of the most successful fighters in the history of aircraft, while it might have a few quirks, cannot be a "difficult" aircraft to fly or most pilots would not have had such success with it over and above other German fighters.
     
  11. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    dug through a few interviews i had bookmarked.

    gunther rall interview:

    Q: A question about 109s, because I understood that you flew western allied types, in that unit so you knew how they handled. So how do you think 109s last types fared against them. What were their strengths or weaknesses?
    A: In the 109?

    Q:Yes.
    A: Ja. I will tell you the weakness, and I think, really, Messershmidt will forgive me. <Laughter from audience>.
    The 109 had not for us, maybe not for the long time pilots of the 109, but the new comers had problems starting with the gear. You know it was a high, narrow gear. And we had many ground loops. And then the gear breaks. That is not a norm, this is a exception, but it anyway happens. The cockpit, as such, was very narrow, VERY narrow. You have as I mentioned, the cannon between your two legs in rather like in a tunnel, you know? And the visibility in the back was very poor. Later on they made a steel plate to protect the head, backwards. But they cut off the side through the back. You know? Because we had this steel plate, here.
    Then the starting system, as I mentioned, this was absolutely obsolete, you know? In an area with temperatures minus 30 degrees or more. And then, which I didn't like this feature, the slots, Ja? Why slots? Look at the wing of the Spitfire! Thats what we call elliptical shaped. Its beautiful elope on the wing, the Spitfire. We don't need lift help until takeoff and landing. You know? We can make it with a little bigger wing. So I mean, but, when you fly five and a half years in that plane in all conditions, you feel at home, even (laughing) if you have to leave it for some emergency reasons. <audience laughter>

    franz stigler interview:

    With new pilots…obviously you have better experience with the aircraft like the F and the G…did the new pilots have problems?

    You’d put them in the middle…for the first few flights, you know…so they know what is going on. The…the new pilots they hardly could fly the 109…they had seventy or eighty hours of flying time. They had of heck of a time learning to fly the airplane…take off and land, you know. As I said, every pilot came with a plane. They came form the school and then they went to uh…to the manufacture, or someplace where they had the airplanes, and they would come with them…especially in Afrika.

    an italian pilots first flight in a 109:

    virtualpilots.fi: WW2History-MeAndTheGustav.html

    109 facts and myths...interesting read

    virtualpilots.fi: 109myths
     
  12. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I think all late model propeller driven planes were tricky I have read the same from Tyhoon Spitfire and Mustang pilots, especially on take off.
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    A think a lot of the idea behind it being hard to fly comes from the tales of it being hard to land because of the gear, and that the contols would become hard at high speeds.

    One thing remains however, that in a well trained pilot, the Bf 109 was not difficult to fly. Many make it out to be a dog. That it was not. If it were, it would not be the aircraft with the most kills.
     
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  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #14 FLYBOYJ, Mar 25, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2014
    You're not really landing at 150mph, you're over the numbers at that speed. The B-26B/C flight manual gives landing approach speeds slightly above the 1.3x stall speed which you would normally fly an aircraft at when on final. In the B-26 flight manual page 50 gives all the numbers. At 38,000 pounds it shows an indicated stall speed at 112 mph, full flaps and landing down. 112 x 1.3 is 145.6. The manual calls for a final glide of 140 mph.

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/other-mechanical-systems-tech/b-26b-c-pilot-manual-6905.html

    Now compare this to the B-25, you're flying the B-26 about 20 mph faster on final. On one of the B-25 approach charts it shows you over the numbers at 120. I believe the B-25, landing gear down, full flaps stalled at 95 mph.
     
  15. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    The main problem with the B-26 was that it was forcing the AAF into the future. The AAF and the Navy were slow in recognizing that high performance aircraft with higher landing speeds were going to quickly become the norm and they were not prepared for it. They should have left the B-26 design alone and trained their pilots to adapt to it. In only a few years, jet aircraft were going to force the issue. Today, just about every US fighter pilot trainee (some years ago, all USAF pilots) train in aircraft that fly final at 180 mph+. Its not a big deal if you know what you are doing.
     
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  16. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Couldn't agree more - in addition (here I go on my soap box again) there was no effective multi-engine training that focused on twins early in the war, this killed a lot of pilots and aircrews.
     
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  17. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    What would happen to a B25 if you landed at a B26 landing speed?
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    The aircraft will "float" while you're trying to flare and land, in other words it will still want to fly - better be landing on a long runway....
     
  19. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    But which plane USAAF student pilots flown before they started to fly in the B-26?
     
  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Depending what period of the war, a Cessna AT-8/ AT-17 or a Curtiss AT-9. Some pilots never received formal multi (twin) engine training.
     
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