Bf 109 vs He 112/100 - Political decisions

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by ohogain, Jun 17, 2014.

  1. ohogain

    ohogain Member

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    #1 ohogain, Jun 17, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2014
    While probably known to Bf 109 researchers, I just discovered an interesting connection between the Bf 109 and Ernst Udet, who, “by 1936 had (due to his political connections) been placed in command of the T-Amt (the development wing of the Reichsluftfahrtministerium) (Reich Air Ministry).” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udet_Flugzeugbau)

    Udet-Flugzeugbau GmbH was formed by Ernst Udet and William Pohl:

    An American, William Pohl of Milwaukee, telephoned [Udet] with an offer to back an aircraft manufacturing company. Udet Flugzeugbau was born in a shed in Milbertshofen. Its intent was to build small aircraft that the general public could fly. In 1924, Udet left Udet Flugzeugbau when they decided to build a four-engine aircraft, which was larger and not for the general population. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udet)

    This four-engined aircraft was the Udet U 11:

    The only U 11 was first flown on 19 January 1926 and was used by Deutsche Luft Hansa. The cost to develop and produce the prototype was a factor in the collapse of the company which was then taken over by Bayerische Flugzeugwerke. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udet_U_11_Kondor)

    The Bavarian government apparently reformed the company into BFW:

    Bayerische Flugzeugwerke (BFW) (Bavarian Aircraft Works) was reformed in 1926, in Augsburg, Bavaria, when Udet-Flugzeugbau GmbH was changed into a joint-stock company. Willy Messerschmitt joined the company in 1927 as chief designer and engineer and formed a design team. BFW was reconstituted as "Messerschmitt AG" on July 11, 1938, with Willy Messerschmitt as chairman and managing director. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BFW)

    All this is interesting because of the 1936 fighter competition between the Focke-Wulf Fw 159, Arado Ar 80, Heinkel He 112, and Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the subsequent competition between the Heinkel He 100 and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 in 1939.

    The Messerschmitt Bf 109 was the winner of the 1936 fighter competition. This victory seems to have been earned. It out-performed the Heinkel He 112 throughout the competition. Everything else being equal, the Bf 109 should have been the winner from the cost to build perspective. However, BFW (as it was then known) did seem to get some favoritism in the distribution of available engines.

    The He 112 was the favorite over the "unknown" Bf 109, but opinions changed when the Bf 109 V2 arrived on 21 March. All the competitor aircraft had initially been equipped with the Rolls-Royce Kestrel engine, but the Bf 109 V2 had the Jumo. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_112)

    The real impact regarding the politics behind the choices seems to have come to the fore in 1939 when Heinkel came out with the superior He 100. While there seems to be a lot of debate over why the He 100 did not reach production, there is a body of support that it was political. For instance, in February 1939, Udet became Generalluftzeugmeister (Luftwaffe Director-General of Equipment). (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Udet).

    Since Udet played such a prominent role in selecting which aircraft got built and which didn't, I can't help but think that his ties to Messerschmitt, even if only emotional, did not play some role in the selection of the Bf 109 over the He 100, and possibly the He 112, as well.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Historical He-100 prototypes all had evaporative cooling system which Germany and every other major nation rejected for mass production combat aircraft. That doomed the He-100. Otherwise it might have been serious competition vs Fw-190 for Germany's second mass production fighter aircraft.
     
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  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    There has also been the question regarding the He280 versus the Me262 as well...many factors in play here, in the RLM's decision making process. Ernst Heinkel proved to Udet through several demonstrations at how the He280 performed and what it was capable of, including a fly-off between the 280 and a Fw190 where the 280 demonstrated superior performance before the Me262 prototype ever flew...

    The He100D series eliminated that and went with a traditional cooling system.

    The reason why the He100 was "killed" off, is because the engines being earmarked for current production aircraft AND the RLM telling Heinkel to stick to building bombers...
     
  4. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    To my understanding the reason behind the failure of He 280 was simple, no reliable engine. And Messerschmitt team under Voigt made better choices, more fuel and more powerful armament being the main points which win the approval of the RLM. And after the failure of the initial BMW 003 262 was much easier to adapt for the use of the heavier jumo 004.

    juha
     
  5. zoomar

    zoomar Member

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    #5 zoomar, Jun 18, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 18, 2014
    I agree with Juha. Of course there was political favoritism in the selection of the Luftwaffe's combat types; this was a fact of life in all nations. It should only become an issue when this results in the selection of demonstrably inferior aircraft. In the case of fighter procurement, the Bf 109 was clearly the better plane, evidenced by the fact that Heinkel ditched his original A model and came up with what was in effect an entirely new design - the He 112B - that aped the consruction concepts of the 109, but by that time the Bf 109 (one of the all-time great fighter aircraft of all time, by the way) was in production. A day late and a dollar short. Then Ernst and company came up with the He 100 - a fine plane but essentially identical in concept to the Bf 109, if slightly superior. But it was a small and complicated airplane that was designed to specifically for the DB series engines, and even Heinkel realized this when he was asked to offer a version capable of using another engine. Of course the arrival of the Fw 190 made all of this moot. Regarding the He 280, the Me 262 was a better choice also. And regarding the oft quoted claim that the He 280 bested an Fw 190 in a mock dogfight, I'd be curious to see what actual primary records exist for this. It sounds to me that it could be an urban legend, one perhaps based in a real event, but repeated so often in secondary literature that it is has taken on a life of its own. Do we really don't know what the claim means? Faster in a closed course? Better climb and dive? More manuverable? The first two I can believe - what jet wouldn't be faster in level and climbing flight than a Fw 190? A better dogfighter? I doubt it.

    Also speaking of favoritism, couldn't one say that Heinkel was a benificiary of favoritism at least twice: The essentially sole-source of the Bomber A (He 177) and in the whole emergency fighter selection process in 1944-45 that seemed foreordained toward the He 162 regardless of the competing designs and that fact that the Luftwaffe already was putting a far more capable jet fighter (the Me 262) into service?
     
  6. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    You have to take into consideration, the timeline of the He280 compared to the Me262.

    It would be very difficult to say the Me262 was a better performer when the Me262 was still in mockup/test stage when the He280 was flying under it's own power with a production-ready airframe.

    The He280 first flew on 2 April 1941 powered by it's jet engines, the Me262 (prototype V1) first flew on 18 April 1941, with a Jumo210 piston engine mounted in the nose.

    It was on 5 April 1941, that Heinkel took the V1 to Marieneche to show RLM officials: Udet (who had seen the He178 fly a few years earlier and basically waved it off as useless), Lucht, Eisenlohr, Reitenbach and Schelp. Only Eisenlohr and Schelp thought it was worthy of supporting development. Udet did not.

    Assuming that the fly-off between the He280 and the Fw190 as urban legend is historically incorrect. It did happen and the He280 did, in fact, best the Fw190 both in speed and in a turning competition. People forget that the He280 was a small aircraft with semi-elliptical wings, it was a very capable design, which was built around the smaller and lighter Hirth engines.

    Unfortunately, the He280 also had a shorter range because of smaller fuel tanks and it was considered to be lightly armed, with only 3 20mm cannon. Later versions were to correct a possible weak tail structure and provide larger fuel capacity, but the Me262 had already won the favor of the RLM by that time and the He280 slid into obscurity.
     
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  7. zoomar

    zoomar Member

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    GrauGeist,

    I agree that it would be unfair (to the Me 262) to compare the two planes in 1942. I agree that the He 280 could have been put into squadron service earlier than the Me 262, but one has to wonder if it the engines would have been available in sufficient numbers (and reliability) to power it.

    Regarding the He 280/Fw 190 contest, I'd still like to know if there are actual records or documents that corroberate the story. Presumably somebody made the claim first. Was it a test pilot? A Heinkel engineer? Heinkel himself? An RLM official? Did that person have a vested interest in the He 280 program? What you describe is essentially the same secondary account that's been around at least since William Green first put his hands on a typewriter. I'm not saying you and Green are wrong, but this claim is critical to the whole argument that the He 280 could have been a better fighter than the Me 262 if sufficient effort and time was devoted to its development. Just looking at the two airplanes, the Me 262 sure looks like a more advanced concept that should have been a more capable fighter.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    No such aircraft as He-113 / He-100D.

    He-100 by Erwin Hood details all the known prototypes.

    Early prototypes.
    V1
    V2
    V3
    V4
    V8

    Construction section I prototypes.
    V5
    V6
    V7

    Construction section II prototypes.
    V9
    V10
    A06 to A014.
    Werknummer 3014. Assigned but no information as to whether prototype was built.

    Construction section III prototypes.
    A015 to A025. Not all built. A total of 19 to 20 A series prototypes were completed.
    Werknummer 3025. Assigned but no information as to whether prototype(s) were built.


    He-100 prototype with conventional cooling system (similar to Me-109) flying during 1938 might well have bagged contract for second Luftwaffe fighter aircraft rather then problem plagued Fw-190 program. But it never happened except in the highly successful German disinformation operation.
     
  9. rinkol

    rinkol Member

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    Wasn't there a decision the Messerschmitt should concentrate on fighters and Heinkel on bombers?

    The surface evaporation cooling system was certainly a mistake, but it is hard to avoid the thought that the He 100 airframe had more potential than the Me 209 and 309 designs.
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    V6, V7 and V9 were considered the He100C prototypes, V9 was the first armed version, with (2) 20mm MG FF and (4) 7.9 MG 17

    V8 was used to replace V3 in securing the speed record.

    From there, 3 pre-production He100D-0 were manufactured, followed by 12 He100D-1 aircraft. These had the conventional cooling systems though they had only a single 20mm MG FF.

    The three D-0 aircraft were sold to Japan and the twelve D-1s produced ended up at the Heinkel factory and were also the subject of the propeganda.

    And just for the record, several early V types had small radiator configurations as Heinkel was working to solve the cooling problem until the idea was abandoned entirely.
     
  11. zoomar

    zoomar Member

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    I'm not sure we can say that, but I would agree especially with regard to the Me 309, which seems to be a classic example of Germanic overengineering just for the sake of it. I assume the Me 209 you are referring to is the so-called Me 209II (based on the Bf 109 G) rather than the ridiculous Me 209 fighter prototype based on the high speed test bed. The Me 209II could have been a fine fighter, but by then it would have been in competition with the Fw 190D/Ta 152 series. And it is really the Fw 190 that was the death knell of the He 100, as well. Once the bugs were worked out with the 190 there would be absolutely no justification for introducing yet a third single engine fighter with essentially the same overall performance and capabilities.

    One more thing about the He 100. Heinkel seemed to have a tendency (both with the He 112 and He 100) to start with an over-complicated version of the airplane and by the time he came up with an improved (He 112B) or simplified (He 100) production version, the RLM's mind had been made up to go with other types. And who can really fault the RLM for choosing two of the best fighters of all time, the Bf 109 and Fw 190, to equip the Luftwaffe. The jury is competely out on whether the He 100 would have had the development stretch these two planes had.

    Yes, the RLM did decide that Heinkel should concentrate on bombers and Messerschmitt on fighters, but perhaps it was the difficulties Heinkel experienced in making the He 112 a decent plane that influenced the decision?
     
  12. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    On the engines for the He 280, HeS 011 wasn't ready and the Heinkel's next choice, the original BMW 003 was a failure that needed a complete redesign. While Heavier Jumo 004 mean some redesing in Me 262, for He 280 the change to 004 was clearly a bigger challenge.

    juha
     
  13. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    You're right, the He280 was designed for the much lighter (and smaller) Hirth engine, the Jumo was simply much too heavy for the He280's design.
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    With a more conventional cooling system the He 109 would not have shown quite the advantage over the 109 that it did.

    We get into an ever changing/morphing "what if?". How much more drag would a "normal" cooling system have had? please don't forget to add in an oil cooler.
    Would the RLM have been satisfied with only two MG 17s or three or perhaps (with redesigned wing) four Mg 17s?

    The engine/prop mounted guns didn't work on the Bf 109s and while the RLM wanted them they had to do without for a number of years.
    One reason the He 100s performance was the smaller fuselage which meant that it was going to be much harder to stick guns back in the cowl. Heinkel offered to "modify" the wing to allow for two MG 17s in each wing root which may have worked, or may not have, trying to synchronize pairs of guns may depend on type of synchronization mechanism used. MG 131 and 151 used electrical.

    any more drag for extra muzzle/cartridge slots? Does the "modified" wing have to even a few inches bigger?
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Agree about the cooling.

    As for armament, it depends when. The Bf 109 A only had two cowl mounted MG 17s. The B series initially had three including one firing through the spinner. It was unreliable and was soon removed. Later Bs had the gun wing with MG 17s mounted and as a result, shorter slats (by 635mm inboard). The gun wing could also carry two cannon rather than the machine guns with minor modification.

    They couldn't get a centreline cannon to work anymore than the original centreline machine guns. The final nail in the coffin of the centreline cannon on the E series was the need to move the oil tank, either to the wing or to a position in the fuselage behind the cockpit and Daimler Benz were not happy with either solution. Once again this illustrates how easy it is for people to write about how this that or the other modification might be made with no appreciation of just how awkward it might be to achieve.

    Some think that some C-3s were the first to have the wing mounted MG FF cannon fitted. I'm not sure that the cannon became available for this, which was effectively a standby plan, to happen. Most agree that they only became standard armament with the E-3.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Germans were certainly trying to get the motorcannon to work (or motormg). The very early 109 or He 112 using (or planned) (trials although one? He 112 went to Spain) a large, slow firing, heavy but powerful cannon. The Engines were certainly planned to accommodate some sort of heavy weapon. A 70mm ID tube is much more than what is needed for a 7.9mm MG barrel.
    A Jumo powered prototype 109 was used for trials with wing mounted 20mm cannon, not sure if any saw service.

    You are right about the timing but by the time the He 100 and Bf 109 were duking it out (DB engines) two 7.9mm mgs were NOT what was wanted. The six He 100s that went to Russia only had the two MGs and came in for a lot of criticism on that point.
    What was wanted/desired for armament (the motorcannon) was not achievable at the time and the He 100s fall back position (modify the wing) was not as good as the Bf 109s (wing already modified).
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #17 stona, Jun 19, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2014
    They were certainly trying to get that centreline weapon (and realistically by the outbreak of WW2 this means a cannon) to work. It turned out to be not so easy to do!
    I've always found it strange that when they did get such a system to work reliably on the F series they deleted the wing guns, thus reducing the overall armament. It didn't take long for under wing cannon and then heavier machine guns to appear.
    The internally mounted wing armament wasn't even mooted for a return until the K-6.
    Steve
     
  18. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    What were the problems getting a motor cannon to work on the 109.
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    From what I understand ( and could well be wrong) it was a cooling problem. The gun was often too hot and jammed after a very few rounds were fired. Both MG 17 and the 20mm MG FF. Not really sorted out until the 109F but most (all?) books in English don't really go into specifics on the gun problems. Just that the 109F was the first to use the through the engine gun in real service ( not a few experimental or trials aircraft attached to a combat unit).
     
  20. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    Enrest Udet didn't really have political connections, he wasn't a political animal. He was a World War 1 hero, Germany's second highest ranging fighter ace with 69 victories. Intelligent, charming, affable, chivalrous he was probably up to running a small light plane company and probably somewhat scared by his WW1 experiences.

    In essence Goering persuaded a reluctant fighter pilot to become head of procurement for the Luftwaffe. (Milch, head of the RLM, the German Air Ministry) was the other player.

    In terms of the Me 309, its hard to see what supposedly went wrong. The aircraft offered 80% more range than the Me 109, had a laminar flow wing and achieved 461 mph in its test flight. Supposedly it was less maneuverable than the Me 109, would've slowed down with the rather massive 5 canon armament it was to receive.

    The aircraft flew in April 1942. If it had any problems such as wing loading or not enough power they could have been solved such that the aircraft would be able to enter squadron service year latter and before April 1944: about the same time as the Tempest V. This would have been only 5 months after the Merlin P-51B and 4 months before the P-51D bubble top. As it was after the first prototype flew with the DB603 engine the next 4 flew with the smaller DB605 already in use for the smaller Me 109, how could such a massive aircraft be powered by such a small engine?

    It is no surprise then with a fighter pilot, who wasn't in fact a career officer, in charge that long range aircraft were neglected. The Luftwaffe had an excellent fighter in the Me 109 an excellent "second iron in the fire in the Fw 190 and of course an excellent tactical support aircraft. This is no disrespect to fighter pilots, the sun gods of an air force, but they do need to undergo a big change in mentality manage a complex organization with complicated engineering and project management responsibilities. Udet once made a 'quip' that radar was taking the 'fun out of flying'. It shows an attitude I think.

    Deficiencies rapidly cropped up: the Luftwaffe had no quality long range aircraft to support the u-boats or even the Bismarck. The Fw 200 was a civilian airliner that had been converted into a maritime reconnaissance bomber for a Japanese order. The Japanese like to acquire technology to learn. The Luftwaffe commandeered the Japanese Fw 200 they had no program of their own! The Luftwaffe started the war with better high altitude aircraft than most other air-forces but they soon fell behind.

    There were messy complexities between the Air Ministry and Luftwaffe: the Air ministry often giving the Luftwaffe aircraft it didn't want. Lisason officers were embedded but they could only do so much.

    I am Frankly flabbergasted at the failure to produce the He 280 in its initial form. Three x 20mm canon hardly seems inadequate nor does a range of 400mph considering the superiority of the design which gave both Jet speed and whose low wing loading gave it maneuverability equal to piston fighters (a fail for the Me 262).

    The He 280 with its lower weight, lower thrust requirements (potentially allowing derated engines to achieve reliabillity) surely gave it an excellent hope of entering serivice before the end of 1943 (2.5 years after its first flight) when it might have stemmed the US 8th Air forces P-51, Thunderbolts etc.

    There are a number of technical challenges in jet engines
    1 Combustion Chamber flame control. This the Germans succeeded in mastering.
    2 Turbine durability which is a matter of alloys, design and fabrication. This was an area the Germans struggled in a bit: they used alloys which minimised chromium and in particular nickel, they pressed (cold drew) or folded sheet and welded their blades whereas the British were casting them and then machining. The fir tree roots of the British blades were far more elaborate as well. Nevertheless they achieved a reasonable result.
    3 Fuel Control. In this area both sides tried a simple throttle, which failed abjectly as engines burned out from overdosing, flamed out from under dosing and even flamed out from a rich overdose as too much fuel quenched a flame.

    The BMW 003 and Jumo 004 both ended up using a centrifugal governor as well as a variable area nozzle whose purpose was to maintain relatively even combustion chamber pressure, something done automatically on the BMW.

    The critical breakthrough however is to try and estimate the compressor mass airflow rather than just use a governor and thus keep engine temperatures highly stable. there are several ways of doing this and the Germans were getting a system in service in April 1945 on the Jumo 004 (and also the latter BMW 003) which would likely have made these engines fairly reliable.
     
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