Bf109 success, balanced fighter, or superior fighter?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by claidemore, Jun 26, 2009.

  1. claidemore

    claidemore Member

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    Having been a part of so many discussions on the relative merits of the 109 it occurs to me that the reason it was so successful during WWII might not be because it was 'better', that other designs, but because it was a well balanced plane that was pretty good at nearly everything.
    Basically, I think a pilot who knew the planes strengths relative to any type he oppossed, could find something the 109 did as well or better and exploit it to his advantage.
    Any thoughts?
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The Me-109 was a well balanced fighter aircraft that was pretty good at everything and inexpensive to mass produce. Personally I would adopt the Galland Hood early on to improve pilot visibility. Otherwise it is as good as they get for a late 1930s fighter aircraft.
     
  3. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    A great high altitude fighter as well. I think the Me109 was one of the best designs of WWII.
     
  4. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    The other thing to keep in mind is that it first saw service in the Spanish Civil war. I'm not aware of any of it's opponents in WWII that were in service that early. Maybe the Hurricane?
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I always thought of it like the P-40, just a work horse.

    All around I think it was well balanced, not the best at the end of the war but a potent weapon in experienced hands.
     
  6. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    #6 renrich, Jun 26, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2009
    Actually the first Hurricane flight in 1935 took place about the same time as the first 109 flight. I believe the Spitfire flew a few months later. I believe the 109 was a very good design for it's time with a lot of potential for improvement but so was the Spitfire.
     
  7. Stitch

    Stitch Banned

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    Way ahead of it's time when first introduced (1938?), not so good by the end of the War. However, it was adaptable, and that was it's strong point; at the beginning of the War it was flying with a 600 HP Jumo engine, and by War's end it was flying with a 2,000 HP DB605DB/DC engine, 2-1/2 time the power of it's original engine. I think that was the -109's true strength, that it could be developed so far.
     
  8. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    The 109 actually needed just one improvement to become a lot more lethal in the air, and that was a shift from steel wire control to push rod control like in the 190. That would've made stick forces much lighter at high speeds, and a 109 with light stick forces at high speeds would've been a nightmare for the Allies.
     
  9. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Soren
    Some Finns tought that the heaviness of control forces of 109 at high speeds was deliberate for to protect structures for overloading and so failure. 190 was more sturdy built than 109.

    Juha
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    tend to believe that. It is easy to desgn boosted controls, the more difficult task is to put the airframe back together when it rips apart in "high Q" forces.

    My father was not a high time 109 pilot but in the time he had flying one at Gablingen after VE Day, he was astonished at the high stick forces at high speed - which were much higher than the Mustang.

    The 109 was a superb design and an excellent fighter throughout WWII. The only 'flaw' from my perspective is lack of fuel capacity - but adding fuel capacity to wings would have introduced significant performance issues via extra weight and structural requiements in wings.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    This doesn't become a major issue until the 400 mph Me-109F4 appears. By then you may as well do a thorough re-design similiar to the Me-209. Without the necessity to maintain wartime production perhaps the Me-209 would have entered service during 1942 rather then producing the Me-109G series.
     
  12. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Hmm.. according to Messerschmitt the Bf-109's wings had a max structural load factor of over 12 G's, so I don't believe this to be the case. Also I've never read or heard of Messerschmitt or any of his employees ever speaking of this in any documents at all.
     
  13. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    The Bf 109 was not the best at anything, but it was a great all around fighter. It was not poor at anything (except at range, sorry but the range was pathetic...:lol:). Proof of this is the fact that it was the most produced fighter of the war, and that it was used throughout the whole war. If it were not good enough, it would have been replaced.

    Now having said that, the pilot has to know how to exploit the 109 and the best out of her, as well as know the weakness of his opponent. This however does apply to any of the great fighters "i.e. P-51, Fw 190, Spitfire, etc...).
     
  14. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    #14 Kurfürst, Jun 27, 2009
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2009
    IMHO what made the Bf 109 a successful and highly adaptive design was the good choices made early in the development.

    The design team built on an already successful airframe - the Bf 108 - that already proved itself as a good, simple and easily servicable civillian aircraft.

    Despite not having prior experience with fighter, the designers grapsed fairly well the importance of speed, and tailored the fighter around it. They wanted to make the fighter as small and light - this was Willy Messerschmitt's greatest influance on the design - as possible, so during the development they could always ripe the benefits of new powerplants to maximum effect. They also made good use of the newest technologies available at the time, such as high lift devices, and continued to incorporate the new ideas in fighter construction. This way, what was essentially a sound airframe for its task could be kept competitive through the war. The fuselage section between the firewall and the tail was, for example essentially unchanged during the whole career of the aircraft.

    The construction was a happy marriage of ingenious simplicity, and the aircraft designed in such a way that the end result was tolerant of fitting tolerances during production. This simplicity watermarked the whole fighter - the cocpit was simple, but well laid out, the aux. devices were not overcomplicated - for example pressurized air from the supercharger was used for both drop tanks and the MW 50 boost, as well as to actuate the MK 108. Little can go wrong with such a system as opposed to electrical or hydraulic devices.

    Daily maintenance tasks were much simplified by the use of quick attachment piping to the engine, and simple fasteners that did not require any tool to open to hood for daily checks. Wings could be easily replaced when damaged, since the undercarriage was attached to the fuselage; this at the same time also permitted the wing structure to be lighter, and less stressed by landings. This permitted the aircraft to operate even with minimal support crew under poor conditions.

    The flying qualities were good and the aircraft was extremely forgiving in the air (though less so on the ground), flat spins being next to impossible. The burden on the pilot was much reduced by through automatization of the engine functions, all function being controlled by a single throttle lever and letting the pilot concentrate on the flight. Coolant and oil temperature was also automatically controlled by a thermostat, Again the simplicity shows itself, for example he did not have to bother with selecting the proper main or droptanks, since essentially the droptank was just topping the main tank all the time.. no nasty accidents or extra load during take off this way.

    Especially in the case of novice pilots in combat, the fact that he did not have to worry about the correct engine settings and could readily push to aircraft to near its limits despite the unfamiliarity with of the true boundaries of what it can do and what cannot was probably a life saver in many many cases.

    But basically, I think it was Messerschmitt's own design philosophy that triumphed. If you manage to build a small but effective fighter airframe, you are almost guaranteed to achieve extremely high power to weight ratios. Its very difficult to screw it up afterwards - excess thrust is the key to most performance characteristics. One Russian ace I have read emphasized the fact that the 109 was extremely dynamic - it could go from slow to fast, low to high, high to low very quick. It all came down to the fact that the aircraft had one of the (if not the) highest power to weight/drag ratios of all WW2 fighters.
     
  15. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    The 109 actually had push rod controls for the ailerons.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Acceleration and rate of climb were among the best for any mass production WWII aircraft.
     
  17. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Soren
    As an engineer you should know that without the weight info saying over 12 G is rather meaningless.
    And according to a message on another site by Ruy Horta a Rechlin test report dated 15-2-1939 stated that Bf 109E, flight weight 2200kg (very light weight for even E-1, if correct), could stand up to 8G, after which “deformation” would lead to permanent damage even if the a/c was built for up to 10,8G before actual catastrophic failure.

    I agree with Kurfürst that 109 was a good fighter with excellent powerloading and acceleration and so well suited vertical manoeuvres and same time it had benign stall characteristics and fairly good horizontal manoeuvrability. Minuses were heavy control forces at high speeds, restricted vision from cockpit etc.

    Juha
     
  18. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    The 109 reminds me of the Ringo Starr joke...it isn't the best fighter in the world it isn't even the best fighter in the Luftwaffe!

    They flogged that horse way too long.

    But the Emil and Fredrich were real good fighters and good as anything.

    So should have had the He 100 up and running coz speed kills...or rather having no speed kills...and no pilot is going to crawl over a P-51D to get to a Gustav.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. The He-100 was a potentially decent fighter aircraft. However it was not overall superior to the Me-109F and Me-109G. So why make the production switch?
     
  20. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    You is spot on. But you is forgetting that the He 100 was 1938 and the F and G was 1941-1942.

    Give the He 100 an extra 4 year development and it would been faster than the F or G.

    Also notice how the F looks like the He 100?
     
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