bf110 exchange ratio

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by steve51, Sep 12, 2010.

  1. steve51

    steve51 Member

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    It's common knowledge that the bf110 performed poorly during the Battle of Britain, but it seems to have done much better over Dunkirk against British fighters. Looking in 'Battle of France, Then and Now', the bf110 had a slightly positive exchange ratio against Hurricanes and Spitfires. There is some uncertainty in the numbers due to several engagements involved bf109s being with the bf110s and the fact that some reasons for losses are conjecture, but the much maligned bf110 seems to have held it's own.

    My question is why did they fare so badly a few months later over England.
     
  2. tail end charlie

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    In a way you may have answered your own question, in France they can pick the moment to attack or run, because of range the RAF couldnt really persue them. A damged hurricane would be a victory in France but could land in the BoB and vice versa for the Me110.
     
  3. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    That and tactics. If used as a fighter with free range its strengths were probably much better but when strapped to escorting bombers, it was meat on the hook.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    For the same reason RAF Circus raids fared so badly over France during 1941 to 1943 even though escorted by large numbers of Spitfires.

    A defender with radar and a decent fighter control system will always have a serious advantage over the attacker. The defender will typically land the first blow from a superior altitude or by attacking out of the sun. He then has the choice to extend away (continuing his dive) or conducting a zoom climb for another pass.

    If the attacker has AWACS aircraft then it levels the playing field. Now both sides get the benefit of a radar directed fighter control system. However AWACS weren't available during WWII.
     
  5. steve51

    steve51 Member

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    Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your comments. Taken together, all the reasons given answer my question, particularly the advantage of the defense combined with ground direction. The point that the German fighters were tied down with escort duties during the BoB brings up something that a newcomer like myself also noticed about the operations over France. It seems that the Germans, indeed all the combatants, frequently sent out their bombers without escort. I assume this gave the fighters on all sides freedom of action. I was surprised how often British and the other allies engaged unescorted German bombers.
     
  6. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Steve
    IIRC during early combats in North Africa Vokes filter Hurricane Mk Is and Bf 110Cs/Ds fought a draw, if in their combats there were winners they were usually those who saw their opponents first.

    Against Spits 110s were clearly more underdogs but the combats were not necessary entirely one-sided- On 8 Oct 43 7 Spit Mk Vs from 453 Sqn fought against 8 Bf 110G-2s from II./ZG 1 SW of Scilly Islands, end result was 5 110s and 2 Spits lost.

    Juha
     
  7. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    In all probability it was the rear gunners hitting their mark rather than pilot kills Juha...

    Gotta agree with Dave and Jaco, nature of the combats themselves dictated the loss ratios... There were some really REALLY great 110 fighter pilots in the BoB, but as escorts they found themselves in some bad times...
     
  8. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #8 Juha, Sep 13, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
    Hello Les
    one of the Spit was probably shot down by a reargunner/reargunners at the beginning of the combat, he went missing, the other, whose engine failed just after the combat and who was later picked up by a DD didn’t know whether the tracers flying around his plane at the end of his attack on a 110 originated from the rear guns of the 110 he claimed destroyed or from unseen 110 behind him. But from other pilots stories it was clear that 110s fought aggressively and sometimes got behind Spits. The leader of German formation, the Gruppenkommander who was lost in the combat, was a ace with 12 kills.

    And after all, it doesn’t make difference to 110 exchange rate, whether the kill was achieved by the pilot or by the AG/WO.

    Both in NA and during the 8 Oct 43 combats neither side had the advantage of fighter control and on 8 Oct and several times in NA both sides were unburdened by escort duties. But of course the nature of combat, the tactical situation at the beginning of the combat, tactics used and the pilots' abilities had great influence on outcomes.

    Juha
     
  9. Jerry W. Loper

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    There is an Osprey Duel series book by Tony Holmes about Hurricane vs. Bf-110 coming next month; maybe it will shed some light on this subject.
     
  10. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    The exchange ratio of the Bf-110 was positive at the BoB as well. "common knowledge" indeed appears to be a "common myth". Also factoring in that the Bf-110c was the worlds most effective bomber interceptor platform in 1940 may explain why the exchange ratio was that positive. From known losses and kills such as analysed by danish author
    Christer Bergström, Luftskrid over kanalen (2006)


    * Spitfire: 550 confirmable kills 329 losses -exchange ratio is 1.7: 1
    * Hurricane: 750 confirmable kills 603 losses -exchange ratio 1.2: 1
    * Bf 109 780 confirmable kills 534 losses – exchange ratio 1.5: 1
    * Bf 110 340 confirmable kills 196 losses – exchange ratio 1.7: 1

    The Bf-110 suffered from a negative exchange ratio only when forced to close escort orders in late august and early september 1940. Before and after this time (when these orders were lifted again), the exchange rate was very positive in favour of the Bf-110 as was the mean average from august to oct.
     
  11. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    Situations different. During the BoB, you had large #'s of planes being tracked (including the 110 escorts) so as others have alluded, they would be faced by massed fighters swarming to their position. Without the ability to choose the time and place of the engagement and being tied to the bombers, the 110's strengths were largely nulled. (good turn of speed and excellent forward firepower)

    Over NA as with France, the numbers were more sparce and 110's could operate more freely without as great a risk and there was no established early warning net to have to deal with. 110 was not totally helpess as a fighter but ultimately it was it's press that it failed to live up too thx largely to Goering. It shone as a night fighter and ground support aircraft. It just was not an ideal air superiority fighter. P-38 had similar issues till the design matured in the J/L series (and reflected in the early ratio exchanges, at least over NA for both types.)
     
  12. Jerry W. Loper

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    If those statistics are accurate, the Bf-110 did better against British fighters than the Bf-109 did.
     
  13. Nikademus

    Nikademus Member

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    How is "confirmable" defined?
     
  14. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Isn't Christer Bergström Swedish?
     
  15. Jerry W. Loper

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    Christer Bergstrom's statistics are starting to look kind of fishy. The RAF's own records state that it lost a little over 900 fighters during the Battle of Britain, but Bergstrom's stats credit Bf-109s and Bf-110s alone with 1,120 Brit fighters, not counting any downed by any other type German A/C.
     
  16. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #16 Juha, Sep 13, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
    Hello
    Yes, Christer is Swede. Those numbers are not necessary fishy, because RAF lost (Cat 3) 1603 operational types between 1 July and 31 Oct 40 for all reasons, that is figure for the whole UK based RAF not only the losses of FC

    According one article by Francis K. Mason LW lost 591 109s and 261 110s between 1 July and 31 Oct 40. I have also seen figures 610 109s and 235 110s. According to BoB Then and Now Mk V LW lost 873 109s and 110s.
    According to LW figures LW lost 663 109s, of which 502 to enemy actions, 98 on operations but not because of enemy actions and the rest 63 were non operational losses.
    According to John Alcorn article in AM July 2000 Spits shot down 529 LW a/c, incl. 282 109s and 80 110s and Hurris 656, incl. 222 109s and 128 110s. There were also 34 LW losses to S.E. fighters which he could not allocate to specific FC sqn and 37 LW planes shot down by other RAF a/c mostly by Blenheim fighters. So LW losses in fighter vs fighter combat (excl. possible losses to Blenheim fighters and to Defiants) were 504 109s and 208 110s. IIRC Christer says that his 110 losses incl only 110s in fighter role, ie not fighter bombers or recon planes. I wonder how he had been able to exclude FC losses to fighter-bomber 110s, especially to those on return trip.
    According to Alcorn FC lost 830 fighters (excl. Blenheim fighter losses but incl. Defiant losses) in air.
    IMHO the biggest problem is to differentiate the losses to 109s from the losses to 110s when both types made claims in same area at same time.

    Juha
     
  17. steve51

    steve51 Member

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    Gentlemen,

    The impression that I'm getting from this discussion is that the bf110 could hold it's own against early mark Spitfires and Hurricanes. It was the tactical environment of the BoB that negated the bf110's strengths. It seems that it's safe to say that it wasn't truly outclassed in performance until the Spitfire V was introduced.
     
  18. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    #18 JoeB, Sep 13, 2010
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2010
    By my count in the book "Battle of France-Then and Now", that wasn't quite true in BoF, but the overall ratio's of the two German types v British fighters were pretty similar.

    Iin BoF:
    Hurricane dest by Bf109 v Bf109 dest by Hurricane: 151:74, 2.04:1
    Spitfire dest by Bf109 v Bf109 dest by Spit: 32:24, 1.33:1
    Total 1.87:1
    Hurricane dest by Bf110 v Bf110 dest by Hurricane: 63:37, 1.7:1
    Spitfire dest by Bf110 v Bf110 dest by Spitfire: 15:6, 2.5:1
    Total 1.81:1

    As was mentioned about this book (and like any other such book or accounting) there are a few judgement calls others might count differently, but OTOH it's a very detailed book; this is counting bottom up from fates of individual a/c, not just totals presented to the reader. (and there's the inverse consideration compared to the Bergstrom book, I've had people say these numbers are 'fishy' when compared to all-cause losses of British AF in France, but there were also a lot of combats w/ UK based RAF fighters during the BoF campaign).

    This was not as true in later campaigns. As Juha pointed out, Bf110 v Hurricane in early Western Desert was around even, and the Germans quickly gave up using 110's as escorts over Malta (without a large absolute number of losses, but they clearly figured it wasn't working). Whereas, 109E had a consistent few:1 ratio v Hurricane in Western Desert and a completely one sided kill ratio over Malta. As we've discussed before, the Greece campaign was an exception were Hurricane did well v 109E, but taking total results of Med theater in 1941 the 109E did considerably better v the Hurricane in kill ratio than it had in BoF and BoB; but 110 never even matched its 1940 daylight fighter results v the British in any later campaign.

    Joe
     
  19. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There have been pretty good discussions about RAF/LW loss rates in the following thread:

    http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/bf-109-vs-spitfire-vs-fw-190-vs-p-51-a-13369-50.html

    I think the loss rates being quoted for the Me 110 just before and just after the BoB are close to correct. However it would be incorrect to then conclude that the Me 110 was a competitive type to S/E fighters. .

    In the abovementioned thread I posted the loss rates for the LW in the period April to June 1941, which revealed some interesting trends. In April the fighter to fighter exchange rate was about 1.83:1, which is consistent with the figures being given in this thread. The overall exchange rate however was closer to 1.44:1.

    By June, however, after the majority of the LW had transferred to the east, the exchange rates had vastly improved for the RAF in terms of fighter combats, where the exchange rates were down 1.42:1. Overall the RAF was by then losing more bombers which affected the overall exchange rates rather badly.

    A common error in the battles over France in 1941 was that the RAF outnumbered the LW. The truth is that it was usually the other way around, and heavily so. The LW could, and did choose whether it would rise to fight, so the RAF had to present raids that were often inadequately escorted, so as to offer enticement to the LW to come up and fight.

    Foreman was the source for the above analysis. He gives daily loss sheets and accounts of every action. I have not yet collated the loss rates and successes, for individual types, but having read the full account now, I can say that for daytime combats, the Me110 was completely outclassed in these battles. The overwhelming losses for the RAF in these daytime battles were, firstly, non-combat losses, followed by losses to S/E LW fighters (me109s mostly) followed by German flak. RAF fighter losses to T/E fighters were virtually non-existent. Perhaps 10 out of the 207 lost in April, and 5 or 6 lost in June. It was a different story in Bomber versus T/E fighters actions, and different again in the night intruder actions where the Me 110s were beginning to go. So something happened to the me110 between October 1940 and the following year. It was no longer an effective fighter to take on S/E fighters.

    Not related to this discussion, but it seems that in the months after June 1941, there was yet another twist in the course of the Battle. Reduced to just two JGs with which to defend, one would have expected LW loss rates to go up, but it was quite the reverse. Between July 1941 and December, the RAF lost 528 fighters to 128 (roughly) LW fighters. I think that was due to two factors. The two JGs left in the west after June were about the most experienced fighter Geschwaders in the LW, whilst at that time RAF training reached a new low. The exchange rate improved slightly in 1942, but really did not turn around until the latter part of 1942.

    Here are the summary of the losses for April and June, which I posted in the abovementioned thread.

    1) April 7-30, 1941

    RAF: 207 Fighters, 273 Other
    LW: 113 Fighters, 221 Other

    Ratio of RAF losses to LW losses
    Fighters 1.83:1
    Others 1.23:1
    Overall 1.44:1


    2) June 1941

    RAF: 169 Fighters, 225 Other
    LW: 119 Fighters, 134 Other

    Ratio of RAF losses to LW losses
    Fighters 1.42:1
    Others 1.68:1
    Overall 1.55:1
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    How many Me-110s were employed in the daylight fighter role after 1940? I'd hazard a guess not many. From mid 1940 onward most Me-110 units were converted to night fighters, photo recon and light attack. It's not surprising that Me-110s in such units fared poorly when jumped by day fighters. A-20s and Beaufighters in light attack units didn't fare too well in air to air combat either.
     
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