Captured Aircrafts: Russia

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Master Sergeant
Jan 1, 2010
Following Germany's attack on the Soviet Union, interest towards German aircraft increased considerably. Many theoretical questions evolved into questions vital for the successful defense of the country. It was hard to successfully fight the enemy in the air without exact and detailed data about Luftwaffe combat aircraft and the tactics German pilots employed. At the beginning of hostilities, the Soviet command element placed the focus on test results obtained during trials of the German airplanes bought in 1940. However, Soviet commanders of units at the operational and strategic level wondered whether the flight performance of airplanes in service with the German Air Force in June 1941 were the same as those of the aircraft that previously had been purchased and the extent to which Germany had succeeded in modernizing its aircraft fleet.

Therefore, from the first days of the war, aircraft captured undamaged became valuable trophies. Already on 23 June 1941, Ju 88A-5 No. 8260 from III/KG1 Group was hit by flak and landed near the Gulf of Riga coast. Logistics unit personnel had inspected the bomber and then several pictures of the aircraft and its components were taken for an album that was quickly published for use in Red Army Air Forces units.1 In describing the Junkers, special attention was paid to its defensive armament and the thickness of the armor plates protecting the crew. One day later, a Ju 88 belonging to II/KG54 Group made a forced landing near Kiev. According to Soviet official information, the crew comprising warrant officers H. Hermann, H. Kratz, W. Schmidt, and Corporal A. Appel decided to go over to the Red Army. The Soviet Information Bureau broadcast the following: "Having no desire to fight against the Soviet people, the fliers first dropped their bombs into the Dnepr River and then landed not far from the city7 and surrendered to local peasants. The pilots wrote an appeal called 'To German Fliers and Soldiers' in which they said: 'Fliers and soldiers, brothers, follow our example. Abandon the killer Hitler and come over here, to Russia'".

From the Combat Action Journal of the KG54 Group Death's Head, it followed that Ju 88A-6 No. 2428 had attacked Brovary Airfield, but was hit, could not continue the sortie, and had to make a forced landing. From other Junkers, it was noticed that all four crewmembers of the downed bomber left their machine safely and then were arrested by a Soviet patrol' The German version seems to be more credible. But, even when Junkers planes in good working order fell into Russian hands, the success was ordinarily used just for propaganda. As an example, on 8 July, Ju 88A-5 No. 4341 from the KG1 Squadron Hindenburg, with the engine slightly damaged by shrapnel and shells, landed 120 kilometers from Lake Chudskoye, but again no attempts were made to examine the captured aircraft. As a rule, the examination of enemy bombers and reconnaissance aircraft that fell into Soviet hands simply was confined to defining the caliber and number of their defensive guns, their elevation and depression angles, and levels of crew armor protection.

Sometimes, staff officers in rear areas went to the probable downed aircraft sites. Thus, on 25 July 1941. commanders confirmed the successful actions of Moscowt air defense fighters. They had intercepted two of three Ju 88 reconnaissance planes from the 122nd Group over the town of Istra. The plane with code F6+AO crashed, but the one with code F6+AK made a forced landing. Five days later, it was set up on Sverdlov Square in Moscow, which allowed Muscovites to see a downed enemy. At that time, Air Forces Scientific Research Institute specialists mainly concentrated their attention on refining new types of domestic aircraft being delivered in large quantities to the army in the field despite numerous defects that had not been corrected before the war. Air Forces Scientific Research Institute engineers and pilots had to wrork not only within the walls of the institute, at its airfield and testing ground, but also with line units and at series-production plants. Due attention to captured aircraft began to be paid only after 29 July, when an institute special order to establish a permanent commission to receive captured equipment was promulgated. General M. V. Shishkin, Deputy Chief of the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute, chaired the commission.

From the first days of combat, hostile fighters—the bitterest enemies of Soviet aircraft—drew the greatest attention of our aviators. They managed to inflict enormous damage on the Red Army Air Forces. In the summer and autumn of 1941, front-line pilots, navigators, and radio operator-gunners knew very little about enemy aircraft, or, unfortunately, enemy tactics very well. They did not get the appropriate information from staffs. But, even without information about Messerschmitts, bomber crews understood that the former were much faster and had cannon and heavy machine guns allowing enemy pilots to set fire to Soviet aircraft from long range, while themselves remaining essentially out of range of ShKAS machine gun fire.The first attempt to analyze in detail the flying characteristics of German fighters came in late June 1941 following a study of the combat actions of the Pe-2 bombers assigned to the 410th Aviation Regiment operating on the Western Front. This regiment comprised the flight and maintenance personnel of the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute Bomber Aircraft Department. From 5 to 22 July, the unit flew 235 sorties and lost 33 Pe-2s, including 22 due to fire from enemy fighters. Crew debriefings gave little hope: the Messerschmitts were noticeably faster than the newest Soviet bombers. In theory, based on test flights made in 1940. Bf 109E maximum level speed should not have been much more than that of the Pe-2. The difference did not exceed 15-20 km/h at an altitude of 4000-5000 meters. But, in practice, as regimental commander Colonel A. I. Kabanov pointed out, "The German fighters easily caught up with our Pe-2s and had time to earn' out three-five attacks while pursuing them".

Source: Examination of captured Luftwaffe aircraft during WW2
When the German Sixth Army found itself fighting for its life at Stalingrad, Hermann Goring's boast that the Luftwaffe transport force could fly in the necessary relief supplies was quickly found to be hollow. That was one reason why part of KG 40 came to be in the hostile surroundings of Pitomnik -the other was that the Luftwaffe had a chronic shortage of small transport aircraft, let alone large ones. Bombers were pressed into a temporary transport role, four-engined types being able to help even if they could not lift substantial loads. In reality, the daily tonnage required to sustain General von Paulus and his men was far beyond even the extra capacity that the Luftwaffe found. Eighteen Fw 200s of 1. and 3./KG 40 used the base at Stalino, the unit flying its first operation on 9 January 1943. Given the temporary designation Kampf Gruppe zur besonderen Verwendung 200, this force under Maj Hans-Jurgen Williers, initially flew 36 tons of supplies into the Stalingrad pocket and brought out 156 wounded troops. Russian pressure was such that the unit soon reverted to air drops by parachute, each Condor carrying four containers under the wings. With Stalingrad all but lost to the Germans, KGr.zb.V 200 was transferred to Zaparozhe to continue doing what it could and in total the Condors flew 41 operations to supply Sixth Army before the collapse. In addition they flew 35 transport missions over the Crimea before being withdrawn back to Berlin-Staaken in February. Those aircraft that returned to Germany - nine Fw 200s having been lost in Russia - were amalgamated into a new 8./KG 40 based at Bordeaux-Merignac under Luftflotte 3.

Air Forces Scientific Research Institute personnel impatiently awaited the arrival of the four-engine «Condor». Engineer-Major Gribakin (lead pilot Colonel Kabanov) also carried out the trials on Fw 200 «Condor» No. 0034 captured near Stalingrad. Soviet reports of the first period of the war often mentioned «Condor» flights over different areas of the Soviet-German front. In reality, these machines were of limited use in setting up air bridges at Demyansk and Stalingrad. Many institute specialists remembered the civil «Condor» that brought German Foreign Minister von Ribbentrop to Moscow in August 1939. Prior to the onset of testing, the Russian engineers noted that the Condor bore significant resemblance to the American Douglas DC-3 in cabin layout and arrangement of inner compartments. This was an improvised conversion of a passenger plane into a long-range bomber and the Luftwaffe did not get a full-fledged military aircraft. Indeed, despite its large size, the crew compartment was very cramped, which made it especially difficult for crewmembers (the navigator-bombardier, in particular) on long endurance flights. The crew commander could not reach the controls of some systems such as the backup electrical pumps, emergency brakes, and so forth. The pilots had absolutely no view to the rear.

In general, the Heinkel outperformed the «Condor» where handling, visibility, and power plant quality were concerned. Our test pilots compared Fw 200C flight characteristics with those of the Pe-8 4 AM-35A and concluded that the V. M. Petlyakov bomber significantly surpassed the German aircraft in maximum speed, operating ceiling, number and placement of weapons, and in their calibers. The operating ceiling of 6850 meters was considered for night sorties in areas where flak was intense. In all aspects, the «Condor» did not compare favorably to American Liberators and Flying Fortresses, which the Soviet Union repeatedly had tried to buy. The most interesting things on this four-engine German aircraft were the carefully conceived and manufactured electrical components, bombsights for low-altitude bombing, and a simple and reliable thermal deicer. In late April 1943, all these units, along with an EZ-2 radio compass, Lorenz blind-landing equipment, Askania automatic course device, Bauer-Sperry artificial horizon indicator, and Patin electrical remote magnetic compass, were handed over to the appropriate research institutes in 1943 for detailed examination and use.

Source: FW-200 - Long range Bomber-Reconnaissance aircraft - Luftwaffe


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It could be encountered in the East as often as the more modern and faster Ju 88. Several times damaged machines landed in territory Soviet troop units controlled, and were carefully examined. But, as a rule, the situation would not allow aircraft to be evacuated deep into the rear area. Two Heinkels that Red Army soldiers captured on an airfield west of Stalingrad were selected for this testing program. After reconditioning, an He 111H-6 bomber was turned over to Chkalovskaya for testing on 24 February 1943, but, after the third flight, an engine malfunctioned. Institute engineers then began working with the second aircraft—an He 111H-11, which had its worn-out engines replaced by those from another Heinkel. In May 1943, this airplane safely completed the program (lead engineer Major G. V. Gribakin, lead pilot Lieutenant Colonel G. A. Ashitkov).

Testing showed that, despite its reheated Jumo 211-F-1 engines with a takeoff power of 1350 hp, the He 111H-11 had maximum level speed, rate of climb, and ceiling which were rather low for the year 1942. The German bomber lagged behind the domestic series-produced 11-4 by 11-19 km/h in speed (depending on altitude) and by 3.9 minutes in climbing to 5000 meters (given a normal flight weight for both planes). It also compared unfavorably with the Soviet bomber in cruising range with a 1000-kilogram bomb load. But, in some respects, the Heinkel had definite advantages. It had improved defensive armament with an increased number of guns, including the MG 131 machine gun and MG-FF cannon in a semi-fixed mount. Collimating sights replaced the simple ring and bead gun sights. The ammunition supply for the semi-fixed machine gun mount on Soviet bombers permitted 15 seconds of uninterrupted fire, whereas a German gunner could fire for 75 seconds before running out of ammunition. Engineer-Major Gribakin did not think that the German airplane was sufficiently armored in area and in thickness for protection against large-caliber rounds and projectiles (the weight of armor varied from 270 to 315 kilograms, depending on bomber modification). Nevertheless, armor plates protected the crew, the most important and vulnerable units of the power plant, and the crew working area, thus enhancing the bomber's viability. Striving to increase the bomb load and size, German designers decided not to make complicated modifications to the He 111H-11 fuselage and switched to external bomb racks at the expense of aerodynamic qualities. An additional fuel tank took the place of bomb bay in the fuselage.

The Il'yushin Experimental Design Bureau installed VISH-61IF-1 feathering propellers (instead of the standard VTSH-2 3) on an 11-4 bomber being tested at the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute almost simultaneously with the Heinkel. These propellers began to be used after examining German know-how when a disabled engine propeller was feathered to facilitate flight on one working engine. The testing team thought that the main 11-4 defects were insufficient longitudinal stability, ducking down when the split landing flaps were extended, inconvenient radiator gill control, and weak undercarriage wheels. All this made the 11-4 more difficult than the He 111 to handle.

Source: Heinkel He 111H-11


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The Focke-Wulf Fw 189 "Uhu" ("Owl") - tactical reconnaissance and army cooperation aircraft. Fw-189 "Uhu" ("Owl") was a twin-engine twin-boom three-seat a twin-fuselage monoplane with completely glazed cabin in a central nacelle. Its first flight was in July, 1938, and with production deliveries to Luftwaffe at the end of 1940. In total 848 machines of this type were built, not considering 16 prototypes and pre-series machines. The basic model became Fw-189A, was issued in several versions:

- base Fw-189A-1, Fw-197A-2 with two machine guns,
- educational Fw-189A-3 with the duplicated control and an airplane of tactical support
- Fw-189A-4 with armoured the lower part of a fuselage and 20-mm cannon instead two machine guns.

FW 190D at the Red Army Flight Research Institute In March 1944, the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute published an album called "German Aircraft at the Red Army Air Forces Scientific Research Institute" containing characteristics and descriptions of the main aircraft types in the Luftwaffe inventory. In addition to the airplanes described above, it covered the Hsl26, Ju 52, and Bf 110, all widely used by the enemy for 3 years. The Ju 86. Do 217, and Hs 129 were seen less often and were not tested at Soviet research centers. However, Air Forces Scientific Research Institute specialists managed to analyze and note the main structural and identification features of these machines, as well as define trends in their modification.

The chapter devoted to the twin-engine Fw 189 reconnaissance aircraft is of definite interest. Patterned after the Dutch Fokker G-l fighter, this airplane successfully served in the capacity of reconnaissance aircraft, artillery spotter, and trainer. The Focke-Wulf, called the "frame" by Red Army soldiers, had excellent all-round visibility, good stability and responsiveness, and could maintain steady flight on one engine. Despite its low speed (300 km/h) and the air supremacy of Soviet fighters enjoyed during the latter half of the war, the German machine went on performing its combat duties till the end of the war. Soviet materials contain the following justification for the efficient actions of the Fw 189 crew's: "The aircraft's excellent visibility cuts down on the possibility of surprise fighter attacks. Its high maneuverability allows gunners to prepare to beat off an attack only if the attacking aircraft is detected in time. In combat turns, the fighter will always be in the field of fire of its rear guns. The Fw 189 can bank at speeds of 180-200 km/h. The maneuver Fw 189 crews commonly use to break off combat is to descend in a spiral to low altitudes and remain there, hedge-hopping."6" Engineer-Major M. S. Dmitriyev, who examined the Fw 189 in detail, also noted the crew comforts provided: carefully thought-out arrangement of navigational equipment and radios; side-by-side seating of navigator and pilot, making their work easier without intercom; and efficient cockpit heating. The aircraft could also perform light bombing missions. It turned out to be very easy to put onto a target. Most of the machine's advantages were realized when designing the domestic Su-12 aircraft, which became a successful troop unit plane. Unfortunately, the "Soviet frame" was built only in late 1947 and it did not enter series production.

Source: Fw 189 - Tactical Reconnaissance and Army Cooperation Aircraft - Luftwaffe


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The URSS captured a single SM-79: In May 1941 this airplane of Royal Yugoslavian AF escaped to USSR. It was later used in 69th IAP as transport during the Battle of Odessa in Autumn 1941. It crashed in October 1941 due to engines failure during the evacuation from Crimea.


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- Ju.88 A-1. Serial: D-AXVM.It was bought by USSR for tests in NII VVS in May-October 1940.
- Ju.88 (below): Downed Junkers-88 showed on Sverdlov Square


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As for the Me 163 rocket-propelled aircraft, it proved impossible to examine its behavior in the air properly since there were no fuel reserves for the Walter HWK 109-509 engine. Test pilot M. L Gallay who was one of the first to fly this aircraft, remembered: "It was a hydrogen peroxide rocket motor that consumed this unpleasant 'food' in such quantities that it would be necessary to expand the industrial production of peroxide to satisfy its needs". It was then decided to test the plane in powerless flight.

To determine stability and handling characteristics, a Tu-2 towed the two-place Me 163, called Carp in the USSR, to the necessary altitude and then unhooked it. While descending, all pre-set flight modes were performed. It was rather difficult even for experienced glider pilots to master the fighter since it was much heavier, more inert, and had a significantly higher descent speed than the majority of other powerless aircraft.

Nonetheless, it was noted in the Flight Research Institute report that rational selection of the aerodynamic configuration and structural parameters of the tailless aircraft makes it possible to provide it with acceptable longitudinal and rolling stability qualities, as well as handling qualities, at subsonic speeds. This attests to an opportunity to use the aforementioned configuration as a possible design version of a high-speed aircraft". But, at the same time, this was pointed out: "The configuration examined is not without defects. Among them, in particular, are a minimum speed, as well as takeoff and landing speeds, significantly higher than those of conventional aircraft (with the same specific wing loading). In addition, the overall wing configuration is insufficient for a high-speed aircraft (insufficient sweep, large wing twist, thick wing)".

Lieutenant Colonel V. Ye. Golofastov, leading pilot at the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute, came to the conclusion that the tailless single-seat Me 163 fighter behaved like conventionally configured fighters in powerless flight. In performing aerobatics, the machine essentially did not differ from other fighters. Of course, test materials on the "Tailless Carp" were submitted to leading Soviet aircraft and engine design bureaus, but it did not make the same strong impact upon the Soviet aircraft industry as did the other jet Messerschmitt-the Me 262. Since we did not have our own jet engines, BMW 003 engines powered the experimental MiG-9 and the Yak-15 was fitted with Jumo 004 engines. Soviet plants soon began series production of captured engines: the Jumo 004 was designated the RD-10 and the BMW 003 was called the RD-20. These turbojet engines were the backbone of Soviet jet aviation and were manufactured in large numbers by three engine plants. German specialists participated here until a license to build and assimilate the more powerful British Nene and Dervent engines was purchased from Rolls Royce.

Source: -163, Fighter - Interceptor, Luftwaffe


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In 1944, our specialists used materials our allies published in order to study gun mounts used in aviation in Italy, Britain, and Germany. Engineer E. M. Peysakhovich wrote the following: "the Germans and Italians used movable gun turrets containing one or two heavy 12.7-13mm machine guns to protect their bombers from attack by modern fighters... They proved to be quite effective". In these movable turrets, mechanical drive replaced manual control. The most interesting were remotely operated gun turrets that made it possible to rationally position the gunners and their weapons. Peysakhovich thought that the most successful design solution was the German FDSL-B131 remotely controlled machine gun turret that made it possible to lay the gun vertically at angles of 72° and horizontally at angles of -3° to +48° to the Me 210 aircraft axis. This turret provided better protection than the Bf 110 flexible gun mount. The control unit comprised a tube fitted with gun-laying control device containing an electropneumatic loader and firing solenoid. The tube was positioned at eye level for the gunner-radio operator. Revi 25B gun sights synchronized with the airplane's speed were mounted on both sides of this tube.

The Germans did not employ the Me 210 on the Eastern Front and, therefore, Soviet armament specialists could not test the effectiveness of the remotely controlled device. Me 410B-2 from II/ZG26 Group (factory No. 130379) was captured after the war and extensively tested (lead engineer Engineer-Lieutenant Colonel V. Ya. Magon, pilot Major I. P. Piskunov), which confirmed that the FDSL-B131 gun turret operated reliably and easily. The following phrase the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute leadership formulated and used in their test reports was typical in evaluations of captured German aircraft in the concluding phase of the war: "Individual structural elements and aggregates of the propeller engine group, armament, and special equipment are of interest from a technical point of view and must be the subject of study by the design bureaus within the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry".75 As for the German remote controlled devices, their design was partially used in developing the domestic DEU turrets (for the UBK machine gun) on the Pe-2I and VU-5-20 (for the UB-20 cannon) on the Pe-2M (both aircraft designed by V. M. Myasishchev).

Messerschmitt special equipment differed little from that in other German aircraft and, by 1945, it had been sufficiently studied. Its placement, as noted in the Me 410 test results report, provided convenient access to individual aggregates and facilitated operation of the aircraft. The quality of the assembly of instruments, electrical equipment, and wiring remained high up till the end of the war, thus significantly contributing to trouble-free operation of special equipment. Very good direct current tachometers, oxygen sets, and economizers were recommended for copying at Soviet production plants. While evaluating the Me 410 from a tactical point of view, Lieutenant Colonel Magon pointed out that the modern Soviet Yak-3, Yak-9U, and La-7 fighters outperformed the Messerschmitt where speed and maneuverability were concerned. The latter was unable to engage them in offensive aerial combat other than by attacking them head-on. At the same time, the Me-410B-2 was a threat to all types of Soviet series-produced bombers, the Tu-2 included, due to its high capabilities. It had a maximum speed of 600 km/h at 6750 meters, could climb to 5000 meters in 8.6 minutes, and carried powerful offensive armament comprising two standard 20mm MG-151 cannon and the semiautomatic VK-5 cannon that could deliver a 1-second salvo weighing 4.65 kg.

The German designers had worked out the best methods of employing the Me 410B-2's fire power. The two-engine fighter was fitted with a combined gun sight comprising a four-power telescope with collimator. This made it possible to deliver precision fire from a range of 1000 meters and more, where the 50mm high-explosive fragmentation ammunition could destroy Petlyakov, Il'yushin, Boston, and other aircraft. In theory, a German pilot could shoot down enemy aircraft while out of defensive fire range (although hitting a modern bomber from 800-1000 meters was a matter of pure chance).

Source: Me-410 - Heavy Fighter - Luftwaffe



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By late summer 1945, the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute managed to test a Jumo 004 turbine engine burning domestic low-octane gasoline and another BMW 003 turbojet engine burning tractor kerosene. For the first time, there was success in determining the thrust, fuel consumption, and optimal rpm of the most developed German engines. Red Army soldiers had arrested Hitler's chief technical adviser and plenipotentiary on jet aircraft. General F. F. Kuznetsov, Chief of the Red Army General Staff Intelligence Directorate, informed A. I. Shakhurin of the following: "Prisoner E. Puruker is of great interest to You, since he is well informed on production of jet engines for aircraft in Germany. The prisoner is in Moscow and can be presented for special questioning by your representative". Puruker described Hitler's decision in early 1945 to concentrate all aircraft industry efforts on producing the Me 262, the most developed aircraft compared to the He 162, Ar 234, and Me 163. Drawings of these aircraft and their engines, as well as serviceable examples, in his opinion, most probably were to be found in territory Soviet troop units occupied: in Ceske-Budejovice, Wiener-Neustadt, and Bergkristall east of Linz. The high-ranking engineer also said that about 60 machines had been concentrated near Prague. Interestingly enough, the most difficult thing the Germans had faced was the development of engine turbine blades, because thermal loads were very high. Only after special heatproof "Chromadur" and "Trinadur" steels were introduced were they able to ensure engine operability. The Germans had reached the peak in Me 262 production in March 1945 when they took delivery of 237 such machines.

Numerous pieces of information received from German pilots, engineers, and top aviation officials heightened Soviet interest in the jet Messerschmitt. The plan was to test Me 262A-1 No. 110426 that had been dismantled and brought to the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute from the town of Schweidemuehle on 30 March 1945. Evidently the aircraft had made a gear-up forced landing judging from the damage it sustained. It was reconditioned at the experimental plant in Chkalovskaya. Our pilots knew that more than once jet Messerschmitts had tucked-under and the Germans fliers crashed along with their machines. Therefore, special care was taken in selection of the test pilot. On 15 August 1945, a memorable day in our aviation history, leading test pilot Engineer-Lieutenant Colonel A. G. Kochetkov took the machine into the air. But, on the very next day, testing had to be stopped for almost a month and a half, because the port engine malfunctioned and had to be replaced. During 12 sorties, Kochetkov managed to gather the main flight characteristics of the aircraft. Engineers V. A. Berezin, V. A. Ivanov, Yu. Z. Manyshev, and S. S. Fradkov led by a lead engineer I. G. Rabkin compiled a report on the Me 262 Schwalbe.

Those sorties did not come easily. The last was the most difficult for Kochetkov. At the cost of tremendous physical tension and self-control, he managed to pull the aircraft out of a dive at a high altitude. In a similar situation on 17 September 1947 while flying another Me 262, test pilot F. F. Demida was killed, thus becoming one of the first victims of jet technology. General P. M. Stefanovskiy also flew the Schwalbe. Under the Schwalbe's influence, the first domestic jet fighter designs looked very much like Me 262, but, later on, our designers went their own way. From the very beginning, despite Stalin's orders, the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry (it later became a ministry) was in no hurry to fulfill the enactment on series production of the "Soviet Messerschmitts" and allowed it to become engulfed in red tape. Appearance of the new, naturally "better designed," Yak-15 and MiG-9 is the reason. Besides, German production technology clearly was oriented toward the capabilities of the "Thousand-Year Reich" in the final months of the war, which stipulated wide use of wood and steel. In 1947, there was no necessity for the USSR to copy the German solutions. A.S. Yakovlev rememred: At one of Stalin's conferences addressing the efforts of the aviation industry, People's Commissar Shakhurin's suggestion concerning series production of the captured Me 262 jet fighter was considered. In the course of the discussion, Stalin asked whether I knew this aircraft and what my opinion of it was. I answered that I knew the Me 262 aircraft, but came out decisively against putting it into series production, because it was a bad airplane, unstable in flight, and difficult to handle. Quite a few of them had crashed in Germany. If it enters service in our country it would scare our pilots away from jet aviation. They would soon see that it was a dangerous aircraft and, in addition, it had bad takeoff and landing qualities. I also noted that, if we copy the Messerschmitt, then all the attention and all resources would be mobilized for this machine and we would do a lot of harm to the work underway on domestic jet aircraft. 900 kgp / 1,980 lbf

Source: -262A-1 - Schwalbe, High-speed Interceptor, Luftwaffe


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The takeoff and landing qualities of our machines are not satisfactory7 (the LaGG-3 is especially bad). The ground roll is long and the tendency to pull to the right makes takeoffs in formation difficult and takeoffs from limited field areas require special attention. The high landing speed and long rollout also require exceptional attention and sufficient experience for an accurate landing approach.... These conclusions aside, the need to carry out detailed trials of the Messerschmitts continued to have significance. Just by luck, on 22 February 1942 Ober-Lieutnant A. Niss, commander of the JG51 Squadron's 8th Detachment, got lost and was fired on from a machine gun near Tushino Airfield. His radiator and fuel tank were damaged and the German officer was forced to land within Soviet troop unit positions. Captured by Red Army soldiers, the fighter was quickly restored by technical personnel from the 47th Aviation Division based in Tushino, but the first flight of the captured Messerschmitt ended in a crash landing. The right undercarriage leg and wing tip were broken. The machine had to undergo one more repair (this time by a TsAGI team) and then Me 109F No. 9209 was handed over to the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute for comprehensive testing. Engineer-Captain A. S. Rozanov, one of the institute's foremost experts on German aircraft, accepted the bird.

He encountered serious problems from the outset. The experienced engineer noticed that the aircraft had undergone major repair at least four times and was completely worn out. The unstable spring -weather and frequent Air Defense Command flight bans also retarded his efforts. On 5 April, Rozanov wrote the following to his direct supervisor A. N. Frolov: "While plotting the altitude curve, I faced a serious obstacle. Supercharger pressure slightly decreases up to the altitude limit of 2900 meters and then sharply falls off. It is possible that the supercharger coupling is worn out and it becomes "powerless" at altitude. I report to the command element regularly and, of course, they swear at me for dragging out the testing. I will have to "pump up" the altitude-airspeed performance curve using science..." A few more days passed and the test report on the Bf 109F was finished. Rozanov's conclusions did not differ much from those Frolov had drawn before the testing began, but were more detailed. It was noted that the Bf 109F was faster near the ground by 70 km/h than the Bf 109E. About half of this was due to the powerful DB 60IN engine, and the other half due to enhanced aerodynamics. The fighter's operational qualities were also evaluated. Soviet specialists noted the good access to the engine, especially to the spark plugs, convenient cowling, and easy handling thanks to various automatic devices (including those regulating oil and water temperatures).

Our evaluation of the canopy was not so unambiguous. On the one hand, it provided for a good view forward and to the side and its flat panes did not distort visible objects. On the other, the canopy could not be opened when the engine was running; it could only be jettisoned. Colonel Stefanovskiy, a leading institute pilot, noted that vision to the rear was unsatisfactory, because a heavy frame with armor headrest did not allow one to see an enemy aircraft attacking from the rear. During the trials, Institute specialists simulated aerial combat between a Bf 109F and a Russian Yak-1 (No. 0511), and worked out recommendations for Red Army Air Forces flight personnel. It turned out that the Soviet fighter had more chances to- win the greater the altitude. If the Me 109F was superior close to the ground and head-on attacks were recommended to our pilots then, at an altitude of 3000 meters, the chances were even and at 5000 meters, the Yak allegedly outperformed its adversary in speed and maneuverability. In other words, the suggestion was for pilots to draw German fighters to high altitudes.

Alas, these recommendations did not reflect the true state of affairs. From German materials and test results obtained in Britain, it turned out that the Bf 109F with a DB 60IN engine had a maximum speed of 597-600 km/h16 at an altitude of 6000 meters, rather than at the 552 km/h registered at the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute. It meant that the Messerschmitt surpassed all domestic fighters here, the series-produced MiG-3 included. But, it is quite clear why principal attention in the Soviet Union was paid to enemy fighter performance near the ground. It was just there where the main battles of the first phase of war took place and our aircraft designers were required urgently to improve the flight performance of domestic aircraft at low altitudes.

Source: Bf-109F - Luftwaffe


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These are suposed to be romanian He-112 captured by the Soviets, but I am not totally sure. What do you think?


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