Chances of survival.......fighters.

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Lucky13

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Aug 21, 2006
In my castle....
In which fighter would you say you had the best chance of survival in if hit, crasch landing etc. during WWII?
 
For a crash landing, the P-47 was a good bet. One is it's sheer size, but the design of the ducting for the turbosupercharger ran at the bottom of the fuselage, which created a good crumple zone to protect the pilot's legs. It had a good survivability index as well. Look at Robert Johnson's plane after his mix up with Egon Mayer.

Early in the morning forty-eight Thunderbolts took off from the advanced base at Manston. Having previously been criticized for going off on his own, this morning Johnson resolved to stay in formation. The three squadrons of the 56th Fighter Group were all up: the 61st (Johnson's), 62nd, and 63rd. Before the mission, Johnson felt the cold fear that he always felt, and which he was able to channel into higher alertness. They flew up, over the Channel, into France, and soon spotted sixteen Fw-190s. Before Johnson could communicate or coordinate with his flight, he was hit. 20mm cannon shells ripped through his plane, smashing the canopy, punching holes in the plane, and inspiring in Johnson an overwhelming urge to bail out. More explosions smashed the plane, and Johnson's frantic "Mayday!" calls drew no response. Fire began to envelope the cockpit.

The Thunderbolt spun crazily out of his control and the twisted and jammed canopy frame resisted his repeated, superhuman, full-body efforts to open it. As he struggled vainly with the canopy, the engine fire miraculously went out, but he could hardly see, as oil spewed back from the battered engine. He tried to squeeze out through the broken glass of the canopy, but the opening was just too small for both him and his chute. Trapped inside the P-47, he next decided to try to crash-land and evade. He turned the plane south, toward Spain - the recommended evasion route. After struggling with hypoxia and hallucinations(?), his thoughts came back into focus and he realized that the aircraft was still flying fairly well. He headed back for England, counting on his high altitude to help him make a long, partially-powered glide back home.

The instrument panel was shattered. The wind constantly blew more oil and hydraulic fluid into his cut up face and eyes. He had neglected to wear his goggles that morning, and any attempt to rub his eyes burned worse than ever. He and his plane were horribly shot up, but incredibly he was still alive. He made for the Channel, desperate to escape the heavily defended enemy territory.

Swiveling constantly, he froze in horror as he spotted a plane approaching him, an Fw-190, beautifully painted in blue with a yellow cowling. Johnson was totally helpless, and just had to wait for the German to get him in his sights and open up. The German closed in, taking his time with the crippled American fighter. Johnson hunched down behind his armor-plated seat, to await the inevitable. The German opened up, spraying the plane with 30-caliber machine gun fire, not missing, just pouring lead into the battered Thunderbolt. Johnson kicked his rudder left and right, slowing his plane to a crawl, and fired back as the German sped out in front of him.

The Focke-Wulf easily avoided the gunfire from the half-blinded Johnson, and circled back, this time pulling level with him. The pilot examined the shattered Thunderbolt all over, looking it up and down, and shook his head in mystification. He banked, pulled up behind Johnson again, and opened up with another burst. Somehow the rugged Republic-built aircraft stayed in the air. The German pulled alongside again, as they approached the southern coast of the Channel. Still flying, Johnson realized how fortunate it was that the German found him after his heavy 20mm cannons were empty.

As they went out over the Channel, the German get behind and opened up again, but the P-47 kept flying. Then he pulled up alongside, rocked his wings in salute, and flew off, before they reached the English coast. Johnson had survived the incredible, point-blank machine gun fire, but still had to land the plane. He contacted Mayday Control by radio, who instructed him to climb if he can. The battered plane climbed, and after more communication, headed for his base at Manston. Landing was touch and go, as he had no idea if the landing gear would work. The wheels dropped down and locked and he landed safely.
Robert S. Johnson
 
My beloved Corsair was also tough as nails. Seems like the gull wings would give you a bit of clearance/protection on a belly landing. Plus there are many many stories of shot up Corsairs flying hundreds of miles back to their base.

I wouldn't want to belly land in the P-51. That big ol belly scoop seems like it would just dig into the ground and flip you over. I could be wrong though.
 
From the Pilot Training Manual of the P-47N, pages 89-90:

Make a forced landing with wheels up, unless you are positive that you can make a runway with gear down.

The plane has a built-in skid for belly landings. You are safer with your wheels up and nine times out of ten the damage is less.

When making a forced landing, keep your speed up even though the terrain is rough or wooded. An N, which is built like a bulldozer, will plough right through. If your safety belt and shoulder harness are secure you'll be all right.
 
Haha. The big thing is to make sure your wings are level opposed to the ground so as to not induce a cartwheel. It's over usually if you do.
 
Haha. The big thing is to make sure your wings are level opposed to the ground so as to not induce a cartwheel. It's over usually if you do.

Great point. You'll most likely survive a crash landing in a Piper Cub if you avoid going over or cartwheeling. Even going over is not neccessarily fatal.

All things being equal, the post from Jank was most reassuring. Rather belly a P47 in than any of the inlines.
 
Wow evan, what a testament to the Jug's brute strength. I wonder how many rounds he ended up taking. If I were flying the -190, I definitely would have lost sleep over it!
 
From various readings, the Hawker Typhoon also had a good reputation for the pilot walking away from a belly landing. The Napier Sabre engine just bulldozed its way through everything in front.

Not so much for a ditching, however. The protruding radiator just turned into an instant submarine.
 
Were any aircraft particularly safe to go belly-down in water? Maybe the Hellcat or Corsair because of their tough construction?
 
From the "Great Book of World War II Airplanes" Ensign Ed Hofstra of VF64 in a Corsair loaded with 8-100 lb bombs, one napalm bomb and a 150 gallon belly tank was in a steep dive attacking communist soldiers in Korea on a coast road. Unable to pull out in time his a/c struck the ground in a level attitude wiping all the external load off of the airplane. The engine stopped as the propellor blades were all bent. The airplane did not disintegrate on impact but bounced off the ground and sailed another 460 m out to sea where Hofstra executed a deadstick landing where the pilot using his liferaft was rescued by a Sunderland. In another thread I posted the account of Ensign Dan Bryla in Korea in pulling out of a steep dive and in compressibility broke his left hip and strained his back and shoulder muscles pulling on the pole. The next day Bryla was in sickbay and his Corsair was flying missions. Enough said.
 
I was also thinking of the P-47 but to keep the discussion going, I would like an aircraft to have a low wing loading so it wouldn't tumble down as soon as the engine died. That makes me think of the Zero or a biplane. But as they are not very strong or well armoured, I'm kinda leading towards the Hellcat.

And here's another thought, what about twin-engined fighters?

But to give it a personal touch, I'm going to vote for the Me 163. Was well armoured and could stay airborne as a glider when the engine failed or was shot down. I admit that it was vulnerable due to short flight endurance. But the question was "which give the best of survival AFTER being forced to crash land?"

Kris
 
The Me 163, rocket-propelled, interceptor the most survivable fighter if "hit, crash landing etc." ... Kris, that's the best joke I've ever heard on this board in all the years... :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: I am sorry for laughing, but the Komet would explode if the ground crew farted near it.
 
The shape of it would not help either, it would roll quickly to one side as it didn't have a flat underbelly like most conventional designs. If that thing screws up, hope that you're high enough to bail.
 
Kris,

Any Radial Engined airframe has the glide slope of a rock. Some more
so than others, but still that's the way it is. It sounds like you want an aircraft
that has a good glide slope. Light wingloading more often than not means nothing to
the glide slope. Bi-planes have too much drag.

I think we are talking surviving a ditch mostly on land. Glide slope doesn't effect
this unless you have no clear areas to ditch in, then yes being able to glide far
enough to find a clear area would be a plus, but doesn't say you will survive.

As for ditching I have 5 choices. P-47, FW-190, F4U, F6F, and F4F. All strong built
aircraft.

FWIW
 
Kris,

Any Radial Engined airframe has the glide slope of a rock. Some more
so than others, but still that's the way it is. It sounds like you want an aircraft
that has a good glide slope. Light wingloading more often than not means nothing to
the glide slope. Bi-planes have too much drag.

I think we are talking surviving a ditch mostly on land. Glide slope doesn't effect
this unless you have no clear areas to ditch in, then yes being able to glide far
enough to find a clear area would be a plus, but doesn't say you will survive.

As for ditching I have 5 choices. P-47, FW-190, F4U, F6F, and F4F. All strong built
aircraft.

FWIW

Mad Max, I disagree with your post - a radial engine aircraft has nothing to do with an aircraft's "glide slope" as you put it - it's actually called best glide and most aircraft have them in their flight manuals. (A glide slope is an instrument used to land during IFR conditions). Aircraft configuration ("bi-planes") again have nothing to do with this.

All this is based on the aspect ratio of the subject aircraft with the engine out - how far an aircraft will glide with no power for a given altitude. And true, wingloading has a big factor in determining this.
 
I have to say that I was expecting and hoping for such reactions. This is the only way to get rid of these horrible stories concerning the Me 163. Just too bad that so many people accept and thus spread these lies.

It was one of the safest aircraft to fly, suffering low combat or non-combat losses. No pilots were incinerated, no planes exploding on the ground, ...

Take a look here and learn: Komet Me163 - Chief test pilot Rudy Opitz tells it like it was - Flight Journal.com Page 1
You can also look up the number of losses and their causes at The Luftwaffe, 1933-45

Kris
 
I have to say that I was expecting and hoping for such reactions. This is the only way to get rid of these horrible stories concerning the Me 163. Just too bad that so many people accept and thus spread these lies.

It was one of the safest aircraft to fly, suffering low combat or non-combat losses. No pilots were incinerated, no planes exploding on the ground, ...

Take a look here and learn: Komet Me163 - Chief test pilot Rudy Opitz tells it like it was - Flight Journal.com Page 1
You can also look up the number of losses and their causes at The Luftwaffe, 1933-45

Kris

I show JG 400 with only 9 confirmed kills while loosing 14 Komets. I think Erich might have more information regarding 163 operations.

I could tell you this - I had a neighbor when I lived in Montreal (1984) who claimed to have flown the Me 163. He showed me his burnt arms and legs from a hard landing. His words "Had the tanks been full, I wouldn't be here."
 

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