combat altitude in the ETO

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by phoenix7187, Apr 28, 2008.

  1. phoenix7187

    phoenix7187 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    auto tech
    Location:
    ohio
    I have been going through action reports and kill claims on both the american side and the reich side and have come across something. After reading about100 of these reports so far I have not come across one that the pilot indcates he is engaged at or above 30K. The highest alt I have seen is 28k. The average seems to be more like 24k to 26k. With many reports happening at 22 to 24k. I always hear that fighting in the ETO was at 30K or better and how the luftwaffe fighters were at a disadvantage at this altitude. Have I just not seen any yet or did the escort fighters fly about a mile below the bomber formations? There's a big difference between 22/25 and 30+ I keep hearing quoted.
     
  2. phoenix7187

    phoenix7187 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    auto tech
    Location:
    ohio
    have now found a half dozen reports where the pilots actaully indcate what alt the bombers are at and where the ememy came from. One report state 28K while the other 5 all state 25K. two reports indcate the attacking fighters came from above and state 30K while the bomber were at 25K.
     
  3. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    13,090
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Platonic Sphere
    obviously no-one will have all the after action reports at their disposal but yes think about the P-51's flying a 1000 feet above the heavies and or the LW diving down and being engaged before contact with the Forts and Libs, sure there are many actions from 30,000 down to the deck
     
  4. phoenix7187

    phoenix7187 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    auto tech
    Location:
    ohio
    The luftwaffe action reports I can't post here. But there are several sites that have USAAF after action reports. below is the site with the most. I have not read all of these yet. Some I have read before others are new. But there's got to be about 150 or so. If you search hard enough you can find some luftwaffe reports on the net but not many. Check it out. I think aircraft might have entered 30 thousand feet and a few dogfights might have happened at the altitude but I think from what I have been reading this would be the exception not the rule. I looks to me like most of the dogfights are between 22 and 26 thousand feet. Like erich said they are encounters all the way to ground level. If the escort fighter were commonly flying above the bombers this would mean most of the bombers were actually flying between 21 and 27K, Not 30k or more.

    The luftwaffe action reports back this up. Most engagments happened about 22 to 26K. the most common still being about 24 to 25K. here is the link.

    Mustang Encounter Reports

    Some interesting stuff.
     
  5. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    IIRC the B-17's usually cruised around 25-27,000 ft and the B-24's around 21-24,000 ft. The B-17 could fly missions at 30,000 ft though while this was above the B-24's ceiling.

    Also Lancasters and most British heavies tended to fly below 20,000 ft. (~18,000 ft iirc) Which makes sense since they lacked turbochargers, which made cruising at higher altitudes inefficient.

    The B-29 was the only allied bomber to cruise at 30,000+ ft on a normal basis iirc.

    But in most cases bombig from such high altitudes wasn't accurate, worse in the PTO due to the jet-stream.
     
  6. phoenix7187

    phoenix7187 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    auto tech
    Location:
    ohio
    It would appear you are right kool kitty. After some research It seems typical late war altitude for US allied bombers was about 25K. Early in the war they did fly lower, but after the luftwaffe gave them a few pretty good beating they were flying as high as possible to make intercept more difficult. It also make bombing less accurate. The highest confirmed altitude I have is a single account at 29K. on many bomb runs they were as low as 19K.

    The service roof for the B-17 is 35K in round numbers. I'm not sure yet if they could hit that alt fully loaded, but my guess from actual accounts is no. It seems they were flying as high as possible already. Engaging at 21 to 26K was well with the operation limits of late war fighters like the D-9, G-6/14AS. fighters like the G-10, K-4, D-13, and any ta series would have outclass the P-51D/K's. Operating the P-51 with 130/150 octane fuel and higher mainfold pressures would not have been sufficent to make up the difference at this altitude. Lucky for the allies the reich did have these fighter in enough numbers or the resources to give the P-51 a good fight for air superiority. Both the D-13's and the K-4's specs on paper are very impressive.
     
  7. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    The D-9 (depending on engine/excessories) was also a good match for the P-51 in this arena, though iirc most had a crit alt of ~21,000ft, above which the P-51 gained the advantage, the 190D's withe the 2-stage supercharged 213E had excelent high altitude performance though. With critical altitude of 31,000 ft.
     
  8. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,766
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Hi Koolkitty,

    >The D-9 (depending on engine/excessories) was also a good match for the P-51 in this arena

    Hm, I would think it was at a disadvantage at the typical combat altitude in the European Theatre ... here is a comparison diagram.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     

    Attached Files:

  9. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Yeah, I was thinking the Jumo 213E, which is D-11/12/13...

    But those figures for the D-12 look a bit high.

    For some reason I kept thinking of 440 mph for the D-9, Soren mentioned it on one of the threads a while back (a pretty old one iirc) and for some reason Wikipedia (don't say it) has 440 mph @ 37,000 ft???
     
  10. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,766
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Hi Koolkitty,

    >But those figures for the D-12 look a bit high.

    Note that it's for the Jumo 213EB engine. The variant with the Jumo 213E you were thinking of is on the same chart, but indeed a bit slower.

    >For some reason I kept thinking of 440 mph for the D-9

    The Fw 190D-9 with C3 fuel is listed with about 710 km/h on the same graph I took the data for the slightly slower B4-fueled version from. (440 mph is 708 km/h, but the poor-resolution scan I have is hard to read accurately.)

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  11. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Ok, thanks.

    that 37,000 ft figure on wikipedia is still way off though...
     
  12. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2007
    Messages:
    526
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Student, Casual
    Location:
    Adelaide
    very interesting, im forever learning on this site!
     
  13. renrich

    renrich Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Messages:
    4,542
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    real estate
    Location:
    Montrose, Colorado
    phoenix, It is interesting to read your posts about altitude in the ETO. In the books I have read about raids in B17s, the altitudes mentioned were mostly in the 22000 to 25000 range. I have always thought that all the talk about fighter performance above 30000 feet was mostly hot air(or cold air) I would bet that the vast majority of ACM took place below 25000 feet. It might have started higher than that but it would most likely end up lower. Besides that the B17 performance figures we read are optimum numbers which I question were rarely met in the real world. Besides getting the bombers to get really high because of performance issues, the crews had serious problems with frost bite or worse and the higher they got the colder. I believe that I read that at times the 8th had more men in hospital from frostbite than from battle wounds. Besides getting to 30000 feet being difficult for all AC, the P38s and probably other fighters as well had issues with compressibility. The P38s at high speeds at 30000 were close to their critical mach numbers in level flight and I would bet some of the LW fighters were also with the additional drag of rocket tubes, etc.
     
  14. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2006
    Messages:
    1,766
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Hi Renrich,

    >I would bet that the vast majority of ACM took place below 25000 feet.

    Well, it's worth noting that the 6700 m (22000 ft) full throttle height of the Me 109G was not considered satisfactory by the Luftwaffe, and the Me 109G/AS increased full throttle height (for 1.30 ata, 2600 rpm) to 8600 m (28000 ft).

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  15. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    everything I've read indicates 25000+/- the pilots accounts the aircraft were not very responsive above
     
  16. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    And the early P-38's had serious cocpit heating problems as well, and some engine problems at high altitude. Most with the ineffective intercooler, but also sometimes due to overcooling of the engines crusing at engine temps below safe limits without warning due to over-effective radiators (and sometimes problems with the rasiator flaps) poor coolant/oil circulation at those temps resulting in false temp readings. When rapidly throttling up for combat in such cool operating levels the engines would fail.


    And on the bomber's cold, I remember one account from a ball turret gunner that had gotten hit (not too serious a wound) and the drops od blood froze before hitting the bottom of the turret. Then he commented on how he picked op the frozen drops and got rid of them, otherwise he'd have to clean the resulting smeared mess out when the landed and the blood had melted.
     
  17. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Yes and maneuvering was very slow above 25,000 ft, moreso if you'd already lost some power by being above crit alt. (and mechanical superchargers ate a fair amount of power too) That's one reason the P-47 had a maneuverability advantage at high alt, crit alt for the P-47C was 30,000 ft with almost full 2,000 hp available. (more for the D with 2,300 hp at 32,000 ft with water inj., though the 70" Hg rating for WEP with 100/150 octane was only obtained below 24,000 ft for 2,600 hp)


    One reason the a/c needed the higher alt performance is the interceptors needed full performance up to (and a bit above) the bomber's alt. And as escort fighters usually started there too, they needed performace there too. Though fairly often fights could go down to ground level. (where most LW a/c had an advantage, particularly most Fw 190's which had their best performance below 20,000 ft)
     
  18. phoenix7187

    phoenix7187 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2007
    Messages:
    33
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    Occupation:
    auto tech
    Location:
    ohio
    I started reading a book battles with the luftwaffe by theo boiten. this book uses actual accounts from both sides to tells about the air war over Europe. I found that most of the accounts of fighter to fighter "dogfight" were not what I have come to believe. Many were at altitudes far under 30K. The reich defence uints at times was severly out numbered (anywhere from 3 to 1 all way up to 15 to 1). and the better half of reich pilots were rookies. despite this some units were still beating the odds. By this I mean they were able to inflict more damage then they received. Not always but you get the point. This is what started me looking into this.

    The P-51 did it's job, bombers losses went down. The reich defence units on the other hand didn't stop scoring kills becasue the P-51 came along. More like the USAAF made a trade. Instead of loosing a crew of 10 and a 4 engine bomber they were loosing single engine P-51 with a single pilot and in smaller numbers. The P-51 started to take the heat instead of the bombers. With P-51's rolling off the assembly line at a rate of 1 every 10 mins this was not a big deal. The USAAF had more P-51's by the end of 44 than the entire luftwaffe had aircraft total.

    Look at the losses sustained by the US alone it's crazy. No airforce before WWII or now could suffer those losses and continue to maintain air dominates over a foreign country. The allies won by producing more aircraft than the reich had bullets. The reich had far fewer aircraft but they were better overall.

    If the reich aircraft were as bad as some make them out to be then the allied pilots were not that good in the ETO. Somehow you have to account for all those losses. One could make a good debate that the reich experten were better. There sure is evidence to make that claim.

    When you compare the damage the luftwaffe did with the number of aircraft they had it's amazing. considering the conditions and poor leadership the luftwaffe really did well. The poor tactictal situation proves that good aircraft and pilots make the difference.

    The US learn this. Todays USAF does not have huge numbers of fair or average fighters. They have small numbers of the best aircraft technology can offer and flown by the best trained pilots on the plant. The luftwaffe proved that a small numbers of experienced pilots flying high performance aircraft can be very effective.

    Hohun thanks for posting that graph it seem accutate and much easier to read then the old faded one I have. I agree at 19 to 21K the D-9 is a match. above that the P-51 starts to gain leverage. up to 24K D-9 could still hold there own with the right pilot. I have a question. On that graph the D-9 using 100 octane is this with the engine tweeks. I have it by a good source that when using 100 octane with MW50 they raised the boost pressure among other things. This allowed with D-9 to stay competive up to about 25K. I can't confirm this yet but I'm working on it.
     
  19. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Another thing is that for US (and Japanese) fighters there was much more emphesis on range than most european contemporaries. Obviously the Japanese needed longer range due to the expansive Pacific, but it seems that it was the designers more than the airforces' specifications that gave the US fighters the range, or at least in many cases. I'm not sure why this is though, maybe just multipurpose designs were in mind? Even the P-51 hadn't been designed to be an escort fighter, it just turned out to fit well, and allowed very long range.

    Even the P-36 had quite a longer range than contemporaries (800 mi combat), the F2A-1 was capable of nearly 1,000 mi, the F2A-2 over 1,500 mi. These were very good for the time, and for a breif period the F2A-2 had the longest range of any single seat fighter iirc. ('thll the Zero) Wildcat 800 mi clean, ~1,350 mi with droptanks. The P-40B had a ferry range of ~1,200 mi on internal fuel. The P-40E had ~1,600 mi range with a 141 US gall droptank. The early P-38 ~800 combat mi clean. (clean range setting limit to radius) The P-40N had a ferry range of ~3,000 mi with 3x drop tanks.

    The P-39 was the closest thing to the compact Spitfire and 109, and even it had a bit longer combat radius. (granted the Spit could have increased fuel capacity) The Fw 190 didn't have a great clean range either (just over 500 mi) but I'd be willing to guess it could have increased fuel like the Spit could if it needed it.

    Who knows what the US would have come up with for light-weight short range high performance a/c if that had been the emphesis. (the best interceptor example is the XP-72, but that was late war, and even that had good range)
     
  20. Soren

    Soren Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Messages:
    6,624
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0

    The D-9's top speed was ~680 km/h at Start U. Notleistung (1,750 PS @ 3,250 RPM), using B4 fuel. While using C3 fuel at SonderNotleistung gave it a top speed of 702 km/h at alt and 615 km/h at SL. This is with a ETC-504 mind you, without it speeds would be roughly 10 km/h faster.

    Chart from 11.3.1945:
    [​IMG]

    Hope this helps.
     
Loading...

Share This Page