Compiling a citation chronology of a specific statement about the Bf109 aka ME109

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Lighthunmust, Sep 25, 2011.

  1. Lighthunmust

    Lighthunmust Banned

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    Please help me in compiling a citation chronology of statements similar to the examples listed below. The purpose this compilation is a chronology back to the first author to publish in a book or magazine a similar statement. As there are numerous landing gear issue discussions on this forum, it would be ideal to keep this thread concentrated on the aims stated above. When adding new citations please do so in a format similar to the examples below:

    2003 August, Flight Journal, “The Best WWII Fighter” by Corky Meyer

    “....11,000 of the 33,000 built were destroyed during takeoff and landing accidents...”

    “Chief aerodynamicist for the the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket fighter, Josef Hubert ....told me that Willy Messerschmitt had adamantly refused to compromise the Bf 109’s performance by adding the drag-producing wing-surface bumps and fairings that would have been necessary to accommodate the wheels with the proper geometry. This would have reduced its accident rate to within expected military-fighter ranges and made it a world standard!”

    2000 Winter, Flight Journal Special Edition WWII Fighters, “The Bf 109s real enemy was itself!” by Corky Meyer

    Meyer sites a letter in 1980 written by Colonel Johannes “Macki” Steinhoff -

    “He sent me a long letter relating that I should be sure of the absolute vertical alignment of the tailwheel; he also wrote that its inherently weak brakes should be in excellent condition because in WWII, the Luftwaffe lost 11,000 out of 33,000 Bf 109s to takeoff and landing accidents. Steinhoff directly attributed this terrible record to the bad geometry of the plane’s very unstable, splayed-out, narrow landing-gear configuration. In his letter, he said twice that if a German mechanic who really knew the Bf 109 wasn’t handy, I should not get into the cockpit.”

    1999 December, Flight Journal, “Combat Warrior, The Historical View” by Captain Eric Brown

    “But the Bf 109’s deficiencies almost equal its fabulous assets. The Luftwaffe lost 11,000 of these thoroughbred fighting machines in takeoff and landing accidents, most of them at the end of the War when they needed them most.”

    “I felt certain, too, that the landing gear’s being slightly splayed outward aggravated the ground-looping tendency and contributed to the excessive tire wear and bursts. The Spitfire had a similar, narrow-track landing gear, but it was not splayed out like that of the Bf 109, and the Spitfire didn’t show any ground-looping propensities.”

    Brown goes on to explain that high accident rates in 1939 resulted in a tailwheel lock being added to later models.


    Thank you for your help and cooperation.

    Steve
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Light, nice to see you back!

    ummm, isn't this similar to a previous thread we were discussing? I'm not sure if we reached the oldest or first instance of "landing gear collapse" being mentioned but there was a healthy debate.

    I will add this:

    According to a recent book I aquired, "Bf 109:The Operational Record" by Jerry Scutts, post-war fabrication of the Bf 109, there was a problem with the engine configuration on Czech-made 109s that exploited the landing gear. The engine produced a wicked swing effect because of power and propellor and many crashes were reported. I've thought, since reading this, that may have contributed to the 'myth' . In other words, those numerous crashes post-war from the LG reflected upon the whole 109 history.
     
  3. Lighthunmust

    Lighthunmust Banned

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  4. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    #4 Ratsel, Sep 25, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2011
    This all seems to be based around the Bf/Me 109 landing gear configuration, so:

    "Corky Meyer sites a letter in 1980 written by Colonel Johannes “Macki” Steinhoff"

    Seems the source of the Myth of '33% were destroyed during takeoff and landing accidents' is by Colonel Johannes “Macki” Steinhoff. Where he got that figure was looking over loss records. Although I suspect he didn't do a thourogh analysis.


    “....11,000 of the 33,000 built were destroyed during takeoff and landing accidents...”

    I suspect at the time (1980) nobody knew the breakdown of what percent was destroyed either during takeoff or landing? I can guess the vast majority was on landing. And most of those I would guess would be a combination of battle damage, low fuel, weather, pilot error. I'm also betting less then 1% were a direct result of landing gear failior. I'm also willing to bet its on-par with other fighter aircraft. And no, I don't have stats to back it up. Just a hunch.

    "Willy Messerschmitt had adamantly refused to compromise the Bf 109’s performance by adding the drag-producing wing-surface bumps and fairings that would have been necessary to accommodate the wheels with the proper geometry."

    Willy designed the landing gear the way he did for easier transport servicing in front line airfields. He also kept alot of weight off the wings by attaching the L/G to the fuse. The P-40 spitfire's geometry were no better.

    Post Script:

    The 'myth' of the Bf/Me 109 landing gear probably started with damaged/captured aircraft flown by Allied pilots totally unfamilular with this machine.
     
  5. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    Not a single shred of evidence have you produced; all we have is supposition and guesswork. Research involves going to archives, files, etc., digging through them, and finding solid answers.
    You say that the Spitfire's geometry was no better, but the pilots, who flew captured 109s, were seasoned veterans with combat experience, some being test pilots, so, if they were able to cope with the Spitfire, with its similar geometry, they would have been able to cope with a 109.
    Guesswork is a dangerous game.
    Edgar
     
  6. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    Well I'm not in the habbit of doing other peoples homework. But I'm guessing (haha) I'm right about everything I've posted. Becouse I've personally talked with former Luftwaffe pilots about this subject. Herr Petzschler, Herr Rall, Herr Nau. They know more about the 109 then you or I ever will.

    Example: Herr Petzschler under interogation in Bulltoffa, Sweden in 1945 was constantly badgered about the landing characteristics of His captured Bf 109G-10. He told them to go back to school and learn how to fly. Eventually his 109 was damaged beyond repair. Herr Nau said about the ground handling of the 109: Too much excitment in the young pilots heart got him into trouble. Herr Rall: had no complaints at all about the 109. Theres are many more simular stories: Dave Brown, famed test pilot had no complaints about the 109 L/G.

    Hence my ( and others) suspicsion on damaged/and or Allied pilots not to familular with the 109. Also, don't make the mistake becouse one pilot can fly a spitfire, He can automatically fly the 109 without problems.

    So my appologies for not being to specific and vague with my answers. I just tend to believe those that were there and flew the machine.

    Kindest Regards.
     
  7. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    Well then. Surely your information closes this discussion.

    WTF is happening to this forum this weekend! You people are killing me!
     
  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Its either the autumnal equinox or all the new TV shows this week.
     
  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The Bf / Me 109 lands just fine on grass, for which it was designed. You can land it without swing or brakes.

    It has a problem landing on pavement;; you cannot land an Me 109 on pavement without brakes ... according to Steve Hinton, and you had best be coordinated and straight when you touch down. If not, you might be in for a wild ride and a new landing gear leg.
     
  10. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    #10 Edgar Brooks, Sep 26, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2011
    Your remark, regarding "homework," can easily be construed that you don't bother with research. Research is not a means to score points; it's, first and foremost, a way to get answers from others who've gone before. It can also mean that you (heaven forbid) help others, which can have the beneficial side-effect that, when you need help/answer, they feel more ready to help you.
    How many pilots, who have flown both the 109 Spitfire, have you interviewed? I've only managed to find one, a Pole, who never made any mention of one being harder to land than the other; he did say that the 109, if you didn't wind on full trim first, had a nasty tendency to roll immediately after take-off, plus he was never able to dive it in a straight line, since it always tended to come out, at the bottom, at right-angles to how it went in.
    You do not seem to grasp my point; if, as you say, the Spitfire's geometry was no better than that of the 109, it must surely follow that a pilot had to exercise the same amount of caution, whichever aircraft he was landing? Also, how many captured 109s were written-off by groundlooping? I don't have any figures, so I need your input.
    As GregP says, the 109 was designed for grass, as was the Spitfire; when landing on concrete (and similar) the Spitfire's wheel tracking had to be changed, but I can find no evidence that this was done with the 109.
    Edgar
     
  11. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    I have read several Luftwaffe comments on the Bf109 regarding ground looping on take off (dont recall anything regarding landing), I have it here somewhere, it mentioned the number of casualties a unit suffered in these circumstances, and a similar report by an italian pilots who lost a close friend when trying to land a 109G they were training on! I will dig through and try to find it!
     
  12. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I posted this in another thread above (at this time). The book was first published in 1957 or so, but my copy is dated 1962.

    Perhaps this has been posted, but I didn't read the 29+ pages of posts. If so, please excuse.

    Famous Fighters of the Second World War, Willaim Green, 1962, page 11:

    "However, the tendency to swing on takeoff and landing, that had first manifested itself during tests with the early protoypes, continued to plague the Bf 109E and contributed substantially to the Luftwaffe's high accident rate, some 1,500 Bf 109 fighters being lost between the beginning of the war and the autumn of 1941 in accidents caused by unintentional swings. Only after the tailwheel had been fitted with a locking device which operated when the throttle was fully opened did the tendency to swing lessen."

    Doesn't cover the entire war, but lends credence to a high accident rate, at least up until autumn of 1941. There was a lot of war after that and I haven't run across figures to cover the rest of the war yet.

    Best regards, - Greg
     
  14. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I just came across this passage.....

    "Me 262: Arrow to the Future" by Walter J. Boyne

    pg 43

    I bring this up because the percentages are awfully close to the numbers given up for the Bf 109. Coincidence? Any thoughts?
     
  15. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    "Takeoff and landing are known as troublesome, but in my opinion there is much more rumours around than what actually happened. There sure was some tendency to swing and it surely swerved if you didn't take into account. But I got the correct training for Messerchmitt and it helped me during my whole career. It was: "lock tailwheel, open up the throttle smoothly. When the speed increases correct any tendency to swing with your feet. Use the stick normally. Lift the tailwheel and pull plane into the sky."

    Way closer to the truth according to the Luftwaffe pilots I've had conversions with. Sorry, but I don't take the word of half-assed written books. Herr Nau told me once landing on a largely unprepped (common) German airfield was more dangerous then a dogfight. He also said becouse of the relative light weight of the Me109, every dip, bump, rut, tall grass tossed it around like a ragdoll. He also said he seen more Fw190 involved in takeoff/landing incidents then the 109. Seems that with a technically superior aircraft like the 109 was for most of the war, some will find/fabricate all kinds of stories about her.

    Kindest Regards
     
  16. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    Even today, take-offs and landings are by far the most dangerous situations of a flight - be it either military or commercial.
    The DB engines of the 109 were known for generating lots of torque, if throttle was pushed forward too fast on take-off it was hard/near impossible to correct a possible swing as the rudders were not fully effective with the tail still on the ground.
    If you push the brakes too hard on landing you'll easily nose-over with aircraft of these era, heavy engine at the front and a lightweight tail asking for trouble then.
     
  17. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    And unlike today, conditions during WWII were shall we say, less then ideal. Nevermind a pilot coming back with a wounded machine, scared, adrenilene, or wounded himself, or the condition of the field to say the least (public enemy #1 in my humble opinion).

    Even if the 109's landing gear was designed solely for grass, grass would have been a luxury considering the conditions of most airfields the 109 utilized.
     
  18. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I have one though for Njaco's post. I take anything by Walter Boyne with a grain of salt. Yes he is a well-known aviaiton writer and was associated with museums.

    I simply don't believe himat face value because of several things I have read that he wrote which turned out to be false, though well written.

    He thought the MiG-152 was a flawed aircraft with little to recommend it. My personal experience was exactly the opposite.

    I'm not trashing him here, just being cautious about accepting his conclusions.
     
  19. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    No problem Greg. Its the first book I recently obtained written by him and I will say that it is full of a lot of opinion and 'personal' observations. Seems more like a diary.
     
  20. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    #20 Siegfried, Oct 21, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2011
    Rudiger Kosin, designer of the Ar 234, in his book "The German Fighter" wrote that the landing problems were traced to partial wing stall one one wing only due to propellor slipstream circulation when the aircraft was in the 3 point attitude. An extended tail yoke was developed to lift the attitude by a vital degree or so (13 to 12 or so). It was fitted to some Me 109G6, some more Me 109G14 many Me 108G10 and all Me 109K4 (which was also retractable again). This greatly reduced landing and takeoff accidents and the improved visibillity also reduced taxiing accidents.

    I think you will find that the Corsair also had this problem and one of the solutuions to making it 'carrier capable' was an extended tail yoke.
     
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