Discussion of best exploitable A/C strengths

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Bad-Karma, Aug 5, 2014.

  1. Bad-Karma

    Bad-Karma Member

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    Good afternoon everyone,

    I've been soaking up a lot of knowledge around the forums and am becoming more addicted to WWII ac! I enjoyed a lot of the technical discussion on the various x WWII fighter vs X WWII fighter threads even though they get difficult to understand with some of the numbers involved. It seems to me that in the end it always comes down to certain planes do x better than the other and it comes down to pilot skill. In that spirit I was hoping we could list the individual strengths that a good pilot would exploit for various WWII aircraft. Lets start with the P51, p47, p38, spitfire, tempest, 109,190. Lets assume late models of each without factoring in mechanical failures. Lets leave out post war/extremely late war models like p51h and ta152h for now. As the discussion goes on we can dive into earlier models as well. I apologize in advance since I don't have much information to add but I'm very eager to read everyones replies.
     
  2. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    Bad-Karma,

    I will throw the game ball to get things started!

    P-38J/L:
    Performance:
    Hi dive speed, dive brakes, long range, no P factor / torque, two engines, high service ceiling, reasonably maneuverable with boosted controls, excellent acceleration
    Weapons:
    4 x .50's and 1 x 20mm (concentrated) with no point of convergence issues (single biggest strength)
    Detriments:
    Switchology to go from cruise mode to combat mode (post external tank jettison) very cumbersome, large, unique shape (could be both plus and minus)
    Cheers,
    Biff
     
  3. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    A6m = Range, performance (for a carrier based aircraft), firepower, manouver, country of origin
    Mosquit: performance (speed) , range, construction materials, strength, longevity (in the finish...not retired from at least one western air force until 1962)
     
  4. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    P-51D

    Plus:
    High speed, maneuverable, great visibility (bubble canopy), good fire power, very long range, found in great numbers over bad guy land, excellent gun sight (K-14), easy to fly, fairly ergonomic cockpit layout, smallish

    Minus:
    Liquid cooled, operated deep over bad guy land, single engine
     
  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    All your candidates are fighters, B-K, so I will focus on the Bf-109 .... and only consider one factor .... kill record. In the hands of experten, the Me 109 was lethal and to remain such for almost three-quarters of a decade is a great tribute to German engineering skill. And it was inexpensive to manufacture.

    I stand to be corrected on this but, did any other WW2 fighter serve as many high scoring Aces as the 109 did? The Finns, Romanians, Hungarians and Spanish volunteer pilots all flew the 109 with distinction as well as Germans.
     
  6. Garyt

    Garyt Member

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    P51 - Great Hi altitude performance, Excellent top speed. Fast and smooth diver (by smooth I mean fairly controllable on a hi speed dive). Climb not as good as one would expect bearing in mind top speed, acceleration probably similar to climb. Poor at turning.

    P47 - Great top speed, hi altitude performance. Very good diver. Very rugged, good armament for an American fighter. Poor climber, very poor turner.

    ME109 - Decent top end speed, perhaps the best climber of the group. Fast diver though perhaps not as controllable as one would want. Poor turner given the expectations based on the size of the airframe, though better than most you have on this list. Armament determined largely by version, the real well armed versions gave up some in performance.

    FW190 - Good top end speed, solid climber and diver. Poor turning radius, maybe the worst other than the P-47. Generally armed well, depending of course upon version.

    I just might add as a disclaimer these are generalities, even though you state late war versions there were various versions that might be around at the same time, and "sub-verisons" even if you would. This is more commonly an issue with the german fighters which would have different armaments for the same plane. I think much of this had to do with finding that "perfect" armament that worked well against both 4 engine bombers and fighters but did not sacrifice performance. The US planes did not have as much of a problem with this as they were mostly fighting fighters or smaller (1-2 engine) bombers.
     
  7. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    And Stoyan Stoyanov of the Royal Bulgarian Airforce (Bf109D/E/G-2 G-6)
     
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  8. Bad-Karma

    Bad-Karma Member

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    Thank you for the responses everyone this will set a nice sort of baseline for discussion


    Im glad you chimed in as I think you will have the best input as far as tactics go. What I was invisioning with this thread was more situational than hard stats which has been discussed. It seems when trying to calculate the hard stats the conclusion is usually that the performance is close enough that its mostly the pilot that matters. With that in mind let me propose an example.

    P51D meets Fw190D-9 at 25000 feet. Both at aproximately the same altitude. Now both are high speed and great in a dive. Maneuverability is sort of debated between the 2. What sort of advantage (turning, speed, etc) would the p51 try to gain over the d-9 and vice versa to win the dog fight. You can apply the same argument to all the planes. Even the P51 vs a P47 for example.

    How about P38j vs a 109-g6 in the same scenario. I'm especially interested in this example as it seems the p38 gets dismissed in discussion as not as well respected.
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Even with dive flaps and boosted controls the P-38J-25 through the L models still reached compressibility at ~ 68M. The only difference is that they became controllable in a dive but the 109 and 190 could reach significant advantages in a dive.

    While the boosted ailerons did enable better roll, it was a sluggish response to the roll input before the huge inertial resistance of so much mass away from the centerline could be overcome -
     
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  10. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    At 25 000ft P-51D was some 25mph faster than 190D-9

    Juha
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    An important attribute is roll response as this governs how fast a plane can start to turn and even more important, how fast it can reverse a turn ( go from turning left to turning right). A good rolling plane can follow another much better and can reverse a turn on a poor rolling plane (even if the poor roller is a good turning plane once the turn is initiated. Unfortunately peak roll rate is not quite the same as initial roll response and both vary considerably with both speed and altitude.

    The FW 190 was noted as a very good rolling airplane, in fact one of the very best and this in the hands of a good pilot can make up for a lot of other differences, if they are not too great.

    From Mike Williams site: http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/naca868-rollchart.jpg

    A couple of notes, This is at 10,000ft and for 50lbs stick force. different altitudes and different stick forces can change things.
    This is also for indicated airspeed, True air speed at 10,000ft for 180mph IAS is about 216mph, for 240mph IAS it is about 288mph and for 380mph IAS it is 456 mph ( pretty much all planes would be in a dive to hit that speed at 10,000ft).

    Planes bleed off speed in hard turns very quickly and most are going to near best climb speed (most excess power) after a full 360 or two if they haven't started to loose altitude. That or they are hanging at stall speed.

    Minor differences can almost be discounted ( or perhaps factored on a sliding scale?) like a difference of 10-15mph in level flight. It is not enough to allow one fighter to gain a dominate position over the other or to enable the faster plane to break away by speed alone, however a speed difference of 40-50mph may allow either to happen. Top speed is speed in level (neither climbing or diving) flight and unbanked. Once the plane banks the lift decreases, drag increases and speed drops. Rather obviously planes do not fight at top level speed but it is a useful indicator of somethings.

    A lot of times pilots used combinations of attributes to gain an advantage or to disengage. Spitfires turned well and climbed well so they could often use a climbing turn to disengage rather than a dive. This kept a pursuer from getting a straight away shot at them and even a 109 which might be able to out climb them could not climb and turn as well at the same time.

    This makes it rather hard to look at a short list of specs and pick "bests" as the pilots were often combining two or more attributes rather than focusing on one.

    For instance a p-40 with a Zero on it's tail can go into a dive ( a common escape procedure) knowing that not only can he out dive a Zero, both in top dive speed and initial acceleration into the dive but once in the dive he has much better aileron control and can change direction in the dive much easier than the Zero can. A Zero that tries to dive away from a P-40 is in big trouble.
     
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  12. Bad-Karma

    Bad-Karma Member

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    Thats exactly the sort of insight I find facinating. Thank you very much for posting. So correct me if I'm wrong but say the two a/c pass each other head on with no hits scored the P51 would have an advantage in turning to get behind the fw but might have difficulty achieving a firing solution or even keeping up with the rolls assuming they aren't in a dive? According to the chart it seems their roll is a lot more on par at high speed (I don't know how different the chart would look at 25k feet).

    It seems more simple to look at the pacific theatre because (at least early on) all the Japanese strength was in turning while the early american planes didn't have the speed or the climb to effectively use energy tactics.

    Thats what makes the eto so facinating to me since all of the planes were essentially built for the same tactics and very close in performance.
     
  13. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    At lower altitudes, you could get into trouble against a Fw190, lower altitudes (below 20,000 feet) being the Fw190's strong suite. It had a wide turning radius but good acceleration, rate of climb, roll rate and the ability to handle a fair amount of G's. of course, if the pilot pushed the Fw190 into too tight of a horizontal turn (and bled off too much speed), the port wing would dip dangerously, often inverting. This could prove fatal at low altitudes.

    On the Eastern front, Soviet pilots often mistook the Fw190A for the slower ground attack Fw190F/G and this mistake would prove fatal until later in the war, until they had types like the La-5FN or La-7 that offered clear superiority over the Fw190 (and Bf109).
     
  14. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    BadKarma,

    It is fascinating to look back over time and try to glean what these guys knew, did, or would do!

    Your comment above about energy tactics needs a little clarification. There are two types of energy, potential and kinectic. Kinectic in a fighter comes from pushing the power up, and potential comes from a dive, or from a position of altitude advantage. Which has the most energy: potential / kinectic: A Zero at 100' going 350mph and a Buffalo at 10,000 going 250mph. Answer: Kinectic Zero, Potential Buffalo.

    US Pacific fighters for the most part all did fairly well in dives (or better than a Zero) and could use that to their advantage. The Flying Tigers are a great example of this.

    As for a P-51D / Fw-190D-9 co-altitude merge at 25k I think it would boil down to the one who makes the fewest mistakes. Their strengths / weaknesses are pretty close with the biggest difference or advantage probably going to the one who had the least excess weight (fuel).

    A Mustang on the way home, near the front lines, fighting with a Fw-190D just after takeoff would favor the Mustang (assuming Fw has full internal fuel, Mustang running on less than half fuel load). Same players deep over Germany, Fw-190D airborne for about an hour and the tables turn. The Mustang driver has to watch his fuel state (can't stay long) so he needs to pretty much be quick about his engagement, while the Fw-190 driver has the "luxury" of fighting over his own country (can land anywhere or bail out without fear of being captured).

    Something that has to be stressed here is experience. There is no substitue for it, and while not a guarantee to success when two foes engage in it, in near equal equipment the odds do favor it. Another way to think about it is to look at the German high scoring Aces. They flew an airplane that had some pretty notable vices (Me-109 pattern work, flight control harmonization), over a period of years, and racked up serious scores along the way. They lived long enough to get good / experienced and then thrived / prospered. Yes a LOT of them didn't make it to the end, but, regardless of how good they were, the more times you go into the arena (especially outnumbered) the more opportunity you have to get nailed.

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
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  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Top notch performance for all six years (summer 1939 to summer 1945) that constituted the European portion of WWII. Probably the only two fighter aircraft which can make that claim. Many of the competition mentioned (P-51D and Fw-190D come to mind) were available only during the final year, 1/6th of the total war period.
     
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  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    And yet the Fw190A was capable of besting the early Spitfire marks until the Spitfire IX, which restored parity...
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Few historic fights were even duels. The vast majority of planes (fighters?) shot down didn't see their attacker until they were already being fired on. Throw in the number that saw their attacker before being fired on but were in a position of disadvantage (lower altitude or speed or both) and the number of "equal" fights were very few indeed.

    In some cases the attributes of the fighters in question allowed them to in a position of advantage (usually that means higher altitude) more often than their opponents.

    The Japanese were quite good at "boom and zoom" even early in the war, dive down upon their prey from higher altitude, shoot it up and then climb back up to the higher attack altitude and repeat. This works rather well against planes that have little speed advantage (like Buffaloes or Hurricanes) over the Zero or Ki 43 as the Japanese fighters could balance their speed vs climb to keep the Buffs or Hurries from getting too far away as they climbed up. Doesn't work so well against P-40s/P-39s as both those planes could open up the horizontal distance more while the Japanese fighters were climbing for the repeat attack.
    In reverse the Buff and Hurry can do the dive attack but then don't have either the climb or horizontal speed to separate long enough to get back to the attack altitude. P-40/P-39s had enough horizontal speed (aided by shallow dive?) to separate far enough to allow them to climb back up. Depending on the altitude of the engagement however the P-39/P-40 might not get back to attack altitude before the Japanese have done what they came to do and left. Like if they were escorting bombers at 20,000ft and above. While an early P-39 might be able to do 360mph at 20,000ft it took 5-6 minutes to climb from 20,000ft to 25,000ft and best climbing speed. Even the bombers can cover 15-20 miles in 5 minutes leaving a rather long stern chase for a second attack. At these higher altitudes the Japanese fighters might be able to climb 3 times faster than the Allison powered early American fighters.

    Very few early war fighters had the ability to be 'energy' fighters regardless of country of origin which is why altitude at the start of the engagement was so important.

    Again from Mike Williams site; http://www.spitfireperformance.com/spit109turn.gif

    You will have to enlarge the image/page. there is a curved line on both charts that says "Angle of a straight climb"

    At any combination of speed, turning radius/"G"s under the line the plane can climb, the further from the line the faster it can climb. At any combination above the line the plane has to descend to maintain speed. In the example given a Bf 109 doing 250mph at 12,000ft and pulling a 3 "G" turn HAS to descend at about 2,000fpm to maintain speed. Obviously changes in engine performance and/or altitude (not to mention weight) will affect were the line falls on the chart and the chart itself.

    The chart may not be 100% accurate as it is calculated and not the result of test flights (or not many) but gives a good idea of what happened in dog fights and why they descended to sea/ground level if they lasted very long.
     
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  18. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    #18 davparlr, Aug 7, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
    All of your comments are very astute. Your comments on airspeed during dog fighting is certainly applicable. However other aspects of combat is affected by even a small delta in top airspeed and that is in pursuit or flight. How far away could a pilot recognize a aircraft as a pursuit target or a flee target, 1, maybe 2 miles? At a 10 mph delta and at two miles, the target could be caught in 12 minutes, 15 mph overtake, 8 minutes, not really unrealistic chase times, half that time at one mile recognition. Of course a decision to flee is no problem. In addition, airspeed is a function of energy so higher speed provides higher energy and I believe it is a square function which increases energy much faster than just airspeed increase so even as little a 15 mph may have a noticeable increase in energy, 40 to 50 mph delta certainly would.
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #19 drgondog, Aug 8, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2014
    All good points. The P-51 driver was always conscious of having enough fuel to get home - were stingy about getting all they could out of the external tanks before tapping internal. SOP was to warm up and take off with left main, switch to fuselage tank to burn 15-25 gallons (max) and then drive on the externals, switch back and forth for trim, until they were dry or got into a fight. Many pilots did Not use the internal fuselage tank until the externals were dropped and had to be careful about engaging in high G maneuver fight. In only one case of my father's seven air victory credits was his internal fuel burned down to any significant degree - and fortunately it was against an opponent where the fuel load shrinkage potentially made a difference. That was a Berlin mission and the fight was sw of Hamburg on the return. By that time all the fuselage tank had probably been burned down plus more of the Mains.
     
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  20. Bad-Karma

    Bad-Karma Member

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    Hey Guys, sorry for falling off this thread, my first born daughter came a little earlier than anticipated on Aug 16th at 6 pounds 3 ounces :).

    On topic though this is a very good point. Im curious though as to why it seems to be a popular opinion that German pilots didn't respect the p38 as much as the p47 or p51 given the rarity of an equal fight. It would seem all of those planes are very close in performance.
     
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