Discussion on Colonel John Lowells Comments...

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by lesofprimus, Sep 30, 2007.

  1. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,162
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Communications
    Location:
    Long Island Native in Mississippi
    Home Page:
    In the book Top Guns by Joe Foss, Col Lowell says a couple of things that I want to bring up and see what everyone thinks....

    First off, on page 105, he describes when he took over command of the 479th and its P-38's.... He states, "The P-51 had longer range, identity advantage, and the ability to high speed dive better than any Allied or Axis aircraft, until the Me 262 came into service in 1945..."

    I dont know if I buy that one at wholesale....

    Then, on pages 107 and 108, he talks about a flyoff with English Ace Wing Commander Donaldson and his Spit Mk XV... Lowell was flying a new P-38J model, and from his comments, completely and utterly embarrassed Donaldson and his Spitfire...

    Donaldson did not land after the mock dogfight and went home with his Spitfire and his tail between his legs...

    Was Donaldson that outmatched by Lowell, or was the -38J that much of a better dogfighter??? I know Lowell was one of the best combat pilots that the 364th FG could muster, but I thought the -38 was no match for a competent pilot in the Mk XV....
     
  2. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    Recently I finished reading several books (Lucky 13 , Black Crosses off my Wingtips, etc) about individual Spit pilots . In one book the pilot had completed his operational tour (200hrs)and was sent to a testing unit among their duties was demonstrating the Spits and others to USAAF crew . They often flew mock combats against the USAAF in one scenario the Spit was outclassed by the 38 which pissed off the author so he took a Spit up against the same USAAF 38 pilot and was on his tail within 2 360's and the 38 was totally unble to shake him.
     
  3. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Taking the points one at a time

    P51 - It had the range, better dive than the German and most allied aircraft, but as for identity advantage I would have thought the P38 had a clear advantage in that field.

    The dummy combat with the Spit. I admit my thoughts are with your view and I have read of a number of reports of Spits vs P38 playing around and the Spit was the usual winner but we were not there.
    Just a guess, but half the skill in air combat, is making the other pilot do what you want them to do. For instance, a good pilot in a 109 or a Zero may well tempt the enemy into a slow turning fight where they have the advantage. Overconfidence could well have crept in and Donaldson been tempted into making an error. That would be far more embarrasing than being beaten by a better plane.

    I could be wrong but the only Wing Commander Donaldson I can find in active service was a bomber pilot.
    There was a fighter pilot who scored 10.5 kills and whilst this is a more obvious candidate, he was sent to the USA in 1941 to teach air combat skills and build four training schools. He stayed there until 1944 when he returned to the UK in mid 1944 as a Station Commander (of a Meteor Unit), not an operational pilot.
    I don't know where this combat took place but (again a guess) if it was in the USA then the P38J was likely to have been against a MkV Spit. This would be very different to a Mk IX or XIV which would be more compemtorary.
     
  4. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2004
    Messages:
    19,162
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Communications
    Location:
    Long Island Native in Mississippi
    Home Page:
    My point exactly Glider... As the story goes, Donaldson was there to demonstrate pictures that showed the Spits with drop tanks as to stop the confusion of the Americans confusing the Spits for 109s...

    The Spit Lowell talks about Donaldson flying had a 5 bladed prop, bigger engine and improved firepower... Lowell stated that there were several other pilots from the 364th who witnessed this mock combat...
     
  5. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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

    >I could be wrong but the only Wing Commander Donaldson I can find in active service was a bomber pilot.

    >There was a fighter pilot who scored 10.5 kills and whilst this is a more obvious candidate, he was sent to the USA in 1941 to teach air combat skills and build four training schools. He stayed there until 1944 when he returned to the UK in mid 1944 as a Station Commander (of a Meteor Unit), not an operational pilot.

    Hm, I vaguely remember that on some other board, the question of Donaldson's identity was discussed, too, but I'm afraid I can't find the link anymore. (He couldn't be identified there, either.)

    Here is one thread on the mock fight which is interesting because one contributor there mentioned that his father served with Lowell's unit and was aware of the P-38-vs.-Spitfire duel, too:

    Aces High BB - spit14 vs. p38?

    (I'm not sure right now if his father personally witnessed it or not ...)

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  6. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2005
    Messages:
    20,140
    Likes Received:
    54
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Washington State
    Les,

    Some other things to think about in this discussion.

    - Both planes were "equalized" by simulating a common combat load (whatever that means)

    - The mock combat occurred at low altitude

    - And Lowell used his "cloverleaf attack/defense" maneuvers that may have also caught Donaldson offguard since it likely was not taught as defensive doctrine.

    This mock combat has always sat in the back of my mind too as to whether the claims were to be taken at face value. I can imagine Donaldson making similar claims. As to him leaving? Pilots are an arrogant bunch (sorry mkloby :) ), and I have learned to seek a little jurisprudence with respect to anything a pilot tells me about his abilities. I work with too many of them.
     
  7. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,160
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Scenario seems to be that the RAF Wing Commander borrowed a XIV, took on the P38, lost, probably because he was not a combat pilot. Realised he should have won, but was beaten by a better pilot so flew home is a major sulk.

    One observation, it was probably a well known event in the P38 units, as it was such a rare example.:)
     
  8. antoni

    antoni Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 15, 2007
    Messages:
    397
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    There is/was no Spitfire Mk XV. The Mk XV was a Seafire, basically a naval version of the Mk XII. If it had five propeller blades than it must be a Mk XIV. The Mk XIV was a high altitude fighter most of which had Griffon 61s with two-stage blowers. Their first use was anti-diver patrols (V1 flying bomb). I don’t know of any being sent to the US but any were,then the most likely reason would be for testing at somewhere like Wright Field.

    Spitfires were not fitted with drop tanks. They could carry a singe drop tank under the centre of the fuselage. Most commonly this was a conformal tank but sometimes a torpedo tank could be carried. Two Mk IXs were modified at Wright Field with extra internal and external fuel tanks. These were the only two Spitfires that carried drop tanks like a P-51 under the wings. If US pilots were confusing Spitfires with Bf 109s then the most likely reason would seem to be that they were unfamiliar with both types. See something you don’t recognise and assume it’s the enemy. A Spitfire carrying a torpedo tank might look a little bit like a Bf 109 with a drop tank but they weren’t all that common.

    Of all the allied fighters the one that looked most like a Bf 109 was the P-51. Paint black crosses on a P-51B and you have very passable Bf 109. The shape of the wings especially was very similar. Was this a problem? You bet! The RAF first painted yellow chord-wise stripes on the wings of their Mustangs as an identification aid. The USAAF also had the same problem and that is why they painted a white band around the nose and white chord-wise bands across the wings and tailplanes. The RAF later adopted the same recognition markings on their Mustangs.
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    Anecdotal at best but post war my father flew a lot of ships both in UK and shortly afterwards as well as flew against a lot. In particular he flew a 51D-25 stripped against a friend (former exchange pilot to 355th FG, Flt Lionel Frost) in a Spit XIV w/5 blade prop. He said he could turn with (i.e. not lose but not gain) in a high speed turn with flaps lowered a little - but not in any other altitude or speed. This could have been a factor of pilot skill also

    He was able to defeat Frost perhaps because he was a better pilot but dad was more impressed with the MkXIV than he was with the Fw190D-9 and would have been delighted to fly it in combat. He was very specific that the MkXIV clould climb better, had about same speed, thought the 51 had better initial dive but Spit could stay with the 51 - he didn't mention roll or acceleration

    I have a hard time believing a 38L could out turn a Spit in level flight at any altitude or airspeed given equal pilots - that is a big beast with a big wing loading to turn on better terms than a 51 or Spit (or 109) of any dash number... but I sure as hell wasn't there.
     
Loading...

Share This Page