End of '41 and Spring '42 Spitfire MkV vs Fw190A-1, Fw190A-2, (and Bf109F-4)

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by kettbo, Oct 21, 2014.

  1. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #1 kettbo, Oct 21, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
    So I had the old Wm Green books out this morning trying to 'get smart' on Spitfires.
    Noted Green's comments about how suddenly the Spitfire Mk V needed to be replaced, and quickly, due to the introduction and noted superiority of the Fw190A-1 and A-2. Hmmmm. Never a word about the current Messerschmitt. Looking at Casualty reports from JG-26 Part 1/Caldwell, this was the Bf109F-4.

    I'll be honest here, for some reason I'm not a fan of the Bf109E or Bf109F. I know the Emil led the victories in the WEST and the Friedrich took the War to the Soviets (some Emils still around). Maybe not a fan of the early guys because I was raised watching the TV show "12 o'clock High", surviving Emils and Friedrichs would have been in training units. Maybe it was all the WW2 Air Combat Boardgames that I used to play, generally the Axis in decline. Note to self, never let the older brother choose the sides and timeframe for the game!!! Maybe I'm a sucker for the underdog like the Bf109Gs Defending the Reich or later A6M5 and kin defending the shrinking Japanese Empire.

    Anyway, could someone please enlighten me on what the Early Fw fighters brought to the field that made the Spit V so suddenly 'dated?' Then somebody tell me how the Spit V matched up to the Bf019F-4. Surely the RAF was taking a ONE-TWO punch from the LW, not just suddenly the Fw shows up and its 'game over,' at least my thinking. Is the RAF blaming the Fw190 and not both equally with the Bf109F-4 something of a brand loyalty thing? (no way could a Messerschmitt be better then a Spitfire!) (point greatly exaggerated here to make clear what I am asking for)

    Edit:
    let me add something that I found just a second ago, same Caldwell book JG26 Part 1, pg 178
    F/O Surma No. 308 Sqdn:
    "From my experience on this Circus I have formed the opinion that the Me 109F is superior to the Spitfire V in both speed and climbing power." Caldwell then says the LW pilots now fought the Spitfire in the horizontal, had the confidence to take on the Spitfire in turning.

    So, this seems to me to be evidence supporting my thoughts that the Bf109F-4 was right there, still in the hunt, not all a Focke Wulf show.
     
  2. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The Fw 190 was the first fighter the Spitfire encountered that could easily out-roll it. The fact that it had a lower sustained rate of turn was not appreciated because the Fw 190 could roll 120° or more and get out of the plane of fire EASILY. You might think they'd roll WAY more but not so. If bulets are hitting you or are close, you roll and pull in QUICK order to get out of the fire path.

    It was much later that they determined that the Spitfire could easily out turn the Fw 190, but the Fw 190 could eaily out-roll the Spitfire, so they SHOULD have PULLED first and then rolled.

    After that it was a matter of playing cat and mouse with the enemy while trying to gain an actual advantage. One was a better roller (190) and one was better turner (Spit), but the Fw 190 had it ALL over the Spit on damage from a hit due to superior armament muzzle energy. So ... the Fw 190 was a serious opponent for any Spitfire unless caught in an ambush ... and almost vice versa. If it had the ambush, the Spit would try to get line astern or below astern and hose the 190 to the maximum extent possible before it rolled away.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Tactics were changed to meet the threat of the Fw 190. The Spitfires only chance of survival was to cruise at much higher speed when on patrol in areas where enemy aircraft were anticipated. You can imagine the effect this had on the aircraft's already limited endurance.

    I think that the Fw 190 often gets cited because it was a new and unfamiliar type when it first showed up whereas the Bf 109 F was a development of a well known type for which tactics had already been established. I don't believe the Friedrich was any more superior to the Spitfire V than the Emil was to the Spitfire I, the various strengths and weaknesses of the two more or less cancelled each other out and, importantly, were known quantities to both sides.
    Every German report rates the Emil as superior to the Spitfire I and every British report arrives at the opposite conclusion :) It really was a matter of how the aircraft were fought.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    To leave the Spit I vs. Emil aside, there was Friedrich and there was Friedrich. The F1/F2 were about equal with MG-only Spit V, the F-4 was about 15 mph faster than the Mk.V with MGs, and some 20 mph than the cannon armed variant. Once the DB-601E was cleared for 'Notleistung' [circa January '42], the gap increased to some 40 mph.
    With that said, the Focke-Wulf fighter introduced the 30 mph advantage out from the box, in Autumn of '41; at Mike Williams' site there are even the high speed runs that were at 420 mph range - a 50 mph difference vs. the Spit Vb. The A-2 also introduced the synchronized MG-151/20 cannons. All of that, along with great roll rate, make the Fw an outstanding fighter in this time frame. Despite the problematic BMWs under the hood.
     
  5. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    I'd like to EDIT my initial post and comments, but the time to do that has expired.

    Wm Green FIGHTERS Vol 2, pg 104
    "By the end of 1941 , the Spitfire V was experiencing increasing difficulty in combating the newer version of the Messerschmitt Bf109 (the F versions apparently---GK) and found itself completely outclassed by the Fw 190A." On page 106 I summarize the text as the Spit Mk IX substantially reduced the ascendency of the Fw190As. This is with 64th Sqdn, JUL 42. YIKES! That is long time since the Focke Wolfe and Freidrich came into service!
     
  6. kettbo

    kettbo Member

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    #6 kettbo, Oct 21, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2014
    duplicate post
     
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I have most of the William Greene books and I must say that some of his conclusions seem based on "facts" that may well be in some doubt these days. The "common knowledge" of the 1960's seems to sometimes be full of serious holes in the facts these days. In the 1960's it was assumed the Bf 109 was a flawed and inferior fighter. In fact, it is a world-class fighter that is one of the best of all times.

    While I like William Greene's books, I doubt his facts much like I doubt Martin Caiden's facts, though not to the same degree. I think he did reasonably well with the facts he could get at the time. The Germans he spoke with liked the German planes best and the Allies he spoke with liked the Allied planes best. Neither ever had the opportunity to go through the other side's training programs, and that seems natural to me. The plane you flew for YEARS is ALWAYS more familiar than the mount you just took up for a few test flights.

    Erich Hartmann said the Bf 109F was his all-time favorite mount, and that is quite serious praise coming from someone of his experience and combat flying accomplishments. In the end, the best fighter at any given time was a bit better than the opponents, but not decisively so. The quantum jump was the Me 262, and it was almost ludicrous to try to dogfight with it in a piston fighter. The Me 262 was a LOT faster and a LOT less maneuverable. Neither side could close and win all that often and the Me 262's successes came largely against unmaneuvering bombers, not against Allied fighters. Sure it got some, but not a large amount.

    I do not belive that any of the top three aces ever said they liked the Fw 190, in any variant, best, and that tells me they were all intimately familiar with the Bf 109 and it's characteristics. While the Fw 190 MAY be a better fighter, there is no proof of that by kill ratio, kill records, aces made in type, or any other quantitative measures of greatness. The Bf 109 has it all over the rest of the fighters in the world including the Spitfire, in most measures of success.

    If we had accurate war records, we could make a real comparison, but many records have been lost. It would be very interesting to see the combat victory and loss records for the war in the west and then again for the war in the Soviet front. The Bf 109 initially ran up a LOT of success against obsolete types and undertrained Soviet pilots, but the records in 1944 and 1945 may indicate exactly the opposite. By March of 1945, a German plane had a hard time living in a Soviet sky. Wish we had them available for some analysis.

    I DO have a file of German claims and can abalyze that, but it isn't the same as an "official" victory list by a government's military service after careful scrutiny in a post-war environment.
     
  8. bada

    bada Member

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    you're right about the 3 first "aces", but maybe because their unit wasn't equipped with the Wurger or equipped very late..
    but if you look at the n°4 and 5...both Wurger pilots almost from the start :D
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    More likely that they had been flying the Bf 109 for years before the Fw 190 became available.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  10. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    When Hartmann was assigned to III./JG52 the unit was flying Bf109G-2s.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It's also worth pointing out that three opinions, even from high scoring aces, is hardly a definitive way of making an objective assessment of an aircraft. Many 'experten' also flew the Fw 190 and professed a preference for it, others expressed a preference for the Bf 109.

    There were well documented problems with the Fw 190 on its introduction and it was not a better fighter than the contemporary Bf 109 F. Heinrich Beauvais oversaw a series of comparison tests and wrote:

    'The Fw 190 A-2/Bf 109 F-4 comparison trial results apparently favour the Bf 109 F-4. The trials showed the Bf 109 to have a noticeable and exceptional acceleration, apart from the data shown on the graph. The turning capabilities of the Bf 109 are better than the Fw 190's. This however is compensated by the Bf 109's handling qualities (high rudder forces) which are worse than the Fw 190's. The two types can therefore be considered more or less equal.'

    Gordon Gollob (ex JG 3) also flew comparison trials. His main conclusions were:

    ' Speed. The Fw 190 A-2 is not quite as fast as the Bf 109 F-4, but it can be considered equally fast for practical purposes.The inferiority of the Fw is more noticeable at altitude and amounts to 15 to 20 kph at worst. It is virtually as fast between 4000 and 4,500m. At ground level it is equal in speed, perhaps faster by about 10 kph.

    In a dive. The comparisons were made at combat speed, diving at around 20 per cent inclination, and over an altitude diggerence of 2,000m. The results showed that the Fw 190 A-2 ended up several hundred metres ahead at all altitudes. The steeper and longer the dive, the greater the lead.

    In the climb. The time for the Fw 190 A-2 to climb from 1,000m to 10,000m is 6 minutes longer i.e.the performance is about 50 per cent worse.

    In terms of roll response the Fw 190 has a clear advantage, which is particularly noticeable in aerial combat.'


    Comparing a new aircraft with a mature and developed design like the Bf 109 F-4 is always going to be a little unfair. The Fw 190 had plenty of room left for development in its newer airframe whereas the Bf 109 had less.

    For every 'expert' claiming a preference for the Bf 109 I'll find one with the opposite opinion, which given the relative similarities in performance of the two types is not surprising.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The facsimiles of the report can be found here. On the following page, we can see the Bf-109F-4 will outdistance the Fw-190A-2 eg. some 200-250 m after 3 min flight at 6000m, both fighters using 'Kampleistung'. On 'Notleistung', the results are about the same, per the report.

    However: the Fw-190A-2 has 4 (four) 20mm cannons installed, vs. a single one in the Bf-109F-4! Should reduce the speed and RoC of the 190 by an measurable amount. With, say, only 2 cannons and no MGs aboard, one can wonder just how much will still remain of the Bf's edge in speed and RoC.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    FWIW, when the Soviets tested the Bf-109G-2 (on 'Kampfleistung', ie 2600 rpm and 1.30 ata), the variant with 2 extra cannons in gondolas ('five pointer', ie. 3 cannons and 2 MGs) was 3 minutes slower to 10000 m than the variant without gondola cannons ('three pointer') - 15.4 min vs. 12.3 min. The speed was 15-20 km/h lower for the 'five pointer', from deck to 10000 m. The 'no free lunch' rule applies as always.
    Granted, the gondelwaffen were not as streamlined as the in-built cannons, but the Fw-190A-2 will still have one cannon more installed vs. the 'five pointer'; all of it's cannons requiring bulges to accommodate them in the wings.

    Looking at the aircrafts' critical altitudes, and comparing them to the engines' critical altitudes, points us at one thing related to the BMW 801 engine installation - it was good, but it was still not perfect. It was not perfect due to it's intakes, that were under cowl, and were not providing enough of ram air benefits as that would be the case with external intake(s). Eg. the BMW 801C critical altitude on 'Kampfleistung' was at 4.6 km (2nd supercharger gear; no ram); the Fw-190A-1/A-2 critical altitude (Kampfleistung, 2nd gear, max speed ie. with max ram) was at ~5.1 km - a difference of just 500 m. For the DB 601E, it was 4.9 (engine critical altitude; no ram) vs. Bf-109F-4 critical altitude of 6 km (max speed - max ram) - a difference of 1100 m, or more than double as what the Fw was capable for.

    Germans, whether BMW, or Focke Wulf, or both, were aware of the limitations of the internal intakes, and were experimenting with the external intakes - gain was, for standard fighter (Fw-190A-6) from 15 km/h at 7 km, down to 10 km/h at 10 km (on 'Notleistung').

    BTW, re. comparison test A-2 vs. F-4: we don't know whether the speed runs for the A-2 on 'Notleistung' were made at 2700 rpm, or at 2550 rpm - at 2700 rpm and 1.32 ata, the A-1 (4 LMGs, 2 cannons) was supposed to do 660 km/h at 5800 m. On 'Kampfleistung', at 8000m, it was 600 km/h for the A-1 and 620 km/h for the Bf-109F-4.
     
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