Eric Brown's "Duels in the Sky"

Discussion in 'WWII Books' started by Francis marliere, Oct 13, 2011.

  1. Francis marliere

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    Gentlemen,

    I have just finished Eric brown's "Duels in the Sky" and I am surprised by some of the comments he made.

    He quotes some planes with rate of climb that are not coherent with other sources and 'conventional wisdom' (4.000 fpm for A6M2 and D.520, 3.300 fpm for Wildcat II, 2.400 for F4U-1, etc.).

    He also says :

    "In a dive, the Wildcat and the Zeke were virtually equal"

    "Both (F6F-3 and Fw 190) were very maneuvrable"
    I don't understand : I know that Fw 190 has an outstanding roll of rate but the Hellcat is neither a first class roller or turner.

    The Ki.61 "handled like the Hurricane"
    The Tony is most commonly described to be like a P-40 or Me 109 (not a first class turner but a good diver).

    The Mustang "had a rate of roll bettered only by that of the Fw 190". Commonly this is rather said of the P-47 (or F4U, P-40) not the P-51.

    The Hurricane has superior rate of roll and acceleration in the dive than the F4F-4. The Wildcat has stepper angle of climb than the Hurricane.
    I thought that the Hurricane is neither a great roller nor a great diver but climbs better than the Wildcat.

    Well I don't know what to think about. I one hand, all that appear surprisingly strange, but in another hand, I guess that someone such as Eric Brown knows what he is talking about.

    What is your opinion ?

    Best regards,

    Francis
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Anything that Eric Brown writes about should be taken with a grain of salt.

    He's highly biased.
     
  3. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    not really he just did not operate A/C during combat conditions so his judgement was and still is not sound.........
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Yes, a quick assesment followed by his opinion. Valid but hardly an unbiased test programme. He did fly an awful lot of different types.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  5. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    #5 vanir, Oct 13, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
    It was discovered in the 60s iirc that the Fw-190D-9 that Brown evaluated, which formed the entire basis of all western appreciation on the combat performance of Doras, wasn't a D-9 at all but a D-12 with a completely different engine fitment. It was much rarer, hand assembled and reflected neither the build quality nor the performance and character of most Doras that fought. For a start the D-12 was fitted with an extremely complicated multiple stage and automatically geared blower system with a throttle altitude boost and an emergency overboost facility, all weather pilot equipment (radio navigation and other new technologies), it was a very well equipped and futuristic fighter, very much like the sort of specification you'd expect from a piston fighter-bomber in Korea era, like an F4U-4 or a Seafury.

    An American postwar evaluation on a rebuild true D-9 at Wright Patterson gave completely different results to Brown's tests of course, nowhere near the performance superiority he found. They characterised it as a hotrod built in a backyard shed and were amazed it could keep pace with a Mustang without falling apart, it was very rough to fly. Brown's was much faster at sea level and had far better altitude performance plus it was just an all round nicer pilots plane. What really doesn't help is the fact FW company documentation gives almost exclusively calculated figures so common perceptions are completely misled, you need to speak with dedicated specialists in the specific field and aircraft type, and the tendency to take pilots at their word like Brown is high, but there is no reason to assume his accounts taken with more authority than wartime pilot accounts, which officially had an error margin.

    There is a factor brought into consideration during the 50s-60s when wartime documentation and captured materiél had been collated and it was discovered many assumptions about captured models was incorrect, particularly about the plethora of late war German types which were much more random in build quality and equipment fit than previously assumed. It was thought Luftwaffe fighter model designations are progressive for example but this is not the case, all wehrmacht nomenclature is purely utilitarian and describes role and service delivery, not specification which varied tremendously.

    For example, the way G-14 comes before G-10 and is really just a late G-6, but then in 1945 the G-14/AS received the new 605ASB motor that brought it to K-4 standard, which a G-10 replicates, finally the type of engine sent to specific squadrons depended on the fuel stocks assigned to their airfields, some received exclusively C3 fuel in early 45 and their squadrons had to operate bmw801D and db605asm/am/dc/asc motors ie. the 2000hp jobs, I/JG301 iirc. Another airfield only got B4 so no BMW Focke Wulfs could be sent there, only Doras and db605a/as/db/asb motor Messers. So performance in these late war Messers is a case of individual example, aircraft sent to both fields may have come from the same production batch. At Luftwaffe Experten you know what they do? They research individual tail numbers and say they can't give any premature conclusions on performance specification or equipment fit until the research on its specific tail number is completed.

    The very specification of late war German birds is very much an individual case basis, engine/equipment fit and performance could vary so dramatically. Most captured aircraft British Ministry based their assessments on were non-aerial combat craft, they were fighter-bomber and bomber-interceptor trim Gustavs with surplus engine fitments and heavy stores bolted. Actual performance of the very rare, fighter-only trim 109K-4, Erla G-10 and a Feb45 vintage G-14/AS shocked allied pilots in sparse encounters with clean flying examples on fighter sweeps. Most were laden with bombs or extra guns and had older engines fitted, the vast majority were cannon fodder by this stage of the war, not to mention build quality disappeared after 1943.

    I have wartime comparative evaluations of the Me-109E and G and Fw-190A vs the Spit I, V, IX, XIV, Tempest V and Hurricane, the Me-109G with boost restriction and in heavy bomber-destroyer trim is actually better in dives and sustained climbs than all of them believe it or not and turns better than most. Griffons and Tempests accelerate away eventually in dives but not for a while. In zooms they're the same. In sustained climb the Messer just keeps pulling when the others stall out if they start from the same speed, they just love to slow climb like a tractor and simply never run out of puff doing it.
    The British Air Ministry conclusions were that Tempests and Griffon Spits should use their speed against the Messer, don't turn fight and don't follow it into a climb. It warns pilots not to follow the Me-109G into a sustained climb.

    So finally I'd reiterate that whilst Browns testing is valid, his assertions are just a single documentarian source with an inherent error margin. It's the same for the other extreme, engineering documentation tends to provide some calculated performance that may never be achieved in real flight, and you find out by getting someone like Brown to try it.
    Information then, but not gospel and should always be corroberated for several case specific reasons.
     
  6. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Eric Brown I believe has more carrier landings than any other pilot in the world. He also has flown many AC and has some combat experience. Having said that his book and the statements in it "Duels In the Sky," has a lot of bias and other stuff which does not even make sense. The most obvious is his bias against the Corsair and his love of the Hellcat. His statements about them do not hold water and are at complete variance with USN comparisons. He is also very euro centric which may be understandable. I have the book and have filed it in the fantasy section..
     
  7. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    #7 vanir, Oct 13, 2011
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2011
    There's so much interesting about this subject actually one could talk on and on about it. I might add separately here some notes I've read on warbird comparative performances, I've tried to get my hands on various wartime evaluations and engineering reports and just plain pricked my ears up at every story I heard. Harassed my (German) grandma's friends for war stories, we're all like this, man it's interesting stuff and some of them appreciate it being openly discussed.

    So I read a great war story at a Pacific forward base during the island hopping campaign, the base commander had a choice of Army or Marine airfield cover, the other would do escorts. So he had the P-40E and F4F-3 do mock combat over the field for himself and the air group commanders to watch, it was a competition, best of three, two on two planes.
    The Wildcats ran rings around the Warhawks, the Army Air officer couldn't believe how easily and consistently they could get on the Warhawk tails. The did head ons and turns, split-s or immelman, one at alt advantage, one at alt disadvantage, one at same alt. Wildcats every time and easily.

    I've also got the USN Paxton report on the A6M5 versus the FM-2 which rates them about equal in the power/speed stakes, Zeke has superior altitude, turn and climb performance and Wildcat has superior high speed performance through all manoeuvres (Zeke controls freeze up at high speed). Sidenote, total accident with the Thatch Weave is that in the Wildcat you can only sustain it near the speeds the Zeke controls start to get musclebound, part of it could've been placebo and the advantage mechanical. Worst thing to do in a Wildcat is enter climbing manoeuvres with a Zero, by contrast it is the best thing to do in a Hellcat.

    The thing about the Fw-190A isn't just its roll rate which the Doras had too, small wings and long torquey fuselage, but it was a radial torque manoeuvre combined with a marginal instability inherent to the Fw-190 (it didn't warn before a stall and loved to enter a spin in slow speed banks), there was a little trick the more experienced pilots learned to do (prob started by I/JG26) where you could snap-roll the Anton on the starboard wing with a bootfull of rudder and it would flip into a completed Split-S in the blink of an eye, a few hundred metres below your position facing the other way (or any direction I suppose). No other fighter in the war could match the manoeuvre, not the Thunderbolt or anything. The British Air Ministry specifically warns about this manoeuvre in flight comparative testing documentation, it says pilots should break and extend immediately and never attempt to follow an Anton they suspect is about to do this, apparently a lot of people get cannon raked undersides otherwise. Only an experienced pilot could pull it off correctly and consistently mind you, it's a controlled stall unique to that type. Most often it was used as an escape manoeuvre.

    The Tony did have thick wings and a workmanlike design very much like a Hurricane, which did dive well by the way. The thing about the Hurricane and I can see the Tony being very similar in this, is that it bleeds airspeed in sustained manoeuvres quickly. Hurricanes handle great but are a victim of their own terrific stability, if you don't stick to textbook manoeuvres and unload G repeatedly then it just saps all your energy. You fly them by the book and they're surprisingly high performing, but you do unorthadox things like aerobatics in them and they start to feel like someone bolted wings on a lorrie and expects it to be a ballet dancer. I could see the Tony as having that character despite the Daimler motor, you know it's the small casing export blower fitment with the low throttle heights don't you?

    Also angle of climb and rate of climb are different. The Zero has the highest climb angle of any fighter but several others have much higher climb rates. It just looks like it's suspended on its tail sometimes in manoeuvres, that's all. The Wildcat is a bit like that too, but aircraft with sleeker performance and good lift, like the Hurricane may have faster climb rates. You don't point the nose skyward for very long in a Hurricane though if you want to stay in the air, but it has an excellent climb rate.
     
  8. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    That's pretty interesting vanir.
     
  9. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    Actually it was the DB 605 ASC(M) with 2000ps. The DB 605 ASB(M) as you stated was 1850ps. The G-14 wasn't a late G-6, it was an attemp to standardize the G-series airframes. Most likely, rebuild airframes. The G-10 contrary to myth, is a brand new airframe, not a recycled one. the west generally used C3 more often then the east, and all units used the 2000ps motors at some point. Though some units got the better airframes before others. As far as allied pilots beings "shocked" by the clean lines of the G-14/AS ~ G-10 ~ K-4's.. doubt it, as they already ran into G-5/AS's G-6/AS's.

    LEMB is a nice place to visit, but I'd rather post here or at 12oclock high.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Britain produced more Spitfire MkVs then any other version and quite a few were still in front line service during 1944. I've always wondered about that decision. Weren't they out classed by most German and many Italian fighter aircraft by 1943? Did the older MkVs get sent to the Pacific?
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The F6F Hellcat wasn't a world-class roller, but as a turner, it was bettered ony by the A6M ... of the major opponents, and then only at low speed, les than 220 mph.

    Indeed, it was a world-class turner, with the largest wing area of any WWII single-engine fighter.

    Don't knwo where anyone got the idea it wasn't a great turner. I have sat in on lectures by more than 50 Hellcat pilots from WWII, and most said it turned better than any other aircraft they ever flew. Some had flown Spitfires, Corsairs, P-38's, P-40's,and other aircraft. Most said the Hellcat, at about 250 - 330 mph+, was the best turner they ever flew. A few said they remember it more for being rugged, and all said it was fun and relatively east to fly, climbed well and was very forgiving of mistakes.

    As an aside, the Hellcat had the best kill ratio of nay WWII fighter, and that was not by accident. It had world-class credentials in at least some areas or it would NOT have had the success it had. Corsairs and Hellcats came into service at almost the same time ... perhaps 1 month apart, and Hellcats shot down about twice as many Japanese aircraft as Corsairs. The Axis were lucky it wasn't used very much in the ETO.
     
  12. krieghund

    krieghund Member

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    Looks like the Tony is turning pretty good here;
     

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  13. Francis marliere

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    Greg,

    I don't understand why the hellcat is said to turn so well. I am not an engineer and may be mistaken, but as far as I know, the ability to turn depends on wing loading. According to many sources, including "official" ones, the WL of the Hellcat is 37.2 lb/sq ft. Please correct me if I am wrong. Once again, I may be mistaken, but there are plenty aircraft whose WL is lower (Spitifres, Hurricane, Fulmar, Gladiator, Wildcat, Zeke, Oscar, CR42, MC200, G50, ...) or roughly equal (P-39, P-40, Bf 109, Ki.61, MC202, etc.). Hence, the only aircrafts which have greater WL than Hellcat are late war energy fighters (Fw190, P-38, P-47, P-51, F4U, etc.).

    Best regards,

    Francis
     
  14. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    #14 riacrato, Oct 14, 2011
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    Is there a source for that? Not doubting you, but it's the first time I hear it.
     
  15. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Yes. The spitfires that defended Darwin in 1943 were all MkVc's.
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Many thanks for contributors here :)
     
  17. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    The F4U-4 began combat operations in May, 1945, probably not very long after the Fw-190D-12 would have.
     
  18. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    No need for that, as long as you have a W.Nr., some visual clues one knows what engine it came with. For example all of the Mtt-Reg W.Nr.130 XXX batches came with the DB 605DB/DC (no DB 605/ASC or ASB were used). DB 605DB, standard MW-50 equipment, 1850PS, B4 fuel or the DB 605DC, standard MW-50 equipment, 2000PS, C3 fuel. Erla W.Nr.490 000 – 490 800 many came with the DB 605/ASBM or ASC(M) engines, etc., etc.. This was due to a temporary lack of DB 605D engines. Erla/WNF used alot of subplants to maufacture thier still continuing G-series right to the end of the war. After Mtt-Reg(Main) produced thier G-10's, they solely concentrated on K-series production and we know they only came with the DB 605D series engines. Going down the line we also know that G-1 through G-6 Came with the DB 605AB(m), DB 605AC(m), DB 605/ASB(m) or ASC(m) and finally, the DB 605AC with GM-1.

    Now as far as LEMB goes with a complete researched W.Nr., I don't know how they can possibly due that, especially with the lack of records for the subplants of Mtt-Reg/Erla/WNF used throughout WWII.
     
  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Take a look at the Bf109 in the Australian War Memorial Museum in Canberra. It's a mongrel,rebuilt and re-engined. You may be sure how something left the factory but not how it ended up in service. You can see it today more or less as it was captured in 1945.
    Steve
     
  20. Ratsel

    Ratsel Banned

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    Yep. Its also in the book Augsburgs Last Eagles. Its an interesting Bf 109G-6/U4R3 W.Nr. 163 824. Mentions nothing about it being re-engined. Thanks for that info.
     
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