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Staff Sergeant
Feb 23, 2005
I recall that after the war, there was held a Fighter Conference in which the fighters from several countries were analyzed, compared and evaluated. I would love to get a hold of any records and conclusions reached at this event.

Does anyone have any information at all regarding the conference?
You can buy the report,

432pp, over 100 b/w photographs, charts, hb.

ISBN: 0 7643 0404 6


Nas Patuxent River, MD 16-23 October 1944
I have the book and have read parts of it. I have not found it that informative. I will pull it and give it another review. My recollection is that a lot of the the book is just general discussion with very general conclusions.
I read it and liked most of it. They compared some 29+ allied and 6+ axis fighters and rated them using some 30+ or so military and 20 or so civilian pilots, both from the U.S.A. and from other allied nations. All in all a very good read, in my opinion anyway.

Not sure what was expected, but a comparison of the current and new types is what I expected and what I saw.

It was the joint 1944 fighter conference at Patuxent River, Maryland and is well worth it to get a non-modern view of the planes and systems, including what they thought of the German one-lever throttle setup (some likes and some dislikes, as expected). The A6M5 Zero now at the Planes of Fame was flown during that conference and was the ONLY aircraft in the entire test that did not break at some point. Not sure what that says at this point, but unreliable ... it wasn't. Still isn't.

The F8F Bearcat was there but was too new to be included in general fighter comparisons. That means they let other pilots fly it, but not for comparative purposes because it wasn't cleared for general military use yet and the cockpit wasn't finished being laid out for service use.
I read it and liked most of it. They compared some 29+ allied and 6+ axis fighters and rated them using some 30+ or so military and 20 or so civilian pilots, both from the U.S.A. and from other allied nations. All in all a very good read, in my opinion anyway.
I pulled my copy this morning and do agree that it has more information than I had remembered. It also includes some performance tables that I had forgotten. However, much of the book is still what I think of as general discussions. An example follows in the context of discussing the use of flaps on the F4F. Quote is from a comment by a Lieutenant Andrews: "Colonel Renner, I think, was in an F4F. I believe those flaps are very poor for maneuvering. Lieutenant Jorgenson just said negative. I think he was fighting in an F6F whose flaps are inferior for maneuvering but I think I've established for my own satisfaction that the position flap can be definitely be used to advantage for maneuvering."

The copy I have was published by Schiffer (1998) and the quality of the Appendix with the tables and more objective information is poor (small and very faint print). I did notice this morning that Jack Woolams was a participant as a pilot for Bell. There is a least one earlier discussion about this book with more details on this forum: Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Magister, Mar 12, 2006.

As the Brits or Australians used to say, this book "just didn't blow my skirt up" and has pointed out by others in the 2006 post -- it is really a book one has to read carefully.

Finally, here is a summary of some of the information in the text: U.S. Navy Aircraft History: Navy Joint Fighter Conference - October 1944 and I also think, all of this information is in the public record, the copyright can only be for the compilation and format not for the original material. However, I don't know where to find the original documents.
But yes GregP is correct that the report has more information than I remembered. However, when I purchased the book some 20 years ago I remember being disappointed and I never read it carefully. After looking at it again, I am still not inclined to spend the time reading this book. I think reading something like is a better way to spend one's time-- I would buy a hard copy since the book is so cheap and will give you more useful information.

The conference was a good idea but I would evaluated it as a good idea that did not live up to its potential because (1) a lack of standard experimental procedures and (2) Poor data analysis and presentation. Also, including such a large number of pilots produces not "generalization of the results" but "experimental confounds" so you end up with discussions about joysticks versus yokes versus the British arrangement with a joystick with a little wheel attached. Another example of a minor topic I noticed was on the F4U not having a cockpit seat that could be raised and lowered. I guess my point is that I think most people won't find this book to be worth $35. I just finished a book Luftwaffe Test Pilot: Flying Captured Allied Aircraft of World War 2 by Hans-Werner Lerche. I was disappointed in the lack of objective detail but he explained that he lost all of his log books and text reports except for one aircraft. However, his general comments on U.S., British, and a few Soviet aircraft are interesting. For example, he thought the work load for American pilots was very great (manually controlled mixtures, cooling, prop settings, etc) and far greater than expected by German engineering. However, he reports the quality of U.S. aircraft and especially the engines and turbochargers to be exceptional. GregP is an engineer and aircraft restorer and obviously is far more qualified than me on technical issues but the book did not add much to my understanding of how the aircraft performed. Another example taken from the text is that the P-47 was ranked (along with the F4U) as 1 in a dive. This makes sense if you are talking about acceleration into a dive but doesn't make any sense in terms of maximum IAS. I don't know what the critical Mach number was for the F4U but it was (as I recall) around .66 for the P-47. The P-51 was ranked 4th and the Spitfire is not even ranked. The P-51 had a higher critical Mach number and the Spitfire holds the record for an ICE engine plane with a critical Mach of around .90. This means is that you could dive a Spit much faster than a P-47 and still recover from the dive without running into compress-ability effects so severe that a typical pilot could not recover to level flight. Test piloting requires very careful adherence to following a set protocol under controlled conditions. Many combat pilots did not make good test pilots and I am sure many good test pilots would not be good combat pilots.
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I certainly agree the format of the conference report isn't the best for scintillating reading formatted for quick analysis. But, if you want first-hand information about the planes when they were current military issue, rather than glossed-over opinions of post-war guys who haven't flown them all and especially haven't flown them in combat, then it's hard to beat that report for pilot opinions and facts on the various fighters used.

Love the Aerodynamics link and have it in book format.

Incidentally, mine was pretty decent quality.

I remember the book and was frustrated at some of the aircraft being used in the comparison. If I remember correctly the Spitfire was a well worn Mk V and I was left wondering how a XIV or even a IX would have fared. The other thing I remember for some reason was the discussion of the straps used in the different aircraft.
I wondered at the planes, too, and figured the Spitfire V was one that was taken from the Spits furnished to the USA for photo recon. Seems like many of the planes used were well into their service life. But ... it WAS 1944 and we had only comparatively recently begun to win the war. Maybe a fighter conference wasn't as important to the leadership as supplying the newest and best equipment to the front lines.

Either way, it DOES give some ideas about comparative performances, cockpit layouts, systems, and the like ... even if it IS a bit dryly done.

I'm glad I have the book, but probably wouldn't recommend it as a great one to just read unless the data are what you are after.
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I actually bought the book, but it's been a bit since I have read it. I do remember that, all things being equal, the pilots of each branch tended to like their own aircraft. Even so, you can glean some decent information about the aircraft based on the comments and rankings given after the conference. One thing that stood out was the F4U was ranked consistently high in just about all aspects of flight - maneuverability, speed, climb, stability, etc. compared to the rest of the aircraft but was dinged for the cockpit complexity. The F6F was not as well liked (which surprised me) but the Seafire was - except the performance of the Seafire was considered somewhat outdated. The P51 was about as well liked as the F4U, and was considered an easier plane to fly. The P51 was also rated as having a better cockpit layout than the F4U, although the Army pilots stated that the F4U could turn inside the P51. The P47D model was not liked as I would have thought it would be. The Bearcat and Super corsair were in attendance and were flown, but oddly very few commented on these aircraft.
Pretty neat to read comments from pilots that actually flew the aircraft as modern historians and flight aficianados tend to slant things for their favorites.
I have found this book very useful in understanding various 1944 philosophies on aerial combat and the issues that were perceived as important. The fact that no one was allowed to rate the aircraft they represented added a bit of unbiased appraisal. I have often used this book as a reference for several discussions on this site including gun/cannons. It did rate the P-47 as the best fighter over 25k feet which is reasonable with its flat rated 2000 - 2800 hp up to over 30k altitude. Both the P-51 and F4U were highly regarded as the P-51 was second above 25k altitude and second up to 25k altitude. The F4U came in third for both categories. What made the P-51 such an outstanding aircraft was that it projected this performance at a great distance.

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