From the pilots view of things.....

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Lucky13, Nov 29, 2008.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2006
    Messages:
    36,731
    Likes Received:
    1,064
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Nightshift picker
    Location:
    A Swede living in Glasgow, Scotland
    Home Page:
    ...which would you say had the best design, layout of the cockpit among fighters, torpedo, divebombers etc... of WWII? Thinking about machines with one, two or three crewmembers...8)
     
  2. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,161
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    I don't think that you can split things by type. From what I have read the Germans nearly always had an excellent reputation for their cockpits. There were exceptions such as the He111 and to a lesser degree the Me110, but overall the standard was very high.
     
  3. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,907
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Barnsley, S. Yorks, UK
    German cockpit design for medium bombers had an awful effect on crew survivability though. The design philosophy of the time meant that the He111, Ju88 and Do17 families all had the crew crammed together in a largely glazed nose, allegedly to improve morale. In practice, this constrained the positioning of defensive armament, and led to horrendous crew casualties - a fighter or flak hit could take out the entire crew in one go.

    EDIT: On this subject, the Bf109 also deserves a mention for poor cockpit design - it was cramped, visibility was restricted and the pilot sat on a fuel tank. This was only marginally worse that British fighters though - the Hurricane had (correct me if I'm wrong) either a coolant or fuel tank under the cowl, right in front of the windscreen, which could cause horrendous injuries to the pilot if hit.
     
  4. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Messages:
    47,730
    Likes Received:
    1,425
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Cheshire, UK
    You're right, Bomb Taxi. Both the Spit and Hurricane had a fuel tank directly in front of the front bulkhead.
    As far as the Bf109 goes, yes, it was cramped etc., but, when it was designed, with a fully enclosed cockpit, providing comfort for the pilot, I guess that the future requierments of other comforts, and all-round visibility, probably weren't taken into account as much as they would be a few years later. One thing about the '109 though; I seem to recall that the positioning of the seat and the rudder pedals meant that the pilot was in a better physical position in which to absorb more 'g', as his feet were slightly higher than in 'normal' layouts, and the lower trunk sat lower. How much of a benefit this actually was, I don't know. Perhaps someone has some answers regarding this?
    Terry.
     
  5. thewritingwriter89

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2008
    Messages:
    113
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Student
    Location:
    In a small space capsule
    Another interesting bit about the 109 cockpit; the seat had only three adjustable positions and much of the issues usually complained about were because of the seating. I have read several pilot reports in which the author had banged his head lowering the canopy, simply becuase the 109 requires you to sit lower than most fighters. Airframes, this could be where you're theory about the 'g' absorbtion comes into play. It does kind of make sense that you would be better prepared for high g's in a more "slid down" position.

    Going back to the cockpit arrangement, another pilot report mentioned the flap and elevator trim being arranged so they could be turned together, but the pilot mentioned it would be hard to do in practice. Whether or not that was an issue, it's hard to say.

    Here's the link to the pilot report, which has some very descriptive information on the layout itself.

    Flying the Bf 109: Two experts give their reports | Flight Journal | Find Articles at BNET
     
  6. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,223
    Likes Received:
    2,050
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    I've heard a number of accounts by American pilots who didn't like the P-47's cockpit because it was so large. One had remarked that sitting in the "office" of a Jug was like riding in the back-seat of his Dad's Oldsmobile when he was a kid. They were more acustomed to the smaller cockpits of thier aircraft that the P-47 was replacing.

    To touch on BombTaxi's comments regarding fuel tank placement, the Me262 had two fuel tanks, one behind the cockpit and the other being situated between the weapon bay and the instrument bulkhead. To top that off, it wasn't self-sealing, but lined with leather.
     
  7. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2007
    Messages:
    3,069
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    San Jose, CA
    Didn't the Me 262 also have 2 reserve tanks?

    I immagine this would have been particularly contrasted with the Eagle squadron pilots transferring from Spitfires.

    I've also read reports by British pilots on the Curtiss Hawk and P-40 commenting on the roomier cockpit compared to the Spitfire or Hurricane. (which were slightly roomier than the Bf 109)
    I also seem to remember Finnish pilots commting that their Brewsters had particularly spacious and well organized cockpits.


    It should also be noted that visibility was significantly improved on the Bf 109 with the introduction of the "Galland Hood" with reduced reaming and increased rear glazing.
     
  8. Soren

    Soren Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2005
    Messages:
    6,624
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The Bf-109's intrument layout is excellent IMO, but space is very scarce and you're kinda squeezed up in there. But the reclined seat position will help you to resist G-forces pretty significantly.
     
  9. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,209
    Likes Received:
    791
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Sorry Soren, but to say the -109's instrument panel was excellent would be like saying the air in the Alps smells better than the air in the Rockies. For the most part most WW2 fighters, especially those developed by Germany, the UK or the US all employed industry standard layouts for "most" of their aircraft, and I emphasize most because some of the more radical designs did displace some basic instruments.

    Flight instruments (Artificial Horizon, turn and bank indicator, VSI were all centrally located. Engine instruments were either on the right or on the lower portion of the front panel. Throttle, mixture controls were on the left, electrical and environmental controls on the right - pretty standard.

    The BF-109 cockpit as a whole sucked - PERIOD. I've been in one (also sat in a zero, P-51, P-38 and Bearcat) and I give credit for all the Luftwaffe aces (some who also stated how cramped the -109 cockpit was) who performed so well while in this sardine can. Out of the aircraft listed the -109's over all cockpit was the most uncomfortable and this has been well documented.

    From left to right - Bf 109, Spitfire, P-51, Fw 190
     

    Attached Files:

  10. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 23, 2005
    Messages:
    6,161
    Likes Received:
    128
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Consellor
    Location:
    Lincolnshire
    Of those four I do like the look of the 190's cockpit, very neat.
     
  11. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,209
    Likes Received:
    791
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Agree
     
  12. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,775
    Likes Received:
    687
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    Out of those 4, I prefer the 190 as well. It seems like a very clean, modern and nice cockpit. I can not vouch for comfort however, because I have not had the oportunity to sit in a 190.
     
  13. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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

    >led to horrendous crew casualties

    Nonsense - randomly distributed hits don't kill more crewmen if they bunch together. Each shot that misses the nose fails to kill anyone in the crew is in the nose ... if you distribute the crew all over the plane, there are many more locations that will result in the death of crewmen if they're hit. Average casualty rate is identical in both cases - basic stochastics, really.

    (Besides, the pilot in German bombers enjoyed pretty good protection thaks to an excellent contoured armour seat - I have not seen anything like that in Allied bombers.)

    >On this subject, the Bf109 also deserves a mention for poor cockpit design - it was cramped, visibility was restricted and the pilot sat on a fuel tank. This was only marginally worse that British fighters though

    In fact, it was much better than the British fighters since there were many RAF pilots whose faces were horribly burned when the front tank caught fire. I have never found any mention of a similar "standard burns" from the Me 109 fuel tank position. In fact, the Me 109 shared the fuel tank layout with the P-47, another type that does not have a history of burning hapless pilots in the way the Spitfire and Hurricane did.

    With regard to the visibility restrictions - well, I'm not aware of much in the way of negative comments from men who actually flew the Messerschmitt in combat. I haven't ever seen a quantitative comparison of the viewing angles from the various types either from those who are badmouthing the type's visibility, so as far as I'm concerned, we're talking about rumours at best.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  14. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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

    >Going back to the cockpit arrangement, another pilot report mentioned the flap and elevator trim being arranged so they could be turned together, but the pilot mentioned it would be hard to do in practice.

    This appears to have been well-liked by pilots who flew the type, even being positively commented on by some RAE report, if I remember correctly.

    Another aspect of the flap arrangement of the Me 109 that was praised that it was a manually-actuated system that did not rely on hydraulic or pneumatic servo systems that could fail (or be shot up).

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,209
    Likes Received:
    791
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    "The cockpits of all of these enemy aircraft were much more comfortable. You could not fly the Bf-109 for seven hours; the cockpit was too tight, too narrow"

    Gunter Rall

    Aviation History: Interview with World War II Luftwaffe Ace Günther Rall » HistoryNet

    There are others who had the same comments about the 109's cockpit.
     
  16. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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

    >You could not fly the Bf-109 for seven hours; the cockpit was too tight, too narrow"

    >>With regard to the visibility restrictions - well, I'm not aware of much in the way of negative comments from men who actually flew the Messerschmitt in combat.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,209
    Likes Received:
    791
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Ask your self why was the "Galland Hood" developed?

    Here's more...

    Spitfire vs Me 109 in general:
    "Military Channel's program "Spitfire vs Me 109" with Bob Doe, B of B RAF vet and Ekkehard Bob LW JG54 B of B vet comparing the aircraft:"

    "Ekkehard Bob was in a Spitfire Vb cockpit . His comment was on how roomy it was and how wonderful the visibilty was. He then said he'd really like to fly the airplane."

    - Bob Doe Ekkehard Bob. Source: Military Channel program.

    "I got about 150 hours and over 30 aerial combats on the Messerschmitt 109. It was a fine "pilot's airplane" and there was no big complaints about the technical side, as long as you operated it within envelope, inside the performance parameters. It is hard to find any negative things about the plane from pilot's perspective when taking the development of technology into account. But the heavy and visibility limiting hood of the G-2 should have been changed into the G-6 "Galland hood" earlier."

    - Hemmo Leino, Finnish fighter ace. 11 victories. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

    "I noticed that people always kept warning about the swing at takeoff. I never let it do so, maybe I resisted it automatically. Visibility forwards was minimal during landing approach."
    - Kauko Risku, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

    "You know the 109 is way tight and you have the cannon between your legs and there isn't very much left and visibility to the back is poor. The cockpit, as such, was very narrow, VERY narrow. You have as I mentioned, the cannon between your two legs in rather like in a tunnel, you know? Later on they made a steel plate to protect the head, backwards. But they cut off the side through the back. You know? Because we had this steel plate, here."

    - Major Gunther Rall. German fighter ace, NATO general, Commander of the German Air Force. 275 victories. Source: Lecture by general Rall.

    "The cockpit was cramped and the visibility wasn't good. This was evident when landing in bad conditions, especially with the G-2's cabin."

    - Aulis Rosenlöf, Finnish fighter pilot. Source: Hannu Valtonen, "Me 109 ja Saksan sotatalous" (Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the German war economy), ISBN 951-95688-7-5.

    I know a few other of our members quoted from this site.

    virtualpilots.fi: 109myths

    As stated - I got to sit in a -109 at Mojave Airport when the museum was still operating there. The aircraft was "White 14," which is now in Canada. When the canopy was closed I felt like I had a 24 gallon rectangular fish tank over my head.
     
  18. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,223
    Likes Received:
    2,050
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    Regarding the Bf109 cockpit:
    From a British R.A.E. evaluation, Reports and Memoranda No. 2361:
    Section 6.2 (iv) The cockpit is far too cramped for comfort.
    Apendix I, Cockpit size. – The cockpit is unquestionably too cramped for comfort. It is too narrow, the headroom is insufficient, and the seating position is tiring. When wearing a seat-type parachute a pilot of normal size finds that his head touches the hood roof.

    Captain Vitali I. Popkov, Soviet Union (41 victories) in LaGG-3s and La-5FNs, flew a Bf109 and was "amazed that its pilots had been able to perform as well as they did".

    Captain Eric Brown, Great Britain, remarked "The windscreen supports were slender and did not produce serious blind spots, but space was so confined that movement of the head was difficult for even a pilot of my limited stature."

    Also, a number of Allied pilots who had the opportunity to sit in a Bf109 cockpit claimed it was "so narrow that they could barely work the control column between their knees".

    But to be fair on the cockpit issue:
    Oblt. Franz Stigler, Luftwaffe (28 victories), test-flew a captured P-47 and P-51 said, "I didn't like the Thunderbolt. It was too big. The cockpit was immense and unfamiliar. After so many hours in the snug confines of the Bf109, everything felt out of reach and too far away from the pilot. Although the P-51 was a fine airplane to fly, it too was disconcerting. With all those levers, controls and switches in the cockpit, I'm surprised American pilots could find the time to fight."

    As for myself, I have been in the cockpit of a Bf109E (owned by Gunther Pirner, Chino, Ca. - late 70's). I'm 6 foot 1 inches, and for me, it was uncomfortable!
     
  19. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,907
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Barnsley, S. Yorks, UK
    Henning,

    I do not have the book sources from which I drew my bomber comments to hand, so I will have to admit that I can offer no more than unsourced opinion at this time. However, I had gained the general impression from my reading that the deliberate policy of cramming all the crew together in the nose of the aircraft did have an adverse effect all round, particularly by limiting the placement of defensive armament - to Do17 and Ju88 families are classic examples of this. I had also gained the impression that a single pass aimed at the nose of such an aircraft could cause more injuries than in an equivalent type with a more normal crew distribution. This would seem to be logical - if all the crew are in the nose, and a fighter pilot aims for the nose of a flak shell explodes near the nose, you get more casualties because everyone is crammed together. Anyhow, I will try to dig up some sources, (I'm moving in a few weeks and a lot of stuff is packed up or otherwise not available), as I'm fairly sure I haven't just made this up :lol:
     
  20. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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

    >"Ekkehard Bob was in a Spitfire Vb cockpit . His comment was on how roomy it was and how wonderful the visibilty was.

    A positive comment on the Spitfire is not automatically a negative comment on the Me 109.

    >But the heavy and visibility limiting hood of the G-2 should have been changed into the G-6 "Galland hood" earlier."

    Obviously glass gives better visibility than steel, but that doesn't mean that the visibility with the original hood was below average.

    >Visibility forwards was minimal during landing approach."

    In common with many other types of the era. I've seen a P-51, an F7F, and F8F and a Spitfire fly curved approaches as standard procedure.

    >visibility to the back is poor

    "Poor" - fine, but compared to what? The obvious reference for a WW2 Luftwaffe pilot would be the Fw 190, which undoubtly was better - but it was better than the Hurricane and Spitfire as well.

    >... the visibility wasn't good. This was evident when landing in bad conditions ...

    Landing again, and even limited to "bad conditions".

    None of these comments actually claim any impact of visibillity on the combat effectiveness of the Messerschmitt, or even any restriction with regard to operational flying - like some other fighters of the era, it required a landing technique designed to give visibility laterally off the nose.

    I'm not saying that the visibility out of the Messerschmitt did not leave to be desired, or that the other taildraggers relying on curved approaches did not in fact have better visibility over their nose, but the universal damnation the Me 109 visibility usually receives in popular publications in my opinion is based on prejudice, not on factual analysis.

    The USAAF in WW2 showed angular fields of view (unfortunately, only for the forward view) in a simple diagram, comparing P-47, P-38, P-40 and P-51. I'd be quite interested in seeing such a diagram for the Me 109, Hurricane and Spitfire, and armed with such data, we could begin to make a useful comparison of the fields of view of the different types - though of course lateral and rearward view would have to be taken into account, too.

    (Next time I'll better ask for "qualified comments" - single-adjective comments like "poor" are of very limited value, and in fact the problem with a fair assessment of the Me 109 probably is that too much has been read into general comments like this one.)

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
Loading...

Share This Page