Fw 190 performance

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tomo pauk

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Apr 3, 2008
I meant it as a general comparison with both the intended opposition and the alternative, i.e. Spitfire and Bf 109, and by extension other good single-engined fighters in the same game, such as the Mustang, Jug, La-5 and Yak...
Well, I haven't said the question 'against whom?' for nothing - a blanket statement like "I'd always understood that the FW.190 wasn't that great higher up" is painting with a too wide a brush. Fw 190 performance vs. other fighters probably warrants it's own thread.

My understanding is that the Focke Wulf's advantages were its high speed at very low alittudes around 5000ft, and its superb roll-rate, hence modifying the Spitfire with a shortened, square-ended wing in response - the RAF found that the reduced wing loading did allow the Spitfire to keep pace with the FW 190 low down, but the roll-rate, while much improved, wasn't really enough, and it lost something of its overall performance in the turn and climb, so while a square-ended Spit could still out-turn a Focke Wulf, becuase this was something at which the Focke Wulf was never particularly good at, I'm not sure how much of an edge it retained against a Bf 109...

The correct answer against Fw 190, at least from the Supermarine stable, was installing the 2-stage supercharged Merlin (1st Merlin 61, later the better versions), and later the Griffon. Clipping the wings improved the rate of roll in general, it was the major improvement of engine power that allowed Spitfire to equal Fw 190.

A pilot of Fw 190 that allows himself to be enticed into a turning fight against Spitfire is not worth it's salt.

A quick google brings up FW 190 speed charts which show that it's blisteringly fast at low level to roughly 5000ft, then falls off sharply to around 10,000ft, then starts to speed up again until it passes the Spitfire in a narrow window around 20,000ft, where it falls off again; those who know more than me can probably explain the reason for the zig-zag curve, but I would hazard that what's shaping my perception are RAF-derived narratives more concerned with its roll-rate and consistently better performance down low rather than the "headline" speed advantage in the narrow altitude-band at 20,000ft...

Zig-zag curve was due to the engine being outfitted with 2-speed supercharger. Speed 'followed' the power, and at higher altitudes the air was thinner = less drag force = speed is greater up until the rated altitude.
What Spitfire do you have in mind here?

I once came across some squadron-level sources from Normandy (summarised in an Osprey volume, I think) which suggested that the Fw 190s in Normandy were performing low-level tip-and-run largely undisturbed by the Allies, which made me wonder if the Anglo-American perception of air superiority was simply because they weren't encountering the opposition at higher altitudes...

Similar as above: 'when?' is a crucial question that needs to be answered.

And at this point, when I started to look for climb figures, I realised that I only think of the Fw 190 as being relevant until mid-1944, when it was forced to abandon its traditional activities over southern England, the Channel and northern France, for reasons that had nothing to do with its performance...

I'd wager to say that Fw 190's 'traditional activities' over SE England were long gone by some time of late 1942-early 1943.
Performance of a Fw 190 laden with bomb(s) were nothing to brag about.

I'm not at all sure how well the Fw 190A climbed, either; the Fw 190D gave results in the range of a high-end Spitfire V, but... well, I have no idea why they were trying to reinvent a low-level fighter as an interceptor in the first place...
WWII Aircraft Performance
There is probably a few months worth of reading about different ww2 fighters there.
Comparing Fw 190D with Spitfire V is selling the 190D short.
 
Well, I haven't said the question 'against whom?' for nothing - a blanket statement like "I'd always understood that the FW.190 wasn't that great higher up" is painting with a too wide a brush. Fw 190 performance vs. other fighters probably warrants it's own thread.
Fair enough - what were its strengths at higher levels, aside from its speed advantage in a narrow window around 20,000ft...? I don't get the sense it had much if any advantage at 15,000ft or 25,000ft, so - asking from ignorance - what practical advantage would that give?

The correct answer against Fw 190, at least from the Supermarine stable, was installing the 2-stage supercharged Merlin (1st Merlin 61, later the better versions), and later the Griffon. Clipping the wings improved the rate of roll in general, it was the major improvement of engine power that allowed Spitfire to equal Fw 190.
Giving the Spitfire a two-speed blower certainly gives it a faster headline speed at 20,000ft. But I'm asking is how significant that really was as a tactical advantage for the Fw 190 in the first place (and how significant it was perceived as being at the time)...

A pilot of Fw 190 that allows himself to be enticed into a turning fight against Spitfire is not worth it's salt.
You could say exactly the same about a Spitfire pilot who tries to out-roll a Fw 190, though...

Zig-zag curve was due to the engine being outfitted with 2-speed supercharger. Speed 'followed' the power, and at higher altitudes the air was thinner = less drag force = speed is greater up until the rated altitude.
What Spitfire do you have in mind here?
Any Spitfire, so long as it has a competent propeller. Even a mid-1940 Mk.I with eight Brownings and a couple of blokes from de Havilland climbing off the hastily-modified propeller just before it takes off.

Similar as above: 'when?' is a crucial question that needs to be answered.
As I said, "Normandy", by which I mean "mid-1944". Not sure if that's obscurely idiomatic British English, or if there were just so many other things wrong with my remarks you skipped straight past that one...

I'd wager to say that Fw 190's 'traditional activities' over SE England were long gone by some time of late 1942-early 1943.
Performance of a Fw 190 laden with bomb(s) were nothing to brag about.
The problem, as I understand it, was that if they were intercepted, the Fw 190s could ditch any draggy objects they were carrying, and would often be caught with clean wings on the way back anyway - must have been particularly frustrating for the RAF when it was their own "rhubarb" raid/engagement tactic turned back against us with notably more success all-round.

Now, this is low-altitude, so I'm not sure if the new blower on the Merlin adds anything. Certainly the Tiffin and the Griffon helped in that context, but so did the simpler expedient of straight-ended wings on the ordinary Spitfire Mk. Vb (and nor am I sure the other options did any better in improving their roll-rate, though this seems to have remained the Fw 190's favour)...

You're right that "tip-and-run" raids declined in 1943, something I wasn't realy aware of, but this online article attributes that to a switch to the night-bombing of London in April 1943, dictated by a wider policy of trying to resume the Blitz; the other sources I can find quickly place the emphasis on the bulk of the Fw 190s involved being sent to Italy in June 1943...

And over Normandy in mid-1944 I've seen claims the Fw 190s reverted to low-level daylight sweeps with their old impunity, albeit perhaps discovering that columns of olive-drab vehicles in the bocage were less easy to locate and drop things on than the long broadside waterfronts of English seaside towns...

WWII Aircraft Performance
There is probably a few months worth of reading about different ww2 fighters there.
Comparing Fw 190D with Spitfire V is selling the 190D short.

There's a lot there, but even after glancing through it, I'm still not seeing anything that gives an overall sense of the Fw 190A's climb performance, and I'm not confident I could work out a reliable answer from the various ft/min figures for specific heights; I was hoping there'd be something to compare with the repeated Spitfire time-to-height figures that give a broadly consistent "7min to 20,000ft" for the 1940-1942 variants, and that someone reading this would know immediately where to find it!
 
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Fair enough - what were its strengths at higher levels, aside from its speed advantage in a narrow window around 20,000ft...? I don't get the sense it had much if any advantage at 15,000ft or 25,000ft, so - asking from ignorance - what practical advantage would that give?
The FW190 owned the sky up to and including 20,000ft until the MkIX arrived mid '42, even then it took the MkIX LF to really tip the balance to the Spits favour, don't be under any illusions otherwise.
 
Fair enough - what were its strengths at higher levels, aside from its speed advantage in a narrow window around 20,000ft...? I don't get the sense it had much if any advantage at 15,000ft or 25,000ft, so - asking from ignorance - what practical advantage would that give?

Giving the Spitfire a two-speed blower certainly gives it a faster headline speed at 20,000ft. But I'm asking is how significant that really was as a tactical advantage for the Fw 190 in the first place (and how significant it was perceived as being at the time)...
The Fw190A had better acceleration than the Spitfire V and a higher top speed, as a result it "could walk away from a Spitfire with no trouble at all." It could also normally dive away and the higher roll rate enabled quicker initiation of a turn for evasion even though the Spitfire would ultimately out turn it.

Eric Brown says the Fw190A-8, heavier but more powerful than the 1942 Fw190A versions, took 9.1 minutes to 19,685 feet, as far as I am aware the Spitfire V was better or competitive in a climb to 20,000 feet, the Spitfire IX better. Up to 20,000 feet the Spitfire IX and Fw190A kept swapping small advantages, but above that the Spitfire had an increasing advantage. A basic rule of thumb was when air forces fought each other altitude went up, if the army or navy were involved altitudes tend to go down. The 2nd Tactical, 9th Air force etc. ended up with fighters mostly designed to fight above 20,000 feet, when their operations tended to consider 12,000 feet as high altitude. The USAAF heavy bombers flying at over 20,000 feet were where the Fw190 was losing performance while the escorting fighters were higher still.

The basic British mechanical superchargers gave a steady speed increase to their best height then a decline, with the two speed two stage superchargers there was a low altitude peak in MS gear, a decline (or at best no speed increase) until the FS gear took over, then a speed increase to the FS gear best altitude.

The problem, as I understand it, was that if they were intercepted, the Fw 190s could ditch any draggy objects they were carrying, and would often be caught with clean wings on the way back anyway - must have been particularly frustrating for the RAF when it was their own "rhubarb" raid/engagement tactic turned back against us with notably more success all-round.

Now, this is low-altitude, so I'm not sure if the new blower on the Merlin adds anything. Certainly the Tiffin and the Griffon helped in that context, but so did the simpler expedient of straight-ended wings on the ordinary Spitfire Mk. Vb (and nor am I sure the other options did any better in improving their roll-rate, though this seems to have remained the Fw 190's favour)...

You're right that "tip-and-run" raids declined in 1943, something I wasn't realy aware of, but this online article attributes that to a switch to the night-bombing of London in April 1943, dictated by a wider policy of trying to resume the Blitz; the other sources I can find quickly place the emphasis on the bulk of the Fw 190s involved being sent to Italy in June 1943...

And over Normandy in mid-1944 I've seen claims the Fw 190s reverted to low-level daylight sweeps with their old impunity, albeit perhaps discovering that columns of olive-drab vehicles in the bocage were less easy to locate and drop things on than the long broadside waterfronts of English seaside towns...
See the official history for the list of 1943 Fw10 fighter bomber raids (Defence of the United Kingdom by Basil Collier) or the Chris Goss book. The official history list is 22 raids from 20 January to 6 June 1943, a total of 422 sorties, 25 losses, plus another 6 escorting fighters. Apart from the real advantage the standard Fw190A had over the Spitfire at sea level the fighter bombers tended to have engines that gave more power at low altitude. The RAF answer was the Typhoon and the Spitfire XII with the low altitude Griffon. The RAF fighter bomber operations were usually designed to provoke a fight, the German raids to avoid one, the RAF raids were usually further inland than the mostly ports bombed by the Fw190 in 1943.

In the first half of 1944 some Fw190 were used as night bombers as part of the Little Blitz. According to Alfred Price as of 31 May 1944 Luftflotte 3 had 1 dedicated fighter bomber unit, I/SKG 10 with 33 Fw190.

In June 1944 Luftflotte 3 reports its single engined fighter units had 157 aircraft MIA, 3 lost to AA, 264 in air combat, 37 bombed 30 strafed and 4 to other causes, total 495. In July that became 140 aircraft MIA, 8 lost to AA, 235 in air combat and 2 bombed, total 385.

During the Normandy fighting one US unit complained about a devastating air raid, the complaint ended up causing such a fuss Bradley and also Quesada went to see what had happened for themselves. Turned out around a squadron of Bf109s had done a couple of strafing runs, causing very little damage. Bradley went back and wrote his memo about no such thing as 100% air cover and units should take this into account.

The photographs Quesada sent to Bradley, on the allied side people moving around all day in close proximity, dumps with near zero camouflage, the front line easily seen as suddenly it became a deserted landscape, no people, no vehicles. Makes things easier for the army.

Which reference claims the Fw190 fighter bombers did well in mid 1944?
 
I was hoping there'd be something to compare with the repeated Spitfire time-to-height figures that give a broadly consistent "7min to 20,000ft" for the 1940-1942 variants, and that someone reading this would know immediately where to find it!
That would include the
MK I, with different props and different boost pressures.
The MK II with different boost pressures
The MK V with different versions of the Merlin 45-50-55 with
A. different boost pressures
B. different impellers in the superchargers.
C. Merlin 46-47 with a bigger impeller.
And finally the MK IX with the two stage supercharger.

Now a problem with the time to 20,000 specs is that they were often done (at least aver the MK Is) at 2850 rpm/9lbs of boost (climb rating) rather than combat boost and full 3000rpm so yes, the time to 20,000ft is going to roughly the same.

It also helps to have numbers for the turns. As in the clipped wing MK Vs increased their minimum turning circle by 55ft (1025ft) at 20,000ft while the Fw 190 had a minimum turning circle of 1450ft at 20,000ft. Clipping the wing on a Spitfire doesn't make any difference to the Fw 190s ability to turn with the Spitfire.
 
Fair enough - what were its strengths at higher levels, aside from its speed advantage in a narrow window around 20,000ft...? I don't get the sense it had much if any advantage at 15,000ft or 25,000ft, so - asking from ignorance - what practical advantage would that give?

Against what particular opponent?

Giving the Spitfire a two-speed blower certainly gives it a faster headline speed at 20,000ft. But I'm asking is how significant that really was as a tactical advantage for the Fw 190 in the first place (and how significant it was perceived as being at the time)...

'Nope' - for the 1st sentence.
Fw 190, when introduced and up until late 1942 and against current Spitfire models (Mk.V mostly), have held advantage in speed, probably in RoC, in rate of roll, acceleration in both level flight and in dive. Only advantage the Spitfire had was ability to make tight turns.

Any Spitfire, so long as it has a competent propeller. Even a mid-1940 Mk.I with eight Brownings and a couple of blokes from de Havilland climbing off the hastily-modified propeller just before it takes off.

Comparing a Fw 190 with 'any Spitfire' does not make sense to me.

As I said, "Normandy", by which I mean "mid-1944". Not sure if that's obscurely idiomatic British English, or if there were just so many other things wrong with my remarks you skipped straight past that one...

I'm not sure that Fw 190s were troubling the Allies over Normandy in 1944, since Allied held both performance edge and numerical edge there.

The problem, as I understand it, was that if they were intercepted, the Fw 190s could ditch any draggy objects they were carrying, and would often be caught with clean wings on the way back anyway - must have been particularly frustrating for the RAF when it was their own "rhubarb" raid/engagement tactic turned back against us with notably more success all-round.

By 1942, RAF has the Typhoon as a way to deal with low-altitude raids, even against the Fw 190s. A defender that has altitude advnatge vs. a low-flying intruder can often catch it in shallow dive.
By 1943, Spitfire XII was available, while the low-altitude Spitfires with Merlin 45M and 50M were available already in 1942.
Rhubarbs were tried out with lower performing fighters deployed by the RAF vs. higher performing fighters (Bf 109F-4s, Fw 190s) by Luftwaffe, as well as by 'ordinary' bombers (while LW seldom used bombers, if ever, in return). Higher losses for the RAF can be only expected.

Now, this is low-altitude, so I'm not sure if the new blower on the Merlin adds anything. Certainly the Tiffin and the Griffon helped in that context, but so did the simpler expedient of straight-ended wings on the ordinary Spitfire Mk. Vb (and nor am I sure the other options did any better in improving their roll-rate, though this seems to have remained the Fw 190's favour)...

Tiffin is probably Typhoon?
You can compare the respective speed graphs of the Spitfire IX and V and draw conclusions wrt. how much the change was worth it.

And over Normandy in mid-1944 I've seen claims the Fw 190s reverted to low-level daylight sweeps with their old impunity, albeit perhaps discovering that columns of olive-drab vehicles in the bocage were less easy to locate and drop things on than the long broadside waterfronts of English seaside towns...
I've seen claims that T-34 was the best tank of the ww2, and that Sherman was crap.
Now I know better.

There's a lot there, but even after glancing through it, I'm still not seeing anything that gives an overall sense of the Fw 190A's climb performance, and I'm not confident I could work out a reliable answer from the various ft/min figures for specific heights; I was hoping there'd be something to compare with the repeated Spitfire time-to-height figures that give a broadly consistent "7min to 20,000ft" for the 1940-1942 variants, and that someone reading this would know immediately where to find it!

Okay.
 
The FW190 owned the sky up to and including 20,000ft until the MkIX arrived mid '42, even then it took the MkIX LF to really tip the balance to the Spits favour, don't be under any illusions otherwise.
Possibly, but I'm trying to get to grips with the details...

The Fw190A had better acceleration than the Spitfire V and a higher top speed, as a result it "could walk away from a Spitfire with no trouble at all." It could also normally dive away and the higher roll rate enabled quicker initiation of a turn for evasion even though the Spitfire would ultimately out turn it.
Any idea what altitudes we're talking about for that sort of encounter?

The very fast roll is a given, though (I always took it that was a manoeuvre in-itself to shake a pursuer off their tail, but maybe that just shows my ignorance?).

Eric Brown says the Fw190A-8, heavier but more powerful than the 1942 Fw190A versions, took 9.1 minutes to 19,685 feet, as far as I am aware the Spitfire V was better or competitive in a climb to 20,000 feet, the Spitfire IX better. Up to 20,000 feet the Spitfire IX and Fw190A kept swapping small advantages, but above that the Spitfire had an increasing advantage. A basic rule of thumb was when air forces fought each other altitude went up, if the army or navy were involved altitudes tend to go down. The 2nd Tactical, 9th Air force etc. ended up with fighters mostly designed to fight above 20,000 feet, when their operations tended to consider 12,000 feet as high altitude. The USAAF heavy bombers flying at over 20,000 feet were where the Fw190 was losing performance while the escorting fighters were higher still.
That certainly doesn't sound like a competitive climb, but it's the sort of figure I'm looking for!

Amd I hadn't realised that the B-17s flew that high on the way in, either...

The basic British mechanical superchargers gave a steady speed increase to their best height then a decline, with the two speed two stage superchargers there was a low altitude peak in MS gear, a decline (or at best no speed increase) until the FS gear took over, then a speed increase to the FS gear best altitude.
Okay, that's just within the envelope of my understanding...

See the official history for the list of 1943 Fw10 fighter bomber raids (Defence of the United Kingdom by Basil Collier) or the Chris Goss book. The official history list is 22 raids from 20 January to 6 June 1943, a total of 422 sorties, 25 losses, plus another 6 escorting fighters. Apart from the real advantage the standard Fw190A had over the Spitfire at sea level the fighter bombers tended to have engines that gave more power at low altitude. The RAF answer was the Typhoon and the Spitfire XII with the low altitude Griffon. The RAF fighter bomber operations were usually designed to provoke a fight, the German raids to avoid one, the RAF raids were usually further inland than the mostly ports bombed by the Fw190 in 1943.
I'm aware that the Tiffy and the Griffon are conventionally cited as the answer to the Fw 190, but I've also seen statements that the simple squared wingtips provide the necessary low-altitude speed...

And thanks for the correction on the contrasting tactics - the individual RAF raids I'm most aware of are on places like Dieppe and Cherbourg, so that probably skews my perception...

In the first half of 1944 some Fw190 were used as night bombers as part of the Little Blitz. According to Alfred Price as of 31 May 1944 Luftflotte 3 had 1 dedicated fighter bomber unit, I/SKG 10 with 33 Fw190.
According to the piece I linked to, that was a continuation of what SKG 10 had been doing since April '43 - they were the part of the wing that was left behind when the main body went off to Italy in June '43, though the subsequent history of the rest of them seems underreported...

In June 1944 Luftflotte 3 reports its single engined fighter units had 157 aircraft MIA, 3 lost to AA, 264 in air combat, 37 bombed 30 strafed and 4 to other causes, total 495. In July that became 140 aircraft MIA, 8 lost to AA, 235 in air combat and 2 bombed, total 385.
Punishing numbers, supported by a quick glance at wikipedia's page on JG2 - do you know if it includes the Fw 190 Jabos, which are in a bomber unit rather than a fighter unit? And is the total just for Normandy, or does it include the interception of raids as well?

Which reference claims the Fw190 fighter bombers did well in mid 1944?
Something I read a few years back, I think just an Osprey volume summarising a war diary - it wasn't so much that they did well, as they don't seem to have had a meaningful impact on ground targets, but the thing that struck me was that they seemed to be able to fly their sweeps without real bother from the higher-flying Allies - I'll have to see if I can find it again...

That would include the
MK I, with different props and different boost pressures.
The MK II with different boost pressures
The MK V with different versions of the Merlin 45-50-55 with
A. different boost pressures
B. different impellers in the superchargers.
C. Merlin 46-47 with a bigger impeller.
And finally the MK IX with the two stage supercharger.

Now a problem with the time to 20,000 specs is that they were often done (at least aver the MK Is) at 2850 rpm/9lbs of boost (climb rating) rather than combat boost and full 3000rpm so yes, the time to 20,000ft is going to roughly the same.
I should have said "mid-1940 to mid-1942", not counting the early two-pitch propellers Mk.I or the Mk.IX with its much faster climb figures, but the information on how the figures were gained is intriguing, and explains why they all hover around the same number - I'm guessing there's not a conveniently clear guide to the flat-out figures in the same way...?

Nonetheless, if we can take that as a baseline for the Spitfire, then if the 9-minutes-to-20,000ft figure quoted above is reliable, it would seem that the Fw 190A was perhaps not in the game when it came to climb, which is the question I was interested in...

It also helps to have numbers for the turns. As in the clipped wing MK Vs increased their minimum turning circle by 55ft (1025ft) at 20,000ft while the Fw 190 had a minimum turning circle of 1450ft at 20,000ft. Clipping the wing on a Spitfire doesn't make any difference to the Fw 190s ability to turn with the Spitfire.
I know the Spitfire's modified wing wasn't removing its superiority in the turn over the Fw 190, though the change is proportionally less than I expected; the question I'm curious about is how much the change impacted on the Spit against the Bf 109...

And that's enough of me talking-too-much for one lunchtime...
 
That would include the
MK I, with different props and different boost pressures.
The MK II with different boost pressures
The MK V with different versions of the Merlin 45-50-55 with
A. different boost pressures
B. different impellers in the superchargers.
C. Merlin 46-47 with a bigger impeller.
And finally the MK IX with the two stage supercharger.

Now a problem with the time to 20,000 specs is that they were often done (at least aver the MK Is) at 2850 rpm/9lbs of boost (climb rating) rather than combat boost and full 3000rpm so yes, the time to 20,000ft is going to roughly the same.

It also helps to have numbers for the turns. As in the clipped wing MK Vs increased their minimum turning circle by 55ft (1025ft) at 20,000ft while the Fw 190 had a minimum turning circle of 1450ft at 20,000ft. Clipping the wing on a Spitfire doesn't make any difference to the Fw 190s ability to turn with the Spitfire.

Time for a turning circle needs a speed with it to be useful.
 
Time for a turning circle needs a speed with it to be useful.
Well, the British test didn't quote speed/s.

You are correct. Having speed would be much more useful. However the numbers show that there was very little difference between the clip wing Spit and the normal wing at 20,000ft and from the reports the difference was even less at lower altitudes. Now as compared to the 190, I could be way off but the 190 is going to have be traveling about 40% faster to get the same change in angle (travel an equal arc of curve) to "out turn" the Spitfires.

They did say "minimum turning circle" which would imply about the slowest speed but yes there are a number of minimum turning circles depending on speed.
 
Well, the British test didn't quote speed/s.

You are correct. Having speed would be much more useful. However the numbers show that there was very little difference between the clip wing Spit and the normal wing at 20,000ft and from the reports the difference was even less at lower altitudes. Now as compared to the 190, I could be way off but the 190 is going to have be traveling about 40% faster to get the same change in angle (travel an equal arc of curve) to "out turn" the Spitfires.

They did say "minimum turning circle" which would imply about the slowest speed but yes there are a number of minimum turning circles depending on speed.

Hi Shortround,

Was not knocking your post.

Most of the time, performance reports fall a bit short of necessary data if someone is trying to actually make performance calculations, particularly performance trials in WWII. I have noticed very few that are even semi-complete. It's like trying to get good aerial victory data ... it's always missing something.
 
Any idea what altitudes we're talking about for that sort of encounter?

I'm aware that the Tiffy and the Griffon are conventionally cited as the answer to the Fw 190, but I've also seen statements that the simple squared wingtips provide the necessary low-altitude speed...
A question to ask yourself, how does losing a maximum of 5% of the wing area give a better than 10% increase in top speed? To put it another way the Fw190A-8 did 355 mph at sea level, the Spitfire V was down to 330 mph at 10,000 feet. The 1941/42 fights against the Spitfire V were at various altitudes, the Merlin 45 arrangement gave top speed between 20 and 23,000 feet, slightly higher that the Fw190 but both were peaking performance at about the same altitude and the Fw190A had a margin, the Spitfire F mark IX peaked at about 27,500 feet. Remember for most of 1941/42 the Luftwaffe could generally pick were it was going to fight by day in the west, and tended to pick where it had the most advantages.

Punishing numbers, supported by a quick glance at wikipedia's page on JG2 - do you know if it includes the Fw 190 Jabos, which are in a bomber unit rather than a fighter unit? And is the total just for Normandy, or does it include the interception of raids as well?

Something I read a few years back, I think just an Osprey volume summarising a war diary - it wasn't so much that they did well, as they don't seem to have had a meaningful impact on ground targets, but the thing that struck me was that they seemed to be able to fly their sweeps without real bother from the higher-flying Allies - I'll have to see if I can find it again...
The Luftwaffe loss figures are from the RAF compilation, which put the fighter and fighter bomber losses together, they are losses in combat for all operations but there were no Fw190 on "strategic" raids post 6 June 1944.

Except the allies were not flying that high. The 9th Air force bombers had no aborts due to oxygen trouble October 1943 onwards and while the fighters did do some long range high altitude escort work, again for October 1943 onwards aborts due to oxygen failures were 11 P-38, 53 P-47, 49 P-51 and 1 P-61, that is out of 264,199 airborne fighter sorties. Something wrong with one of the crew caused 402 fighter sortie aborts.

I know the Spitfire's modified wing wasn't removing its superiority in the turn over the Fw 190, though the change is proportionally less than I expected; the question I'm curious about is how much the change impacted on the Spit against the Bf 109...
The Bf109 at that stage had a worse turning circle than the Fw190. It sort of goes like this, in a prolonged dive no piston engine type could stay with the Spitfire, for most practical medium level and above situations the Luftwaffe fighters could usually easily disengage from a Spitfire by diving, while at low altitude the lighter Spitfire elevator control meant the evasion method was to dive away from a Bf109 as if it followed it could not pull out as easily.

This sort of detail matters which is why people are asking for more specifics.
 
That's an informed opinion quoting some very relevant contemporary perceptions, all of which shows that a lot of knowledgeable people have rated the Fw 190, but what I'm trying to get to grips with is the under-the-hood evidence...

For example, one thing that's struck me in the discussion thus far is that even informed opinions about the Fw 190 don't always clearly distinguish between different types and tactics...

A lot of what caused the bother in RAF circles was the low-altitude daylight raiding by the Jabo units, the so-called "tip-and-run", and it seems that it was not checked by any RAF response, nor by the repositioning of the forces involved to Italy, but instead stopped in its tracks by an abrupt "change of policy" when the Luftwaffe switched to night-bombing of London in April 1942 (and in that new role, it seems that Mosquito NF Mk.IIs simply rode them down)...

How much of the quoted concern within the RAF actually related to the fighters of JG2 rather than the "tip-and-run" Jabos is something I've not really been able to establish quickly. A trip to a library may be in order...

And to pick up on a reply that I missed by crossposting when I was hastily responding over lunch on Wednesday...
Against what particular opponent?
Other competent contemporary fighters in general, as I said - it has a good speed around 20,000ft, and an excellent roll but what else does it do particularly well at altitudes much above 5000ft?

'Nope' - for the 1st sentence.
Fw 190, when introduced and up until late 1942 and against current Spitfire models (Mk.V mostly), have held advantage in speed, probably in RoC, in rate of roll, acceleration in both level flight and in dive. Only advantage the Spitfire had was ability to make tight turns.
Really?

Actually, it turns out to be worse than I thought...

Though I'm not sure whether anyone's going to think this is worth replying to...

(All numbers used are sourced from the spitfireperformance.com / wwiiaircraftperformance.org pages)

1. Let's start with the production-model A-3 which accidentally landed in Wales in 1942...

At 18,000ft, this Fw 190A did 375 mph
At 25,000ft, this Fw 190A did 350 mph

Now, yes, this was an aircraft with a "derated" version of the BMW 801D, which remained at 1500hp rather than the notional uprated power of 1700hp, and thus underperformed compared with the official German figures... but this is the Fw 190A that was in squadron service until the end of 1942; this is the Fw 190 that the RAF was facing in 1941-1942...

And, the short version is, those aren't especially impressive numbers; for comparison...

At 18,000ft, the Spitfire Mk. V did 360-375 mph
At 25,000ft, the Spitfire Mk. V did 350-365 mph

And in most cases, the aircraft that are slower at 18,000ft push up to 370-375 mph at a slightly different altitude; the situation will likely be reversed for the Fw 190...

And yes, those are all Merlin 45 numbers...

So, compared with the Spitfire Mk. V, the Fw 190 of 1941-1942 is competitive but not superior around 20,000ft, and mediocre at other reasonably high altitudes...

Honestly, I was surprised it didn't go faster...

Even the Spitfire Mk. I gets a bit of a look-in...

At around 18,000ft, the Spitfire Mk.I is quoted at 355-365 mph
At around 25,000ft, the Spitfire Mk.I is quoted at 340-360 mph

While a little slower at best altitude, performance is broadly equal higher up... can that parity be used tactically?

2. Now, yes, the Fw 190As in squadron service were allowed to be "fully rated" in October 1942, with engine modifications; how quickly they actually appeared, I don't know. In 1943, an upgraded aircraft landed in Kent, described in contemporary Allied reports as an A-3 but identified in modern sources as an A-4/U-8, in keeping with its identity as a Jabo, and the presence of closeable covers on the engine cooling vents...

This was taken for a spin by the RAE and "corrected to standard conditions", which I assume was simply a standard trick to do with air pressure and altitude...

At 11,000ft, this Fw 190A does 346 mph vs. around 330-365 mph for the Spitfire Mk. V at 10,000-12,000ft...
At 15,000ft, this Fw 190A does 369 mph vs. around 345-370 mph for the Spitfire Mk. V at 14,000-16,000ft...
At 18,030ft, this Fw 190A does 382 mph }
At 20,030ft, this Fw 190A does 385 mph } vs. around 360-375 mph for the Spitfire Mk. V at 18,000-20,000ft...
At 21,180ft, this Fw 190A does 385 mph }
At 24,750ft, this Fw 190A does 364 mph vs. around 350-370 mph for the Spitfire Mk. V at 23,000-26,000ft...

Now, these figures do better by comparison with a Spitfire Mk. V, noticeably nosing ahead of its best speeds by a few mph at around 20,000ft - the advantage at lower altitudes seems to be largely over planes flown with lower boost; but these numbers for the Fw 190 are rather artificial - they were obtained in a Jabo (presumably a lightweight plane which discards four of the fighter's six guns) with the cooling vents closed to maximise the aerodynamics, by pushing the engine to its limit at various heights on different days, and presumably overhauling it in-between; similarly, a climb rate was obtained by making several short ascents on separate days in that condition, rather than producing an actual realistic time-to-height...

And the one available time-to-height figure for a Fw 190A that someone's cited so far is punishingly bad. That's in line with the Dora's quoted time-to-height being not much better than a slick 1940 Spitfire, though...

Now, I'm not sure about dive and acceleration, but it looks to me as though the main speed advantage that the Fw 190A had at altitude was a tuned engine in tests...

I'm honestly surprised that it seems so easy to shoot down these numbers, and I'm sure I'll get a vigorous response; but it's certainly in keeping with what I was saying, and the perceptions I'd picked up - the strengths of the type are low-altitude speed and roll-rate, not practical speed performance at altitude...

Comparing a Fw 190 with 'any Spitfire' does not make sense to me.
See above.

I'm not sure that Fw 190s were troubling the Allies over Normandy in 1944, since Allied held both performance edge and numerical edge there.
They weren't really "troubling" the Allies, in terms of their effectiveness on the ground, but I recall being surprised by figures which suggested that they were performing their low-altitude sweeps without real difficulty, as the ability of the top cover to interdict them down there was negligible...

I do need to see if I can dig up what I think I remember, though...

By 1942, RAF has the Typhoon as a way to deal with low-altitude raids, even against the Fw 190s. A defender that has altitude advnatge vs. a low-flying intruder can often catch it in shallow dive.
By 1943, Spitfire XII was available, while the low-altitude Spitfires with Merlin 45M and 50M were available already in 1942.
But how much did they actually achieve, and how much more useful were they than squaring off the wingtips on a Mk.V?

The two "Spitfire Mk. XII" squadrons seem, in practice, to have been flying a mix that included the Mk.V, though I'm not sure of the numbers, or where they stood in terms of engine type and wingtip, or whether they noticeably short in terms of their results; the actual details that matter seem hard to get hold of...

Rhubarbs were tried out with lower performing fighters deployed by the RAF vs. higher performing fighters (Bf 109F-4s, Fw 190s) by Luftwaffe, as well as by 'ordinary' bombers (while LW seldom used bombers, if ever, in return). Higher losses for the RAF can be only expected.
Define "higher performing"? No-one's disputing that the excellent low-altitude performance of the Fw 190 made it better in the rhubarbing role...

Tiffin is probably Typhoon?
Yes, almost. A mistake on my part for "Tiffy", which is probably more familiar to you. Tiffin is afternoon tea...

You can compare the respective speed graphs of the Spitfire IX and V and draw conclusions wrt. how much the change was worth it.
Oh, there's no doubt the Spitfire Mk.IX was faster in the climb and at altitude than the Spitfire Mk. V. But is that significant against the Fw 190A?

I've seen claims that T-34 was the best tank of the ww2, and that Sherman was crap.

Now I know better.
The Sherman was a tracked SPG designed to fire Schneider 75 HE rounds... a competent vehicle, used particularly well by the deuxième divison blindée, but honestly, I can think of at least four better vehicles in the same category (one of which is an M3 half-track with an actual modèle 1897 Schneider in the back)...

A question to ask yourself, how does losing a maximum of 5% of the wing area give a better than 10% increase in top speed? To put it another way the Fw190A-8 did 355 mph at sea level, the Spitfire V was down to 330 mph at 10,000 feet. The 1941/42 fights against the Spitfire V were at various altitudes, the Merlin 45 arrangement gave top speed between 20 and 23,000 feet, slightly higher that the Fw190 but both were peaking performance at about the same altitude and the Fw190A had a margin, the Spitfire F mark IX peaked at about 27,500 feet. Remember for most of 1941/42 the Luftwaffe could generally pick were it was going to fight by day in the west, and tended to pick where it had the most advantages.
See above on the actual performance margin of the Fw 190 in squadron service (or lack of one!).

I'm not sure why you're quoting the Fw 190A-8, a 1944 variant, in this context... I don'

The Luftwaffe loss figures are from the RAF compilation, which put the fighter and fighter bomber losses together, they are losses in combat for all operations but there were no Fw190 on "strategic" raids post 6 June 1944.
I wasn't saying there were - but thanks for confirming that the number should include everything else!

Except the allies were not flying that high. The 9th Air force bombers had no aborts due to oxygen trouble October 1943 onwards and while the fighters did do some long range high altitude escort work, again for October 1943 onwards aborts due to oxygen failures were 11 P-38, 53 P-47, 49 P-51 and 1 P-61, that is out of 264,199 airborne fighter sorties. Something wrong with one of the crew caused 402 fighter sortie aborts.
So they're pretty much all below 15,000ft? Even so, if the Fw 190s are below 5,000ft, there could be a lot of air between them...

The Bf109 at that stage had a worse turning circle than the Fw190. It sort of goes like this, in a prolonged dive no piston engine type could stay with the Spitfire, for most practical medium level and above situations the Luftwaffe fighters could usually easily disengage from a Spitfire by diving, while at low altitude the lighter Spitfire elevator control meant the evasion method was to dive away from a Bf109 as if it followed it could not pull out as easily.


This sort of detail matters which is why people are asking for more specifics.
Oh, I agree, I'm asking for more specifics too...

One thing that's struck me going through this (if anyone's still reading) is how much more punchy the fighter-variant Fw 190's armament of four 20mm cannon and two rifle-calibre machine guns is compared with the Bf 109's one cannon and two machine guns - makes me wonder if that contributed to the higher regard that Luftwaffe pilots felt towards the type...
 
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Other competent contemporary fighters in general, as I said - it has a good speed around 20,000ft, and an excellent roll but what else does it do particularly well at altitudes much above 5000ft?

Against Spitfire V and lesser Allied fighters - better performance, usually better armament, usually better rate of roll.
Against Spitfire IX, XII, P-38H and 'lower, F4U, Typhoon - comparable overall performance, but usually better rate of roll.
Against P-47, Merlin Mustangs, Spitfire XIV, Tempest, late P-38s - worse overall performance, better performance vs. P-47 under 15000 ft, Fw 190 should still roll better.

This is for contemporary Fw 190A version.

Really?

Actually, it turns out to be worse than I thought...

Though I'm not sure whether anyone's going to think this is worth replying to...

(All numbers used are sourced from the spitfireperformance.com / wwiiaircraftperformance.org pages)

1. Let's start with the production-model A-3 which accidentally landed in Wales in 1942...

At 18,000ft, this Fw 190A did 375 mph
At 25,000ft, this Fw 190A did 350 mph

We should probably start with the Fw 190A-1? It was lighter and less draggy than the A-3, while also available much earlier. See here for the A-1 making 390 mph max on 30 min power rating, and 410 on 3 min power rating (on 25000 ft making ~380 mph on 30 min power) - these are the worst lines on the two graphs.
See here for about 10 km/h worse results for the Fw 190A (which one?) with BMW 801C; the speed graph for the 3-min power (Startleistung, or 'Startl' in that graph) is barely visible, but still.

And the one available time-to-height figure for a Fw 190A that someone's cited so far is punishingly bad. That's in line with the Dora's quoted time-to-height being not much better than a slick 1940 Spitfire, though...

Time to height metrics has everything to do with sustained climb.
With both aircraft fast cruising at, say, 20000 ft at 90% of max speed, the Fw 190 should be doing better in zoom climb category, since it's 90% is higher in true mph that that of Spitfire.

But how much did they actually achieve, and how much more useful were they than squaring off the wingtips on a Mk.V?
Seems like they achieved a lot.
You can compare the speed figures for the Typhoon, Spitfire XII and the best figures for the Spitfire V. Airforces of the world were usually keen to have faster fighters than what they had yesterday, at least before guided missile became a thing.

Define "higher performing"? No-one's disputing that the excellent low-altitude performance of the Fw 190 made it better in the rhubarbing role...

I've already defined the higher performing - Fw 190, Bf 109F-4.

Oh, there's no doubt the Spitfire Mk.IX was faster in the climb and at altitude than the Spitfire Mk. V. But is that significant against the Fw 190A?

Yes.

The Sherman was a tracked SPG designed to fire Schneider 75 HE rounds... a competent vehicle, used particularly well by the deuxième divison blindée, but honestly, I can think of at least four better vehicles in the same category (one of which is an M3 half-track with an actual modèle 1897 Schneider in the back)...

Pictures of a Sherman tank: link
I guess anyone is free to believe what they want, including that M3 halftrack w/ 75mm is better than the Sherman.
 
Now, yes, this was an aircraft with a "derated" version of the BMW 801D, which remained at 1500hp rather than the notional uprated power of 1700hp, and thus underperformed compared with the official German figures... but this is the Fw 190A that was in squadron service until the end of 1942; this is the Fw 190 that the RAF was facing in 1941-1942...
The notional power of 1700hp was in low gear at low altitude, Once you shifted into high gear (at around 8,000ft?) you had a peak of 1440hp at 18,700ft ( 2700rpm/1.42 ata)
It took around 200hp more power to drive the supercharger. You also had the supercharger heating the air more so even though it was at the same pressure it was of lower density.
And yes, those are all Merlin 45 numbers..
Since the Merlin 45 was a single speed supercharger and peaked at around 18,000 ft (?)with no ram (3000rpm/ 9lbs of boost) and it NEVER got higher at higher altitudes (20,800ft with 375mph worth of boost) it's high altitude performance never changed. Higher boost at low altitudes was simply opening up the throttle at lower altitudes. It could 15lbs of boost to a lower height than it could using 12lbs of boost. Engines operating any of the higher levels were all going to be using 9lbs of boost at 20-21,000 depending on the actual speed of the aircraft. When turning or climbing the FTH dropped as you don't get as much RAM.
At around 18,000ft, the Spitfire Mk.I is quoted at 355-365 mph
At around 25,000ft, the Spitfire Mk.I is quoted at 340-360 mph

While a little slower at best altitude, performance is broadly equal higher up... can that parity be used tactically?
Depending on the plane other things change. The clipped wing Spits were about 5mph faster at low altitude. about equal at 20,000ft and the full span planes were very slightly faster at high altitudes. The short span wings had less drag at low altitudes but at higher altitudes they had to fly the plane with a slightly greater angle of attack on the wing to make up for the lower amount of lift at the same speed which resulted in more drag. Spitfire wing is sort of case study in changes of wing aspect ratio rather than the change in wing loading. Both were going on. Now the problem is maneuvering rather than flying in a straight line and here the lower lift wings really begin to suffer. If you are trying to pull a 2 G turn the higher drag wing is going to slow you just a bit more than flying straight and level.
; but these numbers for the Fw 190 are rather artificial - they were obtained in a Jabo (presumably a lightweight plane which discards four of the fighter's six guns
Most of the early Jabo's just dropped the MG/FFM cannon in the wings and kept the cowl machine guns.
I am not sure if the 190Fs kept the cowl guns or not. I believe it was not until the 190Gs that the FW was down to just the wing root 20mm guns.

AS far as tanks go
"The Sherman was a tracked SPG designed to fire Schneider 75 HE rounds... a competent vehicle,"
The Sherman tank gun used the same size cartridge case as the Schneider 75 but they used a slightly longer barrel and a slightly heavier powder charge.

The early T-34 tanks used two different length 76.2mm guns and neither offered anything more than 75mm Shermans, except a much lower rate of fire.

Details do matter.
 
Gentlemen

Some pages from the Air Fighting Development Unit (ADFU) concerning that captured A-3 versus selected Allied Fighters

Eagledad
 

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The 190 was a much better aircraft than the Spitfire, and it should have been, it was developed half a decade later.

-Brutal armament
-Incredible roll rate (amazing ailerons and wing torsional stiffness)
-Very flat pilot seating orientation (high g limits)
-Low pilot workload (engine control computer)
-First ever (limited) use of fly by wire controls and high degree of all round electrification

The engine was not up to it at high altitudes so luckily for Britain the 190 was beatable.

If it had been introduced with a 2-stage supercharger, and without the materials shortages which robbed it of
use of full boost for most of its early career, the RAF would have had a very awful time.
 
Hi
Here are comments on the initial use of the Typhoon against low flying FW 190s, from 'Against the Sun, The Story of Wing Commander Roland Beamont, DSO, OBE, DFC.' by Edward Lanchbery:
Image_20230506_0001.jpg

Image_20230506_0002.jpg

It should also be mentioned that the FW 190 did not only face fighters, despite their low flying and short time over the target area they still lost aircraft, for example on 30th May 1943 SKG10 did not have a good day:
Image_20230506_0003.jpg

(Extract from 'The Blitz, Then and Now' Volume 3, page 274)

Mike
 
That's an informed opinion quoting some very relevant contemporary perceptions, all of which shows that a lot of knowledgeable people have rated the Fw 190, but what I'm trying to get to grips with is the under-the-hood evidence...

For example, one thing that's struck me in the discussion thus far is that even informed opinions about the Fw 190 don't always clearly distinguish between different types and tactics...
This forum cannot possibly fulfill those requirements, reading several books on the subject is required.

A lot of what caused the bother in RAF circles was the low-altitude daylight raiding by the Jabo units, the so-called "tip-and-run", and it seems that it was not checked by any RAF response, nor by the repositioning of the forces involved to Italy, but instead stopped in its tracks by an abrupt "change of policy" when the Luftwaffe switched to night-bombing of London in April 1942 (and in that new role, it seems that Mosquito NF Mk.IIs simply rode them down)...
I presume you mean the Baby Blitz which started in January 1944 and the reason the Mosquitoes could intercept was the Fw190 were cruising as they had to fly further to London at a higher altitude than the ports raids needed. The defences were inflicting losses on the day Jabos, but the very nature of the raids meant they could not be stopped short of large numbers of standing patrols, or better early warning.

On performance,
Actually, it turns out to be worse than I thought...
No, you are comparing flight test performances of new aircraft with tests of squadron aircraft and assuming the allies did push the Fw190 under test to its limits. The book Spitfire by Morgan and Shacklady has a number of test results, for example Spitfire Vc AA878 which had top speeds with various armament fits of between 353 and 359.5 mph at 19,000 feet. Compare results done under similar circumstances. Similarly do not assume a Jabo version has fewer guns and ask about bomb racks fitted. Do not forget Spitfires were using external fuel tanks with associated racks. That the mark V came with a variety of engines and propellers, fitting a snow or stone guard clipped around 8 mph from the speed at 360 mph. Your perceptions are based on invalid comparisons.

The large number of RAF and Luftwaffe pilot reports indicate the Fw190A had a real performance edge over the Spitfire V, if you are going to contradict them you need to explain why they are incorrect.

The two "Spitfire Mk. XII" squadrons seem, in practice, to have been flying a mix that included the Mk.V, though I'm not sure of the numbers, or where they stood in terms of engine type and wingtip, or whether they noticeably short in terms of their results; the actual details that matter seem hard to get hold of...
Try the Fighter Command War Diaries. 41 squadron received Spitfire XII in February 1943, giving up its Spitfire V in March, 91 squadron had XII arriving in April, last V leaving in May, 595 squadron had Spitfire XII December 1944 to July 1944, along with various other target tow types.

The Sherman was a tracked SPG designed to fire Schneider 75 HE rounds... a competent vehicle, used particularly well by the deuxième divison blindée, but honestly, I can think of at least four better vehicles in the same category (one of which is an M3 half-track with an actual modèle 1897 Schneider in the back)...
The Sherman was a tank, not an SPG. Is this conclusion based on reliability, maintenance requirements, useable terrain, turret speed or just power of gun and thickness of armour? In 1942/43 the Germans shifted from tank largely avoid tank to tank as anti tank. Meantime they tasked the assault gun as infantry support. The US largely kept the original ideas about tanks, creating the tank destroyers as the anti tank force. The result was the Sherman, more reliable, lower maintenance, able to go more places than German tanks, with the ability to train its gun quickly, useful for the close encounters so often found in Normandy. Shermans kept turning up for the battle much more often than German types did. The closer terrain in the west reduced the average range and made a turret much more useful than the relatively fixed assault gun mounts. Combined arms doctrines meant tanks were mostly attacking with infantry and suppressing the weapons hurting the infantry rather than engaging in fire fights with other tanks. I am reminded about how a group of M18 Hellcats took on some Panthers at close range, ambush followed by full speed driving while shooting as the Panthers could not train their guns quickly enough to shoot back.

See above on the actual performance margin of the Fw 190 in squadron service (or lack of one!).

I'm not sure why you're quoting the Fw 190A-8, a 1944 variant, in this context... I don'
See above for why the comparisons are misleading, also I am quoting the A-8 as it comes from an Eric Brown book and was the only one I could find with climb to altitude figures.

So they're pretty much all below 15,000ft? Even so, if the Fw 190s are below 5,000ft, there could be a lot of air between them...
Where does 15,000 feet come from? Or 5,000 feet? I noted 12,000 feet was considered high for the allied tactical air forces. Next comes the obvious point, why are all those allied armed reconnaissance flight assumed to be at those heights? And presumably going back to them after bombing and strafing. Where is the evidence? So far it comes down to a remembered idea about Fw190 fighter bomber losses, which hits the reality of what the Luftwaffe losses actually were followed by attempts to come up with a way of making the two fit. Do not speculate, provide the actual evidence.

One thing that's struck me going through this (if anyone's still reading) is how much more punchy the fighter-variant Fw 190's armament of four 20mm cannon and two rifle-calibre machine guns is compared with the Bf 109's one cannon and two machine guns - makes me wonder if that contributed to the higher regard that Luftwaffe pilots felt towards the type...
Until the Fw190A-6 of mid 1943 there were 3 different types of guns on board with different ballistics and velocities. Removing the outboard cannon in the A-5 and earlier was a common modification. The Bf109G-6 came along around March 1943, with the firepower upgrade to heavy machine guns and could be fitted with a 30mm cannon. Things like the Fw190 being easier to land and having a better view are reasons for liking it.
 
For general interest, these drafts are notable in the fact that the author appears to have gone to considerable length to redraft them and edit them to a degree
which is not usual even for drafts, which are common in these files.

I would attribute this to his trying very hard to make things look a bit more rosy. each draft is a little less panicked.

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