Highest altitude piston engined shootdown?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by vinnye, May 18, 2010.

  1. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    Just watched a programme on TV about German Aircraft - and an interception of a Ju 86p recon aircraft was mentioned in the Med at 16.300m. It did say that the interception was by a modified Spitfire - I assume a Mk v?
    Still seems pretty high for both planes!
     
  2. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    It is. Well. less so with the Ju86. But the Spitfire was a specially modified model. I don't know if you would even call it any mark at all. I think they were factory modified. I am relatively sure the ammo load was very small as the theory was you only had to punch a hole in the Pressurized Ju86 to destroy or force it down to a more manageable altitude.

    They used one over England too for the same reason. The JU86s were doing high altitude recons and getting through unscathed. But it was only a stopgap measure. The RAF put a few bucks into making a Mosquito that was high altitude. Longer wing span, specialized engines and pressurized cockpits (as well as a paint job that melded into the backround at that height), it was finished to late to be a threat to the JU86s which had pretty much been scared off by the Spitfires by then.
     
  3. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #3 Colin1, May 18, 2010
    Last edited: May 18, 2010
    A Ju86 was intercepted by a Polish pilot, (Prince) Emmanuel Galitzine. The Spitfire in question was an HF VI which was, as far as I'm aware, an official mark of the Spitfire. The HF VII was a more refined high-altitude version than the HF VI but it wasn't a big production run by any stretch.

    Ju86 escaped when one of the Hispanos jammed, every time the still-operational gun fired, it slewed the aircraft in the rarified atmosphere and Galitzine had to fight to regain control. He had, unfortunately, fired off all of his .303 to lighten the load and accelerate his climb to intercept. Even the working Hispano seemed damned that day, one round embedded itself in the Ju86's leading edge and failed to explode.

    I've got a facsimile of the combat report at home if you can wait.
     
  4. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Some Spit VI were used against the Ju86P but also some Mk V's. In the Med the Spit VI was too heavy so the 103 Maintanence unit at Aboukir modifed 6 Mk V aircraft taking out the armour, the engine had a modified compression, a 4 bladed prop (taken from the Mk VI) and the guns replaced by 2 x 0.5 mg plus the pointed wingtips and the airframe was polished and smoothed out.
    Later the battery was replaced with a lighter one, the fuel reduced by 30 gallons and the radio taken out with the mast removed. The tactics changed with the SPits operating in pairs one called the marker the other the striker the difference being that the marker still had the radio. If they couldn't reach the Ju86 the striker being lighter would climb higher than the marker keeping the marker in sight. In this manner the Marker would follow the directions from the ground and the striker keep position on the marker and being higher intercept.
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    Not a shootdown rather a takedown but on May 10, 1945, a Corsair piloted by Lt. R. Klingman chases a Japanese Nick to 38000 feet. Guns were frozen so he chewed off the enemy tail surfaces with his prop, and the Nick crashes. Klingman lands deadstick. I have seen a photo of the plane and it was a three blade prop. Probably an F4U1D.
     
  6. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #6 Colin1, May 18, 2010
    Last edited: May 18, 2010
    Here we go
    some pretty hairy altitudes for air combat and this was 1942
     

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  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Nice job Colin. Good report.

    Very tricky flying. Seems to have spent the whole engagement near the envelope of stalling speed. A lot of slipping and skidding done, unintentionallly for sure.

    Good post.
     
  8. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    top speed and stall speed very close at those altitudes, even going into a turn can cause a stall
     
  9. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #9 Colin1, May 18, 2010
    Last edited: May 18, 2010
    Thanks Tim
    few mistakes over from my earlier post (that'll teach me to try and recite from memory), it was indeed a Mk IX stripped of armour, all .303s (so he wouldn't have needed to fire off his ordnance) and was fitted with a wooden propeller. The HF VII was effectively a Mk IX with a pressurised cabin but they weren't yet operational at the time of the intercept.

    The HF VI tried to intercept high-altitude raiders on a couple of occasions but still only sported single-stage supercharging; none succeeded in getting above 37,000ft.

    Oh, and Galitzine was a Russian immigrant to the UK, not a Polish pilot. Anything else I got wrong? :)
     
  10. T Bolt

    T Bolt Well-Known Member

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    There’s an interesting story I read about a Spitfire pilot flying out of Hong Kong after the war. He was flying at very high altitude checking the weather. Conditions were good so the pilot pushed it as high as he could. I can’t remember the altitude but I know it was well above 40,000 He was flying right on the edge of the planes performance and basically lost it and went into a dive. They figured out later that he had set a record for top speed of a piston engine aircraft in that dive. The controls didn’t respond for a long time and the canopy had completely frosted up so he couldn’t see out. Finally he managed to pull out of the dive and the altimeter read something like 3500 feet when he leveled out, but they figured it was more like 2000 ft due to lag time in the altimeter. Fortunately he was over the ocean and didn’t run into a hill. I’ll have to look up the exact numbers when I get home tonight.
     
  11. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Excellent Post
     
  12. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    That altitude in an un-pressurised cockpit is amazing!
    Guess it would have been quite cold too!
    Thanks for sharing the combat report - a good read.
     
  13. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    And painful. Not sure how the whole thing works out but isn't there a chance of getting the blood problems or something similar going up that high? I think if you go much higher, your blood starts to boil.

    Something along those lines as the pressure goes lower.
     
  14. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    The altitude reached by F/Lt Ted Powles On 5 February 1952 flying a Photo recconaisance PR19 Spitfire was recorded at 50,000 ft indicated true altitude 51,550 ft.

    Spit fire PR 19s with pressurised cockpits could cruise at 370mph at 40,000 ft and were recorded during excersises after the war climbing to 49,000 ft during approach flights to the target.
     
  15. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    My late father who was an RAF instrument technician told me that the RAF experimented with pressure jerkins which he described as an inflatable corset. The jerkin was inflated during the climb and provided a mechanical resistance for the chest and abdomen muscles to work against and let the pilot breath in an unpressursed cockpit. Apparently this allowed the pilots to operate for short periods above 35,000 ft which I believe is the max altitude a human being can safely operate at for a reasonable length of time without damage.
     
  16. Mike Williams

    Mike Williams Active Member

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    Nice Colin. Interesting info all.
     
  17. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    I believe the Germans operated an even higher altitude version of the Ju86 than the 'P', the R version.
    This had longer wings.

    Can't say as I have seen much data or pics on them.

    Anyone?
     
  18. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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  19. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    Thank you Colin1, a very interesting piece.
     
  20. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    agree
     
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