Luftwaffe drop tanks

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by von hahn, Aug 12, 2016.

  1. von hahn

    von hahn Member

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    Hi all,

    I was wondering if anybody has a definitive guide to Luftwaffe drop tanks? I'm trying to find out if they had a standard pressure relief tube protruding from the front of the nose of the drop tank or if this tube only appeared on some tanks?

    I've seen tubes on some tanks in photos but not in others.

    Any clarification would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I think you've answered your own question. Which was used where and for what is another one for which I don't have an answer :)

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  3. von hahn

    von hahn Member

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    Hi Steve, I disagree about answering my own question,though I understand what you mean.

    As we all know, there were many different manufacturers of all types of aircraft components during WW2 (a strategy that governments employed to try and minimise the risk of supply interruptions should a factory be bombed and to increase production cspacity). But as a result, sometimes a component from company A differed slightly from the identical component from company B.

    Alternatively, sometimes a component underwent slight changes in design during its production lifetime ( Bf109 canopy frames for example). This would make the use of a certain style of part more appropriate for a specific period.

    I'm sure that the above is the case with Luftwaffe drop tanks too.

    I'm trying to establish if it is a known or documented phenomenon that some 300l drop tanks had a tube at the front and others of identical type didn't, and if so, was it due to being made in different factories or simply being made at different times during WW2.
     
  4. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #4 Wurger, Aug 13, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
    Do you mean a such tank? If you do , the protruding pipe isn't any standard pressure relief tube. As memo serves the short pipe was the "handle" for a stick that was a a kind of a visual indicator whether the tank was dropped or not. I would say these tubes could have been splitted off from the tank easy while being stored or transported. In a couple of pictures I have seen traces of these pipes broken off.


    Bf109 drop tank.jpg

    stuka_300ltank.jpg

    stuka_300ltank_a.jpg

    stuka_300ltank_b.jpg

    stuka_300ltank_c.jpg

    Fw190_300l_drop_tank.jpg
     
  5. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    And here two more shots and an image of the pipe trace at the tank "nose" used for Bf109E-7..

    F-4_drop tank.jpg
    G-4_drop tank.jpg
    E-7_drop tank.jpg
     
  6. von hahn

    von hahn Member

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    Thanks Wurger! Yes, this tube is exactly what I was meaning. Thank you for the pictures! So the tube is a visual indicator? I never knew that but I'm very grateful to have learned.

    So i guess the tube WAS standard, but sometimes broke off?
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Aaaah! That tube. As you can see in the last picture (a Bf 109 E-7?) there is no tube fitted. This is because it would serve no purpose on a drop tank slung underneath the fuselage, it would not be visible to the pilot.

    There were different versions of the 300l drop tanks. Also, late in the war, some were made in steel rather than aluminium. They were built to similar patterns though the construction technique is slightly different. At the time they would be hard to tell apart, but not now :)

    [​IMG]

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  8. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    Actually the tube wasn't the indicator but the stick was. The pipe was used for handling of the stick. Just a member of a maintenace crew put the stick into the pipe. As far as the breaking off is concerned... I would say yes that was the reason. But these could be omited if the tank was attached at the under fuselage rack. As you said the tank wasn't seen under the fuselage by a pilot.
     
  9. von hahn

    von hahn Member

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    Thanks so much Stona and Wurger for the very helpful information! I really never knew that this tube served that purpose!
    So then a tank WITHOUT the tube would be installed on Fw190 and Bf109s because the tank was mounted under the fuselage?
     
  10. Wurger

    Wurger Siggy Master
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    #10 Wurger, Aug 13, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2016
    As you might notice in the first image posted in my #4 a such tank with the pipe but without the stick could be attached to the fuselage rack too. If you have a look at other pictures of the jettisoned tanks that can be found via the net , you may notice the tanks that are creased , damaged , etc... it may indicate the careless storage or using of regained ones. So there is no rule which one of the tanks were mounted.. Also please remember that there were other tank types that were quite similar to the 300l one in shape but of different capacity and etc. These could be made without the "indicator" at all. Of course we can assume that all of the 300l drop tanks were made with the tubes but for some reason , the part of them lost the pipes. Just no rule there. In the same way we may ask what kind of the floor the P-51 had.. metal or wooden? I would say the one that a worker took from a pile of the metal and wooden floors next to the assembling line.
     
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  11. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    always kind of intrigued me to see how many LW fighters you see in gun camera footage that didn't drop their belly tanks but kept flying..
     
  12. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    If getting jumped (or tapped in today's speak) and you don't jettison the performance limiting things it would be either or both of an experience or training shortfall. Training should have taken care of surprise. I'm as shocked by the number of kills who didn't maneuver their plane. It's much more difficult to hit a jinking airplane than one that's not. I imagine a lot of those kills were probably FNGs with way below adequate training.

    Also realize that the Western kill scores rose as the German cadre of experience was whittled down. More Allied fighters over Germany means more kills means more gun camera footage for us to watch. Particularly after Doolittle cut the string between the fighters and bombers.

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
  13. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    I sort of adopted the theory that for a lot of vets it was something out of the norm...meaning they hadn't flown with drop tanks before and having to dump them if jumped wasn't part of their routine or previous training. now it was an additional step that might get easily overlooked when they go into "auto pilot" following previous routines. I can see new guys get flustered or freeze and their minds draw a blank at that terrifying moment when they realize someone is on their ass with the intent of killing them.
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It wouldn't have been when flying 'defence of Reich' missions in the period where a lot of the allied gun camera footage comes from.
    It was standard procedure to take off on the first mission of the day with a drop tank. Subsequent missions were generally flown without one.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
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  15. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    thanks. I never knew that.
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Here's the relevant excerpt from a US intelligence report, based on the interrogation of the "Geschwader Adjutant of JG 3."

    [​IMG]

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  17. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Didn't know that either. Any idea why? Not enough to go around?
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I would suggest it was a question of time. The Germans were now tracking the USAAF's formations as they left the target and an effort was made to get that fighters up as quickly as possible to make another attack. The various Gruppen may also not have landed at their 'home field'.
    A look at Luftwaffe operations in Reich Defence shows that a successful second interception was anyway fairly unusual and this too must be down to a combination of geography and time.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  19. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Makes sense. So not so much a standing practice but more a result of mission constraints.
     
  20. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    it does make sense. they could intercept further from their field and fly home faster than the bomber stream. IF the bombers were headed their direction they would be refueled and armed and back in the air with a chance to meet them but this time at a closer distance.
     
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