Messerschmitt Bf 110 vs P-38 Lightning

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by imalko, Jul 19, 2009.

  1. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    #1 imalko, Jul 19, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2009
    Let's see what are similarities and differences between this two aircraft - both twin engined, heavily armed, both used as heavy day fighters, night fighters, fighter-bombers and recconaisance aircraft. Both outmatched in comparison to one engined fighters. And yet, Bf 110 is characterized to some extent as failure while P-38 is considered to be successful design. Why is that? I would like to hear opinions on this matter.

    Also, is there any accounts of this two aircraft ever facing each other in direct combat? Which would emerge victorious out of dogfight between this two "heavies"?
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    I would suspect that adding a second crewman added a lot to the weight and complexity to the airframe.
     
  3. lingo

    lingo Member

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  4. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    P-38 would win any air to air confrontation. The Me110 was not a good fighter. It did better as a nightfighter or jabo.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I would suspect that this comes down to the fact that the P-38 succeeded in its intended primary role, while the Bf 110 did not.

    The Bf 110 failed against the nimble fighters as a day fighter. It did however succeed in other areas such as night fighter.

    The P-38 for the most part succeeded in all intended roles.
     
  6. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    Sure P-38 it's a best day fighter of 110, but if i'm not in wrong 110 fightning from '39 and P-38 from '42
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The -110 was defiantly a better night fighter than the P38. No question about that.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I doubt RAF Bomber Command would agree with that statement. Furthermore the American 8th Air Force considered the P-38 a failure.

    Just for fun let's compare aircraft price during 1941.
    Me-110. $84,056 (210,140 marks)
    P-38. $134,284.

    During 1941 an Me-110 cost 63% as much as a P-38.
     
  9. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    It is actually something of a myth that the Bf 110 was a failure in its intended role as a long range fighter/bomber escort. I suggest you read "Zerstorer" by John Vasco and Peter Cornwell, you'll find that although as noted it was not as nimble in combat against single engine fighters if the correct tactics were used it could more than hold its own, at least in the conditions that prevailed during the Battle of Britain.

    Admittedly by 1943/44 it was totally outclassed as a Zerstorer, but had found its true calling as a nightfighter.
     
  10. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I know it doesn't count for a whole lot, but I really like the "looks" of the Me110. It has a shark like appearance to me.

    Does anyone have good info on how well it performed as a "tank buster"?
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    And the US economy was so big, cost was no object.

    And the 9th, 15th, 5th, 11th and 14th AF's didn't consider it a failure.
     
  12. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I don't see fighter cost as being an issue for the USA during WWII.
     
  13. imalko

    imalko Well-Known Member

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    Agree with everything you wrote... When said it was considered as failure I was referring exactly to this "popular myth". However, it's not my opinion. Actually I think that Bf 110 was very capable plane. For example, in 1940 max. speed of Hurricane was recorded to be 488 km/h, but in the same time this was cruising speed of Bf 110 on 4900m altitude! Under certain circumstances (escorting bombers flying high above them for example) in 1940 Bf 110 was more that capable to hold his own against RAF fighters.

    On the other hand in "popular histories" P-38 was never considered to be a failure in any way. I thought it would be interesting to discuss why is that the case and how these two planes would perform in straight fight with each other...
     
  14. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "..I don't see fighter cost as being an issue for the USA during WWII..."

    Agreed. The P-47 was a more complex airframe and plumbing system than the P-51. And the P-51 in it's Allison incarnation was a more simple system than in its Merlin incarnation. The P-38 wasn't designed for manufacture the way the P-39, P-40 and P-51 were.

    The reality is the American military had the OPTION - the LUXURY of the option - of choice. Allowing multiple platforms to be developed and delivered concurrently. More P-47's were built than P-51's. More B-24's than B-17's. In both cases the more expensive solution was favored.

    Compare the flight deck of a Lanc with a B-24 Liberator ... :) Bare bones vs LUXURY :) Of course the Lanc carried more and flew way better :)

    MM
     
  15. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #15 Colin1, Jul 19, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2009
    Bf110G-2 :Name: P-38J
    53ft 4in (16.27m) :Span: 52ft (15.84m)
    41ft 7in (12.67m) :Length: 37ft 10in (11.53m)
    13ft 1in (4.0m) :Height: 12ft 10in (3.91m)
    349mph (561kph) :Max speed: 414mph (666kph)
    2,170ft/min (661m/min) :Rate of climb (from sea level): 3,700ft/min (1,127m/min)
    19,000ft (5,791m) :Best altitude: 15,000ft (4,572m)
    26,000ft (7,924m) :Service ceiling: 44,000ft (13,411m)
    11,220lbs (5,089Kgs) :Empty weight: 12,800lbs (6,395Kgs)
    18,800lbs (8,528Kgs) :Take-off weight: 17,500lbs (7,937Kgs)
    22,100lbs (10,024Kgs) :Max loaded weight: 21,600lbs (9,798Kgs)
    2 x DB605B-1 1,475hp (1,010Kw) each :powerplant: 2 x Allison V-1710-111/113 1,425hp (1,062Kw) each
    413.3sq ft (38.4sq m) :Wing area: 327.5sq ft (30.5sq m)
    50lbs/sq ft (218.2Kgs/sq m) :Wing loading @ take-off weight: 53.4lbs/sq ft (260.3Kgs/sq m)
    560 miles (901 Kms) :Max Range: 890 miles (1,432 Kms)
    2 x MK108; 2 x MG151; 2 x MG81 (rear) :Armament: 1 x 20mm AN-M2C; 4 x .50 cal
     
  16. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    Göring's Zerstörer concept called for a heavy, long range day fighter to fly ahead of the bomber streams and attack enemy interceptors as they were either on the runway or still climbing for altitude.
    Willy Messerschmitt didn't believe in it because he didn't think such a force would always be able to keep the fight on their terms, but he was happy to design the plane anyway.

    Strictly speaking the BF-110 was designed to be and always was an attack aircraft of sorts, it was never truly a fighter. Consider how it was intended to be used, and how indeed it was used in France. About an hour before the bombers are sent, fly deep into the combat zone at cruise height, dive on enemy airbases, destroy enemy interceptors. It is something tactical bombers (like the stuka) would normally have to wait until the battlefront was moving forwards to do (due to limited combat range), well after the bombing phase. It was a revolution in aerial combat doctrine.

    Well Chain Home killed it. Enemy interceptors were already at altitude and the BF-110 wasn't a match as a regular fighter type. After the first few sorties the idea was dropped in the Battle of Britain and the BF-109 sent to escort bombers in the regular fashion.
    But then there is Norway, and attacks in Northern England were out of the range of the 109 so the BF-110 was sent as escort and attacks were massed on the southern coast to draw RAF interceptors southwards. Unfortunately RAF administration was well organised and when the northern attacks came there were interceptors in the air ready to defend, the BF-110 suffered terrific losses and this is one of the main reasons for its poor reputation. Among RAF pilots the turkey shoot of those particular missions became legendary.

    But the Luftwaffe wasn't about to give up on the BF-110, which was already due to be replaced by an improved Me-210 with a dive bombing capability.
    Erprobungstaffel 210, which was equipped with fighter-bomber modified BF-110s and BF-109s began making a series of limited raids on the southern coast and across the channel islands, exploring other tactical uses of the heavy fighter concept, this time as a schnellbomber or fighter-bomber and dedicated ground attack aircraft.
    It achieved its second win in this role during 1941-42 on the Eastern Front, mostly because the few Soviet fighters it couldn't outrun it could still put up a worthy defence to, being heavily constructed and handling very well for an attack aircraft (compare it to a Mitchell for example).

    Night fighter variants are three-seaters btw. The problem with these was that they lost so much speed they found it very difficult to catch enemy bombers. Not that they couldn't, but they were going hell for leather to do it. Other types like the Ju-88G and so on were far better for the role, but the BF-110 had the numbers (G-4 was the main type in the late war).

    During 1943 the heavy fighters took up another new role as bomber destroyers. This was mostly due to the armament capabilities and variations of the BF-110G series which could mount some seriously heavy hardware. Again performance was an issue in this trim, but it was solid and could take a little defensive fire, and could mass ahead of the bombers and attack from good range with rockets and heavy BK cannons to break up the defensive boxes.
    By this time the Me-210 had been in production and the Me-410 was entering production and dedicated versions of these models were again better for the role, particularly the Me-410 with its extremely powerful DB-603 engines.

    During 1944 the air war had changed quite a bit for Germany and there wasn't really a place to use the last of the series. The Me-410 was in fact an excellent and contemporary design with fantastic performance in its class, but no two seater with twin engines was going to do well at this stage, the survivability rate for anything but a short range single seater, operating over limited range at very high speed was poor.

    For 1945 the Ta-152C was due to take over as the new Zerstörer from the Me-410/Ju-88, with all the fighter performance of something like a Mustang and a Thunderbolt, and the attack performance of the Me-410 rolled into one.
     
  17. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    too large difference from empty and take off weight (almost if this is not with boms) for 110, empty weight i think it's also a few too low
     
  18. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Sorry Vincenzo
    are you saying the weight difference between the two a/c is too great for comparison or that I've made a mistake? If a mistake, where? I had to run this together from several sites.
     
  19. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    #19 Vincenzo, Jul 19, 2009
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2009
    sorry for my english imho in the data there is a mistake, the empty weight for 110 it's a bit low (12300/12500 i think) and take off can't be 18800 w/o external load (that aren't good for fightning)

    edit i think clean take off it's ~16000
     
  20. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Altered
    with new data, making the Bf110 heavier at empty and max weights. Neither a/c would engage each other at max weight, they'd drop all the external ordnance to shed weight and clean up
     
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