P-38's performance: legend or myth?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Sgt. Pappy, Dec 2, 2006.

  1. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    Now, after playing Aces High II for almost 8 months, the bird seems like the complete opposite of what I've read. In the sources I read, the P-38L-5 could allegedly climb at up to 4,750 fpm under 5,000' for example.

    In Aces High, the best it can manage with WEP is 4,200.

    Also, I've heard that those Fowler flaps could help it outturn Mustangs with flaps. In the game, the P-38L will first be able to drop a notch at 250 IAS. When traveling above that speed, it won't drop any flaps. I was told that above 300IAS, the P-38L will not outturn many planes even if theyre going the same speed.

    Even with the couter-rotating props stopping torque, effectively hanging me vertically in the air like a UFO, many planes still catch up to me. When they do, I just CAN'T shake 'em, no matter what I do - rolling scissors, flat scissors, dive, climb - you name it.

    Is the P-38 really this smelly? And for the Aces High players, do you have any suggestions? I'm starting to feel that the P-38 is severely undermodeled in AT LEAST climb rate, and is quite undermodeled in turning circle. The Fowler to those flaps aren't doing anything.
     
  2. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Its probably under-modeled.... With am experienced pilot, the P-38 was a killing machine....

    However, many an experienced pilot died at the wheel of the Lightning... Not an easy bird to master...
     
  3. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    O yes, a pain to learn to fly indeed. However, despite this, the plane should still outturn the Mustang... which it cannot do at any speed, whether the Stang is at the same speed or not.

    I truly believe it's undermodeled b/c many of the Aces High II players have lost the ability to turn fight int the P-38J/L's.

    Sextacular avatar btw.
     
  4. the lancaster kicks ass

    the lancaster kicks ass Active Member

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    haha, you'll find that opinions of the P-38 are very firmly divided on this site, some will claim she is the greatest aircraft ever and could turn inside every other plane ever made without exception, not only that but she was the best aircraft in every role so it's a wonder any other aircraft were ever used at all! Others will argue she was expensive, hard to fly, hard to maintain, useless without turbos and freakin' freezing to fly in!
     
  5. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    Yup that about sums it up. :lol:
     
  6. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    The latter statement above covers the majority here at our illustrious site...

    And thx for the "whoo hoo" on my avatar...
     
  7. Sgt. Pappy

    Sgt. Pappy Member

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    Ha ha, no problemo. Anyway, the P-38's controversial profile was a mix of BOTH of those biases. It could turn inside many planes AND was hard to fly. It was one of the greatest planes AND it was pricey as a result. Either way, I still think it got a little undermodeled in AH:II. O and I'd like to point out that the P-38L couldn't turn INSIDE a Spitfire, but it could 'stall ride' inside one. Even so, the P-38 is supposed to outturn the Stang in a flat turn w/ flaps.

    Oh well, I'm learning new ways to energy fight in my Spitfire, so I'll take that up for a spin lol.
     
  8. Hop

    Hop Member

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    There are all sorts of figures floating about for the P-38. Most of the higher ones come from those who worked on the P-38, and are the claimed results of the manufacturer's own tests. The amount of info on these tests (atmospheric conditions, weights, corrections applied etc) is usually lacking.

    The highest climb rate I've seen for a P-38 from an actually sourced test is the Wright Field test of a P-38J running at 70" wep on 150 octane fuel. That achieved 4020 ft/min at sea level, up from 3570 ft/min when running at 60" wep. That's at takeoff weight with full ammo and 416 gallons of fuel.

    An earlier test, also at Wright Field, found 4,000 ft/min at combat weight with 300 gallons of fuel.

    Aces High doesn't model 150 octane fuel for any allied aircraft, so unless the 4,200 ft/min figure for the P-38 in game is achieved at a lower weight, it's overmodelled.
     
  9. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I still however would not base a planes real performance and handling off of a computer game.
     
  10. wmaxt

    wmaxt Active Member

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    I think this statement is pretty close. The 8th did allow 70" boost from early summer '44 on for J model P-38's. The P-38L-5 got the 111/113 engines rated at 1725hp @ 64" but the POH was developed with he 89/91 engines (1600hp) used in the J and L-1 aircraft. It has not been clearly proved that the AAF officialy approved of this setting but in the field the throttle stops were often modified or removed check out the Planes and Pilots website for some info and graphs. The graphs are lockheed archives for internal use only and were released in the late '80's and NOT a sales tool. P-38: Der Gabelschwanz Teufel another good site is The P-38 Lightning This article by Wayne Cunningham, details things like drag comparisions, the usage of 150 octain and throttle stops. Flight tests and the 150 fuel tests and authorizations are at the same site WWII Aircraft Performance

    If using the full 1725hp the higher climb rate should be accurate.

    Lanc I think the P-38 was between those extreams and included a little of both. In the end I think it ranks up with the top 4 or so fighters of WW2 but since they all had different strengths that there can never be just 1 best.

    Robin Olds on the P-38 "It was a great fighter, fun to fly. With a decent pilot you could whip anything, down low." On the Bf-109 "we could out turn them at the altitudes we flew." Above 30,000ft I belive according to reports the 109 had the edge. Robin was flying J models in August '44.

    wmaxt
     
  11. Soren

    Soren Banned

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    Oh god ! :rolleyes:
     
  12. Twitch

    Twitch Member

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    My 1st question is why the hell would anyone on a flight sim or in real combat be stooging around at under 5000 feet and not expect to be smoked? Why use your plane's disadvantages and expect to survive. P-38s were energy fighters and attempting to use them in round round fights at low altitude is a recipe for disaster.

    No one in combat was dropping flaps at any speed for any reason. Climbing is relative to attitude as well. Where the P-38 could climb rapidly at 150 MPH at a less steep angle than an opponent it didn't mean the opponent could close and pull lead either. Rate of climb is not consistant through all altitudes. As environment changes tuning comes into play to a point where a plane like the P-38, poor at low height, could out perform opponents at higher altitudes. A real P-38 could pull a climb that would ultimately force Japanese fighters to stall out before they could get lead. I know, I've discussed it with real P-38 pilots.

    Certainly the P-38 had an advantage in head on firing passes with Japanese opponents. It could also make diving passes, fire pass out of range and translate its speed into a zoom climb that couldn't be matched. They did it all the time!

    I spent years associated with the gaming industry and you need to realize that programers dial in performance that makes for good gameplay. They also have no lock on actual performance under all circimstances for every plane they model either. Most never consult actual aces to factor in real world performance for each particular plane. Usually their development time constraints relaitve to bringing a sim to market precludes exhaustive expermentation and research.

    I've seen time and again unrealistically modeled planes like the Uber Hurricane in European Air War that could out perform all planes of its era to a point that was ridiculous! The reality is that combat flight sims aren't real, they're just fun.
     
  13. twoeagles

    twoeagles Member

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    I watched a wonderful display of P-38 "energy management" for the first
    time back in the Miami Air Races (1973??) where Gary Levitz flew the P-38
    against a field of Mustangs, a Corsair, Sea Fury, and P-63. At each
    pylon turn, Gary would pull up rather steeply and go around the pylon far
    above the rest of the racers, and then push the nose over and accelerate.
    Halfway down the straight stretches he would catch up with the rest of the
    aircraft, and then repeat that maneuver.

    It takes little imagination to visualize a P-38 coming down into the enemy,
    slashing and causing mayhem, sweeping upwards with that momentum,
    reversing and pushing back down into the fray again. That was a very
    graphic demonstration for me at a time I was on the road to becoming
    a Naval Aviator, and much later spent no small amount of time teaching younger pilots energy management in vertical maneuvers.
     
  14. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    As we have went over many times before talking about the P-38 (and other planes), is that an air force and plane should be measured by an average pilot flying it, not a expert with hundreds and hundreds of hours in it.

    Winning air forces are built around an average pilot and what he could do with the plane he was given.

    Example: -ME262 great plane, but too few, too late, newbies could not fly. Did not make a huge impact on the war. (it could of if produced a couple years before in good numbers with the pilots who could fly them)

    -P-38 great plane in the hands of a rare ace but not nearly as good in the hands of a average pilot (who makes up the vast majority of any airforce).

    Whether the P-38 could do these things (huge if) in the hands a but a few aces or not....does it matter really. How many guys could ever get the max out of it?? Only a handful, as Germany found out a handful of great pilots do not win a war. The P-38 was not a "great" plane in the hands of a average pilot, it was a good plane (nothing more) in the hands of the average pilot.
     
  15. the lancaster kicks ass

    the lancaster kicks ass Active Member

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    and there will be plenty more people that have nothing good to say about the aircraft..............

    and i'm with Hunter RE the pilot skill, few pilots had the skill to use her.........
     
  16. JonJGoldberg

    JonJGoldberg Member

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    ...There is a lighting in CFS-2 as well. At first I thought that the plane was inaccurately modled... I still have 'issues' but, concider this >>>

    After flying the '38 in CFS-2, moaning, I've studied the AI's (game animated opponents)... I have also flown other twin prop 'sim' fighters, in CFS-2 as well as other sims. Seems in order to get the most of these aircraft, you need to be able to 'control' each engine. Most of us do not have dual throttle flight sticks, and thoes that do uasually do not have enough time in dual engine fighters to be able to properly 'trim' the engines props to advance or retard turning, while in 'sim-bat'.

    Proving, yet again that the pilot, as much as the aircraft, determines performance.

    As for Twich's comment 'bout choosing a '38 to dog fight, he's got a point, sort of... In online gaming, which I now do often, CFS-2 just has been addictive for me, many 'gamers' will only play using 'game issued, CD-stock' aircraft. The only 'American' dogfighter in this game would be the Hellcat... The only 'Japanese' energy fighter in this game is the George... I regularly fly the 'sair, no dogfighter, in dogfights. In fact I've been using this aircraft almost exclusively. (Maybe) I'd achieve much better 'dog-fighting' results using a Zero, assuming I'd make myself as familiar with this plane in CFS-2 as the Corsair; but I've enjoyed the game more, learned more using the 'sair... I've leaned to be 'reasonably' sucessful, get better over time, in forcing 'duals' to favor my aircraft's strenghts; not slowing down to fight for example. The learning experience, the use of 'tactic' is without doubt most enjoyable, near perfection, when you are the 'victor'... Lose the 'exchange', you relish the fact there is a reset button, you have at it again. So Twich, as in 'real life', I bring a 'sair to a dogfight, hoping to find a bunch of slow Zeros as 'easy' fodder, so I may zoom boom them. In the event I find myself in troubble, I fantisize 'bout letting her rip, running for a fresh start; however, sombody uasually forces me to reset, as I've been 'killed'. Fun Fun Fun !!!

    Hunter, I agree with; "(a) plane should be measured by an average pilot flying it, not a expert with hundreds and hundreds of hours in it". I do not agree that "an air force should be measured by an average pilot flying (in) it, not a expert with hundreds and hundreds of hours in it." I do not agree with "as Germany found out a handful of great pilots do not win a war."

    The avarage pilot, as a group goes to mission... There are the exceptions amungst them, at both extreams. As a group, the mission may be a sucess or failure, but it is each individuals action, without exclusion, that determines outcome. From an idea, to a plan, from paper to thoes who will implement, it seems always the 'exception' or if you will, the 'exceptional', that solidifies for the majority the 'outcome'; at time thoes exceptions, or thoes that are exceptional, thier contrabutions outweight the contrabutions of the avarage. At times, it is the avarage that is overwhelming to the exceptional. In either case, it seems it is the exception that qualifies the event.

    Germany didn't find "a handful of great pilots do not win a war", they found it impossible to keep thoes handfuls of great pilots supplied, thankfully.

    ...Ooops!!! The '38; well, as on paper, in the hands of the few who 'truly understood' her, she was 'leathal', a stunning proformer. So glad she was built in service, regadless of the fact she was a beast to fly maintain, regadless of her cost, it was money well spent.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    Jon,

    Germany found out the hard way that a few hundred aces do not win a war b/c not only could they not keep them supplied (good point) but also they could not keep them alive. The small group they are called the "start to end group" are very few indeed that qualify as true experts who lived after the war ended. Many great German pilots died flying from "start to end" before they ever reached the end.

    UK and USA had the right idea. Train men to a good level then send them into combat for a short time (compared to German pilots who served the whole war). Numbers...its all about numbers. German could not keep up with the numbers of good pilots (and planes) the Western Allies threw at them, Germany could not produce the same number of pilots (at same level of training) and the experts could not shoot down enough of the Allies to win.

    Allies chose to produce many competent pilots flying good machines. That was the winning strategy in the end. They over powered in numbers anything Germany could put up even if it was a better plane or pilot.
     
  18. twoeagles

    twoeagles Member

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    Hunter is correct - it doesn't sound very glorious, but in fact the war in
    Europe and the Pacific was decided when America's avalanche of productivity
    came into play. The Luftwaffe died of attrition, for every Allied aircraft they
    dispatched, two more filled the air space. And American shipyards built more
    ships in one month than Japan built in the 4 years after Pearl. (The Japanese
    were already rationing everything before they attacked Pearl Harbor - the
    war in China and American embargoes had already tightened the noose).

    Still, that takes all the fun out of the discussion now, doesn't it?

    Older and sentimental I am now, there is no sound like the P-38, and her size
    gives her a grace doing aerobatics that isn't matched by single engine
    fighters. I haven't played any simulation games, but I need to so I can
    understand a lot of what I am reading here! (Still, for air to air combat,
    the P-38 would not be my first choice unless I had a very long distance
    mission to fly.)
     
  19. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

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    Yes but that is me....cut to the chase. Boring but its the truth.
     
  20. JonJGoldberg

    JonJGoldberg Member

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    ...What I meant, by saying that Germany could not keep her elite pilots supplied, was/is to include the fact that the insufficient supplies caused their death, or if you will, attrition, as surely as it was caused by their individual slayers, or local circumstance.

    These 'inexperienced' "start to end group" German pilots had different stories during the beginning of the war, or on their first deployments in Spain. They as of yet, I believe, were not elite, their mentors were; yet all they were supplied…. Lets simply say, well.
    During that time you may say they were successful.

    The question of volume competence vs. limited excellence, well I for one wish there was a clear instance where this can be ‘calculated’. Given ‘adequate supply’, were the German’s (at times) superior machines, (at times) ‘elite’ skills enough to overwhelm the Allied production? Maybe!!!

    Upon closer look, your absolutely un-rebut-table statements about survival replacement admit the lack of supply needed to keep a minimum number of ‘German elitists’ able to cope with the mass alive functional, forget about the idea of supplying an optimal number of them; weather the lack of supply means no one available to be recruited an elitist, available to train the recruited to be an elitist, or the material is not available for the elitist to render more holes for the opponents production capacity to fill... How the elitist (at the time) Germans found themselves in this predicament, in my IMHO is as much to do with their ‘tactic’ ‘politic’ failures as it does their inability to ‘mass produce’ as the US could, at the time.

    I whole heartly agree with twoeagles 'bout the grace and sound of the '38; but still would not choose her for long distance flights, unless there were no T-bolts, I was limited to US types, as I may choose a Mosquito if allowed to explore Allied inventory, we are talkin' Europe, I don't think (although I do not know for sure) the 'tropics' were good for wood...

    [​IMG]
     
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