P-51D vs Dora

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by grampi, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. grampi

    grampi Member

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    After recent trip to the U.S. Air Force museum I saw the Dora and P-51 parked next to each other, it made me wonder how the Mustang pilots had such great success against these planes. The Dora had more than a 500 HP advantage over the Mustang, but was about 10 MPH slower. The one thing I did notice is the Dora looked considerably bigger than the Mustang, which may or may not have been a disadvantage. Were the tactics of the American pilots better, was it a case of superior numbers, or was the Mustang just a better plane?
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    By Dora I reckon it you mean the Fw-190D-9?
    The D-9 did have had more HP, but at 'wrong' altitudes, and with MW-50 kit available working. At 20-30000 ft, the P-51D was on par with power available, while the drag was greater for the D-9 - hence less speed vs. P-51D. With 150 grade fuel available for the P-51 (from Spring of 1944 on), the D-9 was in dire straits also at lower altitudes, since the P-51s engine was running the engine at higher boost (=more power) at these altitudes.
    Another thing to consider is timing - D-9 arrived in service units, in more than token numbers, at late 1944/early 1945, and by that time the LW was in dire disadvantage in planes available, pilots (both quantity quality) and fuel available. Many people are convinced that even the Me-262 couldn't reverse the situation, under same circumstances.
     
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    All in all, two very equal airplanes that distributes advantage to the better pilot.
     
  4. grampi

    grampi Member

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    Yes, it's a D-9...
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Most WWII aerial combat happened below 20,000 feet. So how can you say Fw-190D9 HP peak was at wrong altitude? Can you think of a better fighter aircraft @ 15,000 feet during fall 1944?
     
  6. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, a P-51D, especially when you have 20 - 60 or more friends and the Fw 190D-9's show up in quantities of 4 to 12 or so. Not that the Luftwaffe couldn't put up more but, as the war wore on, they could do so less and less often. From the summer of 1944 onwards, the Luftwaffe was usually but not always well outnumbered.

    A lot of the combat in WWII did happen below 20,000 feet, but not necessarily over Europe. A heck of a lot of it happened between 20,000 and 30,000 feet in the ETO right alongside the bomber streams. In the ETO you needed a plane that was very good from 15,000 feet to 28,000 feet or so, and it needed to at least be decent at low level if the fight somehow got to ground level, which it sometimes did.

    If there is ONE theme in the talks given by most of the pilots we've had presentations from at the Museum over the years, it is the fact that the ETO was fought at high altitudes compared with other theaters and especially with any training they got before getting to Europe. Sure, there werea few combats at 5,000 - 15,000 feet ... but they were very few comparted with the majority up high and maybe 25% or so down low looking for "targets of opportunity" on the way home from a CAP mission.

    One of the worst problems could happen if you were fighting at, say, 20,000 feet and got a hit in the Oxygen system. The drill was to roll upside down and pull for the ground before you passed out from lack of Oxygen. Sometimes they didn't make it and if was luck whether or not they woke up before intersecting with the cumulo-granite bottom cloud deck.
     
  7. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    A Hawker Tempest?
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Well, if you are trying to intercept bombers flying at 22-24,000 ft and their top cover escorts are flying 3,000-5,000 ft higher than that having an plane that is "tops" at @ 15,000 feet is mighty cold comfort.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    German fighter aircraft tasked with high altitude missions typically had high altitude engines. What is the issue?
     
  10. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    What good is a German fighter in 1944 that isn't set up to fly at 20,000 to 30,000 feet and shoot down bombers? Or fly the same altitude and shoot down allied fighters?
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    22-24,000ft in 1944 isn't "high altitude". Altitudes at which fights started had been higher in the BoB. Were they finish is another story, but letting you opponent consistently start from higher positions or be able to maintain his height better is a sure way to lose the air war.
     
  12. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Spitfire XIV?
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #13 GregP, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
    Back to the question asked in the first post. I think the P-51 and the Fw 190D were quite well match with a LOT mor P-51's coming over to fight than there were Fw 190D's to oppose them. As the war drew on, the quality of the P-51 pilots grew while the quality of the average German replcement pilots fell.

    The top German pilots never got worse ... they simply got fewer. By autumn 1944, the war was lost and the Germans knew it, except for Herr Hitler. Their petrol supplies declined and pilot cadre grew smaller and of poorer quality. By early 1945, say Jan - Feb, we were ending over hundreds of fighters escorting sometimes a thousand bombers and were being opposed by 25 - 50 or even 60 fighters. The handwriting was on the wall.

    Even at the end, if you could FIND a one-on-one matchup between a German and an Allied fighter with skilled pilots, it was a fencing match. The problem was FINDING a one-on-one matchup. It was usually more like 4 on 20 or more. The outcome was pretty much decided by who had more guys wanting to shoot down the other guys. We even had the fuel to chase the few German fighters back to base and shoot them down while they were setting up for landing.

    Not many pilots on either side wanted to actually fly over an enemy airfiled due to flak, but landing German planes HAD to slow down and get into landing configuration to roost, and were not able to hand around and fight for an hour, while the P-51D escorts had the fuel to DO that in large numbers. It made for some discouraging times for the Kuftwaffe and they did well to fight on to the end.

    One-on-one, I think the Fw 190D and the P-51D were a good matchup with the Fw having superior roll rate while the P-51 was more manuverable and just as fast if not slightly faster. Armament edge would go the Fw, but the numbers and range easily go to the P-51. By late 1944 onward, I'd give the average pilot edge to the Allies while the top German pilots were simply the best that ever flew combat, if you go by accomplishment in the war. For me, that is the best measure of a combat pilot.
     
  14. silence

    silence Active Member

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    Not to nit-pick, but did the quality of the US pilots really improve, or was just that as the German replacement quality continued to fall the gap widened even more? If new US pilots did keep improving in quality, that REALLY says something about the US fighter schools.

    My great uncle was one of those US pilots. Because he wore glasses he was initially rejected, so he went to Canada, learned to fly, then came back and applied again, this time being accepted (gee, I wonder why?...!). Sadly, I never got to meet him: he was killed 1-1-45 in the process of blowing up a train near Nice.
     
  15. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The US pilots got better as their training got better. Once our guys flew their mission limit, they rotated home, did a war bond tour if famous, and then went to the combat-prep schools to pass on the hard-won lessons of air combat. I believe a US combat pilot fresh out of school in late 1944 was better than his early-war pilots compatriots by a considerable margin. Some of the guys who were there say so, too.
     
  16. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    Combination of them all basically. Luftwaffe training had totally deteriorated with their fighter pilots getting far less training than an equivalent US (or British) one.
    Numbers was an issue, but not until later in'44 in the sense of Mustangs.

    High altitude performance was a big thing. The 190D was, as admitted by Kurt Tank, an interim design until better high altitude German engines (two stage ones) became available.
    The US bombers came in high,many of their escorts were higher still, therefore fighter combat, which had been trending down after the BoB, climbed up again.

    The 109 coped since it always was a high altitude fighter but it's small size prevented really upgunning it enough to take out the bombers, if it was, with gun pods attached under its wings, it's performance deteriorated so that it was very uncompetitive against the US fighters especially the Mustang.

    The 190 being heavier with the BMW 801 engine suffered too. Like the British Napier Sabre it ran out of puff at the high altitudes. So the tactical environment changed and the Germans were caught short.

    In terms of fighter to fighter combat, the Mustangs could sit quite comfortably much higher than the 190s, then dive down on them (a height advantage is one thing every fighter craves). If the 190As tried to come up to them, then they became uncompetitive, if the 190s tried to ignore them and go for the bombers then the Mustangs could dive down using their height advantage.

    Now tactically the Germans faced the same issue as the RAF did in the BoB, but unlike the British which had Spitfires which were as good as (or close to) the 109s higher escorts performance so they could be put against them, while the slower and lower altitude performing Hurricanes could wreck havok with the bombers.

    So think of it as the 109s were the German Spitfires, the 190A's were the Hurricanes of the time. Trouble was that unlike the 1940 109/Spit fighters where they were fairly equal, the 109s of the time were not equal to a Mustang at all.

    Hence the 190D, which, using the analogy again, was like a Hurricane (in this role) with a Merlin XX series engine, helped but still inferior at the higher altitudes (lower down lethal though).


    Now MW-50 did not help high altitude performance at all, but NO2 did. 190As never used MW-50 (they used C3 injection). NO2 greatly increased high altitude performance, though only for a time until it ran out. It also increased the weight of the planes that used it and, as the German production/transport system broke down became difficult to get.
     
  17. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #17 GregP, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
    Very well said, Oldskeptic, though I'd hate to characterize the Fw 190 as a Hurricane. It was worlds better unless you wanted to fly above 20,000 feet or so (varies with variant). It hit hard, rolled better than any opposition until it got fast, and could maneuver well if not that well near the stall which, after all, is NOT where you want to be in combat anyway. In the medium speed range it was lethal.

    I'd say the German aircraft were generally outperformed or outnumbered, though still dangerous in a one-on-one situation ... or 4-on-4. Certainly not nearly so much in a 12-on-50 situation.

    When the numbers were disparate, the Germans were overwhelmed without a doubt, through no fault of the pilots, commanders, or the aircraft. They were a relatively small country trying to conquer the entire world through military might, and the world both outproduced and outfought them while bombing the German infrastructure until the outcome was inevitable.

    If they had been nice to the people they conquered and welcomed the Jews, Poles, Russians, Slavs, Croats, etc. into their society, maybe the outcome could have been different. As they were, every single country they conquered autonomously generated a resistance that tied up enormous resources with little result other than bleeding Germany of the manpower it needed to finish what it started.

    If you really do liberate people, they embrace you. If you ensalve them, they resist until you are dead or leave them alone to pursue their own destinies separate from you and your laws.

    The Serbs and Croats resumed WWI as soon as the overwhelming Soviet influence went away ... it seems to be winding down, but you never know. Old feelings die HARD and are passed from generation to generation if only from childhood perceptions.

    Hopefuly no more world wars?
     
  18. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    The situation was a bit more complex... there were no "Slavs" as a single block, there were very serious tensions between numerous slavic people, and often they hated each other much more than the invading/"liberating" Germans, due to centuries old Grievences. Ukrainians (at least initially), Croats and Slovaks were very much pro-Axis through the war and actively fought their old enemies the Polish/Russian, the Serbs and in the case of the Slovaks, ironically, the Czech and Ukrainian. The reason was that many of these states were articially formed after WW1, regardless of their peoples will, and usually the more powerful/influental people dominated the smaller nations. The reality was that the Germans very much benefitted from these old feuds, there was no uniform resistance anywhere I can think of, perhaps except Poland. Even in France resistance only started by far-leftist groups after their ideological parent, the USSR was invaded. Until then, they very much supported the NAZI invaders.

    There was these small war-in-wars that nobody really written of very much yet..

    If you mean the civil war between ex-yugoslav states... there was never any serious Soviet influence over them. Tito was going on his own way, essentially the Soviets characterized him as an "agent of the West".
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Ah, the primary requirement for the liquid cooled supercharged engine in the 190D was to seek and destroy targets at 25K+ and be able to engage US Fighters at that altitude. The FW 190A was a superb fighter with peak performance at 19-20000 feet,

    As to 'better' the Laag 7, the P-51B/D, the Spit XIV come to mind as 'just as good or better' depending on which performance attribute you want to pick. The P-47M, while 'buggy' was certainly in that category
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Despite the development of the Ta 152 the Germans, well aware of the altitude performance of the BMW powered and Jumo powered variants of the Fw 190, were pursuing other options. A DB 603 E powered variant of the D-9 was tested in December 1944. It was styled a D-14 in a contemporary document. It was 52 kph faster than a standard D-9 at 7,500 metres.

    At a Rustungstab meeting of 29th December 1944 Galland demanded higher priority for the production of Fw 190 A-9s, D-11s, D-12s and D-13s equipped with MW 50. He considered installation of the DB 603 E in the Focke-Wulf fighters as a "Sonderaktion", an urgent priority. Interestingly, given his post war posturing, there was no mention of jets.

    The D-14 project was abandoned, revived and abandoned several times in the late war chaos that characterised the late war management of the aircraft industry in the Reich.

    There was also an advanced plan to convert Fw 190 A-8/F-8 airframes to take the DB 603 E. Plans and costings, prepared by Dipl. Ing. Willi Kather, showed that it would cost slightly more than that of converting an A-8 to a D-9. This was designated the Fw 190 D-15. Drawings were to be available on 13th March 1945 and the first prototype was expected in early April. The model was even allotted the werknummer series 31xxxx. Time simply ran out for this one.

    It's obvious that the Germans knew they had "an altitude problem".

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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