P38 vs P47 vs 109 and 190

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by pinsog, Nov 5, 2009.

  1. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    I was reading some very old post tonight and I began to notice a patern. When asked about P38 vs P47 most people picked the P38 including the die hard German guys. Now, it is, as far as evreything I have ever read, generally accepted that the P47 broke the back off the Luftwaffe. BUT, when the same people are asked about P38 vs either a 109 or 190 it invariably comes back that the P38 will loose every time. From all the posts I read, a P38 couldnt shoot down a 109 or 190 if the German planes were out of gas, filled with concrete and the pilots were on vacation. Add to that was the reasoning that a P38 simply couldnt turn well enough to ever shoot down a 109 or 190. One wonders after reading the posts if a P38 EVER actually shot down a single engine German fighter. YET, history records the P47 crushed the Luftwaffe despite the fact that it cant outturn anything and it sure cant outclimg anything either, except for the zoom climb. (I know, the paddle blade prop to)

    Anybody want to explain the alleged discrepensies here?
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    #2 tomo pauk, Nov 5, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
    Claiming that my favourite plane, the P-47, broke Luftwaffe's back is redicioulus. It took many years of air war to destroy Luftwaffe, and the list of the planes that took part is a long one.

    Back to the Jug, he didn't need to out-turn any opponent, since it was 'B-N-Z' fighter. Diving form altitude, firing at opponent, than climbing back was the game.
     
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  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Any aircraft can make a high speed pass if they are lucky enough to start with an altitude advantage. Even an otherwise slow speed clunker like the F4F. A great Boom Zoom fighter must have a superior rate of climb so it can easily reach that superior altitude.

    Concerning the P-38...
    The P-38 was very expensive to produce. Leaving that fact aside it was a good aircraft on paper. However in the real world it was plagued by problems which reduced performance and mechanical reliability at high altitude. Assuming it doesn't malfunction I would prefer a P-38 over a P-47 from the same time period.
     
  4. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    I understand that the Jug was a B Z fighter, but the P38 can B Z also. The P38 can also easily turn inside the P47. It was only about 10 mph slower than the P47, depending on whose top speed stats you look at, and was a much better low altitude fighter than the P47 and also easily outclimbed it also. BUT, regardless of that, almost everyone picked the P38 over the JUG in a head to head comparison, but then most people were saying that the P38 was "easy meat" for any German single engine fighter. Yet, it was the P47 that made the biggest impact in the fight from 43 until the P51 arrived. No one here would say the P47 was easy meat for any German fighter, but they say that about the P38, yet, most people pick the P38 over the Jug in a head to head contest. I'm just wanting someone to explain their own posts. When you read them all, they dont make sense.
     
  5. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    The P-47 is a better boom and zoom fighter than the P-38. In Europe that was crucial. If you are an escort fighter in 1943-44 you will more often than not start combat with an altitude advantage. If you play that card well in a P-47 there is not so much any Bf 109 or FW 190 can do. For a P-38 it will be harder to follow any of the two German fighters even if you got an energy advantage. The P-47 may not be a great roller or turner but it's still better in that area than most if not all models of the P-38.
     
  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Wanted to add something about P-47 already having the needed height, but riarcato just beat me to it.
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    It is silly for anyone to claim that a P-38 will always lose or even lose most of the time. Secondly you need to define which model because the manuever flaps and improved intercooler and boosted ailerons made the P-38J-25 and above a very fine fighter.

    The bigger problem for the P-38 was its very large wingspan and size. It was easy to spot it before being spotted yourself if you were in a 109 or 190. Seeing the other a/c first gave one an immeditae advantage tactically.

    Now, define 'broke the back' of the Luftwaffe.

    My personal key component of that definition is rendering the LW impotent with respect to air superiority, and in particular over Germany. Many fighter types contributed to pushing the LW back to German borders. Only one type took the battle the rest of the way... actually two - but the P-38 maxed out with four Groups and two converted in May-June.

    The Spit and the P-47 were important over France and Holland and Italy. The P-38 was a very good fighter in the MTO.

    When the later versions of the Jug entered combat ops with fuel cells and wing pylons their range was extended well into Germany but that was essentially after Normandy campaign. By that time the 51 was (and had been) performing target escort - and continued to do so because most of the P-47 Groups in 8th FC had converted to 51's. The 356th, 353rd, 56th and 78th were only P-47 groups remaining during Operation Market Garden - the other 11 were Mustangs.

    The P-47 was very important in getting the 8th and 15th AF to the borders of Germany but only the Mustang and P-38 enabled target escort and fighting LW over Germany.
     
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  8. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    #8 Watanbe, Nov 5, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
    The P38 offers the piece of mind of a twin engine and a great set of nose guns, otherwise I would pick the P-47. Its tough as nails, fast and good at high altitude.

    Edit: As said above, the advantage of the P-38 was the range it offered over the P-47. It was an escort in the traditional sense.

    Also says something of the Mustangs capabilities to have the range that it did and remain a competitive fighter.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Do we have statistics which show the average number of sorties performed before each aircraft type is lost?
     
  10. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    Personally, I liked both the P38 and the P47, and I think under 15 or 20 thousand feet the P38 would beat a 109 and do ok with the 190. No one argues what the 47 did. I know the Mustang was a great fighter, but I have never liked it for some reason. Probably because everyone else does. I like the Corsair the best myself, but I digress.
    I didnt think the Spitfire had a huge strategic effect on the war due to its short range. I knew it was an excellent, fast climbing short range interceptor but it had difficulty taking the fight to the enemy because of its short legs. Dont want to offend the Spit fans out there, this is merely my perception from what I have always read.
    When I said the 47 broke the Luftwaffes back, I have read that more than one place. I guess if I were to define that, I would say it was in the fight when the Luftwaffe was the strongest and still had a well trained experienced group of pilots, took the fight to them(because of longer range) and caused them serious losses. By the time the Mustang arrived on the scene in numbers, the Luftwaffe had been seriously roughed up and had lost alot of experienced people that were being replaced by MUCH less experienced pilots. Not to say that they werent still a potent fighting force, but they werent what they were when the 47 first started escort duty. Just my opinion right now, I could still be swayed one way or another.
     
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  11. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Not precisely but I could get within perhaps 10% for 8th AF by assuming certain operational strengths over time.

    The next problem is putting losses in context. For example losses due to mechanical failure are probably higher for the Mustang simply because it was in the air far longer per mission than a Spitfire or P-47.

    Ditto wrt flak. Mustangs were shooting up far more airfields in Germany while the Jug was restricted to France/Holland/Western Germany.

    Ditto wrt air to air. In Mar-44 through April 1945 far fewer air to air fights were engaged by P-47s than Mustangs, so losses per sortie would be discounted but air to air credits vs losses would favor Mustangs by 50%
     
  12. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Not trying to sway you but the LW was losing about 1000 pilots a month in the west in march-may mostly due to the Mustang - their losses in 1943 were far lower.
     
  13. Watanbe

    Watanbe Member

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    If you want the plane that broke the back of the Luftwaffe it was the P51.

    Don't forget pinsog the Spitfire did its business in the Battle of Britain and the MET, areas of strategic importance, particularly from the British point of view.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    What percentage?

    Combat accounts I have read suggest quite a few German fighters were lost to bomber gunners. You put 100,000 or so .50cal bullets in the air and one will accidently hit something. In addition to hitting German fighters I think the bomber gunners also scored a considerable number of hits on friendly aircraft. Spray and pray works both ways....
     
  15. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Keep in mind that fighter claims from bombers were overclaimed by as much as 60%.
     
  16. snac

    snac New Member

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    Its indicative of the p38s role that a large number were used for reconaissance, and that even p38J models were being replaced by p47 and p51 in europe during 1944. most of the early mark p38s in europe were used in italy/north africa, presumably tangling with regia aeronautica and luftwaffe transports rather than axis fighters
     
  17. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The P-38s in the MTO were very successful and the only escort capable of escorting 12th and 15th AF bombing Southern Germany and Ploesti until the Mustang arrived. Even the P-38G and G were very competitive w/109 in MTO and a far better a/c than the mainstay P-40's. For example the 1st (440 air credits), the 14th (456) and the 82nd FG (553) would have ranked 2nd, 5th and 6th place in 8th AF and they fought against a generally better experienced and quality LW beginning in 1943 than the Mustang Groups of the 8th AF in 1944.

    Only the 56th FG P-47's had a better air to air total than those three P-38 Groups - and all far higher than any 8th AF Lighnting Group.

    The wholesale replacement of P-38 (and P-47) for Mustang was part of the 'deal' the 9th AF had with the 8th AF. The first Mustangs (354 and 363FG) were originally targeted for 9th AF and the first 8th AF FG, the 357th, was swapped with 9th AF in exchange for the 356th FG and their P-47s... which is why the P-47 and P-38 was replaced by Mustang in 8th AF.
     
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  18. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    My take on this is how the aircraft werre actually deployed, versus a 1 on 1 engagement between two fighters.

    The P-47 was successful as a high altitude escort fighter. The real problem with the Jug was lack of range. Conversely, the P-38 was problematic in Northern Europe, in the same role. About the time the J and L models of the Lightning came on line, the Mustang was present. So the potential effectiveness of the P-38 as an escort fighter was never realized. As much as I love the P-38, I still don't think at its best, an L model, would not perform as well as a Mustang or a Thunderbolt in that role in Northern Europe.

    That being said, if you remove the duty of escorting bombers, and this becomes only fighter vs fighter, I think the P-38 is much better than the P-47. I would much rather be in a Lightning in a 1 on 1 fight vs a Thunderbolt, Messerschmitt, or Focke Wulf.

    So I think when you read the P-38 would be a poor opponent vs a Luftwaffe fighter, I think the historic lack of effectiveness in the escort role of the Lightning factors in to opinions posted.
     
  19. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    #19 syscom3, Nov 5, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 5, 2009
    The P38 was quite successfull in the escort role. The LW had to engage them or they were going to be blasted from the air. And while the LW was busy with the P38, they couldnt concentrate on the bomber formations. Also, untill the AAF implemented the fighter sweep strategy, the escort fighters were tethered to the bomber formations and their true effectiveness was hampered.

    The P38 might have been inferior in an air-to-air role against the -109 and -190. But the P38 was far superior to the -110 and any other two engine fighter the LW had going up against bombers. And woe to any -109 or -190 pilot who didnt take the P38 seriously.
     
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  20. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    With the company front approach LW units managed to make passes on heavy bombers then brak off without having to engage Lightnings at all. Only really the arrival of the P-51 and the change in US fighter doctrine really countered this.
     
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