Pilot seating in fighters

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Maxrobot1, Aug 29, 2013.

  1. Maxrobot1

    Maxrobot1 Member

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    I know there are a lot of forum members who have actually sat in most of the types of WWII fighters and they can help me with something that I was wondering since the 'sixties when I built models of the Spitfires, Messerschmitts, P-40's and such.
    I got the impression that in the Spitfires and Me-109s the pilots legs were almost out straight with almost no knee bend when on the pedals. The U.S. fighters seemed to have higher seats in relation to the pedals where the pilots knees were bent more like sitting on a chair or a regular passenger car.
    I remember seeing some British sports cars like MGs and was surprised at how the seat was practically on the floorboards and the driver (and passenger) had their legs almost out straight.
    How do the various types compare as far as the seating goes?
    Also,Did all the WWII fighters pilots use seat pack parachutes? Which ones were designed for back types? P-51s?
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Very quick reply as I'm on the way out the door!

    The pilot position in the Bf 109 is much more horizontal than in the Spitfire, knees above hips. Neither are sitting upright by any stretch of the imagination :) Those are the only two of which I have personal experience.

    Not all WW2 fighter pilots wore seat pack parachutes. The Germans produced at least two versions of a back pack (maybe more) and these were worn in the Fw 190 in which the seat was designed for a back pack.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  3. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    The FW190 seat was aeromedically designed to lay the pilot back somewhat with his legs out straight do delay G force grey/black out. Hence, whatever the airframe might be able to do, a FW190 pilot could pull more G that a Spitfire pilot.
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The Hurricane and Spitfire cockpits weren't big on space - the Hurricane has more room than the Spit, though, neither had floors and the seats were bolted to the framework of the rear of the cockpit structure as control cables run below them. The Hurricane had foot runs, but the Spit had nothing; the lower part of the Spitfire cockpit is narrow as the fuselage cross section is oval. I have photos somewhere and I'll post them if need be. I don't recall their seat position being particularly reclined on either of them. The P-51 had a floor and the pilot's legs could stretch out a wee bit, there's a P-51 pilot on this forum who could add more - I did have the opportunity to sit in one very recently, but the seat was missing for maintenance!
     
  5. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    I have read of many instances where Spit and I believe Hurricane pilots used rudder pedal extensions to raise the pilots feet, in combat you placed your feet on the top bars whilst when cruising you adopted the more upright comfortable position.

    Not seen any technical appraisals of this though?
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Certainly the Spitfire. It may well have become an official modification but I can't check at the moment.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I've sat in a Bf-109, P-51, Sea Fury, and Corsair. I remember the -109 being the most crampped but I didn't feel that uncomfortable (I think I'm the same weight then as I am now, 5'9" 175/ 180 pounds. Lots of room in the Corsair, I remember the P-51 and the sea Fury about the same. The Post War stuff I've been in were all a lot larger with the exception of the back seat of a MiG-15 UTI, that was pretty cramped.
     
  8. Hop

    Hop Member

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    The Spitfire V manual I have mentions (and shows) the rudder pedal extensions, so it certainly became standard equipment at some point.
     
  9. Maxrobot1

    Maxrobot1 Member

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    That reminds me; Some single-seaters had seats that were adjustable to raise the pilot up for better visibility in landing. was this only in Naval a/c?
     
  10. beitou

    beitou Member

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    In various war films, comics stories etc I have heard of single engined fighters that landed to rescue their comrades, would it be possible to carry two people in their cockpits?
     
  11. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    I have read such case on the EF, where a Me 109 pilot landed near his downed comrade, throw off the canopy and they managed to take off and get back to base - with two man in the cocpit!
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Jettison the canopy in a Bf 109 leaves you with just the windscreen, everything else, including radio mast goes. If they did manage to get two in the cockpit they did very well indeed :)

    It was definitely done with a P-51 and I know for sure two men were carried in an Fw 190, the second squeezing into the fuselage via the access hatch, port side, not in the cockpit.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  13. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    In the film Battle of Britain there is a scene where the RAF are leaving France and one of the pilots calls over a French pilot to join him in the cockpit. Dont know whether that was artistic license though. I suppose if both were small build it might be possible certainly not with me though as I am built like a badly shaved Gorilla.
     
  14. pattle

    pattle Member

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    I have heard of a number of occasions where RAF P40 pilots did this in North Africa. I would say doing this was more practical in the open North African desert than in France or Italy, plenty of places to land and you could see that the coast was clear before coming down. Pretty sure the SAAF did this following the infamous Marseille dogfight where people believe he shot down 403 Kittyhawks in one sortie or something silly.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Wasn't it 1,403 :)
    Steve
     
  16. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Your not really implying the Germans used propaganda and gross exaggeration to create a warrior hero are you, come on that's ridiculous, next you'll be saying there were no clangers on the moon!
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    And no soup dragon, despite evidence from Apollo 11, long supressed by NASA in yet another conspiracy !


    [​IMG]

    Notice that the stars are not visible and those shadows don't seem parallel to me :)

    Steve
     
  18. beitou

    beitou Member

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    That's why we never went back.
     
  19. zoomar

    zoomar Member

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    I've sat in an Ha-1112 (Spanish Bf 109 with Merlin) and P-51D. The Ha-1112 definitely seemed more cramped, but the canopy may have had something to do with this. I'm not a pilot, so what really impressed me more than the size of the cockpit was how tightly belted in the pilot was - you were basically strapped to your seat. This went against my Hollywood image of pilots leaning all over the place to see around and dodge enemy bullets.
     
  20. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Someone once said the only way a P47 pilot could take evasive action was to unstrap and run around the cockpit!
     
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