Quality of German airframes

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Milosh, Mar 25, 2010.

  1. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1,919
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I am of the opinion that for the first half of the war German airframes had a high quality fit and finish. During the second half of the war, the fit and finish of the airframes deteriorated especially the closer the end of the war came. I put this down to several reasons:

    1. the greater number of airframes produced
    2. the loss of trained and skilled workers to replace military casualties as well as being causalities themselves
    3. the use of forced and unskilled labour with no incentive to produce a quality product

    What do you all think?
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Define "fit and finish" and where on the airframe are you applying it to.
     
  3. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Messages:
    7,893
    Likes Received:
    637
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    I know when the Chaplin museum restored their D-9 (or was it a -13?), during the wing disassembly a whole bunch of aluminum shims came tumbling out.
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    I think your #2 and #3 are the major reasons. I believe production rates didn't affect quality that much.
     
  5. fan4warbirds

    fan4warbirds New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 25, 2010
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    #5 fan4warbirds, Mar 25, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
    You may want to add the fact that the Germans had to compartmentalize their assembly areas, making different components in different areas and then bringing them together in a centralized area due to the factories being bombed out. Many of those areas of manufacture were in the open and subject to the elements as well. All of those factors had to have had an additional effect on the whole process.
     
  6. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1,919
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    "fit and finish" - The quality of workmanship. Using cars as an example, Rolls-Royce to Yugo.

    The whole airframe as it rolls out the factory door.
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,203
    Likes Received:
    786
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    Well you need to understand a few things - most, if not all WW2 aircraft were not built by hand they were finished in production tooling that ensured a standardized "fit and finish" unless the tooling started to wear out. This is basically the norm for large sub assemblies. There were segments of some aircraft at seams that were hand assembled as with items like access doors and covers. Additionally the fabric installations on control surfaces were also done by hand. So with that said, it is difficult to paint any particular aircraft with a broad brush. I remember looking at the Me 262 at the Air and Space museum and I could see many "bumps and lumps in that aircraft - some of it may have been from the restoration, others may have been from manufacture or even repairs while in service.

    There is no doubt that German aircraft did suffer some cosmetic issues in the later part of the war, and how much these issues attributed to the function and quality of the aircraft is questionable. I have never seen for example, reports of later model Bf 109s suffering tail failures because of their wood tails in any significant numbers although we know that some of these assemblies “looked” like crap.

    Be advised that engineers usually have "gap and mismatch" criteria for aircraft. This will determine how the aircraft should fit together in certain areas of the airframe. This too will contribute to "fit and finish."

    I am working with a company that is restoring several WW2 aircraft. One aircraft, a P-38E built in late 1941, early 1942 was found with numerous riveting defects that would be considered “rejectable” but yet these defects were allowed to remain in the assembly. My feeling is that a percentage of defects were allowed to remain on each assembly.

    Hope this provides some insight.
     
  8. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,768
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    The German manufacturing standards for aircraft overall was a very high standard, just like most of the "modern" countries during WW2. I think it is very safe however to say that later in the war the quaility of the production did suffer however. I think this can be attributed to sever reasons including:

    1. Slave Labor and untrained workers.
    2. Lack of quality raw materials (or better materials I should say).
    3. The need to replace aircraft at a faster rate than was possible.
    4. The factories being bombed on a regular basis.
     
  9. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2005
    Messages:
    1,076
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    legal field
    Location:
    Aquincum, Pannonia Prima
    #9 Kurfürst, Mar 25, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2010
    Good point. For example the finish of Daimler engines "detoriated" during the war, but that was pretty cosmetic - before the war, engines were finished with the cases beautifully polished, later they were simply cast pieces with a black primer. Uglier finish, yes, worser functioning, no.

    Moreover manufacturer's had tolerances set - nobody who has worked in the industry would expect two products having the exact same properties! In case of fighters, this was typically 3% tolerance on speed, certainly in Germany and the UK. The Luftwaffe's quality control organisation, BAL, was pretty strict about these even at the war's end. Aircraft that were not meeting performance specs within these limits were simply rejected from the manufacturer, just like any faulty product.
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    for examples in which sloppier panel fit (particularly butt joints, etc), surface quality, sub assembly interfaces during installation - the decentralized sub-assemly issues (decentralize tooling, jig/fixtures, etc) would lead to potential quality issues.
     
Loading...

Share This Page