SHOULD the P39 have been able to handle the Zero? Was it training or performance?

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Glider

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An Oct '42 test of the Spitfire IX would indicate that version of the IX would probably be about to start production or have already started production at that time. Unless the test states differently. Wouldn't you agree?
The first combat report on WW2aircraft.net for a Spit IX is 28th July 1942 approx. 12 months before the P39N entered service.
As an aside I believe that the first USAAF units equipped with the Spit VIII started operations in Aug 1943
 

P-39 Expert

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Not necessarily. Depends on the release schedule for the document(s) involved. An initial release may be close to the test date but that same data may be repeated in later versions released many months or years after the test. It all comes down to the source documentation - did it come from the first set of pilot's notes ever written for the aircraft or was it part of a later update or, worse, an overall summary of comparative performances?
Looks to me that most of the tests on wwiiaircraftperformance are by the War Department/Air Corps for new models with a test date on a specific plane identified by individual serial number. In other words, this specific plane was tested on this date and found to have these characteristics. Critical information for Army planners.
 

Hansie Bloeckmann

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Thanks for the information, always nice to know who my head of state is, Ive just realised she is the only one I've ever had, so hopefully I wont forget. Did they have any children or grandchildren? Does this have anything to do with P-39s
 

pbehn

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The first combat report on WW2aircraft.net for a Spit IX is 28th July 1942 approx. 12 months before the P39N entered service.
As an aside I believe that the first USAAF units equipped with the Spit VIII started operations in Aug 1943
Also on 12 September 1942 a MkIX intercepted a Ju 86 at 43,000ft over Southampton.
 

Hansie Bloeckmann

Senior Airman
401
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Aug 19, 2014
Illinois
Thanks for the information, always nice to know who my head of state is, Ive just realised she is the only one I've ever had, so hopefully I wont forget. Did they have any children or grandchildren? Does this have anything to do with P-39s
I meant no offense, just trying to clarify my understanding of the Monarchy in your Great Land. I believe Queen Elizabeth is both a mother and a grandmother, and I wish her a long and happy life. It must be a lonely job at times, but I am sure her children and grandchildren keep her both happy and busy. God Save The Queen.. As far as the P-39 issue is concerned, I didn't realize how much better it might have been to have awaited for another member of this forum to start a thread dealing with the issues that brought America into the War in Europe-from 1941 to its ending in May 1945.

I very much enjoy reading your learned responses, and I hope you will accept my apology. Hansie
 

P-39 Expert

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The first combat report on WW2aircraft.net for a Spit IX is 28th July 1942 approx. 12 months before the P39N entered service.
As an aside I believe that the first USAAF units equipped with the Spit VIII started operations in Aug 1943
P-39N entered service December '42.

The July '42 Spitfires were just two squadrons that were practically service test planes. A few more test squadrons tricked in before real series production started at the end of '42.
 

wuzak

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I'm quoting Edwards Park who was in the AAF and served at Port Moresby, NG. In his book "Angels Twenty" he states that he arrived in NG in December '42 and was issued a brand new P-39N. He's a well known writer and journalist who wrote for Aviation Week and others. Not beyond the realm of possibility, those P-39Ns were just the next version on the production line and their new feature was a newer version of the V-1710. When the last P-39-M rolled out the first N was right behind it. Right after a quick check and test flight they shipped or flew out. At that point in time Bell was rolling out 400 P-39s per month. They had already manufactured 2000+ and pretty much had the process down.
By the way, Park also wrote that his squadron carried 110 gallon drop tanks vs the 75 gallon tanks in all the photos.

Edwards Park was given a P-39, squadron letter N.

Pacific Wrecks
 

wuzak

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P-39N entered service December '42.

The July '42 Spitfires were just two squadrons that were practically service test planes. A few more test squadrons tricked in before real series production started at the end of '42.

No. 64 Squadron at Hornchurch was the first squadron to go operational with Spitfire IXs (28-July-1942). Deliveries of more powerful Spitfire IXs equipped with Merlin 63, 66, or 70s commenced in early 1943. No 611 Squadron at Biggin Hill was the first to use the Merlin 66 engined Spitfire LF IX on operations (March 1943). Full service approval of +25 lbs boost was granted 10 March 1944, providing considerable improvement in low altitude performance. No. 1 and No. 165 squadrons at Predannack were the first to convert their Spitfires to +25 lbs boost, taking 2 days off from operations in early May 44 to do so.

Spitfire Mk IX Performance Trials
 
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buffnut453

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P-39N entered service December '42.

The July '42 Spitfires were just two squadrons that were practically service test planes. A few more test squadrons tricked in before real series production started at the end of '42.

Hmmm...four of those "test squadrons" participated in operations over the Dieppe Raid in August 1942. That's still 4 squadrons fully equipped and operational with Spit MkIXs some 4 months before even your earliest date for the P-39N.

You can't have your cake and eat it by claiming that, somehow, the P-39N could have rapidly entered service by the end of 1942 but then dismiss operational usage of the Spit MkIX in 1942 as just operational testing.
 

Shortround6

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Regarding P-39 climb, you must compare airplanes that were in combat service at the same time. Otherwise we are debating "What if Napoleon had B-52 bombers". :) The P-39-N in 1943 was the fastest climbing plane we had. Contemporary P-38s were G and F models and it took them 11 minutes to get to 25000'.

What month of 1943? P-38Hs were coming out of the Factory in May of 1943.
ANd what happens when you put enough fuel in the P-39 so it doesn't have the endurance of a bottle rocket?

You might want to check on what a light loaded P-38 could do since you are using the numbers from a light loaded P-39. That 7300lb or under figure is highly suspect.
That half fuel story is a bit bogus, Fine for figuring out what the plane can do for a few minutes in a fight, horrible for trying to figure out time needed to intercept as you claim the P-39s were doing in New Guinea. I have no doubt the P-39s that were there were trying their damndest to intercept but taking off with 50-60 gal of fuel and flogging the engine beyond recommended time limits just to reach altitude wasn't being done.

A P-39 at 7300lbs is lucky it has 62.5 gallons on board. Even if you start with around 70 and burn off the extra in warm up and taking off that doesn't leave whole lot. Charts for P-39K at 7400lbs shows 36 gallons needed to reach 25,000ft including warm up and take off using a "combat climb" of take-off power for the first five minutes and emergency maximum for 15 minutes. Now you are at 25,000ft in a combat situation with about 30-36 gallons on board? With an engine burning around 1.5 gallons a minute at full power at that altitude?
What happens after combat? you glide down 10-15,000ft and make a dead stick landing?


For the Spitfires. There were 4 squadrons of MK IXs at Dieppe. Aug 19th 1942, which rather predates the issue of P-39Ns regardless of Nov/Dec or transit times.
 

parsifal

Colonel
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I see yet more mis-information being trolled about, this time this time concerning the availability of radar:

Here are extracts from a definitive article on radar in PNG at the time with selected excerpts (with a few minor changes by me)

From “Echoes Over the Pacific”; Ed Simmonds and Norm Smith

"29RS was the first RAAF radar station established outside mainland Australia. Four radar mechanics and eight radar operators arrived by aircraft at Jackson’s Strip airstrip) on 19 February 1942 under the command of F/O Wadsley Equipment for the Station 29RS arrived 25th February. There were some difficulties in getting the apparatus operational, but the set was working with plotting and reporting procedures in place by the end of March.

Despite the many problems encountered installation was duly completed and the station was on the air on 18 March 1942 with the array built on a peak rising 690 above its surrounding terrain. Plots were by land line to the Operational Room at Port Moresby.. A Teleradio was kept on stand-by for emergency communication.

Initially the performance of 29RS was poor. The equipment was one of the initial six experimental preproduction models’ about which the mechanics knew very little and had had no operational experience with. The mechanics did not have the necessary matching and phasing instruments to adequately set up the antenna and the aerial coaxial feeders had not been cut to the correct length.

Consequently complaints were received concerning aircraft, both friendly and enemy, arriving at Moresby undetected. Test flights highlighted the unsatisfactory lobe pattern and poor field strength of the system. In an effort to improve the performance the prototype transmitter and receiver were replaced in October 1942 by a factory made model but this was not the solution to the problem.

It wasn’t until 21 December 1942 that properly qualified staff arrived to match and phase the open wire feeders to the antenna. This work was followed up by test flights on 18, 20 and 22 January 1943. The radar was, at last, operating at full efficiency. Further calibration flights by a Beaufighter, on bearings 180 and 225 degrees at altitude 10,000 ft, gave satisfactory results out to about the 45 mile range at 22000 feet in the direction of the mountains. When not impeded by the terrain, the range of the radar was much better, maximum range of 140 miles. However, detection of aircraft was restricted by the high mountains to the north and west. The blocking effects of the mountains to the east, west and north remained a very difficult issue to overcome.

Leigh Hoey, a Wireless Operator Mechanic (WOM), who served for more than 17 months on this unit, wrote:.

The receiver room was a small building constructed of galvanised iron on a small hill and set up so that we could work with lights on during air raids. There we operated AR7 receivers (one had a bullet hole from earlier action) while the transmitters - AT13’s, AT13A’s and AT14’s - were dispersed in huts protected by bunkers. The antennas were mostly quarter wave Marconis. Plots were received by landline from RAAF Radars 29RS near Moresby and 138RS at Waigani. Plots were received by W/T from American Radar RS405 at Yule Island and from the Army Spotters and Coast Watchers. Plain language was used on telephones but normally all radio traffic was in Morse code. An Operations Room clerk sat beside us and passed the plots by telephone to Fighter Sector plotting room as we entered them into the log book. In the Operations Room were Allied Army, Navy and Air Force personnel assessing and disseminating information to fighter aircraft, Ack Ack and searchlight positions, ships and the air raid warning system. Specially trained controllers vectored fighter pilots to their targets during enemy raids. At the ground controlled interception (GCI) unit, 138RS at Waigani Swamp, a controller was able to work directly from the radar thus eliminating the delay, however short, caused when working at the Operations Room via the communication system. 82. In addition the signal section also handled inter-island and mainland traffic and the volume became formidable as the war gained momentum.

4 Fighter Sector (RAAF) played a vital role in the crucial days of the war and continued as a communication centre until the end. The Americans nearby duplicated much of the RAAF work as well as handling particularised US radio traffic though their equipment was even more challenged by the terrain than the RAAF stuff.

First American GCI Radar in New Guinea.

In June 1942 the 565th SAW (Signal Air Warning Battalion) arrived in Brisbane (Australia). and gained valuable experience in operating at various sites in Queensland. It was not until 9 September that Lt Roscoe C Sparkes arrived in Port Moresby with the 6th Reporting Platoon of the 2nd Reporting Company of that Battalion. This first American radar Platoon established RS473 on level ground at Waigani Swamp north of Ward’s Strip. The equipment was an SCR516 - a development from the SCR268 gun laying radar modified for air warning - similar to the MAWD used by the RAAF. While the equipment’s maximum range was about 60 miles it gave consistently good results. The station watched for aircraft emerging from the PEs caused by the Owen Stanley Range to the north.

The 4th Platoon transported its radar equipment, an SCR516, aboard a barge to Cape Rodney situated about 125 miles south east of Port Moresby and almost half the distance to Milne Bay. After overcoming landing and transport difficulties they established RS472 on a site previously chosen by air reconnaissance. Results from the station were far from satisfactory the reason for this proved to be the effect of nearby high inland mountains. Not only was detection of targets among the mountains impossible but also back radiation from the same mountains cluttered the screen when scanning over the sea. Several alternative sites were tried without success.

http://radarreturns.net.au/archive/EchoesRRWS.pdf

It would be good if some basic fact checking was undertaken in this discussion before just blathering the first thing that floats into the head.
 

pbehn

Colonel
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Oct 30, 2013
Hmmm...four of those "test squadrons" participated in operations over the Dieppe Raid in August 1942. That's still 4 squadrons fully equipped and operational with Spit MkIXs some 4 months before even your earliest date for the P-39N.

You can't have your cake and eat it by claiming that, somehow, the P-39N could have rapidly entered service by the end of 1942 but then dismiss operational usage of the Spit MkIX in 1942 as just operational testing.
There is another important difference. The RAF squadrons operating MkIX had just switched from MkV, the airfields pilots and ground crew with all equipment was already there working. The P39s from the USA need all the staff transported and all the tools, spares and things they need too. The Battle of the Atlantic was still going on at that time.
 

Glider

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P-39N entered service December '42.

The July '42 Spitfires were just two squadrons that were practically service test planes. A few more test squadrons tricked in before real series production started at the end of '42.
My understanding is that Production of the P39N was in December but entering combat is a different thing. As for your comment about being service test aircraft is more than a little misleading. Some factories were producing Mk IX exclusively from June 42, others converted during the rest of 42 with all converted from Mk V to Mk IX by the end of the year
Edwards Park was given a P-39, squadron letter N.

Pacific Wrecks
Which presumably means it wasn't a P39N as the link says he operated it from mid 1942 until late 43
 

P-39 Expert

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Heath, TX
I see yet more mis-information being trolled about, this time this time concerning the availability of radar:

Here are extracts from a definitive article on radar in PNG at the time with selected excerpts (with a few minor changes by me)

From “Echoes Over the Pacific”; Ed Simmonds and Norm Smith

"29RS was the first RAAF radar station established outside mainland Australia. Four radar mechanics and eight radar operators arrived by aircraft at Jackson’s Strip airstrip) on 19 February 1942 under the command of F/O Wadsley Equipment for the Station 29RS arrived 25th February. There were some difficulties in getting the apparatus operational, but the set was working with plotting and reporting procedures in place by the end of March.

Despite the many problems encountered installation was duly completed and the station was on the air on 18 March 1942 with the array built on a peak rising 690 above its surrounding terrain. Plots were by land line to the Operational Room at Port Moresby.. A Teleradio was kept on stand-by for emergency communication.

Initially the performance of 29RS was poor. The equipment was one of the initial six experimental preproduction models’ about which the mechanics knew very little and had had no operational experience with. The mechanics did not have the necessary matching and phasing instruments to adequately set up the antenna and the aerial coaxial feeders had not been cut to the correct length.

Consequently complaints were received concerning aircraft, both friendly and enemy, arriving at Moresby undetected. Test flights highlighted the unsatisfactory lobe pattern and poor field strength of the system. In an effort to improve the performance the prototype transmitter and receiver were replaced in October 1942 by a factory made model but this was not the solution to the problem.

It wasn’t until 21 December 1942 that properly qualified staff arrived to match and phase the open wire feeders to the antenna. This work was followed up by test flights on 18, 20 and 22 January 1943. The radar was, at last, operating at full efficiency. Further calibration flights by a Beaufighter, on bearings 180 and 225 degrees at altitude 10,000 ft, gave satisfactory results out to about the 45 mile range at 22000 feet in the direction of the mountains. When not impeded by the terrain, the range of the radar was much better, maximum range of 140 miles. However, detection of aircraft was restricted by the high mountains to the north and west. The blocking effects of the mountains to the east, west and north remained a very difficult issue to overcome.

Leigh Hoey, a Wireless Operator Mechanic (WOM), who served for more than 17 months on this unit, wrote:.

The receiver room was a small building constructed of galvanised iron on a small hill and set up so that we could work with lights on during air raids. There we operated AR7 receivers (one had a bullet hole from earlier action) while the transmitters - AT13’s, AT13A’s and AT14’s - were dispersed in huts protected by bunkers. The antennas were mostly quarter wave Marconis. Plots were received by landline from RAAF Radars 29RS near Moresby and 138RS at Waigani. Plots were received by W/T from American Radar RS405 at Yule Island and from the Army Spotters and Coast Watchers. Plain language was used on telephones but normally all radio traffic was in Morse code. An Operations Room clerk sat beside us and passed the plots by telephone to Fighter Sector plotting room as we entered them into the log book. In the Operations Room were Allied Army, Navy and Air Force personnel assessing and disseminating information to fighter aircraft, Ack Ack and searchlight positions, ships and the air raid warning system. Specially trained controllers vectored fighter pilots to their targets during enemy raids. At the ground controlled interception (GCI) unit, 138RS at Waigani Swamp, a controller was able to work directly from the radar thus eliminating the delay, however short, caused when working at the Operations Room via the communication system. 82. In addition the signal section also handled inter-island and mainland traffic and the volume became formidable as the war gained momentum.

4 Fighter Sector (RAAF) played a vital role in the crucial days of the war and continued as a communication centre until the end. The Americans nearby duplicated much of the RAAF work as well as handling particularised US radio traffic though their equipment was even more challenged by the terrain than the RAAF stuff.

First American GCI Radar in New Guinea.

In June 1942 the 565th SAW (Signal Air Warning Battalion) arrived in Brisbane (Australia). and gained valuable experience in operating at various sites in Queensland. It was not until 9 September that Lt Roscoe C Sparkes arrived in Port Moresby with the 6th Reporting Platoon of the 2nd Reporting Company of that Battalion. This first American radar Platoon established RS473 on level ground at Waigani Swamp north of Ward’s Strip. The equipment was an SCR516 - a development from the SCR268 gun laying radar modified for air warning - similar to the MAWD used by the RAAF. While the equipment’s maximum range was about 60 miles it gave consistently good results. The station watched for aircraft emerging from the PEs caused by the Owen Stanley Range to the north.

The 4th Platoon transported its radar equipment, an SCR516, aboard a barge to Cape Rodney situated about 125 miles south east of Port Moresby and almost half the distance to Milne Bay. After overcoming landing and transport difficulties they established RS472 on a site previously chosen by air reconnaissance. Results from the station were far from satisfactory the reason for this proved to be the effect of nearby high inland mountains. Not only was detection of targets among the mountains impossible but also back radiation from the same mountains cluttered the screen when scanning over the sea. Several alternative sites were tried without success.

http://radarreturns.net.au/archive/EchoesRRWS.pdf

It would be good if some basic fact checking was undertaken in this discussion before just blathering the first thing that floats into the head.
Sorry you didn't make it down the Google list to my source. In "Attack and Conquer, The 8th Fighter group in WWII" by John C. Stanaway and Lawrence J. Hickey. The 8th FG's two squadrons (35th & 36th) in May 1942 was all that was standing between the Japanese on the north side of New Guinea and Australia. The 8th Fighter Control squadron (not pilots, but radar operators) arrived in Milne Bay on August 7, 1942 to set up and operate the new radar station there. Now you are googling Milne Bay on google maps and you can clearly see that Milne Bay is at the far eastern tip of New Guinea and provides an unrestricted view of not only the Lae and Salamalua Jap bases but also New Britain and the Solomon Islands (Guadalcanal et al) and was the ideal location for GCI radar in the area. The problem with trying to put the radar in the Port Moresby area (or Australia) was the 12000' Owen Stanley mountain range between PM and the Japanese on the north side of NG. Most of the problems you site above come from that mountain range blocking radar signals.

Attack and Conquer is a really good book by the way, a daily diary of the 8th's activities throughout WWII. Big book with lots of pictures. :)
 

P-39 Expert

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Edwards Park was given a P-39, squadron letter N.

Pacific Wrecks
Wrong book. Park wrote two books about his tour in New Guinea. "Nanette" was a fictional account based on all the stories he had heard and participated in. His second book, "Angels Twenty" was a nonfiction (factual) account of his tour from December '42. He says he got his P-39N in December in the nonfiction work. Both books are worth your time, very entertaining and provide a day to day look at the perils of WWII in that area.
 

Peter Gunn

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Still not seeing how the P-39N was in action in the SWPA in 1942. Pacific Wrecks has a list of P-39 losses, the earliest of which seems to be August 1943. While it does not list delivery dates, I find it hard to believe it was in action for 8 - 9 months without a loss.

Also, again, one test of a lightly loaded P-39 does not an operational plane make. You still contend that a fully loaded P-39 can out climb a fully loaded P-38 or P-51? We're talking combat ready, fuel and ammo.

And no, the air war WAS NOT over by March '44.
 
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