Spitfire V vs Yak 9

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by CobberKane, Feb 26, 2013.

  1. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    I believe the Battle of Kursk was the first major encounter where the Soviets used significant numbers of lend-lease aircraft; P-40s, P-39s and Spitfire Vs in te fighter role. By this time they were also fielding second generation indigenous designs like the La-5 and Yak-9 that could meet the Luftwaffe head on. It's interesting that, with the possible exception of the P-39, praise for the lend-lease fighters seems to have been fairly muted. One school of thought holds that this was a result of a policy of talking up the homegrown products over the imports
    So how would two of the best fighters in Soviet service at the time of Kursk, the Spitfire V and the Yak-9, really compare to each other, politics notwithstanding?
     
  2. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I'd take a Yak-9 on the Russian Front and Spitfire in the ETO.
     
  3. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Not true

    One must always ask, what Yak 9 version? We know that the Spit Vs were VBs. And was plain Yak-9 better than La-5FN? IMHO not
     
  4. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    I guess what interests me is the realtive lack of enthusiasm to be found for the L-L fighters. The spit is a good example, because everywhere else they were used you can find plenty of pilots who loved them. So for the purpose of comparison we could use any Soviet made fighter that served contemporaneously with the Soviet Spit VBs and ask the question - how did the spit sack up against it, and is the singular lack of praise or the British made fighter a reflection of Soviet politics or the relative quality of the indigenous fighters?
    Personally, I'd have thought that if you had come from a Yak-1, Lag-3 or I-16 to a Spit VB, you'd be over the moon and singign about it...
     
  5. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Given the condition that many of the second-hand Spitfire Vs supplied to Russia were in, the maintenance requirements of the Merlin compared to the VK-105, the lack of high-quality fuels and the general nature of the air war over the Russian front, I'd probably rather a Yak-9, even one of the early ones.

    The Soviet tests of their Spitfire Vbs indicate that their Mk Vs were about the same as the early Yak-9s in terms of turn times, but quite a bit slower at low levels (around 30 mph). Spitfires were better in the vertical than the Soviet types and considered able to take on 109s and 190s in both vertical and horizontal contests, although horizontal contests were preferred.

    The mid-1943 Soviet evaluation of the Spitfire is interesting. The aircraft is considered generally well built (if a little overcomplicated for mass production) and properly streamlined and about the right size for a fighter. The Soviets liked the wing shape and stall qualities, but considered the wing area too large, slowing the aircraft at low levels and producing a sluggish rate of roll. They also liked the radio set up.

    The Mk V was considered too slow against 'modern' types (La-5, Yak-9) - particularly Mk Vs fitted with the Volkes filter, which were barely capable of 540 kph (335 mph) in some tests. The Russians were impressed by the internals of the aircraft, seemed to dislike the cockpit and were a little derisive of the thinness of the skinning and poor external finish (notably the lack of flush riveting), as well as the amount of holes and gaps in the fuselage, which they estimated cost the aircraft at least 20 kph (12.5 mph) in top speed.

    Weapon set up across the wings was considered substandard and they didn't like the Hispano due to reliability problems (which the British experienced with the Mk Vb as well). However, Soviet pilots commented very favourably on the gun sight and general sighting set up.

    They didn't like its ground handling either, particularly the tendency to nose over on rough fields. Apparently the rubber in the tyers of some of the Spitfires had perished during the transport from Iran, which would have made landings interesting. The wooden props were in short supply in Russia, so nosing over was a major problem.

    The Merlin and ancillaries were considered complex and tempremental, although relatively straightforwad to work on. In Russian service, they were getting major failures after 50-60 hours of operation, including major failures like piston rings and water/oil coolers.

    Generally, the aircraft was considered easier and more pleasant than Soviet types to fly. It was quieter, better ventilated and less demanding on pilots. Its short comings in speed were generally forgiven thanks to its performance in the climb and horizontal, but Soviet pilots were warned not to try to dive away from German types while in a Spitfire.
     
  6. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Generally the Yak-9 was better suited to the operational requirements of the VVS, and was better able to cope with the conditions on many frontline airfields. As Jabberwocky has noted, the Spitfire had a tendency to nose-over while taxiing on rough surfaces, unless carefully handled which would have been a real disadvantage. As well as that the Spitfires were well past their best, having seen plenty of operational service/wear and tear and (in many cases) damage - this would account for some of the holes and gaps noted by the Russians

    Had the Spitfires been L.F Mk VBs straight off the production lines, fitted with Merlin 45 or 55Ms with cropped superchargers and clipped wingtips they would have been better matched to low-medium altitude operations and would probably have been received more favourably.
     
  7. cimmex

    cimmex Member

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    The Spit V were clearly outmatched in the west by the Fw 190, why should they do better in the east.
    cimmex
     
  8. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    Yet I have read that the Soviet pilots regarded the 190 as a lesser opponent than the 109.
    I can see how the Spit's ground handling would have been an issue on western front airfields. No doubt the P-39, with it's tricycle undercarriage, would have been as good a the Spit was bad in this respect, and that was part of the reason the USSR pilots held it in such high regard.
    I believe the USSR also got some Spit IVs - any record of what they thought of them (or their P-47s or P-40s?)
     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The P-39 was delivered mostly as a brand new examples, so that alone was setting them apart from second-hand Spit Vs. The P-39 was a better performer than any of the pre-1944 Soviet fighters, especially when some of its parts were removed to save weight drag. Once the Soviets got the P-39Q, they were fielding the plane capable of almost 650 km/h, that was well built, with good radio and with punch good enough to bring the Ju-88 down.
    The Soviets received some 200 P-47s, and many hundreds of P-40. P-40 was not as highly regarded as P-39 there. The P-47 was probably used as a PVO (air defence) machine, it's not clear whether any of them saw combat.
     
  10. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    On Spits in VVS service, see: Spitfires over the Kuban

    Aircombats over Kuban in Spring-early Summer 43 were the first large scale use of L-L fighters, there has been earlier fairly large scale use of L-L fighters also in the most Northern part of the Eastern Front. At Kursk there were only some P-39s and A-20Bs and Boston IIIs.

    Juha
     
  11. VinceReeves

    VinceReeves Member

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    As far as I'm aware, only one VVS squadron received the P-47, which was 255 IAP of the Northern Fleet (VVS-SF).

    My understanding is that the Russians didn't like them, found no use for them, and so they didn't see combat.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thanks for the info about the Soviet use of the P-47.
    The IAP (fighter regiment) was comprised of 4 squadrons, each with 15 planes. With HQ, the IAP was numbering 63 planes, per Wikipedia.
     
  13. VinceReeves

    VinceReeves Member

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    From what I can remember, I don't think 255 IAP was ever entirely equipped with P-47's. Its operational mount was the P-40 up to and including the Petsamo-Kirkenes offensive in 1944, and possibly until the end of the war.

    I think the Russians simply didn't like the size of the P-47 - they couldn't believe a fighter that big could be of any use. It seems to have been a psychological impediment rather than anything to do with the aircraft itself
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I think it's more then psychological.

    Most Russian front aerial combat took place below 20,000 feet. P-47 (especially early models) held few performance advantages at medium to low altitude.
    - Slow acceleration.
    - Slow climb.
    - Poor turn radius using banked turns.
    - Canopy on early models had poor visibility.
    - Mediocre firepower compared to cannon armed fighter aircraft.
    - Ground attack compares poorly to Il-2.

    VVS might have a different opinion if combat took place at 30,000 feet where P-47 turbocharger gives the aircraft a significant performance advantage.
     
  15. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    We're already veering off the original subject matter, but here is one Russian pilot's view of the P-47D-10-RE

    Maj Lazarevich Gallaj:

    "First minutes of flight I knew this is not a fighter! Steady, with comfortable spacious cockpit, convenient, but - not a fighter. "Thunderbolt" had not acceptable maneuverability in horizontal and it is especial in vertical. The plane slowly was dispersed - inertia of heavy aircraft had an effect. But "Thunderbolt" is wonderful for simple flight on a route without sharp maneuvers. It is not enough for a fighter ."

    The Russians took apart at least one P-47 - and I mean completely dissasembled - to do an assessment of the aircraft's construction. The report is floating around the web somewhere, although in Russian. They also conducted fairly comprehensive flight trials, including comparative tests against Russian fighters. Turn times were notably slow (10 sec slower in a full circle than a Yak-3)

    The Russian Baltic and Northern Fleet Naval Aviation units also conducted an assessment and recommended three roles for the P-47D-22s that they tested:

    1. Long range bomber escort
    2. Horizontal and low-level bombing (with either three 250 kg (550 lb) or two 500 kg (1100 lb) bombs)
    3. Anti-shipping strikes

    The P-47 were used for high altitude defence patrols over Leningrad and Moscow, and also used for long range high and low altitude reconnisance by Russian forces.

    Most were scrapped (read: run over by tanks) shortly after VJ day.
     
  16. alejandro_

    alejandro_ Member

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    P-47 was also by Soviet Navy Aviation. The payload and range got positive reviews by Soviets. Price of the aircraft is likely to have influence the decision of not buying them in large quantities:

    P-40: 44900$
    P-39: 50700$
    P-47: 83000$

    A while ago I wrote an article on the subject summarising all the information I found. It's in Spanish but can be easily translated:

    Historia y tecnologĂ­a militar: P-47 y P-51 en la URSS

    Now, going back on topic:

    The condition of Spitfires sent to USSR was a matter of discussion with Soviet delegation. RAF claimed that the performance was ok and it was normal procedure in RAF to mix new and reconditioned samples. In the National Archives there is a document* on suply of Hurricanes and Spitfires. One of the problems with Spitfires was that the Soviets did not think they were getting enough spares.

    * AIR 20-3904 Russia supply of Spitfires and Hurricanes Aug 41 Feb 44
     
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