The Bf 109 aka ME-109 landing gear myth research thread.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Lighthunmust, Jul 5, 2011.

  1. Lighthunmust

    Lighthunmust Banned

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    For decades I can recall reading that a third of all Bf 109s were lost due to landing and takeoff accidents. The design of the landing gear is frequently mentioned as a contributing cause. More specifically the wheel angle on the narrow, outward retracting gear being unlike the Spitfires vertical orientation greatly contributed to causing crashes. I am sure my first reading of this started with books I owned before they were “lost” by Movers in 1993. This 33.3% statistical claim is surprisingly similar to the claim that in the amount of man hours it took to build a Spitfire, three 109s could be built. Both statistical claims have shall we say, questionable parentage. I would like to investigate the family tree of the landing gear claim. Below I have listed a few sources referring to this specific claim or claims of landing gear design significantly contributing to 109 accidents and loses. I will continue to add to the list as I find new examples Please help me determine the origin of these claims by listing where you saw them, who made them, and the date they made them. PLEASE DO NOT POST REFERENCES OR OPINIONS DISPUTING THESE CLAIMS. If you find a published dispute of these claims, provide the source, name, date and quote of the claim they are disputing. I only want a list of where seen, who said what, and date so I can find the earliest date to determine origin of the claim of 11,000 Bf 109s lost in landing and takeoff accidents. Once that is found we all can figure out how these claims got started and why?

    2003 August, Flight Journal, “The Best WWII Fighter” by Corky Meyer

    “....11,000 of the 33,000 built were destroyed during takeoff and landing accidents...”

    “Chief aerodynamicist for the the Messerschmitt Me 163 rocket fighter, Josef Hubert ....told me that Willy Messerschmitt had adamantly refused to compromise the Bf 109’s performance by adding the drag-producing wing-surface bumps and fairings that would have been necessary to accommodate the wheels with the proper geometry. This would have reduced its accident rate to within expected military-fighter ranges and made it a world standard!”


    2000 Winter, Flight Journal Special Edition WWII Fighters, “The Bf 109s real enemy was itself!” by Corky Meyer

    Meyer sites a letter in 1980 written by Colonel Johannes “Macki” Steinhoff -

    “He sent me a long letter relating that I should be sure of the absolute vertical alignment of the tailwheel ais; he also wrote that its inherently weak brakes sould be in excellent condition because in WWII, the Luftwaffe lost 11,000 out of 33,000 Bf 109s to takeoff and landing accidents. Steinhoff directly attributed this terrible record to the bad geometry of the plane’s very unstable, splayed-out, narrow landing-gear configuration. In his letter, he said twice that if a German mechanic who really knew the Bf 109 wasn’t handy, I should not get into the cockpit.”


    1999 December, Flight Journal, “Combat Warrior, The Historical View” by Captain Eric Brown

    “But the Bf 109’s deficiencies almost equal its fabulous assets. The Luftwaffe lost 11,000 of these thoroughbred fighting machines in takeoff and landing accidents, most of them at the end of the War when they needed them most.”

    “I felt certain, too, that the landing gear’s being slightly splayed outward aggravated the ground-looping tendency and contributed to the excessive tire wear and bursts. The Spitfire had a similar, narrow-track landing gear, but it was not splayed out like that of the Bf 109, and the Spitfire didn’t show any ground-looping propensities.”

    Brown goes on to explain that high accident rates in 1939 resulted in a tailwheel lock being added to later models.


    More to come when you or I find it. I hope we can find out who originally made the claim in question.
     
  2. P-40K-5

    P-40K-5 Banned

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    no way no how 30% loss for t/o or landings due too the landing gear. landing accidents most often was the result
    of running out of fuel, or mechanical problems. nose overs on landing was either rough fields or over zealous use
    of brakes. takeoff nose overs were mostly letting the tail get off the ground BEFORE the rudder became effective.
    locking they tailwheel worked very well, as long as the wheel was kept on the ground until the rudder was usable.

    the biggest headache of the splayed landing gear was ground handling while taxing.
     
  3. Lighthunmust

    Lighthunmust Banned

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    P-40K-5 did you read the thread starting post?

    If you did, do you understand the following?

    "PLEASE DO NOT POST REFERENCES OR OPINIONS DISPUTING THESE CLAIMS. If you find a published dispute of these claims, provide the source, name, date and quote of the claim they are disputing. I only want a list of where seen, who said what, and date so I can find the earliest date to determine origin of the claim of 11,000 Bf 109s lost in landing and takeoff accidents. Once that is found we all can figure out how these claims got started and why?"

    I remember you posting that English is not your first language but I think you are sufficiently fluent to understand the purpose, methodology, and procedures of this thread. Please do not make any more posts similar to the one you just made. This thread is not for disputing this claim, it is only for identifying the origin of the claim. I know you love the Bf 109 but please restrain yourself from further comment disputing the claim. Please help me by researching in your library any publishing history of the claim. There are going to be quotes posted to this thread that are going to get your self-described bluntness infused "blood" boiling, take a cold shower when this happens. Please do not attempt to "boil alive" any people posting these quotes. Whether you intentionally or unintentionally did it, you just behaved disrespectfully to me by not adhering to the "rules" I established for this thread. Thank you for your future cooperation.
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Very good thread. Will check my sources as many of my books came from my father's collection which he started in the 60's. Should be interesting.

    and if we can keep sarcasm to a minimum.
     
  5. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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    Bf109F evaluation report Us army Airforce


    .
    Clipboard01.jpg
     
  6. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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    #6 Snautzer01, Jul 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
    RAF report on handling of Bf109E



    .
     

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  7. Snautzer01

    Snautzer01 Well-Known Member

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    #7 Snautzer01, Jul 6, 2011
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2011
    Taken from LEMB

    The distance between the wheels is 2.1m for the Bf109 and 1.68m for the Spit. Both required different techniques because of propeller rotation, the spit also has two different procedures as the earlier Merlins turned in different rotation to the later Griffin. The Bf109 wheels were canted at the same angle of the legs which made it very easy to ground loop and very loose on hard runways, why most German pilots preferred landing on grass. The Spit wheels are canted out 4.5 degrees from the angle of the leg which makes the wheel close to vertical on touchdown hence a little more controllable than the Bf109 even though a narrower track and the Spit has a much larger wing area.

    and Also LEMB

    http://www.k-silmailumuseo.fi/?action=alar...HMA=9&ID=20
    We've been asked "Why was the Bf 109 so prone to swing on take-off?". (Nov 10th 1999)

    The Bf 109 take-off swing was a very well known and notorious phenomenon. Already the external looks of the aircraft’s landing gear indicate that it is very easy to suspect it to be the culprit for the whole event. However, this is not the case. The swing is mainly caused by the the propeller slipstream which does not move backwards in a straight line along the fuselage but in a spiral path which is caused by the angle of the propeller blades to the aircraft’s center line. When this spiral airflow hits the tail, it tends to turn the rudder (seen from the back where the starboard and port sides of the aircraft are defined) to the right and the nose to the left. The swing can be compensated with an appropriate use of opposite rudder. If the tail is lifted too soon during the take-off, the propeller’s gyroscopic forces contribute to the left swing.

    The narrow landing gear track creates the conditions for the swing: the brakes turn (prevent the swing) less effectively than with a wider track gear. The Bf 109 gear track is undeniably narrow ( Bf 109 E 1,97 m, 109 G 2,06 m, 109 K 2,1 m), but, for example, the Spitfire’s track is only 1,68 m. However, this is only a half of the case.

    The other and decisevily important factor is the aircraft’s relatively rearward center of gravity. If the swing is allowed to develop, the rearward c.g. increases the swing and not even the highly regarded Messerschmitt brakes could no longer rectify the situation. If the pilot at this stage closes the throttle, it increases the swing still and the inevitable will happen: the landing gear collapses. In reality the process is also very quick. In addition it must be said that although the take-off swing is well-known and notorious, almost as many accidents took place during landings when the aircraft was allowed to swing.

    The Bf 109 landing gear has been blamed for the swing without a cause. The real reason has been between the stick and the seat. The whole swing problem was a mere instructional mistake. The pilots should have been made to adopt one golden rule: the Messerschmitt Bf 109 must be steered to go absolutely straight during the ground run in take-off and landing and any tendency to swing must be corrected immediately with a well-timed use of the brakes and/or the rudder.

    In short the aircraft had a bit of tendency to swing unless caught early, and the cause was the lack of directional stabilitiy of the aircraft. This was continously improved through the war by introducing :

    - larger mainwheel tires
    - larger tailwheel tires for better traction on ground
    - change of main wheel mounting angle to near-vertical (-> kidney bulges originate to the change of angle, not tire size!, that why they're so shaped!)
    - enlarged tail
    - tall tailwheel
     
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  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I think Lightnmust is looking more into how the myth began - not evidence to the contrary.

    Something such as this, although no figures are given.....

    "Fighters of the Luftwaffe" by Joachim Dressel and Manfred Griehl 1993
    page 15

    "At Rechlin the Bf 109V-1 suffered a broken undercarriage as a result of damag to the telescopic leg connections to the fuselage. This problem affected the Bf 109 right through to the end of the war, and led to high losses, especially later with inexperienced pilots."
     
  9. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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  10. Crimea_River

    Crimea_River Well-Known Member

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    Intersting thread. I'll see what I can dig up.
     
  11. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    If I recall the problem was not really in the track but in the toe out configuration. I might be wrong, but I believe that 109 and the Spit had a similiar size in wheel track but the 109 had a more toe out condition. I believe pbfoot went and actually confirmed this by measuring a Spit and 109 at the museum he volunteers at.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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  13. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Already noted in previous posts.;)
     
  14. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    cant find anything that can confirm the 11000 claim, but several sources mentioning increases in losses due to the torque increase on the G model?
    also mentions of Israeli Jumo engined 109 clones being lethal on the ground!
     
  15. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Excuse me for missing that. I guess trying to read over every post here on this forum is not possible...
     
  16. Lighthunmust

    Lighthunmust Banned

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    I knew when I posted this thread late last night some people would react to it as a bull to the matador’s cape. I did my best to prevent this by including language specifically to prevent this reaction if read, comprehended, and complied with. This is not a thread to goad the lovers of all things Bf 109. On the contrary they should be its greatest contributors because this thread has the potential to definitively discredit the claim that is being researched. This thread was not up for even an hour before a counterproductive reply post was made. Hence my immediate, blunt, attention getting, chiding response to prevent this thread from rapidly deteriorating to nothing but more obfuscation of the truth. The very claim being researched is almost certainly the greatest example of obscuring and confusing the truth of the matter. I took some time to compose this thread and I don’t want to waste my time on it if people are just going to fill it with irrelevant for topic landing gear comments that make it worthless.

    Back to the purpose of this thread. Does anyone have a copy of the book “ME-109” by Martin Caidin? This was a Ballintine series soft-back sold for a dollar from racks in supermarkets/drugstores/bookstores in the late 1960s early 1970s. I lost this book in 1993. This book may be where I first heard the claim of 33% loses due to landing gear design. Mr. Caidin is deceased. Would it not be great to contact the earliest published author of the claim that is still alive to ask for an explanation?

    Please stop making any posts that don't comply with the research methodology as you are only making research more difficult with masses of text that waste time.
    Please post names, publication dates, text of the claim, and very little else unless it is a suggested source for the original claim that needs to be checked-out.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Bomber engine and propellor installed in a fighter airframe. Not a good indication of Me-109 performance when equipped with a properly matched engine and propellor.
     
  18. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Not why I mentioned it, just wondering if that issue has been integrated into the "Myth" also is there any corrsponding comments toward the Buchon?, it could all shine light on myth or fact??
     
  19. Lighthunmust

    Lighthunmust Banned

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    These types of comment just make more time consuming text to wade through. Please just post the specifically requested information. This thread is going to end up being an impossible mess if you don't. Start another thread to discuss all these other issues. Thank you.
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The web link I posted provides technical information specific to this issue.
     
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