The Effectivness of 8 x.303s

Discussion in 'Weapons Systems Tech.' started by slaterat, Jan 17, 2009.

  1. slaterat

    slaterat Member

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    My position

    The results of the Battle of Britain demonstrate that the standard armmnent of 8 x.303s of the Spitfire and Hurricane was adequate in 1940. I`ll start by comparing fighter vs fighter combat from Jul to Oct 1940. All figures are from
    The Narrow Margin, by Woods and Dempster, or Battle Over Britain by Mason. Both books use primary sources form both sides. The Luftwaffe loses are stated as operational due to combat. The RAF are total losses from which losses due to accident or destroyed on the ground need to be subtracted.

    Losses by month

    109 110 Hurricane Spitfire

    July 34 19 51 40
    Aug 177 114 228 137
    Sep 187 81 205 135
    Oct 104 10 109 50

    total 502 224 593 359

    Total losses in fighters for the Luftwaffe 726 vs 952 for the RAF. Subtracting RAF losses from accidents and those destroyed on the ground (89 for Aug and Sept) brings the RAF losses due to air combat to 883 about an exchange rate of 1.2 to 1 for the Luftwaffe. These figues would not take into account RAF losses from bomber defensive armament or Luftwaffe losses from aaa.

    A sample of deployed forces operational for Aug 10 1940 gives the Luftwaffe 934 109s and 289 110s against 749 Hurricanes and Spitfires or about a 1.6 :1 advantage in numbers for the Luftwaffe.

    Overall we have an exchange rate very close to 1:1 in fighter vs fighter,the Luftwaffe had the advantage in performance and numbers as well as fighters armed with 2 cannons plus mgs. On the surface it would seem that the apparent advantage of cannons didn`t account for much during the BoB.

    Slaterat
     
  2. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Slaterat,

    >Overall we have an exchange rate very close to 1:1 in fighter vs fighter,the Luftwaffe had the advantage in performance and numbers as well as fighters armed with 2 cannons plus mgs. On the surface it would seem that the apparent advantage of cannons didn`t account for much during the BoB.

    Unfortunately, there is no point of reference for a valid comparison. It might be that the Luftwaffe usually operated under unfavourable conditions in their engagements - for example because the ground-controlled intercept techniques of the RAF placed their fighter squadrons in superior tactial positions -, and this would make a 1:1 exchange ratio a success. (You have probably read about Galland's exchange with Göring - Galland's gripe was that Göring's orders routinely placed the Luftwaffe fighters at a disadvantage.)

    My point on more effective armament being beneficial for the RAF is that it would not merely have shifted the numerical loss ratio, but might have made daylight raids prohibitively costly (as it did for the RAF in the Battle of Heligoland Bay, or for the USAAF in the Schweinfurt raids). This would have represented a quantum leap in British air defense, achieving a success beyond simply improving the exchange statistics.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  3. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    I think that the fact the Luftwaffe lost is a sufficient clue. The Browning 303 was available in quantity and used effectively. There are plenty of graves containing the mortal remains of Luftwaffe personel in my part of England to prove the point. A phenomenal waste of life on both sides.
     
  4. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Maximowitz,

    >I think that the fact the Luftwaffe lost is a sufficient clue.

    There is a big school of "thought" that assumes because the Allies won the war, every bit of their equipment was good.

    Of course, that's a rather dumb assumption ...

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  5. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Strictly speaking
    did the Luftwaffe lose it? Or is it simply that the Fighter Command DIDN'T lose it (rather than won it)? Odds suggested by Slaterat of 1:1 or thereabouts doesn't sound like abject defeat to me.

    The point I would make to Slaterat is that perhaps the difference between a cannon-armed fighter and a machine gun-armed fighter would not be so pronounced whilst they were fighting each other; the difference might have been more telling if it were the German fighters shooting at bombers, instead of us.
     
  6. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    No doubt HoHun.

    Being of advanced years myself I was fortunate enough to meet RAF pilots such as Tuck and Johnson in person. Over a series of conversations with me they told me that success as a fighter pilot was due to two qualities, given that there is a degree of parity in equipment between opponents.

    1/ A reasonable level of skill

    But, and this was stressed greatly..

    2/ Luck.

    If you're in the wrong place at the wrong time it doesn't matter what plane you happen to be in with whatever weapons. You're still dead.
     
  7. KrazyKraut

    KrazyKraut Banned

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    The numbers leave out bombers though. And here the Luftwaffe lost more than the RAF, though a larger margin was caused by aaa. I am pretty tired of these arguments that are based on loss ratio statistics though. They suck. First of all the numbers are heavily distorted. Second, if you picture them as a mathemathical equation, there are many, many factors that contribute to the outcome and conclusions on a single factor are downright wrong.
     
  8. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Maximowitz,

    >No doubt HoHun.

    Well, then avoid the dumb assumption school posts in the future.

    Skill and luck ... nice truisms, always good for a laugh but rather poor for rational analysis.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  9. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Laughing.

    Why don't you demonstrate for us Your 'rational analysis' approach to the factors which a.) must be grasped, and b.) must be vetted to consolidate pilot training for high probability aerial combat success... other than skill and luck of course?

    The USAF spent quite a bit of money in the 1950's attempting to understand why so few had achieved so high a percentage of awards in aerial combat. They were unsuccessful at quantification, but did point to many 'common' factors. We know you must have succeeded where they failed otherwise your comment would not have been so .... well, "condescending" to Maximowitz.
     
  10. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    True enough
    I too, was trying to avoid the statistical analysis and make a point on the size of the aircraft that you were firing at. I'd estimate that it's probably easier, armed with 8 x .303s to down another single-engined fighter than it is to do the same to a medium bomber.
    In reverse, the cannon-armed fighter shouldn't have too much trouble with another single-engined fighter (provided he can hit him) and should have alot less trouble bringing down a bomber.

    So, in line with Slaterat's quest, what I'm suggesting is that the principal target of the RAF was bombers, then fighters. The vast majority of the Luftwaffe's targets in the daylight raids were fighters only, they weren't dealing with bombers on anything like the scale that the RAF fighters had to.

    If the battle had taken a curious twist and the RAF and Luftwaffe were striking at each other with massed daylight bomber formations escorted by fighters, we may well have seen the advantages offered by cannon-armed fighters over machine gun-armed fighters when they engaged the RAF's bombers.

    So, finally to my point, I don't think the BoB was particularly representative of any cannon vs machine gun debate.
     
  11. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    The number of fighter sorties flown by the two sides would be a more realistic comparison than just the numbers availalbel. The RAF FC flew a lot more fighter sorties than the Luftwaffe.

    But overall IMHO it is not possible to draw such a very specific conclusion regarding armament effectiveness based on the operational record. Ironically, the RAF would be much better off with the cannon armed Emils in the Battle, as their problem was that the .303 rounds were rather ineffective against the armored German bombers. If they didn't hit something vital, like engines etc., the bomber would sometimes make it back to the base with 1000+ hits in it, and the crew unhurt. Granted the plane was a likely write off, but planes were easier to replace than aircrew.
     
  12. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    i think this number it's too high, they are for all luftwaffe not for units can fight over the england
     
  13. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    considering kurfurst position it's allright, british fighter can fly more sorties a day that luftwaffe (don't need back in france/belge/nederland for refuel e reammo)
     
  14. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Tend to agree
    I think it's related to my point
     
  15. Maximowitz

    Maximowitz Active Member

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    I would be particularly interested in hearing exactly how many fighter sorties HoHun managed during World War II? 5? 100? I suspect he's another little "armchair general" gathering data and specifications while playing with his Microsoft flight simulator and posting pointless "this versus that" threads.

    Unless you were there at the time and actually taking part anything you say is merely lazy conjecture.
     
  16. slaterat

    slaterat Member

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    The source specifically states " Luftwaffe forces deployed against Great Britain, Aug 10 1940. Figures taken from the Luftwaffe Quartermaster General 6th, Abteilung returns."

    Well something like 1000 Luftwaffe bombers went down too. However the reason I left the bomber stats out was because I wanted to compare cannons vs mgs, your point is taken though.

    I dont believe that the Luftwaffe was at any major tactical disadvantage to the RAF. One could argue the opposite as RAF fighters were often still climbing to the fight and caught at an altitude disadvantage. That being said I think neither side had a definitve advantage in positioning. Being on the offensive always has its intrisic advantages though. Both sides made changes in tactics for better or worse.

    Slaterat
     
  17. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Maximowitz,

    >Unless you were there at the time and actually taking part anything you say is merely lazy conjecture.

    Few historians ever took part in anything, and those who did have to be treated with caution because they are biased more often than not.

    In fact, history can be considered the armchair science of lazy conjecture - you better get used to it.

    If you have anything to contribute to Slaterat's specific question or my specific reply, you're invited to lazily conjecture with us. Should you be unwilling (or unable) to raise the intellectual level of your posts above the "Allies won = good guns" mark, or again miss the point completely as in your "skill and luck" post, I'll simply put you on my ignore list and you can have all the fun you want without my interference.

    Kind regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  18. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    To me, and I am using intuition mostly along with many years of handloading and hunting experience with rifle, pistol and shotgun, the discussion is pretty cut and dried. If the British fighters had had four 50 cal BMGs with a good ammo load( 400 rds per gun, like the F4F3 which was roughly contemporaneous) and IF that armament load had not been so excessive in weight or size to negatively impact the performance of the fighters, the RAF would have had more success in shooting down the LW AC. Likewise, if they had mounted four 20 mms or two 20 mms and two 50 BMGs(like later Spitfires did) and IF the 20 mms had been as reliable as the MGs were and had really good ballistic properties(high muzzle velocity and good ballistic coefficients along with a good rate of fire) and IF the ammo load was almost as great as the load with the four 50s and IF the same caveats about weight, size and performance applied, then they would have been even more successful at their task. The facts are that they did not have the four 50s for probably perfectly good reasons and the 20 mms at that time were not reliable in that particular configuration in use at that time, so they went with the eight 303s and that sufficed. As time went on different armaments evolved.
     
  19. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    True
    but how many more would have gone down to cannon-armed fighters?

    Isn't it acceptable to leave ALL the stats out and just reason what if both sides were trying to shoot down the same types of aircraft?

    If machine guns were being compared vs cannon for destructive effectiveness on a firing range, you wouldn't have them shooting at different size/mass targets, it wouldn't produce representative results.
     
  20. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    Sounds correct to me Ren.
     
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