The Luftwaffe Expertens' Opinions

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Butters, Mar 29, 2009.

  1. Butters

    Butters Member

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    I was reading an interview with Johannes Steinhoff and was surprised to hear him express the opinion that the most dangerous Allied fighter was the P-38 Lightning.


    In most accounts I've read, Luftwaffe fighter pilots have been rather dismissive of the P-38. Most seem to consider the Spit to have been the most dangerous adversary, with the Mustang coming in as a close second.

    It would be interesting to see some quotes from other Experten in regards to this controversial subject. After all, they ought'a know...


    Interview With World War II Luftwaffe Eagle Johannes Steinhoff » HistoryNet

    JL
     
  2. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    because in the earlier war years when Steinhoff flew seriously all he really came up against was the US P-38

    the most feared or should say pain the the neck of LW pilots was the P-51
     
  3. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    As Erich pointed out, much will depend on the era of the war in which a particular pilot was most active. Pliots who ceased active flying prior to 1942 would probably find the Spit most lethal as they would not have encountered few American fighters other than the Martlet, P-39 and Mustang in RAF service. On the other hand, if they had seen action on the Russian front as well, there is a chance they might have found a Russian type most deadly, although I'm not sure what type that would be.

    Of course, later in the war, it is likely that pilots involved in Defence of the Reich units would find the P-51 their toughest adversary, although again I'm not sure what the Eastern front equivalent would be. La-7 maybe?
     
  4. Butters

    Butters Member

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    I'm not arguing that Steinhoff is correct. I'm just interested in what the members of the Luftwaffe experten thought.

    That aside, the fact that Steinhoff participated in the Battle of France, BoB, commanded JG 77 in the MTO during '43 (Where both the RAF and USAAF operated Mustangs), and later flew jets against the 8th AF, seems to indicate that he had experience fighting against a wide array of Allied fighters. Seems like pretty 'serious flying' to me...

    JL
     
  5. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Most of Steinhoff's experience against Mustangs were P-51A/Mk I and A-36 which flew almost exclusively in armed Recce and fighter bomber role. The P-38J should be slightly better than the P-51A, particularly at altitudes above 15,000 feet

    He really didn't encounter P-51B/D until he was flying the Me 262.

    Macky Steinhoff was a very fine fighter pilot.
     
  6. MacArther

    MacArther Active Member

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    That is interesting....Did he say where he was fighting against the P-38s that he considered them dangerous (i.e. what theater of war, what altitude, etc.)? Also, did he give reasons why he considered the P-38 the most dangerous? Make no mistake, I like the P-38, but even I know that its showing was less than stellar against the Luftwaffe.
     
  7. TheMustangRider

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    One thing that in my opinion should be taken in consideration is that potentially during the last days of the war when he was flying the Me-262, he never had a taste of the P-51B/D Mustang in a one-on-one combat given the fact that Me-262s used their superior speed to go through escort fighters, hit the bombers and then get away.
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Me262s rarely stood and fought as a fighter as it wasn't agile in tight turns, putting it at a disadvantage against the P-51 and comparable prop fighters.

    Another critical factor would be it's slow "spool-up" time on the engines, meaning you had to be conservative on the throttle or suffer an engine failure. That would put the Me262, again, at a disadvantage in a turning fight where the throttle becomes a useful tool.

    Adding to that, would be the fuel consumption of the Me262, which was just short of terrible. At cruising speed, the Me262 had enough fuel for an 80 minute flight, however in combat, it's flight time would be down to around 30 minutes if the throttles were near 90%+. Getting tangled up in a "furball" would bleed off precious minutes of flight time...especially if the fight occured late in it's flight.

    That's not to say that the Me262 never did "brawl"...and the business end of a '262 was something you would not want pointing at you...but it was rare.

    The Me262's strengths were it's speed and cannon, so diving through an escort to deliver a lethal burst of 30 mm into a bomber was where it belonged.
     
  9. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    Gents

    to be perfectly truthful Stein did not get that much jet travel time, he got canned after a long drawn out battle while as CO of JG 7, then the wait before he was in JV 44, flew 2 missions or so before his almost lethal toasting off the grass field, then he was out of the war ...........
     
  10. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    Thanks for the link to the interview, the whole article is a nice read.

    When he spoke of the Lightning, he said it was great in the attack. Basically what I get from what he is saying, don't get yourself in the gunsights of the P-38. He also mentioned getting hit by one from long range. I think his respect for the plane is the concentrated firepower.

    The P-38 was its own worst enemy in the ETO. Teething problems that were not solved before the Mustang was ready.
     
  11. Junkers88A1

    Junkers88A1 Active Member

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    i guess there was a reason why the germand called the P-38 the forktailed devil
     
  12. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    That was a myth created by the author Martin Cadin
     
  13. lesofprimus

    lesofprimus Active Member

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    Yes it was............
     
  14. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Junkers,

    >i guess there was a reason why the germand called the P-38 the forktailed devil

    I have never found any actualy evidence of that, and I know that "Gabelschwanzteufel" is a rather awkward word for my North German tongue.

    I'm pretty sure that had it really been a historical nickname, it would have been eroded into the considerably less intimidating "Gabi" (a traditional girl's name) rather quickly :)

    On the topic of experts' opinions: Priller's "J. G. 26" mentions that one of the difficulties the Jagdflieger had was that spotting an enemy formation as dots on the horizon, they never knew what Allied type they'd meet, making it difficult to adapt tactically. The Allies had only to reckon with either Messerschmitts or Focke-Wulfs, leaving less tactical uncertainty to them.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  15. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    I have never heard any former LW crewman call the P-38 anything other than Lightning.

    same for the P-51 it was simply called Mustang
     
  16. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    I remember as a kid, my Uncles (WWII Pacific vets) mentioning the P-38 as the Fork-Tailed Devil, a Japanese reference. Whistling Death was the Japanese name for the Corsair.

    Perhaps this Martin Cadin person picked that up from the Japanese and ran with it?
     
  17. Kurfürst

    Kurfürst Banned

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    As a matter of interest, Hungarian pilots appear to have nicked the P-38 as the 'ladder' , but Lightning, Thunderbolt, Mustang were equally common, the type designations were almost never used (ie. like P-51, B-24).
     
  18. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I agree Kurfurst, I think even the German pilots went with the nicknames rather than proper designations. I believe B-17s were referred to as "Boeings" along with the common Veirmot.
     
  19. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    I wouldn't be quite so sure - August 1945 Pilot's Manual for the P-38 makes the same Gabel yadda yadda claim.
     
  20. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    bomber pulk and or fat cars were also used to describe US bombers and it's formations by LW crews. Viermots was used in official write-ups and docs
     
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