Wasn't the P-51 the best escort fighter of the war?

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Jank

Senior Airman
650
16
Mar 21, 2005
Well, let's hear it.
 
P-47N Thunderbolt

P-47N-318FG.JPG

Sighting in its guns.

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Performance of the P-47N-5-RE included a maximum speed of 397 mph at 10,000 feet, 448 mph at at 25,000 feet, and 460 mph at 30,000 feet. Top speed, 467 mph at 32,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 2770 feet per minute at 5000 feet and 2550 feet per minute at 20,000 feet.

When maximum external tankage was carried, this brought the total fuel load of the P-47N up to an impressive 1266 US gallons. This fuel load make it possible for a range of 2350 miles to be achieved.

Armanent included six or eight 0.50-inch machine guns with 500 rpg and up to 2,500lbs. of bombs and 5-inch rockets.

Weights were 11,000 pounds empty, 16,300 pounds normal loaded, and 20,700 pounds maximum.

Dimension were wingspan 42 feet 7 inches, length 36 feet 4 inches, height 14 feet 7 inches, and wing area 322 square feet.
 
As I know the Mustang was quite a good escort plane... It was manouvrable, it had a great range, it was also fast... It could follow the bombers to their destination, engage enemy aircraft and return home safely without the worries of remaining without fuel...so I agree... The Mustang was a great escort plane...
 

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Are you sure about those speed numbers davidicus? Didnm't think the Thunderbolt held a candle to the Mustang. Sure is a big plane.
 
The P-47N was significantly superior in every area to the P-47D, and, I would argue, superior to the P-51D Mustangs that actually saw service.
From: http://home.att.net/~historyzone/Seversky-Republic8.html

The XP-47N took to the air for the first time on July 22, 1944. Test comparisons were made with a P-47D-30-RE throughout the early portion of the evaluation period. Much to everyone's surprise, the XP-47N, with its greater wingspan and higher weight actually proved to have better roll performance than the D model. At 250 mph TAS, the N attained a maximum roll rate just over 100 degrees/second. The P-47D-30-RE could manage but 85 degrees/second at the same speed. At higher speeds, the N widened the gap further.

In mock combat with a P-47D-25-RE, the new fighter proved to be notably superior in every category of performance. In short, the XP-47 waxed the venerable D model regardless of who was piloting the older fighter. The new wing was part of this newfound dogfighting ability, however, the more powerful C series engine played a role too. The additional horsepower allowed the N to retain its energy better than the older Thunderbolt.

Perhaps the greatest performance increase was in maximum speed. Though not as fast as the stunning P-47M, the heavier N was fully 40 mph faster than the P-47D-25-RE and could generate speeds 30 mph greater than its principal rival, the Mustang. Scorching along at 467 mph @ 32,000 ft., the N could not be caught by any fighter in regular service with any air force on earth with the single exception of its M model sibling. This combination of wing and engine had pushed the N model up to the top rank of the superlative prop driven fighters then in existence.

The testing program included determining the maximum range of the fighter. This was done with various combinations of fuel loads and external drop tanks. Ultimately, a test flight was made from Farmingdale to Eglin Field in Florida. The XP-47N took off with two 315 gallon drop tanks hanging from the under-wing hardpoints. Usable fuel in these tanks totaled 600 gallons. Added to the internal fuel load, the N eased off the runway with 1,170 gallons of fuel (usable). At a gross weight of 20,166 lbs., the Thunderbolt headed south in company with a P-47D chase plane.

Arriving off the coast, east of Elgin in 3 hours, 44 minutes, the external tanks were dropped. Another P-47D, already waiting at Elgin, took on the N in a mock dogfight that lasted for twenty minutes. The throttle was advanced to military power for 15 minutes of this time, with an additional five minutes in the War Emergency Power (WEP) detent. After these fun and games were concluded the N was turned around and flown back towards Farmingdale. Heavy weather over Long Island caused the plane to divert to Woodbine, New Jersey. Having flown 1,980 miles, total fuel usage was measured at 1,057.5 gallons. There was still more than 112 gallons of usable fuel remaining in the main fuselage tank, enough for another 330 miles @ 1,700 rpm in auto-lean.

The XP-47N was now the king of long-range single engine fighters (the all time leader of long range escorts was the P-38L-1-LO, which could claim a combat radius of nearly 1,500 miles under ideal conditions).


It began service in the PTO in September of 1944. Total production exceeded 1,800 before the war's end.
From: http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p47_13.html

The XP-47N flew for the first time on July 22, 1944. Such was the USAAF confidence in the Thunderbolt design that they went ahead and ordered 1900 P-47Ns in June 20, 1944, even before the first XP-47N had flown.

The P-47N was destined to be the last version of the Thunderbolt to be manufactured. The first P-47N-1-RE appeared in September of 1944, and 24 were delivered by year's end. The P-47N-5-RE and subsequent batches had zero-length rocket launchers added. The R-2800-77 engine was installed in late production models such as the P-47N-25-RE.

The P-47N gave excellent service in the Pacific in the last year of the War, particularly in escorting B-29 Superfortress bombers in raids on the Japanese mainland. P-47Ns were able to escort the bombers all the way from Saipan to Japan and on many other long, overwater flights.
 
The P-51 was a good excort fighter with good attributes in each area. When compared to the P-47 it had a longer range but the P-47 was generally faster. The P-38 with its slighter shorter range and twin engines made although fast slightly less manouverable. I would agree that the P-51 was the best escort fighter of the war, although late war P-47s such as the N version where up there with the P-51s at the end of the war.
Stats on all 3 can be found here :http://www.compsoc.man.ac.uk/~wingman/ or in the aircraft database on this site
 
Gnomey said:
The P-51 was a good excort fighter with good attributes in each area. When compared to the P-47 it had a longer range but the P-47 was generally faster. The P-38 with its slighter shorter range and twin engines made although fast slightly less manouverable. I would agree that the P-51 was the best escort fighter of the war, although late war P-47s such as the N version where up there with the P-51s at the end of the war.
Stats on all 3 can be found here :http://www.compsoc.man.ac.uk/~wingman/ or in the aircraft database on this site

The early P-38s shorter range was because of the smaller droptanks used in the ETO and improper flight procedures. It could outmanuever/manuever with anyaircraft it encountered especialy below15,000/20,000ft.
The P-38 suffered from several issues in the Early days of escort flying
1) Improper training/procedures sometimes pilots with only 20 hrs in fighters and no twin time were given P-38s
2) Because of need, It was the only plane the US had that could fight 1/1 with the german planes and had the range, it was pressed into an area it was not designed for and developed in combat. Problems included Fuel, Training, aircraft heat, because of the altitude cold and fuel the engines were a problem.
3) Early on Odds of 10 German to 1 P-38 were normal and these were the best the German pilots ever.
4) Tactics Close escort and ground attack.

The later P-38s were compettitive with anything in the sky, had more range, faster climb, faster acceleration, faster high speed roll rate, tighter turn higher WEP speed than either the P-51D or the P-47 D though it would have taken the P-38K to stay fairly close speed wise with the H model mustang and M/N P-47s
. These P-38s showed up about the time the P-51Ds showed up.

Durring the war the P-38s while flying either close escort or about half were mossions of ground attack flew 130,000 sorties to the P-51s 214,000 free ranging escort (they got to chase the German aircraft down) score 2,500+ awarded claims during the war to the P-38 and 4,939 awarded to the P-51. The P-38 had a much larger percentage of ground attack than the P-51.

In the other theaters of war with 300 gal drop tanke the P-38 flew missions of over 2,000mi the furthest of any other fighter in the war.

Chech out the following web pages: Planes and Pilots of WWII and http://p-38online.com/index.html they both have some great stuff on the P-38.
 
So I gather the P-47 N was the best escort fighter in combat service? You blokes made me llose a bet.
 
wmaxt,

The P-38K was a prototype that never went into production and consequently never saw combat service. That takes it out of the running for the "best fighter escort of the war." That leaves us with the "J" model.

You said, "The later P-38s were compettitive with anything in the sky, had ... faster high speed roll rate, ... higher WEP speed than either the P-51D or the P-47D."

I thought the P-47D could outroll the P-38J and that both the P-51D and P-47D had higher war emergency power speeds. I seem to recall that the roll rate for the P-38J was about 80 degrees per second and that both the P-47D and P-51D were faster under emergency power. Am I mistaken?


The P-38J, was a good escort but I think its performance fell short of the P-47N.

From: http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p38_13.html

The P-38J was the fastest variant of the entire Lightning series--420 mph at 26,500 feet. Maximum speed at 5000 feet was 369 mph, 390 mph at 15,000 feet.

Range was 475 miles at 339 mph at 25,000 feet, 800 miles at 285 mph at 10,000 feet, and 1175 miles at 195 mph at 10,000 feet. Maximum range was 2260 miles at 186 mph at 10,000 feet with two 250 Imp gall drop tanks.

An altitude of 5000 feet could be attained in 2 minutes, 15,000 feet in 5 minutes, 10,000 feet in 7 minutes. Service ceiling was 44,000 feet.

Weights were 12,780 lbs empty, 17,500 lbs normal loaded, 21,600 lbs maximum. Wingspan was 52 feet 0 inches, length was 37 feet 10 inches, and height was 9 feet 10 inches. Wing area was 327.5 square feet.

Armament consisted of one 20-mm Hispano M2(C) cannon with 150 rounds plus four 0.50-inch Colt-Browning MG 53-2 machine guns with 500 rounds per gun. In addition two 500, 1000, or 1600-lb bombs or ten five-inch rockets could be carried on underwing racks.
 
DAVIDICUS said:
It {the P-47N} began service in the PTO in September of 1944. Total production exceeded 1,800 before the war's end.
From: http://home.att.net/~jbaugher1/p47_13.html

The XP-47N flew for the first time on July 22, 1944. Such was the USAAF confidence in the Thunderbolt design that they went ahead and ordered 1900 P-47Ns in June 20, 1944, even before the first XP-47N had flown.

The P-47N was destined to be the last version of the Thunderbolt to be manufactured. The first P-47N-1-RE appeared in September of 1944, and 24 were delivered by year's end.

As you can see there is a conflict here. The first production P-47N was delivered in Sept. 1944, but they did not see service in the PTO until May 1945, with the 318th Fighter Group. I think that they were delivered earlier (January/Febuary '45) to the 456th FG in Europe, where they served alongside the existing P-47M's, but I'd have to re-research it to confirm that date.

I agree the P-47N was probably the best escort fighter of WWII, but the P-51 was clearly the more significant of the two.

=S=

Lunatic
 
WMax - the P-38K did not have much of a speed advantage, if any, over the P-38L. It was a better climber. It would never have matched the raw speed of the P-47M/N or P-51H.

DAVIDICUS,

The late P-38J and all P-38L's had hydrolically boosted ailerons and were the fastest rolling of all planes at high speeds - even faster than the FW-190. It was simply possible to apply more aileron deflection for aileron surface area than any human could muster the strength for at such speeds. Furthermore this was very usuable for high-speed combat, as it took almost no pilot effort to execute a maximum roll. The late model P-38's were the only fighters of WWII to have such power assist ailerons.

That being said, the P-47N (and later P-47D's and the M, and the F4U-4 Corsair, and possibly others) had some kind of automatic balance tabs, I'm not sure of the details of how these worked, but they did give it an exceptional high speed roll rate.

Your climb rate figures for the P-38J are wrong:

"An altitude of 5000 feet could be attained in 2 minutes, 15,000 feet in 5 minutes, 10,000 (assume this should read 20,000) feet in 7 minutes."

The P-38J could reach 20,000 feet in 6.6. BTW: the P-51B could reach 20k in 6.2 mintues. I believe the later P-38J's matched this climb.

=S=

Lunatic

Note: climb times below are "from start of takeoff run" - many climb figures are from "wheels up".
 

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Yes...the P-47N was a good escort plane but as Gnomey pointed out, it only saw service at te end of the war, not completely forfilling it's purpouse... The P-51 served for much of the war time and it was one of the planes the USAF relied on...
 
Roving Guns:

I don't see the conflict in what I wrote. (Was I self contradictory?) The information I read says that the P-47N entered service in the PTO in September of 1944 and thus:

"began service in the PTO in September of 1944."

"The first P-47N-1-RE appeared in September of 1944, and 24 were delivered by year's end."

You have indicated that they didn't actually see service until May of 1945. I didn't know this. Where does this information come from? At any rate, it did definitely see combat, shot down a lot of Jap planes and even made a number of pilots aces.

My information on the P-38J came from the source I cited. At any rate, what was the roll rate of the P-38J? I thought it was about 80 degrees/second. The P-47D could do 85 and the P-47N did better than 100. Do you have reliable figures for these three aircraft that say different?

That chart you posted lists the P-47D-10. Out of curiosity, do you have any climb figures for P-47D's with paddle blades?


Hellmaker,

The topic was the best escort fighter of the war. Of all the escort fighters that were in combat service (war) as escort fighters, the P-47N was clearly the best. I would also agree that the P-51 had more of an overall impact as an escort fighter in the war. Accordingly, had the topic been "Which escort fighter had the most significant impact on the war," I too would have said, "The P-51."
 
Davicus hit the target here gents. Asked for the best escort of the war. Looks like the P-47 N filled the ticket.
 
So Jank (the poster of his own question), clarifies the question he was asking and you are going to overrule him and say that he meant something other than what he just said he meant? :rolleyes:

For what it's worth, I stand by my assertion that the P-47N was the best escort fighter to see combat service in WWII. Better than the P-51D and obviously better than ther P-51K which was inferior to the "D" model. (I understand that the "K" stood for Krap.)


Before everyone jumps on me, THAT WAS A JOKE, as in a feeble attempt at humor.
 
go interview some ETO vets of the 8th AF smart guy. The K variant was excellent. As I said this all is wrapped in what theater. First thing you cannot even compare the two on the ETO front anyway.

We can come up with scales as some posters like to do but until you can interview a vet first hand and get his views on flying both Jug and Mustang variants you will all have your own personal opinions.

v/r E
 

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