Weaknesses in fighters.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by beitou, Sep 29, 2012.

  1. beitou

    beitou Member

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    What were the leading fighters weaknesses? I am familiar with the narrow track undercarriage for the 109, the Zero's lack of armour, are there any other major weakspots either in the air or on the ground and were they exploited in the air by the opposition?
     
  2. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Why does everyone remark on the Me109's narrow landing gear, but seldom say anything about the Spitfires same narrow main gear ?
    Of course the Messerscmitt's gear has the gear splayed out with a lot of negative camber, that makes it look even worse.

    That landing gear is the result from one of the Me109's main design features, the wing main spar, landing gear, and engine bearer down strut all join at one strong point, making for a much lighter structure. Also that strong point with it's weight was close to the cg making the fighter more agile in all deminsions.
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Most American fighter aircraft lacked cannon. Consequently firepower was weak compared to most contemporary fighter aircraft.
     
  4. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    That's a tall order as there were a lot of "leading" WWII fighters and they all had their respective strengths and weaknesses. Why don't we rather just try to ease into this question. You mention the 109. That was one heck of a fighter. Bring us on board by explaining specifically what you mean by "narrow track undercarriage" and its relationship to a weakness in that aircraft, as I, for one, don't understand that one bit. We'll take it from there.
     
  5. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    P-39/-63: Rear engine layout. A few good hits from behind and above could knock out the Allison, granted in a dogfight that was probably harder in practice than on paper.

    P-47: Slow climber (until the paddle props were implemented).

    P-38: Compressibility at high altitude during dives. Easy for LW pilots to escape from by diving away until P-38J and -L.

    P-51, Il-2/10, most fighters w/ liquid cooled engine: Very vulnerable engine radiator. Bf 109 mitigated this with dual radiators and a cut-off system.

    Me 262: Lost a great deal of its speed advantage in a sustained turn. Engines could also easily flame out with any drastic changes in throttle setting.

    A6M: Wing flexing greatly inhibited high speed maneuverability. At 270+ mph the F6F and F4U both out-turned the Zero.

    Bf 109: Difficult to turn at high speed due to very high control forces. Used against it to some extent during BoB and later.

    MiG-3: An absolute dog under 20,000 feet, where most Eastern Front air combat took place.

    LaGG-3: Underpowered and easy to spin. LW had a field day with it.
     
  6. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    #6 ShVAK, Sep 29, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
    Also true of most early Russian and Italian designs.

    Not sure if that was such a big weakness for American fighters considering they were usually pitted against other fighters, or in the PTO bombers with insufficient armor. 6-8 .50's are still nothing to sneeze at with a mix of AP and tracer.
     
  7. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Spitfire was clearly more benign at landing configuration, so it was easier to land. Its tailwheel also took less weight, its CoG was nearer to main gear, so it was less suspectible to ground loop, downside was that it was more suspectible to nose over.

    Juha
     
  8. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    The cut-out system wasn't a standard system but limited production accessory set, at least in Gs, eagery sought out by maintenance personel, without it the dual radiator system didn't help much.
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Most American aircraft used 6 heavy machine guns.
    Many Russian fighters used a single 20mm and 2 rifle caliber machine guns or ONE or TWO heavy machine guns, The LA-5 used two 20mm guns.
    Japanese Army fighters took most of the war to come up with 20mm cannon, 2 or 4 Mgs was the norm for them and their 12.7 was quite a bit less powerful than the US 12.7mm.
    Japanese Navy fighters (Zero) use two low powered 20mm and 2 RCMG for the early part of the war. Later planes got a bit better but it took until 1944 for significant increases in Japanese naval fighters fire power.
    Less said about the majority of Italian fighter's guns the better.
    Rather leaves the the British and German fighters doesn't it?
    Bf 109s unless they were gunboats had one 20mm and two RCMG until the G-6. G-6 replaced the RCMG with the MG 131 which while rather nice weight wise wasn't in the same class as the 12.7mm Browning in power. MK 108 doesn't show up AT ALL until late fall of 1943 and doesn't show up in numbers until when? Fw 190 does have the edge in fire power over the Americans but isn't the most common fighter in German service for most of the war.
    It gets down the British having the firepower superiority over the US fighters if one is talking about "most contemporary fighter aircraft".

    US fighters may have had weak firepower compared to certain examples of contemporary fighter aircraft but the majority of fighter aircraft used in WW II did NOT have superior firepower to the American fighters.
    Especially if you count combat duration or length of time the guns could fire.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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  11. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Practically all a/c had their weaknesses, and good pilots tried to play on the good points of their own planes and on the weaknesses of the opponent's plane. For ex FiAF Brewster Model 239 pilots tried to use boom and zoom tactics against more manoeuvrable Soviet I-153s but turn and burn tactics against clearly faster but less manouvrable LaGG-3s and MiG-3s.

    Juha
     
  12. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely. That's also why the Kamikazes had trouble steering into their targets much less keeping themselves together in those high-speed suicide dives. Their frailty was a factor in that, I'm convinced of it.
     
  13. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #13 Juha, Sep 29, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
    I saw nothing that contradicts my claim, and that is what all pilots' reports say, even German ones, as Mölders said after he flew captured Hurri and Spits, "they are childishly easy to land" of course that didin't meant that even child could land them but they were clearly easier to land than 109.

    BTW in landing configuration means flaps and gear down but still in air

    Juha
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Nearly. It was a post production set made in limited numbers for the F series.
    The kits were not made,nor was it standard on any G series aircraft.
    It reappeared,from the factory, on the K according to some but I wouldn't bet a puppy's life on it since I can't find the source for that claim (at the moment).
    Steve
     
  15. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    I can not remember which allied pilot said it, but when he sat in a Me109, he could not believe how poor the visibility - especially rear was.
    He said that had he known this when he was flying against them, he would have been bolder / more aggressive.
    Spitfire and razorback types also had poor rear visibility - but this was improved greatly with the Malcolm hood.
     
  16. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    The Zero probably had the best visibility from the pit.
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Even experienced pilots found the Bf 109s ground handling difficult.One test pilot described the landing characteristics as "malicious".

    Landing on a hard (concrete) or made surface was particularly tricky with no means of locking the tail wheel. Units operating in Norway from the predominantly concrete or wooden runways there did devise a tail wheel lock.

    There are dozens of quotes from Luftwaffe pilots about the potentially dangerous nature of the Bf 109's ground handling. A couple will suffice here.

    Ernst Schroder wrote:

    "Inexperienced pilots often found themselves being pulled brutaly to the left which caused many accidents.It was always important to use the rudder to counter the tendency to move left. Upon touching down the brakes could be used to guide the aircraft on a straight heading. I never damaged a 109 on landing but in spite of this the aircraft was a "scheissbock".

    Heinz Lange:

    "the narrow landing gear (which) made starts and landings difficult and often dangerous in windy conditions,above all lateral wind........especially for young trainee pilots."

    This is why Molders described landing a Spitfire or Hurricane as "childishly easy."

    This is not a weakness in combat. It is better described as a vice. The Bf 109 was by no means the only WW2 aircraft which needed careful handling,particularly at low speed or on the ground.

    Steve
     
  18. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    I believe that was test pilot Jefferey Quill who flew combat with front line squadrons to evaluate improvements with the Spit!
     
  19. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #19 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Sep 29, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
    I believe it was pbfoot, who went to the museum he volunteers at and actually measured a 109s and Spits track. The Spit was 1 inch less than the 109.

    The problem with the 109s landing gear was not in the track, but in the toe out. At least that is what I understand.

    The 109s main weakness in my opinions is its lack of range, and its high speed maneuverability. Range was not as important once the aircraft was on the defensive instead of the offensive, and the maneuverability problem could be overcome by a pilot who knew his aircraft's strengths and weaknesses.

    I don't necessarily think that. US fighter aircraft were just fine with the .50 cal. .50 cal is just fine against fighter aircraft. If they had been needed to intercept large formations of heavy bombers, obviously cannons would have been more effective.

    Sure other air forces such as the Luftwaffe used heavier armaments, but to call an aircraft with 6 or 8 .50cals as weak, is pretty absurd, as it will take out a small fighter just fine.
     
  20. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    Should be noted, Seafires were infamously squirrelly during carrier landings.
     
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