What did the P51s have over the German fighters?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by VBF-13, Jun 19, 2013.

  1. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Notice the question mark, folks. This is a question. I'm not advocating anything. I'm aware of their range. Once they mixed it up with the German fighters, what did they have over them? I'm not hearing a real lot. Is it simply numbers and attrition that tell that story, or were the P51s that much better than the German fighters. And, if so, in what ways?
     
  2. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    I think the later Mks of German fighters together with an experienced pilot were playing at least on par with P-51s. As much as my interest is in the LW and the planes, I think the Mustang had a slim margin over the Bf 109G+ and FW190D.
     
  3. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I'm thinking the same thing.
     
  4. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    The way I see it, is that the P-51 beat the Bf 109 on its own game. They were very similar fighters in the sense that their main strength laid in their speed and power instead of sheer manoeuvrability. The Bf 109 dominated every fighter in these power fights, 'in the vertical'. But then when fighters like the P-51 or to a lesser extent P-38 and P-47 came along, they outclassed the Bf 109. And I am saying that as a Bf 109 enthusiast. I agree with Njaco, that the later Bf 109 was on par with the P-51 but in 1944 the Bf 109G-6 was definitely outclassed until the G-10 and K-4 appeared at the end of 1944.

    The P-51 was not the super-fighter it is often mistaken for. But it was the fastest fighter around, at all altitudes. It rolled well, handled well, dived very well, had decent armour, effective armament, ... However, except for speed and range, it was not superior in any sense! But, compared to the standard Bf 109G or Fw 190A, it beat them at the most important element in air combat: initiative! Due to its superior speed it could break off any fight and engage it at will. This was what the German fighters always had over their opponents. Now, the roles had been turned. Also, German fighters were now forced to press on with the attack on the bombers, making the German fighters a prey for the P-51s.

    And couple that with the best trained pilots in the world ...

    Kris
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Better trained pilots.

    Marginal performance advantage (overall).

    The first was the most significant factor by a very wide margin. There were other factors with less important effects. The build quality of the P-51 was much superior to late war Luftwaffe aircraft. The engine was more reliable. You can argue about the armament, many late war Luftwaffe aircraft were hampered by bomber killing armament which was far from ideal in a dogfight. The list goes on.......

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  6. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Over the 109, biggest advantage I would say was visibility.

    190 is another matter, down to the pilot and tactical situation?
     
  7. Conslaw

    Conslaw Member

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    One of the under-praised virtues of the P-51 was its high cruise speed. The P-51 could cruise reasonably economically at 380 MPH (which is not to say that it always did so). This was close to the maximum speed of the German fighters without using NOX or water-injection. The high cruise speed meant that the Germans were unlikely to catch the P-51 in a low-energy state. The P-51 was a mediocre climber, but an excellent zoom-climber. The P-51 was also very fast in a dive, on a par with or slightly better than the P-47. In Europe, bomber-escorting P-51s tended to fight close to their best altitude. At 25,000-30,000 feet, the P-51 had a substantial performance advantage over the lower-rated FW-190As. In the various comparison tests you'll see, the turning radius of the P-51 is not considered to be very good, and yet, the P-51 aces didn't see it as a problem. Bud Anderson said that he could drop partial flaps at any speed to stay on the tail of a maneuvering adversary. The P-51's rate of roll was not exceptional but it was adequate.

    Bomber-escorting P-51s had the advantage of always being on the offensive. A P-51 could enter a dogfight with the sole objective of shooting down an enemy fighter. This is especially true after March 1944, when the American fighters were given more freedom of action. A German fighter pilot's principal mission was to shoot down bombers. usually the P-51s would have the advantage of superior numbers. If a P-51 pilot was outnumbered, he could dive away from his opponents, and use the P-51's speed to get out of danger.
     
  8. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Merlin Mustang have had far better performance vs. LW opposition.
    Especially if we talk about 25000 ft and above, where 430mph + was a common thing for the P-51B/C/D/K, while 190s were struggling to make 380-390 mph (depending whether it's heavier draggier A7-A8 or 'lighter' A5-A6; the A-9 is as good as A5-A6, but it was too late to matter).
    The Bf-109G-6 was doing maybe as good/bad as Fw-190A5/A6 - all the lumps and bumps (cowling bulges, fixed tailwheel etc) taking the toll on speed. The 'high altitude' Bf109s with DB-605AS engines, available from mid 1944 on (= the battle over Germany is as good as decided) were able to cut some of P-51s speed advantage, to maybe 20 mph?
    The Fw-190D-9 will not cut it, neither when we talk about availability (from late 1944 on, battle is lost for LW), nor for it's performance (again ~20 mph short of P-51s speed).
    The superior combat range of the P-51 also meant it can go offensively vs. LW, so it won't be saddled with close escort more than necesarry. The small combat range of LW fighters was not to allow greater concentrations of their fighters, the thing Germans eventually reckoned and tested Ta-152 and some Fw-190Ds with internal wing tanks.

    As we can read from Bill's input in this forum, the P-51B managed to rack up many kills even when not having the numerical advantage.
     
  9. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, fellas. Kris, "initiative," that's an interesting one. I can see it would take an intimate understanding of these aircraft to draw a comparison like that. Appreciate it!
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Aggressiveness coupled with a faster, nearly equal maneuverability fighter with great visibility, and the ability to show up anywhere over Germany - to the point that even takeoff, forming up at low altitude and climbing were exposed to attack.

    The 109 was a better climber but couldn't really use that in a fight unless the 51 was closing at high speed. It could turn with a 51 if the pilot skill was equal. It might turn better at low to medium speeds if the 51 wished to stay in the maneuver. Diving was a push if the 109 had a head start. The 51 would always (nearly) out roll the 109 and always at high speed.

    The 190 below 19000 feet was about equal in all respects except top speed, was superior in roll until high speed range where the 51 closed but still not equal.

    With the post June 1944 introduction of 150 octane fuel and subsequent boost increase to 72" the 51 Climb approached the 109, exceeded the 190 - and faster than both until the 109K and 190D. The latter only lacked equal quality pilots to be even.

    IMO armament didn't matter between these a/c. Whatever was on your tail was lethal. I believe the .50 had an advantage in air combat under 300 yards primarily because of slight MV and significant ammo quantity advantage. There were a LOT of three victory+ fighter pilots in a single Mustang victory credit day against the Fw 190 and 109, far fewer against the Mustang.

    The latter is more about relative pilot skill however.
     
  11. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Oh yeah, add to the list ... better gunsight !


    Kris
     
  12. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    Altitude advantage, re: Bf 109G-6/AS was supposedly created for combat in April of 44, but it did not help the LW. in nearly all the combat related reports you will note the LW was at the lower alt and were continually jumped by Stangs on a daily basis.
     
  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #13 nuuumannn, Jun 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
    Although touched on already, numbers of P-51s in theatre as the war wore on was a vital factor also.

    No, but what is often overlooked about the Mustang Is, P-51A, B, C and D models was that although not the fastest fighters (P-51H notwithstanding), they achieved their remarkable performance (specifically speed and range) despite being heavier and physically larger than many of their contemporaries, including the Spitfire IX and the Bf 109 and Fw 190A models. Compared to faster and more powerful aircraft, the Mustang's performance stood out because of its capabilities with a smaller capacity and power output from its engine.
     
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  14. altsym

    altsym Member

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    The BF 109 had advantages over the P-51, and visa versa otherwise about equal IMO, but basically the Americans had the numbers the Luftwaffe suffered from attrition at this point. The BF 109K-series needed to be put in service 10 months earlier, more then a match for the P-51 in my opinion.

    @ drgondog, speaking with 109 pilots, the sure fire way to get away from a P-51 was to dive.
    @ Erich, I conquer, getting bounce with an altitude disadvantage was the biggest problem for the Luftwaffe.
     
  15. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    #15 razor1uk, Jun 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
    I wonder if the P-51 would have done as well if it only ever had a 3 bladed prop upon it like the rest of the vast majority of European WW2 single engined A/C... Yes, I understand the earlier ones did have the 3 bladers, before a storm of critism wafts upon this posting.

    Or if the Germans realised earleir that a 4 (or 5 bladed) prop with or without 'paddled' design would have improved the 109.. IMHO, they (LW/RLM/TechAmt etc) assumed the extra weight and syncronisation loss to RoF verses improved altitudinal power co-efficient was too detrimental too their mob/group/mass thinking(s).
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    P-51s arrived in quantity during spring 1944. About the same time Germany became critically short of aviation gasoline.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Propeller design is not simple. NO ONE propeller is the best at all things (top speed at sea level, top speed at 20,000ft, take-off, climb, cruise and so on).

    The air at 22,000ft is about 1/2 the density of sea level and at 33,000 ft it is 1/3 the density.

    Constant speed propellers help a lot but they cannot be the best at all things either. A propeller that is the best for use at 30,000 is too big for great performance at sea level. A Prop that gives top speed at sea level will be too small for good performance at 30,000ft.

    A propeller is a set of moving air foils (like wings) and using too little "wing" (prop blade area) results in poor performance but trying to swing large wings ( big prop blades, or lots of them) though dense sea level air creates a poor thrust (lift) to drag ratio.

    You also get handling problems, A large heavy propeller is going to resist changes in rpm like a big fly wheel and a sudden application of power is going to see the airplane trying to role in the opposite direction of the propeller rotation. Not a big problem at altitude and speed with plenty of control authority but a potential problem in take-off and landing ( more in landing) where the ground is close, speed is marginal, control authority is less and the engine (on landing) is throttled back and the propeller moving slow.

    Most old books on engines ( from the 30s and 40s) often have a chapter on propeller theory and design but then note that there are (were) whole books dedicated to the subject. A chapter or two just gives and over view.

    People had used 4 blade fixed pitch propellers in WW I so the idea and theories of both prop blade area and prop disc area (not the same thing) had been being discussed in aviation literature for around 20 years.
     
  18. jim

    jim Banned

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    P51 advantages, in my opinion
    1) 2-stage supercharger
    2) superior fuels allowing higher boosts
    3) better building quality beacause no bombing raids in america
    4) vastly superior numbers
    5) better trained pilots
    6) Bad LW tactics, P51s always had altitude advantage
    7) Alleid units knew about LW moves because of the Ultra
    8) german aircraft factories, mid war, had to trade quality for quantity

    9) Excellent designed cooling system low drag wing= excellent range speed (but not acceleration!)

    I believe P51 has a great record,not because of being a superior design, but because the lucky combination of all the above factors. From these factors only the number 9 has to to with the airframe design itself
    Fw 190A8 w MW50 (1945), Fw190D9s, late 109s were superior in close combat at low/mid altitudes if numbers were equal
    A Fw 190 with 2 stage supercharger (eg D13) , equal building quality, SAME FUELS and equal pilots ,was superior at eveything but range
     
  19. razor1uk

    razor1uk Well-Known Member

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    #19 razor1uk, Jun 19, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2013
    T'is true that Davebender,
    ...at least they unforseen didn't/couldn't expand and disperse there synthetic fuel processing - then again the mostly rail based logistical system would still be the biggest stumbling block even if they had an suitable amount of their major types of aviation fuels - and thats ignoring the fact tht Germany throught the greater part of the war had less than a years supply in storage of most of its strategic material needs.

    Roughly true too as per Jim says. Plus with the assination of Isoroku Yamamoto and the subsiquent top-brass faliure of the I-400 program (the first strategic submarine weapons system designed for near world wide reach 30,000+ km range), let alone LW's largely 'hypothetical' only 'Die Amerika Bomner' project(s) yes they did make a few prototypes, and perhaps flew one or two close to the mainland but..

    ..Anyway this meant that the US relatively ddn't have to worry about keeping forces back for home defence - I mean I am led to believe that instructors, combat duty served vets and trainees could (did?) provide that service instead of larger forces deployed abroad, when in consideration to British, German, Italian Japanese etc forces kept at home on defencive duties - if you gather what I am ineptly meaning.
     
  20. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Germany had almost 600,000 metric tons in stock at the beginning of May 1944. This was the highest it had been since the BoB when it was almost 700,000 metric tons. It is also about 3 times what the consumption was.
     
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