What plane flew the highest during WW2?

Discussion in 'Aircraft Requests' started by RAGMAN, Oct 4, 2005.

  1. RAGMAN

    RAGMAN Member

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    I have read that the JU86 was made into a high altitude plane to fly over England and Africa with little fear of interception,until the Spitfire was modified to fly at the same height as the JU86.I have read that some planes flew higher than 45000 ft but I do not remember the plane(s) as I read them when I was kid.Anyone know what planes (if any)flew 40000+ ft on regular basis? :confused:
     
  2. cheddar cheese

    cheddar cheese Active Member

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    A fair few planes could aquire - 40,000ft The ones that spring to mind are late Spitfires, P-51D's, P-38's, P-47D's, Ta-152's...There are more...
     
  3. DaveB.inVa

    DaveB.inVa Member

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    Ive read of the Ju-86 P and R versions making it over 50k.

    In May 1946 the USAAF set a couple records. First was General Jimmy Doolittle's B-29B named The Challenger carried a 24,200 lb load to 41,561 feet.

    Later that month General Frank Armstrong's personal B-29 named Fluffy Fuzz IV (with Major Ross as AC) carried a 2,200 lb load to 47,910 feet. This was set as an official record and it still stands. A guy named Bohannon has tried a couple times to beat the record in a modified RV-4 but he hasn't made it as of yet.
     
  4. The Nerd

    The Nerd Member

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    the mosquito is my first guess, though I speak out of much inexperience.
    Wasnt it one of the first planes to have pressurized cabins?
     
  5. cheddar cheese

    cheddar cheese Active Member

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    If any Mossies flew above 40,000ft it would be the PR versions, nd even then there would be lpanes that flew higher. Dont know about the pressurized cabin part.
     
  6. DaveB.inVa

    DaveB.inVa Member

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  7. kleinnak

    kleinnak New Member

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    I can't say at this exact moment, I'll have to do some reading when i get home from work, but i know the highest combat recorded was flown by Emaneul Galatzine (sp?) of the RAF in a stripped down Spitfire Mk IX against a Ju 86R/P (?) which i believe was at a height of either near or above 45000 feet. Again I don't recall exactly, I'll need to do some reading up when i get home, but i do know that was the highest recorded combat of the war. as for the mosquito, pressurization i couldn't say, but there are numerous stories i've read about of the photo-recon versions being able to fly high enough and fast enough to out-pace Me 262s that were sent to intercept them.
     
  8. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    That was actually a stripped down Mk V. :shock:

    Ju-86Ps (with deisel engines ;)) were doing photo recon over Egypt with impunity. The RAF decided something needed to be done about it.

    Initially they sent some high altitude Spitfire VI. However, the Mk VI had a heavy pressure cabin and couldn't get high enough.

    The next step was to convert 3 Mk V airframes. No 103 MU at Aboukir stripped out all unnecessary equipment, armour and the .303s. The aircraft were fitted with 4 bladed propellors taken from the Spitfire VIs and the compression ratios on their superchargers were altered to give more power at high altitude. Long span pointed wingtips were fitted and the 20mms were replanced with .50cals, with about 150 rpg.

    One of these modified Spitfire Mk Vs made an interception on 24 August, 1942 initially at 37,000 feet and climbing to 42,000 feet. The Ju-86 was damaged but returned to base.

    The Spitfires underwent further modifications to give them better performance. One of the fuel tanks was removed, new leightweight batteries were installed and all radio equioment including masts and mounting brackets, were removed. The Spitfires formed a 'Striker' and 'Marker' combat pair, with the stripped Spitfire acting as the attacking aircraft. On August 29 they intercepted a Ju-86P at 45,000 feet and damaged it so badly that it crashed into the Meditteranean
     
  9. kleinnak

    kleinnak New Member

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    hate to break it to you chief, but the plane Galitzine flew was a mk IX, No. 103 Sqn DID use stripped down mk Vs in the middle east, but Galatzine flew in the UK with the Special Service Flight (Or High Altitude Flight in the PC age) out of Northolt against the high-flying ju 86p/r's. he did indeed intercept at ju 86r, though did not shoot it down as his left cannon jammed as soon as he opened fire, at an altitude of approximately 44000 feet. his plane had the four .303s removed but still had the two 20mms. Do a search for Pilot Officer Emanuel Galitzine or read Aircraft of the Aces No. 5: Late Marque Spitfire Aces 1942-1945, every source will tell you he flew a stripped down mk IX. I can even tell you the serial number of the plane he flew, which was originally mislabeled as BF273 but later corrected to be BS273, which can be read at http://www.avhistory.org/scripts/Downloads3/download_stats_Top20.asp. really not attacking you, just saying, yes, he did fly a mk IX, and that you are right about the Mk Vs with No. 103.
     
  10. kleinnak

    kleinnak New Member

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    *side note* Galitzine also made his flight on September 12, 1944, when access to the Mk IX (an all around better aircraft) was far more available than the Mk V which had been largely phased out of service as a frontline fighter except for the LF.Mk V version, which rated for low level would have a rather difficult time catching a plane at 44000 feet. This also was over 2 years after the flights made by No. 103 Sqn, and when combat in Egypt was rather over.
     
  11. helmitsmit

    helmitsmit Member

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    I'm sure the the Spitfire PR mk 19 made 60,000ft? I read it in a book although it might not have been during ww2.
     
  12. mosquitoman

    mosquitoman Active Member

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    Mossies went to about 45000 feet I think and yes they did have pressurised cabins
     
  13. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    If it was that high, he would have needed a pressurized cabin, or a pressure suit.
     
  14. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    We are both mixing our stories. I have both "Late Marque Spitfre Aces" and "Spitfire Mark V Aces", both by Dr. Alfred Price, and yes, Galitzine did intercept a Ju-86P at 44,000 feet. I didn't claim that he didn't,

    HOWEVER,

    My anecdote refers not to operations over the UK in 1944, but operations over Egypt in 1942 with No 145 Sqn. It doesn't refer to Mk IX Spitfires but modified Mk V Spitfires. If you check the book you referenced you will note on page 15 that the Mk IX first began operations in the Mediterranean with No 81 Sqn on January 31, 1943. The unit wasn't No 103 Squadron, but it was modified by No 103 Maintenece Unit (MU). No 103 Squadron flew Wellingtons, Halifaxes, and Lancasters from Elsham Wolds in England.

    Pilot Officer George Glenders is credited with the kill of a Ju-86P at 42,000 feet, for the first intercept of a Ju-86P. He also made one intercept at 45,000 feet in a further modified Mk V but it didn't result in a kill, just a damaged claim. The RAF online history section goes on to say that; "Subsequently, Ju-86Ps were intercepted and brought down from heights of 45,000 and 50,000 feet" Which is ambigous enough to encompase all high altitude Spitfire operations from that point until the end of the war. ;)



    The highest official flight ceiling for a PR Spitfire was 46,500 feet in the pressurised PR. X with the specalised Merlin 77. They could, and did, go higher, but it really wasn't necessary. Above 40,000 feet they were safe from interception by anything apart from jets or the Ta-152H. Given a max cruise ( 1 hour continious) of 395 mph + at 31,000 feet they would of been difficult to catch. Even a 190K needs about 7-8 minutes to get up to this altitude. In that time the Spitfire has done close to 50 miles.
     
  15. helmitsmit

    helmitsmit Member

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    The Spitfire mk 19 did have a pressurized cabin (much better than the mk10, that is why there was a mark 11). I was also the mk19 that, on the spitfire last operational sortie, tried to break the sound barrier in a dive.
     
  16. kleinnak

    kleinnak New Member

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    ahhh, alright, that clarifies a good deal on your stance jabber, i apologize if i jumped the gun a bit. and apologize for the oversight on my part of 103's designation, get accustomed to writing Sqn too often and it becomes force of habit :-S. i however, am not a big fan of ambiguity in historical records. as it's all too common and can lead to serious problems in determining what exactly did happen(kill records during conflicts like the Battle of Britain for example :-S). i like to stick with the figures of Galitzine's flight as they're documented and are very often cited as being the "official" record. i will admit there is a lot to debate with Galitzine as well, on political grounds. 1. Galitzine was a russian prince, royalty, so that could have something to do with the fame of his action. 2. the fact that it was over england itself, where the main bodies of the press and media and focus was. yet until it can truly be proven otherwise, i personally like to stick to my stance on galitzine, but that's just me. i again apologize for any jumps to conclusions i made on what you were saying, but that is my stance thus far.
     
  17. Propellorhead

    Propellorhead Member

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    No incorrect the Ju-86R was at 41,000 feet above Southhampton when intercepted. After a short burst Galitzine's port cannon froze solid. The Junkers climbed to 43,000ft to evade the Spitfire VB. Every time Galitzine fired a burst his aircraft yawed off target and stalled. The spit also managed to envelope itself in vapour trails so thick Galitzine kept losing sight of the Junkers which escaped the combat.

    Unlikely they could go any higher. RAF's own trials disclose that the Merlin 77 powered Spit XIV (H) had a service ceiling of 44,600ft so to climb above this would require climbing at less than 100 feet per minute and close to the Spit's absolute ceiling. Also in practice guns froze and jammed about 40,000ft.

    I suspect you refer to the Bf 109K? The Spitfire Mark XIV high altitude fighter could out perform the 109K and the Spit required 8.35 mins to 30,000 feet and 15 minutes to 40,000 feet. I doubt any aircraft other than a jet perhaps was much different. 40,000ft in 7-8 minutes was not in the ball park.


    Glenders' claims are seriously discredited by the crew of the Ju-86P from Crete who reported they received no hits at all from Glenders. Glenders ran out of fuel and ditched 21 miles out to sea. No gun camera footage survived because the Mk VB Spitfire was lost, but Glenders was awarded the DFC for combat which the Junkers crew said never occured.

    The Junkers crew were cruising between 35,000-37,000ft when an engine malfunctioned forcing them to descend. They claim that as they descended they observed a Spitfire about 5,000 feet beneath them which never fired. The crew flew back to Crete but had to ditch and were rescued by a Dornier 24 flying boat.

    August 29th 1942, the rescue of a Ju-86 crew



    These further intercepts on Ju-86P were claimed by:

    F/O Reynolds claims Ju-86P intercept on 10 Sept 1942

    P/O Gold claims Ju-86P intercept on 15 Sept 1942

    F/O Reynolds claims Ju-86P intercept on 22 Nov 1942 (Claimed to be at 49,000ft)

    Gold and Reynolds both respectively claimed hits but in each instance the German records show no losses and no damage. None of these intercepts are confirmed either by British or German sources. (Source: Spitfire Mark V Aces 1941-45, By Alfred Price, p.66)

    The claim of intercepts by a Mark VB Spitfire at altitudes above 40,000 ft are preposterous since it's service ceiling was just 39,200 ft.

    Much later in the war two Mark VII Spitfires intercepted a Bf-109G over Scapa Flow at a claimed 43,000ft but the Messerschmitt dived and actual combat occured during the dive.

    For all practical purposes the RAF could not intercept with later model Spitfires with the merlin 77 above 44,000ft. In reality guns even with hot air ducted into gun bays froze above 40,000 feet.
     
  18. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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  19. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Proellerhead, you may want ot read the details in the link Battle in the Stratosphere as posted above.

    As an aside if the Luftwaffe had continued with very high altitude raids the RAF had the Westland Welkin ready for action. It wasn't needed as the High Altitude versions of the Spitfire had stopped the threat.
     
  20. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    A Spitfire at 60,000 feet? Now that is a good science fiction story! I suppose it you dropped it from 65,000 feet it might get there. Otherwise, I don't believe it is possible.
     
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