Why did the 56th FG stay with the P-47s?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by DSR T-888, Sep 20, 2014.

  1. DSR T-888

    DSR T-888 New Member

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    #1 DSR T-888, Sep 20, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2014
    I'm curious why the 56th FG didn't transfer to the P-51B. The P-51B had higher top speed, faster rate of climb, better turn time, longer range, better roll rate, higher critical mach speed and nearly half the price. It would seem 100% logical to simply move to the better plane, right? I'd assume they didn't transfer, because of the confidence they had in the P-47, knowing they could out dive and out preform their enemy at high altitude. Also this probably reinforced their confidence after the friendly trainer engagement with the P-47(Robert S. Johnson) vs Spitfire(, which also further proved the superiority of a heavier and faster plane. The 56th FG battle harden and well trained pilots ended their 3 year experience in the P-47 with a Kill/Loss ratio of 5.3. by the end of the war. So in the long run the P-47 was very deadly fighter aircraft and not just used for ground attack. Its always disappointing to hear someone talk about the P-47 as if it were just some ground attack aircraft. They completely forget which fighter planes took on the Luftwaffe at full strength and emerged victorious(big week, early 1944

    Please give me your opinions on the why the 56th stayed with the P-47.

    8thAF.png

    Eventually they would get the P-47M which was arguably one of the best piston engine fighters to see combat in WW2 and easily superior to the P-51D. P-47M being faster at all altitudes and climbing faster at all altitudes. Then the P-47N which is also faster at all altitudes, superior range, quicker roll rate, faster rate of climb(depending on the fuel loading), larger pay load and more durable.

    Also, which dived faster, the P-51D or the P-47D, N, M? Preferable an answer with Mathematically factors or actual reports.




    Thank you.
    DSR_T-800
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Maybe the fact that the 56th FG had the longest association with the P-47. Having squadrons based at Bridgeport New Jersey, almost across the road from Republic's Farmingdale plant made them an obvious choice to trial the new fighter and the 63rd FS was the first to get it in May 1942.

    It seems that the 56th was offered the P-51 as early as January 1944 but Landry declined. Several officers seem to have influenced this decision, most notably Schilling. After nearly two years with the type it obviously inspired confidence in the more senior officers of the Group.

    The Group were still trouble shooting the P-47 in January 1945 with the introduction of the M.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #3 drgondog, Sep 20, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014
    If you wish to compare the P-47M and N to the P-51D, note that both of those came into combat service as the first P-51H was rolling off the production lines - one year after the P-51D production started.

    Now compare speed, climb, ceiling, roll, turn?

    As to Bob Johnson's account of out climbing and out turning a Spitfire?
    NFW if he was fooling around with a Spit IX. Period.

    The P-47D couldn't out climb or out turn a P-51B below 30,000 feet, and neither the B nor the D nor the H could out turn a Spit IX or XIV at any altitude.

    IF Johnson actually had this encounter one can only wonder if an ancient Mk II or V happened to be in the area.

    The P-47 was a fine airplane, the 56FG IMO was, along with the 354 and 357 and perhaps the 49th FG's, were the best fighter combat units of the AAF. What makes it difficult to separate them is that the two longest combat units, 56th and 49th were operating in different theatres and far longer than the 354th and 357th. Comparing the 354th and the 56th with only 30 credits separating them despite the 56th engaged 7-8 months earlier against the same enemy is that the 354th had more opportunity during its operations than the 56th because of the range factor - ditto the 357FG. Unfortunately the 354th FG was forced to convert to the P-47 in November 1944 and didn't 'escape' back to Mustangs until mid February 1945. In the two month period, when all the big air battles, the Battle of the Bulge and Bodenplatte the 354FG only got about 9 VC's (I'll have to check) which was the lowest VC run of its history by far.

    As to the decision P-47 vs convert to P-51 made in January 1944;

    Bob Landry according to Zemke made the decision when Zemke was home on leave. In "Zemke's Wolfpack", page 130, he cites the P-51B as having the best performance of any US fighter and better than any LW fighter except climb - and that he would have chosen the Mustang.

    Zemke further re-iterates his judgment while leading the 479th when he again cites the P-51 as the AAF best fighter with respect to performance and range. I cannot offhand recall a fighter pilot that flew and got victory credits in the P-47, P-38 and P-51 other than Zemke. His opinions must be held in respect.
     
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  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    WWII Aircraft Performance

    simple answer - both had placard Vne in Dive not to exceed 505mph true although both were tested up to .85M
     
  5. DSR T-888

    DSR T-888 New Member

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    Thanks drgondog.

    I wasn't exactly compare the P-47M/N to the P-51D, because anyone can just pull out the P-51H card. I'm just saying while the P-51B and D rained supreme throughout late 1943-1944. The 56th FG in late 1944 finally got a competitive aircraft to the P-51D, Bf-109K4 and Fw-190D9, but in this case it was superior in some ways. The P-51 is probably another all time favourite WW2 bird of mine. The P-51D with a 1943 engine was still bringing competitive performance to the playing field all the way up to 1945.

    I just think the P-51 takes a bit too much of the credit sometimes. And other times their is simply way too much anti P-51 rumors.
     
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  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    U.S. Army invested in huge P-47 production facilities just as Luftwaffe invested in huge Me-109 production facilities. After making such an investment that's what you will be flying, whether you like it or not.
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Did they? AFAIK the Farmingdale Facility was privately owned by Republic as was the Curtiss facility in Buffalo. I also believe that Republic owned the tooling, so please tell us your sources...
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    That doesn't make much sense, as the P-51 was operated by the USAAF...and the P-38 and the P-40 and the P-39 and the A-36...

    So then *IF* we follow that logic, then the USAAF would have only flown one type...
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Curtiss built a piddling number of P-47s. the rest came from just two factories. The Farmingdale plant the Evansville Indiana plant. I don't know how many sq ft these plants wound up being, and maybe 2 big plants equal 5-6 little plants.

    I believe Mr Benders anti-P-47 bias is showing a bit.

    For some reason a German Fw 197 using TWO 12 cylinder engines (combined power 2200-12600hp depending on engines) and weighing 12-14,000lbs would have been the greatest thing since sliced bread but an american 12-14,000lbs SINGLE 18 Cylinder engine airplane was too expensive,too slow, too un-manuverable maneuverable and an all round waste of money :)
     
  10. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps it would have been better to dump the P-47 entirely and build the Grumman XF5F instead?

    It only weighed about 9,000 lbs and used two little R-1820s :lol:
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The P-47 fliers very much liked it, some of them affectionally?

    We might remember that, when comparing the P-47 and P-51, especially the P-51B, the P-47 carried twice as much of guns and ammo. 600-700 lbs of extra weight, along with 4 extra gun openings and ejection chutes should've hampered the P-51B's performance a bit, both speed and RoC?
     
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  12. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I am currently reading An Ace of the Eighth by Norman "Bud" Fortier and it talks about the P-47 being the preference for ground attack rolls. Was the 56th by chance tasked with this?
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    We often tend to think of fighters as single engine or twin engine and disregard the actual size. The reason designers (or air staff) used TWO engines instead of one was because the majority of the time, ONE engine of the available types was NOT powerful enough. Often in the 2-4 years from issue of requirement to plane going into service new engines did become available but this means throwing out large parts of the design work already done and starting over, further delaying service introduction.

    The P-47, rightly or wrongly, was conceived with eight .50 cal machine guns with 425rpg. This is just under 1600lbs of armament or over 3 1/2 times the weight of guns and ammo carried by early Spitfires or Hurricanes. The P-47 (early ones with no drop tanks) also had about double the range of early Spitfires and Hurricanes.
    Most aircraft (or at least fighters) without under wing loads divide up their weight with about 30%, give or take 3-5%, going to 'payload'. Guns/ammo,fuel/oil, pilot/radio/etc. Around 30% (or more to power plant) and around 30% or so to structure. You want 3 times the guns/ammo and twice the range of plane A in Plane B? you are going to need a much bigger airplane with a bigger engine that needs more fuel. Now throw in the requirement that you want it to fight at 25,000-30,000ft instead of 20,000ft and things just go even more complicated (bigger/heavier).
    Also remember that when the P-47 was designed, ordered off the drawing board and was in prototype stage ( and Factories being built) , 100/130 fuel did NOT exist. In fact a Pilots manual dated Jan 20th 1943 gives two different allowable boost pressures for different 100 octane fuels
    With 100 octane (amend. #4) fuel Max boost was 47in.
    With 100 octane (amend. #5) fuel Max boost was 52in.
    This may be a carry over from an earlier edition of the manual.

    Basically, if you want a fighter that carries 1600-2000lbs worth of armament (Including mounts,structure, ammo boxes/chutes, heaters,etc) you don't do it with a 6-8000 lb airplane.

    BTW the Hawker Hurricane IIc was only carrying about 360lbs worth of ammo.
     
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  14. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    Complicated question, but I know that post-ww2, much of the production tooling for military engines and aircraft was government-owned. Indeed, much of the furniture when I worked at Lycoming and Sikorsky had US government property tags on it ;)
     
  15. N4521U

    N4521U Well-Known Member

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    Do you think it had something to do with their "mission"?
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #16 GregP, Sep 20, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2014
    None of this makes sense.

    The Group stayed with the P-47 becasue they were not ordered to change. They were in the Military and, in the Military, you fly what equipment you are assigned. The Group has NO say in the matter. They can request, but the decision comes down from above.

    The USAAF, like ALL military organizations, is NOT a democracy.
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Depended on the contract. I worked on the P-3, the tooling for that was Lockheed owned. I'm a government contractor right now - we own our own furniture ;)
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    But it is not black and white. There is plenty of evidence from several of the senior officers within the Group that they were offered the P-51 in January 1944 and declined to take it preferring to stay with the P-47. Nobody then ordered them to adopt the P-51, though this could have been done and they would have had to take it, and consequently they retained the P-47 until the end of the war. It's the point of the original question.

    Oddly during war time military organisations, at least at a senior level, become more democratic (not really the right word) not less, as the opinions of relatively junior but experienced and proven successful officers carries much more weight than in peace time.
    An extreme example of this would be that during conferences at the British Air Ministry in 1940 Leigh Mallory brought along very junior officers (notably Squadron Leader Bader) to express their views on operational matters, something inconceivable in peace time.
    Competent men of middling ranks were given much heavier responsibilities. Don Bennett was a mere Wing Commander when given the task of developing Bomber Command's Pathfinder Force.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  19. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Bud Fortier was a close friend of my father, Bert Marshall and they flew combat together in the 355th FG. Fortier was a volunteer to the experimental "Bill's Buzz Boys" attached to the 353rd FG led by Glenn Duncan, which flew P-47s to develop airfield strafing attacks. Fortier then returned to the 355th and started flying Mustangs again. He got a ground score, but the 8th credited it to the 353rd - which pissed him off to no end.

    I would have to read the book again to understand the context of that statement - at least in the context of what he specifically said. The 355th FG's first day of airfield strafing was in a P-47 and resulted in the first loss due to airfield flak one week before Bud went TDY to 353rd until mid April.

    No, the 56th FG was not tasked for ground support role - but ALL 8th AF FG's pitched in extensively June 6 through August, 1944 with heavy losses to P-47s and Mustangs alike.
     
  20. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Greg - whether it 'makes sense' or not, there are too many pointers to indicate that the narrative that Zemke had regarding Landry's appeal to Kepner to retain the Jug, was a fact. That the 56th continued with the Jug, despite arguably being the most effective US fighter group in the ETO speaks loudly to Command influence to permit them to continue.

    You are certainly correct that there was zero Power on the part of 56 FG leadership to make the decision. It also seems clear that Zemke, had he not been on vacation, would have argued for replacing the Jug with the Mustang.
     
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