Worst Aircraft of WWII or Before

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by GregP, Apr 10, 2013.

  1. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #1 GregP, Apr 10, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
    While we’ve had a thread on this before, maybe it’s time to revisit “Worst Aircraft.”

    In another thread I identified the Bachem Ba 349 Natter (36 completed, 10 readied for launch, 1 did and killed the pilot), the PZL Zubr, and the Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka. There are certainly others.

    Ones that come to mind are:

    1) The Bonney Gull (1928): killed the designer on the first flight.

    2) The Caproni Ca.60 Noviplano Flying Houseboat(1921): one flight and it plunged into the water with the unsecured lead ballast.

    3) The Focke Wulf Ta-154: Three aircraft disintegrated in flight and Goering accused Kurt Tank of sabotage while a solution was sought. The culprit was the glue which ate into the wood, but the damage was done. An unrelated crash brought an end to the program. The fastest of the 25 or so built got to 404 mph, but the rest were 320 mph or so.

    4) The Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka suicide plane sank about 15 ships but the vast majority were never used, were shot down in the carrier aircraft or were destroyed or captured on the ground.

    5) Balckburn Botha: A torpedo bomber that proved more dangerous to British pilots than to the enemy. In one crash, a Botha collided with a Defiant and both spiraled down on Blackpool’s central station, killing several people and causing a lot of damage. Altogether a bad aircraft.

    6) Blackburn Roc: Making turn at low altitude could be deadly.

    7) Breda Ba.88 Lince: The engines overheated and produced reduced power resulting in very substandard performance.

    8) Handley Page Hereford: Even routine maintenance was complicated. Hopeless in combat along with the Hampdon. Seriously needed to be scrapped much sooner than it was.

    9) Heinkel He 177 Grief: The rear engines often overheated and caught fire. What more needs to be wrong?

    10) Messerschmitt Me163 Komet: Carried enough fuel for about 4 minutes of powered flight and killed a lot of pilots when it landed. The Allies’ best friend at the time ...

    11) Messerschmitt Me 321 / 323 Gigant: Though the first modern airlifter, it proved vulnerable to attack from anything including geese.

    12) Christmas Bullet: Killed the only test pilot on the first flight. Dr. Christmas believed the wing should flex like a bird’s but it came off when it did.

    13) LWS Zubr: Built as a low-risk backup for the PZL P.37 Los, the Zubr virtually came apart in the air. Cracks were dealt with by fixing on wooden patches. One fell apart while carrying prospective Romanian purchasers.

    14) Messerschmitt Me 210: The tets pilot reported unstable yaw and pitch and said he was lucky to be back in one piece.

    OK … here’s a few to start with … please continue.
     
  2. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Why can't I post an "8" without a smiley?
     
  3. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    Surely got to be the ME 163. Barely made double figures in kills, killed a bunch of expert pilots when they were needed most, tied up heaps of the best designers in Germany trying to make something from a fundamentally flawed concept.
     
  4. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    I could not include the He 177 and the Me 323 on this list.

    The He 177 was plagued with engine problems at first, but the overall design was solid. The problem with the engines was eventually solved.

    The fact that the the Me 323 was vulnerable is a given. It was a transport. Any transport is vulnerable when not protected. That is inherent to all transports, even today. Is the C-5 Galaxy the worst plane today. It is a big vulnerable transport.
     
  5. cherry blossom

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    I feel that I have to spring to the defence of the Yokosuka MXY7 Ohka. It was clearly the smartest bomb of WW2 but was admittedly not as successful as its designers hoped. Had it been possible to build it with a liquid fuel rocket similar to that of the Me 163 Komet as its designers had originally planned, it would have had a longer range and would almost certainly have been more successful. However, Japanese industry in 1944 was not thought capable of producing the required fuels. The Model 33 with a Ne-20 jet might also have been effective but was heavier and required the Nakajima G8N Renzan as a carrier.

    We can see how longer development can improve initially poor aircraft from the case of the Bloch MB-150 of 1936, which alas failed to take off.

    For an example of an irrevocably bad design, I suggest the General Aircraft GAL-56 tailless glider medium | january ist | flight january | 1948 | 0018 | Flight Archive. Eric Brown's comments tell all British flying wings.
     
  6. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    The He177 didn't have rear engines, it had side by side engines.
    Aviation Images - Deutsches Museum

    You really need to update your data base Greg.

    A fanatical company member denounced Tank to the local Gauleiter accusing Tank of sabotage. There was ~31 a/c built, some even going to NJG3 in April 1945. (12 flyable + 5 static, 7 pre-production, ~12 production)

    Of those Ta154s deliverer 8 crashed or had crash landings, with another 9 destroyed or damaged due to enemy action.

    Rudy Opitz disagrees with you.

    I submit the Vultee XP-54 and Curtiss-Wright XP-55.
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    The Silvansky IS should be on that list, Designed in 1938 as a frontal aviation fighter. There was a mistake on the landing gear lenght, too long to retract into the space for it in the wing, so it was shortened. That left the propeller too large for ground clearance, so the propeller was cropped.

    It may seem funny now, but this was 1938 Russia. Only the fact that the design staff was led by some one with kin high in the party saved them from the gulag or worse.
    When it finally flew, the test pilot felt lucky to be able to land, and pronounced it unfit to fly.

    The design team was broke up.
     
  8. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #9 GregP, Apr 10, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
    Spot on with the Bullet.

    I was thinking in terms of the fate of the Me 323's. They were all shot down or shot up on the ground. Maybe it WAS just the war, but its survival record is not one you'd want to take home to mama. In it's defense, it was quite a hauler and could handle what, for the time, was pretty outsize cargo ... as long as it was alone in the sky.

    Yah, the build for the Ta 154 was about 25 planes (updated the first post), not 9, none of which ever did anything more interesting than crash while the glue tore it apart from wthin.

    Milosh, Rudy didn't disagree with me when I spoke with him about the Me 163 in the late 1980's. He was in complete agreement that the Me 163 was a waste, if an interesting one. He was very interested that the Ho IV was in the USA and wanted to find it, but it was in private hands at the time. As an aside here, we have it now at the Planes of Fame Museum. It flew up until the late 1950's - early 1960's and probably could be made to fly again.

    The He 177 was the only plane of the several hundred Eric Brown flew that he could find nothing good to say about. That alone says something, at least to me. When I think of a warplane flop, I think of the He 177. I kind of like the looks, but the reputation was just awful. Maybe it was fixed but, if so, had nothing like a good service career. It is remembered for being a flying lighter.

    I can't find much about the late career of the He 177. Do you have any service history that shows it performing well? Maybe a book or link? I know it was designed so as to be strong enough to dive bomb, and that bodes well, but the engine layout was an Achilles heel if ever there was one. Some positive information would be nice, if both true and available. I have several books, and they don't say much positive, but all the evidence I have says the 4-engine He 277 could have been a very good plane.

    DrAdler, love the anmiated gif!
     
  10. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Same for Ju 52, C-47...

    ...if they are alone in the air. You put a hundred in the air unprotected and you have a turkey shoot.
     
  11. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Yeah. The He 111 and the G4M (armored t versions) were comparable to much of the opposition, the problem was the Axis situation.
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    One story goes that one of the first "test pilots" hired to fly it was a notorious drinker. When the day came to actually fly he is supposed to have said "HE** NO, I'm not THAT drunk" and quit ;)
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #13 GregP, Apr 10, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
    Probably the crux of the matter, Jenisch.

    The Axis situation was nothing if not dire for most of the war after the opening salvo or two. They managed to do quite a bit, but were not nice to the peoples they conquered and so were saddled with resistance everywhere that tied up a lot of resources that otherwise might have helped on the front lines. They attacked on multiple fronts in defiance of the tenets of war, and wasted an unseemely amount of resources on what turned out to be abortive prototypes of many weapons, not just airplanes. Even the mighty Panzer tanks turned out to be too heavy and easily got stuck in soft ground. The vaunted Stuka was vulnerable to almost any opposition. The He 111 was obsolete by 1941 but continued for the rest of the war. They couldn't understand radio silence and so had their war plans intercepted often and decoded. They didn't understand that radar was killing them and failed to destroy it in the Battle of Britain. They didn't understand the breadth and depth of the Russian winter and that cost them tens of thousands of troops and a lot of equipment. They didn't develop critical weapons at the pace of the Allies (think fighters, bombers, surface navy, and U-Boats) and never developed a strategic bomber despite the pressing need for one. Think of the resources wasted developing the Me 163, He 162, Natter, BV 155, BV 222, BV 238, Ta 152 (7 to 10 kills versus 4 losses ... a really non-memorable war record), and other abortive weapons. They lost in North Africa, lost in the Med, lost in the North Atlintic, lost on the Russian Front, and lost in Europe.

    Their Japanese ally also lost in the Pacific and didn't seem to understand radio silence either. They were also not nice to the peoples they conquered and didn't develop new weapons at the pace of the Allies. They never even replaced the Zero despite its shortcomings being glaringly evident by late 1943. They didn't use their submarines in a wise manner. 3 - 5 heavy cruisers would have served better than the Yamato or Shinano did. I could go on.

    WWII is a textbook case of how not to fight a war from the Axis side. Stay off the damned radio unless it is coded and the enemy doesn't have the code! Sure, some luck was in there, too, but the vast majority was poor planning by the Axis combined with prudent planning and execution by the Allies with tools developed and refined as war needs dictated.

    The lessons are clear, be nice to the peoples you conquer (would go against Nazi superiority), plan and develop your weapons systematically by lessons learned on the battlefield, fight one front at a time if possible (meaning don't open multiple fronts on your own), and listen to your professional military officer advisers, They are trained in military science to fight battles (tactics) and wars (strategy), unlike civilians or enlisted personnel like Herr Hitler. Make your senior officers cooperate with one another or fire them and get people who CAN cooperate among themselves. I'd say that the failure to invade Great Britain in 1940 sealed the fate of the Axis, but their bumbling accelerated the loss beyond what might resonably be expected by a rational person.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If a hostile coalition of nations have a GDP several times as large as your GDP you are in trouble before the first shot is fired. No diplomatic effort should be spared to prevent being placed in such a hopeless position. Make diplomatic concessions to prevent war under such circumstances even if you believe yourself to be morally in the right.
     
  15. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    One can say the same of many other acft (Allied and Axis).

    It seems to me that the late versions of the He 111 were not so bad compared to the B-25, which was also produced trought the war.

    Actually they broke Allied codes sometimes (the Germans with the Allied Merchant Marine). This is a matter of intelligence quality, but your criticism of the Axis intelligence is valid.

    This is not my area, and I cannot speak nothing about your statement. However, I will say that I'm skeptical about claims that obvious things were not done just due to "stupidiness"

    They did understand, but Barbarossa was NOT to last until the winter.

    We can call the He 177 that.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Hard to believe considering Austria, Hungary and Germany fought in exactly the same area during 1914 to 1918.
     
  17. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #17 GregP, Apr 10, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2013
    I didn't think they got deep into Russia in WWI ... gotta' look that one up and check it out. The winter at Stalingrad was a killer for the Germans, but the Russians knew what to expect and how to cope with it.
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    By fall 1918 Germany had garrisons in Belorussia, Ukraine, Kuban and southern Caucasus. They also had an infantry division in Finland.
    wwi.gif
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    See how many WW1 eastern front offensives you can name that began in the winter, not many.
    Even the western front tended to go a little dormant during the winter, that was true in spades on the eastern front.
    There's a great deal of difference in staying in static positions in the winter, and having to actively mount a offensive in the winter, especially mechanized.

    Plus Germany penetrated much farther east and north into Russia during WW2.
     
  20. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Greg, I suggest you find the Flight Journal article where Opitz talks about the Me163. He comments about the number of pilots killed while landing which is what I was commenting about.
     
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