WWII aircraft manufacturers....

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Lucky13, Dec 11, 2009.

  1. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    How does the building quality and problem solving, compare between those that built aircraft during WWII, Allied and Axis? I remember hearing that the Focke Wulf 190's was built with a better quality then Messerschmitt's 109's....
    Would Focke Wulf have built a better 109 etc.?
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #2 FLYBOYJ, Dec 11, 2009
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2009
    Good Thread!

    First you have two look at two factors before you start comparing manufacturers and products.

    1. Design Quality - Did the design of the aircraft lend itself to accomplish it's mission? Did the design allow for easy maintenance and was it designed to be durable? Was the design to be easily built? Did systems within the design properly integrate with each other?

    2. Production Quality - How was it built? Did the assemblers do a good job in areas that were "hand built?" Were component parts properly trimmed and fitted properly? Were parts easily interchangeable and if they weren't was it because they were designed wrong or built wrong?

    Now with all that said, one has to look at the manufacturer's (and customer's) take on end quality. Some manufacturer's may want tighter "engineering" tolerances in parts and assemblies. Other manufacturers will allow many minor discrepancies to exists if those discrepancies don't effect the performance of the final product.

    In looking at many, many WW2 aircraft over the years, you could see some evidence of good or bad Production Quality, but also remember that its hard to fully judge production on warbirds today as many of them have been rebuilt and in most cases, some of the minor flaws seen in the stock warbirds were "restored away" by current owners.

    Lastly we have to consider documented stories as you mentioned. In the US it seems Brewster had a bad reputation with its Corsair line (Production Quality). The SB2C was plagued with both Design and production quality problems.

    Some other food for thought - an old P-3 production supervisor I used to work with once told me - "The hurrier you go, the behinder you get." Unless great thought goes into production line development, worker training, resources and logistics, quality most of the times goes down when you try to produce an aircraft at an accelerated rate. The best built aircraft I've seen came about when the pace of the production line allowed the plant infrastructure to meet demand.

    With all that said, I think German manufacturers tended to "overdesign" and in the end the skill of the assemblers couldn't meet the initial quality demands. Training, logistics and production infrastructure was hampered in Germany because of the allies ability to disrupt German war production. Although the German aircraft manufacturing ingeniously adjusted for this, it was an uphill battle.

    I could ramble on more about this as many of my years in aviation were in a manufacturing enviornment, so I'll hand back a bit and let some other folks post their info....
     
  3. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Both sides used unskilled labour due to expansion. The Allied side had motivation while the Axis side lacked motivation from this workforce. It is hard to be motivated when you are basically slave labour. The build quality suffered naturally.
     
  4. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Very very true!!!!

    In the 1980s I worked with some "oldtimers" at Lockheed who were hired during the war years. Many of them told me that the overtime worked during the war years paid for their first homes.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Something to think of with the German production was that many factories built the same model plane at one time or another. Factories might have bult 109s in the early part of the war and then 190s later. Or built bombers first and then converted to fighter production.

    The Americans and British did the samething but I get the impression not to the same extent as the Germans. Could be wrong on this.

    Something else to consider about the initial question, what do you mean by "...have built a better 109?"

    Performance wouldn't have changed much. a bit better fit and finish might gain a few MPH. but all aircraft had a cerain allowable tolerance in performance + or - a few percent. ANd in weight also. + or _ a few percent in empty weight. Unless you want to amintain seperate spare parts the spars, ribs, fittings and skin panels had better be somewhat interchangeable between planes from different factories ( OK on occasion they weren't but it should be the goal). Since very few factories actually built the planes completely by themselves but relied a great deal on subcontractors for parts ther might not be much difference in quality of the parts unless one factories inspectors wereoperating on a different level than anothers (possiable).
    Better quility parts might only show up after dozens if not hundreds of flight hours unless they are rather deffective to begin with. Brakes wearing out quickly?

    Poor quility of assemby might be another thing but again inspectors should have caught it. But it only takes a couple of hydraulic fittings vibrating loose in one squadron to start a really good rumour:)
     
  6. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I tend to go with the theory that most manufacturers from all sides did the best that they could do and differences tended to be between factories as opposed to countries. The exception to this is the last approx 18 months for the Germans and Japanese. Their standards were under huge pressure as there was a desperate need to produce.

    Lancasters from one factory (I think it was Manchester) were preferred over other factories. The same happened with B24's and no doubt other aircraft such as the Corsair from Brewster had similar differences. There is also the environment and priority. I understand that US built Merlins were built to tighter tollerances than Rolls Royce Merlins but no one has ever said that the Rolls Royce built engines were deficient in service.

    When I first started in the RN we initially used lathes that were stamped for War Use Only. When we asked why it was because the lathes themselves were slightly less accurate than peactime ones and the parts they produced would obviously be slightly less accurate. So these lathes had been used for less critical pieces of equipment or parts themselves that did not need to be so precise.
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    I don't think you would find in Germany factories building different manufacturer's products unless a smaller facility was subcontracted to do so. A manufacturer usually subcontracted a portion of an aircraft as a result of maximizing floor space or for cost and logistics considerations.

    Aircraft are built with tolerances but the idea was to build aircraft that could do the job and that would be easily maintained and repaired. Any component that met the "minimum requirement" of the drawing or spec achieved its objective . "Better quality" parts would show up on items that have a life limit on them where they would exceed their expected life limit (and yes, that is tracked and calculated). Where issues arise is when you have parts failing prematurely.
    Poor example - brakes could be worn out prematurely due to operator error. More like flap tracks and landing gear trunnions.

    It depends...

    Sometimes inspectors are mandated NOT to check an entire part or assembly 100%. The inspector may do a sampling based on earlier discrepancies.

    I could tell you that when an inspecting and aircraft you could have one inspector shake down an area and find 2 dozen things wrong, then have another guy following behind and he'll find more things, all this depending upon the size and complexity of the aircraft.
     
  8. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    I worked with one of those 10 years ago. Still solid but then we weren't doing precision work. I preferred it to the newer, but still old lathe, we had. We were drilling and tapping 1" holes in 4" dia. round aluminum and steel.
     
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