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flitzerpilot

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Agreed, but the 109 was a 1934 design whose basic construction was never changed. The undercarriage being attached to the fuselage enabled the factory production lines to operate manually, allowing the part-constructed fighter to be moved to the next stage where the wings were attached. These wings were light, single-sparred and lacked the addition of radiators etc, in the early versions and in the pursuit of lightness the aircraft was a success. Even late in the war, the 109 had its adherents and several Experten resisted the move to other types. Modifications such as wing fences which could have replaced slats more cheaply were not followed up so the occasional problems of accurate firing at high AoA were not resolved - but that was a small factor in combat if the Messerschmitt was used to best advantage. Later, burdened by heavy armour and various armament packs it was at an increasing disadvantage.
 

raymondbird

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Well, I don't see how anyone could argue with the 109 being lighter and mainly because of it's gear design. The loads of the engine mount, landing gear and center section spar are fed to a small area. Any engineer will tell you that's going to be lighter.

It seems to me after watching this video and talks by Skip Holm and quotes by old aces like Gunther Rall using the slats to turn inside Spitfires, that the Italian fighters were not superior. The 109 was a better energy fighter than most and is that not mainly because of it's superior power to mass? What good is a safe landing gear with a 50 cal bullet in your head.

 
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Twodeaddogs

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The Italian fighters were dismissed as poor fighter bombers in the video because they could not carry a centreline bomb or they could not carry a sizeable load under their wings,like the 109G and the FW190, by the German testers. This did not mean that they were incapable of being used as such and the reggiane 2001 in particular became known as a fighter-bomber to be reckoned with. In addition, JG 77 flew all the Italian fighters they could lay their hands on................The Macchi 202 could comfortably outmanouver anything in the Western Desert until the advent of the Spitfire. The 109 might have been good at slow, close-in dogfighting with the slats out but at higher speeds, the ailerons were,to quote Winkle Brown, "like they were set in concrete". Not a good characteristic to have in a fighter. the FW 190 had the best ailerons of the lot but the Macchi 205 and Fiat G55 and Reggiane 2005 gave it a run for it's money. As for outturning the Spitfire, Ulrich Steinhilper recalled how he shot down five Spitfires in his 109E by flying a lead-lag pursuit (of course,it wasn't called that then) because he couldn't stay on the Spitfire's tail in a normal high g turn so had to alternate trying to stay inside the Spitfire's turn by slowing right down to shoot and then speeding up to chase the Spitfire, by going outside the Spitfire's turn and pulling up over the turning circle to dive down to have a go at shooting. the same kind of lead-lag turning fight pursued by the F4s in Vietnam against the MiG17. .....as for having safer landing gear, what is the point of surviving combat only to have to wrestle with a landing gear that might kill you? If we are arguing about the landing gear of an aircraft, this far after it's wartime career, it's a telling point.

The two things the 109 pilots hated most about their mount was the landing gear and the canopy. Of ALL the fighter canopies, it was the only one that had the head armour directly attached to the canopy, so the pilots complained about how difficult it was to open so it had to have a spring loaded jettison device to help them get it out of their way so that they could bale out. Now,that's a serious design error, when you are depending on being able to open the canopy in flight to get out. Having a hinged canopy was,of course,not confined to the 109 but it was regarded as one of the most difficult of it's kind.
 

raymondbird

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The Italian fighters were dismissed as poor fighter bombers in the video because they could not carry a centreline bomb or they could not carry a sizeable load under their wings,like the 109G and the FW190, by the German testers. This did not mean that they were incapable of being used as such and the reggiane 2001 in particular became known as a fighter-bomber to be reckoned with. In addition, JG 77 flew all the Italian fighters they could lay their hands on................The Macchi 202 could comfortably outmanouver anything in the Western Desert until the advent of the Spitfire. The 109 might have been good at slow, close-in dogfighting with the slats out but at higher speeds, the ailerons were,to quote Winkle Brown, "like they were set in concrete". Not a good characteristic to have in a fighter. the FW 190 had the best ailerons of the lot but the Macchi 205 and Fiat G55 and Reggiane 2005 gave it a run for it's money. As for outturning the Spitfire, Ulrich Steinhilper recalled how he shot down five Spitfires in his 109E by flying a lead-lag pursuit (of course,it wasn't called that then) because he couldn't stay on the Spitfire's tail in a normal high g turn so had to alternate trying to stay inside the Spitfire's turn by slowing right down to shoot and then speeding up to chase the Spitfire, by going outside the Spitfire's turn and pulling up over the turning circle to dive down to have a go at shooting. the same kind of lead-lag turning fight pursued by the F4s in Vietnam against the MiG17. .....as for having safer landing gear, what is the point of surviving combat only to have to wrestle with a landing gear that might kill you? If we are arguing about the landing gear of an aircraft, this far after it's wartime career, it's a telling point.

The two things the 109 pilots hated most about their mount was the landing gear and the canopy. Of ALL the fighter canopies, it was the only one that had the head armour directly attached to the canopy, so the pilots complained about how difficult it was to open so it had to have a spring loaded jettison device to help them get it out of their way so that they could bale out. Now,that's a serious design error, when you are depending on being able to open the canopy in flight to get out. Having a hinged canopy was,of course,not confined to the 109 but it was regarded as one of the most difficult of it's kind.
Great post thanks!
Could debate endlessly on this I know but here is some more good stuff for anybody interested:
virtualpilots.fi: 109myths
Old Winkle Brown, he wouldn't be a slightly biased Englishman would he.

Re: your earlier Italian fighter comment, just want to finish by saying that being smaller and especially, lighter is more of an advantage than obviously you want to give it. With the same engine but now you are in a larger, heavier(800 lbs. for the Fiat) and hence draggier airframe. Who is going to win that fight. Sounds like you are in a Spitfire only now without any horse power advantage. Rolling and turning advantage of a bigger, stiffer(heavier) wing for sure but didn't JG-26 pilots enjoy something like a 7:1 kill ratio over Spitfires in 1941 and loved their 109's advantages over it from what I've read. Americans couldn't turn fight with a Zero either yet that didn't help it much.
Granted, the DB603 that the Fiat could handle would be a different story of course as stated in the video.
 

Twodeaddogs

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Italian pilots flew the 109 in combat and preferred their 202 and 205s for their overall better agility. They liked the firepower of the 109 until the 205 appeared with two wing cannons and they also liked the better armour on the 109. Winkle was well known for his abiding respect for Germans and their technology but he was not blind to the faults of aircraft from all sides. He loved the Wildcat and the P-39.
 

drgondog

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Agreed, but the 109 was a 1934 design whose basic construction was never changed. The undercarriage being attached to the fuselage enabled the factory production lines to operate manually, allowing the part-constructed fighter to be moved to the next stage where the wings were attached. These wings were light, single-sparred and lacked the addition of radiators etc, in the early versions and in the pursuit of lightness the aircraft was a success. Even late in the war, the 109 had its adherents and several Experten resisted the move to other types. Modifications such as wing fences which could have replaced slats more cheaply were not followed up so the occasional problems of accurate firing at high AoA were not resolved - but that was a small factor in combat if the Messerschmitt was used to best advantage. Later, burdened by heavy armour and various armament packs it was at an increasing disadvantage.
Why would replacing slats with wing fences be of remote benefit to the 109 wing? True the slats were a mechanical disadvantage (maintenance) perhaps to a simple wing fence, And... The slats did create issues when one delayed deployment in high G asymmetric turn condition, but the slat did achieve roll authority benefits at low/medium speeds over washout of LE. It also reduced induced drag as the twist was not required. Slats provided no benefit to straight (vs Swept) wings.
 

Saville

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Winkle was well known for his abiding respect for Germans and their technology but he was not blind to the faults of aircraft from all sides. He loved the Wildcat and the P-39.
I really would like to have found out more about Winkle's love for the Wildcat. He said it
packed a "...bigger punch than the British aircraft of that time". But it's performance was nothing close to the Hellcat or Corsair and he wasn't so effusive in his praise for those two planes.
 

flitzerpilot

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The wing fences were fitted to an example of the 109F, I believe, presumably to reduce induced drag and provide more stability at low speed. the slats were removed in that case. A vee tail was also experimented with. In neither case was it thought to be worthwhile to interrupt production to introduce either modification, nor do I know if the Vee provided an advantage other than lightness.
 

Twodeaddogs

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I really would like to have found out more about Winkle's love for the Wildcat. He said it
packed a "...bigger punch than the British aircraft of that time". But it's performance was nothing close to the Hellcat or Corsair and he wasn't so effusive in his praise for those two planes.
It was tough, much better suited for carrier aviation than a converted land plane, it had integral survival floats inside the wings and it had more room inside than a spitfire.
 

Saville

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It was tough, much better suited for carrier aviation than a converted land plane, it had integral survival floats inside the wings and it had more room inside than a spitfire.

I could see why he'd like it better than the Sea Hurricane or Seafire. But I get the impression he also preferred the Wildcat over the Hellcat or Corsair.
 

drgondog

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The wing fences were fitted to an example of the 109F, I believe, presumably to reduce induced drag and provide more stability at low speed. the slats were removed in that case. A vee tail was also experimented with. In neither case was it thought to be worthwhile to interrupt production to introduce either modification, nor do I know if the Vee provided an advantage other than lightness.
The induced drag of the slats and an untwisted wing, was lower than conventional design wash out for the otherwise same wing. Roll authority is required for low speed stability and solved (WWII era) with either fixed washout or external slats and no washout to better move lift distribution To the ailerons by reducing CL of tip area as the wing stalls inboard-out.. The Bf 109 - any model - would not successfully use wing fences to 'shove the lift distribution' spanwise past the aileron to provide roll authority or stability in low speed envelope. Fences became important to address stall behavior of swept wings (i.e. MiG 15) due to spanwise flows. The F-86 went in same direction as Bf 109 by design and use of slats - but not Fences.
 
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