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The forgotten fighter plane which won the Battle of Britain

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Riggerrob

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Dear Twodeaddogs,
That era is well-explained in Justo Miranda's book "Enemy at the Gates, Panic Fighters of World War 2." The book includes 1/72 scale drawings of dozens of projected fighters along with a well-researched historical account.
 

Geraldc

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There is the Sindlinger Hurricane in 5/8 scale that looks good.
.
The photo on wikipedia is of one built in New Zealand and still on the register.Powered by a 160hp V6 Mitsubishi motor and a very successfull replica.
 

PTAirco

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It used the Clark YH with 19.something% at the root and the same section reduced to about 12% at the tip. The reason for the root thickness was structural, not aerodynamic. It was an early cantilever design with un-stressed skin so they wanted all the depth they could get. There is nothing in aerodynamics that says a thick airfoil performs better at high altitude than a thin one. As for high altitude interceptor; most early to mid -30s bombers didn't fly all that high anyway.
 

Pale Bear

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It is a pretty interesting point in history .. 1940 England. The Spitfire being the stuff of legend. There was movie produced during the war (1942) of the Spit, "The First of the Few" / in the US renamed "Spitfire". It's a good movie, if you're into that kind of thing. Leslie Howard, David Niven, etc. .. Leslie Howard was only to live a year longer, after this film was made, ironically .. being shot down in an airliner, by the Germans.

Just reciting what I recall of various documentaries & films .. yes, the Spit was a good plane, and sort of stole the spotlight from the Hurricane. But, another player in this aerial conflict is the Me 109. It probably was the real champ of the skies, then. It had fuel injection (the Spit did not) which gave it advantages over the Spit, if you were a cagey Luftwaffe pilot. It was at least par with the Spit, in maneuverability & speed, if not better. It had cannon, besides machine guns, .. where, initially the Spit just had machine guns, .. and .303s at that, .. not .50s. The Me 109 was a true killer.

Now, .. what the Luftwaffe did with it, .. took away from it's potential. They appeared over England, at the point of running out of fuel .. and often, they were assigned to stick to the bombers, in close proximity, which meant that they were severely hampered, from the onset. So, they never had a chance to succeed, .. which most of us are grateful for.
 

Chilton

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The BF 109 was a true killer, mostly of it's own pilots.

In 1940 it had some advantages as a result of development in the Spanish Civil War. The Spitfire and Hurricane could turn inside it however due to the high wing loading of the 109 which was not really compensated by the auto slots on the leading edge.

2 friends of mine way back were display pilots on the Spitfire and the 109, both considered Willy Messerschmit should have been decorated by the British for killing more German pilots than the RAF.
 

Speedboat100

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It used the Clark YH with 19.something% at the root and the same section reduced to about 12% at the tip. The reason for the root thickness was structural, not aerodynamic. It was an early cantilever design with un-stressed skin so they wanted all the depth they could get. There is nothing in aerodynamics that says a thick airfoil performs better at high altitude than a thin one. As for high altitude interceptor; most early to mid -30s bombers didn't fly all that high anyway.

Maybe the ex AF officer was wrong then.
 

bmcj

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Not forgotten by me. I built one of the Guillow’s kits way back when I was a wee lad when I was still building from kits.
 

Speedboat100

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The BF 109 was a true killer, mostly of it's own pilots.

In 1940 it had some advantages as a result of development in the Spanish Civil War. The Spitfire and Hurricane could turn inside it however due to the high wing loading of the 109 which was not really compensated by the auto slots on the leading edge.

2 friends of mine way back were display pilots on the Spitfire and the 109, both considered Willy Messerschmit should have been decorated by the British for killing more German pilots than the RAF.

Me-109 was a pretty nasty plane. Several FiAF pilots wrecked his craft on take offs. It was very fast in dive and climb rate was ok.
 

Twodeaddogs

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When you criticise the 109's landing gear, the fanboys come out of the woodwork and point out that it was designed for shipping the airframe by rail car/taking wings off in the field without need for trestles/easier to salvage. One historian I read queried why the needs of the Reichsbahn outweighed the needs of the pilots. Narrow track gear wasn't unique to the 109 (see Spitfire) but the geometry of the legs and wheels made it a groundloop waiting to happen. All of the modern 109 survivors have been groundlooped at least once in their modern careers and usually damage the legs, prop and precious engine. That's even when they are being flown by very competent pilots. When you consider that most of the Daimler-Benz fighters of WW 2 had inward retracting undercarriage, I'd mark the 109 as "nice but..."
 

Twodeaddogs

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When the Luftwaffe allowed Galland and his pilots to "free-hunt", they were well able to fight the Spitfires and Hurris. Even back in Spain in 1936, they escorted their Heinkels and Ju52s from a wider stance (higher and faster, keeping an eye on the bombers from above) than the BoB escort, where they were right alongside the bombers, crawling along at the same speed, losing their advantage of height and speed and the loss rate of 109s and their pilots soared. Eventually, Goering had to back down because of repeated protests from the fighter leaders and they had to alter the escort methods back to a freer, more fluid movement.
 

Riggerrob

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Me109 landing gear was adapted directly from the Me108. Me108 was a four-seater touring airplane with the pilots seated side-by-side and landing gear mounted on the outboard ends of stubby wing roots.
The first Me109 tried to simplify-and-add-lightness by attaching LG legs directly to fuselage bulkheads. The Me109 prototype's main gear legs hung straight down, making the landing gear track barely wider than the cramped fuselage. This configuration did simplify construction and maintenance, but led to squirrelly ground handling.
Willy Messerschmitt tried to tame ground handling by splaying LG legs outboard, but this tilted main wheels and only slightly increased track width.
Me109s were still challenging to land on the rough, grass airstrips that were the norm during WW2.

Spitfire started with a similar landing gear configuration, but the wing centre section was wide enough to provide an okay track width.

Hurricane was designed from the outset to be easy to fly - considering that pilots were transitioning from much slower biplanes. Hurricane set the trend by mounting wheels so far outboard that they about as far apart as the propeller diameter. This wide stance tamed ground handling and was copied by most subsequent designs. Hawker engineers also considered that wide LG did not interfere with wing-mounted guns, since even the inner most gun/cannon was just outside the prop arc. British Merlin-powered fighters did not bother with fuselage-mounted guns or synchronizers.
 

User27

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The BBC should really research their subject a little more thoroughly! I joined British Aerospace at Kingston in the late 70s. There were still a few people around who had been part of Sydney Camm's organisation that had designed the Hurricane. The reason there were more around during the Battle of Britain is that the Hawker board had put the aircraft into production 3+ months before a contract was received from the government. At the start of 1940 the production rate was around 140 per month. That meant there were 400 additional Hurricane's available during the summer of 1940 than there might have been if the board had been more cautious. The Hurricane was built to the same spec as the Spitfire, because of the way it was produced the production rate could be ramped up more quickly. Because of the way it was built its ultimate performance was never going to be as high as the Spitfire but that is not the only benchmark to judge a successful military aircraft.

Most of the early production was at Kingston (southwest London), the same place that had built Sopwith aeroplanes during the 14-18 war and had built 80% of the RAF front-line strength in the early 30s. The company went on to build the Typhoon, Tempest, (Sea) Fury, Sea Hawk, Hunter, Harrier & Hawk before being rolled into British Aerospace then moved to Farnborough, rolled into BAE Systems and shut down in 2010.
 

Riggerrob

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The thing that needs "spelled out" is the Hurricane "parts" were built all over Britain and there never was to my understanding just one place of manufacture, a right wing built in several hamlets and a left wing in several others and so forth so you couldn't knock out production with any single facility loss.
Yes,
During the late 1930s, the British Air Ministry commissioned dozens of "shadow factories" to build sub-components of aircraft, tanks, guns, etc.
All these "shadow factories" suffered from shortages and slow deliveries of drawings and precision tooling.
One amusing story involves a Lancaster bomber that was built in a Canadian "shadow factory." An RAF Engineering Officer refused to accept it because it was "built wrong." Turns out that the Lancaster was built exactly to an older set of drawings.
Hah!
Hah!
 

drgondog

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The combination of Hurricane, Spitfire, Radar and Command & Control saved GB during the BoB. The slower but heavily armed Hurricane was well suited to focus on LW bombers while Spitfires performed CAP role. Comments above to the effect that the Hurricane production was in advance of contract expectations was a major factor in the mutual war of attrition and the fact that the battles were over English soil was a factor in relative pilot attrition.

I suspect too much is being made over the notorious ground loop characteristics of the 109, however. The accident rate was higher for both take off and landing but the 109 was a superb fighter. It was in service from day 1 to the end, but it overstayed its period of maximum competitiveness in air combat because it was very cheap and easy to build and numbers are very important in the quality vs quantity discussion.

The 109E was very much the overall equal with the Spit - trading speed and dive vs ROC and turn against the Spit - but dominant over the Hurricane.

Of the major dogfighters of 1944 and 45 it (109G and K) had to increase capability by adding HP to an airframe not particularly matched for a 40% increase over 1940 baseline. Its top speed and ROC increased but overall handling characteristic suffered. That said If it was so bad as folks portray it, Rall and Hartmann would have switched from the F & G as far as fighter vs fighter combat when the Fw 190 was available.

The P-51B matched up very well vs 109G-6 and G-6A/S but its dominant performance envelope was high speed engagement above the FTH of the DB 601A and A/S, and the BMW801D - at bomber altitudes. At middle altitudes to the deck vs a good pilot, the 109 and 190 were a handful for Spit and Mustang - even in 1945. That performance closure was the reason for P-51B/C/D to switch to the V-1650-7 in early 1944.
 

120mm

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I love this subject; and there are several factors most "infotainment" fail to address.

The Bf109 and Spitfire were both built from the "sport fighter" school of thinking, and suffered from the limitations imposed by that philosophy. Both were terminally limited by their small size, which was formed by the flawed interceptor doctrine. Flawed because it produced mono-taskers. (And obtw, the Spitfire also suffered from greater than average ground accidents because of that fragile landing gear)

The Hurricane was the natural progression of the multi-role fighter philosophy, which is the idea that ultimate performance is good on paper, but in reality, aircraft must be able to do many things well, versus one thing perfectly. Prior to the Hurricane, Hawker produced biplane fighters that could be stretched a bay and turned into attack aircraft.

1607003518729.png

As the war went on, just as in WWI, dogfighting was exposed (again) as a losing proposition and multi-role aircraft rose to ascendancy, at least among the winning air forces. Both Britain and Germany held on to their respective sport fighters waaaaay past their expiration date. Both the Bf109 and Spitfire became exercises in futility as designers tried to pile more and more performance into their small, relatively incapable airframes while other, more efficient and useful designs passed them by.

1607003107307.png
The Bristol Fighter best fighter of WWI. Much larger and heavier than popular single seat fighters, but extremely effective. Served in the RAF well into the 1930s.

Germany would've been much better served by streamlining production into the FW190 and it's variants; Britain had the US to "fill the gap" while the Hurricane eventually mutated into Typhoon and Fury aircraft (neither of which were perfected until the end of the war).

BTW, the Hurricane was the most "important" fighter for the Brits during the war, but the "best" fighter was also made by the Bristol company.

1607003322329.png

Air Forces are continually signing up to the romantic ideal of the sport fighter. It really looks good on paper, and appeals to the fighter pilot mythology. But once war hits, successful air forces eventually realize that multi-role is what actually helps win wars.
 

blane.c

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He who fight's and runs away lives to fight another day. Multi role is kinda' the Gorilla way, were fighter aircraft are more the stay and stay variety?
 

raymondbird

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I love this subject; and there are several factors most "infotainment" fail to address.

The Bf109 and Spitfire were both built from the "sport fighter" school of thinking, and suffered from the limitations imposed by that philosophy. Both were terminally limited by their small size, which was formed by the flawed interceptor doctrine. Flawed because it produced mono-taskers. (And obtw, the Spitfire also suffered from greater than average ground accidents because of that fragile landing gear)

The Hurricane was the natural progression of the multi-role fighter philosophy, which is the idea that ultimate performance is good on paper, but in reality, aircraft must be able to do many things well, versus one thing perfectly. Prior to the Hurricane, Hawker produced biplane fighters that could be stretched a bay and turned into attack aircraft.

View attachment 104875

As the war went on, just as in WWI, dogfighting was exposed (again) as a losing proposition and multi-role aircraft rose to ascendancy, at least among the winning air forces. Both Britain and Germany held on to their respective sport fighters waaaaay past their expiration date. Both the Bf109 and Spitfire became exercises in futility as designers tried to pile more and more performance into their small, relatively incapable airframes while other, more efficient and useful designs passed them by.

View attachment 104873
The Bristol Fighter best fighter of WWI. Much larger and heavier than popular single seat fighters, but extremely effective. Served in the RAF well into the 1930s.

Germany would've been much better served by streamlining production into the FW190 and it's variants; Britain had the US to "fill the gap" while the Hurricane eventually mutated into Typhoon and Fury aircraft (neither of which were perfected until the end of the war).

BTW, the Hurricane was the most "important" fighter for the Brits during the war, but the "best" fighter was also made by the Bristol company.

View attachment 104874

Air Forces are continually signing up to the romantic ideal of the sport fighter. It really looks good on paper, and appeals to the fighter pilot mythology. But once war hits, successful air forces eventually realize that multi-role is what actually helps win wars.
Are you saying you wouldn't want the most performance when your ass is on the line? The smallest, lightest airframe fitted to the biggest engine you can stuff into it is more likely to give you that, needless to say. Like a Spitfire or 109 and their kill/loss ratio speaks for itself, especially the 109's.
 
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