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The forgotten fighter plane which won the Battle of Britain

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120mm

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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.
Speaks for itself how?

109s were incredibly inefficient use of resources for the Luftwaffe, especially as the war went on. They were hideously expensive to build, hard to fly well, useless in anything but short range interception, and fragile.

Kill/loss ratios are relatively meaningless, especially when you consider that most of the 109's kills happened against hapless Soviet pilots.

Fighter pilots make horrible design decisions; look at how each and every US fighter pilot led designs have had to be redesigned just to be useful on the modern battlefield.

Killing aircraft on the ground in interdiction > killing aircraft dogfighting.
 

BJC

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Fighter pilots make horrible design decisions; look at how each and every US fighter pilot led designs have had to be redesigned just to be useful on the modern battlefield.
I don’t know which aircraft you are referring to. Could you list them, and cite a source?

Thanks,


BJC
 

flitzerpilot

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Farnborough test pilots and selected squadron pilots who sampled a captured Bf 109E early in the war had no difficulty in mastering the aircraft. Three pointers were preferred and hauling the aeroplane off too soon on take -off was severely warned against, but basically they found it tractable. Whether in the last stages of the war it was the best defensive fighter to be used against the bomber stream is moot, but it was among the several day fighters available in some numbers still, though hampered by scabbed-on armour and drag producing external weaponry and often flown by pilots with limited experience. As a concept in 1934 it had stemmed from the 'sport plane' theory described in a post above. But to state that only general purpose types win wars, denies particular situations and conflicts such as the BoB where two factors could have changed the outcome: jettisonable external tanks on the 109s (similar to those carried by Heinkel 51s in Spain) and no tactical interference from Goering, who'd demanded close-escort, denying the fast-diving capability of the 109, thus totally limiting its effectiveness. By 1944, Russian pilots and some superb fighter aircraft - again single engine types of relatively small size, such as the Yak 3, La 5FN and 7, were a match for 109s and Fw 190s, especially at medium levels. Only the Experten seemed untouchable. The last 109s featured MW boost so despite low grade petrol, could meet a P-51 on even terms. The problem was they were outnumbered!
 

wsimpso1

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Note that Spits were used to engage the German fighter cover while the Hurricanes took on the German bombers.
I have heard that story. And I am sure it was true when that coordination could be worked out. I have also heard tell of many instances where only squadrons of Hurricanes were vectored to the fight. I have not read of any Hurry pilot who thought he was riding a dog because it was not a Spit.

Both aircraft were effectively used by the RAF to collectively get the job done.

Someone should design and build a Part 103 scaled Hurricane.
Indeed on both counts!
 

Twodeaddogs

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The problem with the 109 was that you had to be good to get the best out of it. Your own fighter shouldn't be trying to kill you before you leave the ground and when you try and land it. Molders said that he found the Spitfire and Hurricane "childishly easy" to land and take off,compared to the 109. That shouldn't be the case. A pilot should able to get into his fighter and have confidence in himself and it, not be afraid that it's going to end up in the hedge when he applies power. Allied pilots who flew them hated the lack of rudder trim and the heavy canopy. The designer who though that adding head armour to the canopy, despite every other fighter having the head armour attached to the airframe, was clearly a fool. They had to add a spring to enable the German pilots to be able to jettison the canopy because they found that without it, the heavy canopy could not be jettisoned by manual power alone. The cockpit layout was admired by all but the lack of a VSI was regarded as bad. Winkle Brown stated that the ailerons were excellent at low speed but above 250 mph "felt as if they had seized". In this regard, the 109 was not alone. The Spitfire gave trouble like this until they fitted alloy skinned ailerons and the problem went away. With regard to the aces staying in the 109, compared to the 190, Galland loved the 109 but he had no problem transitioning to the 190 and staying with it. He knew the 190 had flaws, too but it was a superb all rounder compared to the 109. The aces who persisted with the 109 did so because it's slow speed handling was much better than the 190, which would stall out at speeds that the 109 was happy with. It begs the question why the 190 was never trialled with slats.
 

cluttonfred

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My favorite "forgotten fighter plane" might have come into it's own if the RAF had started to lose the Battle of Britain. The Miles M.20 featured wooden construction, fixed gear, and no hydraulics and was a little faster than the Hurricane and a little slower than the Spitfire with the same Merlin engine. It also had the same eight .303 Brownings but nearly twice the fuel and ammunition of the other two. Only two were built...one in 1940 during the Battle of Britain that turned out not to be necessary and a sightly improved model in 1941 as a potential carrier and catapult armed merchantman fighter that was not put into production (they used old tired Hurricanes instead on the CAM ships).



 
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Wanttaja

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Isn't the all time kill record a 109 pilot?
Certainly is. Unfortunately, though, Air Forces aren't solely staffed by Hartmanns and Yeagers. If they were, you could get away with planes that are tricky to land or have problems in corners of the flight envelopes. Your experten :) need to be backed up by wingmen, by additional flights who, even if they don't shoot down many aircraft themselves, dilute the enemy's efforts.

Hartmann and eleven lesser fighter pilots against a couple of dozen Yaks or Migs might be an even fight. But if those eleven lesser pilots and their aircraft are pared down by landing accidents or low-altitude stalls, Hartmann is going to have a tougher fight on his hands.

Ron Wanttaja
 

Riggerrob

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I don’t know which aircraft you are referring to. Could you list them, and cite a source?

Thanks,


BJC
The first North American A-36 Apache was an okay ground attack and photo-recce airplane, but needed an entirely new engine (Packard Merlin) to fly the long-range escort mission for which it became famous.
NAA P-51s were soon retro-fitted with Malcolm hoods to improve visibility, along with Fairey Battle, Hampden, P-47, Grumman F6F Hellcat, Vought F4U Corsair, Spitfire, Typhoon, Meteor, Gannet, etc.

The American F-15, F-16 and F-17 were designed when the "Fighter Mafia" dominated USAF thinking. FM only cared about manuverability in dog-fights. They vowed "not a single pound for air-to-ground."
All those fighters required extensive re-design to accommodate ground attack weapons, which became the dominant mission during this century's "War on Terror."
The F-17 may have lost the "light-weight-fighter" competition versus F-16, but it was extensively re-worked to become the USN F-18A. F-18A was a mish-mash of F-17 and F-18 components. The F-18E got a major re-design before it became the current production version.

Many senior airline captains caution against flying the A model of any airplane ... because it has "bugs" that will only be ironed out during the second and third batches.

Master Corporal (retired) Rob Warner, CD, BA and a couple of pairs of military jump wings.
Between 1979 and 1987 I worked on Sea King helicopters and CF-18 fighter jets.
 

Riggerrob

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Speaks for itself how?

109s were incredibly inefficient use of resources for the Luftwaffe, especially as the war went on. They were hideously expensive to build, hard to fly well, useless in anything but short range interception, and fragile.
...
Messerschmitt BF 109 was the best fighter airplane circa 1938. It was fast and well-armed with reasonable range. Messerschmitt was also very good at designing airplanes that were simply to construct with a much lower parts count and few fancy complex-curved panels. The airframe was also largely magnesium which did not drain Germany's small stocks of aluminum.
Unfortunately, Me109 ran out of growth potential by mid-war. It stayed in produciton because notsi Germany desperately needed large numbers of fighters to respond to over-whelming numbers of heavy bombers pummeling the 12 ... er ... 1,000 Year Reich.
 

120mm

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I don’t know which aircraft you are referring to. Could you list them, and cite a source?

Thanks,

BJC
It would be easier to try to find a "fighter mafia" aircraft that wasn't extensively redesigned to become effective, or wasn't redesignated out of its intended role.

The F-18 mentioned above is a prime example. A light fighter that was redesigned to such an extent that it isn't even remotely the same aircraft. And is now an attack aircraft. Same, same F-16.

Or, how about that high altitude interceptor F-105. My uncle flew one in Vietnam. Guess what he wasn't doing with it? He wasn't intercepting jack-****. He was dropping iron bombs with it, and luckily he wasn't killed by ground fire, like so many pilots were, partly because it was employed outside its intended role.

And how about the fighter's fighter; the F-8 Crusader. As in, "when you're out of F-8s, you're out of fighters." Wanna guess what happened to that?

1607024405878.png

After an extensive redesign, of course.

Do you still need sources?
 

Wanttaja

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Or, how about that high altitude interceptor F-105. My uncle flew one in Vietnam. Guess what he wasn't doing with it? He wasn't intercepting jack-****. He was dropping iron bombs with it, and luckily he wasn't killed by ground fire, like so many pilots were, partly because it was employed outside its intended role.
Well...for a high-altitude interceptor, the F-105 had a durn big bomb bay....
1607024754893.png
Though, of course, it was designed to carry a nuke, not iron bombs, so your treatise still holds.

Ron Wanttaja
 

Vigilant1

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During the Cold War nearly all US fighters also did double-duty as nuclear delivery platforms. The F-104s doing low-level ingress for a loft ("LABS") delivery would have been darned hard to stop. Not exceptionally accurate and not a favorite on the training card, it would have gotten the job done.
 

Wanttaja

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During the Cold War nearly all US fighters also did double-duty as nuclear delivery platforms. The F-104s doing low-level ingress for a loft ("LABS") delivery would have been darned hard to stop. Not exceptionally accurate and not a favorite on the training card, it would have gotten the job done.
Yes, but: Only the '105 was designed to carry one internally. In "Stranger to the Ground," Bach writes about yearly training for carrying a "shape" on an F-84F.

Read, sometimes in the past, that the internal bomb bay improved the Thud's survivability over Vietnam. A lot of empty space, mid-fuselage....

Ron Wanttaja
 

Vigilant1

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Yes, but: Only the '105 was designed to carry one internally. In "Stranger to the Ground," Bach writes about yearly training for carrying a "shape" on an F-84F.

Read, sometimes in the past, that the internal bomb bay improved the Thud's survivability over Vietnam. A lot of empty space, mid-fuselage....

Ron Wanttaja
The Thud was designed from the outset as a low altitude penetration fighter bomber ("mostly bomber"). It was big, and the aero forces at low altitude demanded a lot of beefy structure. That comes in handy if hit by 37mm or bits from a Guideline's blast frag welcome package.

Still, not an optimum fit for the SEA conditions. But, you go to war with what you have.
 

PTAirco

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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. ".
There was nothing "flawed" about producing an interceptor. Britain wanted a defensive fighter. To defend a small island. They fit that mission perfectly. Britain didn't have plans to sweep across Europe and conquer it and fly long range escort missions when the requirements of the Hurricane and Spitfire were released. What is flawed about producing the best possible interceptor ? I doubt anyone strapping himself to a Hurricane or Spitfire felt they were flying a "flawed" design
 
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