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The forgotten fighter plane which won the Battle of Britain

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PTAirco

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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.
Wow. Someone calling Willy Messerschmitt a fool of a designer. Can we see some examples of your work?

Before criticizing anything on another man's design, try to remember that the choices that designer makes aren't always obvious to the layman. Or fools....You weren't there.
 

Twodeaddogs

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Wow. Someone calling Willy Messerschmitt a fool of a designer. Can we see some examples of your work?

Before criticizing anything on another man's design, try to remember that the choices that designer makes aren't always obvious to the layman. Or fools....You weren't there.
I take your point entirely and will happily acknowledge Willy Messerschmitt (who finished his career on the first Airbuses) as one of the greats but....the square, heavily framed canopy was a disaster and was improved when they fitted the so-called "Galland hood" or Erla haube, which gave the pilot much better visibility and head protection. This was all down to the pilots complaining to Galland in his role as Inspector of Fighters and the factory had to listen to him...no other hinged canopy on any fighter incorporated the head armour. All of the other hinged canopy fighters had the head armour either as an extension of the seat armour or attached to the hull, so that the pilot didnt have to try and push a heavy canopy above his head. Even today, none of the currently flying 109s have the head armour, or if they do, it's lighter than the original. Technological dead end. To me, the specification kind of boxed WM into a corner, similar to the Zero. To make it fit, he had to wrest as much as possible out of a very small aircraft and the advent of more powerful engines and the demand for more firepower, out of an airframe that really should have been several percent bigger, wasa really hard call. Quite frankly, like the Zero, the 109 worked better than it really had a right to.
 

Vigilant1

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The flip side of this "don't start with too small a canvas" idea would be exemplified by the B-52. It started life as a no compromise high altitude strategic nuclear bomber, but by luck that required a lot of wing, a lot of load, a lot of range, and, at the time, a lot of crewmembers. This abundance of thrust, payload, wing area, electrical power, and flexible internal volume has proved extremely useful over the six decades of the plane's front line service. Hound Dog, SRAM, Quail, Harpoon, CALCM, ALCM, most models of gravity nuclear weapons, deep earth penetrating munitions, JDAM, Small Diameter Bomb (SDB), and all manner of new smart munition, iron bomb, cluster munition, etc have been carried inside or outside. The "big belly" versions carried up to one hundred and eight MK-82 500 lb bombs, delivering them with precision in any weather long before there was GPS. Today, with SDB, it is the most effective close air support platform in many situations. A Vietnam-era soldier would be amazed to hear that, but it puts the ordnance exactly where the guy who knows best--the guy on the ground--specifies. And it can stay on station continuously with enough ordnance to make a difference.
Technology changes-- the tail guns are gone, but that freed up more payload for coming hypersonic weapons. And when the technology pendulum swings back and GPS is vulnerable, there's room on the B-52 flight deck for navigators to use sextants (again) and for any gear and crew necessary to get to the target autonomously. Maybe up high, as designed, or more likely back down in the dirt like she did for decades. There's real estate on the plane to adapt to a changing environment.
Nobody planned it from the start, but it has worked out very well.
 
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mcrae0104

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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.

1607055822669.png
It seems the Fighter Mafia guys succeeded at their intended goal. The flexibility to adapt these planes to other roles is icing on the cake. Adapting ground-attack aircraft to air superiority isn't any better than the other way 'round. And worst of all seems to be setting out to produce a one-size-fits-all platform from the start (ask Mr. McNamara). Now maybe the F-35 variants will disprove this. It would be nice if they never have to. In any case, the F-16, the Mudhen, and the E/F Hornets haven't proven too shabby in their expanded roles.
 
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Speedboat100

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View attachment 104890
It seems the Fighter Mafia guys succeeded at their intended goal. The flexibility to adapt these planes to other roles is icing on the cake. Adapting ground-attack aircraft to air superiority isn't any better than the other way 'round. And worst of all seems to be setting out to produce a one-size-fits-all platform from the start (ask Mr. McNamara). Now maybe the F-35 variants will disprove this. It would be nice if they never have to. In any case, the F-16, the Mudhen, and the E/F Hornets haven't proven too shabby in their expanded roles.
That is a good track record beats the FiAF 44:1 with Fiat G-50 with a clear margin.

Fiat_G.50_(SA-kuva_107024).jpg

 
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drgondog

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The Bf 109, Spitfire and Hurricane were not flawed designs - they were each designed to a set of Specifications that the war plans authority of each nation deemed important. They were first and foremost Pursuit aircraft, with nary a whisper of external fuel tank or bomb carrying capability.

Multi-role in WWII was the spawn of mission creep and such aircraft, even if desired, were unaffordable in the 1930s and during most of WWII as a basis of design. F7F and a couple of late war entrants are the exception.

I have to ponder the Pe-7, Bf 110/410, Beaufighter and Mossie specs a little - but their expansion to multi-role was possible based on large(r) airframe and twin engines suitable for adding more fuel and better engines.

Pre December 7, 1941 for the US, only the P-38 was anywhere close to multi role CAPABILITY - by virtue of two happy 'accidents'. The first, was that it was designed to Ben Kelsey' 'big solution' specification of high altitude capable, heavy firepower PURSUIT class airplane requiring a turbo-supercharger for the only US built in-line engine of significance of the day (The Allison). (the P-39 was Small solution - and failed). It required a Big fuselage/wing combo - with growth for mission alterations. The second, was developing in secrecy from Materiel Command leadership, a set of pylons and plumbing for external stores capability including 300+ gallon fuel tanks or 2000 pound bombs. That said, for whatever reason, it was not plugged into AWPD-1 thinking as escort for high altitude strategic bomber force - but on December 7, 1941 (wing tank fabrication complete and kits started for Recon role), it was the Only airframe across the Globe that could have fit that role in foreseeable future.

As dismal as the P-38 was relative to reliability - and as yet unknown compressibility and cold hi altitude issues - it was far more capable than Spitfire, the new P-47B, the Hurricane, the F4U, Fw 190, Hurricane, P-40 and P-39 as an Effective multi-role fighter.

The future 'best' all-round air superiority fighter - the P-51B/D/H emerged in 1943 and was successful with 2S/2S Merlin because it ALREADY had large internal fuel, external racks and plumbing to carry either 75 gallon combat tanks or 500-1000 pound bombs - both included on A-36 and P-51A. The Mustang I, IA/P-51 had the base large capacity - with greater combat radius than P-38 based on internal fuel only - but not the engine to extend performance envelope to 25,000 feet for escort role.

The P-47C/D did not possess the same 'multi-role' capability until the external rack/internal plumbing production model D-16 entered ops in ~ March 1944. That said, its tactical footprint was several hundred miles less than both the P-38J with 110 gal LE tanks and the P-51B w/85 gal fuse tanks - both operational in Jan 1944 in the ETO (small numbers until Big Week). Although field mods attached racks to P-40 it was never a good TAC solution because internal fuel capacity severely restricted combat radius with bombs

Multi Role was never in AAF/USAF war planner thinking until Korea when missile technology steered air combat away from mandating fighter vs fighter performance envelope.

Last point - CAS as formal doctrine was the primary reason Oliver Echols/CG of Mat'l command was beaten into submission by Hq-AAF Plans to accept the A-36, then P-51A and B from NAA. They were inserted to replace the P-39 and P-40 and ASSIGNED to TAC air - not 8th AF. US Army/AAF Tactical doctrine called for a.) attack capability ad, b.) air superiority over the battlefield. The CG of Desert Air Force developed tactics in Africa which AAF agreed to - and that was the beginning of Allied thinking on Multi Role...

Full circle back to the thread. The Spitfire was clearly superior to the Hurricane in nearly every respect, but the Hurricane experienced many more changes designed to improve its close air support capability because it steadily declined in relevance to Pursuit/Air Superiority role for which was designed. BoB was its high point in importance.
 

raymondbird

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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.

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.

Some truth to the "victor writing the history books" don't you think?

 

Twodeaddogs

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Well, the 109 was tested by the Allies right from the start of the war,when the French captured an E model intact and the British and Americans continued to assess captured examples the whole way through to the end,well before final victory was assured and test pilots tend to be objective reviewers and leave out the jingoism and the ********. If they criticised the canopy or the lack of rudder trim or the stiff ailerons, then they tended to be telling the truth because they knew that ordinary squadron pilots needed the plain truth. There was an instance where RAF pilots in Mk1 Hurricanes were told that the 109 couldn't make a tight climbing turn to the right, but combat experience proved otherwise. Apart from that, British test pilots all had combat experience (Brown,Duke, Quill et al) so they knew what mattered to the average line pilot and were well able to influence the factories. As for the ability of the 109 to turn tight, even German greats like Rall said that inexperienced pilots were afraid to pull the 109 as tight as it could really go. Steinhilper stated that you weren't really dogfighting until the slats were out and he also, after having declared that he had shot down five Spitfires over the course of several combats, stated that the secret to out-turning them was to use the tactic known to jet fighter pilots as "lead and lag pursuit".
 

drgondog

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The anecdotal opinions from experts will vary over a wide range - each will have scenarios of comparisons in mind. My father was credited with 7-1-1 air, 4-0 ground - all except one were Bf 109G-6 - at altitudes ranging from 25K to the deck. Post VE Day he was deputy Gp CO and then Gp CO of the 355th FG when they moved from UK to Germany. At Gablingen there were several 109G-6 with DB605A and A/S intact plus two Fw 190A-7 and one D-9. The Gp paid several LW mechs to keep the a/c in good shape. The 'rat race' competition included dad (Bert Marshall), Billy Hovde, John (moon) Elder and Bud Fortier - all squadron CO/aces in the 355th.

Dad 'allegedly' whipped everyone (depending on POV and scotch consumed when the four were retelling their stories) but the general agreement was -

The 109 could outturn and outclimb both the 51B and D at near Max GW internal (full wing/no fuse tank fuel but no ammo. Both Bf 109 and Fw 190 were flown at half fuel, B-2, 1.42 ata, no ammo - at or near FTH for the 109/190s - approx 22K. OTOH, above approx 20-22 K, the 109 climb rate was on par with 51D with slight edge to 109 depending on altitude.

Turn rate capability varied with stick forces on the 109 - he said he could rack it into a better turn rate than a 51 with a lot of muscle and uncertainty for a brief period - at high speed/medium altitude - and it would not gain against the 51B at high speed/high altitude. He said both 51s at 67" were 40+mph faster except at FTH for the 109 where the advantage reduced to ~ 20 mph. (unlike Kit Carson, dad liked the D-9 very much and noted rate of roll was much better than either 51 model until high speed chases above 350+mph.) The roll rate was better in the 51 vs 109.

Summary of factors needed to parse anomalies between Skip Holm videos and 'anecdotal' and actual Performance calculations based on metrics.

1.) Engine design and Performance comparisons between V-1650-7 and DB605A, at 67" vs 1.42 ata WEP, must be considered at 'what altitude' as ROC is very seriously dependent on Power Available vs Power Required - where Drag comparisons between the 109G and the 51B/D place the 109 in major disadvantage above 22-25K. Even a P-47D matches a 109G at 30K.
2.) Rate of turn depends on CLmax and WL. Sustaining Turn Rate brings in Excess Power Available again where drag is important. At medium speeds - pilot skill equal- the 109G should always out turn a 51B or D, but higher altitudes and higher speeds close the rate quickly. Another obvious factor is the Fuel fraction of each fighter entering combat. A 51B down to 'Fighter Weight (100 gal) has lowered GW to ~8600 pounds where WL = ~36psf vs a similarly loaded 109G at 50% fuel fraction = 37psf. At max GW internal, the 51B WL= 41psf, the 109G = 39psf
3.) at high speeds the 51B/D are both so much cleaner than Bf 10G, parasite drag wise, That the 51B/D could continue accelerating when matched against 109 top speed based on Excess Power Available.
4.) CLmax for 51B/D was ~ 1.3, for the 109G ~ 1.5 without slats and ~.2 with slats (and associated drag penalty).
5.) Both the 51B and D were more maneuverable in roll without DFF and Reverse Rudder Boost tab - which was the operations case for the P-51B prior to D-Day.

The 109G still has the edge in when the pilot skill is equal and the speeds are low to medium and below FTH for the DB605A because the slats did make a difference to increase CLmax.

That said, flying warbirds at below rated power and 'light' is a far cry from WWII ETO conditions. The 'author' of the video above also misstated the relative performance of Bf 109 maneuverability vs late model big engine Spits. The Mark IX and XIV lost Some WL advantage that a Spit V had versus 109F or F, but were both still superior in ROC and in most envelopes - turn radius while maintaining altitude. Both had a lot more excess Power Available for the Energy comparisons at most speed ranges, than the 109G (and the P-51B/D).

One last interesting point (to me) was dad's comment that when he let someone get on his tail while he was flying the 109G, a hard climbing RH turn and roll/roll reversal in the middle speeds enabled him to extend from either P-51 and occasionally set him up for a 'shot'.
 

BJC

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Both the 51B and D were more maneuverable in roll without DFF and Reverse Rudder Boost tab - which was the operations case for the P-51B prior to D-Day.
Thanks for that information.

What is DFF and Reverse Rudder Boost tab? (Guessing aileron differential and a rudder servo tab.)

Thanks,


BJC
 

drgondog

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Thanks for that information.

What is DFF and Reverse Rudder Boost tab? (Guessing aileron differential and a rudder servo tab.)

Thanks,


BJC
Dorsal Fin Fillet. The RRBT applied incremental opposite force to rudder pedal input - making it difficult to overcontrol via too much Yaw in high speed dive. The negative effect was increased Yaw stability which reduced roll input.
 
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