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jugent
06-11-2005, 04:50 PM
In the beginning of WWII;
The germans, as far as I know, relied on speed, guns and climbrate on their fighters (109E).
This was good when the mission was "frei jagt".
The RAF relied on good curving characteristics (Spit II and Hurricane).
This was good while protecting something, when the attacker was forced to go into a certain area.
VVS had the same thoughts as RAF (I-16, Lagg3)

USAF got two different paths to go, the Curtis, P-40 and the Cat-family.

During the war all air-forces got intact enemy aircrafts to test, but continued to develop their way of making fighter, but USAF turned to develope the same methods as LW with highaltitude, high-speed planes for bomber-protection P51 as well as ground targeting P47, P-38.
The planes got better at all things but their main charateristics was the same. The Spit escorted the bombers to the dutch mainland and the Mustangs took over.
The spits rendevouzed the bomber on the return from germany and relieved the P-51.
Jonny Jonsson said that the Spit was the best curvfighter but hadnt the range and the speed for longrange escort.

Most extreme was the Me-262, that focused on bombers with speed and gunpower and took no notice of the fighters.

LW had plans to stop the production of the Me109 to the benefit of Fw190 and Me262.

What is to be said about this statement?

ImpStarDuece
06-11-2005, 06:53 PM
Unfortunately, I think it's a gross over simplification. However, you raise a few salient points, let me elaborate;

The initial front-line fighters in Europe represented then state-of-the-art aeronautic technology. Spitfire, 109, D.520, P-40, Yak-1 serise were all designed specifically as point fighters/inteceptors, fighters first, all other roles were secondary. Their design reflected the need for them to reach high altitudes quickly, be manouverable at about 15,000-20,000 feet and have sufficient firepower to destroy their intended targets, which were expected to be bombers rather than fighters.

Their design stems from late 1920s-early 1930s thinking, both about their role and in the technology they employed. Inlines were considered superior to radials, all-metal stressed skin was new and cannons were a developing technology for a fighter.

However, designers and airforces were looking at different paths for fighter design as war began to look inevitable. For instance, by the British were looking at a specification for a 'bomber destroyer' powered by a radial engine with 400mph top speed and very heavy firepower and at the same time also required a 'cannon fighter' and were very interested in twin engined 'heavy' fighters. Because of the delay imposed by the war both these projects would mature in 1941 in the form of the Typhoon (which was a failure in it's design role) and the superlative Whirlwind, which was hobbeled by official vacilation and a very poor engine.

At the same time Germany had already developed the twin engined Bf-110 heavy fighter and Kurt Tank was already frowning on the 'racehorse' school of design and was developing his 'draught horse' the rough feild capable, heavily armed, radial engined, pilot friendly FW-190. The 190 was possibly the outstanding German fighter of the war, although the LW seems more interested in turning it into a light bomber for most of its life.

In the USA designers were more concerned with range than their European counterparts. Their fighters tended to be much bigger and heavier. But unlike Europe they had a school of fighter developemnt specifically for the Navy as well as the air arm. This lead to their fighters evolving differently in some ways.

The USAAF was interested in high performance, high altitude bomber destroyers for a long time before the war. It's main concern was intercepting bombers a long way away from its home soil. The P-38, with its very high rate of climb, concentrated armament and very long range was a natural outgrowth of this interest. On the other side of the coin though you have 'traditional' point fighters like the P-40, P-36 and P-39; where the empahsis lay on maneuverability and climb time, more of an area dominance fighter than an interceptor.

The Navy had a different set of requirements. It needed aircraft that were rugged and resilient enought to withstand salt laden sea air, had long range and could withstand carrier take offs and landings and shipboard life. So they had strong, heavily built, radial egined fighters. But here the emphasis was again on manuverability. The massive dive speeds of the Wildcat were a outgrowth of the design philisophy, not a part of it. The F4F and F2A were among the most manuverable planes of the war. They were just outdone by the Japanese who had a mania for WW1 style dogfighting, where turn speed and radius meant more than dive, strength or armament.

When the US started getting combat reports from Europe they recieved something of a shock. Rather than manuverability being key, firepower, armour, speed, climb and dive were all more important. So the P-47 eveloved from a nible light weight interceptor with 2-3 machine guns to a massive 7 ton turbosupercharged, high altitude monster. Similarly, the P-51 wasn't designed as a high-altitude fighter but a low level recon fighter with heavy armament and good climb at low level. Range was a function of the size of US fighter designs, they were just so BIG that you could cram more fuel into them, hence more range.

By the end of the war the design philosipies of the 1930's were competing with the design philisophies of the 1940's. If you look at all the major combabtants their front line fighters usually comprised of a radial or air cooled engined fighter and an inline or liquid cooled fighter. Hence the USAAF in Europe primarly used the P-47 and the P-51 and the USN and USAAF in the Pacific relied on the Hellcat/Corasair and the Lightning. The RAF relied on the Typhoon/Tempest and the Spitfire. The LW used the 190A and the 109. The VVS had the Yak 3/9 serise and the La-5/7 as their pairing. With the exceptions of Italy (who favoured liquid cooled fighters) and Japan (who favoured radials) it was usually a very sucessful pairing as each complemented the others strengths and weaknesses.

The 1930 philisophy was manuverability above all; Hurricane, G.50, I-16, Zero, Ki-43. The immediate pre-war period added speed and climb to that requirement, so we get the Spitfire, 109, Yak-1, P-40, Mig-3. The war period added firepower, strength and survivability to that in the form of the 190, P-38 and Typhoon. Range, apart from bombers and in Japan and the USA (both naval powers rather than continental powers), was never that much of a considersation.

As you can see I've completely forgotten the question. However, somewhere in all that waffle, I think I've made my point.

Chuck_Older
06-11-2005, 07:10 PM
Originally posted by jugent:
In the beginning of WWII;
The germans, as far as I know, relied on speed, guns and climbrate on their fighters (109E).
This was good when the mission was "frei jagt".
The RAF relied on good curving characteristics (Spit II and Hurricane).
This was good while protecting something, when the attacker was forced to go into a certain area.
VVS had the same thoughts as RAF (I-16, Lagg3)

USAF got two different paths to go, the Curtis, P-40 and the Cat-family.

During the war all air-forces got intact enemy aircrafts to test, but continued to develop their way of making fighter, but USAF turned to develope the same methods as LW with highaltitude, high-speed planes for bomber-protection P51 as well as ground targeting P47, P-38.
The planes got better at all things but their main charateristics was the same. The Spit escorted the bombers to the dutch mainland and the Mustangs took over.
The spits rendevouzed the bomber on the return from germany and relieved the P-51.
Jonny Jonsson said that the Spit was the best curvfighter but hadnt the range and the speed for longrange escort.

Most extreme was the Me-262, that focused on bombers with speed and gunpower and took no notice of the fighters.

LW had plans to stop the production of the Me109 to the benefit of Fw190 and Me262.

What is to be said about this statement?


It's actually the best gathering of WWII air warfare misconceptions I've ever seen http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-happy.gif

Walter Boyne wrote a great book called "Clash of Wings" that will explain the hows and whys of all your points, jugent http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

WarWolfe_1
06-11-2005, 11:14 PM
The answer for your Q is that the nature of the war changed. Less air targets more ground targets. How many Fighters started the war with bomb and rocket racks? None. The P-47 while a good fighter provided a an even better ground support, and FighterBomber. A bomber that can go on the offsinceive at a moments notice is FAR better than having a sitting duck i.e. JU87.
Also as air to ground comms improved so did the effectiveness of such aircraft.....Look to the Pacific. The F4U was a deadly fighter, but with its power and duriablity it was just as good in the fighterbomber role. While the P-39 was not a standout in the air the USSR made awesome use of it in the Tankbusting role, the US faced tanks but not in the number that USSR did, hence it found its neiche with the USSR.

FW190, BF109, and the A6M where good aircraft in the hands of expirenced airmen, something niether country had in large numbers at wars end.

So look at the war, its nature changed and so did the aircraft fighting it, many adapted to better suited roles. Some shined in other theaters, where they had lacked in others.


I always wonder what the Germans would have thought of having to face the F4U, or the Hellcat.

ImpStarDuece
06-12-2005, 04:53 AM
Good post WarWolfe, I like your general theory that the role for fighters evolved as the war did. Maybe this is truer for the Aillies than the Aixs though as from mid-1942 (roughly) Germany, Italy and Japan were on the defensive. However, there are several innacuracies and myths that you have fallen prey to.

Firstly, there were several Russian planes that started the war with rocket rails as a load out option. The USSR long have a romance with the idea of air launched rockets, both as a A to A and A to G weapon.

Secondly, the P-39 was never used as a tank buster in the Eastern Front. Lend Lease aid never supplied AP ammo for the 37mm on the P-39, so it couldn't of been used as a tank buster. It was a highly effective low level escort fighter for the ground attack squadrons though.

Thirdly while FAA corsair never faced the LW in combat, they did take part in the April 1944 raids agains the Tripitz in Norway, actually beating the USN F4Us into carrier service.

Lastly, the 190 and the Zero were actually quite pilot friendly airplanes, the 190 particularly being noted as easier on trainee pilots than the relatively unforgiving 109.

jugent
06-12-2005, 05:32 AM
Sometimes you have to oversimplify and dicotomize to explain clearly what you mean.
All engineers wanted to build a plane that could do everything but that was impossible, so they had to prioritate on some characteristics.

Like that carrier takeoff and landings sets the dimension-limits for naval planes.

During wartime it is possible to get a lot of field-improvments and adapt the strenght to get effective aircrafts.
This was sparse during the early 30:s.
So the engineers and scientist had to do largescale tests to see if their assumptions endured real-life tests.

As an example the german navy did a fullscale duell between a convoy and submarines in 1937.
The german aviation-gurus assumed that the best way of building a fighter was to emphasise on speed and firepower.
RAF wanted planes that could curve well.
If Goering had stayed to the "frei jagt" during BoB instead of gluing the 109:s to the He111, and force them to go into turnNburn-fights, the losses for the 109 would have been less.
Although Me109 killed more spits and hurries than vice versa, but fighters isnt the model that makes the vital blow against the enemy, its bombers.
The LW tested low wingload wings on booth FW 190 and Me-109, and got good turn-radius on the plane, but abandomed the idea.
Unfortunatly I havnt that good book, can you make some conclusions about what it says?

jugent
06-13-2005, 02:36 AM
By the way is the clash of wing scientific or is it popular reading like memoirs?

Monson74
06-13-2005, 02:46 AM
Is there any connection between the experiences gained during WWI & the designs of German fighters prior to WWII? I'm thinking if the Luftwaffe were expecting to fight outnumbered again & therefore rely on local air superiority & hit&run tactics which would require a speed advantage.