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Subject: Best All-Around Fighter of World War II
sentinel28a    10/13/2009 3:38:03 PM
Let's try a non-controversial topic, shall we? (Heh heh.) I'll submit the P-51 for consideration. BW and FS, if you come on here and say that the Rafale was the best fighter of WWII, I am going to fly over to France and personally beat you senseless with Obama's ego. (However, feel free to talk about the D.520.)
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45-Shooter       5/22/2011 1:15:01 AM

In case you haven't read the thread the brief summary is that Shooter is arguing that:


1. AP rounds were more effective against WW2 bombers (except in head on attacks) than HE rounds because they would travel further and have a greater opportunity to hit something important, rather than relying on localised damage; and


My claim is that both Chuck Yeager and I said that the .50 caliber was superior to the HE shells fired by most other combatants because it would continue penetrating into the planes vitals instead of exploding harmlessly on the surface. I never specified that the type of target made a difference, only responded to what others wrote.

2. the M-2 12.7mm AP round had the same penetrating ability as a 20mm Hispano Suiza AP round, because it is sharper.
I never said that at all, ever! I said that the .50 was more aerodynamically shaped because of it's more pointed nose and lost velocity less quickly than the blunter 20 MM shot! Then I said as a result of that difference in velocity loss rate, there would be some point where the 20 MM shot would no longer have the energy to perforate an un-specified thickness of armor plate that the .50 HCAP shot would still be able to perforate because of it's higher retained velocity giving it a higher "Energy Density"!

 On the first count I don't know the answer, though I suspect that throughout 6 years of using the HS 404 as aircraft and anti-aircraft guns that the British had gained plenty of experience and therefore had valid reasons for predominantly using HE rounds against aircraft. On the second count, I don't think it could become any less credible if Shooter claimed that US pilots who used to whistle the "Star Spangled Banner" while shooting made their 12.7mm rounds hit harder than a German 88 ... ;-).
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Aussiegunneragain       5/22/2011 1:29:11 AM

Mate, if you want to believe that an HS 404 20mm AP round only had the same penetrating ability as a M2 12.7mm round then you go right on doing so. Like I said to Earl, there ain't any sheep stations resting on it.

I never said that it did. All I said was that the .50 lost velocity at a rate less than that of the 20 mm projectile and that after some distance, it would be able to perforate more stuff/thicker plate than the blunter bullet! I also stated that the power to perforate things is proportional to velocity squared and 1/2 the mass. The heavier projectile will go through a thicker plate closer to the muzzle where the velocities are nearly the same, but at some point down range the fact that the large shot has to make a larger hole that requires more energy than it has will stop it from perforating said plate and the two rolls will be reversed! Which weapon would you rather be shot at with while riding in an APC; One with the big slow 20 MM shot at that range, or one with the ability to perforate the armor at that same range. Range here specified at which the WW-II 20 MM shot just fails to penetrate the armor and at which the .50 HCAP Shot is still going fast enough to go through the armor? RIGHT!

Notwithstanding my reluctance to take the calculations of an anonymous flight sim jock as gospel, even your source's table has the kinetic energy associated with an HS 404 at 57% more than an M-2 at 600 metres. Aside from the odd freak shot that is beyond the limit that most WW2 pilots openned fire and would have required a very big difference in pointiness to offset. In practical terms, your argument is silly.
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45-Shooter       5/22/2011 1:33:30 AM

well, he'd be wrong on 1 and 2 because the significant damage is caused by HE exploding either at termination or at pentration
Wrongo, my leetle friend!
AP invariably will pass through - and if you look at the state of many allied bombers that were completely shot up but got home then those AP rounds would have to hit vital parts to do something catastrophic. 
What a tremendous failure of the thought processes! Allied planes were shot up by Germans using more powerful 20 and 30 MM cannon and returned to base in spite of it! Do you claim that the NAZI 30 MM Mine Shell was LESS damaging than the 20 MM NAZI Mine Shell? Or do you claim that the 20 MM Hisso shell with only 2.6 to 6.5 grams of HE, depending on type, was more effective than the German 20 MM Mine Shell with 17 grams of PETN/RDX? This is the silliest post all thread!
the principle effect of AP is that it causes spalling on the other side of what ever it hits. Not true of thin plates hit by small cannon shot! fuselage skin is just way too thin and doesn't fragment or spall like the inside of an amoured vehicle. Absolutely true! AP just punches through fuselage - or even cross members. - even hitting an engine was not necessarily catastrophic. One more failure of the thought processes! Hitting the engine lets the fluids out and they do not run long with out either water/coolent, or oil!  hit an engine with HE and it will experience multiple concurrent catastrophic effects. Again, not true at all in some cases, and not true ever if the shell detonates on the fuselage skin, not in contact with the engine at all! The fragments from such small shells have so little individual energy that they will barely go through the thin AC Skin! For God's sake look at the pictures of hits where the fragments left dents where they failed to go through the skin just two feet from the point of detonation! I know first hand about the wounding power of shuch small fragments, I caried one of three around for over FORTY YEARS because it scabbed over for a week before I had the chance to let a doc take a look! It was just removed last summer after it started to rub on a nerve!


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45-Shooter       5/22/2011 1:50:27 AM
I suspect that the 12.7mm used AP incindary principally because of the limited explosive capacity of such a small bullet. Having a round that could punch through an armoured fuel tank 1 and set it on fire would have been a fair alternative to an explosive cannon shell, especially given the number of rounds fired by 6 to 8 M-2 equipped fighters 2 would have given hitting the fuel system a reasonable prospect.

Look at the hundreds of Pics showing the actual damage of a 20 MM Hisso shell on the skin of a plane! It is on the same order as that of a CHERRY BOMB fire cracker in a large coffee can! Look at pictures of American and Allied planes that returned from Germany shot to hell and note that most of those hits had relatively little effect!
1. Any tracer or incendiary projectile that perforates a fuel tank will have a significant chance to down the plane, IF it sets off the fuel air vapor inside! The resulting explosion, many times more powerful than any A2A shell blows the wing off or the fuse in two!
2. The last part is also true more than you could ever know! There are many so called "Single point failure" spots on every air craft! A single hit at that point downs the plane, sooner or later. ( Pilot, Engine fuel system, fuel tanks, coolant system on LC engines, many hoses, (The most vulnerable item for cannon shells doing remote damage from the point of detonation! It takes little energy to hole a hose and let the fluid out!) Engine oil system, many moving parts inside the engine like cranks, rods, pistons, cam shafts, gears, blowers and turbos, ( They let the hot exhaust out inside the plane when hit!) Prop hubs and pressurizes, (What good it the engine if the prop is feathered?) Control cables, bell cranks, op rods ETC! Any hit, regardless of caliber on any of these systems has a chance to down the plane, some more than others, but every single one could be fatal to any plane!

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RedParadize    45-shooter, your argument are falling apart.   5/22/2011 1:58:58 AM
My understanding of ballistics is limited but I do have something to say that is pertinent i think:
Point 1:
12.7mm APs rounds goes in and out against tin skinned part of a plane, just like a 20mm AP so thats not really a issue here.
Point 2:
For the engine and armored part, that doesn't give any advantage to the 12,7 AP cause the 20mm AP will do more damage anyway.
Point 3:
20mm Explosive rounds do a 20mm hole on one side and multiples smaller holes on the other and release several cubics meters of hot flaming gas in the middle of that.  I am not a expert but I am pretty sure that overpressure alone could do massive damage on its own agaist most part of fighter and bomber. (think about firing a gun in a car with closed window...)

Point 4:
Never ear about a F-35 versions equipped with "superior" 12.7. Same goes for all fighter design all around the world after ww2.
So sorry but i have more trust in the multi thousand of engineers that have come to the same solution over the last 66 years...
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gf0012-aust       5/22/2011 2:00:31 AM
seriously shooter, you are full of it.

you can't get the basics right and yet you still trot out nonsense as though its fact.

stop wasting everyones time

one of the things we did in ballistics was to conduct real; world tests - not armchair tests.  I may not be a ballistics expert, but having worked on real projects  under proper test conditions, I sure as heck know what happens on thin skins when we tested AP and HE.

aircraft are thin skins, even Hinds, A10's and Swiss ground attack mirages (all with titanium buckets) have thin skin for the rest of their frame.  the most armour that any of the manned single seaters had was early laminate (sanwiched armour) behind the seat and if lucky on the floor - beyond that was a weight penalty.

you can write as many long responses as you like, but one of us has worked ballistics and worked the test data.  Ballistics was never my core job, but I'm no armchair on the subject either. 

you OTOH write stuff which is nonsense and doesn't stand up to what we know from real results. 
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45-Shooter       5/22/2011 2:02:54 AM

The second point comes to bear in the alternate history of the BoB. If the Germans continue to bomb the southern England air fields, then the RAF must abandon the close fields and is also required to cover long distances to get to the AO, so that they are no longer advantaged over their Luftwaffe enemies! It is my contention that it was the difference in permissible throttle pos that made the Spit superior to the Me-109 in the BoB! The K/L ratio reverses just as it did in real life over Northern France and the Germans win the war by invading England.

You and others have raised this counter factual history a couple of times to try and argue that the P-40 could have been effective in the Battle of Britain. It is seriously flawed for the following reasons:


1. The P-40's would have had to have been based at least 150 miles away from Southern England to avoid their bases being hit by fighter escorted German Bombers. That would have precluded their ability to conduct radar guided intercepts against attacks on targets in Southern England, as they wouldn't have been able to get to the AO in time. Therefore, they would have had to have mounted standing patrols like the British had to over the Channel Convoys. This would have reduced the effectiveness of the P-40 force by at least two thirds and resulted in the same thing that happenned to the RAF defending the Channel Conveys, the would have recieived a schlocking by far more numerous Germans forces on the offensive. Despite bombing British airfields for two months prior to the London raids, at no time did the German bombing reduce the effectiveness of the RAF by that amount. The British would have been better off sticking to the Southern English bases.


 2. The original P-40 was inadequate for the theatre in a number of ways. It had no self sealing tanks, no pilot armour and no armoured windshield. Therefore it would be expected to take very heavy casualties and more importantly, kill pilots. Remember, one of the principal advantages that the Brits enjoyed was being able to recover pilots who had been shot down, as planes were easier and quicker to replace than men. Put them in a fighter that gets them riddled or burned on a disproportionate basis and that advantage is taken away.


The P-40 was also inadequate above 15,000 feet. This may not have been as big a deal in a Southern England campaign as the really high altitude raids (over 20,000 feet) happened over London, but it would have put the P-40's at a disadvantage to German fighters flying high cover.


3. The P-40s were only delivered to the UK in September 1940, two months into the conflict. With pilot training they couldn't be expected to have been in service before October. The P-40's might have made a contribution as a low-altitude interceptor, had the Brits been desperate, and would probably have made a reasonable contribution against German bombers and Bf-109E's, like they did in North Africa . However, the Bf-109F was being introduced late in the Battle and had it gone on for longer, would have been encountered in increasing numbers. Without cover from Spitfires above the early P-40's would have recieved a schlocking at the hands of those, again, like they did in North Africa.


Had the Brits been forced to use the type in that theatre I reckon the best use of thier range and good low altitude performance would have been in well-timed low altitude runway strafing missions. It would have been costly due to light AA fire against the reletively unprotected type, but at least might have done a fair bit of damage to the Luftwaffe while they were preparing for missions and would have forced the Germans to keep a greater proportion of their fighters back on patrol, in defence of their bomber bases.


Lets not pretend that the type could have made a key contribution like the Spit could though, it just wasn't up to it.

1. The entire posit of the scenario is that the Brits were only TWO DAYS ( According to Sir Winston in his 26 volume history!) from with drawing their fighter
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Aussiegunneragain       5/22/2011 2:10:08 AM" width="375" alt="" />
 A German 20mm shell peeled the metal covering off this bomber like skin off an onion. Note the small caliber bullet holes in the fuselage star" width="272" alt="" />
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RedParadize       5/22/2011 2:22:32 AM
thanks Aussiegunneragain. I think your picture confirm the effect of overpressure i was talking about isn't it?
45-shooter, before jumping on a other subject you should acknowledge that your point of 12.7 mm superiority over the 20 mm had been proven wrong... That would actually increase what left of your credibility here.
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Aussiegunneragain       5/22/2011 2:28:15 AM

1. The entire posit of the scenario is that the Brits were only TWO DAYS ( According to Sir Winston in his 26 volume history!) from with drawing their fighters back to remote bases when the Germans switched targets from the air fields to the cities. That switch gave the RAF a desperately needed respite that had they not had, would have forced the evacuation to distant fields.

2. The Battle of Briton was won by the Hurricane which was decidedly inferior to the Spit, but shot down more planes and was decidedly inferior to the P-40 and who's range could have given Fighter Command many other options! The choice is not either or, it's "Could it have helped?" The answer is yes!

Nothing else in your post, while mostly true, is relevant in the least!

I would be interested to see the page number from that reference Shooter, especially given that Churchill only ever published a 6 volume history of the Second World War - not a 26 volume one! I don't think you have read it.
The Hurricane at that time was not inferior to the P-40. It had a full suite of protective equipment that the P-40 did not and the Merlin performed far better at altitude than the Allison. The P-40 was faster at low altitude but that was it and this wouldn't have compensated for the other disadvantages. It would have required Spitfire protection just like the Hurricane did and it would probably have sufferred more casualties.
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