No offence taken. Perhaps "competitive length of service" would be a term that better clarifies what I meant to say. I do think that it matters because the question is about the best all-round fighter for the entire war. It seems to be an unfair comparison to ignore the fact that fighters like the Bf-109 and the Spitfire were giving leading edge service from Day One of the War and remained competitive till the end, while the likes of the P-47, P-51B and Tempest served for half or less the amount of time but win purely on their technical advancement. On the competitiveness of the Bf-109, I agree that it slipped behind allied types from the G model onwards, probably by about 6 months to a year, but in my view it was still competitive enough to be a serious threat and its achievements early in the war offset the lag later. It could certainly never have been considered obsolete. In contrast the Zero, your example, was an outright obsolete design by the middle of the War.
Your arguments are characterised by their usual cherry picking inanity so I will keep this brief:
1. To suggest that the Spitfire should have been retired before the end of the War but that the Bf-109 remained competitive is idiotic. The Spitfire Mk-XIV was at or near the top of the piston engined fighter class in the majority of performance parameters, including top speed, acceleration, rate of climb, operational ceiling and rolling/turning ability under 200 mph from introduction in early 1944 until the end of the War. Anybody else who wants to find that out for themselves can look at these sites, as I don't have time to interpret them for everybody else - but if you don't decide to do so don't listen to any interpretation that Shooter puts on it because he is a liar.
2. I don't know why you went off on a rant comparing the Spitfire to the P-47 because I certainly didn't start such a conversation and don't intend to have a stupid debate with you on it, where you cherry pick the bits of each types performance to suit your argument. I think they were both excellent fighters with their more numerous strengths and less numerous weaknesses, and fulfilled their roles well. The only undeniable point that I will repeat is that the Spitfire remained competitive from 1938 till the end of the War, while the P-47 didn't get into service until April 1943.I think nearly three times the competitive length of service might count for quite a lot.
3. Regarding the P-51, the facts are that it could do jobs from late 1943 onwards that no other fighter could until the War was almost over and was the one American piston engined type that the USAF chose to keep around and continue to develop after the War. I accept those facts over your analysis. I also note that had the P-51 not been developed it is entirely possible that USAAF bomber losses in the ETO would have been much greater and that the War in Europe may well have been longer, something that can't be said for any other fighter . You might also want to read some of these encounter reports about how it went against the the Fw-190, it is clear that it handled itself very nicely.
The problem with that Officer’s view of the P-47 vs the P-51 is that he is looking at it from the perspective of the preference of the pilot, for personal safety. In the military any individuals life is subservient to the objective of winning the War. The P-51 was the only aircraft in the ETO that could do the long-range escort mission in time for it to make a difference to the war effort, plus every other role that the P-47 could do and it could do it all for cheaper. The escort missions also undoubtedly saved many bomber crewmen’s lives for every extra pilot lost because he was in a Mustang rather than a Thunderbolt.
� 1998 -