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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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sentinel28a       10/18/2009 8:18:54 PM
What killed the Japanese (literally) was the lack of competent pilots by 1943 and the fact that they were running their planes off of unrefined gasoline.  Fill a J2M up with American 110% octane gas and the only thing that could touch it in a flat out run was the Bearcat--and even then.
Priller and Galland had high scores because the Luftwaffe almost never pulled them off operations.  That said, the Fw-190 was deadly.  I'm torn between which variant, though--I like the Dora, but the Anton was probably better...
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Ispose    P-47   10/19/2009 5:14:57 PM
Late model P-47 with paddle blades and water the N model had more range than a P-51. It was a very good what if it wasn't as manuevable as others....It could out dive and  (with the paddle blade) outclimb most other the dive and climb game don't play into other planes need to. Eight .50's was a lot of firepower and it could take an inordinate amount of damage as well.
With it's 2 stage supercharger it was probably the best high altitude fighter of the war...and altitude means you get to set up the terms of the fight.
Don't forget that ALL of the high scoring P-47 aces in Europe survived the was a plane that would get you home alive.
It wasn't pretty but then neither are the F-4 Phantom II's or A-10's...I don't think anyone would deny that either of those aren't outstanding aircraft for their times or roles.
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VelocityVector    Ispose   10/19/2009 6:36:02 PM

Concur, well-stated.  A question I have is why any poster would nominate Russian piston designs.  Arguably with exception of fuel sensitivity, expense, landing short and cannon armament, a late model P-47 would have cleaned the clocks of comparable Russian aircraft.  If Russian pilots back then enjoyed the unfettered option, they undoubtedly would have picked P-47 for best all-around fighter given their requirements.  P-47 was a survivable beast for slashing attacks, and dogfighting means a pilot screwed up somehow in any event.


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Aussiegunneragain    VV   10/19/2009 6:49:28 PM

and dogfighting means a pilot screwed up somehow in any event.

I've heard that theory but I'm not convinced. What about when fighters are providing escort to bombers or recon aircraft which is an inherantly defensive poise? If you relied on hit and runs only when it suited you in that instance the bomber crews would be very unhappy with you.
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sentinel28a       10/19/2009 7:21:43 PM
That's not right, V2.  Dogfighting is what fighters are for.  Manfred von Richtofen held that everything outside of shooting down the enemy was rubbish; Robin Olds condensed it down to saying "You're here to fly and fight and don't you forget it."
What you might be referring to is not allowing the fight to get into a "who can turn the slowest" knife fight or the fact that 80% of kills never see it coming, in which case I can see your point.
BTW, nearly all the P-51 aces survived the war too--George Preddy was killed through no fault of his own or his aircraft, but because US Army ground gunners tried to shoot down the Fw-190 Preddy was attacking, didn't lead their target properly, and got Preddy instead.  I don't have loss rates at hand, but since P-47s were often down on the deck where they excelled, it wouldn't surprise me to find if P-47 losses were somewhat higher than P-51s (though this would be skewed since the Jug was in theater almost a year longer than the Mustang).  Francis Gabreski, the ETO high scorer and top P-47 ace, hit the ground on a strafing run and was a POW, for instance.  Johnny Godfrey was also a POW (got shot down by flak), while Don Gentile went home in 1944.  (After accidentally crashing his P-51, but he was headed out anyway.)
Interestingly, of the three top USAAF aces of the Pacific, none survived the war--Bong was killed in an accident (admittedly while testing a P-80 in the last month of the war), McGuire was either shot down or stalled, and Kearby was shot down.  The top Navy ace (Dave McCampbell) came out sitting pretty, but the top Marine ace (Greg Boyington) finished the war in a POW camp.
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VelocityVector    Who Really Knows Given Variables   10/19/2009 8:41:59 PM

The very notion of fighter aircraft design is to efficiently murder the enemy.  Kill him before he even knows you share sky.  They are at best reaping machines, not circus acrobats.

P-47 could enjoy practical and performance advantage over any piston fighter when P-47 operated at max altitude.  Its expensive gunsight enabled a good pilot to reliably exploit shots under those conditions, and enemy pilots were not similarly equipped nor trained to shoot at appreciably higher angles, with their rounds falling short by accounts.  When the Russians received P-47s, they used them for high altitude interception.  The US tried them in all realms.  All in all, P-47 proved to be the best all 'round fighter of WWII in that it could take out an enemy swiftly and bring the pilot back home under more situations than any other piston aircraft of the time.  Depending.


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Hamilcar    Russians.   10/20/2009 1:20:32 AM
You cannot ignore planes that historically worked. Even the Mig 3 worked as the Russian  high altitude interceptor. I know that it was a tough plane to fly, but that was to be expected for what was demanded of it. It mechanically did what it was supposed to do for the Russians and did it rather well. There were only about 300 effectives in service at any one time. It was misused.

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stbretnco    Russian Aircraft   10/20/2009 4:30:25 AM
Now you guys are going to force me back into my library to dig up my books on Russian WW2 aviation.
Not a bad thing, but there's only so much time in a day to read.
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RockyMTNClimber    P-47 v. P-51, cont'd...   10/22/2009 9:45:07 AM
I think there is allot of misinterpretation of history here with the Jug. It's supercharger system was functinal but was at least a generation behind the Merlin's (both were multi stage systems). The P-47's system was located in the rear of the fuselage. The exhaust gas was piped under the cockpit to the back of the airplane where it drove the turbines and compressed the air, the intercoolers and air intakes were behind the cockpit too. After all of the work was done, the compressed air for the intake was then piped back to the front of the aircraft. It was cumbersome, compelx, ineffecient, and it contributed to the planes beastlt size and generally poor dog-fighting qualities. It also took critical space that was needed for fuel. The Jug eventually gained range as the continued to increase it size but it never had the range of a contemporary Mustang. The Merlin's system is the basis for all of our current turbo charging systems. It performed better than the Jug's and it fit neatly into the slim noses of the P-40, P-51, Spit, and Hurricane. Case closed on the supercharger issue!
The Mustang's wing had also had a more advanced wing shape that gave it better performance at altitude. I recently saw an interview on History Channel with a veteran of the Tusckeegee Airmen who confirmed this view. He said: "an individual P-47 might trim up to over 30,000 feet, but our Mustangs worked much better up there. All of them could reach that altitude" (or words to that effect).
Again, the 'Stang could and did perform every mission the Jug did, but did it at longer range. Google the "Sundowners" in relation to the P-51 and you will see a history of long range - high altitude combat performed over Japan in the closing months of the war. That work simply couldn't have been performed with the P-47.
Check Six
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sentinel28a       10/22/2009 1:56:43 PM
The P-47N might have been able to do the same, but the range would be questionable.  I don't know if the N model had the same range as a P-51, though it was intended for use over the Pacific.
Don't forget the P-51's laminar flow wing!  The P-47 had compressibility issues the P-51 never had.
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