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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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LB    Colonel Hubert Zemke   10/22/2009 2:06:12 PM
I'll see your unnamed aircrew who does not seem to have flown a P-47 and raise you Colonel Hubert Zemke who commanded both P-47 and P-51 fighter groups in combat.  According to Zemke the P-47 was superior above 25,000 to the P-51- the P-51 in his view the best air to air fighter below 25,000 ft.  The 56th fighter group would not trade in their P-47's for P-51's and remained the highest scoring US fighter group.

The P-47 was a superior ground attack platform and while the P-51 was used in Korea it had a high loss rate and there were calls to replace it with the P-47 which was more survivable.
There are quite a few combat pilots who flew both the P-47 and P-51 and preferred the P-47.  You could shoot up the P-47's engine and it would still get you home and easily land with it's wide undercarriage.  The P-47N was specifically designed for the PTO and escorted the B-29's from Saipan to Japan.  The range of the P-47N was 2,350 miles compared to 1,650 for the P-51D.  The statement that the P-51 could do things at altitude that P-47 could not is entirely backwards as the P-47N flew faster, higher, and at longer range than the P-51D.  The only prop fighter in service in the world that was faster than a P-47N was the 500+ mph P-47M.  

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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LB    P-47   10/22/2009 2:09:10 PM
There is a citation on the web of a P-47 pilot saying he dove his aircraft to 700mph airspeed.  The range of the P-47N was much further than the P-51D.  It's also worth nothing the N had a new wing.
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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45-Shooter    un-conventional thoughts?   10/22/2009 4:48:55 PM
Your coments about the Me-109 are true and quite persuasive, but flawed. To be the all arround fighter, it must have range to escort bombers or fly fighter sweeps over enimy territory. IF one were to ignore that single flaw, then you are right, it is the only conventional single engine contender!
As a thought to stir up some controvercy, The B-17 and B-24 both shot down more enemy AC than any other type of ALLIED aircraft, not counting bombing their airfields? Wonder how many they got on the ground?
Do we count targets destroyed on the ground? If so, then there is no second place as the Queen was informed after the Sloop America devistated the English Yatch Fleet, only the P-47 counts having destroyed more ground targets/tonnage than all others combined?
You see before we can have this discussion, we must first define the conditions and criteria of the judgement!
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45-Shooter    Great comments about P effect and prop dynamics!   10/22/2009 5:23:59 PM
There were only two fighter aircraft built in any number durring the war that did NOT suffer from those deffects! The P-38 and the Mosquito? Maby the beaufighter? There was the single engine Spitfull-24? with two three bladed contra-props, but they only built forteen? ( Joking!)
If you watched the History chennel last night, they had a program called gun camera in three episodes. My favorite bits were the A2G films which clearly show the tourque effects you describe and the great dificulty getting hits from single engine planes with out contra props!
This then begs the question, should we base our answers on the historical results given the context of the times, OR, can we say the one was technickly supirior to the rest based on it's atributes and performance IN SPITE of the results generated?
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Galderio    La-7 B-20   10/22/2009 5:35:19 PM
You are ignoring the la-5 and La-7!
Even even  with inferior quality and wood part sthey were a hard challenge to latest germans fighters.
And some people say they were prefered by the russians over other models they used, thanks to their maneuverability and fire power. Two or three 20mm cannons were more effective than four or six .50 machine guns.  
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45-Shooter       10/22/2009 5:51:27 PM
Your asertion that the Merlin was ever built with a turbo-charger is mistaken! It used a multi-speed geared, multi-stage centrifugal supercharger with after cooler that did not yeald particularly impressive results above 25,000'. At lest when compaired to engines with true turbo-chargers. The planes that had real turbo-chargers were ALL very much faster and quicker climbing above that level. You need to devorce aircraft performance from engine performance. The Spitfire made it's bones with a very light airfraim and lots of wing. Note that later marks which have huge increases in power only got marginal increases in measured performance at altitude because of the limitations on power of the three stage Gryphon engine at altitudes over 25,000'. The later P-47-padelbladed props and P-38 would both run off and hide from service mark Spits at altitudes over 30,000'. The later P-38 could cruise in METO at 414 MPH at 37,500' and had a top speed of 447 MPH in WEP at nearly 40,000'. Numbers that no Spit with guns ever came close to at that hight!
But if you want to talk Merlins, then you must admit that the American made Packard V-1650-9 in the P-51H was the fastest service prop plane of the war! 555 made, 487 MPH, 2200 Mile Range and better maners after the fuse tank was dry than any Spit ever made. Note that the Gryphon engined Spits had such bad maners that there was more than a year between first flight/squadron service and their first kill. Those defects were never quite fixed even in the last Marks! They were also made worse with the latest contra proped planes.
If honest consideration is to be given to other factors, then no plane with a Liquide Cooled engine should be concidered! The later P-47/Fu-4 would absorb damage that no LC engined plane would come close to tolerating. And survivability should be a major consideration!
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45-Shooter    Mustang cost?   10/22/2009 6:31:36 PM
While the plackard in the USAF Museum in Daton lists the mustang cost at ~$56,000, that does not include GFE. Or Government Furnished Equipment which adds an other 25-30K$ to the true cost! The $130K listed for the F4U does include the GFE.
Because of the dearth of data on the true cost of WW-II things, you must be very carefull about the numbers you use.
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45-Shooter    Clear failure of the thought prossesses.   10/22/2009 6:51:05 PM
Defending bombers is never a maneuver combat. The attacker makes his pressence known by flying toward the bombers, then the escorts line him up for a straight deflection or head on pass. On the deflection pass only the defender gets to shoot and the attacker has to survive before he gets to shoot at the bombers. The advantage goes to the plane with the best gun platform and weapon range. That makes the American planes number one on both counts. Their flight maners were impecable. No one leg wonders like the Me-109 that require constant rudder pressure to fly straight, Talk about Chrysler leg! Or Snake weavers like the late model Spit and slow roll planes like the Zero. American guns that were typicly harmonised at 500 yards not 200-250 or the Nazis with MV/BCs so low that there was a one second interval between the 30 MM shell landing and the .50s tearing your plane apart that were all fired at the same time and range! OR even worse, having to live threw that one second of .50s tearing your plane appart BEFORE you get to pull the trigger! It gets worse, very much worse if you are the Nazi and the guy shooting at you is in a P-38!
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45-Shooter       10/22/2009 7:04:05 PM
The caliber of the guns had nothing to do with the effectiveness of the guns between the planes you mentioned. Those 20 MMs were the most anemic cannons on the planet! The Ruski put all three in the nose, two under the cowl and one threw the prop hub. All three guns bullet streams were coincidental. Wing mounted guns had at least half of the guaranteed to miss at any range much closser or farther away than their Harmonisation range! The P-38 regularly made kills at ranges twice that of other planes with wing mounted guns!
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Hamilcar       10/22/2009 8:20:40 PM

You are ignoring the la-5 and La-7!

Even even  with inferior quality and wood part sthey were a hard challenge to latest germans fighters.

And some people say they were prefered by the russians over other models they used, thanks to their maneuverability and fire power. Two or three 20mm cannons were more effective than four or six .50 machine guns.  



I mentiomed the La-7 earlier I think. The Russians had some problem with their ShVAKSs, but relplaced them with the Berezins, which is the reason, I think the Lavochkins and the Yaks were so effective. They had good aircraft cannon as opposed to the Americans who could not get their HS 404 clones to work..   
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