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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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Galderio       10/23/2009 12:17:26 PM
   The cannons were good enough for most combat ranges and had a much more destructive power. You could kill any fighter with very small burts, the three cannons gave it a 1800-2000 rounds per minute. And as you carry less ammo than smaller weapons armed planes you can not try to shoot at longer ranges, but when the target is near, like most of time during the war, the larger round is very good. 
If you had to fight something armored like B-17 with .50 guns you have a big problem even shooting at longer distance, some bullets will be affected by the armor others would only make small holes that will not stop the bomber.Obviously some rounds may hit an important thing destroying the aircraft.
 
Anyway the main adavantage of the La-7 was performance and maneuverability at low and medium altitudes while the P-51 is claimed as a good  longer range and medium to high altitudes interceptor.  
 
 
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sentinel28a       10/23/2009 2:43:47 PM
I've read reports and talked to German Luftwaffe pilots who claimed that, as much as they liked their cannon because of its hitting power, the .50 cal had much longer range and muzzle velocity.  They said that they'd be positioning their Bf-109 or Fw-190 for an attack and they'd start getting hit by the bombers' .50s.  They'd have to close through that to try to get close enough to use their cannon.  One reason why the Luftwaffe (and the same time, the Japanese) started making head-on attacks on B-17s was because that had, for a time, less defensive firepower than the sides, top, bottom, or rear.  The Me-262 could at least get in position and attack before the bombers could bring their firepower to bear.
 
LB, I'm not denying the P-47 was a great aircraft!  No question it was tougher than the P-51 and had better high-altitude performance--nothing could touch it above 25,000 feet because of its huge engine and prop.  The Germans developed the Fw-190D in an effort--a failed one--to match the P-47's altitude advantage.  And yes, the P-47 would have been a much better choice than the P-51 for use over Korea, but the Jug was out of the inventory by then.  Still, the P-47 did have compressability problems--I don't doubt your story of one pilot getting it up to 500 mph, but he was lucky to survive the experience--and it had to be upgraded to match the P-51's as-built range.  Still, they were probably the best one-two punch the Allies had.
 
 
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RockyMTNClimber    LB reply...   10/23/2009 5:28:07 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.
 
Okay LB. My source was none other than Col. Charles McGee, USAF/USAAF. The direct quote is as follows: "...The P47 was fine with B-24's, but not so good with the B-17, which could fly higher in an attempt to avoid anti-aircraft fire. We always liked to be a couple thousand feet above the bomber stream to do our S-turning, but even with its supercharger cut in at 19,000 feet (critical altitude), the P-47 would become sluggish trying to get above the highest B-17s. All that changed on July 1, when I took my first flight in the North Amercan P-51C-10. I flew my first long-range mission in the Mustang on July 4, escorting bombers to Romania. We could take the P-51 up to 35,000 feet and it would still be maneuverable."  This quote is lifted from an interview with Jon Guttman, Senior Editor of Aviation History Magazine and Editor of Military History Magazine ( see page, 42, Aviation History, March 1999). Colonel McGee has combat time in P-40's, P-39's, P-47's, and P-51's. You can guess what his favorite is! The interview reveals that the early P-51 could significantly out perform the P-47's of its day and that did continue as I have already explained.
 
It is plucky of you to attempt to bring the P-47N into the conversation. It did of course happen that one P-47N fighter group,The 414th Fighter Group, did arrive in Iwo in time for three escort missions, but I'd hardly call that a significant contribution to the war (note: that the Bombers flew from Saipan not the fighters, escorts flew from Iwo Jima). Mustangs flew a total of 50 of those grueling missions which covered more than 1,500 miles over open water. In order to get your Jugs into those three missions, Republic had to completely reinvent the P-47 and even then it wasn't as agile as the Mustang, in air to air it was always a pure zoom and boomer. Not able ever able to "mix it up" down low. For these reasons I'd say the P-47 wasn't the all around fighter the P-51 was.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
 
 
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RockyMTNClimber    45-Shooter reply...   10/23/2009 6:16:46 PM
Thank you for the compliment on the torque, P factor, and Gyro tendencies of the old war birds. People don't appreciate life in the cockpit of those old beasts. They were harder to fly than today's modern jets, by a long shot. Even the F-86 was a darling compared to a Jug or a Spit on short final in a cross wind, or in instrument conditions!
 
I have a couple of comments about your  posts; first, you are correct the P-51's Merlin V-1650-3 used a two stage inter cooled super charger that allowed it a critical altitude of 26,000 feet (the highest altitude which engine maintains sea level manifold pressure). That system was smaller, more reliable, and easier to build than the P-47's cumbersome plant (which was well over 20 feet long and prone to battle damage just as the Mustang's cooling system was!). Second, the pilots made use of the trim wheels to trim out much of the control forces they experienced. On take off we trim out the rudder pressure and even the back pressure on the stick so we don't have to hold it back like a body builder. Judicious use of the trim wheels makes even a P-47 nearly a fingertip flying affair for all but the most violent breaking maneuvers, which are trimmed out also during sustained maneuvers. Third, you over simplify when you assert that escort missions didn't ever evolve into turning engagements. Not all allied escort missions were high altitude over say 25,000 feet, most probably weren't, and not every mission profile matched your outline. Occasionally US fighters ranged out in front of or behind the bomber streams to take on the enemy aircraft, while other designated units remained with the bombers. Fighters would sometimes also leave the bombers after their escort duty was completed and go hunting. Many of these incidents turned into classic dogfights. Something the Jug was just not made for.
 
Finally, the Mosquito, P-38 and other WWII twins had their own demons related to their power plants. With an engine out in certain configurations these birds were even more unstable than their single engine counterparts. These were all very complex machines that demanded your undivided attention and most heart felt respect at all times. They would kill you if you didn't give it too them, every second of every flight.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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RockyMTNClimber    P-47 v. P-51 cont'd...   10/24/2009 10:50:34 AM
My thoughts on these two fine aircraft are that they ended up being specialized in different areas. The P-47 because of its size, power, armament, and overall shorter range, became the go to aircraft for CAS and strategic interdiction. It also successfully acted as an escort (although not as optimal a choice for that role) and if they got into trouble with enemy aircraft its crew could run or fight their way out. The USAAF saw the value in these characteristics and in fact bought more Thunderbolts than they did Mustangs, during WWII. The P-47, however, was considered obsolete and left USAF inventory being ground up by the can/razor makers as fast as they could melt them upon the conclusion of the war.
 
The Mustang because of its simplicity of design, agility, excellent high altitude performance, and exceptional range became the go to aircraft for bomber escort and as a pure air superiority fighter. That said, it carried a respectable bomb load as well as rockets, nape, and lots of powerful guns. It fought in every theater of the war in the CAS role as well. When the Luftwaffe refused to come up to play the Mustangs went down on the deck and took the fight to them. With great effect. The was good enough that it was retained by the new USAF for this role (fighting with distinction in Korea).
 
That says allot about the overall philosophy of the design it's wonderful power plant.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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LB    P-47M/N vs P-51D   10/24/2009 11:32:20 AM
Putting a new wing on the P-47M to create the N is not exactly a giant leap compared to dropping the Allison V-1710 for the Merlin and needed redesign.  In any case the radial air cooled P-47 was had far superior survivability and together with the P-47's 33% greater gun firepower and greater bomb load made the P-47 a much better ground attack aircraft than the P-51.  How the P-51 becomes a better "all-around" fighter than the P-51 eludes me even were one to grant that it's a marginally better air to air fighter overall.
 
Then Lieutenant McGee flew what model P-47 for the two months his unit flew the P-47 before transitioning to the P-51C?  My citation was for Col Zemke, member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, who commanded both the 56th and 479th fighter groups in combat during which he had 17.75 confirmed kills.  I'd be happy to trade citations of combat pilots all day long who favored the P-47 or P-51 over the other in air to air combat as there are myriad.
 
The P-47 was far more survivable, with greater firepower, and with the M/N was faster and longer ranged.  There are pilots that felt one or the other was better air to air.  The 56th Fighter Group was the only unit in the 8th AF to retain, at request, the P-47 instead of transitioning to the P-51.  The 56th had the most kills of any 8th AF group and ended up with 2nd highest of any USAAF fighter group.  The 56th was not the longest serving 8th AF group.  The available data does not support the P-51 was a superior air to air fighter- note the 56th flew the D model and did not get any M's till Jan 1945.
 
The P-47M went 500+ mph.  Republic during testing of the R-2800C ran it at max boost at 3,600 hp for 250 straight hours without a failure on 100/130- try that with a Merlin.
 
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RockyMTNClimber    LB reply...   10/25/2009 12:48:28 PM

Putting a new wing on the P-47M to create the N is not exactly a giant leap compared to dropping the Allison V-1710 for the Merlin and needed redesign.  In any case the radial air cooled P-47 was had far superior survivability and together with the P-47's 33% greater gun firepower and greater bomb load made the P-47 a much better ground attack aircraft than the P-51.  How the P-51 becomes a better "all-around" fighter than the P-51 eludes me even were one to grant that it's a marginally better air to air fighter overall.

 

Then Lieutenant McGee flew what model P-47 for the two months his unit flew the P-47 before transitioning to the P-51C?  My citation was for Col Zemke, member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, who commanded both the 56th and 479th fighter groups in combat during which he had 17.75 confirmed kills.  I'd be happy to trade citations of combat pilots all day long who favored the P-47 or P-51 over the other in air to air combat as there are myriad.

 

The P-47 was far more survivable, with greater firepower, and with the M/N was faster and longer ranged.  There are pilots that felt one or the other was better air to air.  The 56th Fighter Group was the only unit in the 8th AF to retain, at request, the P-47 instead of transitioning to the P-51.  The 56th had the most kills of any 8th AF group and ended up with 2nd highest of any USAAF fighter group.  The 56th was not the longest serving 8th AF group.  The available data does not support the P-51 was a superior air to air fighter- note the 56th flew the D model and did not get any M's till Jan 1945.


 

The P-47M went 500+ mph.  Republic during testing of the R-2800C ran it at max boost at 3,600 hp for 250 straight hours without a failure on 100/130- try that with a Merlin.



 
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RockyMTNClimber    LB reply...   10/25/2009 1:16:30 PM

Putting a new wing on the P-47M to create the N is not exactly a giant leap compared to dropping the Allison V-1710 for the Merlin and needed redesign.  In any case the radial air cooled P-47 was had far superior survivability and together with the P-47's 33% greater gun firepower and greater bomb load made the P-47 a much better ground attack aircraft than the P-51.  How the P-51 becomes a better "all-around" fighter than the P-51 eludes me even were one to grant that it's a marginally better air to air fighter overall.

 

Then Lieutenant McGee flew what model P-47 for the two months his unit flew the P-47 before transitioning to the P-51C?  My citation was for Col Zemke, member of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, who commanded both the 56th and 479th fighter groups in combat during which he had 17.75 confirmed kills.  I'd be happy to trade citations of combat pilots all day long who favored the P-47 or P-51 over the other in air to air combat as there are myriad.

 

The P-47 was far more survivable, with greater firepower, and with the M/N was faster and longer ranged.  There are pilots that felt one or the other was better air to air.  The 56th Fighter Group was the only unit in the 8th AF to retain, at request, the P-47 instead of transitioning to the P-51.  The 56th had the most kills of any 8th AF group and ended up with 2nd highest of any USAAF fighter group.  The 56th was not the longest serving 8th AF group.  The available data does not support the P-51 was a superior air to air fighter- note the 56th flew the D model and did not get any M's till Jan 1945.


The P-47M went 500+ mph.  Republic during testing of the R-2800C ran it at max boost at 3,600 hp for 250 straight hours without a failure on 100/130- try that with a Merlin.


 
OOPS. Sorry about the blank post.
LB, apparently you are having difficulty distinguishing between the A36 Apache (a strike aircraft)  and the P-51 Mustang. That is a real common error for people unfamiliar with these birds but when you do that it is like comparing the Curtis P-36 with the P-40. Same basic airframe but a complete evolution apart in design and function. You might not know that the Apache was equipped with Dive Brakes! It is indeed a valid comparison to the P-47N's big changes (which you were kind enough to point out, completely replaced the wings adding wing fuel tanks so it could perform Mustang like missions, 3 of them it turns out) and also stretched the fuselage to accommodate more fuel.
 
Regarding Colonel McGee, apparently you aren't aware that when we refer to people who have served we customarily use their highest achieved rank. Not everyone is familiar with those protocols so I mention them to you for future reference. Colonel McGee's comments are spot on and I am quite confident that Col. Zemke wouldn't contradict them. In fact, I'd love to see the context of his comments your assert that he makes about the P-47 being a superior high altitude fighter. Nor would one of Zemke's good friends and top "Wolf Pack" pilots Colonel Donald Blakeslee. Colonel Blakeslee was the first person to ever score a victory in a P-47 and he well known for coining the following phrase about the P-47: "It's a good thing it can dive because it sure as hell can't climb". When Blakeslee took over the Fourth Fighter Group he couldn't wait to flush the P-47 for the P-51.
 
This argument predates our conversation here and no doubt will continue. I think I have provided good sources and data to support my conclusion and I am happy to leave it up to others to decide for themselves.
 
Check Six
 
Rocky
 
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sentinel28a       10/27/2009 4:11:50 AM
To partially correct LB:
 
The 56th FG had the highest number of air-to-air kills in the ETO.  The 4th FG had the highest number of overall kills, since the 8th AF counted both strafes and A2A as kills.  The 56th was only about 20 kills behind the 4th, and only because the 4th went on a strafing spree in the last two days of the war in Europe to drive their score up.  (Or, in a bit of quantum mechanics, Johnny Godfrey's number of kills between his return to the ETO from a war bonds tour and when he was shot down exactly equals the 4th's edge on the 56th.  In which case, according to a 4th historian, the game would have adjourned to the Pacific for a tiebreaker round.)
 
To partially correct Rocky:
 
Blakeslee wasn't a member of the "Wolfpack," which was the 56th FG, Zemke's group.  The 4th got the P-47 first in the ETO, and also had the "honor" of ironing all the bugs out of it.  The 56th, on the other hand, benefitted directly from the 4th's experience.  The main reason why Blakeslee and the 4th despised the P-47 so much was because they were used to the more nimble Spitfire.  The 4th also had the early P-47C which was nowhere near as good as the later P-47Ds that the 56th had.  The quote about the dive is direct.
 
Blakeslee and Zemke greatly respected each other, but from what I've read, they didn't particularly like each other until after the war.  It was nothing personal--kind of like two sports players on opposite teams.
 
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Ispose    P-47 was better   10/27/2009 10:47:55 AM
A late model P-47 with paddle blades could outclimb and outdive just about anything. Robert Johnson stated that once they got the paddle blades he had no trouble outclimbing Spitfires....the P-47 couldn't climb as steeply...but in actual climb rate it was substantially faster. With these advantages you don't need to be manuaverable...you can set up the terms of the fight in most cases...and in a worst case scenario the plane was tough enough to bring you home.
I think it was Priller (One of the High Scoring Luftwaffe Western Front Aces anyway) who stated that he had no problems with P-51's as they came apart quite easily after a few cannon hits. If I had to fly a WW2 fighter I would prefer the P-47...my chances of surviving ALL types of missions were much better.
 
 
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