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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       3/26/2013 7:46:41 PM

All of those 107 German aces were defeated.
No, their Nation was defeated, only some of them were defeated and then by lesser men. As defined by their failure to score as well.
The Russians flew their pilots into the ground as the Germans.
True, so what? 
The P-38...
Was great, was it not?
Difficult plane to fly until power assist was added (P-38J 1943), which the FW-190 had from the start. 
No, it was not difficult to fly, it was not easy to manage compared to most single engined fighters, but also easier than some! There is a differance between flying the plane and managing all the extra engine controls. The aerodynamic controls on the other hand were light and preciese at most speeds. Failure to acheave up elevator at transonic speeds had nothing to do with the controls, but the basic design of the plane. Note that this problem was common to ALL planes of this period and only cured by the all moving stab of the F-86. The only difference between them was the speed at onset of said problems. This was exacerbated in the P-38 because of the quickness with witch it picked up speed in the dive. ( Twice to five times as quick as ALL other planes of the time!) Hydraulic ailerons were installed to make the initial rate of roll much faster, not because of any defect in the rate of roll, which was much better than some planes I shall not mention. This was in responce to the Fw-190 which should be a hint as to where in the pecking order it was to start with.

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45-Shooter       3/26/2013 8:08:29 PM

The Russians were no less able than either the Brits Germans or Americans and thier aircraft were very good, unfortuneately those aircraft were often badly made in a hurry and pilots were thrown into battle with virtually no training, it was qualitly of stock it was the lack of training, pilots who survived tended to do well (just like the germans)
What about the German who spent his entire career on the Western Front and racked up 152 Victories against the French, British and Americans? He was not alone, only the best! If we reduce the sample to only those who fought on the Western Front, how do you explain the incredibly huge disparity in scores between the Germans and the rest of us, even if we go month by month?
Statistics show that the exact oposite was the truth. The Ruskies had the top 20-30 Allied Aces, all with 41 or more Victories. The Top Americans had 40 and 38, or 39 Kills and the Top Brit had 38, or 39, again, I can not at this time remember who was in second place between the second best American and the top Brit. The Ruskies shot down more Germans than the RAF. 
I am fed up of you not understanding the basics, more kills as more oppotunity for kills, whilst german and Russians were racking up kills the British and US pilots were operating in conditions where engagement with the enemy happed once a week if you were lucky and then often on the German's conditions, more British and American pilots were lost during to ground fire than were shot down, you cannot shoot down an enemy if you dont get to engage them regardless of how good your plane is
So, you want to divorce the pilot skills entirely from the plane's performance and just make your choise based on the plane itself?
I can live with that and like that idea most of all!
This is not in dispute by the RAF, or any other rational person in the UK. So, who were the weak nellies, the Russians or the RAF? One last point, the Germans had more than twenty Aces who shot down over 100 planes each in the west exclusively!
Never said they were weak what I said was that they fielded a lot of untrained pilots in badly made aircraft which they did, so did the Germans, were the aircraft bad - no, just the neccessaties of war meant they were rushed into service  with build quality that would not otherwise have been allowed, From what I have seen of many Allied aircraft, I would say the exact same thing! were the russians somehow worse as a race  as pilots, NO they just threw untrained pilots into the fight pilotswho either died or got lucky enough to survive long enough to actaully learn how to fly combat
Using this logic, then the German planes had to have been better in some fundamental way in order to account for their score superiority? I mean, since you stated above that we scored so well because the Germans failed to train their new pilots as well as we did, just like the Ruskies, as you state above, then with pilot quality minimized, only aircraft superiority could account for such a marked differance in score? I can buy that! I say that because both the Me-109 and Fw-190 had traits that made them great killers, but not necessarily great "Dog Fighters"! This is just one more nail in the "Dog Fighter" argument's coffin!
again you are placing you own bias on the facts
No! I am just using the logical extension of your own arguments against you.

go back and actaully READ Mike Spick after all he was your source and yet he contrdicts all your comments
I have read them many times and he contradicts nothing I've said. You use his quotes from German Aces who did not like giving up half of their 20 MM firepower as if they were his ideas. Why not take General Chuck Yeager's comments on the utility of the .50 Caliber HMG on it's face. It would be very hard, if not impossible to dispute his ideas with un-biased tests today.

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45-Shooter       3/26/2013 8:24:15 PM

Then there is the bunch of >100 German Aces who did that ALL against the Americans and British! Do you then elevate their oppinions above those with less prolific scores? Right! The Germans had 107 Pilots who all shot down over 100 planes. The vast majority of them thought the Me-109 was the best! I'll take their word on that topic before yours, Or Col. Carson's!
so the oppinion of someone who only flew plane of type A is superior to someoen who flew types A,B,C,D etc
Yes! Absolutely, if that person spent his time mostly as a test pilot, instead of flying combat missions and shooting down the B, C, and D aircraft!

There can be no other valid measure than the ability and accomplishment of shooting down enemy aircraft. All other ideas are rubbish,
fine if you are comparing like with like otherwise the figures are meaningless (which they are in reality)
  Since ALL of the Fighter planes of WW-II were much more alike than different, that must make my asertion completely valid!

No they dont, how can compairing a fighter that engaged an enemy fighter on 8 or 9 time in 10 sorties agaisnt one that engaged 1 in 100? how can you compare a fighter that engaged at odds of 10 to 1 o one that engaged at odds of 1 to 10? how can you compare fighters when one could pick an d chose the engagements and the other was forced to fight regardless?  all these effect the figures but you casually dismiss them as irrelavent, really poor work by yourself
  Yes, but during the course of the war it averaged out. Or on the other hand it is very easy to say that ALL of the NEGATIVE situations you mention above were predominently on the German side and the POSITIVE situations were on the allied side, it makes the argument for superiority of German Aircraft seem so much more likely?

You can not have it both ways! Either you take the field as a whole, or you narrow it down, but you can not do both as you tried to do above and be taken serriously!
I dont try to take it as a whole, But you labeled Russian Pilots as inferior to their German, and by inferance their American and British compatriots on one hand and then tried to sort it out above on the other! Durring the BoB, the Brits had several huge advantages and bairly1.2-1 beat the Nazis because the Germans chose to loose the battle with strategic mistakes. But over France, where similar-same conditions were played out and the RAF lost it's arse 4-1! So which is it? it is you that do that, I realise that the figures DO NOT give enough granuallity to make the stupid claims that you do, you can take period when aircraft were performing in similar enviroments Like the BoB and Battle of France when the RAF tried cross channel raids and lost their arse 4-1? but even then you have to take into account the differences Like the RAF had Radar and the Observer Corpse over England and the HUGE advantage of permissive throttle at their bect and call, but over France, where the Nazis had the throttle advantage, what happened? and make allowances but you think that a bill at the end is somehow perfect for deciding what happened, it like looking at two bills from a resteraunt that have the same value and saying look these two groups of four people spent the same money so they MUST have eaten the exact same food.
  This last line is a silly asertion, full of false logic!



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45-Shooter       3/26/2013 8:47:31 PM

it was about 25mph faster than a Spit MkXIV at 28k Which model?
which model of the MkXIV?
Yes, which model of Mk-XIV Spitfire are you taling about. They were not all the same and there were huge differances in their performances.
so it needed additionaL boost to hit the figures at pretty much ALL altitudes, not only that it needed TWO systems to do it, wow what a good fighter (ad all that to be marginally better than allied fighters that ran without these additives)
Exactly what was the rate of climb at Sea Level of the Two stage-Two speed Griffin engined Spitfire at MTO. Then, what was the same figures under the same conditions in the Ta-152H. Then what were those exact same number for the single stage Spit at over 33,000'? Given the Spitfires notoriously slow rate of roll,
maybe you should read a bit more before making such silly comments, the Spit was slightly inferior The early Spits with the "D" box spar were the worst rolling planes on the planet at speeds over 300 MPH! to to many aircraft it is true but it was no slouch, Wrong, it was a slouch! The very worst slouch on the planet, except for the early model Zero! and the later models rolled quite well, Only after they got the new "Laminar Flow" wing with box section Spar, were they at least OK, but even those were not nearly best in class. certainly better than the long wing of the High altitude Ta1152h
  And NONE of them were even close to the long wing Ta-152H! The Spit's Polar Moment of Inertia in roll was hampered by two thinks, the weak-twistable wing and the guns MASS hung so far from the CL! Both things the German plane did not have hung around it's neck! So yes, the Spit was the second worst rolling fighter plane on the planet until the very late-post war models.


not completely fixed with the metal covered control surfaces, I doubt this very much!
Then you are ignorant of the facts!

You see, the problem was not with the material the surfaces were covered with, but the flexibility of the wing which let the aileron at the back twist the wing to change the angle of attack on the leading edge to counter the effect of the aileron's force!
you mean the twist that was built in and was adopted by Tank as it cured the issue of the stall being so vicious and uncontrolable?
  No! I mean the twist caused by the forces generated by the ailerons as they twisted the wing around it's spanwise axis! Only the clipped wing versions of the Spit had reasonable, but not great rates of roll, because the eliptical tip was what caused the "partial Aileron Reversal" at high speed. This was not completely solved until the last versions with the new Laminar Flow rectiliniar wing planform. IE when they dumped the beautiful Eliptical wing! Then it was only slightly better than average, for planes that were replaced before the last model Spit went into service!


 The Spitfires as a group were never as quick as their comp's at high speed. Never, none of them ever! Fw's on the other hand were famous for their rates of roll.

Yet they were surpassed by the MkIX and later MKs which although having a slightly lower roll rate more than made up for it in other aspects 
It all depends on how it's flown. If I were to dog fight a Spit in a Fw-190, I would never try to turn with him, but I would use a rolling scizzors to force him out in front and then murder him with a quick burst of cannon shells! But is I were starting from in the "Saddle", I'd just hammer him merccilessly until he went down in flames! You never play to your enemies strengths, but force him to fight under yours! 

2. We were talking about rate of roll. Which of the two, the FW-190 and MK-XIV had the best rate of roll?
The un-answered $64,000 question!

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45-Shooter       3/26/2013 9:04:08 PM

then why did they go to so much trouble fitting power controls to the P38? as adding weight wouldn't help increase the speed would it? you seem to be arguing against yourself here
  Not at all. Speed is related to weight by the square root of the weight differance. But rate of roll which became one of the very best at high speed goes to pointability and maneuverability which no other plane in WW-II can match at speeds over 360 MPH! NONE!

yet you have never provided evidence of this, the P38 was outclassed in the ETO and that is a fact of life, so to use your expression  - get over it
Your failure is to relate startegic choises to tactical ones. Like when you state "Like Vs Like" etc... Even late in the war, the early P-38 was superior to most single engined fighter planes. The later The P-38Ls were superior as weapons and aircraft to almost all other aircraft late in the war. What hampered it were details of use and failures to train the pilots to use it's strengths instead of believing the "Dog Fight" Mafia. Flown with tactics like those of the great 109 aces, it was an unbeatable weapon!
If I were to sort and filter his comments into one or two big ideas, they would be the importance of speed and the ability to control the plane at those higher speeds, IE: POINTABILITY!    
ahem speed AND control not speed on its own
  OK, but if you had to choose one of the two to have at the expence of the other, Which would you take? The ability to escape from or run down the enemy, or the ability to roll the plane quicker, but not have the speed to escape or chase the enemy down? RIGHT!

    wow aircombat is so simple, not sure why the US needs such a major resource as Topgun when aircombat is such an easy topic
  No, we are arguing the merrits of only two of many mechanical atributes of the aircraft. Top gun is to train pilots, not explore the plane's atributes!
And yes, it is that simple! Which do you choose, Desicive Speed Advantage, or Superior turning ability WO advantage in rate of roll?
so you are happy to limit your pilots to one manoeuver, one that if they dont succeed you right them off?
No, that is your argument not mine! I'll take the >90% of Victories which involve shooting the other guy down before he knows he is under attack and then use the Superior Decisive Speed to escape IF I fail to convert the attack to a secondary kill after missing the first chance to shoot! You can "Dog Fight" all you like to try to win the other 10%.

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45-Shooter       3/26/2013 9:09:21 PM

The Spitfire, the ME-109 and the FW-190 got their performance by being light, but all of them suffered from the same fatal flaw... no range. To be considered the greatest fighter of WWII, it has to be a plane that is as great on offense as it is on defense.  The P-51 could beat any one of the three top short range planes AND function as an offensive weapon, escorting bombers... taking the fight to the enemy and winning the war.  All the Spitfire, the 109 and the 190 could do was delay the inevitable.  The Spitfire beat back the German assault because the 109 was useless on offense, and the ME 110, less than useless.  If the Germans had a plane like the Mustang during the Battle of Britain, (And something better than the HE 111) Hitler would have been dancing a jig in Piccadilly by the Fall of 1941, so don't give the Spitfire more credit than it deserves.  Adolph Galland loved the 109, but he admitted in interviews that when he was closing in on squadrons of P-51s over Germany, his fuel warning light was already on, while (as he put it) "the enemy was just getting ready to fight".  When fuel is an issue, you can't fly "balls-out", so the performance advantages of the 109 and 190 can't be taken as much into consideration during actual combat.  Add fuel and range into the formula and the fight becomes a lot more even between the short-range 109 and 190 and the long-range Mustang that can afford to be prodigal with the throttle, even after flying all the way from Britain.  The 109 and 190 may have performed better in certain circumstances, and under ideal conditions, but they weren't that much better than the Mustang, and neither German plane was better than the P-51 in all situations.  Best defensive fighter...?  Maybe.  But the Spitfire, the 109 or 190 were not the best fighters of WWII. 

I agree with almost all of the above! The Me-109 had one advantage that the others did not possess! It was smaller and harder to see comming up behind you, or as an adjunct to other combats. That gave it the decisive edge it needed to rack up such an impressive score. Other than that there was very little to chose between them, except for CL guns. 
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45-Shooter       3/26/2013 9:29:49 PM

I am sorry but why does the requirement of ONE country make its fighters the best?
Because those choices have other unforseen effects. So yes, the coises made by one country can be decisive!
The RAF never had need of he range of the P51, those in service with the RAF rarely used the rear tank.
This is not true! The RAF did have need of more range from the Spitfire and each new model had more than the last. Now we know those effects and have even coined a term for it "Fuel Fraction"! The initial idea of pure intercepter is flawed from the start. The Germans desperately needed more range and they lost the BoB because of it! The Spit desperately needed more range and they lost the cross channel battle of france because of it. So yes range is a valid criteria on which to fail a plane inspite of allo it's other sterling traits!
The Spit was designed as a short ranged inteceptor and it was excelent i that role, the Spit was superior to the P51,This is simply not true! The spit had some small advantages in turn rate and climb, but the 'stang had huge advantages in rate of roll, range, strength and fire power! the only advatge the P51 had was range, yet the the Spit was the FIRST single engine fighter over berlin so a long range Spit could have een produced had thier been a will.
There was a will, every single version had longer range than the last!
You cannot write an aircraft off because it didnt do what YOU think is the important role, had the USAAF changed to night bombing in 43 would the P51 ever had gained that range? its unlikely.   Well, yes! It started with more range than the later Spits and then grew longer leggs!
If you read Rall and Galland and a few others that survived the air war in the west the thing that stand out are they never feared combat with P51, P47 and especially P38s  but always had the utmost respect for the Spit, That is why they had an over all advantage of about 4-1 in Victories over the Spitfire over France? if anything it was the shear numbers that allowed the P51 to become so succesfull, when you can counter every 109/190 with a full flight of P51s then you are always going to have the upper hand (even more so when those 109/190s are not trying to fight you but get at the bombers)
In one of Mike Spicks books he has an account of one of the top german aces being in an encounter with a single spit whilst comanding a full squadron of 109s include 3 "experten" in which no one got a single hit on the Spit!
But he also has an episode of one Me-109 shooting down five Spitfires in one go. So I guess it is a wash.

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45-Shooter       3/26/2013 9:41:31 PM

I attribute distribution errors due to different reporting methods. Apparently it was HARD to be a Russian, Japanese, or British ace, easy to be a German or American.
This is a mistake. It was much harder to be a German or American Ace than a British, Russian, or Japanese ace. Note the very high variability of some Japanese scores. I do not know what standards the rest of the Nations used.
Too bad there can be no consistent international criteria. 
Each Nation had it's own criteria, so there is no hope of that at all.

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45-Shooter    Your idea is very good and well argued!   3/26/2013 10:19:15 PM
If you want to limit the discussion to how well a plane does within a narrow performance window, that's fine, but that doesn't make it the best overall, which is the point of this discussion.  I don't even consider the Mustang as my best choice because it was vulnerable to minor damage; something that impacted the Spitfire and the Bf 109 as well. (P-51 is the second best, BTW... Hellcat is still best.)  I can understand your sentimental attachment to the Spitfire and the 109 because they transcended the brutish nature of war and rekindled that romantic image of the dashing fighter-ace, more reminiscent of WWI, as portrayed on every Red Baron pizza box in your local grocery store frozen food section.  However, the Mustang (Like the Hellcat) wasn't just a great fighter because of how well it turned, it was the best because it changed the complexion of the entire war, and ultimately won it by turning the Axis powers from offense to defense: something that the Spitfire and the Bf 109 were entirely incapable of doing.  If you want to cherry-pick a plane based on a narrow performance standard, we could come up with any number of specialty aircraft divided into the categories of short range interceptor, long range escort and fighter-bomber.  Then, once you have divided each specialty plane into its specific mission category, you could then deal with the minutia of speed, climb, turn, dive, range, damage resistance, firepower and then subtract any bad habits and fatal flaws baked into the design.  If Mustang never progressed beyond the underpowered A-36, or if the F6F didn't arrive in time, like the Bearcat, this formula would be valid as no other plane really functioned well outside of its comfort zone.  But if we take all of those categories into consideration and try to find one plane that fits, the Mustang would come out best or near best in every category except damage resistance, which is why Hellcat is still best overall.  Could the Spitfire operate as an effective escort or long range fighter?  No.  Could the Mustang have operated as a effective short range defensive fighter? Yes.  Case closed.
Watch the film, it very good! If the Mustang is not the best because it was subject to damge but still better than the Hellcat, what about the P-38 which was much more tollerant of damage than either of those two and better than both in most other catagories!

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Skylark       3/27/2013 5:42:47 AM
45-Shooter wrote...
Watch the film, it very good! If the Mustang is not the best because it was subject to damage but still better than the Hellcat, what about the P-38 which was much more tolerant of damage than either of those two and better than both in most other categories!
 The P-38 was a lot like the Spitfire and Me 109, but in the opposite direction.  It was fast, it's airframe could take enormous stress, it had great range, and awesome firepower, but it was not very nimble, and if it lost an engine, it was at a great disadvantage because the remaining powerplant wasn't all that powerful.  The P-38 was also expensive to build, difficult and costly to maintain and tricky to fly.  It also had an aerodynamic flaw called compressibility that dogged the design until late in the war when a solution was finally discovered (too late to do it any good BTW) and implemented.  To some extent it's unfair to compare the lightning to other fighters because it wasn't a fighter designed to fight other fighters.  The P-38 was an interceptor designed to shoot down bombers, and in that role it did extremely well.  It also made for an excellent photo-recon aircraft, but it was not really effective, or it simply wasn't used all that much in the escort role, even though it did have the range.  Maybe it was because of cost or numbers available, a lack of good pilots, inter-service politics, the need for the P-38 to do other jobs, or operate on other theaters, but the Lightning made no significant contribution to the bombing campaign over Europe that I'm aware of.  If it did, we might not have been losing so many bombers prior to the introduction of the Mustang.  Mustang is better than Hellcat in a lot of ways, but if you were to measure every feature and put that up on a graph, the lack of damage resistance represents a huge valley.  Hellcat had no real valleys, beyond a huge rearward blindspot, but good formation tactics and the F6Fs ability to shrug off damage largely made up for that.  The Hellcat may not have sparkled like the Mustang, but it didn't have any serious warts either.  My measurement of best is also based, not simply on performance, but on unit cost, damage resistance, ease of maintenance, lack of bad habits and pilot friendliness.  It's easy to measure a great plane when it's working well and in ideal conditions.  But the true test, IMO, is when conditions are poor, pilots are fatigued, maintenance is sketchy, the plane has a lot of hours in the air and has taken some hits in combat.  That is when you measure what is great against what is good and get your answer as to which one was best.
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