Military History | How To Make War | Wars Around the World Rules of Use How to Behave on an Internet Forum
Fighters, Bombers and Recon Discussion Board
   Return to Topic Page
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.)
Quote    Reply

Show Only Poster Name and Title     Newest to Oldest
oldbutnotwise       3/28/2013 11:29:01 AM
The US didnt have a long range night fighter until the p61, it used Mosquitos and Beaufighters
A single seater was completely impractical for long range night fighting, the Spit was used as an adhoc night fighter during the blitz (but few in number the Hurricane was mused more widely but pretty much proved that a single seat night fighter was impractical with early war technology
Quote    Reply

Maratabc       3/28/2013 11:34:40 AM
The US Navy used Avengers and Hellcats as night hunter teams 1944. The USAAF used A-20s in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea in 1943.
It was not ideal, but it worked for them as well as the Ju-88 worked for the Germans. 
Quote    Reply

Reactive       3/28/2013 12:02:03 PM
I'm with Skylark here, Hellcat then Mustang and after those it's hard to choose between Spitfires, FW-190's and 109's - as has already pointed out it wasn't necessarily dogfighting agility that was of primary importance given that most kills came rapidly and unseen from behind, rather it was persistence (range), airspeed, ruggedness and rate of dive that enabled less-agile airframes to decimate their Japanese and German opponents. Being able to evade an opponent through diving was a reliable tactic that was more straightforward to achieve for an average pilot than the equivalent hard-turning maneuvers employed by the more agile platforms. The F6F and P-51 were, in the round, superior design choices and really the statistics and results demonstrate this better than any other arguments.
Quote    Reply

45-Shooter       3/28/2013 5:07:38 PM

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 nimbleIt depends on how you define the word "Nimble". It coule easily our roll any Spitfire, but that is not saying much. But it could also out roll the 109 at higher speeds and that was something. and if it lost an engineIT STILL HAD ONE LEFT. it was at a great disadvantage because the remaining powerplant wasn't all that powerful. True, but one running was infinetly better than none running which is the case with all single engined planes when the engine quits for what ever reason!  The P-38 was also expensive to buildTrue, but if that was all that important, why build any of the more expencive fighter planes to this day? difficult and costly to maintain and tricky to flyNot the least bit "tricky" to fly, but yes it was difficult to "Manage"! They are not the same thing. 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. All aircraft that are not designed with trans-super sonic flight formost have all of these problems! Even the Spitfire, which is wrongly regarded as the fastest diver of the lot. The P-38 was so much faster than the rest that it encountered this fenomonyn before them. 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.
Most of this logic is much better than most here! The only defect is that the F-6 was not upto fighting over land held by the enemy in Europe where fighter design advanced so much more than in the PTO.

Quote    Reply

45-Shooter       3/28/2013 5:22:24 PM

The P-38...
Was great, was it not?
No, good certainly but not great
Difficult plane to fly until power assist was added (P-38J 1943), which the FW-190 had from the start. The Fw-190 never had power assist! Ever in any model at any time!
But delayed introduction by 18 months, the Luftwaffe pilot would have prefered a system similar to that in the 109 and the plane a year earlier
No, it was not difficult to fly,
Thats NOT what test reports say A link to said reports would be nice, because everything I've read states otherwise. I suspect you can not differentiate between flight controls and engine management?
 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.
so thats why they went to power control to DECREASE the sensitivity of the control I did wonder
No, the went to power boosted ailerons to beat the Fw-190 in rate of roll. 
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.
You mean that  british invention that was given to the US and then prevent from returning Yes, but that was news to me! But I thought the all moving Stab was invented before WW-I? Yes, the more I think on it, I am absolutely positive that is true! Before WW-I!
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!)
actually wrong
In what way? The P-47 was a faster diver than almost all the rest and the P-38 was much faster than that! 
 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.
bull the P38 was terrible roller and even worse turner This is a silly and under defined statement as the P-38 could turn inside of all other monoplane fighters in service in WW-II at low speeds! Bar none! So please state the conditions under which your comments apply!
 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.
  only in your dreams fanboy
With boosted ailerons, it was much faster and quicker, (Not the same thing!) than the best Fw-190 in both instatainious and sustained rate of roll at high speeds!! Rate of roll was something that was not considered that important early in the war in Europe, but not in America. Post the instantainious and sustained rates of roll for the UN-CLIPPED Spitfire, Hurricane, D-520 and Me-109, if you want to dispute this point!

Quote    Reply

45-Shooter       3/28/2013 5:36:34 PM

What about the German who spent his entire career on the Western Front and racked up 152 Victories against the French, British and Americans?
 have you seen how many Eastern front expertern wher lost after transfering back to the west? he Hartman failed to score ANY kills during his time in the West, go back and read your Spick books
Note how he failes to answer the question! Then he sidetracks the argument with a lie, that "Hartmann never scored in the west". Finnally he dodges with re-read Spick's books, ALL with out addressing the initial question! "How did at least one German Ace rack up 152 kills against the Americans, British and French on the Western Front exclusively?"
The Ruskies shot down more Germans than the RAF.
I dont think you get the fact that the combat enviroments were different, I am not supprised you have repeated shown an inability to grasp anything complex
Once again, he ignores embarassing facts, like the Reds shot down more Germans than the RAF and tries to deflect the truth of it all by niggeling the "Conditions"! Right!
I can live with that and like that idea most of all!
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!
and look what happen when you make a fighter that only ones one thing well against one that is good enough in all areas
So, the Me-109 was great because it did nothing well and still scored more Victories than any other type? 
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.
what that they prefered 2x 20mm wing cannons to the 1x20mm nose gun? is that the commet you object to?
Yepper! Like you never posting the quotes that state some of the pilots liked the results such as quicker rate of roll and less weight over all! 

Quote    Reply

45-Shooter    Thank you for posting the Galland interview!   3/28/2013 6:00:11 PM

About those 107 German aces who were not defeated." target="_blank">
Thank you for posting the Galland interview!

WWII: Describe the first time you were shot down, General.

Galland: This was on June 21, 1941, when JG.26 was stationed at Pas de Calais. We had attacked some >>.="" net="" blenheim4.htm?="" techs="">" target="_blank">Bristol Blenheim bombers and I shot down two, but some >>.="" net="" techs="" spitfire1.htm?="">" target="_blank">Supermarine Spitfires were on me and they shot my plane up. I had to belly-land in a field until picked up later, and I went on another mission after lunch. On this mission I shot down number 70, but I did something stupid. I was following the burning Spitfire down when I was bounced and shot up badly. My plane was on fire, and I was wounded. I tried to bail out, but the canopy was jammed shut from enemy bullets. So I tried to stand in the cockpit, forcing the canopy open with my back as the plane screamed toward earth. I had opened it and almost cleared the 109 when my parachute harness became entangled on the radio aerial. I fought it with everything I had until I finally broke free, my parachute opening just as I hit the ground. I was bleeding from my head and arm, plus I had damaged my ankle on landing. I was taken to safety by some Frenchmen.

WWII: You survived being shot down twice in one day. How did it affect you?

Galland: I was worried that my wounds might ground me for a long time--that was my greatest concern, not to mention I had lost two airplanes.


Defeated twice.
Yes, true! But how many wins did he score between each of his three, or was it four losses all together?
How many killed and captured that did not return to the fight?

Quote    Reply

45-Shooter    Thank you for posting the Galland interview!   3/28/2013 6:39:55 PM

Shooter said: "

The RAF did have need of more range from the Spitfire and each new model had more than the last ."
The first part of that sentence is true, the second part is patently false.
Not if you convert the new placard ranges to the same conditions as the older planes. For instance to get to 400 miles, one of the early models, exact type which escapes me now, had to cruise at 190 MPH, lean mix and 5,000' Alititude! Later planes placard ranges were at higher speeds altitudes and rich mixture, so yes the newer planes had longer ranges than the older planes!
Shooter said:
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."

Neither Germany in the Battle of Britain or the RAF in the cross-channel battles lost the fight because of a lack of range.
Then how do you account for esentually similar planes on both sides to have such a huge disparity in success flying essentually identical missions over the Channel?

Germany lost the BoB because it made several stupid decisions True! and came up against something it simply wasn't perpared for or structured to defeat: an equal opponent operating an integrated air defence network based around the principle of minimum risk for maximum return.


The RAF got thumped in the cross-Channel battles in 1941/1942 because it ran up against a similarly good air defence network, The RAF offensive strategy was also poorly though out and even more poorly executed than the German's strategy in the BoB.
Shooter, on your claims regarding the relative speeds of the Spitfire Mk XIV and the P-51, you're mistaken, or perhaps confusing your Spitfire marks.
Based on RAF testing, the Mk XIV had a speed range of 436 to 446 mph at 28,000 ft. The P-51, based on US testing, had a speed range of 420 to 438 mph, giving the Mk XIV a narrow advantage.  
There were several variants of each plane and by and large, model for model in wide spead service at the time, IE number made and in service, the Mustang was substantially faster than the Spitfire. The first, Allison engined Mustang was a 390 MPH flier comp'd to all of the slower Early Spits until the Mk-IX witch was good for 408 MPH, by then the Merlin Mustangs were out and they were 440 MPH planes, until the D Model which was a 437 MPH plane. The Mk-XIV had a very long gestation between it's first flight and true squadron service as defined by it's first Victory. It was a 448 MPH plane as long as only two 20s were installed in the wings. But by then the P-51H was out and it was a 487 MPH plane, although it was too late in shipping to see service at all, it did not have any defects like the Mk-XIV Spitfire to delay it's entry into service. Furthermore, the speed I was using was the cruising speed as it is the factor that most reflects combat effectiveness.

At 35,000 ft, the case is similar. The Spitfire has a speed range of 432 to 440 mph, based of five tests, while the P-51 has a speed range of 410 to 435 mph, again, giving a minor advantage to the Spitfire XIV.
Why not comp the Mk-XIV with four 20s against the similar restricted vission Mustang B/C which were 440 MPH planes with ranges twice to three times that of the Mk-XIV Spit? What about all of the 18,000 other Merlin engined Spitfires that were much slower than the roughly 1,050 Mk-XIVs? Or Comp the Mk-XIV to the P-51H, 555 made? The Mk-XIV was a terrible plane when it first came out. It was directionally unstable, exibiting "Snaking" and "poor lateral stability" that took a long time to work out. Over one year between first flight and first Victory, IIRC.

Quote    Reply

45-Shooter    Part two!   3/28/2013 6:46:37 PM

Shooter, on your claims regarding the relative speeds of the Spitfire Mk XIV and the P-51, you're mistaken, or perhaps confusing your Spitfire marks.

Based on RAF testing, the Mk XIV had a speed range of 436 to 446 mph at 28,000 ft. The P-51, based on US testing, had a speed range of 420 to 438 mph, giving the Mk XIV a narrow advantage.  
Why not Comp it against the P-38 at WEP, giving 447MPH?

At 35,000 ft, the case is similar. The Spitfire has a speed range of 432 to 440 mph, based of five tests, while the P-51 has a speed range of 410 to 435 mph, again, giving a minor advantage to the Spitfire XIV.
Why not post the speeds at which the two planes could fly 400 miles with enough fuel in reserve for 15 minutes of combat? This is a much truer measure of speed than the "Top" speed which was almost never seen in service, if dives were precluded before hand!


The P-51 was faster than the Mk VIII/IX by 20-30 mph at all heights, with broadly the same power.
How much faster was the P-47N than the Mk-XIV Spitfire?

Quote    Reply

45-Shooter    Part two!   3/28/2013 7:11:29 PM

    Shooter said:
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!
Again, simply untrue. The AFDU tests of the Spitfire XIV vs the Mustang III (faster and lighter than the later P-51D), state:
What about the Spit Mk-IX?
Rate of roll: "Advantage tends to be with the Spitfire XIV" Not acording to Captain Eric Brown as stated below.
Quote "Expert opinions

Chief Naval Test Pilot and C.O. Captured Enemy Aircraft Flight Capt. Eric Brown, CBE, DSC, AFC, RN, tested the Mustang at RAE Farnborough in March 1944, and noted, "The Mustang was a good fighter and the best escort due to its incredible range, make no mistake about it. It was also the best American dogfighter. But the laminar flow wing fitted to the Mustang could be a little tricky. It could not by no means out-turn a Spitfire [sic]. No way. It had a good rate-of-roll, better than the Spitfire, so I would say the plusses to the Spitfire and the Mustang just about equate. If I were in a dogfight, I'd prefer to be flying the Spitfire. The problem was I wouldn't like to be in a dogfight near Berlin, because I could never get home to Britain in a Spitfire!"[36]

Kurt Bühligen, the third-highest scoring German fighter pilot of the Second World War on the Western Front (with 112 confirmed victories, three against were Mustangs),[37] later stated, "We would out-turn the P-51 and the other American fighters, with the [Bf] '109' or the [FW] '190'. Their turn rate was about the same. The P-51 was faster than us but our munitions and cannon were better."[38]"

Climb:The Spitfire XIV is very much better.
What about the Spit Mk-IX?


And, vs the Mk IX


Turn: The Mustang is always out-turned by the Spitfire IX.
I never claimed that the 'stang could turn with the Spit, ever!
Rote of roll: The Mustang III cannot roll as
quickly as the Spitfire IX at normal speeds. The ailerons stiffen up
only slightly at high speeds and the rates of roll become the same at
about 400mph.
See above quote by Eric Brown.

Climb: The Mustang III has a considerably lower rate of climb at full power at all heights.
What were the figures if the Spit was equiped with the full slipper tank to have 1/2 of the Mustang's range?

comparative tests between Spitfires and P-51s of all stripes by both
air forces found that the Spitfire had significant advantages in turn
and climb, an advantage in rate of roll until around 350 mph, but was
deficient in speed compared to the US aircraft, particularly at lower
level. The Mustang's other advantages its better dive acceleration and zoom climb and better control harmonisation.
When they mention lower level, this tends to indicate the early Allison engined 'stang.
    On a more general note:  

you would be doing the forum and yourself a significant favour if
before you put fingers to keyboard, you did a bit of research and
reading. Please make sure you can back up every point you argue with factually accurate information.
Thank you, sincerely! I mean it. But I could point to you above where you fail to indicate which Mustangs were under test and under what conditions, all of which make a very large differance. When you comp the late war Mk-XIV Spitfire, a plane with a remarkably bland carreer, with the B/C Mod Mustang that precedded it into wide spread and effective service, why not comp it to the other contemoraries and equipped with enough fuel to at least come close in range and both 20 mm cannons in EACH wing? Then the debate would be better defined. Or perhaps limit the debate to planes that actually shot down some minimum number of enemy planes, say at least 500-1000?
Quote    Reply