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Effectiveness of building a true night fighters

Discussion in 'Axis Fighter Planes' started by Zach gibson, May 23, 2018.

  1. Zach gibson

    Zach gibson New Member

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    Since night fighters mainly consisted of day fighters converted into night fighters by mounting a radar into them and then building a heavy fighter frame like the HE-219 near the end of the war, what would the axis gain by building a fighter plane that could be a true night fighter during the beginning of WW2 that would act like a regular fighter like the 109 or zero
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Im not sure there is such a thing as a "night fighter" as in dog fights with other fighters...these should instead be called bomber killers. Ask yourself what does a night bomber killer need that a day bomber killer doesn't? - Dark (but not black)paint? Exhaust shrouds? Slightly modified canopy so cockpit lights aren't seen? - In some instances the aircraft can position itself into places it couldn't during daylight, so something like "stragmusic" (terrible spelling) could be adopted...I would say only countries with a big industry and money to burn would bother with a dedicated night fighter...a few modifications and any fighter/aircraft could be used IMO.
     
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  3. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    I've read about this a few times, how the Germans and British used Day fighters, or failed day fighters to fight at night because neither side wanted to put time or resources into building a pure bred night fighter in the beginning of the war. The Germans and Americans were the only nations that attempted to build true "night fighters" The P-61 Black Widow, and the He-219. As CAC mentioned, none of the aircraft were intended to fight other night fighters. The Germans used Night fighters to attack RAF Bombers and other Night interdiction aircraft such as Mosquitos and Lysanders. The Allies used night fighters in Europe initially to fight the Blitz in 1940 and 1941 attacking German bomber flights, later in the war night fighters circeld German airfields waiting for other night fighters to land or take off, shooting them down before they new what hit them. In the Pacific, the Allies used Night Fighters to protect Fleets, and invasion areas such as Okinawa, and the Philippines. I don't know a whole lot about Japanese night activity, but engagements at night did happen.
     
  4. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Most German night fighters were converted bombers, such as the DO 17 and JU 88. The only day fighter to have radar was the twin engine ME 110. The reason for that was the addition of all the radars, guns, etc weighed quite a bit and no regular day fighter could carry all that, plus the extra crewman or two. There would be no advantage to a nimble night fighter if it couldn't find the bombers. The only time single engine day fighters were used successfully was in the German "wild sow" missions carried out by FW 190s and they needed certain special conditions in order to be effective.
     
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  5. Pacifist

    Pacifist Active Member

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    There are multiple issues with using a 109 or zero as a night fighter. Both fighters prize speed and agility which result in reduced firepower and only a single occupant.

    The greatest problem for night fighters it finding your opponent. Which requires radar. Which in turn requires a radar operator. The operator is also responsible for guiding the aircraft to bomber streams that were detected by land based radar. As well as constantly navigating so that you can find your landing strip in a country that is completely blacked out.
     
  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    What made an aircraft a good night fighter was more about the electronics and capacity for development than the air frame.

    The Mosquito was a very good night fighter with ample fire power endurance and speed. The design was two years earlier than the P61 - but was a classic design and used effectively in many roles and improved over time from the FII (366mph @21k) to the NFMk 30 426mph @26k

    The P61 had the ability to engage an enemy with oblique fire. The physical separation of pilot and radar operator seems to have caused some problems with pilots staying with crippled aircraft.

    There were fly offs between the P61 and Mosquito and accusations that the mosquito was flown below its best to ensure that Americans did not take more of the in demand Mosquito I suspect there wasn't much difference between the effectiveness of these two aircraft.
     
  7. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    To build a good night fighter you needed radar that wasn't available at the start of the war. So any night fighter designed specifically as such at that time likely wouldn't have had the capacity for the required radar. Given the advantages of several crewmen and such converted fast bombers may well have worked out better than purpose designed fighters at least until some significant experience was accumulated.
     
  8. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Personally for night fighters the Jazz Musik versions were deadly. And for day time the the Fw 190's with armored glasses to make frontal attack with explosive ammo were the most effective ones to make hitsin the cockpit were most feared I think.
     
  9. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    I don't know if heavy fighters or converted bombers are necessary, although giving the conditions facing Germany and Japan, they probably were.

    You see, no one has yet mentioned the success that the US Navy had with the F6F-3N, F6F-5N, and to a lesser extent, the F4U-2(IIRC, the F4U-4N & F4U-5N did not see combat during WW2). However, these single engine fighters did operate, at least in the beginning, in groups of threes - two night fighters and one RADAR-equipped Avenger bomber as a scout. Further, complicating matters was that they also were controlled by well-trained FDOs - which I believe that the Germans & Japanese were lacking.

    Still, I doubt that there would be much, if any, savings considering you would likely be operating the fighters in pairs or as a threesome with a light bomber.


    Also, the Japanese tried to turn the A6M into a night fighter with an up-angled cannon just aft of, or in, the cockpit, but they met with little success, and was produced in very few numbers.
     
  10. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Are heavy fighters or bombers necessary? I agree that they aren't for the Allied powers, but using heavy fighters, light bombers, and even obsolete or under performing aircraft instead of top of the line fighters is prudent. If losses are incurred, you aren't losing important fighters, you're losing less important expendable aircraft. The Axis powers definitely made the smart choice in mostly using bombers and heavy fighters for night fighting so they didn't waste precious fighters and pilots.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    If you are resource limited which the Axis powers certainly were then using the more limiting resources inefficiently is a waste. How many bombers did the allies actually loose to night fighters? How much fuel did they burn up in the process. Since sighting was an important part of the night battle having extra eyes like bombers and some heavy fighters had was a plus. Even more of a plus would have been cm wave radar but the Axis didn't have that. If you do have it a dedicated radar operator is also a plus. That suggest at least a 2 man crew for a night fighter to me.
     
  12. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Whoa there.

    Who says that a night fighter air crew are less skilled or cheaper than a single engine fighter jock?

    An Me110 or ju88 might be an obsolescent as day fighters, but when fitted with air to air AI radar and ECM would have cost a lot more than a single engined fighter. The R&D investment into radars and EW was huge, and the night fighters were where these were deployed. It took longer to train a good multi engine all weather pilot - let alone the radar operator.

    Who says that the night battle was less important than the day battle?

    I met a man who flew on the Dresden raid.Someone asked him why that raid caused so much damage. He said it was an easy raid. There was no opposition that night. The RAF night bomber offensive was trashing city after city. Untroubled by night fighters the RAF would have done far more damage. Bomber Command was a dangerous assignment. some 50,000 aircrew died and someone shot them down. They include 100 kill experten.
     
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  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    In the case of Germany, both the Night and Day battles were equally important, if the allies only raided in the day, or in the night, then the Germans could have focused on fighting just in the day, or just in the night, instead they had to divide their resources to fight both. Even if the night fighters were considerably more successful than the day fighters, the daylight bombing continues. What you might be capable at defending at night, you might not be capable of defending during the day, which in my opinion proves that Day and night were of equal importance. The Germans knew they couldn't stop both, or even one, they tried to take down as many allied aircraft as possible to try and convince the allies to not make night, or day raids, to break the spirit of the airmen. I personally would put more time into day fighters because you can see the enemy without radar, and you're almost guaranteed to shoot down at least a few in daylight.
     
  14. harolds

    harolds Member

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    The night bombing had effect that most people don't realize. It physically wore down the German population by depriving workers of sleep. Usually the target city wasn't determined until the raiders were well into German airspace. By then, there could be several cities that had people running for the shelters. The British exacerbated this by flying spoof raids with Mosquitoes to other cities.
     
  15. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Well I guess you have one of two choices, In daylight you have more accurate bombing results and heavy losses for both sides (losses the Axis can't take), at night you have less accurate bombing, fewer losses, and more of psychological impact on the enemy. I don't see how the psychological warfare at night is any more damaging than during the day. At night you might not know if you're city is being hit, and the idea of being obliterated in your sleep is unsettling, during the day, you have as good a chance of being killed on the streets in broad daylight as you do at night, and having to constantly duck in and out of cover is exhausting mentally. Unless you can provide me eyewitness accounts and journal entries of German citizens saying night bombing is more terrifying, I'm not convinced the psychological trauma is all that much different.
     
  16. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Sleep deprivation was a very real and persistent problem for German workers and for the population as a whole. Trying to do good work when you're exhausted is pretty hard. Read "Berlin At War" by Roger Moorhouse for a good description of what constant bombing can do.

    I'm not sure that the idea that British bombing was all that poor in the second half of the war. It was horrible in the early years but got better as the war went on. In some of the tactical bombing in Normandy, the British bombers were as accurate, if not more so than American heavy bombers.
     
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  17. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the book suggestion, I'll have to read it some time, I think the Psychological effect of Day and Night bombing should be a separate thread??
     
  18. harolds

    harolds Member

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    But of course! We never, never, ever go off topic here, right?
     
  19. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Us?! Off topic, I scoff at such an idea, we are among the most focused people on this planet!! :D
     
  20. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Yes, no group of people on earth are as focused on going off of the rails as we are...Well, except maybe that one group I used to game with.
     
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