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Fastest prop plane of the war

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by Hummel, Oct 23, 2014.

  1. Hummel

    Hummel Member

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    Greetings friends!
    I've had this question posed to me on another forum. For a long time I've been of the mind that at 525mph in a redlined dive the P-39 was the fastest single-engine, purely propeller driven aircraft of the war. Is that correct? And, this of course begs the question, what about mutli-engine ships (I love that in WWII they called their planes "ships" -- so cool to my mind)? Was the ME-110 the fastest? Mosquito?
    I've tried digging through testers' trials and only came up with solid data on the P-47 in its earliest trials before they added that big ol' paddle propeller. What about the FW-190 (the one with the huge engine onboard)?
    Thank you.
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Bearcat
     
  3. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    The BC was pretty, not sure it made WW2 in order to qualify. I'll go with the Jug for single engine, and Lightning for twin..
     
  4. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    At what altitude was the P-39 OK'd to dive at 525?

    The British Tempest V was good for 540 IAS below 10,000 feet.

    The P-47 was permitted to go to 550 IAS with recovery tabs.

    P-51 pilot Walter Konantz reported a dive speed of 600mph as he chased a Me-109 in a vertical dive.

    In dive testing, a Spitfire IX reached 606mph(Mach .891), this same aircraft flown by a different pilot later went to Mach .92 before the propeller & reduction gear were torn from the plane and the wings were swept slightly back - the airframe was written off.

    Of course, there always is the true air speed and indicated air speed to contend with...
     
  5. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Which aircraft first discovered that there may be a speed barrier?...Heard it was the Lightning in a dive. Think I read that in a Pop Mech book from the late 40's.
     
  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Member

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    I agree. P-47M Sprint could do 475 MPH The last production series of the P-38L could make about 455 MPH The Do335 could play in that league but there were very few of them. Some of the late versions of Griffon powered Spitfires were very fast too.

    Edit:

    After seeing Takao's info I'll qualify mine with 'in level flight'
     
  7. TiredOldSoldier

    TiredOldSoldier Ace

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    For single engined racers we should look at the 2000Hp class planes, The Ta 152H1 was credited wit 472 Mph in level flight at 41.000ft when using methanol injection. Figures I have for the Do 335 look a lot lower though the plane had plenty of HPs and a small cross section, The Me 109K4 is credited with 452 at 19.600 feet despite it using "only" a DB605, the limit with the 109 was that it's very small airframe allowed for limited armament or engine upgrades until wing loading became too high for a useful fighter. I don't think we will find any racers in Japan as they usually went for manouverability and low wing loading, had the Nakajima Ki87 made it to production it might be a contender. IIRC there were no Italian or French front line fighters in the 2000hp class so not likely to find racers there, Sabre or Centaurus engined fighters are a possibility, Tempest and Fury were pretty fast though the Fury, like the Bearcat, probably doesn't qualify as WW2. The soviet usually went for small and moderately powered, though the La 7 achieved a respectable 430Mph. I think most fighters could do a lot better in a powered dive, the problem is if they would be able to survive it.
     
  8. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    The LA 9 was fast but i think again just after the war...i do seem to remember a number of LA 7S? Stripped down and uprated engines to act as bomber interceptors...
     
  9. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    The Hawker Fury 2nd prototype re-engined with a Napier Sabre MkVII made 483 mph in level flight sometime between November 1944 and July 1945....but one forgotten contender is the Supermarine Spiteful, the beautifully cleanlined Spitfire successor, which FMk14 version, the Griffon 69-engined version, also made 483 mph, and "sort of" made series production with 16 built! :)

    One OTHER major issue with a straight comparison with types is that often speeds reached during prototype testing are without major chunks of weight - like guns, ammunition, pilot armour etc. - also in pre- and early-war aircraft often the radios were left out in top speed-setting attempts!
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Absolutely right - which is why the Mosquito Prototype is officially the fastest Mosquito flown.
     
  11. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    After a quick look in: German, Italian, Japanese Fighters of WW2 by Bill Gunston- the fastest Axis fighters were:
    FW 190 listed as 472
    Bf109 428
    And: Allied Fighters Of WW2 also by Bill Gunston:

    Great Britain:
    Tempest Vl - 438
    Typhoon - 412
    Spitfire - 451

    USSR:
    LA-7 -423
    MIG-7 -440
    YAK-3 -447
    YAK-9 -435

    US:
    P39 (weird )how it may hold a diving record?
    - 380
    P63 - 410
    Tigercat (twin engine)
    - 427
    P38 (twin) - 414
    P51 - 465
    P47 -470
    F4U - 462

    Understanding that the top speeds are for production planes in level flight at optimal altitude.
    Do things change when tipped over into a redline dive?
    Again, wonder which craft was the first production WW2 fighter to encounter the sound barrier and the loss of controls.
    Sticking with the Jug or Lightning. Simply because have not read any accounts other than those described by the USAAF. Surely Germany knew there were issues once speeds hit critical. They developed the sweep wing because, no?
     
  12. Dave55

    Dave55 Member

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    Hi Poppy.

    It's all about versions of those planes. The 109K could make over 450 as TiredOldSolider pointed out. The N and M P-47 were also super fast as were some of the last Spit Marks, although some of the fastest were postwar

    That 414 MPH number for the P-38 has been copied and published in so many places that it kind of makes me roll my eyes when I see it in books and web sites since there were so many versions of the plane.

    The Bearcat's game was climb and acceleration but it was still very fast, just not as fast as some of the others, at least in military form. Postwar the P-82 (F-82) might have been the fastest of all the production prop jobs. The P-51K was no slouch either :)
     
  13. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Pilots and designers knew about the speed problem fairly early on....many dog fights resulted in the prey diving, and plenty of pilots followed...pulling up was harder than expected as the control surfaces began to become heavy, sluggish and stick...the bent back wings resulting from some of these dives pointed quite literally to the solution....
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    IIRC, the "fastest of the fast" of the piston engined WW2 era aircraft was the Republic XP-47J which turned in a straight and level speed of 505mph at 34,500 feet.
    The caveat being that the aircraft was never flew in combat
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I'm not sure about WW2 aircraft, but the theories of 'compressability' and transonic flight came to the fore in both the USA and Germany during the mid-1930s, following study of problems encountered during the Schneider Trophy races.
     
  16. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Unless the planes were flown by the same agency and perhaps even the same pilot aren't there problems with determing whether or not the defintion of "top speed" is the same?. I.e. some may consider top speed at the "red line" others some increment past it. Then there's the question of how good the mechanic is that "tuned" the engine and whether or not he knew they wanted to make a high speed test. I suspect these could account for a few miles/hr and perhaps a few 10's of miles/hr.
     
  17. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    There is also the issue of how the aircraft was loaded for the test. Published top speeds were seldom flown at typical combat weight, i.e. full fuel load, weapons and ordnance.
     
  18. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large

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    And in the case of the Japanese, the octane of the fuel. Post war tests of Japanese aircraft using US high octane fuel gave significantly higher speeds.
     
  19. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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  20. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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