Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

What Makes You Invincible in the Air?

Discussion in 'Aircraft' started by mac_bolan00, Jul 27, 2009.

  1. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2008
    Messages:
    717
    Likes Received:
    20
    for air-to-air engagement (or avoidance) what feature in an aircraft is most desireable? i said aircraft since some people might consider tinkering with invincible bombers instead of fighters.

    will you want the boost capabilities of a ta152 at high altitude and leave p-51D's behind in a cloud of blue smoke? will you want a zero's ability to brake, roll and out-turn even a swarm of hellcats at low altitude? how about the b-29's directed firing system? or is jet/rocket speed the way to go?
     
  2. marc780

    marc780 Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2008
    Messages:
    585
    Likes Received:
    55
    Lets face it every fighter of the war was trumped by the ME-262 which was at least 100 mph faster (could go about 550 mph) than any other prop driven fighter used by anybody. It was also heavily armed with 4 cannon in the nose.

    Of course the 262 came much too late to have any effect on the war. It could have been in production as early as 1943 but Hitler kept dragging his heels ( - for a long time he insisted that it be made as a BOMBER and this took awhile for him to come to his senses and approve it) .
    The ME 262 was actually one of Hitler's wonder weapons he had promised. Naturally the airplane was not perfect since it used alot of brand new jet technology. (The British and Germans seem to have simultaneously but seperately perfect jet engine technology independent of each other.) The engines used on the ME 262 had a very short service life, not even a hundred hours before they were no good anymore. Even worse, the engines could and would "flame out" if the pilot moved the throttle too quickly, (resulting in one engine or no engine operation.)

    The US P-51 pilots could of course never catch an ME-262, so they would just follow them back to their airfields and shoot them down as they landed or took off.
     
  3. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2009
    Messages:
    14,290
    Likes Received:
    2,607
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Here's a link to a local historical aircraft museum not far from my home. The have an Me-262B, which was the two seat training version. It's pretty cool. The museum is on the site of the soon-to-be-closed Willow Grove Naval Air Station/Joint Reserve Base.

    Messerschmitt 262b-1a
     
  4. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    the Mustang could catch the 262 in a flat out or diving curve, the US pilots were keen enough to find that 262 pilots due to speed variables could not turn inside sharp enough leaving them wide open for a flanker shot with .50's. I know a couple former Stang pilots that have told me this to be the case. the speed of the 262 was the essence of the swallow. other than that getting in a kill on a US heavy bomber and or an RAF BC bomber took raw skill often the "younger "pilots overshot
     
    Kai-Petri and marc780 like this.
  5. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    6,132
    Likes Received:
    898
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    I'd list the following as the major desirable things in a fighter:

    Good visibility for the pilot.

    A very quick transient response time. That is, it can transition from one maneuver to another very rapidly. This involves a high rate of roll, and good pitch up and down abilities.

    High velocity fire power that can damage or destroy intended targets in a brief burst of fire. Lower velocity slug throwing cannon are a mistake against anything except a large slow bomber.

    Sufficent protection in the form of armor and design to allow the plane to take some damage without failing.

    A decent top speed but this does not have to make the aircraft "the fastest" one flying either. More importantly, would be a high sustainable speed rather than a simple high attainable one.

    Controls that are coordinated such that the pilot can fly the plane to its limits. Many WW 2 aircraft had "coffin corners" or flaws in this respect that severely limited them in some way. A common one on many designs was very heavy alerons or other controls at high speed. This negative limited the aircraft's ability to maneuver and could be a fatal flaw in its design.
     
    Kai-Petri likes this.
  6. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,713
    Likes Received:
    1,501
    I personally would avoid chosing the Me-262, but I agree with T.A.Gardner that there are many things involved here. Unless a real aircraft "guru" contradicts my position I'll stand by it as giving the P-80 the nod between these two first production jet models (Me-262A1-a v P-80A), but not including the Gloster Meteor since I know less about its abilities.

    That said, every fighter pilot, then or now knows the way you win a dogfight is to know your own aircraft, make the other guy fight your fight.

    The P-80A was, alongside the Me-262A-1a, a comparatively heavy fighter, but it was equipped with a speed brake that helped with deceleration, which "could" help in a dogfight. It must be remembered that even though most fighter pilots prefer not to use them if they can avoid it, the P-80A had ‘em to use. Slight advantage, P-80.

    The 262 had an advantage being slightly lighter, which might give it somewhat quicker acceleration in theory, but its engines would "bomb" with quick power change input. No advantage to either aircraft in the case of "weight" slowing the acceleration.

    And like most early jets the Me-262 was a fuel hog and had very limited range. The P-80 used both internal and the standard wing-tip tanks (780 miles) and could be fitted with drop style fuel tanks (1440 miles). Advantage, P-80 in range.

    The Me-262 also had a disadvantage in that its controls were not power boosted and tended to be very stiff at higher speeds. Advantage, P-80.

    The earliest XP-80s which flew with the British Whittle engine were reliable as houses, but did not match the performance of the production P-80A Allison and GE powered models which were the engines in service in the ETO and PTO at war’s end, so if the war had lasted any longer those, not the Whittles would have remained in service. Advantage P-80 on engine reliability. BTW, one of the first P-80s sent to Great Britain for testing crashed when it was being used as a "test bed" for the new R-R "Nene" engine which would come to fame powering the MiG-15!

    Neither the Me-262 nor the P-80A were extremely capable dog-fighters, but the P-80 did have some advantages; i.e. top speed, rate of climb, and a dive/speed brake. Advantage, P-80.

    The P-80 maximum speed was 558 mph at sea level and 492 mph at 40,000 feet. Initial climb rate was 4580 feet/minute, and an altitude of 20,000 feet could be attained in 5.5 minutes. Service ceiling was 45,000 feet. The P-80A’s normal range was 780 miles, and maximum range was 1440 miles. Advantages, P-80.

    Armament is a toss up, but the cannons of the 262 were slower in cyclic rate and had a greater bullet drop rate at range. Speed of fire goes to the P-80, but hitting power goes to the Me-262. No advantage to either.

    As far as I know the Junkers Jumo engines used on the Me-262A-1a had more than one drawback, not only were they thirsty and gave the aircraft very limited range and time for combat; they would tend to explode on run-up if not approached with a "gentle hand". Both the Allison and GE/Whittle centrifugal style turbo-jets in the P-80 were less temperamental than the Jumos. Advantage, P-80.

    Plane to plane, I would think it would not be too much of a contest with equal pilots and both flying first generation examples.

    P-80 has a slight maneuverability advantage due to its straight wings.

    P-80 top speed is slightly faster at sea level. (558 v 540 miles per hour)

    P-80 range, without drop tanks is slightly greater. (780 v 652 miles)

    P-80's climb rate is almost 700 feet per min faster. (4580 v 3880 feet per minute)

    And the P-80’s service ceiling is 7,400 feet higher. (45,000 v 37,565 ft.)

    If needed, the P-80 could just climb, get to the higher altitude quicker and have all the advantages. But, we will never know since the two never met in combat. The only time they flew against each other in a "mock combat" was flawed in that the engines in the Me-262s had been modified by Watson’s Whizzers so they didn’t kill the American pilots when the engines went "ka-boom". In that contest the P-80 and Me-262 "seemed" about equal to the pilots who flew both.

    "On paper" at least the P-80 has the advantages, the Me-262’s swept wing wasn’t that big a deal at only 18 degrees of sweep. That only gave it a 5% increase in speed over the same engine/weight ratio it would have had with a straight wing, and it was still slower than the P-80A.

    (the numbers are compiled from Joe Baugher's aircraft pages)

    Equal pilots, P-80 wins, so I'm for the P-80, not the Me-262 (even though the 262 "looks cool").
     
    Half Pint likes this.
  7. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

    Joined:
    May 13, 2001
    Messages:
    14,439
    Likes Received:
    617
    Clint future designs of the 262 had a radical swept wing approach but so did other LW techie designs as well through Messers and FW as examples. always experimenting and literally getting nowhere
     
  8. brndirt1

    brndirt1 Saddle Tramp

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2008
    Messages:
    9,713
    Likes Received:
    1,501
    That is all well and good, but I was only comparing production models as they existed in reality. Not prototypes. But you are correct they were going nowhere very, very quickly.
     
  9. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2008
    Messages:
    717
    Likes Received:
    20
    are you talking about in-line firing out to 300 yards or a tight dogfight for a snap-burst inside 75 yards? i feel twin machine guns mounted on top of the cowling, right along the pilot's line of sight, was an important weapon for a ww2 fighter.

    a no-frills air-cooled radial engine could take a lot of punishment and still run.

    i was expecting you to say high speed in a dive rather than level.
     
  10. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    6,132
    Likes Received:
    898
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    Terminal diving velocity is relatively unimportant. Most aircraft would only be using this to escape a fight. What is important is the ability of the airplane to rapidly enter a dive and the initial acceleration that occurs when you do.

    On guns, what you need is a sufficently large battery of relatively fast firing guns in the .50 to 20mm range that can saw an opponet apart in a matter of a couple of seconds worth of firing. A couple of guns placed in the cowling by themselves are next to worthless compared to a wing full of guns that literally fill the sky with lead. This was a major shortcoming of the Me 109F along with most Italian and IJA fighters. A few closely grouped guns is fine for the rare ace pilot but won't cut it for the average pilot.
    One interesting thing the USN did with their aircraft was demand that the pilot be able to execute deflection shots below the front of the aircraft. That is, they wanted a pilot to be able to see a target ahead and slighly below the fighter's line of flight.
    Why was this important? Because as the leading user of deflection shooting in 1940 the USN had trained their pilots to make high and low side collision course interceptions of bombers and this required them to be able to see their target in this condition.
     
  11. b0ned0me

    b0ned0me Member

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2009
    Messages:
    39
    Likes Received:
    4
    Having them in plentiful supply, with a competent pilot in each one. Even with relatively average planes you can grind out a victory if you can easily replace your losses and the other side can't. Pretty harsh on the poor SOBs who have to fly the things, though.
     
  12. Sentinel

    Sentinel Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    47
    I'd like to know a bit more about the B-29's defences. I've read a couple of books about the aircraft, but they don't go into any great detail about how the guns were actually aimed.

    I'd assume that the gunners would try to plot the location of the target, and some sort of analog computer would direct the guns automatically. But how effective was this system? Did it adequately compensate for parallax errors, and could it rapidly switch between different gunners as enemy fighters crossed the sky? Could it fire effectively straight ahead, when the gunners' vision might be blocked by the fuselage?

    If anyone could provide a link to details of the B-29 targeting system, I'd be very grateful.
     
  13. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2003
    Messages:
    6,132
    Likes Received:
    898
    Location:
    Phoenix Arizona
    I've explained this on another board. But here it is:

    The B-29 system uses a combination of gyroscopic gunsights at each gunner station (the glass bubbles on the top, sides, and bottom of the aircraft. These are tied to a central analog electro-mechanical fire control computer system that calculates the input from the gyrogunsight and corrects for deflection and parallax error in position (the difference between where the gunsight is and the turret as each has a differenct line of sight to the target). The gunner can select which turret(s) he controls and have those selected track and fire on a target on his command.
    The gyrogunsight helps alot as it computes deflection and lead for the target compensating for the speed of both aircraft automatically. Range is determined manually by the gunner and input based on the size of the aiming circle and estimated size of the target.
    So, the system works alot like the fire control system on a large ship like a cruiser or battleship would.
    The tail gunner is not tied to this system. He has a gyroscopic sight for his guns and, in some cases a ranging radar set as well. He simply aims his guns using the sight which compensates for deflection and range to give the proper lead.

    This makes the B-29's defensive systems not only the most advanced in the world at the time but also the most effective. The Luftwaffe's RLM asked for something similar in the Bomber A and B programs but German aircraft manufacturers were unable to get their systems to work. A big failure of their systems was in not having the fire control computer to adjust for parallax errors. The Germans tried instead to mount the sights and guns very closely together or right together which kind of negated the need for a remote control system.
    Convair tried to develop a similar system for their B-32 but was unable to get theirs to work. The late war A-26 Invader had a remote system similar to the B-29's but somewhat simpler as the turrets were all controlled from one station so the parallax problem was solved by mechanical means rather than computation.
     
  14. Kruska

    Kruska Member

    Joined:
    Aug 17, 2008
    Messages:
    1,866
    Likes Received:
    190
    Actually you are comparing a "going to be good jet" against an existing jet with known disadvantages due to material issues.

    Since the other side loves to bring up the matter in regards to engine reliability of the 262 let me check on the YP-80.

    Of the four that were brought to Europe, one exploded in midflight and a second one had to go into an emergency landing due to its engine. The other two were grounded due to this.

    The main problem on all German stuff from 1943 onward was inferior material - and this was not due to the Germans not being able to recognize this or constructive faults but due to material shortage.

    Even a P-80 in 1948 did not outclass an 262 with reliable engines. Actually the advantage of the 262 having 2 engines would already have paid of. the more powerfull P-80 version due to the J33A-23 did not enter service before 1949.

    Since there are no recorded datas of a 262 being tested against a YP-80 in a test combat flight the YP-80 data is paper data, since the YP-80 was not recorded under stress in actuall combat with a 262.

    And in 1946 the P-80 would have faced the P.1101 amongst improved 262's.

    Is there mock combat data available between the P-80 in 1946 and the FB 1 Vampire or Meteor F 4.?

    Regards
    Kruska
     
  15. mac_bolan00

    mac_bolan00 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2008
    Messages:
    717
    Likes Received:
    20
    one more feature i'd like to add is a fighter's ease of handling, especially during the training phase. it matters little for the shiden kai to be able to take on a p-51d at low- to medium-altitude if too many new pilots die during training. even experienced piiots who were used to the zero's sure touch hated the shiden.

    other planes not too friendly with inexperienced pilots were the me-262 (take-off was already an ordeal,) the japanese raiden, the fw 190-d, and even the p-51d (unstable past 400 mph.)
     
  16. Sentinel

    Sentinel Member

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    365
    Likes Received:
    47
    Thanks for that information. I've read a bit about battleship fire control systems, so I think I get the idea.
     

Share This Page