Quantity Not Quality Fighters

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T. A. Gardner
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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by T. A. Gardner » 16 Feb 2021 00:19

Peter89 wrote:
15 Feb 2021 18:32
I think you are right about the SAM project, but it was also unlikely given that the population as well as the decision makers were fascinated by the idea of revenge instead of the effective defense. So the most resources and best minds went to the Vergeltungswaffe programs instead of the SAM programs. If there was any in an advanced stage?

I am not familiar with any German SAM projects, so if you can help me out with that, I'd really appreciate it :milsmile:
The Germans had about a half-dozen SAMs in development. I'll list them with a few comments.

Wasserfall. This was the only supersonic one and was based on the V-2 / A-4. While some test shots were made, and at least a few were tried with joystick CLOS control, US and Russian postwar testing of this missile proved it was a really poor basis for a SAM. It is unlikely that it would have worked any better for the Germans with further development.

Hs 117 Schmetterling. This is approximately an equivalent to the USN Gorgon missile program in development. Schmetterling was really too small to be a workable SAM at the time. Its size limited the range, warhead size, and room for a guidance system. There was consideration for using it as a large AAM from nightfighters but this never materialized. As a note, the USN in late 1944 fired a Gorgon III using CLOS guidance via a television link in the missile at an airborne target off Cape May, NJ, the first such test anywhere, and found that it was impossible to control the missile accurately using such a system as hand-eye coordination was too slow to deal with the closing speed of the missile. So, the German version would have needed something better than CLOS to work.

FR 1- 5 Enzian. This Messerschmitt design was based on the Me 163 airframe but much smaller. It had the advantage of having a large warhead (500 kg) that would have made it useful with command detonation in the lack of a working VT fuze. The USN Little Joe missile is a rough analogy. The limited range of Enzian would have made it marginally useful though.

Rheintochter R I and III. The Rheinmetall-Borsig entry. A two stage fairly large SAM with nose guidance by small airfoils. Of all the designs the Germans had this one came the closest to a workable missile. The biggest issue with it was once again limited range and altitude (20 to 27,000 feet or barely enough to reach US bombers).

A sort of honorable mention is the F25 Feuerlilie. This was a sounding rocket / missile that the developers mislabeled as a SAM to get funding for their research. It was never really intended to be a SAM.

The biggest drawback the Germans had was in guidance. They envisioned a number of systems but none of these actually materialized or were tested with the missiles they had.

Image

This one for Wasserfall is often used. It shows a system akin to the optical guidance system used with the SA-2 in Vietnam when that system faced heavy jamming. SA-2 using a similar system had about a 1 to 2% success rate. It is another indication that manual control of the missile to guide it to the target was really an unworkable solution at the time.

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Feb 2021 02:04

KDF33 wrote: The Germans most definitely anticipated a war of attrition - with the Anglo-Americans. The failure to quickly defeat the Soviet Union meant that they could never reorient their efforts toward fighting that war, and thus doomed them to defeat.
Agreed but with an important caveat: Hitler and many German leaders anticipated a long war; "The Germans" not necessarily so. If you look at industrialists and lower-level military planners in 39-41, many of their decisions reflect a short war attitude. IMO the adverse effects of those attitudes would have been largely ameliorated by strong guidance from Hitler regarding armaments priorities and planning.
Peter89 wrote:The Luftwaffe had some good types at the beginning of the war, but they almost all neared obsolescence in 1940.
Most quotes like this betray a complete absence of technical knowledge. The P-51 first flew in 1940, Fw-190 in 1939.

More importantly, the only major component common to Fw-190D and A, or between Me-109K and E, were the fuselage form and landing gear. Wings, engine, empennage were all new. 90+% of the performance is dictated by wings, engine, empennage - not by how the plane looks around the cockpit (though of course that superficial level of analysis is all one can do if uneducated on aerodynamics).

By your "logic" a 1957 Boeing 707 and 2030 Boeing 737 MAX are basically the same airplane. Yet somehow the MAX out-sells brand new competing designs like MC-21 and C919. Again, basic aerodynamics knowledge is required to understand why.

P-51A was a pig; with a new engine P-51D was the war's best fighter (though not nearly to extent sometimes imagined).

Aircraft like the Me-109 were only somewhat constrained by legacy design parameters; Fw-190 - in its D-9/13 and Ta-152 incarnations - was basically unconstrained.

You "obsolescent" Me-109 was faster than the P-51D late in the war: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PA70pN6zPM&t=1063s. Was it a better all-around plane? No. But it cost half as much to build and the Mustang's additional range was superfluous to Me-109's role.

Ever stop to consider why it took so long for America and Britain to achieve aerial dominance over the Reich? Seems absurd, given the resource disparities actually committed to that battle. The Me-109's economic efficiency is a big part of why.
Peter89 wrote:The problem one was that the Wallies were working on their jet fighter, too. Problem two was that to find extra production capacity in the Reich was hard if not impossible. Problem three was the "too late, too little": if the Germans wanted to change the outcome of the aerial war, they would have to implement changes sooner - way sooner. Problem four
This is a needlessly complex statement of the LW's problems.

Problem One was being out-produced by >5:1 in the critical years. Everything else is a rounding error.

Absent an understanding that Problem One related to the Eastern Front there's no grounds for productive conversation about alternate courses of the air war.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by historygeek2021 » 16 Feb 2021 02:50

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Feb 2021 02:04
(though of course that superficial level of analysis is all one can do if uneducated on aerodynamics).
:roll:

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by Peter89 » 16 Feb 2021 06:10

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Feb 2021 02:04
Peter89 wrote:The Luftwaffe had some good types at the beginning of the war, but they almost all neared obsolescence in 1940.
Most quotes like this betray a complete absence of technical knowledge. The P-51 first flew in 1940, Fw-190 in 1939.
I just passed a C1 in english so "almost all neared obsolescence at the beginning of the war" might mean that "the most modern type which came to the units in 1941".

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Feb 2021 02:04
Absent an understanding that Problem One related to the Eastern Front there's no grounds for productive conversation about alternate courses of the air war.
Absent a few answers for a few very basic questions about your rampage and the related lack of understanding, there really isn't. Why did you start one, then?
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Feb 2021 07:19

I wonder if anyone should mention to our educated aerodynamicist that the P-51A wasn't a "pig" and that the "new engine P-51D" was not the "war's best fighter". In terms of production aircraft, that was probably the Mustang III (P51B/C) with the Malcolm hood. Hey, but what the heck do I know? After all, I don't get my data from YouTube videos. The Mustang III, as well as the Spit Mk XIV flying with +21 lbs boost easily matched the 109K, whose high speed capability was restricted to a narrow window between about 22,000 and 24,500 feet. The Spit comfortably outperformed it above 24,500. The P-51B, Mustang III, and P51-D with 67" of boost all outperformed it as well above about 25,000 feet.

Then there was the rather damning comparison between the P51 and the 109 made by Daimler-Benz on 20 January 1945, when the question came up regarding further increasing the power of the DB605.

"Im Zusammenhang mit der Zellenfrage wird von den Herren berichtet, dass die Leistung der Zelle ausser-ordentlich schlecht und zum Teil unerhört niedrig liege. Auch hier weist DB wieder daraufhin, dass es keinen Zweck hat, den Motor dauernd in der Leistung aufzustocken, während die Zellen durch Fabrikations-ungenauigkeit etc. immer schlechter werden und damit den durch die Steigerung der Motorleistung möglichen Geschwindigkeitsgewinn wieder zunichte machen. Es wird seitens der Herren des Chef.Ing. davon berichtet, dass die gegenüberstellende Vorführung einer Mustang und einer Me 109 für Herrn Sauer geplant war, dass jedoch Herr Sauer selbst leider nicht erschienen sei. Die Gegenüberstellung der beiden Maschinen sei, was die Ausführung der Me 109 angelange geradezu niederschmetternd" DB Niederschrift Nr. 6730
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by Peter89 » 16 Feb 2021 07:51

T. A. Gardner wrote:
16 Feb 2021 00:19
Peter89 wrote:
15 Feb 2021 18:32
I think you are right about the SAM project, but it was also unlikely given that the population as well as the decision makers were fascinated by the idea of revenge instead of the effective defense. So the most resources and best minds went to the Vergeltungswaffe programs instead of the SAM programs. If there was any in an advanced stage?

I am not familiar with any German SAM projects, so if you can help me out with that, I'd really appreciate it :milsmile:
The Germans had about a half-dozen SAMs in development. I'll list them with a few comments.

Wasserfall. This was the only supersonic one and was based on the V-2 / A-4. While some test shots were made, and at least a few were tried with joystick CLOS control, US and Russian postwar testing of this missile proved it was a really poor basis for a SAM. It is unlikely that it would have worked any better for the Germans with further development.

Hs 117 Schmetterling. This is approximately an equivalent to the USN Gorgon missile program in development. Schmetterling was really too small to be a workable SAM at the time. Its size limited the range, warhead size, and room for a guidance system. There was consideration for using it as a large AAM from nightfighters but this never materialized. As a note, the USN in late 1944 fired a Gorgon III using CLOS guidance via a television link in the missile at an airborne target off Cape May, NJ, the first such test anywhere, and found that it was impossible to control the missile accurately using such a system as hand-eye coordination was too slow to deal with the closing speed of the missile. So, the German version would have needed something better than CLOS to work.

FR 1- 5 Enzian. This Messerschmitt design was based on the Me 163 airframe but much smaller. It had the advantage of having a large warhead (500 kg) that would have made it useful with command detonation in the lack of a working VT fuze. The USN Little Joe missile is a rough analogy. The limited range of Enzian would have made it marginally useful though.

Rheintochter R I and III. The Rheinmetall-Borsig entry. A two stage fairly large SAM with nose guidance by small airfoils. Of all the designs the Germans had this one came the closest to a workable missile. The biggest issue with it was once again limited range and altitude (20 to 27,000 feet or barely enough to reach US bombers).

A sort of honorable mention is the F25 Feuerlilie. This was a sounding rocket / missile that the developers mislabeled as a SAM to get funding for their research. It was never really intended to be a SAM.

The biggest drawback the Germans had was in guidance. They envisioned a number of systems but none of these actually materialized or were tested with the missiles they had.

Image

This one for Wasserfall is often used. It shows a system akin to the optical guidance system used with the SA-2 in Vietnam when that system faced heavy jamming. SA-2 using a similar system had about a 1 to 2% success rate. It is another indication that manual control of the missile to guide it to the target was really an unworkable solution at the time.
Thank you, this was very informative!
“And while I am talking to you, mothers and fathers, I give you one more assurance. I have said this before, but I shall say it again, and again and again. Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars." - FDR, October 1940

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TheMarcksPlan
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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Feb 2021 08:15

Peter89 wrote:Absent a few answers for a few very basic questions about your rampage
OK maybe a little rhetorically overheated.
Richard Anderson wrote:I wonder if anyone should mention to our educated aerodynamicist that the P-51A wasn't a "pig" and that the "new engine P-51D" was not the "war's best fighter"
Does anyone else find enormously annoying the tactic of suggesting there's something that somebody could "mention" to actually prove an argument, but not actually making that argument? It's trying to carry the point by implying that something contested is well-known, meanwhile hoping that nobody will call you on it.

Also the tactic of posting untranslated excerpts...
Richard Anderson wrote:Hey, but what the heck do I know? After all, I don't get my data from YouTube videos.
HistoryGeek2021 wrote: :roll:
Richard and HistoryGeek want to pretend they're too much of "educated aerodynamicists" to learn something from a youtube video.

For anyone else lacking Richard and HistoryGeek's galaxy brains, I highly recommend Greg's Airplanes. https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCynGrI ... gHJAIp9oSg

The channel author is a commercial pilot who approaches WW2 aircraft performance from a fundamentals-based but not overly theoretical perspective. You won't get the full benefit of the videos without knowing some basic aerodynamics but above 101 level he has explainers for many topics. The videos contain copious citations, usually to primary source documents.

For Richard and HistoryGeek, I hear that the University of Delft has an excellent post-doctoral program for the leading aerodynamic minds of our generation.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 16 Feb 2021 08:52

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Feb 2021 02:04
Ever stop to consider why it took so long for America and Britain to achieve aerial dominance over the Reich?
Wasn't it because there was an engineering challenge in developing a high-performance fighter with a range long enough to operate over the Reich from English airbases? Or is that just a historical myth?

Edited to add: Have you ever stopped to consider how poor the weather is over central Europe for much of the time?

Regards

Tom

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Feb 2021 09:06

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Feb 2021 08:15
OK maybe a little ...
The words you were searching for were "unnecessarily rude".
Does anyone else find enormously annoying the tactic of suggesting there's something that somebody could "mention" to actually prove an argument, but not actually making that argument? It's trying to carry the point by implying that something contested is well-known, meanwhile hoping that nobody will call you on it.
Really? The argument was clearly made. It is not "contested" that the performance of the Mustang III was the best by most measures of the P-51 series. Its speed above 25,000 feet was superior to the P-51D, which should be expected, since the D was heavier. Its rate of climb above 20,000 feet was better. Its maximum service ceiling was 1,200 feet higher. It is not "contested" that the P-51A was not "a pig"; it was probably the fastest fighter in service at the time at 11,000 feet and had excellent climb characteristics, but it was a medium and low altitude performer when the trend was to high altitude...and its worst fault was the awkward arrangement of its ammo feed.

If that all is incorrect, then please "call me" on it.
Also the tactic of posting untranslated excerpts...
Google Translate doesn't work for you? Meanwhile, I thought you were teaching yourself German?
Richard and HistoryGeek want to pretend...
I did not "pretend" to do anything. I think HistoryGeek's emoticon response was perfectly apt. If you want to bring in a 21st century commercial pilot to talk about aerodynamics, fine, but if you want to talk about comparisons of aircraft from World War II, I suggest you look for the original test data, analysis of that data, and the experiences of the pilots who flew them. Try http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/ Oddly enough though, you won't find data on the 737MAX there, or its sales performance for 2030, which might end up better than its performance in 2020. Of course, what that has to do with World War II aircraft performance escapes me.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by Richard Anderson » 16 Feb 2021 09:11

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
16 Feb 2021 08:52
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Feb 2021 02:04
Ever stop to consider why it took so long for America and Britain to achieve aerial dominance over the Reich?
Wasn't it because there was an engineering challenge in developing a high-performance fighter with a range long enough to operate over the Reich from English airbases? Or is that just a historical myth?
Perhaps that they took the time to organize and build a training infrastructure that allowed them to field ten to twenty times the aircrew with better training, before they put them in combat had something to do with it too?
Edited to add: Have you ever stopped to consider how poor the weather is over central Europe for much of the time?
Apparently that doesn't matter when you are concerned about the sales performance of the Boeing 737 MAX.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Feb 2021 10:47

Richard Anderson wrote:Mustang III was the best by most measures of the P-51 series. Its speed above 25,000 feet was superior to the P-51D
Richard Anderson wrote:P-51A was not "a pig"; it was probably the fastest fighter in service at the time at 11,000 feet and had excellent climb characteristics, but it was a medium and low altitude performer when the trend was to high altitude
Aha. Compare 'em up high when that suits your argument, down low when it suits another argument.

Am I deeply invested in P-51D being the best fighter of the war? No, it was an aside to be fair to Peter89's argument that the LW faced some quality disadvantages. To actually argue about which is the "best" fighter of the war - to take that argument seriously - is stupid.

It's for people who want to cherry-pick this or that point of comparison across all aircraft. It's tiresome and irrelevant, as so many arguments involving you are.
Richard Anderson wrote:The words you were searching for were "unnecessarily rude".
You pearl-clutching about rudeness? How very rich.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Terry Duncan
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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by Terry Duncan » 16 Feb 2021 19:43

Please avoid being pointlessly rude or provocative, it is against the rules and likely to lead nowhere good for those involved.

Terry

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by danebrog » 16 Feb 2021 20:45

Had the German defense industry had the capability to mass-produce the Mustang for the Luftwaffe, it probably would have happened.
But since this was demonstrably not the case, a further discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of this design in relation to the thread topic does not really seem purposeful ;-)

Since mid-1942 at the latest, the Luftwaffe was neither qualitatively nor quantitatively able to keep up with the requirements.
One of the best and most detailed papers on this topic is the dissertation by E. Stilla (2005, 315 pg), which is unfortunately only available in German:
https://d-nb.info/977968960/34

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Feb 2021 23:15

danebrog wrote:a further discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of this design in relation to the thread topic does not really seem purposeful
Yeah that's kind of my point... There is no sense arguing about what's the best WW2 fighter. It's just one bored poster trying to pick a fight (and another actually falling for it).
danebrog wrote:Had the German defense industry had the capability to mass-produce the Mustang for the Luftwaffe
If you mean the ability to mass-produce a laminar flow wing, neither did the U.S.
NACA evaluated that goal as not being achieved during WW2 - the laminar flow design yielded no actual benefit (it's really hard to maintain the tight manufacturing qualities required). http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/ ... namics.pdf

The real technical hurdle to Germany building a Mustang is its lack of the required aviation fuel.

Even if it could have built Mustangs, however, it's not certain that would have been wiser. While we can all agree that the Mustang was a better fighter than Me-109 (though I'm sure someone reading this is sufficiently bored to spark a dispute over that statement), the Mustang was substantially more expensive than Me-109 by 60% or so. viewtopic.php?f=11&t=253448&start=120#p2310522 (see that post and the following)
Thanks, will check this out.
https://medium.com/counterfactualww2
"The whole question of whether we win or lose the war depends on the Russians." - FDR, June 1942

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Re: Quantity Not Quality Fighters

Post by danebrog » 17 Feb 2021 09:51

In direct reference to the thread, I refer you to Chapter III, pages 199 – 254
IMHO, this also provides more than enough "fodder" to continue this debate about whiffs on a provable factual basis
(By the way, the source list is a treat in itself) ;-)

III Mass instead of Class - The Free Fall into Insignificance, 1944/45

1.) The "Man" as a Decisive Factor in the Air War

2) Airplane pilot training 1933-1945
a) The underestimation of airplane pilot training
b) Training difficulties and deficits

3.) The vicious circle of the Luftwaffe
a) Tactical disadvantages
b) "Cannon fodder": the next generation of airmen
c) The attrition of experienced regular personnel
d) Casualties without enemy action
e) The declining morale
f) Alcohol abuse in the associations
g) Flight discipline and team spirit

4.) Position and development of pilot training in the United States and Great Britain

Return to “What if”