Yak - 9 compared with German fighters

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Juha
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Post by Juha » 15 Sep 2007 10:00

Hello frcoplan
a couple questions
if ” manouvrebility was and still is of extreme importance”, why Soviets moved from I-153 and I-16 to newer types, none of which was nearly as manoeuvrable than the Is? Of course Dive and Zoom wasn’t cure for all, if for ex. combat was just under cloudbase, one could not utilize it, same goes if target was flying very low if the attacker wasn’t very good shooter, which most pilots were not.

I think one can say that reading memories of pilots of any airforce of WWII one finds out that usually enemy had numerical superiority, but that isn’t possible in real world, is it? But it’s true that now and then Germans had numerical superiority over certain areas.

“Lilya Litvak for example fought in Yak 1. And was on several times involved in fights with german numerical superiority. I remember reading about 19:2 etc.”

Have you any idea of number of Litvak’s real kills? Claims are only claims and not very interesting.
And have you info on German side on her combats, was there really 19:2 etc? I remember one famous case when Germans claimed that their Gruppe was attacked by over hundred P-51s when in reality there were only 25-30 P-51s against them, so claimed 4:1 inferiority in numbers turned out to be more or less equality in reality. And this goes to all forces and branches.

Juha

frcoplan
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Post by frcoplan » 15 Sep 2007 12:55

Becouse in real world you can not have it all. The fact is that for if you wish speed class of certain airplane all soviet fighters were on the manouverable side. You can not expect 650km/h fighter to dance as hawker fury but you can make it manouvrable compared with types in its class. And it is obvious that too big difference in speed is no good. But if we compare airplanes in approx. same speed class

One simple example. P39. A disaster in Pacific but a succesfull fighter in East. Why? Zero was slower and could not dive as P39. But it was not a big speed advantage and zero was more dynamic and manouverable fighter. In East P39 was on manouverable side and that somewhat compensated for its defficiencies. And of course i know sovits were using p39s and p40s with overpressure. But usa pilots in pacific were doing the same.

Well it is all the case of reviewing all the claims than isn't it? It does not matter for a plane up or down, the fact is that it is not true germans were fighting a numerically superior enemy in the air. But they lost it, they lost technicla advantage and they lost pilot quality advantage. And they lost the war in the end.

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Post by tonyh » 15 Sep 2007 15:20

Well, I'll use the quote function, because it eliminates confusion. But I'll keep my replies (in bold) as short as I can...
frcoplan wrote:I am not going to use the quot function as then the post shall get a mile long:) I hope it will be still clear to which part the quote goes.

Regarding the numerical superiority of the soviets. Althought this is one myth that always comes out the fact is that if you read combat descriptions and memories of soviet airman, for the first half of the war they were at numerical disadvantage.

There is no "myth". The VVS in general terms always outnumbered the Luftwaffe. This doesn't mean that at a local level, the Luftwaffe couldn't possess superiority from time to time. But in overall numbers, the VVS far outweighed the Germans. The Russians started Barbarossa with 10.000 aircraft.

There were two phases where the Germans could provide numerical superiority. Barbarossa and the fighting over Savastopol. Elsewhere, the Jagdwaffe were usually outnumbered.

JG54's standard fighter patrols consisted of Rotte and Schwarm formations for the bulk of the war, for instance.

The Luftwaffe could get large numbers of patrols into the air at certain times, but they could sustain it. I've read that some Luftwaffe pilots were flying up to 5, 6 or 7 sorties in some times of busy activity. This is not something that could be expected to last indefinitely.

VVS pilots rarely were called upon to perform such feats, although on occasion it did happen.

But one only has to look at the combat sorties that pilots of both airforces finished the war with. On average the Luftwaffe pilots numbers vastly out strip the pilots of the VVS. The is because the VVS generally had more pilots and more machines to go around.


Although Soviets may have a bigger number of airplanes sitting on the ground it is how many aircraft you can get in the air that counts.

The VVS could always get more aircraft into the air than the Germans. Both day and night and in Summer and winter. They couldn't of course be everywhere at once.

And Germans were masters of using their air force in a way to achieve local numericla superiority. The massive scores that germans counted at start are not only due to superior tactics/machines of the luftwaffe, although there is no doubt that tactics were far more developed than soviet (after all they have been fighting fo 2 previous years) but also due to a fact that in those desperate times soviets would even send a lone Il2 or unsecorted Il2s and bombers in air space controlled by german airplanes. And that soviets had to learn what germans have been learning for the past 2 years. That is why i gave the exampole of Mig. Migs would be a much more efficient machines if they would be used with energy tactics- But they were not. Soviets had to learn that. Il2s had to develop their tactics like circle of death etc.

Although the VVS did send in numerous bombing raids without escort in 1941, I have never read ANYTHING about the Soviets "send(ing) a lone Il2" into the combat zone. Such a mission would be pointless, unless it was targeting a very specific target. It certainly would not have been anything like a regular occurrence.

As to your MiG reference, the problems with that have been pointed out in my previous answer and they still remain. The salient problem with the MiG was not how it was flown by the VVS, it was just simply out-classed by the German fighters on all counts. Even if all MiG pilots had used the machine as an energy fighter, they were doing so against an enemy fighter that could do it better.


It is also very clear that the combat did not look like germans flying high and bouncing naive soviets airman at all. Sometimes germans were higher sometimes soviet and sometimes on the same level. There is no sense in saying that better diving speed is for example a terminal advantage. There are situations in which it can be of help and situations in which it turned out to e a death trap. Soviet pilots actually often cought german fighter who tried to dive, but as combat was close to the ground they had to pull out of the dive soon and soviet fighter following it in shallow dive cought up with it.

You're not fully understanding the tactic employed. The standard German fighter attack was to dive, shoot and climb, using the speed built up in the dive to extend away from the enemy machines. The Soviet fighters of the day simply could not match that. There is no way around this fact. It wasn't a hit and dive tactic, which could be followed, it was hit and climb, which the Soviet machines could not follow. The Soviet's simply couldn't match the climb rate of the German fighters and their performance dropped off considerably the higher the aircraft went, while the 109's performance gained. The FW190's performance fell off above 20.000ft, but it's climbing speed was still superior enough to out distance a Soviet pursuer.

And it has nothing to do with VVS pilots being "naive" either. The simple fact is that 90% of all pilots, green or otherwise, were shot down without even knowing there was an enemy pilot in the sky. It has nothing to do with naivety.


When fighting close to the ground or in a mass around bombers etc. superior manouvrebility of soviet aircraft was an advantage. When attacked by superior numbers of german airplanes manouvrebility was important. When engaged in dogfight, which were rather comon on eastern front it was important. Etc. Of course when you are trying to run from german aicraft speed disadvantage is disadvantage. But when enemy fighter gets on your tail again manouvrebility is very important to shake it off. And the speed diffrences on levels were combat was taking place were not so dramatic that it would be terminal. All planes had their pluses and minuses. It was up to each situation and knowledge of the pilots which ones prevailed.

Again, you're misunderstanding the way the German fighter's fought. In order for the turn fighter to employ it's superiority in manoeuvrability, the pilot had to be fully aware that an enemy was behind him. If he's not aware, then it's useless. The Luftwaffe didn't engage in tail hogging dogfights as the norm. Max-Hellmuth Ostermann lost his life over Amossovo trying to compete with VVS fighters on the horizontal. No, they dived, fired and climbed, knowing full well that this was the best way to use their machines. They used surprise, to negate the turn fighter's superior turning ability. The VVS told their squadrons to constantly turn in the combat zone, if attacked. But even constant turning could only help a little. The lack of radio in those early VVS machines handicapped the pilots from warning each other and as we know the I-16's and I-153's etc were slaughtered, even though the Jagdwaffe considered those particular aircraft a very difficult target.

Of course all fighters were becoming faster and faster but in airplanes that have comparable speeds manouvrebility is very important. Even nowdays in the age of missiles all fighters are designed to be as manouverable as possible and dogfighting systems are being developed like wide scaning range missiles, marking target with moving your head etc. The manouvrebility was and still is of extreme importance, in most bigger air wars after the WWII you still have fighter trying to out turn etc the other one.

Comparing modern day jet aircraft is not applicable to WWII vintage prop aircraft. They don't face the same dangers or fight in the same way to any degree. There were no guided missiles used in A2A combat during WWII, so there's no validation or usefulness in these comparisons.

Regarding the zoom boom. I don't know from where people got the idea that this is 100% victory assuring tactic. It isn't at all. It is highly succesfull if the other plane does not know you are there but if the other plane knows you are there it can always defened itself with horizontal manouvre or with frontal attack which strongly decrises the success rate of boom and zoom. You still have the advantage but not in any case a guranteed kill. And again, there is no classisal boom and zoom against low flying aicrafts.

Nobody has said the B'n'Z was a "100% victory assuring tactic". But what it did was negate the advantage of the turning fighters to a very large degree. There is no point that can be brought up that will eliminate this basic fact.

And yes there IS a B'n'Z tactic against low-flying aircraft. The same principle of dive, fire and climb applies, no matter what height the target is flying at. Thousands of IL-2's where shot down at 60ft by Luftwaffe pilots employing their standard attack profile.


The fact is that soviets managed to put up a very good fight and produce a number of aces in other airplanes not just Yak9, and La 5/7. Lilya Litvak for example fought in Yak 1. And was on several times involved in fights with german numerical superiority. I remember reading about 19:2 etc.

Of course. But this has nothing to do with the points in question. All nations produced aces. Nobody has disputed anything to do with this.

Of course it would be also good to mention that you simply can not fly kilometers above ground level from very simple reasone. It is very possible you ain't gonna see the low flying enemy at all. Flying 6km up would be good from fighter to fighter cobat view. But being 6 or 7km up trying to spot low flying Il2s is a bad idea.

frcoplan

It's very hard to spot most aircraft anywhere and pilots constantly lose sight of one another during flight, that just part of the job. But this still doesn't mean that aircraft can be invisible. An object flying low can still be spotted, because it is moving. A moving object attracts the attention of the eye. Distance does increase the chance of evading the enemy and the weather plays a part too, of course.

Also, areas of busy activity play an important role. There are a lot of accounts where Luftwaffe pilots simply hung around of an area of activity, such as a supply depot or an enemy airfield and waited for the enemy to arrive.

Tony
Last edited by tonyh on 15 Sep 2007 15:40, edited 1 time in total.

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 15 Sep 2007 15:39

frcoplan wrote:Becouse in real world you can not have it all. The fact is that for if you wish speed class of certain airplane all soviet fighters were on the manouverable side. You can not expect 650km/h fighter to dance as hawker fury but you can make it manouvrable compared with types in its class. And it is obvious that too big difference in speed is no good. But if we compare airplanes in approx. same speed class

One simple example. P39. A disaster in Pacific but a succesfull fighter in East. Why? Zero was slower and could not dive as P39. But it was not a big speed advantage and zero was more dynamic and manouverable fighter. In East P39 was on manouverable side and that somewhat compensated for its defficiencies. And of course i know sovits were using p39s and p40s with overpressure. But usa pilots in pacific were doing the same.

Well it is all the case of reviewing all the claims than isn't it? It does not matter for a plane up or down, the fact is that it is not true germans were fighting a numerically superior enemy in the air. But they lost it, they lost technicla advantage and they lost pilot quality advantage. And they lost the war in the end.
The P-39 was mostly a success when it was employed as a ground attack aircraft, but as an air superiority fighter it left a lot to be desired in both hemispheres. Again, the Bell aircraft lacked performance at higher altitudes and had no supercharger. Of course, some pilots like Pokryshkin and Rechkalov scored impressive results, but this was uncommon.

Tony

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Juha Tompuri
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Post by Juha Tompuri » 15 Sep 2007 19:39

frcoplan wrote: If fighters are protecting reco plane, the objective is to get reco plane back and info it has. If you shoot down 5 enemy fighters and loose none, but loose reco plane, your mission is a failiure. In such situations Me can not run. It must stay there and fight. Same with bombers. If enemy scatters you bombers, and they miss the target, even if you shoot down more of his fighters than he shot down your planes, your mission is a failiure.
The optimal way to protect the escorted planes is not to fly in close formation with them, but (when possible) at high above them, where the attacking enemy planes could be "boomed and zoomed"
frcoplan wrote:The manouvrebility was and still is of extreme importance
During Winter War Finns flew (among others) with Gloster Gladiators.
Very agile plane, but it was extremely difficult with it to disengage from a battle as it couldn't match the Soviet planes at level speed, not outclimb nor outdive them.

Regards, Juha

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Post by Juha » 16 Sep 2007 10:37

frcoplan
That the P-39 was a disaster in Pacific, that is a myth. Here some facts.
Statistics from Apr 30-June 1 1942, 45 e/a claimed, 37 of them Zeroes, for 26 P-39's (13 pilots) lost in air combat. The Tainan Kokutai (which was one of the best Japanese formations) lost 11 pilots in this period, and the 8th FG was the only Allied fighter unit it faced after May 3. The JNAF didn't use parachutes in this period but surely lost more planes than pilots, one might well survive from crash-landing or ditching. So say Tainan Zeros got bit under 2:1 exchange rate in planes and close to even in pilots against P-39s of 8th FG. That is about the same exchange ration in planes than 3rd Kokutai's against the USAAF P-40s that protected Port Darwin. [Facts from JoeB’s messages to an other board]

The main problem with P-39 and P-400 (export version of P-39) in Pacific was the lack of ceiling, Zeros were usually above them at the beginning of combat.

In MTO P-39s did badly.

Tonyh, in fact P-39 had supercharged engine but only one-speed one-stage supercharger. And Soviet AF used P-39 as a fighter not as a ground attack plane, ShAPs' had Il-2s for that job.

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Post by frcoplan » 16 Sep 2007 12:29

It`s a beautifull day over here and i am planning to use it so i'll reply in more detail later. Just about P39s. As Juha already mentioned, they were used as fighters in SU. And were actually well liked in this role. As any other plane P39 had better and worse sides buit in general it was considered as a good fighter by soviet pilots and it is normaly mentioned as the best airplane supplied by land lease.

The use of P39 primary in ground attack role is a myth from cold war. It was not actually know in the west what Soviets did with all those aircobras (the only thing known was that they wanted more and more of them) and due to some (but not all versions) of P39 having a 37mm cannon and poore performance on the west it was concluded it was used as ground attack plane. But it was not so.

Of cours Soviets did use fighter planes in ground attack roles as well, but this was not limited to P39 only. Later on fighters which made that possible they started to put weapons like rockets (La5...) on fighters escorting Il2s so that fighters were used as aditional ground attack force and air cover.

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 16 Sep 2007 15:26

37mm cannon of Soviet P-39's was absolutely mega against German bombers. Apparently one or two hits would blow a He-111 or Ju 88 out of the sky.

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Post by Topspeed » 17 Sep 2007 11:39

Juha Tompuri wrote:
frcoplan wrote:
frcoplan wrote:The manouvrebility was and still is of extreme importance
During Winter War Finns flew (among others) with Gloster Gladiators.
Very agile plane, but it was extremely difficult with it to disengage from a battle as it couldn't match the Soviet planes at level speed, not outclimb nor outdive them.

Regards, Juha
Finns used also Bristol Bulldogs at that time. Very maneuvreable.

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Post by tonyh » 17 Sep 2007 15:40

Juha wrote:
Tonyh, in fact P-39 had supercharged engine but only one-speed one-stage supercharger. And Soviet AF used P-39 as a fighter not as a ground attack plane, ShAPs' had Il-2s for that job.
Actually, it's my understanding that they used the aircraft for both purposes. I've read that when used for ground attack, pilots would sometimes only load the cannon ammo. They complained about the aircraft going into unrecoverable spins and were told to balance out the removal of the ammo with something, to address the problem as the plane's CoG was shifted too far aft.

In fact the VVS used most of it's fighter aircraft as ground attack at some time or another, except for the Yak-3 and later Lavochkin's IIRC. Such was the nature of the force in question.

Tony

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Post by Juha » 17 Sep 2007 16:05

Tony
P-39s were used by fighter regiments and indeed they were used now and then also for ground attack missions as other fighters but so did all, at least almost all, AFs. USAAF P-51s strafed frequently late in the war, IJNAF Zeros strafed at Pearl Harbor on 7 Dec 1941 etc. Surpringly many top Soviet aces got most of their kills while flying P-39s.

Juha

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Post by tonyh » 17 Sep 2007 17:06

I'm not too sure about the "now and then". I think it was far more frequent than that. VVS pilots mentioned that nose mounted 37mm was great for ground attack and one of the regular mission requirements from P-39 equipped regs was to attack soft targets.

The "myth" surrounding the P-39 was that it was used as a "tank buster". It wasn't. But it was used quite often in the ground attack role due to the VVS's primary function of providing close support..

Tony

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Post by frcoplan » 17 Sep 2007 19:04

It was used in ground attack role, but so were all other fighters used by soviets. But its primary role was a fighter.

Here is evaluation of aircobra when it came to SU:

...The following conclusion was made as a result of this testing: The Airacobra aircraft was simple in techniques of piloting and could be flown by pilots of average qualifications; it could be successfully employed for the conduct of aerial combat with all types of enemy aircraft, and also for the conduct of attacks at ground targets. The Airacobra received its "air worthiness certificate" in the Soviet VVS....

http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/a ... /index.htm

It is also good to read Golodnikovs interview regarding aircobra on the same page. And also on other things we were debating before.

http://lend-lease.airforce.ru/english/a ... /part3.htm

frcoplan

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Post by tonyh » 18 Sep 2007 10:37

It was used in ground attack role, but so were all other fighters used by soviets. But its primary role was a fighter.
I don't think anyone is disagreeing with this.

As far as the Russian opinion on the P-39 is concerned, it certainly did differ from the RAF's "widowmaker" take on the aircraft and the USAF's "suited to wide, low and slow circles" quip.

Tony

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Post by Juha » 18 Sep 2007 12:13

Tony I don't know from where You got those claims and the fact is that some pilots liked P-39 and some loathed it but read for ex. one Merle Olmsted's histories of 357th FG and you see that the way they flow it during their time in States was something else than "wide, low and slow circles" and for RAF I recomend that you read the AFDU report on Airacobra I before making such a sweeping claims.

Juha

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