The Me 109....

Discussions on all (non-biographical) aspects of the Luftwaffe air units and general discussions on the Luftwaffe.
tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 09 Jan 2008 18:16

The trouble with the Luftwaffe is that they acquired many aces, and then depended on those aces while neglecting training. With the result that the rookies found it harder and harder to survive long enough to become aces themselves. As the experienced aces were killed off one by one, the overall average pilot quality of the Luftwaffe steadily declined.

Meanwhile the average quality in Allied fighter units was slowly increasing.
That's not 100% correct. The Luftwaffe up until early 1943 had a very stringent pilot training regime. The didn't "acquire" aces and then forget about the average pilots. The aces just outlived the average pilots by the natural attrition rates that the Jadgwaffe faced. But in general, the average German pilot was a superior pilot to the average Allied pilot. What mattered was the odds they faced

Also, training wasn't neglected for the sake of it. It became necessary because of attrition and the need to get more pilots into the air on all fronts to cut the training programs.

In addition, while a lot is made out of the aces of the luftwaffe, the vast majority of the Jadgwaffe was populated by the average pilot throughout the war. The unsung members who filled the bulk of units. These were actually the pilots that the Luftwaffe depended on.

By the way, in the Jadgwaffe, a pilot with 70 missions and 20 kills could be considered an average pilot by some...whereas in the Allied air forces, such a man would be feted as amazing.


Tony

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phylo_roadking
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Post by phylo_roadking » 09 Jan 2008 19:35

Just been re-reading through all of the above;

The Buchon did have an evil reputation; the Merlin installation required a considerable amount of extra cradling for the engine, moving the 109's C-of-G well forward. No extra weight was added to change this, as that would have made the whole airframe far too heavy.

Yes, the 109's undercarriage was considered excellent, with an inch and a half extra movement over the Spitfire; the 109's "working environment" was expected to be quickly-prepared grass strips close up behind the battleline OR tended. grass runways/tarmac strips on a 50/50 basis...whereas RAF types were expected to operate off grass strips or prepared fields on 20/80 basis. So the extra "rough surface" shock absorption was designed into the 109's oleomatic struts. They were also mouted further forward of the aircrafts' C-of-G than the Spitfire, hence the favourable comparison.

Where it DID fall down - confirmed by Eric Brown's test, and by many others since...including Gunther Rall on an old tv documentary I saw recently - was its taxiing ability. Those in a position to compare said taxiing the 109 was even more difficult than the traditionally-difficult long-nosed Spitfire - because that longer undercarriage and its further-forward position pushed the 109's shorter nose higher. almost totally obscuring the pilot's field of vision until the tail came up.

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Ome_Joop
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Post by Ome_Joop » 09 Jan 2008 19:38

AL Schlageter wrote:Kurfurst,

The Hurricane prototype, K5083, first flew on 6 November 1935.
The Spitfire prototype, K5054, first flew on 5 March 1936.

Dave Bender asked, "Was there anything better in 1935?" and the 2 British fighters certainly were in 1936.

Your production numbers have no relevance with regards to the performance of the Hurricane and Spitfire which are clearly superior to the 109A, B, C and D. The British fighters were better armed.
Still altough the Hurricane prototype flew in 1935 it was absolutly not better...not being able to shoot down enemy aircraft as it got it's armament only August of 1936.
Production Aircraft deliveries commenced on the 15th December, 1937.

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Post by AL Schlageter » 10 Jan 2008 00:23

Was there any 109Es around in Aug 1936 or even Feb 1938?

How can Kurfurst say this,

By December 1938, 168 109E-1/E-3s have been delivered

when the first 2 E-1s were flown in Nov 1938? That is some manufacturing miracle! Besides, the Delivery Plan No 10 of Jan 1 1939 called for 14 E-1 machines.

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Post by JodelFlieger » 10 Jan 2008 02:42

Hello all,
Tonyh, I'd tend to disagree about the assertion that the average German pilot was better than the average Allied pilot.I think that's too big a statement to make.Allied pilots were getting more flight hours in training as the war went on(certainly greater than 200 hours whilst German pilots were getting as few as 60) and, of course, German pilots were getting less.Allied pilots had more instrument/night flight training which made them more technically proficient and much more able to cope with bad weather...Phylo, I'm not so sure about the reference to flying off tarmac.There were few tarmac runways and all pilots of the time were trained on grass and other unmetalled surfaces.Most airfields and airstrips were oriented into the prevailing wind, if at all possible, especially given the 109's poor crosswind handling.The 109 was not good on tarmac, just like many of the other fighters of the time.....tonyh, the rudder trim is of vital importance, given that a fixed trim tab only works correctly at one airspeed.The Mustang was one fighter where the pilots had it beaten into their heads to constantly retrim with every power change.There was a little slip ball on the gunsight of the P-51, right in front of the pilot's eyes and the pilots were directed by their instructors not to fire unless the ball was exactly centred, by trimming out the flight loads, otherwise they'd be sure to miss.If a 109 pilot goes from cruising, at say 150 mph, to a diving attack at 400 mph, he'll have to administer a hefty foot pressure to the rudder pedal to keep the aircraft in trim and then unload the foot pressure as he pitches up to climb away again. I'm sure the 109 pilots were probably very good at coping with it but a rudder trimmer would have saved them the bother, for a small change in production.....I appreciate that M.Hanna died in a Buchon but the aircraft is as near as dammit to a 109G without actually being an exact one(apart from the engine going the other way around, of course).To the poster who made the point about Hartmann using G6s, I think it was Col Tolliver who made the point that Hartmann used the G6s because the later G10s and G14s his unit had were so badly built that it was too risky to fly them.The G6s were better built.
regards
JF

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phylo_roadking
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Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Jan 2008 03:29

The 109 was a short-range fighter designed to take on an enemy's fighters over the Blitzkrieg battlefield, and either clear them down to allow the LW's tactical bombers through, or provide escort. But Blitzkrieg campaigns were intended to be short affairs - Poland, the Low Countries, France - after which the fighter squadrons would mostly be withdrawn and stage through to their bases in Germany...or on to what ever front was next. Tarmac/concrete strips...or established rolled and levelled grass parmanent fields are one thing , but temporary strips following the battlefront are something VERY different. British fighters were designed NOT for any attacking role in the late 1930's - but for defence. Fighter Command intended them to be operating from permanent 'strip sector fields or long-established and tended grass satellite fields...fields that in the main Fighter Command had been tending lovingly for two decades in the Weald of Kent, and Sussex. And which were one by one given tarmac runways and concrete ramps or were planned to be upgraded. That's why they tended to try to operate from shared permanent fields in France, and only from temporary fields near the front when they had to. The planes in turn were spec'd for flying from hardened smooth runways for the greater part of their service life.

It doesn't matter how you're trained in a 109, if you're coming down on a new temporary strip every few days or every week during a campaign, with only a cursory inspection of the runway and ramp by the LW's advance parties. These can't help but be rougher and be expected to be rougher than any permanent field, and as Blitzkrieg depended on their forward support the aircraft had to cope with this extra degree of rough terrain.

I'm not talking about taxiiing into the wind being a problem - of course runways are oriented into the prevailing wind - I'm talking about the visibility problem endemic of an aircraft with a long inline engine. A Hurricane or Spitfire pilot had to weave from side to side while taxiing to get a view of straight-ahead...or at a pinch could lean their head put of the cockpit to one side or the other...but a 109 pilot couldn't!!! (As Rall confirmed in that interview) Not out of a SIDE-hinged cockpit!

Also, the longer undercarriage struts mounted further forward twoeards the edge of the wing meant the 109 ALSO ran HIGHER in the nose than the longer, straight-cowled Spitfire, greatly adding to the problem.

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Post by Ome_Joop » 10 Jan 2008 07:18

AL Schlageter wrote:
By December 1938, 168 109E-1/E-3s have been delivered

when the first 2 E-1s were flown in Nov 1938? That is some manufacturing miracle! Besides, the Delivery Plan No 10 of Jan 1 1939 called for 14 E-1 machines.
Maybe because the E-3 started production in fall 1938?

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Post by AL Schlageter » 10 Jan 2008 07:58

Production of the Bf 109E-1 was delayed by problems with the DB601 engine. The pre-production E-0s were ready by December 1938, by which point complete 109E-1 airframes were being made. However the engine did not appear until the spring of 1939. This partly explains the sudden rapid appearance of the 109E in Luftwaffe service over the summer of 1939 – all that was left to do was fit the engine to the aircraft.

An E-1 or E-3 was not of much use without an engine.

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Post by Ome_Joop » 10 Jan 2008 09:13

as production was already started (1937/38?) of the Db-601Aa i think atleast some airframes would have been equiped with them?

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Post by JodelFlieger » 10 Jan 2008 11:36

Hi Phylo,
Whilst the LW did operate from rough airstrips, so did everybody else.The British were concerned about their Spit's spindly legs ability to cope on rough fields but for the most part, it coped.Conversely, the Russians didn't like the Spitfire's legs and prefered the Airacobra...as for the long nose, the Macchi 202/205 and other Italian ling-nosed fighters were also a serious pain to taxy, so it wasn't just a problem for the LW.The bulges on the later 109s nose made it ever more hazardous to taxi.The geometry of the 109's legs was part of the problem.Splaying the legs in two directions, ie; splayed out from the centreline and then toeing out the wheels just added to the problem.Physically, the strenth of the legs themselves wasn't a problem, just their geometry.The loss rate from ground accidents of the 109 was appalling. All of the other DB-engined fighters were much better to handle.Clearly, Messerschmitt felt that he knew better than every other fighter designer.......whilst the British did have lovely Sector airfields to fly from, they also had emergency and relief landing grounds that were simply rolled meadows and as an institution, they also had two decades of operating from rough surfaces overseas.Operating from lovely hard surfaces was not the norm. The Jadgwaffe were also quite content to use French and Polish airfield as they captured them.In Russia, they kept wrecking aircraft on seized Russian airstrips until they learned from PoWs how the Russians preserved the integrity of their airstrips in winter and adopted the same tactic.....The quality of the training did matter.The only late war pilots to survive were either the last of the old hands or the ex-bomber pilots, who had plenty of experience in other aircraft.The rest died like flies(1000 a month,Galland) or survived only because the fuel shortage kept them grounded.
regards
JF

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Post by Kurfürst » 10 Jan 2008 11:42

Ome_Joop wrote:as production was already started (1937/38?) of the Db-601Aa i think atleast some airframes would have been equiped with them?
Don`t believe false information posted. 'AL Schlageter' is interested only in inciting a flame war. It`s part of his personal feud against my person and serves no useful purpose for this thread. It`s best to ignore him or report to the moderatonal team. I will certainly do so from now on.

For example he says :
Besides, the Delivery Plan No 10 of Jan 1 1939 called for 14 E-1 machines.
In reality, it`s only the order for the Messerschmitt factory.

The complete order was for E-1s (ie. E-3 order is not included), by factory :

Messerschmitt : 14
Focke-Wulf :90
Ago : 80
Fieseler : 447
Arado - Warnemünde : 442

Up to 31 December 1938, the following deliveries were completed :

Messerschmitt delivered 12 E-1s, 20 E-3s,
Focke-Wulf 2 E-1s,
Ago 1 E-1 and
Erla 133 E-3s.

Total 168 E-1 and E-3.

The information on Bf 109E production I`ve posted can be checked from RLM Flugzeugbeschaffungs Programm Nr. 10 von 01.01.1939. It gives deliveries performed up to 31 December 1938.

It can be cross checked from the order of battle for the LW fighter units displaying 104 Bf 109Es on strenght with operational units on 8th January 1939 : http://ww2.dk/oob/statistics/se8139.htm

By to 31 March 1939, the deliveries from factories amounted to :

181 E-1s
325 E-3s
Total 506 Emils

On 13 April 1939, there are 358 Emils are operational with units:

http://ww2.dk/oob/statistics/se13439.htm

168 Emils listed as delivered by 31 December 1938, 104 Emils with operational units a week later.

506 Emils listed as delivered by 31 March 1939, 358 Emils with operational units 2 weeks later.

Doesn`t sound like they were sitting around without engines, especially as one considered that by February-March 1939, they could ever spare some 45 Bf 109Es and send them to Spain for evaluation.
Last edited by Kurfürst on 10 Jan 2008 13:30, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Kurfürst » 10 Jan 2008 11:59

phylo_roadking wrote:The 109 was a short-range fighter designed to take on an enemy's fighters over the Blitzkrieg battlefield, and either clear them down to allow the LW's tactical bombers through, or provide escort.
This is a bit what 20/20 hindsight tells us, but originally the 109 was desigined for the same short range interceptor, DEFENSIVE duties the Spitfire or the Hurricane, the primarly concern being the fast, monoplane bomber, back in the 1930 seen as a threat that will 'always get through', and even outrun biplane fighters trying to catch it.

Operating from the 'Blitzkrieg' forward airfield was something that it did a lot later, though never particularly meant for in the original requirements from 1935, though it`s easy servicability and facilitated modular layout - that was to provide it a chance of a second chase of enemy bombers after refuel/rearm, or even re-engined in just 15 mins - helped a lot in those crude conditions in the forward airfields of Africa and Russia.

phylo_roadking wrote:I'm not talking about taxiiing into the wind being a problem - of course runways are oriented into the prevailing wind - I'm talking about the visibility problem endemic of an aircraft with a long inline engine. A Hurricane or Spitfire pilot had to weave from side to side while taxiing to get a view of straight-ahead...or at a pinch could lean their head put of the cockpit to one side or the other...but a 109 pilot couldn't!!! (As Rall confirmed in that interview) Not out of a SIDE-hinged cockpit!
That`s why the side-hinged canopy had sliding panels on the side and top of the canopy that could be opened just for that. ;) In any case, as you noted the forward view from taildraggers was appealing and next to nothing during taxying - that`s why they kept weawing to see at least something about things in front.

BTW, a while ago I`ve made a dimension comparison of the Malcolm Hood and the early Bf 109 canopy (later one would have the same dimensions though, just less struts), since it was already bought up, I think I`ll share it. It is based on accurate wartime German and Russian drawings, it is scaled and measurements can be read on it, too.

You can also get a fair idea of the size of the early Spitfire canopy before the Malcolm was introduced, iirc, early 1942...? It`s the same actually, just the inner lines without the added 'bubble'. No wonder they introduced the Malcolm, it was pretty tight originally.

Image
Also, the longer undercarriage struts mounted further forward twoeards the edge of the wing meant the 109 ALSO ran HIGHER in the nose than the longer, straight-cowled Spitfire, greatly adding to the problem.
I doubt the undercarriage lenght would be any different, since it was dicated by the propeller disc diamater, rather the same on both planes; roughly the same position, too.

BTW, it`s the other way around, the more forward the u/c is, the lower the nose will be. ;)

The chief design difference was that the Spitfire mounted the fuel tank between the cocpit and engine, and the Merlin also had the supercharger behind to engine, so it made the cowling quite a bit longer than on the 109; the DB engine was also an inverted Vee-12, which meant the cowling could narrower on the top and somewhat less obstructing than with a upright-Vee12 such as the Merlin (R-R was also toying with that idea, but dropped it, probably because they would run into technical problems without direct fuel injection).

In any case, it`s a tiny little detail, the bottomline is, there are only two kinds of forward view offered by taildraggers during taxy : bad and even worse.

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Post by tonyh » 10 Jan 2008 12:10

JodelFlieger wrote:Hello all,
Tonyh, I'd tend to disagree about the assertion that the average German pilot was better than the average Allied pilot.I think that's too big a statement to make.Allied pilots were getting more flight hours in training as the war went on(certainly greater than 200 hours whilst German pilots were getting as few as 60) and, of course, German pilots were getting less.
OK, I may not have been clear in my previous post. Comparing an Allied "average" pilot to a German "average" pilot is two very different things.

True, an Allied pilot of late 43 into 44 etc would have had been through a longer training process and would have been considered "average" by the time he was through 20+ operational sorties.

However, while there were severe cuts in the Luftwaffe training programs, any German pilot with just 20+ ops would have been considered a "rookie" by the luftwaffe, by virtue of the fact that sortie rate of a German pilot vastly outstripped his Allied counterpart.

The "average" German pilot usually had quite a large amount of operational sorties flown before he was considered as such.

What you're comparing in you example above is an "average" Allied pilot and a "rookie" German pilot.
tonyh, the rudder trim is of vital importance, given that a fixed trim tab only works correctly at one airspeed.The Mustang was one fighter where the pilots had it beaten into their heads to constantly retrim with every power change.There was a little slip ball on the gunsight of the P-51, right in front of the pilot's eyes and the pilots were directed by their instructors not to fire unless the ball was exactly centred, by trimming out the flight loads, otherwise they'd be sure to miss.If a 109 pilot goes from cruising, at say 150 mph, to a diving attack at 400 mph, he'll have to administer a hefty foot pressure to the rudder pedal to keep the aircraft in trim and then unload the foot pressure as he pitches up to climb away again. I'm sure the 109 pilots were probably very good at coping with it but a rudder trimmer would have saved them the bother, for a small change in production
Well, I'll have to disagree. I don't think that rudder trim was that important in the combat zone and diverting attention to constantly adjusting your rudder trim with every speed/alt/attitude change would be a full time job in itself.

Whatever the case may be, as I said, Jadgwaffe pilots didn't seem to have that much of a problem with it in reality.

As to the mustang and the trim/gunnery situation, as I also said earlier, wing mounted guns are naturally a more unstable platform than a nose mounted config which suffers less from yaw and torque effects than a wing mount.

Pony pilots didn't just have the importance of trim "beaten" into them because of gunnery issues, it was of vital importance because the average sortie for a P-51 pilot was a long affair and therefore trimming your aircraft for transit was essential if the pilot was to be fresh enough in the combat zone.

A BF109 simply could not have done the job that the P-51 was designed to do.
.....I appreciate that M.Hanna died in a Buchon but the aircraft is as near as dammit to a 109G without actually being an exact one(apart from the engine going the other way around, of course).To the poster who made the point about Hartmann using G6s, I think it was Col Tolliver who made the point that Hartmann used the G6s because the later G10s and G14s his unit had were so badly built that it was too risky to fly them.The G6s were better built.
regards
JF
Hmmmm....not it's not. They may look similar from behind the engine but they are quite different aircraft. They weigh different, they fly different and they are engined different all resulting in compounded handling difficulties that the real BF109 didn't suffer from.

I read a quote from a Luftwaffe pilot on the Buchon stating that if the Buchon was proposed for military service in the Jadgwaffe, it wouldn't have got past the prototype stage.


Tony

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Post by Kurfürst » 10 Jan 2008 12:26

Good post!
tonyh wrote:I haven't heard read complaints from pilots about the lack of rudder trim though. Rudder trim at combat speeds is pretty useless considering that the speed of the aircraft would be changing all the time. If a pilot was trying to combat yaw during a scrap, he would spend most of his attention on that instead of fighting the enemy. I wouldn't imagine that is was that drastic a problem for 109 pilots.
I didn`t have heard complaints from 109 pilots either; Allied evaluations mention the lack of rudder trim, I guess it was unusal to them, but I doubt it was much of a problem for the same reasons you`ve mentioned.

It`s odd BTW to see this always mentioned only in regards of the 109 - it wasn`t a 109 specific trim, aviation industry standards in Germany at the time simply did not call for rudder/aileron trim to have on aircraft below 5 tons (since these would short endurance interceptors anyway).

For this reason, the FW 190 didn`t have rudder or aileron trim either.
the ability to turn tightly is not everything but being outturned by virtually all of your opponents at combat speeds is not healthy and the dive and zoom tactic was not always viable, especially at the low altitudes used in the Eastern Front.
Actually the Bf 109 was a pretty decent turner aside it`s good vertical manouveribilty, blessed with benign stall characteristics. Certainly there were better turners than it, but this is pretty much true for all WW2 fighters, perhaps expect the Zero.

Not that it helped the generally slower opposition that would turn better, given the combat record, against fast, modern tactics. It didn`t help the Zero, despite IJN pilots were probably the best trained in the World at the time.
whilst all liquid-cooled fighters are more vulnerable to flak than radial engined fighters, the early fighters of WW II had little or no belly or radiator armour and were lost from comparatively light antiaircraft damage.The 109 didn't get decent underside armour until it was changed to a fighter-bomber.
Well I do not know of ANY WW2 fighters that would sport a belly armor in the first place - FW 190Fs did, but those were ground attack versions. Apart from that, the armor on a fighter was generally restricted to a head and back steel plate behind, and armored glass front.

And I certainly do not know of any other fighter that would sport armor for the radiators, except for the 109G (maybe the F too, given the similiarity) is described in primary documents having 'radiator armor'; in addition, if one of the radiators was hit and leaking coolant, it could be cut off from the cocpit and the aircraft return to base on the remaining radiator without loosing coolant completely.

I know of no other liquid-cooled fighter fighter that had similiar protection for it`s vulnerable coolant sysyem.
Last edited by Kurfürst on 10 Jan 2008 15:32, edited 1 time in total.

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 10 Jan 2008 12:31

The loss rate from ground accidents of the 109 was appalling. All of the other DB-engined fighters were much better to handle.Clearly, Messerschmitt felt that he knew better than every other fighter designer.......
I think you are being far too harsh on both the BF109 and Willie Messerschmitt. The "loss" rate for ground accidents you have to be very careful with. Quite often the "loss" was made up in a matter of hours with a new undercarrage and a new prop. Hardly a "loss" in strict standards. The aircraft could be back in the air the next day, if the replacement parts were available.

Also, Messerschmitt had to make a design compromise based on what he had at the time. The wing on the BF109 was designed very thin for a payoff on areodynamic result. It simply could not have taken the landing gear mechanisims, hence it HAD to be attached to the fusilage for strength.

It's not the ideal situation by any means and it is a drawback in the design, but it certainly didn't make the aircraft a bad one.

Tony

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