The Me 109....

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Kurfürst
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Post by Kurfürst » 10 Jan 2008 13:44

The question of Bf 109 landing/takeoff accidents was discussed a while ago on another board. Olivier Lefebrve, an absolutely awesome guy ;) and a serious researcher of the Bf 109 technical history with a very large collection of primary sources on the type, posted this something like two years ago on the matter :

FYI checking my 109 incident/accident list mentions less than 1000 takeoff/landing accident out of 26000 cases...

An example :
Bf 109G-2 (wknr 10619) of I./JG 5 on 27-Aug-43 suffered a landing accident in Norwegen, at Fl.Pl. Oslo-Fornebu and was 20% damaged.
It's a typical accident, pilot not injured and a/c slightly damaged on landing.

When introduced the Bf 109 had a relatively high rate of failure/accident but in line with the other a/c being introduced at the time. For instance in 1937 there were just 29 accidents each resulting in injuries.

This stuff is detailled in either the medical corps documents relative to a/c accidents or the Quartermaster listing for damaged a/c.


The landing gear was attached to the fuselage that is true. Such narrow, outward retracting landing gears were quite typical at the time for fighters - look at the Spitfire, I 16 etc.

Mounting the undercarriage to the fuselage brought some nice bonuses though : it was very suitable for production and maintaince. If you look at Bf 109 production pictures, you can see the aircraft is assambled standing on it`s own 'legs' all the time, while engine, weapons, radios etc. were built in -
but the wings are not attached until the last phase of production. This saved a lot of place in the assembly halls and allowed more planes to worked on at the same time, it was also easier to move the airframes between one station and the other. You couldn`t do the same if they would have been attached to the wings, the wings or at least wing stubs would have to in place all the time.

It was also advantagous on the field and during transportation. Aircraft could be placed on railway cars or towed by trucks by their tails - this was a design requirement from the RLM btw - standing/rolling on their own undercarriage with the wings removed and placed on the railcar/truck; damaged wings could be removed and replaced without disassambling the whole undercarriage system and placing the aircraft on something during the process. In short it made things much easier for maintaince and production.

Dave Bender
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Jumo213 was much better than every DB-engine

Post by Dave Bender » 10 Jan 2008 14:04

Why do you say that? The Ju-213 engine was ready for mass production in 1943. Let's compare it to a DB series engine from 1943.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_Jumo_213
Ju-213A Engine
1,750 hp.
940 kg dry weight.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daimler-Benz_DB_603
DB 603A Engine
1,750 hp.
920 kg dry weight.

Both engines had the pressurized water cooling system critical for high altitude performance. Both had fuel injection for good performance at negative Gs. Both had versions with supercharger installations that provided superior high altitude performance. Looks like 2 peas in a pod to me.

A hypothetical 1941 DB powered FW-190 would use the DB601E engine (i.e. Me-109F) producing 1,350 hp, but weighing only 590 kg. Obviously performance would be lower, but probably still very good for a 1941 model aircraft. In fact it is likely to be at least as good as the historical Fw-190A-1 with 1,560 hp BMW 801C-2 engine. The DB engine weighs less and you get the aerodynamic advantage of having a more streamlined nose. At high altitude there is no comparison as that is where both the DB and Ju-213 engines were superior. Having the capability for a 30mm cannon firing through the prop shaft is also nice, for those tough jobs like heavy bombers. You can probably get away with 2 (rather then the historical 4) 20mm cannons in the wings.

AL Schlageter
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Post by AL Schlageter » 10 Jan 2008 15:19

Kurfurst, if you have a problem with what I posted please take it up with Willy Radinger, Walter Schick and the web master of this site, http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/we ... _109E.html.

Do you have the monthly production numbers for 1938?

All these production numbers are still irrelevant with regards to Dave Bender's question.
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.
True Tony.

Why do some people get so defensive when some faults of the Bf109 pointed out? It wasn't perfect but then no airplane is.
I didn`t have heard complaints from 109 pilots either; Allied evaluations mention the lack of rudder trim
I didn't complain about steering a car until I drove one with power steering. One doesn't complain about something if they don't know what they are missing.
even re-engined in just 15 mins
That is with a full crew of 8-9 mechanics. Normal time was around 8 hours.
that`s why the side-hinged canopy had sliding panels on the side and top of the canopy that could be opened
Not all 109s had sliding panels. Beginning with the G-6 a new canopy design done away with the sliding panels.
R-R was also toying with that idea, but dropped it, probably because they would run into technical problems without direct fuel injection
What would these technical problems be? RR had engines with inverted cylinders that did't have FI.
The BF109D used a carb Jumo210D.

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 10 Jan 2008 15:33

True Tony.

Why do some people get so defensive when some faults of the Bf109 pointed out? It wasn't perfect but then no airplane is.
Because usually the angle is "the BF109 was a crap plane because..." and that is demonstrably false.

No one here is saying that the BF109 didn't have any faults, but as has been stated, those faults were quite minor and in the end didn't affect the the aircrafts performance to a point where it ceased to be an effective combat machine.

Some people just don't like the 109...although I just don't know why some have such a hatred for an aircraft that flew over 60 years ago. It makes no sense to me.

Not that anyone is expressing such hatred on this thread...just to be clear.

Tony

AL Schlageter
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Post by AL Schlageter » 10 Jan 2008 16:08

tonyh wrote:
True Tony.

Why do some people get so defensive when some faults of the Bf109 pointed out? It wasn't perfect but then no airplane is.
Because usually the angle is "the BF109 was a crap plane because..." and that is demonstrably false.

No one here is saying that the BF109 didn't have any faults, but as has been stated, those faults were quite minor and in the end didn't affect the the aircrafts performance to a point where it ceased to be an effective combat machine.

True.
Some do have a problem when the faults of the design are pointed out and get quite defensive.


Some people just don't like the 109...although I just don't know why some have such a hatred for an aircraft that flew over 60 years ago. It makes no sense to me.

Yes I ask the same question with regards to the Spitfire. There is one who I have come across on the net who displays the most passionate hatred for the Spit that doesn't come close to those that dislike the 109.

Not that anyone is expressing such hatred on this thread...just to be clear.

Tony
Just to be clear, I don't have a hatred for the 109.

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phylo_roadking
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Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Jan 2008 17:20

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.
That's my point. It "coped" with an environmental variable that it wasn't expressly designed for.
the Russians didn't like the Spitfire's legs and prefered the Airacobra
Exactly ;)
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
Again - exactly :)
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
Just as a matter of opinion, JF - have you ever ridden a motorcyle? ;) What do you know about motorcycle suspension?
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.
Spurious linking of two things together. Those "rough surfaces" in the Empire were not as rough as you think, but WERE hard ;) Witness the memoirs of various long-serving RAF officers, like Park and Harris, for more details on the RAF aborad in the Interwar years....and the WWI era aircraft that literally had their undercarriages held together with string in the absence of any spares, etc. ...AND you've said it yourself - "emergency and relief landing grounds" - but actually in the main they used the plethora of existing local flying club fields first as these would have long had any obstacles in the approach line marked or removed ;)
__________________________________

Kurfurst - I didn't make myself clear - the RAF monoplane fighters could and often did taxi, and often take off, with their cockpits open, something the 109 couldn't do, they had to be buttoned up before taxiing!
BTW, it`s the other way around, the more forward the u/c is, the lower the nose will be
ONLY if the two compared strut lengths are the same!
Last edited by phylo_roadking on 10 Jan 2008 17:22, edited 1 time in total.

JodelFlieger
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Post by JodelFlieger » 10 Jan 2008 17:21

Hello all,
Kurfurst, thanks for posting up the canopy dimensions.Very interesting.
To all, I've always found the 109 to be a fascinating aircraft,despite what appear to me to be glaring faults that other designers were not prepared to tolerate......the point about the gear being attached to the fuselage is well made and it was very useful for production and changing wings and so on but if it induced more accidents then utility was being championed over survivability.I read somewhere that some Staffeln made up "kits" of 109 spares, such as props, wing tips, mainlegs,radiators,castings,etc so that the 109 could be repaired rapidly off-base and flown home, rather than try to drag or wheel it home over bad terrain....the Spitfire's main gear was widened in track in later models,so they too must have been fed up with the narrow gear.
regards to all
JF

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Tim Smith
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Post by Tim Smith » 10 Jan 2008 18:38

Going back to the original topic, I would argue that the Fiat G.55 Serie I was a better fighter than the contemporary Me 109G-6.

The Me 109 was faster, with a top speed (without boost) of 398 mph compared to the G.55's 385 mph. But the G.55 had better handling, and was far more heavily armed, with three 20mm cannon instead of only one (also both aircraft had 2 heavy machine guns.)

Once the R6 Rüstsatz modification was added to the Me 109G-6 (two 20mm cannon pods under the wings) the 109's speed was reduced to 386 mph, no faster than the G.55.

Anyone disagree?

JodelFlieger
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Post by JodelFlieger » 10 Jan 2008 20:07

Hi Phylo
The RAF did operate from rough strips, just like everyone else.The LW didn't have a monopoly on bad runways....I've driven plenty of motorbikes and flown plenty of aircraft, none of which ever had landing gear like a 109's! Even the 108, from which it came, had tyres running in line with the centreline.The 109 reminds me of Citroen cars with all their quirks.You either loved them or hated them and M.Citroen would not change them for anyone....if I had the chance, I'd love to fly a 109, just to get it in the logbok.The last Spanish two-seat Buchon is long since derelict(sigh!)
regards
JF

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phylo_roadking
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Post by phylo_roadking » 10 Jan 2008 21:36

Yes of course they operated from rough strips - but this wasn't intended as their principal operating environment.
I've driven plenty of motorbikes and flown plenty of aircraft, none of which ever had landing gear like a 109's!
Moderm monoshock bikes, or twinshockers??? ;)

JodelFlieger
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Post by JodelFlieger » 10 Jan 2008 23:15

Hi Phylo,
every aircraft of the time had tyres designed for operation off grass and other non-hardened surface.tarred or concrete runways were not as commonplace then as now...the bikes I drove were the 70s/80s small stuff(Hondas/Suzis,etc) which all behaved like they were made of rubber(soft shocks, awful tyres,etc).
regards
JF

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phylo_roadking
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Post by phylo_roadking » 11 Jan 2008 00:19

Ok, we're getting closer ;) You have to remember that the generation of fighters designed in the early and mid-1030s with retracting undercarriages were the first ones to use what WE now regard as commonplace - oil-damped coil-sprung hydraulic dampers. In some cases they were only "lookalikes", the tubular legs being internally damped and sprung by rubber. All our cars use them for suspension nowadays, and we are isolated from the vibration of the engines in them by miniature versions of these dampers.

However, at the time these aircraft were designed - this hydraulic suspension technology was ALSO very new and far more primitive than nowadays. "Seals" were just hard-vulcanised rubber "o"-rings, "suspension fluid" was just plain rubber-nonfriendly oils, NOT latex-friendly seal-swelling synthetics. Designers could design and have built struts that would support the tons' weight of aircraft on landing...but couldn't in any way "tune" suspension units like they can today.

So, how in those days did you make a long-length and long-travel suspension strut that not only actually held up the aircraft's weight but at the same time was soft enough to cope with ALL types of surface? Remember, you CAN'T "dial in" performance like you can nowadays - how do you actually soften the suspension unit and still make it's preferably-long travel (to soak up the bumps) keeps the aircraft off the ground but isn't overly high?

The answer is simple, and something that has been neglected with time and better technology. You cant it over. Here's examples of the same model of postwar Veolcette motorcycle...these bikes were originally designed with their trade mark "arc of a circle" bracketry to allow the UNADJUSTABLE suspension units to be moved. Why?

Image

Note the circled portion of the pic. The top mount of the suspension unit is moved closer to vertical - for a firmer ride with a fixed amount of travel...

BUT

Image

...on THIS bike the top mount has been moved, canting the suspension unit over more. Why? To SOFTEN the same amount of suspension travel when you have no form of adjustment ON the strut ;)

Thus a 109 with its struts canted forward and outward - canted in TWO directions from the centreline - has a softer but well-damped suspension action AND can have a longer travel.

Image

So although the earlier marks of 109s had problems courtesy of narrow wheelbase on landing...they had BETTER suspension action than the more upright-in-two-directions undercarriages of the Hurricanes and Spitfires - leading to these having traditionally-"weaker" suspension struts. They weren't actually weaker - just had a harder action with less damping and travel so took more impact and thus wear/damage on landing.

(JF, check out the angle of rear shocks on 1970's twin-shock off road bikes ;) you'll see what I mean)

Motorcycles were the first post-war application of this suspension technology, which was so new that only a couple of racing bikes had it BEFORE the war - the Kompressor BMWs of 1935-39 and the Gardengate Nortons of 1939. Cars/lorries relied on boring old leaf springs for decades afterwards.

JodelFlieger
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Post by JodelFlieger » 11 Jan 2008 12:30

Hi Phylo,
Thanks for the gen.That's very interesting,indeed.I'll have to give credit where credit is due then.So, I suppose the 109's reputation as being difficult to land and taxi needs to be corrected then.Although, Mark Hanna's airtest of the G10 spoke of the need not to allow the aircraft to wander, even at very low taxi speeds, as, in his words, it would make a dart for the hedge......the velo is lovely, by the way.I used to have a Heinkel Tourist myself, so perhaps I'm subliminally biased.
regards
JF

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Unknown but important details

Post by Dave Bender » 11 Jan 2008 14:33

So although the earlier marks of 109s had problems courtesy of narrow wheelbase on landing...they had BETTER suspension action than the more upright-in-two-directions undercarriages of the Hurricanes and Spitfires - leading to these having traditionally-"weaker" suspension struts. They weren't actually weaker - just had a harder action with less damping and travel so took more impact and thus wear/damage on landing
Thanks. That is an important piece of information which I have never seen anywhere else. It goes a long way towards explaining why the Me-109 undercarriage was considered good enough as is, not worth the cost of a major redesign to move the landing struts further apart.

Something else usually ommitted from most history books is the relatively smooth performance curve at all altitudes of the DB series engines due to the variable speed supercharger coupling. Allied aircraft with their multi-stage turbochargers often had superior performance at specific altitudes - the altitudes at which the various turbocharge stages were optimized for. Between those altitudes engine performance was less then optimal. That is a drawback when the fighting goes vertical, with rapidly changing altitudes. The good Me-109 pilots usually preferred to fight in the vertical, taking advantage of their excellent climb and dive performance. The smooth performance curve of the DB engines made the Me-109 advantage for boom & zoom fighting more pronounced. Me-109 pilots who learned to take advantage of their superior vertical performance are the ones who racked up 100+ kills. Me-109 pilots who didn't get it and attempted to dogfight are the ones that got shot down with few or no kills to their credit.

Kurfürst
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Post by Kurfürst » 11 Jan 2008 14:47

Mark Hanna flew (and sadly, died in) a Merlin engined Buchon, not the G-10. His comments about the 109s is about the Buchon, which from what I`ve read from the Southwood, who flew the 'proper' G-2/trop, has worse directional stability than the DB powered 109s. Probably the different engine is not so much suited for the airframe than the one it was designed around - the Merlin turns the opposite way than the DB, for example.

The 109s 'tendency' to swing is quite normal, it`s a result of the propeller torque and you`d experience it on any other high-powered WW2 fighter. AFAIK what actually made the 109 prone to groundlooping was the fact the aircraft had a rear centre of gravity on the ground, and this would exaggrevate any starting swing, unless rapidly corrected w. the brakes/rudder. Later models lessened this problem in several ways (larger tyres, long tailwheel, larger tail unit etc.). A different design would yield different problems - Spit pilots had to cope with the tendency to nose over, Mustang pilots had to cope with insufficent aileron control at low speeds, FW 190 pilots with relatively high landing speeds etc. In the case of the 109, the case is a bit overdone IMHO - at least there`s no striking differences in losses due non combat related accidents between the LW`s 109 and 190units.

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