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Messerschmitt Bf 109 Vs North American P-51 Mustang

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Not necessarily wrong, but not quite right either. There's not much to chose between the two and it really depends on a lot of things which will be the better turner, but as a general trend, the 109 does have an edge.

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Don't get into this fight about the 109 VS the P-51. Just sit in your chair where you are and say to yourself the answer. :good:

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Let's see if 20 years of reading arguments on the interwebs have taught me anything ... ;)

 

 

You can compare climb-rates, lift, firepower, etc til the cows come home, but: IMO all that stuff's pretty irrelevant here. And here's why:

 

The Mustang had certain advantages on its side that have nothing to do with aircraft performance/design. Sheer numbers is one thing, pilot training is another. Germany still had aces flying for her when the Mustang first appeared, yes, but most LW-pilots at that stage of the war were probably "n00bs" that had only received a shortened version of the elaborate training earlier generations of LW-flyers had enjoyed.

 

One thing I will say for the Mustang is that it was the right plane for its task. It's no wonder that it was held in such high regard, simply because it was the only plane that could escort the bombers all they way into German territory, fight there and escort the bombers back. It certainly wasn't a bad fighter per se, but it also certainly wasn't the "überplane" that post-war legend has made it out to be. When dozens of Allied planes gang up on a handful of Axis planes, it doesn't matter much which planes are flown by either side (unless you're talking about a crass technological mismatch like, F-16s vs Sopwith Camels or something ;) ).

 

Another thing I will mention is that, IMO, the 109 has suffered greatly from "winners writing history"-syndrome. Almost every sim that I can remember represented 109s as lazy handling dogs for some reason or another when in reality, the 109 was very much competitive during most of the war. Yes: The early G-6 certainly was a step back (heavier without enough additional power, more drag due to changes to the airframe, etc. ). However: There has to be a reason why the 109 produced more aces than any other fighter in human history and why quite a few LW-pilots preferred to stay in 109s even when they were offered the chance to switch to more modern designs. Including Hartmann himself who didn't want to trade in his 109 for either the 190 or the 262. There also must be a reason why they built so many of the damn things. Sure: Designing a whole new plane and getting it into production in the middle of a war is no small feat, but if the 109 was considered such a bad or obsolete design, I'm pretty sure the powers that be would've phased it out a lot sooner.

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Let's see if 20 years of reading arguments on the interwebs have taught me anything ... ;)

 

 

You can compare climb-rates, lift, firepower, etc til the cows come home, but: IMO all that stuff's pretty irrelevant here. And here's why:

 

The Mustang had certain advantages on its side that have nothing to do with aircraft performance/design. Sheer numbers is one thing, pilot training is another. Germany still had aces flying for her when the Mustang first appeared, yes, but most LW-pilots at that stage of the war were probably "n00bs" that had only received a shortened version of the elaborate training earlier generations of LW-flyers had enjoyed.

 

One thing I will say for the Mustang is that it was the right plane for its task. It's no wonder that it was held in such high regard, simply because it was the only plane that could escort the bombers all they way into German territory, fight there and escort the bombers back. It certainly wasn't a bad fighter per se, but it also certainly wasn't the "überplane" that post-war legend has made it out to be. When dozens of Allied planes gang up on a handful of Axis planes, it doesn't matter much which planes are flown by either side (unless you're talking about a crass technological mismatch like, F-16s vs Sopwith Camels or something ;) ).

 

Another thing I will mention is that, IMO, the 109 has suffered greatly from "winners writing history"-syndrome. Almost every sim that I can remember represented 109s as lazy handling dogs for some reason or another when in reality, the 109 was very much competitive during most of the war. Yes: The early G-6 certainly was a step back (heavier without enough additional power, more drag due to changes to the airframe, etc. ). However: There has to be a reason why the 109 produced more aces than any other fighter in human history and why quite a few LW-pilots preferred to stay in 109s even when they were offered the chance to switch to more modern designs. Including Hartmann himself who didn't want to trade in his 109 for either the 190 or the 262. There also must be a reason why they built so many of the damn things. Sure: Designing a whole new plane and getting it into production in the middle of a war is no small feat, but if the 109 was considered such a bad or obsolete design, I'm pretty sure the powers that be would've phased it out a lot sooner.

Either way, these issues need to be adressed:

 

1.You write how P-51 just met "untrained pilots", while you say that it "produced the most aces".

 

You know where those aces were mostly "born"? During early days of technologically and numerically inferior Poland (P.11c vs Bf109E), during battle of France, where Luftwaffe had numerical superiority, during BoB where many Hurricane and Spitfire pilots had 7h of flight training on their aircraft, during invasion of Soviet Union, which had not resolved any of its problems concerning fighter pilot training untill the last months of the war! 1941-45 most soviet pilots had few hours of flight training and 0 combat training. During early 1942 some were even flying two training flights and had to go to war and die, without radios, without radar, without training on inferior aircraft (at least speed wise). And I am not even going into different doctrines where allied airplanes flew in close 3-ship formations in V leaving no ability to maneuver or maintain SA.

 

So, why "did the 109 produce so many aces?". Lets see, by attacking/invading everyone and having the initiative for a very long time, beeing the bigest modern airforce in Europe and fighting mostly untrained or badly trained, illequiped units that had bad tactics and strategy?

 

2. Numbers game.

Bf109 is the most produced fighter aircraft of the world in history. Second overall to the IL2. 33.300 109s. In comparisson 15.586 Mustangs were built.

 

Secondly, it is normal during offensive operations that you concentrate forces for an attack. Therfore, when attacker makes his move, he usually has the numerical superiority. So did Luftwaffe when they attacked Poland, Belgium, Holand, France, Britian, Norway, Soviet Union and many other countries. It is the tactical numerical superiority that counts. Yes, on many accounts over strategic view the Luftwaffe was "smaller" than combined allied airforces. But as long as III Reich was on the move, it had the initative and was active and not reactive, therfore it could consolidate units for an attack and they did. Plus, they were the only country ready for this war in 1939 therfore taking everyone by suprise and having experienced Condor Legion pilots.

 

3. Pilots wanted to stay with the 109 even though other planes were avialable.

The reason is the same as with P-40 pilots not wanting to change to P-47 and P-47 pilots not wanting to convert to P-51 and F-14 pilots not wanting to convert to F-18 etc.

 

Pilot's like their machines and they learned to operate them and feel a bond to them, especially after many combat sorties. As long as they were successful they do not want to leave the airplane.

 

4. The "better" fighter.

You know why 109 has such a low regard by history?

a) cramped, small cockpit with poor visbility to the back

b) short range

c) small bomb load

d) very hard to land and take off properly (steep learning curve)

e) heavy stick forces at high speeds

 

All of those problems were adressed by the Fw190 (well maybe except the short range).

 

5. Every sim depicts 109 as "bad".

 

That argument I do not understand. In every sim that I have played, the 109 was a formidable airplane. Jane's AS, IL2 (46), CloD, BoS, DCS. In all of them 109s are very dangerous. I flew 109's for a very long time in Il2 especially. They are an easy plane to do good in combat. But they have big flaws, which after years of experience started to make me look for something "better" and P-51D to me is better than the 109 because of two crucial qualities 1. Higher speed at all altitudes. 2 Better high speed maneuvrability. (And please do not try to bring the argument of the P-51D at 67'hg vs Bf109K4, compare it to a 72'hg or 75'hg one)

 

As long as you are faster and more maneuvrable at that high speed. You dictate the fight and if you feel that the guy next to you is "better", you just break away to go home and say "that was close" and go to your base drink a beer.

 

Disclamer. I am not saying that 109 is a bad fighter. Not at all. That would be a disservice to those that fell victim to it's guns. It had it's time of glory, but it was never a "super plane". It was good, better than some other in comparisson. Each version up to 1943 was better than the previous. It was a formidable foe till the end, but there are some designs that are objectively better and even Gunther Rall who was a great ace on the 109 was able to criticize it.

 

This old thing has been resurrected again?

 

It ain't the plane, son, it's the pilot!

 

The airplane is just as important as the pilot. And strategic and tactical situation is just as important as both airplane and its pilot.

Edited by =LD=Solty

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^ Also due to poor Soviets tactics of shackling fighter escorts to their bombers, forbidding them to pursuit the enemies, German fighters could attack with impunity.

 

Also, do not compare the P51D to late BF109K4, the contemporary of the K4 was the XP51F/G/J, all completely outclassed the K4 in all aspects(including climb).

Edited by GrapeJam

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So the XP51F/G/J were among the most numerous fighters the USAAF fielded in Europe in 1945?

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So the XP51F/G/J were among the most numerous fighters the USAAF fielded in Europe in 1945?

The only reason they didn't field them was because the P51D was considered "good enough" and by that time Germany was finished.

Edited by GrapeJam

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Therefore, no, they weren't.

 

They were development aircraft which, on the bottom line, never went into service. And at least the J, which had its first flight half a year after the K-4 entered series production, wasn't fit for service and development abandoned.

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They were from different timelines, different eras of aviation combat theory.

 

The 109 was designed in the era when biplanes were beginning to fade, but the first war tactics still were relevant: speed, yes - but also low speed maneuver and climb.

 

By the time the Mustang was built, the US had had combat experience against the Zero, and knew that speed will win over maneuver every time, even over climb rate. As long as you could dive at a high speed, and flew faster than the other guy, you could get away. And you could dictate the engagement. Was that cold-blooded? You bet. Did it work? You bet.

 

One was a plane from the era of romantic aerial dogfighting, had its best handling characteristics at speeds lower than 250mph, and could easily be flown on the low speed stalling side of the envelope. It was at its best a "pilot's plane".

 

The other was built for mass aerial warfare, using modern tactics and with a specific task. It was best at higher speeds and slashing attacks, where its stall characteristics and lack of automation (as compared to say, the FW or 109) would not be a handicap.

 

Different philosophies, different eras.

Edited by Venturi

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Thing is, every (mono)plane fighter after that "biplane era" was built speed first and foremost. No exceptions, even the Zero was built for speed, sacrificing a lot of maneuverability (by Japanese standards, that is) to get more speed. The designer of the Zero said himself, that maneuverability can be sacrificed because a good pilot can make up for that, but cannot for speed.

 

As for the 109, it was built for one thing and thing only. Speed. Everything in the designed aimed for that purpose only, you will realize that if you reads Messerschmitts thoughts on the subject, which goes in long way and fairly in depth how reducing wing area can gain you speed and be made up with - then rather novel - the use of high lift devices like slats and flaps which can provide sufficiently good landing speeds. And if you read memoirs of pilots, Soviet, German or other you will see that Luftwaffe fighter pilots stayed clear of maneuvering fights unless the conditions absolutely favored them, preferring to secure calculated advantage before engaging usually in high speed, diving attacks. In effect, it was stalking tactics. Any sensible pilot does that, that's the alfa and omega of air combat, and indeed, warfare, ever since Sun Tzu. Fight only when you can win, evade when you cannot.

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By the time the Mustang was built, the US had had combat experience against the Zero

 

A6M Introduction 1 July 1940

 

P-51 First flight 26 October 1940

 

The AVG Flying Tigers first saw combat on 20 December 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor.

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@Venturi the P51 is a project requested by the RAF. North American was suppose to build the P40 but promised better airplane in short time. It is an airplane from 1940. Romantic areal dogfighting was never really a thing. It was propaganda to make pilots look like gods during ww1. Oswald Boelcke has written how to engage the enemy.

Is the attack from the sun and behind, from blind spots romantic?

Edited by =LD=Solty

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The AVG Flying Tigers first saw combat on 20 December 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor.

 

.......and they didn't meet any Zeros.

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P-51 First flight 26 October 1940

 

It´s probably debatable of how much Mustang the NA-73X allready was, but good dam it looks good:

NA-73X-NX19998-.jpg

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I got no idea how Zeros are related to Mustangs. The documents that were formulated based on tests of A6M emphasized mostly Flying Qualities of the aircraft, stability and controlability. As a matter of fact Zero impressed NACA guys, including one of the most important guy in whole research and development of tools to reduce control forces and stability problems - William H. Phillips. In such good flying characteristics and controlability are something you would desire to be best on any aircraft, regardless if its high wing loading long range escort fighter or short range interceptor. 

But its not a topic about Zero so I wont throw here any hard arguments :)

Edited by =LD=Hiromachi

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The Dicta Boelcke, the first set of codified aerial combat rules devised in the Great War which you mention, Solty, advised a pilot should never run from a fight, but should always continue to engage an enemy (which means, turning with him). This is the exact opposite of modern doctrine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicta_Boelcke#2._Always_continue_with_an_attack_you_have_begun

So yes, there was romance in the "one on one" dogfight, which still continues, even in BOS...

 

@Venturi the P51 is a project requested by the RAF. North American was suppose to build the P40 but promised better airplane in short time. It is an airplane from 1940. Romantic areal dogfighting was never really a thing. It was propaganda to make pilots look like gods during ww1. Oswald Boelcke has written how to engage the enemy.

Is the attack from the sun and behind, from blind spots romantic?

 

 

The 109 was designed in the early 1930s, when the frontline RAF fighter (pic attached) was the Gloster Gladiator. Yes, it was built for speed - as you point out, which fighter is not? But it was a first gen monoplane fighter and that reflects in the design choices as compared to a second gen monoplane such as the Mustang. It is doctrine dictating design choices.

 

Thing is, every (mono)plane fighter after that "biplane era" was built speed first and foremost. No exceptions, even the Zero was built for speed, sacrificing a lot of maneuverability (by Japanese standards, that is) to get more speed. The designer of the Zero said himself, that maneuverability can be sacrificed because a good pilot can make up for that, but cannot for speed.

 

As for the 109, it was built for one thing and thing only. Speed. Everything in the designed aimed for that purpose only, you will realize that if you reads Messerschmitts thoughts on the subject, which goes in long way and fairly in depth how reducing wing area can gain you speed and be made up with - then rather novel - the use of high lift devices like slats and flaps which can provide sufficiently good landing speeds. And if you read memoirs of pilots, Soviet, German or other you will see that Luftwaffe fighter pilots stayed clear of maneuvering fights unless the conditions absolutely favored them, preferring to secure calculated advantage before engaging usually in high speed, diving attacks. In effect, it was stalking tactics. Any sensible pilot does that, that's the alf

 

 

The P-51 did not see combat in US hands until the -B model in late 1943. The Mustang I had its first combat sortie in July 1942 in RAF hands. It is interesting to note the original design was not requested by the USAAC, and was not ordered by the USAAF into production for USAAF use, until Aug 1942 for 1200 units as P-51A. By which time plenty of Zeros had been encountered.

 

 

A6M Introduction 1 July 1940

 

P-51 First flight 26 October 1940

 

The AVG Flying Tigers first saw combat on 20 December 1941, 12 days after Pearl Harbor.

 

 

post-16698-0-12080000-1470438771_thumb.jpg

Edited by Venturi

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The Dicta Boelcke, the first set of codified aerial combat rules devised in the Great War which you mention, Solty, advised a pilot should never run from a fight, but should always continue to engage an enemy (which means, turning with him). This is the exact opposite of modern doctrine.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dicta_Boelcke#2._Always_continue_with_an_attack_you_have_begun

So yes, there was romance in the "one on one" dogfight, which still continues, even in BOS...

 

 

 

The 109 was designed in the early 1930s, when the frontline RAF fighter (pic attached) was the Gloster Gladiator. Yes, it was built for speed - as you point out, which fighter is not? But it was a first gen monoplane fighter and that reflects in the design choices as compared to a second gen monoplane such as the Mustang. It is doctrine dictating design choices.

 

 

The P-51 did not see combat in US hands until the -B model in late 1943. The Mustang I had its first combat sortie in July 1942 in RAF hands. It is interesting to note the original design was not requested by the USAAC, and was not ordered by the USAAF into production for USAAF use, until Aug 1942 for 1200 units as P-51A. By which time plenty of Zeros had been encountered.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. "2. Always continue with an attack you have begun"

That means that when you already attacked, keep on pushing. Don't let him go, because if you brake off, the 5th rule applies, because you are showing your 6 o'clock. It doesn't mean "be a knigh tlike" it means "keep your initiative to win!".

Also, point:

"7. When over the enemy's lines, always remember your own line of retreat"

Remember that WW1 airplanes couldn't (mostly) dive away and just brake off. Try flying ROF and you will see what I mean.

 

2.

 

The UK a few months later had the Hurricane, which means it was switching to the same low wing mono-plane doctrine, just a bit slower... you know, because Germany wanted invade everyone, so they had to have war machines. Bf109 took inspiration from air races, same as the Spitfire. Faster meant better, they knew that from WW1. Because the faster the airplane, the quicker it can react to enemy bomber force and put a stop to the myth "the bomber always gets through". Remember. Work of the fighter revolves around the bomber.

 

Secondly, the 109 is not a first generation mono plane. Monoplanes were even during WW1. Check Fokker E. III. Engines of that time though, where insufficient and materials didn't allow for fast travel, because planes had max speeds of 290kph. The Mustang was not reactionary to anything, P-40 was long in production and US has long before figured out how to make planes, and North American wanted to make their own. It was not a reaction to the early designs, it was an improvment and it has nothing to do with doctrine.

Fokker_Eindecker_takeoff_profile_view.jp

 

3.

P-51 was not a reaction to zero's. It was so peculiar that the American doctrine didn't wanted it. If it wasn't for the range and altitude it achieved with Merlin 63 engine, the history of P-51 would have ended on the model A and would have been discontinued.That only shows that they didn't wanted it, because the Mustang did not fit their doctrine!

 

Also, in 1943 US had already not only experience with Zero's, they were at war for two years, fighting Germans and they needed an airplane that would be good to escort bombers into Germany. According with policy of "Europe first". Most Mustangs would serve in the European theater. P-38, P-40 and P-47 would be more significant on the Pacific, not to mention the Navy airplanes.

Edited by =LD=Solty

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If it wasn't for the US Navy who needed an a/c for some testing, whose pilots raved about the a/c, that the a/c was finally noticed by the USAAF. The P-51 had sat around at W-P for months before the USN did their testing.

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^ Also due to poor Soviets tactics of shackling fighter escorts to their bombers, forbidding them to pursuit the enemies, German fighters could attack with impunity.

 

Also, do not compare the P51D to late BF109K4, the contemporary of the K4 was the XP51F/G/J, all completely outclassed the K4 in all aspects(including climb).

lol what? its the opposite. german escorts loved comfort and lonewolfing, they loved chasing and left their stukas unprotected and shot down. Thats what you get when you dont order them to escort and not to give pursuit. and against escorted il2 formations the german fighters couldnt do much. just sit there and look at them.

Edited by Max_Damage

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lol what? its the opposite. german escorts loved comfort and lonewolfing, they loved chasing and left their stukas unprotected and shot down. Thats what you get when you dont order them to escort and not to give pursuit. and against escorted il2 formations the german fighters couldnt do much. just sit there and look at them.

When US started bombing campaign they had no fighters, when they added fighter protection to the bombers and it cut the losses a bit, but still Luftwaffe was sucessful. When US got a fighter airplane that can fly with the bombers anywhere and stay in the air for long time (P-51) and Gen. Doolittle came as the chief of the 8th AAF, he changed the idea.

 

Before the The mission of the 8th's fighter groups is to bring bombers home. Doolittle changed it 8th's Fighter Groups mission is to destroy the Luftwaffe.

 

They allowed for freedom for escort fighters and they broke the massed German assaults before they could asseble. Fighters were no longer staying with bombers but pursuing the German airplanes untill they were shot down.

 

German escorts were successful at defending bombers during BoB, it was just the fuel state that didn't allow them to pursue the RAF planes to the ground. Later Goering told fighters to stay closer to the bombers and losses rose, luftwaffe was loosing BoB.

 

So as you can see, it is not about staying close to the objective, it is to destroy the threat before it gets close enough to do any damage and destroy it as a whole.

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When US started bombing campaign they had no fighters, when they added fighter protection to the bombers and it cut the losses a bit, but still Luftwaffe was sucessful. When US got a fighter airplane that can fly with the bombers anywhere and stay in the air for long time (P-51) and Gen. Doolittle came as the chief of the 8th AAF, he changed the idea.

 

Before the The mission of the 8th's fighter groups is to bring bombers home. Doolittle changed it 8th's Fighter Groups mission is to destroy the Luftwaffe.

 

They allowed for freedom for escort fighters and they broke the massed German assaults before they could asseble. Fighters were no longer staying with bombers but pursuing the German airplanes untill they were shot down.

 

German escorts were successful at defending bombers during BoB, it was just the fuel state that didn't allow them to pursue the RAF planes to the ground. Later Goering told fighters to stay closer to the bombers and losses rose, luftwaffe was loosing BoB.

 

So as you can see, it is not about staying close to the objective, it is to destroy the threat before it gets close enough to do any damage and destroy it as a whole.

All of that doesnt apply to il2 situation though. And there are memoirs/interviews repeating exactly what i said you could read it up if you can understand russian. http://www.airforce.ru/history/ww2/kozhemjako/index.htm

 

In short, the diffirence was that germans liked comfort and lonewolfed/gloryhunt alot. The german just wouldnt dogfight if it wasnt a top ace and wouldnt use the plane to its full potential if it wasnt an ace. Risk and skill always came together. But this also led to the fact they didnt protect their bombers and ground attack nearly as good. Also their bf109 werent as good for close ascort as even the bad yaks like yak7b which this pilot flew alot. worse maneuverability.

 

skilled 6 il2 and 2 fighter escort vs 8 bf109 = no losses with developed tactics. quite the contrary to what happened when soviets baited german escorts and then another group shot ju87

 

and close escort wasnt the only escort ofc, the dude above just gave a silly black and white misrepresentation of what actually happened. there are usually few fighter escort groups 2-3

Edited by Max_Damage

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