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Scientific Approach to the Mustang's Superiority in Combat


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#1 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 09:02 AM

Every interested person knows about the events in early 1944 when the P-51 Mustang smashed its German opponents. But can you ever comprehensively read why the Mustang was that superior?

 

Range is not the theme. There are people who claim every contemporary fighter type had its special qualities, so no general superiority of one certain type is to be concluded (says an USSBS report: "An overall comparison of our fighters with German [showed, that] although each aircraft had is good and bad points, in the last analysis, the difference in performance was not great enough to give either side a decided advantage." Quoted from W.A. Jacobs, Operation Overlord, p. 277).

 

This statement is nothing but plain wrong. The Mustang dominated the skies for its superior performance. And this for two reasons, see below. There is not any German fighter to be compared. Only two versions were produced in numbers at that time, the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 A-8 and the Messerschmitt Bf 109 G-6 with DB 605 A engine. The Focke-Wulf generally did not reach the altitude performances which were required, so only the Bf 109 is left.

 

The point is the height where the air combats usually took place: 9,000 m = 27,000 ft.

 

A. The Mustang was much faster

A speed advantage of 50 - 100 km/h for the Mustang is often written.

Take a look here for the Mustang: http://www.wwiiaircr...ustangtest.html

and scroll to the diagram "Level Speed with 150 Grade Fuel". See the red graph for the P-51B. It hits 27,000 ft at about 422 mph = 675 kph.

Now for the Bf 109 G with DB 605 A: http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/me109/VB-109-19-L-42.pdf

There, go to page 8. You see, the Bf 109 runs not much more than 600 km/h at 9.000 m, so the speed difference is 75 km/h! Exactly in the middle what is claimed above!

B. The Mustang showed better flight characteristics

Comparison of fighters often shows a kind of unexactness because "best" values are received at best conditons for the one aircraft considered. But for military conclusions, you must compare the flight characteristics at altitude and speed where the combats took place. See Robert W. Courter, How the Mustang Trampled the Luftwaffe ... : http://digitalcommon...adschool_theses,

especially his "Energy Maneuverability Analysis" p. 47ff, diagram especially comparing P-51 and Bf 109 G, p. 60.

Courter concludes: "Thus, the Mustang pilot was able to choose the milieu in which he would fight. More often than not, because of his superior training, he was able to make a productive choice." (p. 61).

Surely, Courter is right when he also sees the superior pilot training in the USAAF. But just before he had proven this having been not the essential point. It was the aircraft.

Subsequently, within a few weeks the Luftwaffe lost more than 2.000 fighter pilots, among them very experienced and highly decorated unit commanders alongside with others of all ranks. When the USAAF attacked Berlin on 9 March 1944, the Luftwaffe did not show up.

 

What for do I write this? I mean it is necessary to compact insight in what happened this way. You cannot read this somewhere else. Or can you? If so, feel free to tell me!

 

Regards, RT
 


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#2 GregP

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Posted 04 October 2017 - 06:54 PM

Well said, RT.

 

The Mustang was NOT better at everything, but it was pretty damned good at 25,000 - 35,000 feet, and was the only Allied fighter likely to BE THERE AT THAT ALTITUDE deep into Germany once it started escorting. So, it was the only Allied fighter likely to be encountered by defenders near Berlin at that altitude. When it DID show up, it wasn't all that long before it started showing up in large numbers.

 

You can have 20 Ta-152s and a few Me 262s, but they are not going to be having a good time when outnumbered by several hundred to one. They will spend most of their time at altitude avoiding the P-51 herds, which are orbiting the bombers until they reach the IP.

 

This is no indictment against the Luftwaffe. Change pilots by swapping planes and numbers the other way and the Allies would have had the same results. It means the P-51 was good enough to hold its own and had a large numeric advantage. Add to that the fact that P-51 pilots rotating in were well-trained and eager to get their "kills," and it adds up to a bad time for the side with the lower numbers of aircraft in the sky.

 

Had the P-51 showed up in one-tenth the numbers, the story might be different and we might be reading about extended dogfights with German wonder planes. We hear about a few of them anyway. The fact that a country the size of Germany almost won the war against the rest of the world speaks very highly of the German aviation community, Germany technology in general, and the average german soldier. But it's hard to win when you are heavily outnumbered and being out-produced by as much as Germany was in 1944 / 1945. Add to that the fact that nobody has ever won a 2-front war and realize Germany fought in the east, the west, the Med, and somewhat in other places and it isn't hard to see why they eventually lost.

 

A 6 foot 5 inch boxer may be tough, but he loses badly when matched against 2,000,000 Army ants on the march for food.



#3 Armand

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 01:53 AM

There are people who claim every contemporary fighter type had its special qualities, so no general superiority of one certain type is to be concluded (says an USSBS report: "An overall comparison of our fighters with German [showed, that] although each aircraft had is good and bad points, in the last analysis, the difference in performance was not great enough to give either side a decided advantage." Quoted from W.A. Jacobs, Operation Overlord, p. 277).
 
This statement is nothing but plain wrong. The Mustang dominated the skies for its superior performance.......
The point is the height where the air combats usually took place: 9,000 m = 27,000
Regards, RT


First You demean the perception of every fighter having it's own special qualities, and then You praises the Mustang solitarely on it's high level qualities!
Confuses me!

The example connects to the fact that in the ETO it was primarely about escorting high flying bombers. If the allies had managed to design a bomber flying yet 10,000ft higher there would not have been need of escort as no interceptor would climb such high and we would probably never have heard the ever spoken praise of the Mustang!
Talking of: You forget to underline that it's all about the Mustang B/C and D -models, not the Mustang in common.

The Red Airforce had good use of aircraft wich other airforces had abandoned, the P39 being a good example. The case is that the war in Soviet was a classic fight about ground hence airwar was executed in flight levels where the P-39 was sufficient though lack oif high supercharging. The same is to say about the much downspoken P-40 in North Africa and above the Mediterranian.
The battle of France became extended way over German plans, because the commonly insufficient French fighters together with the RAF expeditionary Hurricanes managed to provide tough resistance to the Luftwaffe because that fight likely was in intermediate to low flight levels.
Additional the time is to be considered: The Mustang arrived late where Luftwaffe weren't at it's highest and the production of replacement fighters neither, wich adds to the dominance of the Mustang.

Just my 0.05$

#4 Stony

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 05:29 AM

NAZI Germanies fighter production peaked in 1944...Didn't the Mustang enter the ETO in 1944 in large numbers??

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#5 Kutscha

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 10:03 AM

354th FG, of the 9th AF fittingly nicknamed the Pioneer Mustang Group. The Pioneers flew their first combat mission, an uneventful sweep over Belgian coast, on 1st December 1943. These were P-51B/Cs.

 

P-51Ds from mid 1944.



#6 GregP

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 04:45 PM

Hi Stony,

 

German production of Fighters DID peak in 1944 and dropped by 80 % in 1945. But the single-engine fighter strength on-hand does not reflect that fact to any great degree.

 

1940, August: 787 SE fighters on-hand

1941, June: 898 SE fighters on-hand

1942, July: 945 SE fighters on-hand

1943, May: 980 SE fighters on-hand

1944, May: 1,063 SE fighters on-hand

1945, Jan: 1,469 SE fighters on-hand

1945, April: 1,305 SE fighters on-hand

 

So, we see that there were more fighters in 1944 than 1943, but only by 83 aircraft because, by mid-1944, many-plane raids were becoming normal and attrition was fierce. It started getting MUCH worse when the P-51's started escorting the bomber streams, as RT says above. ALso, about fall of 1944 they were seeing pilot, fuel, and propeller shortages. They probably had more fighters sitting on the ground waiting to be flown than were actually operational.

 

Before I see posts about the fuel shortage claim, I did NOT say they didn't produce the fuel; I said there were shortages. When vast hordes of fighters are conducting fighters sweeps and shooting up trains and trucks, you may HAVE the fuel and props, but getting them to the correct airfields is FAR from a certain thing. In 1945, it was one of the major problems with the Luftwaffe. ... no fuel and few good pilots.


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#7 Kutscha

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 05:02 PM

worth the read, http://www.ibiblio.o...html#tableLVIII


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#8 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 05:31 PM

Thank you for your answers, friends, and especially for the laud, Greg. My point is, let me repeat:

 

- even if there were no numerical superiority of the Mustangs

- and even there were no training superiority of the USAAF fighter force,

 

the Mustang would still have won the battle. All other circumstances like

 

 it's hard to win when you are heavily outnumbered and being out-produced by as much as Germany was in 1944 / 1945.

are subordinate to this. Why Me 262 and Ta 152 and BV 155 and whatsoever where not there when they were needed in early 1944, that's a different story.

 

First you demean the perception of every fighter having it's own special qualities, and then you praise [little corrections, RT] the Mustang solitarely on it's high level qualities!
Confuses me!

The special qualities of the other fighters are fact as well as the Mustang's high-level dominance. The point is, the Mustang won the battle for the reason of having the crucial qualities on the crucial "battleground" at about 27,000 ft!

 

With your next sentence, Armand,

 

The example connects to the fact that in the ETO it was primarely about escorting high flying bombers.

you show you understood.

 

 

If the allies had managed to design a bomber flying yet 10,000ft higher there would not have been need of escort as no interceptor would climb such high and we would probably never have heard the ever spoken praise of the Mustang!

Surely. Had there been an Allied Arado Ar 234 coming in in numbers and at altitude, the Mustang would have suffered a peripheral life.

 

 

Didn't the Mustang enter the ETO in 1944 in large numbers??

It did. In the beginning (Dec. '43), the Mustang suffered from gun jamming at altitude. After the mechanics had fixed the problem, the Mustang became a highly reliable weapon. The crucial victory was won by the B and C models.

 

So friends, as much as I see nobody of you quotes a single source in English language where you can read in a short and comprehensive way what I wrote above. I don't need or like to applaud myself, but obviously it takes an outsider like me to do that.

 

*** Greg, please attend your private mail account, I wrote you something! ***

 

Thanks again, and best regards,

RT



#9 GregP

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 10:17 PM

Good find, Kutscha. It clearly shows how fluid the numbers can be.

 

Whenever we take a "snapshot," we ignore any soon-to-be-delivered and/or soon-to-be-unserviceable equipment. If 1944 production was 24,000 or so fighters, it is easy to understand some 300 being delivered in a month.

 

Looks like a pretty decent reference if I can find one. :-)



#10 Armand

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Posted 05 October 2017 - 11:47 PM

[Armand, on 05 Oct 2017 - 03:53 AM, said:
The example connects to the fact that in the ETO it was primarely about escorting high flying bombers.......]

you show you understood.


But You didn't!
Fame the 8th airforces B/C and the D -models for what they performed as escorts between England and Berlin during the last 18 months of the war.
Don't overfame the P-51 in common!
Beside i have already pinched a little in the fame of the P-51 in: https://www.warbirds...etails/?p=50818




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