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Old 17th August 2008, 17:58
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: 1939-45 airpower and professional historians

I found Overy's work unsatisfying too, but as an aircraft performance specialist at one time I can tell you that the sustained turning rate of an aircraft is very much a function of the power. Hence it can be related to the octane rating of the fuel. The attained (maximum) turning rate is normally regarded as a function of the maximum lift coefficient only. There may be a small effect due to power but this can be disregarded for aircraft of this period. Most aerial combats will use turning rates greater than can be sustained but less than the maximum attained value - the fighters would lose too much speed too rapidly.

Just how much operational benefit was gained by the use of 100 octane fuel has not been discussed in any detail, probably because this would be too difficult to measure sensibly. It permitted the limited use of higher boost, and hence higher power, and was therefore a Good Thing. Most of the battle was dependent upon other factors than the extreme performance of the opposing fighters. If you believe in the "Narrow Margin" approach, then use of 100 octane widened that margin. If you believe that the Luftwaffe took on an impossible task with their resources, then it hastened their defeat.