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  #81  
Old 15th February 2005, 20:08
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  #82  
Old 15th February 2005, 23:39
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Thanks for posting the interesting table on typical Spitfire high speed dive.

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  #83  
Old 12th November 2006, 02:12
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Re: Thunderbolts and Mustangs versus the Jagdwaffe (split topic)

Ruy - I was priveleged to meet and correspond with Galland from the early 80's until he passed away - his perspective would not align with yours re: P-47 broke the back of the Luftwaffe. I deeply respect your opinion as I did Galland's.

It is not entirely fair to address this subject based on his comments to me, some of which I included as postscript to my own book - but here are the points that he stressed about the Mustang.

1. It was superior to the P-47 in every respect except roll rate and possibly dive but as both were excellent in dive it mattered little to the Fw 190 and Me 109.

2. Because of its superior range, it had a huge footprint in which to apply its superior performance, as well as a high and low altitude. At the end of 1943, the 354thFG proved a NASTY suprise which basically spelled doom to the ZG units forming up out of range of the P-47's and had the range to roam in front of the bomber stream and harass Luftwaffe units trying to form up. December 1943 ops were the beginning but the 354th made a contribution out of proportion to its size in January and February 1944.

3. The Luftwaffe WAS being stressed in 1943 but not as much as the 8th AF, particularly in the Fall when the 8th had to severely reduce deep penetrations w/o fighter escort. The Luftwaffe owned the sky in central, southern and east Germany.

The most successful tactic for the Luftwaffe was to form heavily armed (lower performance) Fw 190s' plus Me 110 and Me 210's out of reach of the P-47 and crucify the B-17's and B-24's. The P-51 destroyed that tactic and both the 354th and 357th FG made significant contributions during Big Week.

4. While the P-47 was formidable it did not have the range to challenge the Luftwaffe over most targets the Luftwaffe might want to defend. The Mustang did - and subsequently permitted no respite for the Luftwaffe to regroup and train replacements or form up unmolested over target areas.

5. While the large attrition of Luftwaffe leaders started in 1943 (actually in 1942 in all theatres) , it was more piecemeal until the late January - May 1944 timeframe - and it was the Mustang that dominated the attrition in those crucuial battles of March, April and May that shredded the Luftwaffe of its leaders.

6. Galland was emphatic that the Mustang changed the tide (from his perspective) in the Air Battle for Europe over Germany - and that his own leadership (Goering) failed to realize the potential danger of not taking on the fledgling USAAF Fighter Units when they were inexperienced and dealing hard blows to 'thin them out' in the 1943 period, or even meet them over the Channel and force them to drop their drop tanks..

From my own observations, the last point he made was valid up to a point - and more to the point of delaying the inevitable as we did not have any interruptions to our supply of new pilots that entered combat with at least 250 hours of fighter time... and the Germans never had the strength in 1944 to meet even 50% of the escort fighters early in the mission

I view the Air War in Europe in at least three phases -1.) Battle of Britain and subsequent stalemate in which the Luftwaffe owned air superiority over the Continent and Brits owned the Isles; 2.) USAAF Strategic Bombing Initiative from late 1942 (I discount the RAF night attacks as a huge drain to the Luftwaffe) through Big Week, 1944 - as the Middle Game' in which tactics and critical mass resulted in huge Battles favoring the Luftwaffe and forcing the US to recognize that long range escort was necessary to execute Strategic Daylight Bombing against critical German industry, and; c.) The Defeat of the Luftwaffe and Aerial Superiority from March 1944 through Bodenplatte - in which the leaders and infrastructure of the Luftwaffe was relentlessly hunted down.

In the latter phase, it was a full Allied effort, including USSR and Britain and US - but the Mustang dominated that last phase... and the Spitfire once again was able to participate over German targets and the P-47's had the range to go to Berlin and beyond in the latter half - but not the 1st half where most of the German leaders were KIA.

I have had more than a couple of conversations with Steinhoff and Galland and Krupinski and others. As individuals none of them 'feared' the Mustang (or Spit ot P-47, etc) but ALL to a man, recognized the difference the Mustang brought to the air war over Europe.

Roy - this is not a 'winnable' argument by weight of facts by simple reson that the P-47 did not in fact continue the US air war against the Jagdwaffe alone...and there were many reasons 8th AF converted every Fighter Group except the 56th from P-47/P-38 to P-51.

To me it is impossible to define the time in which one can specifically say 'Luftwaffe defeated here- everything else after that was mopping up' but my personal belief is that it was Feb-May 1944.

Warm Regards,

Bill
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  #84  
Old 12th November 2006, 11:19
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Re: P-47 Thunderbolt v P-51 Mustang

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Originally Posted by Larry View Post

Having talked to several P-47 pilots of the 9th USAAF, I have a bias for the P-47 ... You can only wonder what effect 500 P-47's would have had on the Battle of France!
First point: I know war is untidy and you have to respond to events, not plans but I've always wondered why the USAAF continued to mix its types up so much. Logistics (and logic!) might have suggested moving to an 8th Fighter Command purely with P-51s, 9th AF with P-47s, yet both had a mixture. Equally you might have put all the B-24s into long-range work over water (Pacific bombing, Atlantic anti-submarine patrol) and the B-17s in Europe. Equally puzzling: the P-39 and the Fw 190 which in some versions carried three different types of gun at once, a nightmare for supply and maintenance, you'd think.

Second point: France 1940 would no doubt have been different with 500 Typhoons (the British made ground-attack fighters too!) or - less of a stretch - if the Battle and Defiant had never been built in favour of more Hurricanes and if that extra production had been Hurribombers.
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  #85  
Old 12th November 2006, 13:21
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Re: Thunderbolts and Mustangs versus the Jagdwaffe (split topic)

Bill,

Put in the right perspective my opinion is worth little, although I apreciate the kind way you put it.

Although I don't doubt the final effect the Mustang on much of the Luftwaffe leadership and even in strategic terms, there is IMO a subtle issue left untouched.

1. The moment when the balance is tipped and the outcome more or less certain.

vs

2. The moment when all participants accept that outcome, including the defenders.

The latter is in part psychologic and in modern warfare often a protracted affair. It differs from the more or less defeatist, to the realist and again to those fanatic hardcore who believe in some act of determination turning the tide at the last moment.

The question is when the Jagdwaffe was unrecoverably damaged.

IMHO that's in the winter of 43/44 and the spring of 44 before the mass deployment of the Mustang. Perhaps my choice of words is just wrong.

Yes, it was the Mustang which broke the back (as in finishing off and in such a way that was clear to all participants, incl. defenders), but it was the Thunderbolt which brought the fight over the Reich and which forced an attrition which could not be made good. It was this earlier attrition and loss of qualitative edge (or balance) that tipped the scale.

Since this is an air war forum we tend to focus on the air war. As such the Mustang's added range becomes something mythical. However, if we look at the crucial air campaign during the Normandy invasion and break out, that range becomes less important. The main battle is not over the Reich. At the time the P-47 was still the most numerous American fighter in the theatre.

It reminds me of Bullfighting.

The hard work is done by Picadores and Banderilleros, but the fame goes to the Matador. He's the one who kills the bull.
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  #86  
Old 12th November 2006, 17:18
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Re: Thunderbolts and Mustangs versus the Jagdwaffe (split topic)

Ruy - you make good points and I will never argue that the P-47 was not an key element in the battle for control of the skies.

My focus as a historian (like yours) - has been 'where and when' did the tide change from one in which the Luftwaffe effectively control the air over Germany to one in which the Allies controlled the sky.

So our perception is a period in which the end of yours overlaps with the beginning of mine. One key point that I would offer you is the dramatic increase in Luftwaffe losses east of Celle/Dummer Lake and down south toward and beyond Frankfurt and Stuttgart to Munich in March and April and May - plus the surge in contribution from the 4th and 352nd and 355th as they converted from P-47's to P-51's....with the same fighter pilots.

The 56th FG, which in my opinion was among the three best Fighter Groups in the USAAF during WWII (closely approached by 354FG and 357FG), was not near as visible in that period and did not come back to the forefront until they got longer range D-25's and beyond.

None of the other P-47 equipped Fighter Groups were making the same contribution in air to air combat with the Germans - mainly because they weren't able to fly all the way to the German targets, particularly Merseburg, Halle, Berlin and Munich.

Remember, the P-47 fought in Europe for nearly a year longer than the P-51B/C and had only 2/3 of the total air victories that the Mustang and an even smaller proportion of a/c destroyed on the ground. Summary - Half the sorties and nearly 2000 more a/c destroyed in the air and a thousand more on the ground for the Mustang in Europe!

The largest percentage of air victories were scored in the period March-May 1944 than any other three month period (if my memory serves me right) with November being the worst month in 1944 due to the dramatic decrease in Jagdwaffe quality following the Oil Campaign and prior attrition. In March, the 355th, the 4th, the 354th and 357th were equipped with 51's and fighting over airfields east of Berlin - while the 47's were turning back at Celle. In April the 339th and 352nd came on stream with the Mustang and made excellent contributions from that month forward.

A subtle contribution from this three month timeframe was the huge impact (positive) to RAF night raids because the 51's were destroying the NJG Me 110's and 210's pressed into service to fight the 8th AF deep in Germany... and forcing the Luftwaffe to provide 'escort' to them - therby splitting the attack force strategy that worked so well in 1943.

At the end of the day Ruy I would be persuaded that the P-47 was the best US fighter we had that could take on the 109 and 190 in 1943 and was all we had in the very tough 1943 battles over Europe. The 56th FG proved it could fly and fight and win most of its battles at any altitude if flown by good pilots who didn't want to fight in the horizontal at low to medium altitudes.

The P-47 did hurt the German Fighter arm badly in late 1943 and early 1944. It was a better choice for attacking airfields and other flak defended ground targets - but not the choice for defeating the Luftwaffe over its own airspace - from England to Poland - which is why Doolittle converted every fighter group in the 8th to Mustangs as fast as he could (except the 56th of course).

We just disagree on whether late 1943/early 1944 was 'where and when' that caused the tide to be turned against the Jagdwaffe.

If the prevailing point of view is late 1943/early 1944 then it was certainly the P-47... otherwise it was the Mustang. I suspect we both agree the 'where and when' was not after D-Day...

Regards, Ruy.

Bill
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  #87  
Old 12th November 2006, 18:49
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Re: Thunderbolts and Mustangs versus the Jagdwaffe (split topic)

Nick - the 'why so many types' answer is just what you said - fight with what you have and then concentrate on the best mix.

The 9th AF was originally going to be equipped with Mustangs and as I recall only the 354th was still equipped with P-51's until forced to fly P-47's in November through Feburay, 1945.

The 8th AF was going to increase the P-38 inventory and had planned on the 38 as the 'long range escort'. The failure of the P-38/Allison engines over cold northern Europe coupled with the incredible potential offered by the Mustang when the 354th FG came to Europe in December 1943 and was loaned to 8th AF - caused the massive inventory juggle.

Doolitle swapped the 358th in exchange for the 357th FG and the inbound stream of P-51's destined for the 9th AF were switched to the 8th. P-38's and P-47's for the 8th AF were diverted to the 9th AF and 12th and 15th until there were enough Mustangs to go around for long range escort duties.

As to the bombers.. The B-24 performed better than the B-17 in all respects except performance above 20,000 feet and durability...so the Pacific Theatre got the majority of the B-24's and the ETO got a majority of the B-17's until there was enough to go around. Then more and more B-24's came into the ETO.

The B-26 was a better bomber than the B-25 but there were still a lot of B-25's around in 1943 when the 26's started coming on board in significant numbers.. ditto the A-26 which replaced both the B-25 and A-20's.

At the end of the day, strategic interests dictated the diversion to Mustangs to 8th and 12th and 15th AF's, while low level performance (and perceived low level survivability/load capability) dictated the mix for tactical air with P-38's and P-47's.

You could ask the same questions re: armament, as you did for the P-39, but focus on USN doctrine versus the USAAF. The USAAF finally standardized on the .50 Cal with only two exceptions - the P-38 and the P-61. The Iron Dog P-39/400's went to Russia where they were loved...and thus removed the 37mm from the inventory

But the Navy had a mix of 30 cal (SBD and SB2C rear gunner) 50 cal (most other forward firing weapons), 20mm (mix of F4U's between USN and USMC - and I think the F7F at end of war)

After 1943 I don't understand why anything less than 50 cal was on any a/c

Regards,

Bill
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  #88  
Old 12th November 2006, 22:46
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Re: Thunderbolts and Mustangs versus the Jagdwaffe (split topic)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruy Horta View Post
Since this is an air war forum we tend to focus on the air war. As such the Mustang's added range becomes something mythical. However, if we look at the crucial air campaign during the Normandy invasion and break out, that range becomes less important. The main battle is not over the Reich. At the time the P-47 was still the most numerous American fighter in the theatre.
Ruy
It is a clear case of non understanding the Normandy air war. Actually, the range of both P-47s and P-51s was a decisive factor in annihilating the Luftwaffe and it cannot be underestimated.
Direct comparison of both types is not possible, as too many factors are decisive. Nonetheless British decision to use Mustangs instead of Thunderbolts in the ETO is a clear evidence of the former's superiority.
In regard of numbers, quite often Big Week argument is used. Indeed, most of the job has been done by Thunderbolts, but those were Mustangs flying over Berlin.
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  #89  
Old 12th November 2006, 23:39
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Re: Thunderbolts and Mustangs versus the Jagdwaffe (split topic)

Coming at this from a slightly different angle.

Up to a point, at the time, the military didn't care how much these aircraft cost on a per unit basis. Generally, the price of victory is never too high in terms of money.

Don't forget that the US, far more than any other country, had additional industrial capacity for war production. This meant that they had the ability to produce a wide variety of equipment, without putting undue strain on any particular section their industry (This is often important in terms of aero engines). Hence we see the production of many different types within classes of aircraft.

As weapons platforms, the military didn't, and still doesn't really care what kind of engine or radio an aircraft carries, but are vitally interested in whether the machine does the job they want it to. If it doesn't or only misses by a little bit, it gets reassigned to a different role that it is more suited to, especially when something better in terms of specialisation or technology comes along.

I see the P47 - P51 situation in this light. The P47 did a good job before the P51 and continued to do so after the P51 arrived on the scene. After the P51 proved its superior range, the P47 tended to be tasked with ground attack, still doing a very good job, arguably better than the P51 in that role.

From a miliatary view, these aircraft are just tools and as a commander, you employ them in the best way you can. Sometimes you just have to use a screwdriver as a chisel to get the job done. And in the same fashion, if you find a tool that does the same job better, or one that can do more jobs than the other one and so saves resources or time, you use that, discarding the old one, even if the new tool cost more.....
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  #90  
Old 13th November 2006, 19:17
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Re: Thunderbolts and Mustangs versus the Jagdwaffe (split topic)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski View Post
Ruy
It is a clear case of non understanding the Normandy air war. Actually, the range of both P-47s and P-51s was a decisive factor in annihilating the Luftwaffe and it cannot be underestimated.
Direct comparison of both types is not possible, as too many factors are decisive. Nonetheless British decision to use Mustangs instead of Thunderbolts in the ETO is a clear evidence of the former's superiority.
In regard of numbers, quite often Big Week argument is used. Indeed, most of the job has been done by Thunderbolts, but those were Mustangs flying over Berlin.
Franek,

Let's assume for a moment that I am as intelligent as you are and have some grasp of the same basic issues. I have not a small collection of books on the subject in general and in particular.

It may mean that we have different opinions or that one of us misunderstands the other, or have chosen the wrongs words since English isn't our native language.

What I do not accept, respect nor allow for is you claiming a higher knowledge. As in your opinion is fact, mine (regardless of how we now interpret the final meaning) is incorrect - as in misunderstanding the Normandy air war.

Bill discussed the issue at hand, you start off in a way that I have never been able to tolerate nor the ability to patiently accept. I'll leave it at that.
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