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  #61  
Old 7th February 2005, 08:04
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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I am afraid heavy bombers' escort did not used levelled escort. Aircraft, in sections of four, flew along bomber stream, some 100-200m higher. Range extension allowed to make sweeps by fighters further inland of enemy territory, thus expanding safety distance from bombers, thus reducing duties and responsibility of direct escort.
Tactics and formations are quite complicated issues that did not get enough attention in published works, no doubt, but I am afraid having no 'draw' possibilities, it would be extremally hard to explain that in written.
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  #62  
Old 7th February 2005, 10:58
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I'm speaking in general terms, no need to go further on the tactics of 8th AF escorts as it evolved in WW2. This isn't meant to sound harsh, just trying to explain that I understand the issue at hand.

Most of us share a common interest, so most of us generally share the same knowledge base.

Unfortunately my writing often lacks tact.
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  #63  
Old 14th February 2005, 03:49
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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In 1942, 36 Spitfires were under investigation for structural failures and in 24 cases the tail unit broke off in flight.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Juha
IIRC the structural failures were mostly confined to early Spit Vs and the problem was firstly cured by installing bobweights to elevators control cables and then more elegantly by local strengthening.
Structural integrity problems were common to all Spitfires.

Spitfire X4268 was used to investigate wing failures, and Spitfire P7251 was used to investigate tailplane failures. The following list is just the tip of the iceberg, but enough to indicate that Spitfires were not suitable for dive bombing...

Spitfire I -- K9838 -- Structural failure in dive.
Spitfire I -- N3191 -- Both wings snapped off in dive.
Spitfire I -- X4354 -- Wing snapped off in dive.
Spitfire I -- X4381 -- Wing snapped off in dive.
Spitfire I -- X4421 -- Both wings snapped off in dive.
Spitfire I -- X4662 -- Wing snapped off in dive.
Spitfire I -- X4680 -- Wings/tail snapped off in dive.
Spitfire I -- X4621 -- Failed to recover from dive.
Spitfire I -- N3284 -- Broke up in flight.
Spitfire I -- N3286 -- Broke up in flight.
Spitfire I -- P9546 -- Structural failure in flight.
Spitfire I -- P9309 -- Lost wing in flight.
Spitfire I -- X4234 -- Lost wing in spin.
Spitfire I -- P9322 -- Broke up in flight.
Spitfire I -- R6706 -- Aileron failure and crash.
Spitfire I -- X4854 -- Wing snapped off in flight.
Spitfire II -- P7352 -- Broke up in dive.
Spitfire II -- P7522 -- Both wings snapped off in dive.
Spitfire II -- P7593 -- Wing and tail snapped off in flight.
Spitfire II -- P8183 -- Wing snapped off in flight.
Spitfire II -- P8644 -- Wing snapped off in flight.
Spitfire II -- N8245 -- Structural failure in flight.
Spitfire II -- P7911 -- Flap failure and crash.
Spitfire IV -- AA801 -- Structural failure in flight.
Spitfire V -- BL531 -- Both wings snapped off in dive.
Spitfire V -- AA876 -- Disintegrated in dive.
Spitfire V -- AD555 -- Flap failure and crash.
Spitfire V -- BL303 -- Flap failure and crash.
Spitfire V -- BL407 -- Structural failure suspected.
Spitfire V -- AB172 -- Structural failure in flight.
Spitfire V -- AA970 -- Structural failure in flight.
Spitfire V -- BL290 -- Wing snapped off in flight.
Spitfire V -- BR627 -- Wing failed in spin.
Spitfire V -- BL389 -- Pilot thrown from aircraft in dive.
Spitfire V -- EP335 -- Wings, fuselage, tail, damaged in dive.
Spitfire VI -- AB200 -- Wings buckled in dive.
Spitfire VII -- MD128 -- Mainplane buckled during evasive action.
Spitfire IX -- BS251 -- Structural failure in dive.
Spitfire IX -- BS385 -- Structural failure in dive.
Spitfire IX -- BS441 -- Disintegrated in dive.
Spitfire IX -- PL387 -- Disintegrated in dive.
Spitfire IX -- BS404 -- Structural failure in spin.
Spitfire IX -- PT876 -- Lost wing in spin.
Spitfire IX -- MH349 -- Wing failed during aerobatics.
Spitfire IX -- MJ843 -- Port wing, tailplane broke off in loop.
Spitfire IX -- MA308 -- Wings severely buckled around cannons.
Spitfire IX -- MH692 -- Tail section damaged in dive.
Spitfire XI -- EN409 -- Multiple wing rivet failure in dive.
Spitfire XI -- EN409 -- Prop/gear broke off in dive.
Spitfire XII -- MB850 -- Spine of fuselage broke in dive.
Spitfire XVI -- SL724 -- Crashed after recovery from dive.
Spitfire XVI -- TD119 -- Crashed after recovery from dive.

December 30th, 1941, a Spitfire Vb of 306 (Polish) Squadron was seen to lose a wing north of Brest. Probably another structural failure, but I'm guessing this one may have been hit in the wings by gunfire before folding up. The pilot was identified as Flight Lieutenant S. W. Zielinski (KIA).

After the Spitfire Mk V went into service it was discovered that several aircraft dived straight into the ground for no apparent reason. The Accidents Branch determined that firing the 20mm guns could damage the oxygen system, causing the pilot to lose consciousness. I'm not certain what they did to fix it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
Indeed several aircraft returned damaged but this was not that very common and more a myth than a problem
In 1944, the Biggin Hill fighter station took stock of their Spitfires and found 35 with badly damaged engine mounts caused by high speed dives. It was simply not designed for the stresses of fighter-bombering.
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  #64  
Old 14th February 2005, 04:16
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Which performance figures?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
All! ?
Had to step away for awhile, but I see now that you're building a case around aircraft specifications, not actual results and skill of the pilots. And you quoted specs from Joe Baugher's Web site (yikes!) it is riddled with technical errors. Speeds given do not match cited material from RAF and USAAF trials, especially in the case of the P-51A/B/D.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
I do not see any reason to believe the personal engagement's experience is a decisive factor when discussing those matters
And yet you frequently call upon personal experiences of a few Polish pilots.

Since you are more interested in numbers than pilot opinion, the 4th Fighter Group had a better combat record with the Thunderbolt than with the Spitfire. They managed to do this with early P-47s, lacking later refinements and plagued with mechanical troubles -- the same situation being repeated with the P-51B a year later.

The 56th Fighter Group did better in the P-47 because USAAF fighter pilots were generally better trained than RAF. Some members of 133 Squadron mentioned the difference was very noticable. The standard of entry for RAF pilot training was lower, and they often accepted rejects from other air forces. As of consequence there was a larger portion of RAF flyers who were not proficient at flying, and therefore I find it amusing that you focus so much on 'technical specifications'.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
while we are at German pilots' opinions, by 1944 they believed every aircraft was a US one
No they didn't.

Many encounters took place at close range, often near enough to see the enemy pilot as he flew past. And, it was much easier to identify airplanes with a natural metal finish, blinded by the glare of sunlight reflecting off the surfaces. Then there was the noses and tails painted in bright colors and checkerboard patterns...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
When I used a lack of fuel argument in an another discussion, Don Caldwell gently expressed remarks that fuel deficenties started during or after Normandy Campaign
This differs with opinions from several RAF and German pilots. Both said that medium bombers and RAF fighter patrols were usually and intentionally ignored by the Jagdwaffe from late 1943.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
USAAF considered it is easier to not to allow Germans to climb rather than to escort bombers. Mustang did it possible
But it was not easier until the last few months of the war, because the sky is a very big place. Heavy bombers flew at high altitude and that is where most of the air-to-air combats were decided.
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  #65  
Old 14th February 2005, 05:13
Six Nifty .50s Six Nifty .50s is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
I have never heard pilots complaining on reliabilty of their Merlins
Well I've heard of it, right up until the Spring of 1945. Fouled spark plugs and rough running Merlins was a very common complaint, but a minor flaw next to its weak main bearings.

At least three Mustang Mk IIIs from 316 (Polish) Squadron crashed due to Merlin engine failure, within four months. An overall check of other squadron losses due to motor trouble proves what I suspected all along, the Allison engine was far more dependable than the Merlin:

65 Squadron: 7 Spitfires, and 1 Mustang Mk III
222 Squadron: 7 Spitfires
401 Squadron: 9 Spitfires
412 Squadron: 9 Spitfires
421 Squadron: 7 Spitfires

2 Squadron: 1 Mustang Mk I, and 1 Mustang Mk II
16 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I
26 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I
168 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I
169 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I
170 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I
241 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I
268 Squadron: 1 Mustang Mk I, and 0 Mustang Mk II
400 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I
430 Squadron: 1 Mustang Mk I
613 Squadron: 0 Mustang Mk I

The actual number of engine failures per squadron is probably 3x higher or more. From July 1940 through October 1940, No. 43 Squadron lost no less than four Hurricanes to motor trouble and it is probably safe to extrapolate that for the entire war.

The least reliable piece of equipment on the Allison was the automatic boost control. This was sometimes removed by the RAF and since they routinely overboosted the engines anyhow, the limiter was just an annoyance.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
ORB of 309 Sqn notes frequent visits of Allison engineers trying to rectify experienced problems
I've read about this, but it seems that you misquoted the ORB.

No. 309 flew the Mustang Mk I from 1942 to early 1944. In November 1943, the radiators installed in AM211 and a few other Mustangs gave trouble, causing spark plugs to foul. This persisted for some time as they tried to fix the radiators with field modifications, but there was no problem with the Allison engine itself.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
Note that air racing teams flying P-51Ds installed Allison connecting rods to prevent their Merlins from blowing up. Without this modification, the Mustangs could not compete with the speedy Bearcats at Reno.

Aircraft races are so specific matter, I do not think any experience applies here.
Rolls-Royce tried to market the Merlin engine for commercial airlines, but it was generally rejected because of poor reliability, and high fuel consumption for a liquid-cooled power unit. Many times I have read that Mosquito pilots reported that single-engine returns were very common.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
One cannot escape common knowledge that liquid-cooling systems were easily knocked out with one bullet or shell splinter.

I talked to several Polish 2 TAF Spitfire pilots and I never heard them complaining a lot about the problem.
Maybe they were tired of complaining about it...
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  #66  
Old 14th February 2005, 09:35
Jukka Juutinen Jukka Juutinen is offline
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The civilian Merlin was not rejected for being unreliable! The fact is that civilian Merlin were approaching 2000 hrs TBO. The problem is that the Merlin often competed with the R-2800, i.e. an engine with vastly greater displacement. This meant that the Merlin had to be run at very high cruising boost, being quite noisy.

I am not saying it was a faultless engine, but the fact is that RR attacked all problems very quickly and aggressively like P&W did during the development of the R-2800 but so unlike DB or Wright (R-3350 was a nightmare and sad example of bean counters running the design department).
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  #67  
Old 14th February 2005, 10:21
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Thanks a lot,
Six Nifty .50s for the Spit list.

BTW, was the "Spitfire XI -- EN409 -- Prop/gear broke off in dive" the Spit used at A&AEE for compression tests during which S/L Mandrake? reached Mach 0.91? in dive and his Spit XI suffered just that kind of damage but he managed to land it without further damage. If so IMHO one cannot blame the poor Mk XI too much for not endure such a abuse better.

Juha
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  #68  
Old 14th February 2005, 14:53
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Hello again Six Nifty .50s
i had to do some work for a while but now one more comment. I'm not sure if this is relevant, but I once read that there were problems with the bearings of the Pachard Merlins and the the reason given in the article was bad quality control at Pachards or at one of its sub-contractors or to be more precis the reason given was the place where the machine-tool operators poured their stale Coke.That isn't relevant to Merlins of the Hurricanes of the 43 Sqn but maybe to the Mustangs and to the Spits, if they were Mk XVIs and the failures happened in certain timeframe. And I'm not absolutely sure of the truthfulness of the story, maybe the British only tried to put the blame of the bearing failures on Americans.
And thanks for the info on engine failures. I'd like to know the timeframe, if possible.

Juha
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  #69  
Old 14th February 2005, 16:05
Franek Grabowski Franek Grabowski is offline
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Quote:
Structural integrity problems were common to all Spitfires.
Quote:
The following list is just the tip of the iceberg, but enough to indicate that Spitfires were not suitable for dive bombing...
I do not se a link to a dive bombing here...

Spitfire V -- BL290 -- Wing snapped off in flight.

14.06.1943 303 Sqn. Flew into a violent storm cloud - I suppose it was a cumulonimbus and it is really hard to survive contact with it. The aircarft lost wing and fell on a Islington cemetery. It was found that wrong balance masses were installed and a loose hammer was found, likely incidentally left by a groundcrew.

Spitfire IX -- BS404 -- Structural failure in spin.

2.02.1943 306 Sqn. Believed pilot lost consciousnes due to oxygen system failure and far exceeded maximum speed limit, thus causing tail to break off.

Spitfire XI -- EN409 -- Multiple wing rivet failure in dive.
Spitfire XI -- EN409 -- Prop/gear broke off in dive.

It is indeed the aircraft tested by Fuehrer Martindale. I would like to see what happens with Thunderbolt in a speed exceeding M=0,9!

Quote:
December 30th, 1941, a Spitfire Vb of 306 (Polish) Squadron was seen to lose a wing north of Brest. Probably another structural failure, but I'm guessing this one may have been hit in the wings by gunfire before folding up. The pilot was identified as Flight Lieutenant S. W. Zielinski (KIA).
Many Shermans were seen to lose turrets in Normandy. Probably another structural failure, but I'm guessing those may have been hit by Tigers' gunfire.

I have to check the other accidents but I do not see any link to dive bombing.

Quote:
Had to step away for awhile, but I see now that you're building a case around aircraft specifications, not actual results and skill of the pilots. And you quoted specs from Joe Baugher's Web site (yikes!) it is riddled with technical errors. Speeds given do not match cited material from RAF and USAAF trials, especially in the case of the P-51A/B/D.
Feel free to provide official figures. I have breifly get through my data but have not found dedicated Mustang graph. I have some data but for RR modification which are not representative.

Quote:
And yet you frequently call upon personal experiences of a few Polish pilots.
Because those are people with whom I talked and for whom I have documents.

Quote:
Since you are more interested in numbers than pilot opinion, the 4th Fighter Group had a better combat record with the Thunderbolt than with the Spitfire. They managed to do this with early P-47s, lacking later refinements and plagued with mechanical troubles -- the same situation being repeated with the P-51B a year later.
Were not the major portion of 4 FG pilots exchanged? A number of US pilots refused to transfer to USAAF, knowing they would be rejected anyway. If so, direct claim comparison could be not representative. Otherwise Thunderbolt had better range, thus allowed for more contact wth the enemy and this of course increased number of claims - this is also a major argument for Mustang!

Quote:
The 56th Fighter Group did better in the P-47 because USAAF fighter pilots were generally better trained than RAF. Some members of 133 Squadron mentioned the difference was very noticable. The standard of entry for RAF pilot training was lower, and they often accepted rejects from other air forces. As of consequence there was a larger portion of RAF flyers who were not proficient at flying, and therefore I find it amusing that you focus so much on 'technical specifications'.
It was Anglo-American agreement that allowed USAAF rejects to join RAF an dit was mostly due to health purposes. History shows that often such rejects were more motivated but on the other hand there were not that many Americans in RAF. The matter of training is disputable - generally US pilots had more flying time amassed but this does not mean they were better. Otherwise, generally RAF pilot had quite a lot of flying time when entering RAF Squadron - it was a rule that after basic training, pilot was sent for a non combat duties and only after a tour eg. in gunnery school or army co-operation, he was sent to a combat school. By 1943/44 all key positions in RAF fighter squadrons were held by seasoned combat veterans, and if you doubt importance of experience, you shod re-read Gabby's book!

Quote:
No they didn't.
Many encounters took place at close range, often near enough to see the enemy pilot as he flew past. And, it was much easier to identify airplanes with a natural metal finish, blinded by the glare of sunlight reflecting off the surfaces. Then there was the noses and tails painted in bright colors and checkerboard patterns...
Several points.
NMF was not very common during Normandy Campaign and actually several US commanders were quite angry and ordered to paint the aircraft anyway.
Sunlight glare applies to painted aircraft as well - Britts used smooth synthetic finishes which, when cared properly, were quite shiny.
There is a number of German claims for Mustangs in Caen area - actually this was a RAF operational area and those claims are generally for Spitfires.
I investigated in great depth Polish combats on 7.06.1944 and 18.08.1944 and managed to obtain accounts of German pilots. In both cases 'Amis' were reported and in one case, German pilot reported he was attacked by Thunderbolts, even if there were none in vincinity!
As a side note in regard of identification, quite often D-Day stripes did not help in preventing of freindly fire, so why to mention colourful markings.

Quote:
This differs with opinions from several RAF and German pilots. Both said that medium bombers and RAF fighter patrols were usually and intentionally ignored by the Jagdwaffe from late 1943.
But the reason was not a lack of fuel! Caldwell mentions some orders not to engage but the reasoning was to save pilots who could not prevent bomb damage anyway. Also the one must note waht were the targets as well as to have in mind that introduction of Thunderbolts caused Germans to step back a little.

Quote:
But it was not easier until the last few months of the war, because the sky is a very big place. Heavy bombers flew at high altitude and that is where most of the air-to-air combats were decided.
With Mustang, the sky became significantly smaller and the range of the aircraft allowed to combat Germans on the way to bomber stream. Patrols over German airfields is Spring 1944, hardly few month of war.

Quote:
Well I've heard of it, right up until the Spring of 1945. Fouled spark plugs and rough running Merlins was a very common complaint, but a minor flaw next to its weak main bearings.
I cannot find any references but if Juha is correct, then it was entirely fault of Packard. Such things happen in mass production. In RAF it was generally considered Packard was of worser quality rather than RR.

Quote:
At least three Mustang Mk IIIs from 316 (Polish) Squadron crashed due to Merlin engine failure, within four months.
I am not sure which ones do you mean but there were indeed some problems with Mustangs, eg. it was found US glycol was of not proper quality.

Quote:
An overall check of other squadron losses due to motor trouble proves what I suspected all along, the Allison engine was far more dependable than the Merlin:
I never did any statistics but it would be interesting to see such a comparison against flight time, especially in combat.
Whatever, perhaps Merlin was a crappy engine but it was the engine which brought Mustang over Berlin, the thing Allison was unable to do.

Quote:
The actual number of engine failures per squadron is probably 3x higher or more. From July 1940 through October 1940, No. 43 Squadron lost no less than four Hurricanes to motor trouble and it is probably safe to extrapolate that for the entire war.
A very risky thesis.

Quote:
The least reliable piece of equipment on the Allison was the automatic boost control. This was sometimes removed by the RAF and since they routinely overboosted the engines anyhow, the limiter was just an annoyance.
I think I have read some more about it but cannot recall that at the moment.

Quote:
No. 309 flew the Mustang Mk I from 1942 to early 1944. In November 1943, the radiators installed in AM211 and a few other Mustangs gave trouble, causing spark plugs to foul. This persisted for some time as they tried to fix the radiators with field modifications, but there was no problem with the Allison engine itself.
Well, if Allison engineers were called, I would call it engine problems.

Quote:
Many times I have read that Mosquito pilots reported that single-engine returns were very common.
I have not, despite some reading about 305 and 307 Sqns. You know, Mossie was quite tricky on one engine, so many pilots remembered it.

Quote:
Maybe they were tired of complaining about it...
I do not think so. They were compaining about the flak but never heard that they had anything particular against the Spit.
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  #70  
Old 14th February 2005, 19:02
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Ruy Horta Ruy Horta is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Franek Grabowski
Well, the thread developed nicely but went
A problem itself is effectiveness of aircraft against ground targets, some researchers like Zetterling claim it was close to nil in Normandy.
Thanks for the book tip, just received a copy and prelinary reading shows it to be a classic. Adds up nicely to Dupuy's earlier work. Guess I'm up to my neck in must read ASAP material!
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