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What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

What was the best fighter plane of WWII?  

597 members have voted

  1. 1. What was the best fighter plane of WWII?

    • Supermarine Spitfire
      147
    • North American P-51 Mustang
      219
    • Focke Wulf FW-190
      38
    • Messerschmitt Bf 109
      39
    • Yakovlev Yak-3
      12
    • Mitsubishi A6M Zero
      6
    • Other (specify below)
      100
    • DH 98 Mosquito
      37


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An open ended question without defining specification.

So I find it amusing that the P38 Lightning lobby use the number of kills by two "Aces", one with 38 and the other with 40 as the criteria/specification.

Kills by "Aces" being the criteria/specification (if you will) surely the Messerschmidt 109 must be the clear winner. 

Roughly "...103 German fighter pilots shot down more than 100 enemy aircraft... " and "Roughly a further 360 pilots claimed between 40 and 100 aerial victories..."  with a high percentage flying the 109 including Hartmann with 352 and Barkhorn  with 301 but then again Ilmari Juutilainen  of Finland got 54 in a 109 and interestingly 34 more in a Brewster Buffalo he ended with 94.

So two "Aces" around 40 doesn't make a great aeroplane.

Of interest after mentioning the Brewster the British Commonwealths highest "Ace", Marmaduke "Pat" Pattle, got 40 but in a Gloster Gladiator and latterly in a Hurricane.

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On 1/17/2018 at 2:19 AM, J Steve Allington said:

Oh, the Germans definitely had much bigger numbers, but they also used a vastly differant scoring system that was far less stringent than the one that the Allies used. For instance, out a flight of Messerschmitts. one or two of the Senior pilots would take credit for all of the kills that the group made collectively, with some of the individual kills going to more than one pilot. They weren't necessarily cheating really, it was just the way that the hierarchy of the Luftwaffe worked. That, plus the fact that they were flying againest the hapless Soviets, flying comparatively primitive, under-powered and under armed aircraft, with poorly trained pilots behind the controls. You had to feel sorry for them really. The top scoring ace of WW2 (and of all times) was, in fact a German pilot flying on the Eastern Front againest the Soviets. Erich Alfred Hartmann, the highest scoring Ace of all times, ended his career with a total of  352 Allied aircraft (345 Soviet and 7 American)  while flying the ME-109. Now was this because the ME-109 was a vastly technology superior aircraft? Hardly. It was because of the scoring system that they used coupled with a 'Target Rich Environment' to quote Tom Cruise, ala 'Top Gun'!

     In fact, just a (very) rough estimate of the total number of confirmed kills  that the Germans alone claimed, total more than all of the Allied aircraft lost in all of the theaters (Pacific included) for the entire war! Clearly, someone's (meaning the German's) accounting system was just a bit off.

 

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Thanks J Steve Allington.  That is very interesting.  I wish I knew that information when I was doing Naval exercises with the German Navy.  I never knew there large of a discrepancy.  Thanks for sharing.

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1 hour ago, J Steve Allington said:

That, plus the fact that they were flying against the hapless Soviets, flying comparatively primitive, under-powered and under armed aircraft, with poorly trained pilots behind the controls. You had to feel sorry for them really.

Well, interestingly enough, according to a Russian historian Solonin, the most effective air force of WWII statistically was the Finnish one, and it was definitely not due to their equipment superiority. I'm quoting him about their contest against the Soviet airforce (VVS) in 1944:

 “According to Finnish data, from June 9 through July 18, pilots of [Finnish air force groups] LLv-24 and LLv-34 carried out 2,168 sorties and shut down 425 Soviet air craft. At that, the Finns lost only 18 Messerschmidts, of which only 10 were lost in combat with Soviet fighters. The results of combat work carried out by LLv-26 fighters were much humbler – 15 Soviet air craft kills. Granted, one needs to take into account the fact that the group was equipped with Brewsters made in 1939. Having repeatedly surpassed their useful life, these were only valuable as decommissioned scrap metal, according to any air force’s standards but the Finnish one …. At first glance, these phenomenal numbers appear to be unhinged ‘hunting stories’. However, the official [Russian] publication “Declassified” informs that VVS losses suffered during the Vyborgsko-Petrozavodskaya operation amounted to 311 air craft…. Even taking into account ‘standard’ for WWII dogfights three-fold exaggeration of the claimed kills over the real one, it turns out that FOR ONE FINNISH AIR CRAFT LOST, EIGHT SOVIET AIR CRAFT WERE SHUT DOWN.” 

On average, Luftwaffe pilots never came close to this kind of effectiveness - most of the VVS losses in 1941 appeared to be due to a trivial abandonment of airfields and assets on them, actually.

Edited by George Collins

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1 hour ago, J Steve Allington said:

the fact that they were flying against the hapless Soviets, flying comparatively primitive, under-powered and under armed aircraft, with poorly trained pilots behind the controls.

Quoting Solonin again to illustrate that the perception of Luftwaffe superiority at the start of Barbarossa is probably exaggerated:

 "The addition of all available bits of information “from the Soviet side” suggests that fighter regiments of three air force divisions (11th, 9th and 10th) in the the first echelon of the Western Front lost from 30 to 40 air craft in combat [on June 22]. No more. Luftwaffe fighters from [the group] JG-51 claimed 12 Soviet fighters; pilots from III/JG-53 and I/JG-53 claimed 20 and 5 air craft respectively (taking into account that III/JG-53 operated at the overlap of the Soviet Western and North-Western Fronts, some of the claimed kills belonged to the NW Front)…. In all, accounting for at least two-fold exaggeration of the claimed kills over the real ones, the mentioned Soviet Western Front losses of 30-40 fighters appear realistic, if not exaggerated. [Luftwaffe] lost 15 fighters for good, with another 8 damaged on the same day.
…given the advantage of the “first strike,” the best [Luftwaffe] aces selected to the 2nd Fleet would not settle for anything less. In any case, 1 to 2, or even 1 to 3 ratio does not necessarily spell out ‘the beating of inadequate amateurs.’
…[On June 22, 1941, 11th, 9th, and 10th Soviet air force divisions] lost 5 to 6 percent of air craft…[and, at the very worst,] less than 9 percent of their pilots (40 of 460). Yet, these 3 divisions were completely destroyed and disappeared from all the reports and operational briefs of the [RKKA] staffs in a day or two….the lightening fast annihilation of the first echelon of the Soviet Western Front air force occurred not in the air, but on the ground.
…According to the report signed by the Chief of RKKA VVS Staff Operational Command Lieutenant-General Zhuravlev on August 1, 1941, “unaccounted losses” amounted to 5,240 air craft! Retroactively, this giant mass of abandoned equipment would be written off as the result of “the sudden strike at air fields.”

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31 minutes ago, J Steve Allington said:

I stand by my earlier comments, not from personal experience, but from first hand accounts from the pilots themselves. One in particular, Hartmann himself. Here's some material for reference: http://www.migflug.com/jetflights/final-interview-with-erich-hartmann.html

That material is certainly a very good read.

Interestingly it kinda goes back to my comment "Kills by "Aces" being the criteria/specification (if you will) surely the Messerschmidt 109 must be the clear winner. " albeit my terribly worded one. Obviously, the pilots are/were the difference. So even the (apparently) dreadful Buffalo could be a great war plane - with the right pilot. So the original question about what was the best fighter plane of WWII really has one main answer - any one of them if on the right day it had the right pilot and crew.

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38 minutes ago, J Steve Allington said:

I stand by my earlier comments, not from personal experience, but from first hand accounts from the pilots themselves. One in particular, Hartmann himself. Here's some material for reference: http://www.migflug.com/jetflights/final-interview-with-erich-hartmann.html

Thanks for posting this - and I browsed it - but I find nothing here that substantiates "Soviets, flying comparatively primitive, under-powered and under armed aircraft" in particular. The part about hapless and untrained pilots is pretty subjective, but pure stats show that at the start of Barbarossa the Russians had no fewer pilots with combat experience in their ranks.

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I too, have browsed through the Hartmann interview and can find nothing that substantiates the "points system" where the kills of a unit were given to a top ace, even if he did not shoot down that plane. In fact in that interview Hartmann he has a sceptic fly on his wing to show that his kills were his own. At the end of the War there were many sceptics about Luftwaffe pilots kills from Allied aces but over time the scepticism seems to have died out.

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         There's more to Hartmann's book than you might find in that particular excerpt, sorry, it was meant to point to the book iself. But in the book, Hartmann writes about how (relatively) easy it was to shoot down the Russian fighters, (turns out, all you had to do was to slip under them, hit the oil cooler, and watch it go down in flames. easy peasy!) and how it became more and more difficult it became to even get the Russians to engage in battle, as they relized just how badly they were outmatched, both by the aircraft the Luftwaffe flew, and the German pilots themselves. And, while true that the Russians certainlly started out with (again, relatively) good pilots, attrition set in, and Hartmann was having troulbe finding willing Russian pilots to even engage with.

       As far as the quality of both men and aircraft goes, even the ME-109 was born of thrities technolgy, but was still good enough to wear out not only the Russians, (who where actully using even more outdated equipment than the Germans!) but also severely punished both the Brits and the Americans at the start of the war. It was only though constant updating and upgrading in both training and equipment (and sheer numbers) did the Allies manage to turn things around. BUT! Back to my original point, yes, the Germans did pull in big numbers againest the Russians, but it was hardly a fair fight, and did nothing to help out the reputation of airplanes like the Yakovlev Yak-1, the Lavochkin La-5 and the Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-1, which, I would still argue were more of an asset to the Germans, than they were to the Soviets that had to fly them. 

  And as outmatched the Allies were at the start of the war, (and they were outmatched) another plane born of thrites tech, the P-38, flying against (arguablly better) pilots, and under less than favorable conditions, preforming a job for which it was never intended to be used for, STILL managed to produce the top two American aces of World War Two!   Albeit, in a differant theater, as I pointed out before.

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 Here, try this explanation of the German Luftwaffe 'scoring system' . Maybe it's better at defining the high numbers you see from the Luftwaffe prospective: "Another aspect is simply how kills were tallied. The Germans had a “one pilot, one kill” system. This meant that only one pilot could claim the victory even if more than one pilot contributed to the kill. For various reasons, the more experienced pilot may be given credit for the kill. British and American pilots used a fractional system, wherein credit could be shared among pilots but the total would still equal one (so two pilots shooting down one aircraft would be awarded 0.5 of a kill, four pilots taking down an aircraft would each achieve 0.25 of a kill, etc)" from: 

 

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2 hours ago, J Steve Allington said:

the Germans did pull in big numbers againest the Russians, but it was hardly a fair fight, and did nothing to help out the reputation of airplanes like the Yakovlev Yak-1, the Lavochkin La-5 and the Lavochkin-Gorbunov-Gudkov LaGG-1, which, I would still argue were more of an asset to the Germans, than they were to the Soviets that had to fly them.

I think you're missing my point about what exactly helped Luftwaffe to establish air superiority in 1941. It was definitely not the numbers - in fact, on June 22 Luftwaffe assets were outnumbered by those of VVS by a significant margin. And apart from anecdotal accounts, I haven't seen any hard evidence that it was the quality of equipment and pilots that won the day for them either. But that's not the hill for me to die on. I agree that at the outset VVS demonstrated poor tactics and horrendous command and control capabilities, which partially could be explained by the purge of its high command actually in progress from the second half of May through mid-July of 1941. But the most incontrovertible explanation is in fact the rapid loss of airfields and tremendous amounts of assets stationed on the said airfields in close proximity to the demarcation line - particularly in East Poland, which were overrun by Wehrmacht in the matter of days. 

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It has been well established that when the Luftwaffe attacked the V-VS in 1941, the Russian planes, though numerous were taken by surprise. The aircraft were inferior to the Me 109s and (later) FW 190s --their leadership due to Stalin's purges were in disarray and their pilots were much inferior to the their Luftwaffe opponents.

Their later aircraft were much better and numerous, swinging the pendulum of air superiority towards the Russians. The extreme cold caused difficulty in maintenance for the Germans and Goering's promise of supplies were never up to the mark. The rapid advance of Soviet forces sometimes meant that Luftwaffe planes had to take off with their fields under fire from Soviet artillery.

My point was that the German kills given to their aces were genuine. It is also an accepted fact that, in the heat of air combat, claims can be made for severely damaged aircraft that somehow made it back to base (as has happened in all air wars) but the Luftwaffe system was on the whole accurate. 

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Interesting discussion here but nobody has mentioned that tactics played a large roll in kill numbers.  The P-40 which was a good but not great plane racked up big kill numbers in China. The Flying Tigers and their P-40s were very successful even against the Japanese Zero.  The Tigers stuck to an attack plan that gave them the advantage and denied the Japanese a chance to dog fight. The U.S. Navy also used tactics that decimated the Japanese carrier air fleet. The basket weave was a tacit that would cause an attacking Zero to cross in front of a second U.S. plane which would score the kill.

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You make a very good point, which is underlined by the fact that thorough testing of captured axis fighters was done to reveal their good and bad characteristics. This made it possible to devise effective tactics to defeat them in combat.

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20 hours ago, J Steve Allington said:

 Here, try this explanation of the German Luftwaffe 'scoring system' . Maybe it's better at defining the high numbers you see from the Luftwaffe prospective: "Another aspect is simply how kills were tallied. The Germans had a “one pilot, one kill” system. This meant that only one pilot could claim the victory even if more than one pilot contributed to the kill. For various reasons, the more experienced pilot may be given credit for the kill. British and American pilots used a fractional system, wherein credit could be shared among pilots but the total would still equal one (so two pilots shooting down one aircraft would be awarded 0.5 of a kill, four pilots taking down an aircraft would each achieve 0.25 of a kill, etc)" from: 

 

I think this discussion about the enormous number of german "kills" is highly interesting, and you make very good points. If memory serves me, I seem to recall having read that the difference in rotation system played a part in explaining how some nazi pilots acheived such high scores-they simply had more combat sorties and flying-hours than allied pilots, staying in action until fatigue wore them down. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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3 hours ago, Sapling said:

Strangely, we had this discussion a few weeks back after "Russia Today" (I think! It might have been another Russian media outlet!?) was touting the same aircraft. Note that it came into squadron service VERY late in the war, by which time the Luftwaffe it was facing was a poor, tired replica of what It HAD been four years earlier. This piece cites how the Yak's downed a number of (unspecified) German fighters AND two Ju87 bombers. The same Stukas that got pulled from the Battle of Britain, because they were being shot out of the sky in alarming numbers, and the survivors transferred mainly to the Eastern Front?!... By 1944/45, the Luftwaffe was perilously short of fuel, and even shorter of pilots to replace those lost in the war against the Western Allies in the skies over Germany.It was proposed that the He 162 Volksjaeger "Salamander" interceptor would be flown by Hitler Youth volunteers whose total flying experience would have been a few hours in a glider; things really were THAT bad... ANY plane put into the sky by Russia that late in the war was bound to do well. As I recall, the previous discussion found a claim that a Yak 3 had shot down a P-51... which turned out to be totally undocumented. (i.e. not a claim made by someone on this forum that they were unable to back up, but a claim made by a Yak 3  pilot which turned out to be unverifiable, and probably untrue.)

I pasted this bit from the background to the development of the He162, as it shows the parlous state in which the Luftwafe found itself at the time when the Yak 3 first entered the fray.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_162

Quote

State of the Luftwaffe fighter arm

Through 1943 the U.S. 8th Air Force and German Luftwaffe entered a period of rapid evolution as both forces attempted to gain an advantage. Having lost too many fighters to the bombers' defensive guns, the Germans invested in a series of heavy weapons that allowed them to attack from outside the guns' effective range. The addition of heavy cannons like the 30mm calibre MK 108, and even heavier Bordkanone autoloading weapons in 37mm and 50mm calibres on their Zerstörer heavy fighters, and the spring-1943 adoption of the Werfer-Granate 21 unguided rockets, gave the German single and twin-engined defensive fighters a degree of firepower never seen previously by Allied fliers. Meanwhile, the single-engine aircraft like specially equipped Fw 190As added armor to protect their pilots from fire, allowing them to approach to distances where their heavy weapons could be used with some chance of hitting the bombers. All of this added greatly to the weight being carried by both the single and twin-engine fighters, seriously affecting their performance.

When the 8th Air Force re-opened its bombing campaign in early 1944 with the Big Week offensive, the bombers returned to the skies with the long-range P-51 Mustang in escort. Unencumbered with the heavy weapons needed to down a bomber, the Mustangs (and longer-ranged versions of other aircraft) were able to fend off the Luftwaffe with relative ease. The Luftwaffe responded by changing tactics, forming in front of the bombers and making a single pass through the formations, giving the defense little time to react. The 8th Air Force responded with a change of its own, after Major General Jimmy Doolittle had ordered a change in fighter tactics earlier in 1944, amounting to an air supremacy entry into German airspace far ahead of the bombers' combat box formations — when at the end of April, he added additional directives allowing the fighters, following the bombers' flight back home to England, to roam freely over Germany and hit the Luftwaffe's defensive fighters wherever they could be found.

This change in tactics resulted in a sudden increase in the rate of irreplaceable losses to the Luftwaffe day fighter force, as their heavily laden aircraft were "bounced" long before reaching the bombers. Within weeks, many of their aces were dead, along with hundreds of other pilots, and the training program could not replace their casualties quickly enough. The Luftwaffe put up little fight during the summer of 1944, allowing the Allied landings in France to go almost unopposed. With few planes coming up to fight, Allied fighters were let loose on the German airbases, railways and truck traffic. Logistics soon became a serious problem for the Luftwaffe, as maintaining aircraft in fighting condition became almost impossible. Getting enough fuel was even more difficult because of a devastating campaign against German petroleum industry targets.

 

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I have always wondered why it took so long to get the P-51D Mustangs into the role of long range escort fighters. Were there political problems that delayed their deployment? The B-17 was hailed as the Flying Fortress and was supposed to be able to fight its way to the target and back. Did it take the disastrous raid over Schweinfurt  in October 1943 where 60 B-17s were lost to convince the AAF that long range escorts were needed? After all the NA-73x prototype was designed and built in only102 days and was first flown in October 1940. A Mustang was first fitted with the Merlin engine in October 1942.  Yet it wasn't until early 1944 that the Pointblank offensive began with Mustangs escorting the B-17s all the way to their targets.

Edited by Robert Naumann
rewording

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5 hours ago, Robert Naumann said:

I have always wondered why it took so long to get the P-51D Mustangs into the role of long range escort fighters. Were there political problems that delayed their deployment? The B-17 was hailed as the Flying Fortress and was supposed to be able to fight its way to the target and back. Did it take the disastrous raid over Schweinfurt  in October 1943 where 60 B-17s were lost to convince the AAF that long range escorts were needed? After all the NA-73x prototype was designed and built in only102 days and was first flown in October 1940. A Mustang was first fitted with the Merlin engine in October 1942.  Yet it wasn't until early 1944 that the Pointblank offensive began with Mustangs escorting the B-17s all the way to their targets.

It seems strange that you pose these questions just a few millimetres below a quote from Wikipedia outlining the evolution of Luftwaffe and USAAF tactics, which also provided HTML hyperlinks to further explanation.....? The situation on BOTH sides was fluid,  both sides changes of tactics forcing their opponents to do the same. Just scroll up to where it says "State of the Luftwaffe Fighter Arm", (just above your post,) and READ it! Schweinfurt convinced the Luftwaffe that what THEY needed were heavier fighters with more armour and bigger guns. They drew this conclusion unaware that (1) the USAAF was beginning to ship large numbers of relatively nimble long-range fighters across the Atlantic AND (2) planned to switch targets specifically to attacking Germany's industrial capacity to replace lost fighters. Both sides had changed tactics in anticipation of what they thought their opponents would do next.... and the Luftwaffe got things totally wrong. Yes, their new planes could do massive damage to the bombers... but only if they survived encounters with swarms of fighters. The escort fighters were then told not to stop when the Bombers returned home - but to use up any spare fuel to attack and destroy German aircraft that were on the ground, or taking off, or landing...

To me, the great puzzle is why and how Germany - almost to the very end - emphasised a preference for bombers over fighters. Eventually, the entire senior staff of the RLM unanimously went to Goering with a plea that he'd STOP wasting resources on bombers at a time when what the country really NEEDED was fighters. Goering took their request to Hitler, and apparently returned in tears, as a broken man, who finally understood that he was no longer in favour. Hitler insisted on continuing to squander increasingly scarce resources, and claimed that the Allies could be prevented from mounting thousand bomber raids by Germany "retaliating in kind". (using WHAT?!) The Luftwaffe continued to bomb the UK by night, mainly using adaptations of the medium bombers that had failed to win the Battle of Britain... and lost planes and pilots at a steady (and unsustainable) rate. They called it "Operation Capricorn"... the Brits termeed it "The mini-Blitz".

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On 1/21/2018 at 4:49 AM, Sapling said:

I will reference Solonin once again - he happens to be an air craft engineer by trade. He is not particularly fond of Yak-3 due to its relatively weak engine M-105 prone to spill oil at the very inopportune moments, as well as inadequate armament and protection. According to Solinin, Yakovlev used his access to Stalin to win "the means of production" for his Yaks over Polikarpov's I-180 and arguably the best in the world (at the outset of the war) I-185 fighters.      

Edited by George Collins

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On January 22, 2018 at 6:21 AM, Ron Walker said:

It seems strange that you pose these questions just a few millimetres below a quote from Wikipedia outlining the evolution of Luftwaffe and USAAF tactics, which also provided HTML hyperlinks to further explanation.....? The situation on BOTH sides was fluid,  both sides changes of tactics forcing their opponents to do the same. Just scroll up to where it says "State of the Luftwaffe Fighter Arm", (just above your post,) and READ it! Schweinfurt convinced the Luftwaffe that what THEY needed were heavier fighters with more armour and bigger guns. They drew this conclusion unaware that (1) the USAAF was beginning to ship large numbers of relatively nimble long-range fighters across the Atlantic AND (2) planned to switch targets specifically to attacking Germany's industrial capacity to replace lost fighters. Both sides had changed tactics in anticipation of what they thought their opponents would do next.... and the Luftwaffe got things totally wrong. Yes, their new planes could do massive damage to the bombers... but only if they survived encounters with swarms of fighters. The escort fighters were then told not to stop when the Bombers returned home - but to use up any spare fuel to attack and destroy German aircraft that were on the ground, or taking off, or landing...

To me, the great puzzle is why and how Germany - almost to the very end - emphasised a preference for bombers over fighters. Eventually, the entire senior staff of the RLM unanimously went to Goering with a plea that he'd STOP wasting resources on bombers at a time when what the country really NEEDED was fighters. Goering took their request to Hitler, and apparently returned in tears, as a broken man, who finally understood that he was no longer in favour. Hitler insisted on continuing to squander increasingly scarce resources, and claimed that the Allies could be prevented from mounting thousand bomber raids by Germany "retaliating in kind". (using WHAT?!) The Luftwaffe continued to bomb the UK by night, mainly using adaptations of the medium bombers that had failed to win the Battle of Britain... and lost planes and pilots at a steady (and unsustainable) rate. They called it "Operation Capricorn"... the Brits termeed it "The mini-Blitz".

Ron, that didn't answer my question. Could the long range P-51D escort fighter have been available before 1944 if it had been a high priority of the 8th AAF generals? Or were they stubbornly holding to their claim that B-17s was capable of fighting their way to the target and home again until the disastrous raids on Schweinfurt and Regensburg when they were forced to admit that escorts were needed all the way to the target and back? Of course the Mustangs had a secondary role to essentially destroy the Luftwaffe in order to maintain airsuperierority over the Normandy invasion beaches, a task they performed admirably.

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4 hours ago, Robert Naumann said:

Ron, that didn't answer my question. Could the long range P-51D escort fighter have been available before 1944 if it had been a high priority of the 8th AAF generals? Or were they stubbornly holding to their claim that B-17s was capable of fighting their way to the target and home again until the disastrous raids on Schweinfurt and Regensburg when they were forced to admit that escorts were needed all the way to the target and back? Of course the Mustangs had a secondary role to essentially destroy the Luftwaffe in order to maintain airsuperierority over the Normandy invasion beaches, a task they performed admirably.

It answered your question perfectly, and in detail. Problem was, you then didn't bother to follow up on the HTML hyperlinks which open up further pages. After Schweinfurt, both sides rethought their strategies, and escort fighters began to be available in suffficient numbers to make a difference.Germany didn't know that was going to happen, and switched to heavier slower interceptors which could fire at the bombers from further away - with heavier calibre weapons - and were also better armoured. The might have shot down a lot of bombers... but were increasingly aware of the dangers from massed half inch machine guns. So Germany went to a gunfight carrying a knife. Their heavy fighters were no match for the new nimble escort fighters, and rather than being the hunters, they became the prey. They switched to attacking the bomber stream head-on, which at least increased the number of kills. The USAAF responded with another change of plan(s) and began deliberately targetting fighter manufacturers, AND at the suggestion of Jimmy Doolittle, sent fighters waves in AHEAD of the bomber stream to find and kill any Germany opposition.and then to "seek and destroy" any enemy planes - or trains - wherever they were found. The deliberate bombing of the factiries seems to have made surprisingly little difference. What really hurt the Luftwaffe was being constantly hounded from the air, plus shortages of experienced replacement pilots, fuel and raw materials. The Luftwafe's response to D-Day was, as a result, fairly derisory. Add in the absurd believe at the top of the German command structure that the best defence is retaliation in kind (even when you lack the ability TO retaliate) and you start to build the full picture. ALL of the above was described in detail by the hyperlinks. (They're the bits of text in s slightly different colour and underlined - click on them, and you'll be taken to a different page.)

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