Stiglr posted 12-02-98 11:53 AM ET (US)
Wow. Great stuff. After this weekend, this excerpt really hit home:
"In the upper air at well over 300 per, the German fighters were
sitting ducks for a 51. They couldn't outmaneuver it and they couldn't out
run it and they couldn't out dive it. That's why you hear these stories
about a German pilot simply bailing out as soon as a 51 locked on to him.
He knew he had no chance so why hang around for the bullets to hit?"
I remember tangling with -51s in the Italy HA numerous times and getting
nailed, and after one such engagement, was climbing out with -hotar and
--ik-- and we were having a discussion on how to deal with the -51. We were
frustrated, and had that same, "Can't out turn it; can't dive away
from it; can't outrun it" discussion. "Rolling scissors"
was about the only thing we could think of when you met a 'Stang high and
he had energy.
This is what I LOVE about WB; how the richness of the sim allows you
to have "real" discussions about your experiences that jibe with
real anecdotes and history!
SnakeEyes posted 12-02-98 11:55 AM ET (US)
I wonder if he was flying the 51B. Even in our imperfect little WB environment,
I've noticed that the B can be a truculent little plane when it comes to
slicing in on a bandit... turn just a *bit* too much and it's very prone
to "snapping out" exactly as George mentioned.
In fact, if he was 9th AF (and it sounds like he was), he may well have
flown the B substantially more than the D (as I believe the 9th AF had their
Bs much longer than the 8th AF did).
XO Fourth Fighter Group
worr posted 12-02-98 12:00 PM ET (US)
Here is some more:
Here are the official victory records and aircraft types flown of the
USAAF FGs in WW2 (plus two so-so units important in the 38 discussion)--
1fg 440 P-38
4fg 550 P-47 P-51
8fg 453 P-39, P-40 P-38
14fg 426 P-38
20fg 211 P-38 P-51
23fg 467 P-40 P-51
35fg 387 P-400 P-39 P-38 P-47 P-51
49fg 664 P-40 P-38 P-47
52fg 425 Spitfire P-51
55fg 303 P-38 P-51
56fg 664 P-47
78fg 326 P-47 P-51
82fg 553 P-38
325 540 P-40 P-47 P-51
347fg 315 P-39 P-38
348fg 349 P-47 P-51
352fg 504 P-47 P-51
353fg 328 P-47 P-51
354fg 637 P-47 P-51
355fg 339 P-47 P-51
357fg 595 P-51
475fg 552 P-38
Of the groups with more than 400 kills that flew only one type of aircraft
thruout their wartime tour, one flew the P-47, one the P-51 and four the
Three of the P-38 groups were in the MTO and one the Pacific. Of the
groups scoring more than 500 kills while flying only one type of aircraft,
one flew the P-47, one the P-51 and two the P-38. One of the P-38 groups
served in the MTO.
13 P-38 groups were deployed in the combined MTO/ETO theaters. 34 P-47
groups served in the same theaters. 24 P-51 groups did so. (Note that most
groups, as can be seen from the list above, did not keep one fighter type
for the entire war.) That the aircraft type with the fewest deployed fg
has the highest number of fg in the top ranks in air to air killsis worth
noting and doesn't seem to indicate the 38 lacked the ability to rough up
While the ETO fighter jocks got permission to abandon close escort and
do free ranging escort from late winter 44, the MTO jocks never got such
permission and so during the entire war flew only close escort, meaning
they gave up the key advantages of speed and altitude to their foes--yet
with that handicap still performed outstandingly well in air to air.
I threw in the 20 and 55 fg figures because these were the two original
ETO 38 groups that seem to be the source of origin of the P-38's poor reputation
in the ETO. But even with the swtich from teh 38, their record for the war
is not outstanding. It was very good, but not top rank.
Compare their records with that of, for example, the 325, which served
in the MTO. It scored 135 kills with the P-40, 153 with the P-47 and 288
with the P-51, pushing it right to the top ranks of fg. No 325 vet I've
ever run into has badmouthed any of the aircraft they flew, including the
P-40, which must have had been outclassed. A poor workman blames his tools.
The reasons they generally cite for the greater number of kills with the
P-51 is that it gave them the range to go where the action was.
It could be asked why it was that the P-38 groups did so much better
than the P-47 and P-51 groups in the MTO. Why didn't the P-47, for example,
shine in the MTO the way it did in the ETO? A P-47 group topped all the
fg in kills and was based in the ETO, yet no P-47 group did all that well
in the MTO--or the PTO for that matter. Can we conclude from this that the
P-47 met easier opposition in the ETO than in the MTO or PTO? Or would it
be wiser to conclude that that fg was a crackerjack unit, with outstanding
leadership, and mission profiles that offered it plenty of opportunities
A key point about all the high scoring fg--they were at the time and
place where the action was. And they were skilled enough, led well enough
and had mission assignments appropriate enough to allow them to shine.
What's interesting to me is that the US had so many capable fighter types
to choose from. Based on its record, the P-38 delivered the goods.
worr posted 12-02-98 12:05 PM ET (US)
OK...some more 38 vs 51 comparisons.
The P-38 cockpit was plenty roomy. In fact it was a long reach to get
hold of the control wheel. No problem wearing a warm flying jacket. Besides
with the sun shining through that plexiglas canopy it got quite toasty warm
for the upper body. It was the lower extremeties that got cold. Solution
was fairly simple--silk liner socks, two pairs of wool socks and an outer
pair of cotton socks. The cotton seemed to suck moisture away from the feet.
Then stick your tootsies in boots two sizes too big so you'd have plenty
of room to wiggle the toes. You'd still be cold but you could handle it.
If you were flying under a high overcast, it could get quite cold. The worst
problem with being cold is that it made you want to pee and doing that was
The contrary of a warm, cozy cockpit on a long, frankly for the most
part boring, mission is the tendency to doze off. Which is better, fighting
to keep your eyes open or wiggling around in your seat and stomping your
feet trying to keep warm? Six of one...
You wanted to have an empty bladder and an empty colon before a long
mission. Eat light at dinner. Skip breakfast, maybe a few cautious sips
of coffee. Get awful dehydrated, and suddenly very hungry about two-thirds
along on the return trip. Bring something to nibble on.
Somebody mentioned the FW 190 being able to outdive the 38 by 60 mph
and be five miles ahead very quickly. It would depend on the aggressiveness
of the 38 pilot and how desirous the 190 jockey was to get away. In the
days when the 38 was introduced into the long range escort role in the ETO,
whenever a 38 pilot was likely to encounter a German he was among a lonely
few Yanks and a LONG way from home. Plus he had orders to stick close to
the bombers. Plus the Germans he was likely to encounter were still pretty
sharp then. Would YOU have gone balls to the wall chasing some guy to hell
and gone who absolutely positively has friends of his lurking around that
you haven't spotted?
By the time of the 51's heyday (and a fine little airplane it was), there
was a lot more of the guys in white hats around, fewer of the guys in black
hats and they were beginning to lose their edge. Was the 38 worse than the
51? No. Just different. Did more pilots have better luck in the ETO with
the 51 than the 38? Seems so. Why? Tactics was one reason. Freed from the
bomber formations to chase the wiley kraut back to his lair, corner him
and finish him off, they were able to rack up more kills.
Another reason was the K14 gunsight. You could make kills using that
sight in situations where without it firing your guns would be a waste of
I grant you that a lot of people preferred the 51 to the 38. The 51 was
a wonderful airplane, so it is easy to understand why. But then, believe
it or not, there were some people who preferred the P-40 to the 51. I've
talked with people who served in the 325 who were heartbroken to trade their
Peter 4-0s for Jugs. And there were some who got postively sick on their
first mission in the 51 after trading their 47s for them. The spamcan seemed
so insubstantial after the Jug. Then there were those who had motored along
in whatever they had been flying, doing OK until one day they got to plant
their feet on the rudder pedals of a Mustang and suddenly they realized
that THIS was what they were born for. This was their airplane, and they
really went to town with it.
Maybe that was the way it was for Bong with the 38 or Johnson with the
47. Some things are beyond facts and figures.
fltp posted 12-02-98 12:13 PM ET (US)
"I wonder if he was flying the 51B. Even in our imperfect little
WB environment, I've noticed that the B can be a truculent little plane
when it comes to slicing in on a bandit... turn just a *bit* too much and
it's very prone to "snapping out" exactly as George mentioned."
"In fact, if he was 9th AF (and it sounds like he was), he may
well have flown the B substantially more than the D (as I believe the 9th
AF had their Bs much longer than the 8th AF did)."
I think this guy is actually George Cuellers or Cueleers (Have seen it
spelled both ways). If it's him, he was in the 364th FG, 383 FS, 8th AF
with 10.5 kills. His plane was "Constance", I think. The 364th
had P-38J's (I think) and then P-51's. They transitioned to P-51's in late
July of 44. From what I've gathered, they had a few P-51C's during the transition
period, but only a few mostly for familiarization. The vast majority of
their work was done in P-51D's.
Why do I care? My grandfather was in the 364th FG, 384th FS until the
very beginning of the Pony show. I've been trying to contact this guy for
a few days now to see if it's him, and if he ever met my grandfather (I
never got to. ). Unfortunatly, that address does not accept e-mail. Bummer.
Web-birds does have some photos and history of the 364th up. It's worth
hoki posted 12-02-98 12:50 PM ET (US)
"I would say the 38's qualities shone best when it was low and
slow. Even a pilot with limited hours in the cockpit could have absolute
confidence in it and so push it right into the stall with no fear, even
at treetop height."
Hmmmm, I wonder what Thomas McGuire would say about that comment. (I
know it was bad, but I couldn't resist)
On another note I would be interested in which he thought was the most
manueverable. I have talked to 3 real life 51 pilots who flew in the ETO
and swear that the 51 easily outmanuevered the 38 (and yes "outturned"
also), two of them at last year's con. Anecdotal information is very interesting,
although it can be prejudicial at times (meaning performance of plane vs.
plane, not a jab on the man who wrote this).
cmos posted 12-02-98 12:53 PM ET (US)
The first time I lost a 51 in a high speed stall I lost 13,000 ft.
before I was a....
Sounds like we have some VERY well modeled planes in Warbirds today.
I have had these exact things happen to me in the 51 and the 38.
worr posted 12-02-98 01:45 PM ET (US)
Here are two more...one on buffs and their importance, the other on FW
domination by the 38L
Subject: Re: P38 vs P-51 vs 109 vs 190 (was Re: Lindbergh in a Mustang
Date: 2 Dec 1998 02:42:59 GMT
Art Krammer commented--
>We still don't get no respect. (grin)
(smut's note: the above is from a former bomber crewman)
Yes, you do. The only reason the fighters were there was to ensure the
bombers were able to do their job. The whole air war effort was aimed at
getting bombardiers over the target so they could plant pretty HE flowers
in the kraut's garden. Everybody else was second or third fiddle to the
guy with the bomb on his silver wings. Nine out of ten times a figher jock
would fly a mission during which nothing at all happened. But everytime
a bomber flew a mission, it struck a blow against the enemy and shortened
Subject: Re: P38 vs P-51 vs 109 vs 190 (was Re: Lindbergh in a Mustang
Date: 2 Dec 1998 02:35:55 GMT
V. Lenoch asked about whether I would keep the 51 at WEP or vary the
I would keep it at WEP, above 65 inches and 3000 rpm except when going
into a dive at high altitude. I wanted speed more than anything, and that
was what the 51 was best at. I could maneuver at 400 plus and the krauts
If they wanted a piece of me they would have to play by my rules and
if they played by my rules, I would win. When I became squadron CO that's
what I drilled into my boys. Speed, speed, speed. Don't pussyfoot with them.
Make them sweat at 400. Then push them to 500. Let them know you are
the better pilot in the better plane. Then kill them.
Maury Markowitz asked which direction the stall break was. To the right.
About the 38 and the 190, the 38 could handle the 190 at any altitude. All
the 190 had going for it was a great split-S. But that was an escape maneuver.
If the kraut wants to run away, let him. The early J could not do a good
split-S. About all it could manage was a jenny immelman. But the models
with dive flaps and aileron boost could follow a 190 through a split-S,
surprising the bejesus out of Herr Uberman.