1. #1

    Pilot accounts: Me-109, Spitfire, FW-190A, P-47D

    Wingloading (Normal loaded weight per square foot)

    1-Spitfire Mk V: 27 lbs

    2-Spitfire Mk IX/Hurricane Mk II: 30 lbs (+11%)

    3-Me-109G-6/FW-190A-4: 40 lbs (+33%)

    4-P-51D: 43 lbs (+8%)

    5-P-47D: 44 lbs (+2%) (+ 10% to Me-109G-6)

    6-FW-190A-8: 46 lbs (+4%)

    1 to 6: (+58%) (Mk IX) to 6 (A-8): (+47%)

    1-S/L J. B. Prendergast of 414 Squadron recorded in his Combat Report for 2 May 1945 (Mk XIV vs FW-190A-8):

    I observed two aircraft which presumably had just taken off the Wismar Airfield as they were at 800/1000 feet flying in a northerly direction and gaining height.-------The other E/A had crossed beneath me and was being attacked by my No. 2, F/O Fuller. I saw my No. 2’s burst hitting the water--------The E/A being attacked by my No. 2 did a steep orbit and my No. 2 being unable to overtake it broke away.


    2-RCAF John Weir interview for Veterans Affairs (Spitfire Mk V vs FW-190A-4 period): "A Hurricane was built like a truck, it took a hell of a lot to knock it down. It was very manoeuvrable, much more manoeuvrable than a Spit, so you could, we could usually outturn a Messerschmitt. They'd, if they tried to turn with us they'd usually flip, go in, at least dive and they couldn't. A Spit was a higher wing loading..."

    "The Hurricane was more manoeuvrable than the Spit and, and the Spit was probably, we (Hurricane pilots) could turn one way tighter than the Germans could on a, on a, on a Messerschmitt, but the Focke Wulf could turn the same as we could and, they kept on catching up, you know."


    This same pilot underlined: "It is crucial in combat to be objective as hell about what is going on"


    3-Gray Stenborg, 23 September 1944 (Spitfire Mk XII): "On looking behind I saw a FW-190 coming up unto me. I went into a terribly steep turn to the left, but the FW-190 seemed quite able to stay behind me. He was firing at 150 yards-I thought "this was it"-when all of a sudden I saw an explosion near the cockpit of the FW-190, upon which it turned on its back." (Stenborg was killed the next day in a head to head engagement with a FW-190 over Poix)

    Osprey Aces Series. "Griffon Spitfire Aces"


    4-"-Squadron Leader Alan Deere, (Osprey Spit MkV aces 1941-45, Ch. 3, p. 2): "Never had I seen the Hun stay and fight it out as these Focke-Wulf pilots were doing... In Me-109s the Hun tactic had always followed the same pattern- a quick pass and away, sound tactics against Spitfires and their superior turning circle. Not so these 190 pilots: They were full of confidence... We lost 8 to their one that day...


    5-Johnny Johnson "My duel with the Focke-Wulf": "With wide-open throttles I held the Spitfire V in the tightest of vertical turns [Period slang for vertical bank]. I was greying out. Where was this German, who should, according to my reckoning, should be filling my gunsight? I could not see him, and little wonder, for he was gaining on me: In another couple of turns he would have me in his sights.---I asked the Spitfire for all she had in the turn, but the enemy pilot hung behind like a leech.-It could only be a question of time..."

    (Jonhson escaped when he abandoned the turn fight, and dived near a Royal Navy ship that fired AAA at his pursuer)


    Quote, "On special Missions,KG 200": (early captured Razorback without full power available, and with needle tip prop) "The P-47D out-turns our Bf-109G"

    Bf-109G vs P-51B comment: "The P-51 has a dangerous stall which killed two of our pilots."

    Source: On Special Missions: The Luftwaffe's Research and Experimental Squadrons 1923 - 1945 (Air War Classics)


    A translated Russian article from "Red Fleet" describing Russian aerial tactics against the German FW-190, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 37, November 4, 1943.


    -The speed of the FW-190 is slightly higher than that of the Messerschmitt; it also has more powerful armament and is more maneuverable in horizontal flight.

    -They interact in the following manner:
    Me-109G will usually perform dive and climb attacks using superior airspeed after their dive.
    FW-190 will commit to the fight even if our battle formation is not broken, preferring left turning fights. There has been cases of such turning fights lasting quite a long time, with multiple planes from both sides involved in each engagement."

    -Since the FW-190 is so heavy and does not have a high-altitude engine, pilots do not like to fight in vertical maneuvers.

    -A fairly good horizontal maneuver permits the FW-190 to turn at low speed without falling into a tail spin.

    -Being very stable and having a large range of speeds, the FW-190 will inevitably offer turning battle at a minimum speed.

    -In fighting the FW-190 our La-5 should force the Germans to fight by using the vertical maneuver.


    Osprey "Duel" #39 "La-5/7 vs FW-190", Eastern Front 1942-45:

    P.69 "Enemy FW-190A pilots never fight on the vertical plane.---The Messerschmitt possessed a greater speed and better maneuverability in a vertical fight"

    P.65 Vladimir Orekov: "An experienced Fw-190A pilot practically never fights in the vertical plane"


    Osprey, "P-47 Thunderbolt units of the 12th Air Force".

    P.32: 15th May 1944, 87th Fighter squadron operational report (Paddle-blade propellers only started to be delivered to the group in late May 44, and only with new aircrafts, so all these are needle-tip props, which does explain in part their turning performance).

    That afternoon, the 87th FS took off (16 aircrafts) with 32 X 1000 lbs bombs underwing to add to the destruction in Acquapedente. Target: Acquapedente bridges.

    "A flight of 15 Me-109s and 5 FW-190s was encountered. One section kept the fighters occupied while the remainder attacked the bridges. Three enemy fighters were destroyed for one of ours damaged.

    A gratifying result of this engagement was that a P-47, not considered a low-altitude aircraft, can maneuver advantageously with Me-109s almost on the deck, even though under the handicap of being on a bomb run." [Meaning 2 X 1000 lbs of bombs underwing...]


    "The P-51 Mustangs of Major George Preddy" EC # 100, Eagles Editions limited.

    P.20: "Preddy spotted two 109s and got into a Lufbery with the first one. Neither was gaining much advantage when all of a sudden another 109 cut in front of him."


    Quote from an Oseau demise witness (Jagdwaffe, "Defence of the Reich 1944-45" Eric Forsyth, p.202): "Many times I told Oseau the FW-190A was better than the Bf-109G........ Each turn became tighter and his Bf-109 (Me-109G-6AS) lost speed, more so than his (P-51D) adversaries."


    Osprey, "RAF Mustang and Thunderbolt Aces", P.42:

    Sq. Lt. Hearner (No 19 Sq) commenting 11 April 1945 battle over Lister airfield (P-51 Mk IV vs late Me-109Gs or Ks):

    "The 109s we encountered were obviously an experienced bunch of boys. Their turning circle is decidedly better than ours at low speed. The lowering of 20 degrees of flaps may just enable us to hold them in the turn, although I feel they could outclimb us."


    In "Le Fana de l'Aviation" #496 p. 40:

    Première citation : " Dans la journée du 29 avril, le régiment effectua 28 sorties pour escorter des bombardiers et des avions d'attaque au sol et 23 en protection de troupes, avec quatre combats aériens. Les premiers jours furent marqués par des échecs dus à une tactique de combat périmée dans le plan horizontal, alors que le Spitfire était particulièrement adapté au combat dans le plan vertical."

    [Translation: "The Spitfire failed in horizontal fighting, but was particularly adapted to vertical fighting."]

    P. 40-41: " A basse et moyenne altitude, la version VB était surclassé par les chasseurs allemands et soviétiques de son époque. Pour tenter d'améliorer la maniabilité et la vitesse, les Soviétiques l’allégèrent en retirant les quatre mitrailleuses ainsi que leurs munitions, ne laissant que les canons. Cette variante fut évalué par le centre d'essais des VVS au cours de l'été de 1943. Apparemment ce ne fut pas concluant, car il n'y eu pas d'instructions pour généraliser la modification."

    [Translation: To improve the Spitfire Mk VB's maneuverability and speed to the level of contemporary Soviet and German fighters, the four outer .303 machineguns were removed. This attempt at lightening the Spitfire was not conclusive, and the modification was not widely adopted.]


    1946 US evaluation of FW-190D-9: "1-The FW-190D-9, although well armored and equipped to carry heavy armament, appears to be much less desirable from a handling standpoint than other models of the FW-190 using the BMW 14 cylinder radial engine."


    Donald Caldwell wrote of the FW 190 D-9’s operational debut in his "The JG 26 War Diary Volume Two 1943-1945" (pages 388 – 399): "The pilot’s opinions of the “long-nosed Dora”, or Dora-9, as it was variously nicknamed, were mixed. The new airplane lacked the high turn rate and incredible rate of roll of its close-coupled radial-engined predecessor."


    Reichlin assessment team report of Dec 10, 1941 (FW-190A-1 vs Me-109F): "In terms of maneuverability, it (FW-190A) completely outclassed the Me-109. The Focke-Wulf could out-turn and out-roll the Messerschmitt at any speed."


    "Dogfights" Episode 16 "Death of the Luftwaffe" dealing with the January 1st, 1945 "Operation Bodenplatte" airfield attacks:

    "FW-190As fought at lower altitude and engaged in turn fighting, while the Me-109Gs attacked in dives from a higher altitude."


    Eric Brown ("Duels in the Sky") p. 128:

    FW-190A: "Care must be taken on dive pull-out not to kill speed by sinking, or on the dive's exit the FW-190 will be very slow and vulnerable."

    Stability and control committee, "S.C. 1718", 24 April 1944:

    P-47D vs FW-190A-6 at low altitude:

    "The FW-190 tended to black out the pilot." [Meaning: Abrupt deceleration from tail-down sinking, thus poor pull out angle yet still high Gs]

    "The P-47 had a much greater speed and a decidedly better angle of pull out (after 3000 ft. in a 65 degree dive)."

    Red Fleet, No. 37, November 4, 1943.:

    "When climbing in order to get an altitude advantage over the enemy, there is a moment when the FW-190 "hangs" in the air. It is then convenient to fire." [This is in the context of dive pull-outs] -"However, the FW-190 is never able to come out of a dive below 300 or 250 meters (930 ft or 795 ft). Pulling out of a dive, made from 1,500 meters (4,650 ft) and at an angle of 40 to 45 degrees, the FW-190 falls an extra 200 meters (620 ft). [Meaning after levelling out, continues sinking nose up]

    Vertical-maneuver fighting with the FW-190 is usually of short duration since our planes have a better rate of climb than the German planes" -Since the FW-190 is so heavy and does not have a high-altitude engine, pilots do not like to fight in vertical maneuvers: Success may be achieved by constantly making vertical attacks."


    Quote, 1989 SETP test: "Heading Change Time (180 deg at METO, 220 KIAS at 10,000 ft.)

    FG-1--8.5 sec / P-47--9.7 sec / F6F--9.9 sec / P-51--10.0 sec

    Quote 1989 SETP test: "AIR-TO-AIR TRACKING 210 KIAS at 10,000 ft. (straight & level into a 3g turn to the left building to 4g followed by a hard reversal into a 4g right turn.)

    FG-1 best, followed by P-47, F6F and, trailing badly, the P-51."


    RAE Tactical and technical trends, Nov. 5-11 1942:

    -"Maneuverability--Except at lower speeds-around 140 MPH(!)- The FW-190 is superior and will out-turn the P-38" (FW-190A-4)

    -1943 RAE test: "The P-38G and FW-190A-4 are roughly similar in turning ability"

    Combat of a P-38G against a Me-109G:

    Lt. Royal Madden from the 370th FG, 9th AF, July 31, 1944

    “Approximately 15 Me 109s came down on Blue Flight and we broke left. I then made a vertical right turn and observed Blue Two below and close and Blue Four was ahead and slightly above me. I glanced behind me and saw four Me 109s closing on my tail fast and within range so I broke left and down in a Split S. I used flaps to get out and pulled up and to the left. I then noticed a single Me 109 on my tail and hit the deck in a sharp spiral.

    We seemed to be the only two planes around so we proceeded to mix it up in a good old-fashioned dogfight at about 1000 feet. This boy was good and he had me plenty worried as he sat on my tail for about five minutes, but I managed to keep him from getting any deflection. I was using maneuvering flaps often and finally got inside of him. I gave him a short burst at 60 degrees, but saw I was slightly short so I took about 2 radii lead at about 150 yards and gave him a good long burst. There were strikes on the cockpit and all over the ship and the canopy came off. He rolled over on his back and seemed out of control so I closed in and was about to give him a burst at 0 deflection when he bailed out at 800 feet.

    Having lost the squadron I hit the deck for home. Upon landing I learned that my two 500 pound bombs had not released when I had tried to jettison them upon being jumped. As a result I carried them throughout the fight.”


    Spitfire Mk V vs Spitfire Mk IX, RAE (Royal Air Establishment) comparison:

    20......... The Spitfire IX was compared with a Spitfire VC for turning circles and dog-fighting at heights between 15,000 and 30,000 feet. At 15,000 feet there was little to choose between the two aircrafts, although the superior speed and climb of the Spitfire IX enabled it to break off its attack by climbing away and then attacking in a dive. This manoeuvre was assisted by the negative 'G' carburettor, as it was possible to change rapidly from climb to dive without the engine cutting. At 30,000 feet there is still little to choose between the two aircraft in manoeuvrability, but the superiority in speed and climb of the Spitfire IX becomes outstanding.


    [Note below very inferior FW-190A handling while being an "estimated 400 mph target", and pulling "streamers at the bottom of an elongated loop" after which the pilot behaves as if he is blacked out, despite the elongation of the loop: Again tail down high deceleration sinking...]


    "Dogfight at 500 ft."--"Then he stopped cutting me off as I cut throttle, dropped 20 degrees of flaps and increased prop pitch"--"Gradually I worked the Me-109G away from the field and commenced to turn inside of him as I reduced throttle settings."



    "I learned to fly with the "Cannon-Mersu" (MT-461). I found that when fighter pilots got in a battle, they usually applied full power and then began to turn. In the same situation I used to decrease power, and with lower speed was able to turn equally well. I shot down at least one Mustang (on 4th July 1944) in turning fight. I was hanging behind one, but I could not get enough deflection. Then the pilot made an error: he pulled too much, and stalling, had to loosen his turn. That gave me the chance of getting deflection and shooting him down. It was not impossible to dogfight flying a three-cannon Messerschmitt."
    " When the enemy decreased power, I used to throttle back even more. In a high speed the turning radius is wider, using less speed I was able to out-turn him having a shorter turning radius. Then you got the deflection, unless the adversary did not spot me in time and for example banked below me. 250kmh seemed to be the optimal speed. (160 mph)"
    - Kyösti Karhila


    Gunther Rall: "They (Rechlin) told us this new FW-190A could out-turn our Me-109F (900 lbs lighter than G), HOWEVER, I could out-turn it"


    Rechlin assessment team report (1942):
    "In terms of maneuverability, the FW-190 completely outclasses the Me-109. With light positive controls making it easier to handle, the FW could out-turn and out-roll the Messerschmitt at any speed.


    Werner Seitz: "I liked the FW-190 very much. It was a much better airplane than the 109. You could curve it, you could fly fast... You could do everything with that aircraft. It was wonderful."



    P-47D vs Me-109G [probably gondola equipped]: "We got to the deck. After 3-4 climbing turns I managed to get in a position to fire a deflection shot... We continued in a climbing lufberry indicating 140 mph."



    P-47D vs Me-109G [likely gondola equipped as well, given the turn-climbing]. "We had no difficulty turning or climbing with them."



    (P-47Ds) "We started turning with several 109s and were having no difficulty doing it at 23 500 ft., with full tanks" "The E/A (109s)started to turn [12 000 ft.], and we out-turned them immediately."



    P-47D vs FW-190A-8 (December 1944): "We fought a running and turning fight Eastward during which I was out-turned several times which necessitated climbing and allowing the E/A to run [Eastward]."



    Stability and control committee, "S.C. 1718", 24 April 1944:

    P-47D versus FW-190A at Low Altitudes (10 000 ft):

    Turning above 250 mph:

    "The P-47 easily out-turned the FW-190 at 10 000 ft., and had to throttle back to avoid overrunning the FW-190. The P-47's turning superiority increased with altitude. The FW-190 vibrated excessively (at higher power) and had a tendency to black out its pilot. [Again, pitch up tail-sinking deceleration]

    Turning below 250 mph:

    "The turns were made so rapidly it was impossible for the airplanes to accelerate, and the ability of the FW-190 to hang in its propeller and turn inside the P-47 was very evident."

    Eric Brown: "Duels in the Sky" P. 128:

    "The critical point at which the change in trim occurred was around 220 mph, and it could easily be gauged while turning: At lower speeds the FW-190A had a tendency to tighten up the turn, but backwards pressure was necessary above 220 mph"


    Me-109G (possibly gondola equipped) vs P-47D at 140 mph on the deck:

    William M McDermott, 26 May 1944: "I got to the deck in time to see white leader destroy a 109. As I banked away with my element to rejoin the formation I saw another 109 coming head on. The enemy aircraft and I both banked to the left at the same time. After 3 or 4 climbing turns I managed to get into a position to fire a deflection shot, using about two rings and observing no hits. We continued in a climbing Lufberry using full power and indicating 140 mph. I used two and half rings and observed a few hits on his tail surfaces. We continued circling for approximately another full turn when he suddenly snapped and spun in."


    P-51D vs 1945 late Me-109Gs or Ks:

    Sq. Lt. Hearner (No 19 Sq) commenting 11 April 1945 battle over Lister airfield (P-51 Mk IV vs late Me-109Gs or Ks):

    "The 109s we encountered were obviously an experienced bunch of boys. Their turning circle is decidedly better than ours at low speed. The lowering of 20 degrees of flaps may just enable us to hold them in the turn, although I feel they could outclimb us."


    Gunther Rall (274 kills) on the Me-109 and FW-190:

    "They complemented one another. The 109 was like a rapier, the 190 was like a saber."



    Red Fleet, No. 37, November 4, 1943.:

    "-They (FW-190s and Me-109s) interact in the following manner:
    Me-109G will usually perform dive and climb attacks using superior airspeed after their dive.
    FW-190 will commit to the fight even if our battle formation is not broken, preferring left turning fights."


    No math-slaved instrument deprived WWII test pilots were harmed during the making of this compilation (especially not those from the US Navy, or Eric Brown!)

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  2. #2
    The possible explanation.

    No, none of what these first hand accounts claim violates any basic laws of physics by the way, at least not if you understand the difference between Force and Energy.

    The FW-190A, in all its marks, out-turned at low sustained speeds the Spitfire, in all its Marks, obviously because it got the physics right... Nothing in physics prevents the lighter airplane from taxing its wings more than the heavier aircraft: It is not the heavier airplane that is adding, it is the lighter airplane that is substracting more, from a far greater than assumed wing lift tension for both.

    The total force on the wings, in sustained horizontal turns, is far greater than the total now assumed to be the truth (could easily be detected if the wing bending on these old things had ever been measured in horizontal turns: It never has: Only in dive pull-outs), because the asymmetry on the loaded prop disc sets up a tumbling of air on the back of the wing: That initial tumbling is sustained in a rotating flow, and "sucks" pressure off the back of the wing, making the wingload total far heavier than what is assumed today for horizontal turns in these types of aircrafts. They all have the strength to absorb this extra load, being all over 10 Gs airframes.

    It doesn't show up in dive pull-outs because the dive unloads the prop, nullifying the tumbling "suction" effect from fighting the frontal leverage of the prop (which wants to stay straight).

    That is why the FW-190A performs so poorly on the vertical: Unloaded prop disc = Less "tumbling" suction advantage on the back of the wings, and this makes it match its wingloading "math" more...

    The "tumbling" that creates an air "vacuum" pump on the back of the wing is caused by the trajectory being slightly wider than it should be (from fighting the prop leverage to tilt itself): A wider turn means more air is "processed" by the wings, and some of it spills over the top of the wings in a horizontal spiral: This "wingtop pump" spiral sucks more and more air as the turning goes on, bending the wings far beyond the assumed value at the low sustained speed value (3-3.5 Gs). It could be that a "soft" initial turn entry will not set up this "pump".

    That is the working theory for now at least. At a well over 48% discrepancy between types, from multiple general statements, it has to be something truly radical, not just "the mouse ate the cat because it was a very big mouse, and the cat was a very small cat..."

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