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Thread: Eric Brown's "Duels in the Sky"

  1. #16
    Der Crew Chief DerAdlerIstGelandet's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hop View Post
    So from the US point of view the Mustang was all important. But there was so much more to the war against Germany than the US bombing offensive.
    Where did I say anything to the contrary? Don't put words in my mouth. I did not say the US was the sole reason the war was won, nor do I believe that...



    fly boy:"isnt that the first jet bomber becasue i have flown one in a flight sim before and i know how it handles"

  2. #17
    Senior Member drgondog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    So P51 was the best because of his performance in Spring 44?

    Yes, and No. It was for the purposes of ensuring that the Luftwaffe was unable to re-inforce the air over Normandy in sufficient numbers as to prevent logistical re-supply of the troops that landed on D-Day. The Luftwaffe drew 50% of the Ost and Sud Fronts to re-inforce LuftReich from July of 1943 through March 1944. That force stopped the USAAF in the ETO by the end of October 1943 was significantly re-inforced by March 1944. The P-47 and Spitfire achieved local air superiority over France, Belguim, The Netherlands and Western Germany within the range of the P-47 - but adapted new lethal tactices which required the P-51B to defeat. In the period Jan1 - May 30 the Mustang destroyed more LW aircraft in the air than all the P-47 sorties flown in the ETO from its inception in April 1943. Thereafter till the end of the war the Mustang destroyed more aircraft than any Allied Fighter (or any TWO Allied fighters combined) despite the ability of 9th AF and RAF to move to continental airfields after D-Day for the rest of the war.

    My judgment, based on the importance to the US, was that the Mustang permitted 8th AF to make a major strategic contribution, including oil and chemical manufacturing which were the two single most strategic resources (fuel, gunpowder, fertilizer, chemicals) which they could not replace. You may make your own judgments regarding the importance of the Spitfire or Hurricane or Me 109 or FW 190 or Yak or Laag - as you will.. so do so?


    The fact that all circumstances were in its favor means nothing?

    The Mustangs achieved the major blow to LuftFlotte Reich which was by far the most important concentration of day and night fighters for Germany - and did so from Big Week through May 30 when they inflicted more losses with a single aircraft than any other aircraft possessed by the Allies

    Further the numbers of the Mustangs that achieved those results were less than 1/2 of the day fighter strength of LF Reich. - at the end of that period

    a) It escorted a massive ,unique in aviation history ,bomber force that attracted the attention of the defenders

    Yes, and? It also roamed throughout Germany, Poland and Czechoslovakia shooting up rail, road, canal and airfield assets - on the deck in very vulnerable tactical scenarios. More than twice as many Mustangs were destroyed by flak as from German fighters.

    b) Faced an exausted ,overdeployed , hugely outnumbered enemy ,who faced fuel and raw materials limitations.

    No comment on exhausted, overdeployed - but the LW while 'outnumbered' in grand total, always had the opportunity to attack different formations with local superiority in that period
    c) An enemy that in the same theater faced P38s, P47s, Spits,Typhonns etc.

    LF Reich was largely out of range and un-engaged with P-47s, Spits, tempests, typhoons, Yaks, Laags, etc. They did have to face a maximum of 150 P-38s in the middle range escorts as far as Berlin - but the Mustang nearly (431 to 452 - by 21 less) shot down more German fighters in May 1944 than all the P-38s in all the 8th and 9th AF/ETO COMBINED

    d) That period by coincidence was at the same time that german fighters were less competitive during the entire war

    Certainly with respect to the P-51B with its puny battery of 4 x 50 caliber weapons - Agreed. It could be said that the late model Spit, Tempest, P-47 also achieved that capability - with one problem - They Couldn't Fly To The Fight !!

    e) the levels of gruppe strength were low because of bombing losses and lack of fighter pilots replacements. Not because of strafing

    It was all three causes - not just the one - but the LW had never been forced to contend with an Allied fighter that could range to central Poland and Czechoslovakia... and did not have an answer to the problem. If I disperse, I can't quickly assemble in Gruppe or larger size, if I concentrate I lose far more fighters in one pass, flak is not enough and there isn't fule enough to fly patrol.

    f) The total alleid victory in ULTRA operation gave additional advantage to alleid units

    True but irrelevant to Mustang air superiority over Germany
    g) It was produced by a raech, industry , unbothered by the enemy, allowing exceptional construction quality
    True but also true that the effect was to supply the USSR, the Commonwealth (all theatres) China, all theatres of WWII for combat ops - Imagine the 'problem' if US Only fighting Germany and could concentrate solely on defeating Germany, aligned with USSR and Great Britain?

    h) Superior fuel unavailable to the enemy.

    Yes
    k)Nothing would have been diferent in spring 44 without the existence of P51s .Siply the american would have solved sooner the problems of P38, and long range versions of P47 and Spit would have been produced sooner, true with greater cost

    I disagree for two reasons. 1. Politically the 8th and 15th AF would have ceased daylight strategic operations past Frankfurt/Hannover radius until July when enough P-38s and longer ranged P-47s could reach leipzig area - but not Poznan, Brux etc so much of Germany's synthetic refining capability would have remained untouched, and 2. LuftFlotte Reich would have been enormously stronger and in an effective reserve statust that escort, with heavy losses, would have been possible for german bombers over the beachead - with unknown consequences to the outcome of the Invasion.

    About the other aircrafts
    FW 190 could not dominate over England .True .There were 2 german fighter wings against thousands enemy fighters. Clear Fw190 short coming .However if war conditions were diferent could fly missions with 2 or even 3 external tanks. As for the Spitfire ,according to Parsifal, you are wrong! He dominated luftwaffe in 41/42/43 over France! Ask him, he has nentioned this on several posts! Who is wright?

    Independent of who is 'right' the main antagonists were RAF and LuftFlotte 3 until USAAF and 8th AF, when first borrowed Spits, then P-47s battled LF3 and some of LF Reich on western German borders..

    P51,without its numerical superiority and height advantage because of the bomber presence , could be outfought by late Spitfires,Tempests,Yak 3s,post spring 44 109s and 190s, F4U,. True its package of exceptional range
    We have a saying in Texas that may lose in its translation. Simply "If a frog had a glass ass it would only hop once". If the Spit, the 47, the Tempest, the Yaks had enough range and numbers you are correct - but they didn't have enough legs for more than a one way/one day opportunity to fight over Berlin and that is where daylight air superiority was fought - not over Paris or Rome or Warsaw.

    , high speed in horizontal flight, good communication equipment was very valuable. So third place given by Brown sounds reasonable. Spitfire is far the most important and generaly more capable fighter of WW2 and second place in my opinion goes to 109. Last years 190 has lost points in my opinion.
    Brown judged the aircrafts flying them on equal conditions, without operational advantages and disadvantages created by the general war situations . Thats the proper way to judge them, historical results while indicative, may be misleading as in P51s case.
    I have utmost respect for Brown - I publically posted my dialogue and disagreement fro the reasons stated. I also respect your views even when I disagree.
    Last edited by drgondog; 05-24-2012 at 07:51 AM.
    "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." - Albert Einstein

  3. #18
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    The P-51 was good to great in every category and could take the fight to the Germans.
    Another factor in favour of the Mustang was that it was available in huge numbers and although that might not have any bearing in such a poll, it certainly made a difference during the war.

    This is what Max Hastings wrote about the P-51 (although the latter part is less specific about Allied aircraft types) in his book Overlord, about, well, "Overlord";

    "by one of the most extraordinary paradoxes of the war, the bombing of the factories achieved only limited impact upon German aircraft production; but the coming of the marvellous P-51 Mustang long range fighter over the skies of Germany inflicted an irreverseable defeat upon the Luftwaffe, unquestionably decisive for Overlord. In January 1944 the Germans lost 1,311 aircraft from all causes. This figure rose to 2,121 in February and 2,115 in March. Even more disastrous than lost fighters, the Luftwaffe's trained pilots were being killed far more quickly than they could be replaced, with the direction of the air force in the enfeebled hands of Goering. By March the Americans were conciously attacking targets with the purpose of forcing the Germans to defend them. By June, the Germans no longer possessed sufficient pilots and aircraft to mount more than token resistance to the Allied invasion of France."

    Have to agree about the Swordfish and although it was most certainly obsolete, as a weapon it did bloody well in the hands of some rather courageous individuals. Perhaps that's why there is so much respect for it in certain circles.
    Last edited by nuuumannn; 05-23-2012 at 11:13 PM.
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  4. #19
    Senior Member drgondog's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hop View Post
    Half of all US strafing credits in the ETO came in a single month, April 1945. These were aircraft being abandoned on their airfields by a Luftwaffe that barely functioned.

    Nope but not terribly far off - For 8th AF the April 1945 credits for a/c - ground was 1715 of 4103 total. I agree that a lot were destroyed in the last month (42%) but over half were destroyed between March 1944 and September 1944 - a period before successful decentralization made such losses more critical.



    Spitfires didn't control anything over Germany in 1944/45? The number of sorties, the tiny number of interceptions by the Luftwaffe suggest otherwise.

    'Suggest' is less compelling than facts. Would you care to present your total for Spitfire ETO credits for a.) 1/1 - 5/44, then since bases on the continent enabled better perntration, the credits for 6/44 through 12/44? The comparable totals for US Mustangs was 1141 and 2082 respectively and does Not count RAF P-51 credits



    The first half of 1944 was the most critical phase of the war? I don't think many outside the US would agree.

    It was for 8th and 9th AF in context of Operation Pointblank which was deemed the most important assignment (after survival during BoB) for airpower for the Allies - without success the ability for the Allies to risk the invasion in May/Jume was problematical and definitely Not a sure thing. Eisenhower had to worry about a lot of things but air superiority wasn't one of them. I also know full well that the combined 8th/9th and RAF had the ability to inflict huge casualties on a fully re-inforced LF 3 via LF Reich but I don't believe anybody that remembered Sicily, Salerno, Anzio, Malta had a warm fuzzy feeling that crital damage of reinforcements could be prevented.

    Make your own decision regarding importance.


    I know the Mustang has the reputation in the US as the aircraft that "turned the tide", but the truth is the tide turned in 1942. By 1943 the outcome was no longer in doubt. By 1944 it was just a question of whether or not the war truly would be over by Christmas.

    BS flag on air superiority over the Continent. RAF was dying in droves at night and continued to a Greater degree after 1942. *th AF was stopped in October 1943. It isn't my thesis that the Mustang 'won the war' - I have never said that. I have said, and continue to do so, that the Mustang was the single fighter that pushed LW Defense of the Reich over the edge, permitted daylight strategic bombing to make an impact before D-Day, and continued to dominate the skies over Germany more than all the other air superiority fighters combined - if you wish to measure that by air and ground victory credits for the 1944 and 1945.

    The most critical phase of the war was in 1940 or 1941, possibly even 1942. But the Mustang certainly played no part in it.

    Yes -Critical part of war to save Great Britain, prevent the capture of the Suez Canal, and stopping Germany at Stalingrad,the Japanese at Midway - agreed. The 1941 -1942 period is characterized as 'stop the string of wins by Axis. Having said that, the Spitfire didn't impose great pressure on the Luftwaffe in 1943 in ETO, nor did the P-47 until the last several months - and it was limited. The LW held their own against the VVS with far fewer aircraft than in the West and that is why so many staffel/Gruppes were transferred to Germany and the LF Reich in that period.

    Of those aircraft, only the Spitfire was involved in action in the decisive phase of the war. By the time the others scored their first kills the ultimate result was beyond doubt.
    Clearly the Spitfire was of negligible importance at Stalingrad, or at Midway. It was of significance in the MTO over the battlefield and on medium bomber escort to RAF and USAAF MTO during 1942 through mid 1944. It had zero influence in the destruction of Ploesti, or other crital targets in Austria, Czechoslovakia when the 15th AF came into existence. It was of negligible importance against Japan.

    It was a great airplane and I didn't quibble with Brown's position of the Spit, had some problems ranking the Fw 190 above the Mustang (or the 109) and had a problem with ranking the Hellcat over either the Mustang or the Me 109.
    "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." - Albert Einstein

  5. #20
    Senior Member fastmongrel's Avatar
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    I think the main problem with Brown is he disagrees with ME and he doesnt put MY favourite aircraft at number 1. When I say me and my I mean every armchair expert who is currently on this site. We werent there, we didnt fly the aircraft mores the pity but for some reason a man who flew more aircraft than most us have air miles is wrong with his personal opinion. It is a book of personal recollections taken from his contemporaneous notes, he never tried to say it was anything other than that but for some reason he gets more hate than any other figure in aviation history. Till the invention of the time machine when some flight sim experts can go back and refight history we have to respect the opinion of the people who were there. Get 10 veterans in a room get them talking and within minutes you will have 20 different opinions on the best plane of WWII.

    So for all those who seem to take great pleasure in attacking Brown and denigrating his experiences and personal opinions, I say come back when you have flown every single plane he did and then I might give you the time of day.

    Till then you aint fit to polish his shoes.

  6. #21
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    Interesting take Fastmongrel and hard to argue your point because of Brown's experience, but that's the fun of this forum, isn't it? What's a little debate between strangers in front of computer screens at opposite ends of the world to one another? We get to pass judgement over things we have no real world knowledge of and, as you rightly pointed out, the poll is based on his opinion, and that's what we are voicing, our own opinions. So? Spitfire, P-51, Fw 190 or F6F?
    "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" Groucho Marx

  7. #22
    Senior Member fastmongrel's Avatar
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    Problem is nuuumannn the Brown debate always descends into Brown was a Limey As****e who didnt realise everything with a star on the side was the best or Brown was an untermensch who didnt realise everything with a cross on the side was the best. Debate away he didnt rate the aircraft the way I would but it always ends up with idiots getting personal and nationalistic.

    Petty nationalism pisses me off I love old motorbikes and I personally think BSA produced the best motorbikes in the world even though they leaked fuel, oil and electrons in equal measure but no way would I get into a pissing contest with someone from the US who holds the opinion that Milwaukee produced the best bikes in the world even though I personally think the best thing to do with a new Harley is wheel it to a scrap metal merchants and get a few bucks per ton.

    I work in a Mercedes garage working on air-con, electrics and bodywork and I think they are the best cars in the world so that should keep the "Jerman stuff is oresome" brigade happy and I am currently helping a friend rebuild his beautiful AMC Javelin muscle car engine so that should keep the USA USA USA brigade happy. When I find the time I will open the boxes of oily rusty metal in my shed and get round to my latest BSA build its a A65 Firebird scrambler and its going to be the best bike in the world apart that is from my BSA A65 Thunderbolt of course
    Last edited by fastmongrel; 05-24-2012 at 07:12 AM.

  8. #23
    Senior Member fastmongrel's Avatar
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    Oh and best plane in the world is spelt DeHavilland Mosquito no P Fw or Bf anywhere near it

  9. #24
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    Oh and best plane in the world is spelt DeHavilland Mosquito no P Fw or Bf anywhere near it
    Nuthin wrong in that, my man!

    Regarding Brown I have to say I'm a bit of a fan, not because he's British or Navy or anything, but because he's a good writer. His test flight reports are interesting and engaging. For me as a youngster into aircraft, in Wings of the Luftwaffe he brought to life German aeroplanes and technology in a way that no other book or author had done so before. His descriptions added a whole new dimension to these warplanes that we are so familiar with. That's why I like him.

    As for bias, I fail to see where it lies, he speaks very highly of German aircraft, with the notable exception of the He 177. He describes the Ju 88 with "profound admiration"; one of his favourites, along with the Fw 190. As for comments about being navy, why would that have an impact on a flight test report? That one puzzles me.

    Birmingham Small Arms? Don't know much about bikes, but they make a cool sound!
    "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog, it's too dark to read" Groucho Marx

  10. #25
    Senior Member davparlr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jim View Post
    P51,without its numerical superiority and height advantage because of the bomber presence , could be outfought by late Spitfires,Tempests,Yak 3s
    I am sure these are all capable combat aircraft. I am also sure they could not do it a 600 miles or stay in the air for long periods of time.

    post spring 44 109s and 190s
    The early P-51Bs at 67 boost on 100 octane fuel was faster than the Fw-190A-5 and much faster than the Bf-109G from sea level to ceiling. In addition, it could out climb the Fw from 5k ft. to ceiling and the Bf-109 above 20k ft. It could probably out dive the two and also out turn them. Not many tools for the German flying these two aircraft against the P-51 one-on-one. Post May, 44, with the advent of higher octane fuel and 75 boost, the P-51B is significantly faster than either German aircraft, much better climbing than either. Not until the advent of the late model aircraft such as the Fw-190D-9 and Bf-109G-10+ and K in the fall of 1944, did Germany have planes that could realistically challenge the P-51 and by then it was way too late.

    , F4U
    The F4U-1D was a powerful fighter which had similar performance as the 67 boost P-51 up to 20k ft but would need to have the wing tanks added back in to be a long range escort.

    ,. True its package of exceptional range , high speed in horizontal flight, good communication equipment was very valuable.
    So, add to this range and speed, climb, dive and turning, and you can understand the success the P-51 had over Germany.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by fastmongrel View Post
    Oh and best plane in the world is spelt DeHavilland Mosquito no P Fw or Bf anywhere near it
    Here...here......

    Had the opportunity to briefly speak with Eric a few years back; asked and what he thought of the Mosquito and it's later stablemate the Hornet. He thought very highly of both commenting on their " well harmonized controls". I then asked him about the He219....... His eyes opened a bit and said " now that was a good aircraft........"

    It's hard not to like the man. He is unassuming, listens to those around him and ever so willing to talk to anyone about his favorite subject.......... Airplanes.

    My hat off to him...........

    Cheers

  12. #27
    Senior Member renrich's Avatar
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    I have "Duels in the Sky" in my library and have read it several times. Eric Brown is highly biased in his appraisal of the many airplanes in the book. His comparison of the Corsair II and F6F3 versus the FW190 makes no sense at all when compared to actual tests run by the USN on the three aircraft and the subsequent choice of the Corsair over the Hellcat as the fleet's fighter.

    Brown was associated quite a lot with Marion Carl after the war. I wonder if they engaged in debates about the relative merits of fighters? Carl was a big advocate of the Corsair and he had much combat experience. Brown had little.

  13. #28
    Senior Member drgondog's Avatar
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    As a test pilot where I am dedicated to flying one aircraft after another to determine the good and not so good characteristics, I am concerned about a.) how does this beast fly, b.) does it generally or specifically meet the specifications for which it was designed, c.) what are potential killer flaws with respect to normal activities (takeoff, landing, spin, stall/warning/behavior, aerobatics, for twin-what are single engine behaviors below blue line or on final approach, etc)d,) how is the cockpit layed out, trim requirements at different speeds, control harmony, etc)... in the US kind of like Edwards AFB for USAF.

    At Eglin AFB, they wring the a/c out to try to determine combat capabilities, maintenance issues at 40 below, fire control systems, all weather flying, ACM, etc.

    "How it Flys"

    I've always perceived the talented and experienced WC Brown as the former - very much like Bob Hoover and Tony LaVier.. whereas I viewed Al and Bob White and Chuck Yeager as 'test pilots' with a serious fabric of combat ops behind the eyes. The engineering theory for context, testing at Edwards for how does it handle, rat races for proof of what it can do when pushed to limit in ACM.

    "What it can Do"

    Just a thought.
    "The difference between stupidity and genius is that genius has its limits." - Albert Einstein

  14. #29
    Senior Member Juha's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheMustangRider View Post
    Let's take into account that it was the 8th AF strategic bombing campaign over much of Nazi-occupied Europe and Nazi Germany itself that achieved the air superiority necessary for a cross-channel invasion.
    No long-range fighters, no air superiority; no air superiority, a doubtful cross-channel invasion; no invasion at all, a very different outcome of the war in Europe.
    Allied managed to undertake succesfully 2 Overlord size landings into Europe, to Sicily and to Salerno, before P-51B had arrived, so I doubt that P-51B had decisive effect on Overlord. Its successes during winter 43/44 and during Spring 44 definitely made Normandy landing easier but IMHO Allied had enough air assets in GB in 44 to made a succesful cross Channel landing in June 44 iirrespectively were there P-51s or not. At least British leadership understood that it was not in their interest to allow SU dominance over Western Europe, so they would in any case drove hard on the landing, not so sure on FDR who was very naive towards Uncle Joe but because Uncle Joe himself demanded the landing, IMHO it would have been done in any case.

    Juha

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by Juha View Post
    Allied managed to undertake succesfully 2 Overlord size landings into Europe, to Sicily and to Salerno, before P-51B had arrived, so I doubt that P-51B had decisive effect on Overlord.
    Juha
    Not to say anything to diminish the landings during Torch, Husky or Avalanche but they were not in the same league as Overlord.
    I think the presence of the P51 in German airspace forced the luftwaffe to retreat a large part of their fighter force from France to Germany. Pretty hard to fight of an allied invasion if there are no planes in the neighborhood

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