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|Aviation Discuss Ta152-H1 uber-fighter? in the World War II - Aviation forums; This is a reply to Erich comment "Nothing could touch the Ta 152H-1..." and various other comments concering the TA-152.
This is a reply to Erich comment "Nothing could touch the Ta 152H-1..." and various other comments concering the TA-152.
The Ta-152 was made to intercept the B-29 at altitudes above 30,000 feet. German intelligence anticipated the B-29 would be used against Germany starting in late 1944. It was not made to dogfight the P-51, though it was certainly capable of doing so, at least at high altitudes.
However, I'd point out that it was not the "super fighter" many have made it out to be. Let's compare it to the P-51...
Focke-Wulf Ta 152-H1 Specifications:
Powerplant: Junkers Jumo 213E-1 12-cylinder, liquid-cooled engine rated at 1,750hp at take-off ( 2,050hp with MW 50 ) and 1,320hp at 32,800ft. (1,740hp with GM 1)
Armament: 1 x 30mm Mk108 cannon mounted in the engine with 90 rounds, 2 x 20mm MG151/20 cannon mounted in the wign roots with 175 rpg.
[b]Gunsight: Revi 16b reflector sight
Max. Speed: 332 mph @ sea level (350 mph with MW 50), 465 mph @ 29,530 feet (with MW 50), 472mph @ 41,010 feet (with GM 1)
Cruising Speed: 311 mph cruising speed at 22,965ft.
Range: 755 miles to 1,250 miles depending on speed and external tankage
Fuel Capacity - internal 260.6 gallons external: 158.5 gallons
Climb - initial 3445 fpm with MW 50 injection Time to Altitude: ?
Ceiling: 48,550ft. with GM 1 injection
Dimensions - wingspan: 47 feet 4.5 inches length: 35 feet 1.66 inches height: 11 feet 0.25 inches wing area: 250.8 square feet
Weights: 8,642 lbs empty, 10,472 lbs operational, 11,502 lbs max.
Operational Wingloading: 41.75 lbs/square foot
Number deployed: exact figure unknown but 20 pre-production H0's and 34 production H1's seem to be a generous estimate.
Powerplant: Packard Merlin V-1650-7 V-12 liquid-cooled engine producing 1695 hp for takeoff, 1790 hp at critical altitude (WEP).
Armament: 2 x .50 M2 BMG's with 400 rpg and 4 x .50 BMG's with 270 rpg mounted in the wings (alternatively 4 x .50 M2 BMG's with 400 rpg)
Gunsight: K-14 lead computing gunsight.
Max. Speed: USAAF published - 395 mph at 5000 feet, 416 mph at 10,000 feet, 424 mph at 20,000 feet, 443 mph at 25,000 feet, 438 mph at 30,000 feet. NAA test: 449 mph at 26,600 feet.
Cruising Speed: 275-395 mph (1)
Range: 1180 miles at 275 mph, 950 miles at 395 mph (@ 20000 feet), 2440 miles with drop tanks (2 x 110 gallon) at 249 mph.(1)
Fuel Capacity - internal: 269 gallons external: 2 x 110 gallons
Climb - initial: 3475 fpm Time to Altitude: 10,000 feet in 3.3 mins, 20,000 feet in 7.2 mins.
Cieling: 41,900 feet
Dimensions - wingspan: 37 feet 0.25 inches length 32 feet 3 inches height: 8 feet 8 inches wing area: 233 square feet
Weights: 7125 lbs empty, 10100 lbs operational, 12100 lbs max.
Operational Wingloading: 43.2 lbs/square foot
Number Deployed: about 10,000 including P-51K (which was identical except for alternate prop manufacturer)
To me this looks like a pretty even matchup, with the P-51D having the edge below about 20000 feet and the Ta152 having the edge above about 25000 feet.
But I'm not convinced the Ta was really that good a handling plane for normal dogfighting. It has only slightly better wingloading than the P-51, but in high speed combat lower wing loading is not really an advantage. The Ta's roll performance was nothing like that of the earlier FW190's, and the very long wings would have created excessive drag at high speeds (not so critical at higher altitudes).
The thing that has to be remembered about the Ta152 is that it was designed to fight at very high altitudes. In particular, it was designed to stall fight. The Ta152 wing is not only uniquie in its huge span, but also in that it is twisted, the wing near the root has more angle of attack than the near the wing tip. The reason for doing this was so when stalling out in a climb, as the plane fell through the stall, part of the airfoil would still be effective (air flowing over the ailerons), allowing roll control through more of the stall manuver. This would allow a Ta152 pilot to climb hard and then flip over and effectively attack an enemy that was chasing it, presumably as it was also nearing stall and had little control. Combine with the ability to engage SEP to ensure it would not be caught in such a climb, this sorta makes sense. However this assumes the enemy is unaware of the capabilities of the Ta, which would only be true for a short while had this plane been used in significant numbers. At lower altitudes, where the air is thicker, I have to wonder about this design, as it means at high speeds the wing would be fighting with itself which would have a tendancy to twist it even further and make the plane buffet as no single angle of attack can be set to minimize turbulence over the wing.
Another issue with the Ta152 is its performance figures are somewhat questionable. I don't believe actual high altitude performance of this plane was ever "tested", instead, it was estimated based upon low-medium altitude tests. If anyone has any information to the contrary, I'd love to see it!
Much of the Ta152 performance is based upon SEP (Special Emergency) power useage, which is NO2 injection, or GM1 as the German's called it. SEP power could not be flipped on and off at a whim. In order to engage SEP power the engine had to be at the right RPM and under a heavy load with the prop pitch set correctly (i.e. a steep climb with the prop set to a steep pitch). Under these conditions, SEP power could be used to prevent the engine from bogging (rpm's from falling) to sustain a climb. If engaged in level flight to try to gain acceleration, SEP would force a quick and nearly uncontrollable increase in RPM and probably blow the engine. It was probably also useable in level at very high altitudes where the engine power was already far below normal. But the point is this was not readily availble power for combat, dip the nose down with SEP engaged and the engine would be toast. I also don't think GM1 and MW50 boost could be used together as the combination would create nitric acid as a bi-product and this would quickly destroy the engine.
Also, the P-51 also had an additional source of power, cooling system generated thrust which increased with speed. This thrust amounted to about 300 HP equivalent at 25,000 feet at 400 mph, but comming out of a dive at 500 mph TAS at 20,000 feet it was worth a good 700 HP which could be turned into a very fast zoom climb. This is one of the reasons why the P-51 zoom climb is always noted as "far superior" in every comparative test. Cooling system thrust also helps the P-51 achieve its superior range.
Finally, perhaps the more appropriate Mustang to compare the Ta152H1 to is the P-51H, not the P-51D. About the same number of P-51H's were available at about the same time as the Ta152, 20 having been delivered in early Feb. 1945 and 355 by VE day in May. The P-51H had a top speed of 487 mph at ~25,000 feet, climbs at 3500 fpm w/o WEP (over 4000 fpm with WEP), and had a more effective cooling system generated thrust system. Also, it does not compare that favorably to the F4U-4 either, except above 30,000 feet. And then of course there is the F8F and the late model Spitfires...
My point is the Ta152 was a specialized aircraft, designed to dogfight at very high altitudes in a very specific way, and to attack high flying heavy bombers. It had some success in its very limited engagements near the end of WWII, but that does not tell us much because we don't really know much about the failures, and because Allied pilots had no experiance with this plane and thus were prone to make mistakes when they ecountered and fought it.