MD-90
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Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Mon May 02, 2005 2:51 pm

Usually I think of the Mustang as the best fighter of WWII, but this account of a pilot who flew both the Jug and the Mustang was quite interesting.

http://www.chuckhawks.com/p47.htm

This is a summary of his 12 points (italics are quotes from the article):

1. Air-cooled radial engine was more reliable and could take hits and keep on running, even with inoperable cylinders.

2. The Jug's air-cooled engine did not have the Achilles' heel that the Mustang did: A small-caliber hit on an aluminum coolant line could down a Mustang in minutes, even if the fighter was otherwise undamaged.

3. The P-47's big turbocharger enabled it to fly higher than the P-51 (over 40,000 feet).

4. The Jug could outdive the Mustang.

5. The Thunderbolt had eight .50's. The Mustang had six. That's 33 1/3% more firepower.

6. Later model Jug's could carry 2,500 lbs of bombs.

7. The P-47 was larger and much stronger, in case of a crash landing. The Jug was built like a machined tool. Mustangs had a lot of sheet metal stamped out parts, and were more lightweight in construction.

8. The Thunderbolt had no "scoop" under the bottom, so it handled ditchings and gear up landings much better.

9. The Thunderbolt had a much larger, roomier cockpit. You were comfortable in the big Jug cockpit. In my Mustang, my shoulders almost scraped the sides on the right and left. I was cramped in with all my "gear." I could not move around like I could in the P-47.

10. The Mustang went from 1,150-horse power Allison engines to the Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that had 1,590 hp. The Thunderbolt started out with a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney engine, and ended up with 2,800 war emergency hp with water injection.


11. The Jug had a very wide landing gear, which was especially valued when landing on rough fields.

12. The Jug's record against all opposing aircraft is remarkable. The ratio of kills to losses was unmistakably a winner. Thunderbolt pilots destroyed a total of 11,874 enemy aircraft, over 9,000 trains, and 160,000 vehicles.

But, the big factor, above all else, it saved pilots in great numbers. Ask most fighter pilots who flew both in active combat and they will tell you that, given a choice to fly either one in combat, it would be the Juggernaut hands down.

Now one last thing: the P-51 Mustang was a superb fighter. I am fully aware of that! But, considering that I flew about every kind of mission the Pentagon could dream up, and a few they didn't know about, I will rate that 8 tons of destruction first as long as I live, and no one can change my mind. I was there. Simply walk up to one of them and see for yourself.



I guess that the fact that the Mustang is more aesthetically appealing than the Thunderbolt probably has something to do with its continuing popularity.
 
L-188
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Mon May 02, 2005 3:15 pm

I have read some accounts from US Air National Guard Pilots that where pulled from P-47 units in the states and then sent to P-51 units in Korea during that war. A lot of them feel they got shortchanged on aircraft, and that the P-47 would have been a better aircraft for the mission.

I
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jwenting
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Mon May 02, 2005 5:02 pm

There is no "best". Both were designed with different goals in mind and performed remarkably well in those roles.
If pilots in Korea might have been better served with P-47s that's because the P-51 was designed specifically as a high altitude escort and patrol fighter and not a low level ground attack aircraft (which is the role it was pressed into). Can't blame the aircraft for being misused...
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Ozair
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Mon May 02, 2005 5:26 pm

I would have to say personally the P-51, but from an actual war record the P-47 wins hands down.
Any idea what the unit cost of these aircraft were, was the P-47 significantly more expensive due simply to size and equipment?

Quoting MD-90 (Thread starter):
The Thunderbolt had eight .50's. The Mustang had six. That's 33 1/3% more firepower.

Everything I( have read on this point seems to say that for air-to-air 6(or 4 for the A and B model) was enough but when it came to air-to-ground the more the merrier!

Quoting MD-90 (Thread starter):
The Mustang went from 1,150-horse power Allison engines to the Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that had 1,590 hp. The Thunderbolt started out with a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney engine, and ended up with 2,800 war emergency hp with water injection.

Not really sure what the engine size has to do with it? Both had comparable speed. The 2800hp is a false figure anyway, any engine used for more than 20 minutes at this rating will have won it's last race. The injection systems and boost zones on almost all WW2 aircraft were a use once only type.

Quoting MD-90 (Thread starter):
The Jug's air-cooled engine did not have the Achilles' heel that the Mustang did: A small-caliber hit on an aluminum coolant line could down a Mustang in minutes, even if the fighter was otherwise undamaged.

I've read that this was a big problem, especially later in the war when the air-to-air was not as important.

Quoting MD-90 (Thread starter):
The Jug could outdive the Mustang

So would you if that engine was strapped to the front of you!
 
Spacepope
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Mon May 02, 2005 11:28 pm

To be fair, bit the Jug and the Mustang had very wide landing gear, so point 11 is irrelevant. And though it did have over 2000hp to begin with, it also hauled around over 14,000 pounds of weight.

On the plus side for the jug, it was the most produced American fighter during the war, with over 13,000 leaving the assembly lines. Sadly there aren't nearly as many preserved or flying today.
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MD-90
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 03, 2005 1:55 am

Actually Spacepope, I believe that there were 15,386 Mustangs produced in the USA, plus a few in other countries, making it the most-produced American fighter of WWII (I guess the most-produced American fighter of all time).
 
Kukkudrill
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 03, 2005 4:47 am

My impression is the Mustang superseded the Jug in the air-to-air role in the European theatre. Can anyone confirm?
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SATL382G
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 03, 2005 5:32 am

Quoting Jwenting (Reply 2):
If pilots in Korea might have been better served with P-47s that's because the P-51 was designed specifically as a high altitude escort and patrol fighter and not a low level ground attack aircraft

The P-51 started out as an attack aircraft, the A-36A Apache.....

http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/air_power/ap21.htm
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L-188
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 03, 2005 5:56 am

Quoting SATL382G (Reply 7):
The P-51 started out as an attack aircraft, the A-36A Apache.....

I am going to argue that, the P-51 started out as a British Fighter, the Mustang I. They ordered it because North American did not want to license build P-40 Tomahawks for them and promised them a completely new design in 3 or 4 months, I don't remember specificly.

The American Army Air Corps did not want the Mustang because it was not built to their specifications, but they needed airplanes, so they ordered the "Dive Bomber" version...the A-36.

Only later did they relent and order arguably one of the best fighters of the way.
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SATL382G
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 03, 2005 6:30 am

Quoting L-188 (Reply 8):
I am going to argue that, the P-51 started out as a British Fighter, the Mustang I. They ordered it because North American did not want to license build P-40 Tomahawks for them and promised them a completely new design in 3 or 4 months, I don't remember specificly.

Well Ok the A-36A didn't come along 'til a year later. However I stand by my assertion that the originally delivered P-51s were ground attack machines. To qoute the USAF Museum website:

"The P-51 was designed as the NA-73 in 1940 at Britain's request. The design showed promise and AAF purchases of Allison-powered Mustangs began in 1941 primarily for photo recon and ground support use due to its limited high-altitude performance."

http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/air_power/ap9.htm

Also from Roger Freemans "Mustang at War" pg 23

"Rejected by Fighter Command the Mustang was gladly accepted by Army Co-operation Command, where a really fast and manueverable aircraft was needed for the fighter-reconnaissance concept then being developed"

In any case none of the original Allison engined P-51s ever successfully operated as high altitude escorts. It wasn't until the RAF equipped one with a Merlin and blower that the P-51 showed a high altitude potential.
"There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as being shot at and missed" --Winston Churchill
 
keesje
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Wed May 04, 2005 12:35 am

I think

Quoting MD-90 (Thread starter):
the Mustang as the best fighter of WWII,

The best American fighter of WWII probably was the Mustang, the role it played in Europe was more significant (decreasing the staggering numbers of allied bombers been shot down by the Luftwaffe).

It's range being most important.
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AeroVodochody
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Wed May 04, 2005 8:05 am

Tough choice. Especially after reading that, I never knew some of those things about the Jug.
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DeltaMD11
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Wed May 04, 2005 9:52 am

It's funny that this topic came up. I work in a military aviation museum and often find myself in the World War II section discussing warbirds with various patrons. A lot of people are astounded to hear what a role the P-47 played in the war, and moreover it had a better overall combat record than the P-51. I don't feel as though the role of the P-47 has really ever been portrayed accurately as there is a clear bias in the mind of the public as it relates to being able to recognize the role of the -47 vs. the -51. Clearly the -51 has had the limelight. Granted, they were not exactly designed for the same role-however they were used in overlapping roles which lumps them together so to speak. A perfect example of this phenomenon would be the Tuskegee Airmen. With talking to most people you hear somehting along the lines of "those were the black aviators of WWII in those red-tailed Mustangs". Well yeah they did fly a pretty large group of Mustangs but most people don't even know that they had a fairly effective inventory of -47's as well. The -47 was such a solid aircraft and I find it so fitting that the A-10 was named the TBolt II in succession as they truly are both herculean machines.

There is a story from WWII that attributes to the durability of the P-47. Apparently two Bf.109's were in hot pursuit of a -47. In a last ditch effort to shake the 109's off, the pilot of the Jug flew his aircraft through a huge window in a bombed-out factory and came out another huge window on the other side. The aircraft lost 2 or 3 feet of each wing (cant remember the exact amount), sustained considerable damage to the propellor, control surfaces, as well as not to mention debris in the engine yet the pilot managed to fly the thing back to England. The 109 pilots were so shocked that they took pictures of the damaged bird and escorted it out to the coast. I have read several accounts of this story is various newsletters and publications and knowing how well-built the P-47 was I don't have any difficulty in believing it.
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dandy_don
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Sat May 28, 2005 11:54 am

I think the actual single best fighter in WWII might have been the Corsair.
 
bsergonomics
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Sat May 28, 2005 12:42 pm

A couple of minor points that may not affect the overall verdict in this forum:

I regret to say that this has developed into a purely US argument, and a misnamed-one at that. A discussion of "Best WWII Fighter" can only consider air-to-air combat, since ground attack is a different ballgame altogether and does not come under the title of, "Fighter".

A numerical/statistical verdict can only be given if we consider number of aircraft built/flown to the number of kills. Even that statistic is biased, since we also need to consider the number of enemy aircraft available to kill.

Indeed, should we not consider development/build aspects? For example, the Spitfire was a beautiful aircraft that performed rather well, yet it was a difficult to build. Therefore, the time taken to produce one was significantly longer than, for example the Hurricane (which was the main combatant during the Battle of Britain). In the grand scheme of things, this made it a less effective fighter.

While we are there, we should perhaps also consider 'peripheral' aspects such as training. It has been shown, time and time again, that the most important factors in any air to air engagement are (not necessarily in this order):

- manoeuvrability (and general aircraft performance)
- weapons (accuracy, range, payload and firepower)
- operating range
- pilot training
- overall battle tactics

If you change any of these factors, the outcome of a prolonged battle change significantly. IMHO, I think that many of the German designs were equal or better than what the Allies put up against them. Given equal numbers, tactics, training, and geographical positions, the results could/would have been much different, even if the final outcome remained the same.

There are so many parameters involved that I cannot give an honest response to the question. I merely salute those who flew, wherever they came from, and to the genii who designed them.
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MissedApproach
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Sun May 29, 2005 8:03 am

Quoting Kukkudrill (Reply 6):
My impression is the Mustang superseded the Jug in the air-to-air role in the European theatre. Can anyone confirm?

That's right, the primary reason for this was the longer range of the Mustang. Mustangs could go all the way to the target with USAAF B-17s, whereas the Jugs came up a bit short, even with drop tanks. I've heard unescorted bomber pilots would fly into flak to get away from the German fighters.
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Areopagus
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Mon May 30, 2005 4:21 pm

A recent article in an aviation historical journal claimed that the USAF would have been much better off with P-47s in Korea than Mustangs, largely because the main employment was ground attack.

Quoting MD-90 (Thread starter):
The Jug was built like a machined tool. Mustangs had a lot of sheet metal stamped out parts, and were more lightweight in construction.

If that meant the Mustang was cheaper and quicker to build, then this point counts to the Mustang's favor.

Quoting MD-90 (Thread starter):
10. The Mustang went from 1,150-horse power Allison engines to the Packard built Rolls-Royce Merlin engine that had 1,590 hp. The Thunderbolt started out with a 2,000 hp Pratt & Whitney engine, and ended up with 2,800 war emergency hp with water injection.

And yet, the Mustang was a bit faster. Faster on less power means less fuel consumption, which means less load on the logistics chain, or more missions that can be supported for a given amount of resources.

As I recall reading, the Mustang's cruise speed was 350mph, whereas other fighters (including Tbolt) cruised well below 300. Speed conferred safety.

If you judge a fighter by its kill ratio, look no farther than the Hellcat, which held a 19:1 kill ratio, compared to the Corsair's measly 11:1.
 
ruger11
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 31, 2005 6:18 am

I have to say I've always liked the thunderbolt, you HAVE to admit, nothing short of the A-10 could ever live up to the name "Thunderbolt II"!!!

that said, from a purely admiration of design standpoint I've always regarded the P-38 Lightning as my "Favorite" fighter. I think overall it just screams imagination and it's a work of art. Fast, sleek, powerful, and it could climb high, dive fast (WAY TOO fast at first, but they fixed that) and later on they even made a bomber version that carried bombs internally, and a VIP transport version!! linda crazy stuff.

Back on topic, Air ti air, I dunno this pilot sas the P-47 is better and I've got no reason to doubt him... but one thing I can say, I'm a Marine and I'd d#$% sure rather have a Thunderbolt doing Close air support... P-47 OR A-10!!
 
dandy_don
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 31, 2005 11:54 am

The Corsair outlasted all of the piston-powered fighters of WWII. It flew during and after Korea, and I believe it's last combat was some Central American war in the late 60's!

I am assuming that the USAF kept flying the Corsair well after retiring the Mustang and Jug because it was, in fact, the better plane.
 
Kukkudrill
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RE: Best Wwii Fighter: P-47 Over P-51?

Tue May 31, 2005 2:50 pm

I thought the USN flew Corsairs not the USAF. I recall reading somewhere that for quite a while jet aircraft were considered unsuitable for carrier operations because of their lack of acceleration. The reason why the Corsair outlasted the other two types may simply have been this.
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