Spitfire vs. Mustang

 Aviation History Reader Poll

The Merlin engine powered two of the greatest fighters of World War II, the Supermarine Spitfire and the North American P-51 Mustang. Which was best? Was there a better all-around fighter in WWII?

Give us your thoughts in the comments box below.


546 Responses

  1. josephvolpendesta

    While powered by essentially the same engine, comparing the Spitfire and the Mustang is, to me, an apples-and-oranges comparison. The Spitfire always was, basically, a point defense interceptor and, like most fighters of the thirties, short-legged. The Mustang seemed to lend itself more to adaptation as a long-range fighter, after the Merlin engine became the standard.
    Both of these aircraft excelled at what they were designed for.

  2. Cliff

    All my reading leads me to believe that the best all-around fighter aircraft of WW II was likely the P-47. While the Spitfire and P-51 both look beautiful in their own way and had their strengths, I’m guessing the P-47’s 8 .50 caliber machine guns, rugged build and Wasp engine made it superb at both dog fighting and ground support. I’d pick the F4U Corsair next, as it too had stellar success in the air-to-air and ground support roles.

    The ME-262 might even be better than the P-47 and F4U, but questions of reliability leave it off my list for now.

    • Camreon

      Your an idiot! The spitfire is better than a P-47! I can belive you put the Corsair in number two in you list! Hit the books buddy

      • Bryan

        True, spitfires shoot three bullets for than a P-47, that’s why their called spirfires. Also, Their lighter, so faster.

      • Chico

        When you’re going to call someone an idiot, it’s best not to use “your” when it should be “You are…”

      • Keith J. Mohrhoff

        There need not be a “better” in this comparison as the two aircraft are vastly different in their approach to combat issues. The Spitfire developed out of a racing aircraft and was thus inherently fast. Additionally, it’s elliptical-shaped wings made it VERY maneuverable. This combination made it a true pilot’s aircraft and increased the probability that it’s pilot could shoot down an enemy aircraft before that enemy could shoot him down. It’s an advantage that worked well for the first half of the war for the Japanese Zero (Mitsubishi A6-M2) but they started paying for their light armament and armor as Allied aircraft became faster. The P-47 “Thunderbolt” took the approach that incurring damage in battle was “the cost of doing business” and was heavily armored in anticipation of this. Additionally, the P-47 had a radial engine (like most bombers) which, meant it could carry a lot of ordinance. I do think the Spitfire would be more fun to fly but in battle, the P-47 did more to protect the pilot. One role that the Spitfire did excel at was that of reconnaissance–where the ability to outrun an enemy patrol is more crucial than the ability to outfight one.

    • Nick

      The Mk. II SPitfire was armed with two 20mm cannon and four .303 m/guns, while later versions sported four cannon. While the .5 machine guns used on US fighters was a powerful weapon, the cannon fired explosive shells that caused much greater damage. One 20mm in the right place would bring down a fighter, while half a dozen would destroy any bomber. In addition, armor-piercing cannon shells would destroy many armored vehicles that the .5 m/g bullets would bounce off.

      The P-47 was no dogfighter, and a well-handled Me-109 or Fw-190 would be on its tail in an instant in a turning match. Its greatest virtue, other than riggesness, was its weigh, so that it dived like a grand piano. The best tactic for a P-47 was to dive, fire and keep diving, the same tactics used by P-40s and P-38s against the Jap Zero.

      • merlin66

        The comparison between .303, 50 cal and 20 mm cannons failed to state a most important fact. In addition to the much greater hitting power of a 50 cal over the .303 and the 20mm over the 50 cal, the range was equally important. A 20mm cannon had a range significantly greater than a 50 cal so it was theoretically possible for a German fighter to hit a B17 or B24 while still out of range of the bomber’s 50 cal MGs

    • Miles

      I agree, though the P-47 lacked the range to escort bombers into Germany, it was a rugged and reliable aircraft.

  3. Arthur Hodge, Jr.

    I am biased because my Dad worked on P-51 Mustangs at Wright Field, Ohio during World War 2; therefore I must say that
    the P-51 Mustang is in my openion (sp.) the best fighter in the war.
    Having seen both up close I would say that the P-51 is a sleeker,
    more deadly looking fighter plane. I know that looks don’t have
    anything to do with it but the Mustang is just the better looking
    plane period. Beside that it had a much better war record.

    Arthur M. Hodge, Jr.

      • J. Eddolls

        This ex-pilot claims Thunderbolts destroyed 11,874 aircraft in combat.

        Sorry, don’t beleive this!

        8th Airforce Fighter Command total confirmed claims on all types are 5,276.

        8th Airforce Fighter Command losses during this period are 2,016.

        The Thunderbolt was used in other theatres but did not destroy the numbers of enemy aircraft claimed in this piece.

      • Miles

        It’s 11,874 air and ground kills total. kills include tanks, trucks and armored vehicles along with aircraft.

      • Nick

        A solute is something dissolved in a solvent.

  4. Dutch Al

    Shortly after the end of WW II the U S military tested many different fighter aircraft, flying captured fighters against Army and Navy fighters. The fighter that performed best was the F4U Corsair. There were faster fighters (P-51) and more robust fighters (P-47). The F4U was not rated as the top fighter in any single catetory. What made the F4U the outstanding fighter was the fact it was highly rated in many different categories. The US military flew F4Usand P-51s well into the 1950s. When I went through the Navy Aviation orientation course at Norman, OK, in 1958, we were trained how to start and run up an F4U.

    • Mike Gee

      Have to go with the P-51 over the skies of europe; many acft matched the P-519 ala the griffon engine powered spitfires, the BF109Ks, the FW190Ds) BUT one had the overall performance of speed( P-51B/C 440mph,P-51D,437mph@ 30K ft), range and suitable firepower. also the fact that the P-51, though outmatched knocked down at least a dozen Me-262 jets- name a P-47 jock or spitfire driver that did that:?!!!)

      The only other piston powered ACFT to match for late WWII and post war was the F4U corsair, with even a record of taking down a MiG 15 in Korea( not to be repeated until the vietnam war with a prop driven navy bomber did this) corsairs could run up to 430 to 445 mph had range and tougher armor than the more lightweight Mustang.

      bottom line, each fighter has its pluses or minuses- many British, UK Commonwealth and allied pilots who flew the P-47, spitfire, and mustang liked each acft for its particular characteristics. If i were to fly a point defens, shortrange fight? spitfire. Long range high altitude high speed fight? Mustang. ground/pound and possible mix up with enemy fighters? P-47.

      Don’t know if the F4U corsair would have faired very well in the high altitude fighting of europe, but in the mid altitude sea battles over the pacific it did its job. what next, are folks here gonna claim how tough the F6F hellcat would be against a BF109? or how the Russian LAVs could have handled the zeroes????

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        The P 51 had approx double the range of the Spitfire Mk XIV, only about 50 % more than a Mk IX. Most Me 262`s shot down were taking off or landing, which happened with US pilots patrolling near the airfields to catch them when taking off or landing, while RAF pilots did the same, many of both Spitfire Mk XIV and Tempest Mk V pilots took them on in combat and the Me 262 was no match for either except at high speed, if the Me 262 tried to get a shot at either they could turn tight and fast which the Me 262 couldn`t follow and if the 262 pilot made the mistake of slowing down he was as good as dead. Folmer in a F4 Corsair shot down a Mig 15 and was promptly shot down by other MIG`s, however Hawker Sea Furies when attacked on two occasions, shot down one and maybe two MIG 15`s and chased the rest away for no loss

  5. Åsmund D. Sæbø

    In my opinion the Spitfire is the best fighter of WWII. I understand that the Mustang had a longer range, but it still had to use drop-tanks. The spitfire also had drop-tanks, but these were only used on PR-versions. And the Spit didn’t even have to fly to germany, because the germans went to england! Also the only reason to send fighters to germany, was as bomberescort, and the british frankly didn’t have very good bombers. But even I must say that they’re two different fighters based on different purposes. It’s very hard to compare them.

    • MWE

      I am quite partial to the Spitfire — and nothing was better looking — but the P51 was a better all around fighter. The P51 was a much newer design and took advantage of what had been learned. Given similar engines, it was much faster due to its laminar wing design and had much better range due to greater efficiency, larger gas tanks and drop tanks. Without the drop tanks, the P51 had twice the range of the Spitfire. It is astounding that you would say that the British lacked good bombers. The Lancaster was the best heavy bomber of the war even though the B17 has more visual appeal and fans. The Lancaster could carry a much large bomb load than either the B17 or B24 — and it was powered by four merlin engines so it has to be better :-) And no need to send fighters into Germany??? The whole point of the air campaign between mid Jan’44 and late Apr’44 was to use the bombers to lure the Luftwafffe into the air so P51s could shoot them down. That way air superiority over the channel during Overlord was assured.

      • Nick

        The P-51 was not “much faster.” The later marks of Spitfire could bat along at over 450mph, about the same as the P-51. And the Spit could dive at speeds that would pull those wings off a ’51. Twice test pilots dove Spits to Mach 0.9 – over 600mph – without any problem with the wings; in fact, the Spitfire wing was superior in trans-sonic speeds than those of early jets.

    • mike hawthorne

      my dear Asmund
      two of the finest bombers of world war two were the DH Mosquito as fas as the p51 that were sent escort them and the Avro Lancaster that carried the 22 thousand pound grand-slam bombs they were also powered by the merlin engine. The Lancasters flew night bombing raids and did not need fighter cover.

      • Nick

        The Mosquito (two RR Merlins) was never escorted, by P-51s or any other fighter! For the first two years of its existence it was faster than any German fighter, and the only way the Luftwaffe could shoot them down was by having standing patrols waiting at 40,000 ft ready to dive, and they only got a handful this way.

        I agree that the Mossie was the most outstanding airplane of the war, being built in bomber, photorecce, fighter, night fighter and anti-shipping versions (one of them, armed with an experimental 47mm cannon, caught a German light cruiser in the Skaggerak and, flying out of antiaircraft range, drilled the ship and stopped its engines until torpedo Beauforts sank it.)

        They were the best night-fighter of the war, and carried out the most spectacular raids, including Operation Jehrico – attacking a prison where French Resistance men were being tortured and killed, freeing many of them.

        The bomber version could carry the 4,000lb “Cookie” all the way to Berlin. The B-17, B-24 and even B-29 could not fit the Cookie. The Mossie could carry more bombs, faster and farther than the ’17 and ’24, and their speed was such that they had one of the lowest loss ratios of all.

      • thomas hulks

        the bombers that bitain used in world war 2 where covered by p51 mustangs becouse the spitfire was adapted to be best at dog fights over england so thay did not need the fual for long range becouse it would wigh them down and there base’s where close to where thay where fighting. another reason the spitfire had a low range was that the british, americans and russians had never planed of bombing germany when the spitfire was created so there was no need of a bigger fuel tank. The p51 on over hands was created for the idear that thay would protect the bombers in world war 2 so its has a longer range to get to berlin, but the usaf needed air base’s in britain to reach over to germany so if it wasint for the spitfire and the hurracane britain would of lost the battle of britain and the p51 would be rended useless.

    • Martin

      The RAF had very effective bombers, but the RAF flew at night. The Lancaster was a deadly weapon it dropped not only a normal bomb load but also the famous bouncing bomb and the 6 ton and 10 ton super bunker busters.

      The Tirpitz was sunk using these bombs, the U-boat pens were smashed using these bombs and the German underground factories were also destroyed.

      The US didn’t have a proper heavy bomber until the B-29 came into service. The B-17 had a pathetic bomb load for such a big aircraft.

      As for fighters, the Mustang was a poor aircraft when it was originally designed. Had the Mustang stuck with the original (Alison) engine it was fitted with it would have been crap, it was only when it got the Merlin that it could deliver great performance.

      The RAF also had the Tempest which was a development of the Typhoon. the Tempest shot down lots of ME 262’s (the German 262 pilots feared the Tempest) and it also shot down lots of flying bombs.

      Far too many people take the crap Hollywood throw out as fact.

  6. Mike H.

    “NO NEED TO SEND FIGHTERS INTO GERMANY”???????? How about, destroying targets of oppurnity like,supply trains, resupply convoys,close air support for our troops, tearing up German air fields,their planes, flak towers,radar sites, enemy troops……… The list goes on & on & on

    • J. Eddolls

      Mosquitoes were doing this before Mustangs were around.

      • mike gee

        …. And suffering HIGH casualties! The mosquito was dogfood for FW190s and BF109Ks. It was NOT a fighter despite its 420 mph max runaway speed. Not until the end of the war could a Spitfire run up to a P-51C/D! Spitfire IX was good but still not as good as the FW190D,P-51D,or BF109G/K; and the Spits 20mm was often unreliable early on,hence the mainstay 8 .303 Mgs til the end of the war……..

      • J. Eddolls

        Sorry Mike, Mossies had the best survival rate of any Allied aircraft. It carried more bombs into the heart of Germany at a far higher speed than a B17. It was making unescorted daylight raids all the way to Berlin. 20 mm Hispano Cannons were fairly standard in RAF fighters after mid 1941. They were supplimented in Spits with 4 x .303. Spits from the VB, had selective fire buttons so MG’s could be used for fast moving deflection shots and Cannon for more deliberate attacks. That was the theory anyway!

        The SpitI XIV that outclassed the Mustang in every way, except range was introduced to Squadron service at the same time as the P51B. The RAF did not have a requirement for a long range fighter. If it needed one it would have devolped one, the bombers that needed escorting were American not RAF.

      • Dave

        Interesting quote by the Head of the Luftwaffe (Hermann the German) about the Mossie:

        ‘ “In 1940 I could at least fly as far as Glasgow in most of my aircraft, but not now! It makes me furious when I see the Mosquito. I turn green and yellow with envy. The British, who can afford aluminium better than we can, knock together a beautiful wooden aircraft that every piano factory over there is building, and they give it a speed which they have now increased yet again. What do you make of that? There is nothing the British do not have. They have the geniuses and we have the nincompoops. After the war is over I’m going to buy a British radio set – then at least I’ll own something that has always worked.”

        — Hermann Göring, 1943.[91][92]

    • Robin

      Ground attack (British ‘Rhubarb’ missions) was not done by ‘fighters’ – it was done by ground attack aircraft – often modified fighter aircraft, but they were not sent in on ‘fighter’ missions.

      • Martin

        The Mosquito was also the first stealth aircraft (yes America we got there first). The Mosquito had a very small radar signature due to the use of large amounts of wood in the construction meaning the Germans had a problem detecting it.

        And yes it could easily hold its own against a 109 or 190, again far too many people think Hollywood tells the truth.

      • mike gee

        Ground attack ( rhubarb missions) were in fact done by RAF Spitfires, from the Mark Vs to the XIVs – and they suffered high casualities like their P-51 counterparts that did this ! Only the Tempests and P-47s were tougher in this type of combat as the radiator and cooling systems of bothe the Mustang and Spitfire were very vulnerable for the same reasons…..

  7. Mike H.

    A good friend of mine flew both P-47’s & P-51’s over Germany,he simply stated when asked which of the two he prefered; ” If you want to impress your girl back home you fly a P-51; If you want to go back to your girl back home fly a P-47 ” Say’s alot !

    • Alex

      Here is a couple of interesting facts for you from Tumult in the Skies.
      The eagle squadrons of the USAAF started life as expat Americians flying for the British BEFORE AMERICA ENTERED THE WAR.
      They were forced out of their spitfires into P47s and their kill ratios fell below their less experienced country men also flying P47s. This was because of the way these pilots fought, ie you didn’t let the other guy draw a bead on you, this is not the way to fight in a P47, as you’ll never draw a bead on the other guy either.
      When the P51 turned up the eagle squadrons changed over to them with only a 24 hour window for each pilot as the powers that be couldn’t spare them any more time, but the eagle squadron pilots still wanted to take them even under those conditions, why, they were much more like the spit which these pilots held as the benchmark than the P47.
      And guess what, the kill ratio’s again left the other USAAF fighter units standing.
      And after all that, they still wanted their spits back.
      Oh, and if you want to know who the krauts were more scared of, ask them if you want an unbiased view, not some P47 pilot who didn’t know the way to get home was to not let the other guy put holes in you at all, even if you were putting holes in one of him.

    • Steve McCarty

      Every single American Ace who flew the Jug survived their war.

  8. Anthony Loates

    The RAF Eagle Squadrons loved their Spits and didn’t like the idea of giving them up for the P-47 and P-51s. Early on, some USAAF units also flew Spits. Reading memoirs of these vets who flew all three types many preferred the Spitfire as it was easier to handle and a good gun platform.

    • MWE

      I think you are confusing the Spitfire with the Hurricane. The Spitfire was an excellent handling plane, but the Hurricane was the “good gun platform” It was the Hurricane, not the Spitfire that won the Battle of Britain. But both planes were inadequately armed when they initially had just machine guns. The guns were good — US Brownings — but they were rechambered for .303 British ammunition and you needed to be either lucky or have a hundred hits to bring down an enemy aircraft.

      • thomas hulks

        The spitfire and hurricane both helped in the battle of britain, the spitfire get more credit becouse its a better looking plane then the hurricane. so saying that the hurricane won the battle of britain is a very big miss understanding, every plane is good it what it does.

      • J. Eddolls

        With .303’s harmonised at 250 yards a three second burst from eight of these weapons would saturate a 12′ square area with 480 rounds. A one second burst which would be more normal, provided the same area with 160 strikes. I think this says it all, bearing in mind most targets would sport inline/liquid cooled engines. These are figures provided by Air Ministry tests which are generally unavailable.

  9. geemoney

    All of you are wet towels! in the bottom analysis if you are talking pure fighter/ air superiority? P-51C-P51D! Spitfire is great in short term engagements( once it got a high HP rating, and 20mm guns) P-47 great as it actually has higher altitude and ground attack capability, but is NOT a great dogfighter!!! The F4U NEVER flew against A FW 90 A/D at 25-30K “in the blue”( would have gotten a true lesson against a TOUGHER,Better armed/armored opponent),BUT the Mustang did fly and BEAT the the Zero, and the Oscar, and WON in the pacific! When the U.S. and allies set up for the battles over okinawa,B-29 bombing raids over tokyo ,and the potential invasion of Japan-The U.S. REACHED for their “best” all around fighter- the P-51Mustang

    And the F4U corsair? the “ensign eliminator?? Good fighter/ ground attacker, good speed( from 422mph to max,446mph)-BUT the NAVY had the “better killer”( the F6F Hellcat.@ 380mph max, Had a higher Kill to loss ratio than the F4U Corsair). For all around fighting ability-The Mustang had the speed ,the altitude,adequate enough ground attack,,the range( the FASTER American fighter was NOT the F4U corsair, BUT the P-51K @ 480mph and between 1,600- 1,800 mile range)..To add to the old addage”, the Mustang can’t do what a spit, a jug, a Bent wing bird can do,BUT IT CAN DO IT ALL OVER NAZI GERMANY, and IMPERIAL JAPAN……

    • Sara

      There were some P51s shot down by KI43 Oscar such as flown by Japan aces Yohei Hinoki (one legged aces). KI43 is 1940-41 plane. P51 can’t out turn Japanese plane such as KI-43 Oscar and Zero. P51s also suffer some losses against newer Japanese plane like KI-84 Frank and KI100.Some Mitsubishi J2m3 kill P51. Actually 200 P51 loss in Japan. P51s only can rely on boom and zoom tactics. It cannot dog fight. Spitfire had no problem with the Japaness planes. Conclusion, P51 win because its mass production, good pilot. Not good plane.

      • Nick

        Speaking of one-legged aces, did you know that Britain had TWO Spitfire pilots with NO legs? Douglas Bader, an ace with 23 kills (in 16 months) was a wing leader (shot down over France, and still escaped twice). The other legless guy was Colin Hodgkinson.

        Unfortunately, you are wrong about the Spit having no problem with the Japanes planes. The RAF, just like the Americans, was slow to believe that the Zero could out-turn any other plane in the theater,and flown by some of the best pilots in WWII. Both Britain and the US believed their own propaganda (the Japs are lousy pilots, can’t see in the dark, their planes are made from bamboo and paper like their houses, etc.) These Battle of Britain veterans ignored the advice of the pilots who had already tangled with the Zero (those that survived!) and tried to out-turn them, and got shot down. It took several painful lessons to teach, once more, that the only way to attack a Zero was dive, fire and continue diving.

      • mike gee

        You are kidding,right! The zeroes and oscars were often flown by Japanese AACES who used the more potent 20mm guns and agility of their lighter planes against naïve and less experienced Mustang jocks! The Franks and Ki 100s were some of the fastest and best armed japanese fighter acft of WWW2! Only the F6F hellcat could turn as well as the Japanese fighters. Check the stats-P-51 kills weren’t as high as in Europe but equal to the F4U; the P-51 was an adequate turn fighter and a SUPERIOR “boom and zoom” fighter that outclassed the newer japanese fighters. The Brits,Aussies,and dutch used SLOWER A36s and P-51 packard engined fighters to more than handle,even Kill decent #s of “superior” japanese acft

  10. James Goodson

    I think people forget that the Mustang came at the last year of the war. My dad’s group…the 4th…didn’t get Mustangs until the end of Feb. 1944, whereas the Spit was a design of the 30’s and was in combat 4 years prior to the Mustang’s debut.
    The Spit was also made in a vast number of configurations from the Spit Mark 1 to the Spit Mark 24 with Griffon powered Rolls Royce at over 2300 horsepower.
    From a purely pilot’s point of view, the Spit was a delight to fly, far more sensitive at the controls than a Mustang…just a beautiful plane…but unfortunately no range. Dad’s favorite was the Spit 9 with the Merlin 61.

    • mike gee

      James- The mustang (P-51A) and earlier Apache(A36 variant) were in action in ’42 as dive bombers, high speed recon planes( avg 380+ mph could run against many axis acft) and med alt interceptors. There are recorded ME109/FW190A KILLS MADE BY ALLIED PILOTS IN EARLY mustangs! In fact the A-36 / A models were used up to the closing part of the war in the China-Burma theater tangling with zeroes, with moderate success, and in som squadrons during the invasion of sicily and italy! The P-51B models, sporting packard built merlin engines, hit europe in late ’43 and went to work as escorting bombers ! Plain and simple, it took the FIGHT to the enemies “front door”, cause fighting the enemy in your own “front yard” isn’t how you win a war…..

  11. geemoney

    Goodson- I also love the Spitfire fighters( although their “uglier” brother in the stable, the Hawker Hurricane actually GOT MORE Kills in air combat,ala the Battle of Britian and the ETO), but the reality is that the P-51 had less upgrades and did a superiror job. Alot of people will tout that the P-51 wasn’t readily available in combat like the Spitfire,or the P-38,or the P-47 in the early part of the war in Europe, and from aerial combat against the Luftwaffe- it SHOWS.

    In the Battle of Britain, the Spitfire had “home field” advantage- shot down and surviving pilots could return to duty faster, emergency landed Spits could be repaired and put back into action, and there was less pilot fatigue compared to german attacking pilots who were constantly in enemy territory.At the end of the Battle of Britain, it was obvious that the Spitfire was OUTCLASSED by the FW 190s and the BF109s,hence the constant upgrades that never gave the Spitfires superiority( they were still just trying to “match” German fighters by the waning days of the war).

    While skilled pilots could hold their own, even prove dangerous in the acft they were assigned( i.e.Johnny Johnson of the RAF in his Spitfire and Gabby Gabresky of the 8th USAAF in a P-47), the reality is that when pilots transititioned to the P-51 airframe, they were actually in a BETTER fighter plane- air to air combat resulted in less pilot losses.

    When The Los Angeles Airport had a ceremony some yrs back to celebrate the achievements of the Tuskegee airmen( including a dedication ceremony of a static P-51 D mustang replica of “lucifer Jr” at the Proud bird restuarant) I got a chance to meet Lt. Col.Lee Archer, and asked what he thought about the P-51.”Simply the “Best” he said, and thats from flying the sturdier P-47, the “journeyman” P-39 aircobra, and the obsolete P-40 Warhawk.U.S. and other Allied Pilots who transitioned to the P-51 were simply made better by their skills, and with the benefit of a superior plane……

    • Pete

      While the glory goes to the prettier fighters like the Spitfire or Mustang, it should be noted that the highest scoring fighter group (air to air victories) in the ETO flew the Thunderbolt exclusively, in fact when asked to turn in their P-47s for the newer P-51 Mustangs, the CO of the 56th FG (then Col. David Shilling) flatly but politely refused, preferring to stay with what the group knew best, and perhaps pay some homage to the fighter that got them home time and again.

    • Nick

      Without in any way trying to diminish the gallantry of USAAF aces, it must be remembered that by 1943 many, and by 1944 most, of the Luftwaffe “Expertien” had been killed. The RAF in 1939-41 were facing these aces, who had already experienced combat in the Spanish Civil War and had refined their tactics, while the RAF were novices. Many RAF fighter pilots in the Battle of Britain had only a few hours on the Spit, and were preoccupied with trying to fly the plane, so many were easy meat – rather like the LUftwaffe pilots in late ’44 and 45.

      • MARO

        P-51 4953 KILLS OVER EUROPA & +1000 OVER JAPAN(IN 2 YEARS)
        F4U 2080 KILLS ON PACIFIC & LOSE 189(KILL RATIO 11-1)
        P-47 3800 KILLS OVER EU & 400 ON PACIFIC

      • J. Eddolls

        Maro, Royal Air Force stats for aerial victories are not easily sourced. This is mainly due to the tendency for understatement in that service – try interviewing an RAF veteran (any nationality) and you will see what I mean. However that said I have conducted research in this area. The total number of victories achieved in aerial combat amongst RAF ‘aces’, those that achieved 5 or more confimred victories is 8,192.

        In addition there was a further 163 pilots who achieved 4 kills.

        However these are aerial victories only and does not represent aircraft destroyed on the ground, they are also confirmed according to stringent RAF requirements.

        The total number I have not been able to establish, however the larger figure mentioned above is thought to be 50-60% of the total.

        I was further able to break down the numbers into nationalities, which is interesting and turned up some suprises. Aircraft type will be investigated next!

    • thomas hulks

      The statement although their “uglier” brother in the stable, the Hawker Hurricane is untrue, the hawker hurricane was a beautiful aircraft and it looks why much better then the p51 mustang. with out the hurricane there wouldnt be a free world, couse britain would of fell to the nazi’s and the world would be run be raceist gits.

    • J. Eddolls

      Er, Los Angeles Airport, was that a great Fighter base in the thick of the action!

      • mike gee

        Part of the “arsenal of democracy” turned out plenty of its share of bombers and fighters(P-51s at inglewood factory,P-38s in Burbank,etc) hate the mustang all you want but it SHUTDOWN the nazi airpower and smacked the japanese as well)

      • J. Eddolls

        The RAF broke the back of the Luftwaffe in 1940 over Southern England. American cities were not attacked hence my comment. Seeing a Spit in the skies where it fought is a bit more relevant.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      In the Battle of Britain the Spitfire Mk I was better than the Me 109 except at high altitude, the Mk II was better at any altitude and in 1941 the Spitfire Mk V was never outclassed untill late in the year when the Fw 190 A came into service, and the Spitfire was still better in a turn. in July 1942 the Spitfire Mk IX was more than capable of matching the Fw190 or the Me 109, faster than either better climb and tighter turn and a better rate of roll than the Me 109, Fw had excellent rate of roll. the Mk IX spitfire was not as fast as a Mustang but would out climb and turn inside it and accelerate faster. By the time the Fw 190 D or P 51 D came into service both the Tempest V and Spitfire Mk XIV had been in service for around six month`s, and both outclassed either P 51`s or Fw 190 D`s.

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Barrie, concerning the Spit Mk VB versus the Fw190. It was superior in the turn as you correctly state. I was very lucky to speak to a veteran about the 41-42 period when the Fw190 first appeared, he stated that the main problem was that pilots were coming out of training schools where fuel economy was being encouraged. Hence low throttle settings and low cruising speeds were the norm.

        This caused Spits to be at a disadvantage when ‘bounced’, however at Squadron level pilots found by increasing cruising speed when in an area where combat was possible and ignoring the economy edict, most of the advantages held by the Fw190 were negated. This was also written about by W. Duncan-Smith who accounted for his fair share of Fw190’s!

      • mike gee

        At the end of the War Britain was BROKE , Europe was a trash heap of crumbling cities and war debris, and the DEFACTO superpower for the next 70 yrs was seriously in DEBT( America went through a serious recession from 46 to 49)- thousands of Spits and mustangs were sold off as scrap metal. Britian went with what it had and could AFFORD in the post war yrs, cause NO way could a Spitfire match a F-86 sabre, a Mig 15 or a Vampyre or Gnat in an air duel! Th US couldn’t afford to replace the F4U corsair until the mid ’50s on acft carriers( the F9F panther couldn’t go as far or carry as much ordinance) . But to the point, GO read real stats( try www. Spitfireperformance.com ) before you mouth of with a bunch of FLAWED crap- IF the Spitfire was the SUPREME fighter of the war, it would have been purpose built by all the allies to save war costs, would have been bult to fly 8 hour long range missions, would have had a 2,000 lb bomb load , and would have tangled in high altitude over germany from late ’43 to ealry ’45 in large numbers like- dare I say it- the supposely “inferior” mustang! When the Allies moved over the Rhine, they threw everything at the german- P-51 B/C/Ds, Lanc and B-17s,Spit XIVs, Tempests and P-4zs- everything in the inventory that worked and flew! Be thankful for american resolve and industry and for Hitlers stupidity and ego- or else even the mighty RAF wouldn’t have saved old england! I’ve actually rode as a passenger in a vintage mustang- I can tell you that the men who flew those acft and similar( on all sides) are to be credited with being brave and CRAZY SOBs-the spit or mustang is little more than a soup can thick flying hotrod ,full of gas, and bullets….

  12. pezza

    As a dog fighter there no question the spit would win, even later mark spits had a better turning circle and rate of roll compared to the 51, overall package would have to be the 51 as it was more versatile.

    • John

      Reality is calling, a P-51 vs a Spitfire, the Mustang will win.
      The turning was equal, the P-51 had a higher top speed,climb rate, could fight better at higher attitude, also a better dive speed.

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        Not so The Mk XIV Spitfire was faster and The Mk IX and Mk XIV could turn and climb faster and both were also faster in a dive, Mustang could not expect to defeat a Spitfire and in the only combat I know of when Spitfires were attacked by Mustangs, The flight of four Mk XIV Spitfires simply turned and climbed away, rather than shoot down mistaken American pilots who attacked them

      • J. Eddolls

        The Spit allways enjoyed a superior turning circle to the Mustang. The climbing ability of equivalent marks of each type illustrate that the Mustang could not even begin to compete with the Spitfire, you are talking about thousands of feet per minute differences here.

        Agreed the Mustang had a higher top speed than the Spit IX, however accelleration of the Spit negated this advantage. The Mustangs top speed took much longer to achieve and was present in the level flight only.

  13. geemoney

    pezza, are totally clueless? first off the Sptifire could barely out turn the P-51, and the even the mark IX to XI models couldn’t keep up with a P-51 B/C models in terms of speed,dive ability ( the spitfires would simply stall in a steep dive,leaving the Mustang to “walk away” from the fight) The Brits were still using their “feeble” 8 gun .303 configuration,despite having 20mm hispano guns( which often jammed). In equal 1:1 fight, a better gunned( 6) .50 cal mgs and ,with 60 mph faster, P-51 ( with pilots of like training) would OWN a spitfire.

    Folks here keep confusing the early war record of the SPIT IV and V models as somehow meaning that the Spitfire was somehow able to dominate BETTER, more advanced fighter models. After the appearance of THE BEST German fighter of the war- the FW 190, Supermarine spent its time basically trying to “catch up” to the performance of the Focke Wulf equipped luftwaffe, and ME 109E-K models.

    All you need to do is look at HOW MANY UPGRADES were done to the spitfire ,just to see that it was an obsolete airframe that quicklky lagged behind other allied and axis acft.The P-51,from B -D models was the “real deal” in high altitude, air superiority,long range fighters.Still the Spitfire looks pretty, and has a decent service record

    • Nick

      That is a collection of uninformed rubbish. The Mk. IV was an unarmed photo-recce plane with extra range, not a fighter. The later marks of Spitfire could bat along at over 450mph, about the same as the P-51. And the Spit could dive at speeds that would pull those wings off a ’51. Twice test pilots dove Spits to Mach 0.9 – over 600mph – without any problem with the wings; in fact, the Spitfire wing was superior in trans-sonic speeds than those of early jets.

      The Hispano cannon’s early problems (it was originally an antiaircraft ground weapon adapted to air use) were fixed by the time of the Mk. V Spitfire, and later ones used four 20mm cannons, much heavier armament than the P-51s.

      The Mk. IX Spit, with the two-stage supecharged Merlin 60 was superior to the Fw-190, and the later, Griffon-engine, ones were far superior to any mark of 109 or 190. And the Me-109K is irrelevant; it came right at the end of the war, was made in only a handful of numbers, and had no effect.

      “Obsolete airframe”? I repeat, uninformed and ignorant rubbish. The airframe was so sound and rugged that it was able to take engines more than double the original horsepower (2,200 vs 950), and was still being manufactured in 1949 and in front-line service in 1957.

      There was a carrier version (the Seafire), float versions, extreme altitude versions (54,000 ft.) of the Spitfire – no such P-51 variants ever existed. As for range, the ’51s great virtue, in 1945 Supermarine were testing a 1400-mile range version of the Spitfire, but it was discontinued as the war was winding down.

      • J. Eddolls

        Here here, well said. Another issue frequently forgotten by Spit bashers is that the top speeds quoted between the Spit IX and the P51 was not as important as it appears as the SpitIX could beat the Mustangs rather pedestrian acceleration. This would be made worse depending upon fuel load carried together with overall handling.
        In addition rate of climb for the P51 was not much better than a P47, and was never improved across the marks. The Spitfires rate of climb doubled and forever eclipsed all US fighters.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      You talk about clueless, you certainly don`t understand the pace of progress during the war, the Spitfire was still capable of matching the best fighters at the end of the war, Mk IX to Mk XI couldn`t keep up with P51 B/C first the Mk XI was an unarmed PR, secondly the Mk IX was not as fast but the difference was not very great, it could certainly turn inside a P51 and the P 51 could not climb like the Spitfire, the Mk IX never had 8 x .303, they had 2 x 20mm canon and either 4 x .303 or 2 x .5`s the Mk IV was an experimental aircraft, there was also a PR Mk IV, do have any clue how many versions of Me 109 or Fw 190 were made when they were trying to match the Spitfire, the Mk XIV was in service month`s before the slower P 51 D or Fw 190 D, It would out climb either and was better in a climb, when Trigger happy US pilots in P 51 D`s tried to attack a flight of 4 Spitfire Mk XIV`s the Spitfire pilots simply pulled up in a turning climb and left the P 51`s standing,

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      Wrong!! The Spitfire IX would not stall in a steep dive, easily turned inside a P 51B or C and climbed much faster, from 1941 on Spitfires were using 2×20 mm cannon and 4x.303, later 2 x.5 and the P 51 certainly wasn`t 60 mph faster than Mk IX, maybe the special P 51 H was, but it was too late for the war and no longer had the range of earlier P 51`s, with drop tanks it had no advantage in range over the Spitfire, also the Mk X and Mk XI were unarmed PR aircraft, the Mk X adapted for high altitude

  14. geemoney

    also, hate to beat a dead horse, BUT, the P-51 was in the ETO in 1943( not at the end of the War,as James Goodson posted) before that, the early version- the A-36 was in action and apparently well liked by British and U.S. forces for it low to med. low flight abilities( fast recon, fighter -bomber) as well as in the China-India -Burma theater, where it got decent combat kill ratios against the Japanese.The A-36″invader”( proto Mustang) served during the invasion of sicily and Italy and took on the Macchi Italian fighters as well as the BF109s.

    The only reason the “A-36″ didn’t replace SPITS were because of the weakness of the allison engine( no supercharger for high altitude work), and despite shortages, the British didn’t want to solely depend on U.S. assets for its fighters,plus the Spitfire was already tooled up for in British factories! I love how people try to diminish the P-51 as an “air superiority” fighter for its time. Each fighter design was capable for its particular use, and “Yes” the P-51 is moderate in some categories( ground attack is one) ,but for ALL around fighter-Altitude,Speed,firepower,range, ability to be tasked at strike and tacticial bombing? NONE have it all like the P-51

      • mike gee

        Most german aces didn’t FEAR the spit like they did the Mustang! The spit stalled in high G turns and its trans soniic dives were in purpose built test spits! The myth that it could outdive and outturn the BF109 has been LONG debunked by German AND British pilots- had the lufwaffe had the range in their fighters like the P-51s, the battle of britain would have been LOST by England! Even in successuve fighting after the BoB the FW190 was superior to the Spit and pilots knew it- again Spits didn’t face the deadly FW190 D or the Me262- the P-51 DID …….. As far as the “faster” Spit IX???? Try again,ala the 480 mph P-51K actually used in Combat over japan!

      • J. Eddolls

        Mike really, get your facts straight, Spits faced the same Luftwaffe fighters that the Mustang did. Please research your arguments before making them.

        I am not going to comment on your other statements as they are not qualified. Oh, the P51K, what was it’s climb rate? Certaintly less than the Spit IX.

  15. John Dighton

    Just a few thoughts on the above discussion. All the aircraft mentioned were great each in their own way. However one needs to look at the context as well as the achievements of the aircraft themselves. Firstly, the Spitfire and Hurricane flew against overwhelming odds in the Battle of Britain and yet prevailed. Thus, both were superior to the Bf 109. The P47, P51 and F4U flew much later in the war when the numerical odds were in their favour. Thus it is very difficult to say on the basis of “kill” ratio which aircraft was superior. However, I am persuaded by the comment above, that the Spitfire was the best pilots plane and this perhaps tilts the verdict.

    • Steve McCarty

      As a Vietnam fighter pilot I found that few aircraft behaved the way the books said they would, or could. So simply reading published stats does not always apply.

      All fighter aircraft suffer the ills of the high speed stall. The trick is to avoid them. That takes good pilot technique and is not predicated upon which aircraft one is flying. (It does help, however to be flying the better fighter aircraft.)

      Most important in a fight is where you are relative to the OP when you engage. We found that it was always better to avoid “dogfights”. In VN the enemy always (except for early on when we still had the F-8) flew a better fighter, but we still won the fight (but not by much!)

      Therefore the debate whether or not the Spit or the 51 was better has little relevance when trying to figger which one would win the fight. Pilot skill and tactics were at least as important as the flight charactics of the aircraft.

      • mike gee

        $ir, that is something a lot of us “arm chair warrior”/ history buffs are forgetting. I have read that the only acceptible higly agile american fighter was the F86 sabre of the 50s and the modern acft our nation flies today( acft like the F-16, F-/A-18, F-15,etc) -n WW2 it seems firepower and speed were more important, and many of our acft tended to be rahter heavy in comparidon to what they went up against! YET you said what many here are forgetting- acft performance , coupled with pilot skill made the difference in violent air to air clashes

  16. John F

    Why don’t we just ask the Luftwaffe pilots? I bet the old aces would say the Spitfire after getting bounced over England, but the younger pilots would say the Mustang after getting swarmed from take-off to landing over the continent. Therefore, I would assume that the opinion of the older aces who flew against the allies in both scenarios would have to trump the younger ones and leave us with an answer.
    With comparable speed and maneuverability, they both do well, but the Spitfire had the first laminar flow airfoil allowing for high speed combat. It would have been the most dangerous opponent to the Luftwaffe for almost 4 years regardless of range or armament. The Mustang only had serious impacts for the last year of the war in the ETO and had to prove itself after the allies had already won the war logistically through aircraft production and pilot training. The Spitfire survived from the beginning. Therefore…the Spitfire gets my vote.

    • MWE

      the Mustang not the Spitfire had the first laminar flow wing. It really does not matter when either plane flew; the question is which was better. The war was far from over when the Mustang appeared; in fact, without the Mustang, the air war would not have ended as it did. Without the Mustang, the bomber raids into Germany would have failed (as they did before the Mustang appeared). No allied aircraft with or without drop tanks had the range to escort bombers into the heart of Germany except the P51. That is what won the air war.

      • Mike

        The war was over for the Axis powers as early as 1943, once there was victory in North Africa, they had been stopped in Russia, the U-Boat threat was under control in the North Atlantic, and the Japanese were in retreat in the South Pacific. The P-51 didn’t appear until ’44! The Spit came in 24 different Mk classes, and stopped the Axis on every front from the start until the end. The Spit was the best allied fighter in 1939, and the best Allied fighter in 1945, just a different class grade. It also won the most important battle of the war The Battle of Britain.

      • Dspartan

        The P-38L could do anything a P-51D could do and had longer range than a P-51. A P-38 was the first american fighter over Berlin.

  17. John Dighton

    Many say that the F4U-4 was the best fighter of WWII, but this post looks at the Spit vs P51. Facts are as follows. Comparable aircraft were the MkXIV and P51D. Top sppeds were 721 and 703km/h respectively, whilst initial climb rates were 5,200 ft/min and 3,475ft/min.

    Post war trials were conducted todetermine the best “dogfighter” and the Spitfire of course won this contest. It was the best! The P51 dived better and had the higher service ceiling.

    German ace pilots and allied pilots I believe are the ones that know best and they agree that the Spitfire was the more difficult oponent. It must be remembered that the Spitfire suceeded against incredible odds whereas the P51 suceeded when the odds were in its favour.

    Thus I believe that the Spitfire was the best fighter aircraft of WWII. It was faster, climbed faster, turned and rolled better and was considered by pilots on both sides to be the best.

    The point that there were so many variants and that it was in “catch up mode” are not accurate. There were many Bf 109 upgrades as well and this is called progress. The Spitfire airframe was excellent and accomodated the many chages over the war years. This is not a disadvantage or a negative, but a very significant positive factor.

    Late model Spitfires flew at 475mph which is 125mph faster than the Mk1s of 1939. No ordinary airframe could assimilate such large increments of power, torque, force and friction. Thus all in all the Spitfire was the premier fighter of WWII.

    • Mike

      The Corsair was a fantastic aircraft! No doubt!

    • Nick

      Correct, except the dive part. The Spit could dive at speeds that would pull those wings off a ’51. Twice test pilots dove Spits to Mach 0.9 – over 600mph – without any problem with the wings; in fact, the Spitfire wing was superior in trans-sonic speeds than those of early jets.

  18. Jetsonraj

    No questions and no doubts. P51D Mustang was the all around best of the best premier fighter of WWII. Just for the rememberance; the famous Luftwaffe General Goering sided that when he first saw Mustang over Germany, he knew that war was over. And he seriously warned his pilot not to engage direct dogfight with Mustangs.
    I still can remember that a lone Mustang in a bomber escort mission while waiting for his other squadron mates to join up, shot down
    4 109s and a possible ME-262 after sent him off with black smoke.
    The pilot accomplished this in single handed and he said that he had the faith in God and Mustang. P51 Mustang was the greatest.

  19. larry lucas

    This is quite a hard choice,but it does come down to the spitfire and
    mustang as to which was best,the spitfire was more maneuverable
    and the better dog fighter,but the mustang had the better range with
    or without drop tanks and was a lot easier to mass produce and was
    better suited to grass makeshift runways.

    I think the allies should had standardized aircraft production with the
    mustang as the single engine fighter and the mosquito as the other type, as both had the same engine they could produce more of each
    for any use they wanted.

    • J. Eddolls

      The skills required to build Aircraft such as the D.H. Mosquito were only available in the UK. The Germans tried (Ta 154) and never succeeded.

      • LP Guay

        DH Mosquitos were also built in Canada and Australia

      • J. Eddolls

        I stand corrected, they were indeed built in Australia and Canada, however what I should have said was that the Germans were unable to replicate the technology employed in the Mosquito’s construction.

      • John

        No they just decided to make 600 mph jets instead that would slaughter everything we had in the sky. Was too little too late, had Hitler in his later years not been involved like he was and let his generals do the fighting, the world would be alot different. Considering the cluster it is now, problably alot better off had they won.

  20. MIkey G

    Let’s see, the Mustang used the Spitfire engine and the final Spitfire varients used a Mustang type wing. the 10,000 ’51s fought 1,500 fighters while the “pre quantity war” Spit’s fought on a roughly 1 to 1 basis with the krauts. You dont fight the “quantity war” without first getting through the “quality war”. Also, attempts to make a carrier version of the ’51 failed whereas the Spit spawned the Seafire. Seems the Spit was more adaptabled. In the end though, the “Stang was nothing but a ground attack aircraft till it got the Merlin whilst the Griffin engined Spit was by far a superior fighter verses the the P-51h which is the ultimate war development of eachtype.
    Goerings statement carries little weight as the Spitfire wasn’t over Berlin for lack of range, yet (along with the Hurricane) decimated the Luftwaffe over Britain. The point is, Bader would’ve blown any Mustang jockey out of the sky. Winner: Spitfire!!!

  21. John Bowen

    I love the Corsair, the low dipped wing allowed for quick turns.. This is the ONLY advantage it had on the P51.. The spitfire had so many fuel problems, it doesn’t even fit into the reliability class, plus one shot to the inner wing with a .50 and the whole wing would come off.. (that’s why they changed the design). The P51, routinely, flew at over 500mph, routinely.. I don’t think the Corsair EVER broke the 500mph barrier, unless it was in a fall, not a dive.. The Corsair didn’t have great dive capability either, it wanted to “topple over” as most pilots HAD to initiate flaps to prevent that.. Low speed maneuverability goes to the Corsair the low wing attachment allowed for a quick “body over” roll.. Speed, endurance, ceiling, bomb payload, distance all go to the Mustang.. p&s.

    • Mike

      The only aircraft in WWII that topped 500 mph were the German 262 jet in level flight!

    • Nick

      The Corsair’s inverted gull wing was designed so that the propeller could be kept clear of the deck without making the undercarriage too long, and had no effect on turning radius. What Spitfire fuel problems? What on earth are you talking about? It used the same engine as many other planes, initially with a carburetor and later with Bendix or Rolls Royce fuel injection, and was utterly reliable. One .5 in the wing would take the wing off? Total bull. The Spitfire wing was constructed of hollow sections interlocking inside each other like the leaf springs of a car, and immensely strong. Twice test pilots dove Spits to Mach .9 – over 600 mph. And the P-51 never flew “routinely” at over 500 mph. The P-51D maxed out at around 470 – the same as the Griffon-engined Spits. Your last sentence is nonsense. There were ultra high altitude Spits that had 8-9,000ft altitude advantage over the 51. The 4-cannon Spits were much better armed.

      • Andrew H.

        The Mustang could climb 8,000 feet a minute until stall(1:00) later. It wasn’t titled the best climbing allied plane for nothing. That was their main defense for climbing away from axis planes. The Spit was an outstanding plane that did the impossible, but by all means, it was not mustang.

      • J. Eddolls

        Andrew H. No version of the Mustang ever climbed at 8000′ per minute, in fact they were quite pedestrian, even the Spit VB, operated from 1941 to 1942, climbed faster than any Mustang, operated from 1944. When a Mustang was flown by the highly trained pilots the allies fielded at in the last year – eighteen months, the performance was adaquate for combat with aircraft types and pilots available to the Luftwaffe at that time.

        The Spitfire was taking on the best of the Luftwaffe when they were at their peak of strength and technical abilities.

  22. Robin lupinacci

    The Spit/Seafire became a carrier plane because the Brits had no other candidate, The US had no need to use the P51 for carriers, why would you when you had Grumman products, besides no American carrier plane used narrow-stance fuselage mounted main gear since the F4F – it was just unnessarily unstable.

    • Mike

      The Hawker Tempest was also used as a carrier based fighter.

      • Robin

        ???? I presume you mean the Tempest II as the Sea Fury, which was post-war anyway.

        The Fleet Air Arm always went with their own design specifications which invariably ended up with such *camels* (committee-designed horses) as the Fairey and Blackburn aircraft (the Skua and Fulmar were supposed to be fighters!). Fighters on carriers were a bit of a novelty for too long in the RN. When the FAA/RN eventually relented and wanted British single-seat fighters from carrier decks (having already used Grumman aircraft) what could Britain produce enough of easily? Spitfire airframes.

        Why was there never a Sea Mustang???

  23. Dave

    I was just at Camarillo airport and met a WWII pilot that trained in the P-39 then flew 40 combat missions in Italy in a Mark V then 40 more in a P-51b. I asked him “The Question” and he looked me in the eye and laughed. The Mustang, hands down. He loved his Spit and actually liked the P-39 “once you got used to it” in fact he had to bail out of a flat spin in training. He said that anyone that picked any plane over a P-51 never flew one. 3 confirmed.
    I think that answers the question pretty well.

    • Mike

      The P-51 was a great plane, but it was “Johnny come lately”! By the time it came to the ETO the war was over! Many Americans say it saved the Eighth Air force Bombers, and it did save many, but really even without it the war was over. The Germans were in mass retreat in Russia, Italy, etc. The allies also had many aircraft which could fill much of it’s roll. Many, such as the Corsair, or P-38 were fighting in Asia and the Pacific, but could have been moved to the ETO.

      • mike gee

        Again, the war in europe was FAR from over when the P-51 entered the fray full time as a high alt fighter! The eastern front was raging in a bloody slug fest, and Germany had dealt the allies several set backs ( Market garden, and the hurtgen forest campaign to name a few) after the successful D-Day landings- southern italy was a blood bath for allied forces as well. Spits were NOT taking the fight to the germans, high alt p-38s and p-47s were, with limited success. The bombing campaign was the key and British bomber command knew this as well as the begrudging 8th airforce! If the day light bombing campaign failed we’d have fought a jet powered luftwaffe in ’46. Too many people here malign the p-51 as “second rate” to the spitfire, but it was in many ways Equal and in some, superior to the spitfire! Match for match the p-51b proprerly tuned matched a properly tuned Spitfire IX and the p-51D matched the spitfire XIV; look up the testing charts done in 1944 on both planes-( available on the internet) the pluses for the spit are turning radius( slight edge) , altitude of 2k higher,and guns( once the spit got improved 20mms) the P-51 pluses are range, speed( marginal 20-25 mph more) and bomb load- both a near EQUAL in climb rates, dive rates, and engine performance- and the mustang was 2000 lbs heavier!!! Both are great fighters but the Mustang closed the ETO war on top because it did what the spitfire couldn’t- take the fight to the german homeland and protect the bombers. If the Brits had to fight the BoB with only P-51s they’d have gotten the SAME outcome, a defacto victory- ditto if The 8th and 15th USAAF had longer ranged Spit IXs for escort duty over germany! The spit is great BUT it isn’t superior to the mustang…

  24. Willy B

    I was fortunate enough to talk to a German BF109 fighter pilot many years ago.
    He had a great respect for the P51 Mustangs but had no hesitation in fighting them. The Spitfire on the other hand, was the one that they all tried to avoid a dog fight with. Different fighter aircraft designed in different era’s, both capable and both deadly.

  25. Dmitry

    Number one. You folks need to understand that both of the planes were COMPLETELY different in the concept of their use. Spitfire was a front line fighter, a pure air superiority machine. It had not much range, didn’t carry much air to ground ordinance. This machine was made to kill other planes over the immediate battlefield or over its own cities. It was the same class as Me-109. P-51 was a LONG range fighter. Remember, that Brits used Mustang Fighters too. Mustang 3 – they called them, with a distinct style capory, but same Merlin Engine and Same 12.7mm guns.
    However, they used the Mustang 3 as an escort fighter and a fighter bomber.
    Remember that Soviets were supplied with many types of Land Lease planes. They declined P-51 as it was not maneuverable enough at medium and low altitudes and was too heavy for them.
    Same was as with ANY weapons. The question that you need to ask is “WHAT IS THE MISSION?”
    If your mission is intercept, or battlefield air superiority, the superior maneuverability and climb rate of Spitfire will be needed here.
    If your mission is a long range escort and sweep away enemy fighters over long range – P-51 will be a better choice.
    Spitfire also has an edge in firepower, having 2x20mm and 2×12.7mm over 6×12.7mm. Both fighters have the disadvantage of having guns in the wings, rather then centrally mounted above engine and in the engine.
    As far as Germans “not willing to engage”. There is famous order that Luftwaffe is to “Avoid Engagement with any Yakovlev fighters lacking oil cooler under the engine” (This is spoken about Yak-3).
    Now, it is easy to win air war when most of Luftwaffe was engaged in eastern front and the rest took a beating in Battle of Britain.
    When you have 10:1 air superiority, you will easily win any war. Quantity is a quality of its own. Mustang was NOT a bad plane. However, for it the battlefield air superiority – dogfighting was a SECONDARY mission. For Spitfire and Yaks it was PRIMARY mission.
    Also, remember something as Heavy as P-51 or especially P47, due to sheer inertial forces and higher wing loading then Spit or Yak will NEVER be able to compete with them in Turn/Roll rate. Power to weight ratios also count. Empty Spit IX weighted in at 2400kg, With wing loading of 142 kg/m². Empty P51D was 3400 with Wing loading: 192 kg/m²
    Lower the wing loading – higher the turn and climb rate, especially since both planes had the same engine. Both planes could be made better with a centrally mounted armament, but with Merlin it was impossible.
    P47 is a ground attacker, it has good speed, but crap for turn and roll rate, climb rate is also not too spectacular. Yes, it could take a beating, but that doesn’t make it a good fighter. IL-2 also could take a beating, however it isn’t a fighter.
    P-47 should be compared to a fighter in its own class – Single Engine, high speed fighter bomber – Hawker Tempest, which outgunned, outmaneuvered and outclimbed it.
    Therefore, my vote goes to SPITFIRE IX

    • Tim

      The P-47 actually had a very good roll rate! The 56th FG had a kill rate against the luftwaffe of 8 to 1, most FW190 anf M109, and that was while the luftwaffe still had their most experienced aces flying. The P47 had very good high altitude perfomance and was faster in a dive than any other fighter. Also later on with the newer paddle blades the climb rate was acceptable. It had 33% more fire power than the P51 (8 instead of 6 0,5 caliber guns) and could also absorbe damage while a single bullet in the radiater of a P51 would mean the end of it. This is also the reason why the P47 was used as a ground attacker. The P47 broke the back of the luftwaffe, when the P51 came into action the luftwaffe was already in decline.
      So to say the p51 was the best fighter is very arguable…. it depends on many factors.

      • J. Eddolls

        The Spitfire and Hurricane broke the back of the Luftwaffe in 1940/41.

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        Both Tempest`s and Spitfire`s were used for ground attack, and were more capable of tackling German Planes than either P 47 or P 51. Spitfire was faster in a dive than any other fighter, nothing else exceeded Mach 0.9, both Tempest and Spitfire climbed far faster than P 47 or P51.

      • John

        Reply to Barrie: Spitfire faster in a dive??? It was a great fighter and a great climber because its wingloading was very low, but this was also the reason that it couldn’t dive as fast as most of the other fighters. All experts will agree the P47 was the fastest plane in a dive (except for the Me262 probably)

    • Nick

      Wrong about “air to ground armament.” The Mk. II Spitfire was armed with two 20mm cannon and four .303 m/guns, while later versions sported four cannon. While the .5 machine gun used on US fighters was a powerful weapon, the cannon fired explosive shells that caused much greater damage. One 20mm in the right place would bring down a fighter, while half a dozen would destroy any bomber. In addition, armor-piercing cannon shells would destroy many armored vehicles that the .5 m/g bullets would bounce off.

    • mike gee

      Yaks were dogmeat and the germans racked up MAJOR scores against the lame yaks (the lavochkin was a better turn and burn fighter) Russians simpled threw MORE target in the air and wore the german ranks down as well as #s. The BoB is another “myth” in reality it was a stalemate and that is what Britain needed to SURVIVE! Any REAL military leader( which Hitler was NOT) would have never turned to attack Russia. The Luftwaffe was poised to wipe the Spitfire forces of Britain off the map in 1940-41. Again Mustangs were in action since ’43 and getting kills more rapidly due to the superior performance of the acft design. And as far as performance,spitfire had far more deficiencies in service,maintenance, speed,and range. American acft with the exception of the F6F hellcat were not turn and burn fighters- they relied on Speed and Speed kills slower acft(ask any FW190 pilot who hunted Spits- couldn’t do that as well against a mustang!) Also the Brits used F6F and F4Fs ( brit navy pilot actually scored an aerial victory in an F4F against a ME109)on their navy carriers and only switched to seafires LATER in the war to PROTECT their fighter industry and lessen costs and dependence on US manufactured acft!….

      • J. Eddolls

        Please qoute your references Mike.

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        Battle of Britain was a German failure, no where near defeating RAF both Spitfire`s and Hurricane`s turned better than Me 109. The Fw only had a short period of superiority over the Mk V Spitfire, Mk IX was more than a match for the Fw 190 A, Mk XIV Spitfires were faster than both German and American aircraft, fastest versions of P 47 and P 51 were too late to see any action in WW II

  26. doug m

    As an av id airwar historian, I would question the statement “the P51 always had a 10-1 quantitive advantage. This ws definetly not true in most localized airbattles. The Germans had a great knack for concentrating their fighters locally for mass attacks on allied bombers and fighters. It was often the case where a squadran of 24 Mustangs ended up taking on a whole gruppen of ME109’s and FW190’s. Even still, over 600 miles from base P51’s wracked up an average of 7 to 1 kill ratios over the best german aircraft (including FW190D-9). By 1944 most “dogfights” did not consist of indavidual aircraft turning hard into each other at slow speeds. the vertical fight was more prevelant than the horizontal fight and no aircraft could fight as well as the P51 at any altitude over 300MPH.That being said, If I was any pilot flying 4+ hour missions I know what aircraft I’d want to be in.

  27. Dmitry

    Once again, Doug M, we are talking about DIFFERENT MISSIONS.
    Escort vs Air Superiority. Still, with fuel tanks, Spit had long range, doubt it was as long as P-51. You do not send SPitfire for long range escorts. IT WAS NOT BUILT FOR THAT. Yeah “If I was pilot flying 4+ hour missions I would choose P-51″, DUH!!! yeah, and if I was pilot flying close air support or a torpedo attack, I would not choose Spitfire either.
    Question is this: Altitude 6500m one on one, head on approach, distance 5 km , what do you choose: SPIT or P-51?

  28. Walter

    The usual emotional opinion vs. fact it seems. P-51 was the better all-rounder. The Merlin did not “rescue” the Mustang from mediocre performance as is often claimed at Duxford Airshows. Early Allison Mustangs and Apaches had phenomenal low level performance and claimed some of the earliest FW190 kills, when the Spitfire V was struggling. Using similar late model Merlins, the P-51Bs, Cs, and Ds were quicker (despite being heavier) than the Spitfire Mk IX. This speaks to better aerodynamic efficiency. Spitfires had poor roll performance at high speeds, but weight was more concentrated on the C of G (fuel between engine and cockpit) vs. in the wings and behind the cockpit in the P-51. As any aerobatic pilot will know, mass concentrated on or close to the C of G vs. distributed makes for a reduced mass moment of inertia (better maneuverability), but this is also dependent on control effectiveness. As stated, the Spitfire (especially earlier models with fabric covered ailerons) had reduced roll rates at high speeds.

    Don’t disrespect the 109 either. Erich Hartmann got 352 kills in the 109 in just two years. The best Spitfire or Mustang guys got around ten percent of that. It’s tempting to point out that he scored his kills on the Eastern Front, but the best Luftwaffe Battle of Britain individual scores also blew the RAF best away. It is often stated that the Luftwaffe outnumbered the RAF 2:1 in the Battle of Britain. Only true for total (bombers plus fighters) vs. Fighter Command. Fighters were even Stevens. And the Luftwaffe was fighting at the limit of their fighters’ range, over enemy territory.

    • Mike

      You need to check your history! The Spitfire came in 24 MK classes. The versatility of the design made it outstanding throughout the war from beginning to end. It’s performance has been objectively tested versus other fighters, by the USAF, and for the period it has finished on top consistently. As for scores of German fighter pilots, this is the subject of much debate, especially on the Russian Front. The one thing that can be said of German fighter pilots who survived is that they flew far more combat missions then allied pilots. Hartmann for example flew over 600 missions in two years and saw the enemy every flight. The average allied pilot flew a tour of 50 missions and only saw the enemy occasionally. Accept in Russia of course! The Russians flew like the Germans.
      If a German fighter pilot survived the war from beginning till the end he would have flown in combat from 1939 until 1945. Thus, by 1944 most of their best were dead. The rest of their best were in Russia dealing with the numerical on slot!
      As you might guess fatigue and poor moral were problems for both sides on the Russian Front. Kurst in Russia in 1943 for example was the largest tank battle in history involving 2 million men and 4000 tanks, and a similar number of aircraft all within a relatively small area. At Stalingrad in Russia things were so bad German soldiers resorted to cannibalism. The entire 6th Army was lost, again in 1943. Thus the conditions and experience of German pilots was much different then those of the Allies.

      Back to the issue at hand. The P-51 was a great long range fighter, but the Spitfire was a great dog fighter, however the Spitfire was there from start to finish!

      • mike gee

        Mike- once again your opinion is slanted toward your favoring of the spitfire. True there were up to 24 marks( variants) but the TRUTH is the Spitfire mark -IX and XIV are the only ones you can compare to the Mustang B/C/D and K models- turn rate and altitude wise the Spit has the slight edge. Fire power-even with 20 mm, slight edge, other than that? Mustang is faster has better roll rates, longer range and heavier ordinnce load. You and other pro spit guys can tout the later High mark spits against the D model but in all fairness those HEAVIER, faster griffon engined Spits can only be compared to the Mustang H model( Brit Mustang IV), which matches the high mark spits in climb rate, still has faster speed ( 480 mph max vs griffon spits 460 mph); the high mark spits still have “short” legs even with drop tanks! The war evolved and the Mustang became the BETTER all purpose fighter, while the high mark spits became the BETTER interceptors- from ’44 to ’45 they were used for V-1/2 intercept along with the Hawker Tempest and Typhoon, while the Mustang D/III was on bomber escort/ and ground attack missons/ enemy fighter intercept. The spit IX/XIV were closer to the action with the Mustang doing fighter bomber details. ONLY The IX, and XIV retained the “original” Spit characteristics that the BoB I/IIs had( fast response, turn and burn attributes). And vices?? Boh planes had them- the mustang less so because it got to enjoy the “lessons learned” from the earlier deployed Spits and other 30s designed fighters like the P-40, and even the later P-38s, P-47s , et al . As for the notion that 8th,15th USAAF pilots were up against chumps? In The BoB UK pilots were less experienced than the luftwaffe and held their OWN. Germans had home field advantage, intense flak, radar early warning, and JETS plus the latest higher performing 109s and FW 190s, and still got OWNED by the ranging P-51s! Guys like Preddy, Blakesly, Bud Anderson, and Yeager wouldn’t survived if the Mustang was a “second rate” acft and Brit/ Commonwealth pilots would have demanded the Spits if they were so “superior” to the Mustang- several also made ACE in the P-51. If I had the choice? Mustang cause its a damn good all around acft wit performance similar to your Spits, more speed and better endurance( plus better armor- the “guinea pig club can attest to one of the LESS talked about vices of the spitfire!)

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Mike Gee, nice to see you are still contributing, I think we will always disagree about these two great aircraft. Incidently it was the Hurricane that had issues and not the Spit with regard to catching fire.

        My understanding is that fuel tanks in the Hurricane, near the wing root, when struck by 20mm cannon fire, tended to leak directly into the cockpit. Allowing the pilot only seconds to escape. This has been discussed in documentries in the UK. I beleive Geoffrey Page was a victim of this.

        During my recent holiday to East Anglia I thought I would try and conclude this ongoing discourse. I decided to visit Duxford and ask advice from the one person I knew who would give informed and meaningful advice.

        We ambled over the airfield together and approached a P51D model, this was parked next to a very famous Spit, MH434. I explained the issue at hand and waited paitently for the response.

        ‘Dad I just hate the silver one it looks all gaudy, just like a boy racers car, the best one is the dark one with the black and white stripey things on it’

        Well there you have it Mike!

        Now it’s tea time, now where did I put that tin of Spam!

      • bbear

        Mike Gee, keep plugging. It’s nice to read you.I notice different definitions of terms. ‘Best fighter of WWII ?’ is the question. If you take ‘of’ as meaning from the era your argument about types and comparisons works. But others like the other Mike in 28.1 take ‘of’ as meaning duriing the whole period in all theatres and roles. There may be other uses of ‘of’. Both arguments could be true and valid. Sorry to be the philosophy student but definitions change conclusions. I hate to see guys arguing and getting heated when agreement seems possible.

        A very good story J. Eddolls. Your consultant is clearly working at my level.

        I’ve not made further efforts yet (work etc) but will conclude as previously promised and briefly sometime soon.

    • Nick

      Rot. The Allison-engined Mustangs gave good low-altitude performance (not “phenominal”), which was pointless as the action wa all at high altitude for the first 3/4 of the war. No Allison-engined Mustang ever even encountered a 190, far less shot one down. By the time the 190 appeared, all Mustangs were Merlin-powered. My dad, a WWII RAF vet, said that when the first versions of the Mustang (a name, incidentally, given to it by the British) were evaluated, the comment from Spitfire pilots was “good at low, slow turns.” It was relegated to photo-recce work.

      The Spit V was certainly outclassed by the 190, but within a couple of weeks was replaced by the Mk. IX with a 2-stage supercharged Merlin 60-series, and outperformed the 190 easily, especially at altitude. As successive marks of Merlin appeared, the 190 never regained superiority. The 70-series Merlin gave over 1,700hp when the 190’s BMW (at 60% greater capacity) was pushed to deliver 1,600 (and that only at low altitude) and the 109s also lagged in the hp race, despite having 150-grade fuel.

      The last Merlin gave 2,240hp continuous, with 2,470 available for short bursts, and the Germans never came even close to matching this with their BMW and D-Benz engines.

      The rear fuselage fuel tank in the ’51, although (with the drop tanks) giving phenomenal range, were a control liability, due to the aft weight load upsetting balance and trim. Only when their fuel was burned off was control and manoeuverability regained.

    • Martin

      @Mike Gee: I agree that the P-51 was generally the better all-purpose fighter plane. I also agree that some marks of the spit may have been better short-range interceptors.

      One small thing though, regarding the spit: “from ’44 to ’45 they were used for V-1/2 intercept ”

      Don’t mix these. They were certainly not used to intercept V2s. The V2 had a maximum speed of approc. 5500 km/h and was not interceptable by any means.

  29. robodeaux

    Chuck Yeager, during an interview was asked which aircraft was superior. His answer: “the P-51 could do for six hours what the Spitfire could do for forty-five minutes.”

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      Chuck Yeager said a lot, The Mk XIV Spitfire with one 90 gal drop tank had about half the range of a P 51 D with two 66 1/2 gal drop tanks, The Spitfire was faster, climbed, much better, turned tighter and had better firepower.

  30. Nick Reynolds

    William Dunn (US fighter ace who flew Spitfires, P-51s, Hurricanes, and P-47s): “Now, if I had to make the choice of one fighter aircraft above all the others – one that I’d rather have tied to the seat of my pants in any tactical situation – it would be, without any doubt, the world’s greatest propeller driven flying machine – the magnificent and immortal Spitfire.”

    Eric Brown (RN test pilot and holder of the world record for number of types of aircraft flown): “I have flown both for many hours, and would choose the Spitfire [over the Mustang] if given a choice in a fight to the death.”

    Writer Jerry Scutts, quoting German pilots in his book JG 54: “The Jagflieger had to keep a wary eye out for enemy fighters, particularly Spitfires, a type JG 54’s pilots had developed a particular aversion to…Pilot reflections do not, surprisingly enough, reflect over-much respect for the Mustang or Lightning, both of which the Germans reckoned their Fockes were equal to – unless they were met in substantial numbers.”

    Gordon Levitt, Israeli fighter pilot, comparing the Spitfire, Mustang, and Avia S-199 (Jumo-engined Bf 109), all of which the Israelis flew: “Despite the pros and cons, the Spitfire was everyone’s first choice.”

    Karl Stein, Luftwaffe Fw 190 pilot (who served mainly on the Eastern front): “English and American aircraft appeared on the scene in those closing days of the European war. Spitfires were the most feared, then Mustangs…”

    USAAF 31st FG War Diary (when transferring from Spitfires to P-51s): “Although pilots think that the P-51 is the best American fighter, they think the Spitfire VIII is the best fighter in the air.”

    USAAF pilot Charles McCorkle (who flew both in combat), reporting on a mock combat between a Spitfire and Mustang in 1944: “Now we could see which was the better aircraft…a Mustang and a Spit took off for a scheduled ‘combat’, flown by two top young flight commanders. When the fighters returned, the pilots had to agree that the Spitfire had won the joust. The Spit could easily outclimb, outaccelerate, and outmaneuver its opponent…”

    ”The Mustang was a great fighter, but it was great because it had the range the Spitfire lacked, enabling it to take the fight to the enemy.
    But in a one-on-one dogfight, there’s absolutely no comparison. The Spitfire would win decisively, 99 times out of 100…”

  31. Senal

    Why was the Spitfire faster than the Mustang?Flying at same Altitude with the same engine?Was it the wing design???

    • Camreon

      Actually the spitfire was never faster than the mustang

      • Ben Nicholas

        spitfire more fire power
        mustang better range not speed

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        The Spitfire with a Merlin engine was a bit slower but had a better climb, but the Spitfire with a Griffon was faster

  32. Nick Reynolds

    I was always under the impression that, with comparable engine power,the mustang was slightly the faster.

    Although the mustang has a very thin (for its time) laminar flow wing, amazingly the spitfire was actually thinner (14% / 13.6%) Which is mainly why it had to be so wide.

    Mitchell was aware of laminar flow (he did design total racers) but experience indicated that even a tiny amount of leading edge damage ruined the flow.

  33. Mike Daly

    I am not an expert and certainly not qualified to say which is “best” yet am sensible enough to pick out the common thread that you must be very specific when you ask the question and state “Which type of mission”.
    The much maligned Hurricane destroyed more aircraft during The Battle of Britain. Tempest pilots dismissed Spitfire pilots with a ” our landing speed is ppractically your top speed”. P51s were deadly and long range, P47s bought you home safely.

    I din’t know that there is one answer and as even pilots are biased I would not take their views for granted.

    Answer possibly; they were both the best in their own rights

  34. Troy M

    The later marks of spitfires did have performance advantages over the mustang, The goal of both is to destroy the enemy. The mustang could go to the enemys field and compete evenly. In so many posts I hear the mustang getting clobbered because of it falling a little short in performance. The spitfire is not being hammered for its short range. We need to realize without the mustang ranging over Euroupe, the war would have been more costly and lasted longer. For differnt reasons, both should be considered legends.

  35. Camreon

    This is a harder question. Both of these planes were used for different reasons. Mustangs are for long range missions, Spitfires aren’t. If there was a dogfight the spitfire would probably win since the spitfire has much greater firepower than the mustang and it could easily outturn the mustang. The spitfire also made a greater impact on WWII than the Mustang ever did.

    So the Spitfire is the winner

    • mike gee

      Again only LATER on in the war, when allied bombing and the invasion of europe! The. Luftwaffe outclassed the RAF until then. The spit held the line until a better fighter came along- that fighter was the P-51 ; gun to gun and at above 20k the mustang D(437mph) owns the Spit IX(max 400mph); talkabout faster spits is lame if you can’t show they CLOSED the War in europe the way the mustang did……..

      • J. Eddolls

        Mike we have discussed this already, the Spit IX accelerated far faster than any mark of Mustang. In addition it outclimbed it at a rate of 25′ per second,
        The difference in acceleration made up for any lack of level speed.

        The Mustang never became competetive to any RAF fighter in climbing ability due to the Laminar flow wing. The Mustangs climbing ability was similar to the Tbolt!

  36. Ess-Tee-Emm

    I can’t believe some of the ridiculous replies left on here in regard to this.

    Even US pilots who had flown both remark that the late model Spitfires from the Mark IV onwards were superior to the P-51D … as dogfighters. Even the early models could turn inside just about anything.

    However, the answer mentioning apples and oranges is pretty accurate: The Spitfire was the supreme allied interceptor of WWII, but didn’t have the range to take the fight to Germany, which the P-51 did.

    It’s worth mentioning in this debate too that the P-51 was designed by North American to RAF specifications, but was a dud over 20,000ft and restricted to PR and ground-attack duties until a bright spark in the RAF thought it might go better with a Rolls Royce Merlin engine. It did, and how. Quite possibly, the P-51 wouldn’t have existed in the form we know it had it not been for our cousins on the European side of the pond.

    Here are the facts: German pilots – read the bio of JG54 – feared dogfighting Spitfires right to the end of the war, but were less wary of Mustangs unless they were met in greater numbers (which they inevitably were, whether Spitfires, Mustangs or anything else in 1944). The Germans considered the Spitfire the best, and the Mustang the second best – but only as dogfighters.

    The Spitfire late marks which best compare to the P51D had a better rate of climb and could turn inside the Mustang every time. Speed was about equal but the Spitfire had better armement (including two 20mm cannon). They were about equal in the dive, at first, but the Spitfire ran away on the Mustang eventually. The Spitfire Mark XIV had a similar rate of roll, which was the Mustang’s only advantage prior to that.

    In all these cases, the pilots – as was true at the time of highly trained RAF and USAAF pilots – were expected to be of equal ability. These findings were all borne out by USAAF tests, and backed up by the opinions of their opponents. The tight turn of the Spitfire was what most worried the Germans. In combats with them, they found the late marks of Spitfire could initiate and break off the dogfight at the will of the British pilots. That was also found to be the case in the USAAF comparison tests.

    However, and it’s a very big however, the Germans also found the Mustang a handful, if not quite as manoeuvrable, and were unable to compete with the large formations escorting daylight raids over Germany. They considered the Mustang about equal to the late model 109s and 190s but by then, stocks of experienced German pilots were just about out, and the USAAF fighter pilots, mostly veterans by then, had a big edge unless they came up against one of the few still-breathi German aces in the west.

    Both aircraft had beautiful airframes that could be adapted through different marks over a long period of time, which is the sign of a great aircraft.

    But In a one-on-one dogfight, most pilots – and yes, including Americans who’d flown Spitfires – thought the Spitfire better.

    Its major flaw: the Spitfire didn’t have the range for long escort duties. It was the best dogfighter in the ETO, and probably the best interceptor right from the outset in 1939, when the first Mark 1s and IIs gave the Germans a huge shock over Dunkirk and then England.

    And it was still the best in 1945.

    But given the range of the Mustang, and the fact that the performance of the Spitfire and the Mustang were very close, you would have to say that overall – OVERALL – the Mustang was the better of the two aircraft.

    Just not in a dogfight from about 1943 onwards. The later Spitfires had no peers in that respect. But as has been pointed out, they were unable to take their fight long-distance – which was where the Mustang was superlative.

    Both deserve to be remembered and immortalised for different reasons … all of them good.

    The Mustang comes out tops overall, especially in terms of usefulness. But it really IS apples and oranges.

    • Nick

      Agree except later Spits had four, not two, 20mm cannon

  37. Ess-Tee-Emm

    Sorry, “dive” in the above analysis should read dive-and-zoom. The Mustang dropped faster initially but the advantage didn’t last long. Also, most of the combats recorded for ideal operational comparison were at altitudes of 18,000-30,000ft. At sea level and at very low altutides, the Mustang was slightly faster than the late Mark Spitfires, At 30,000ft and at some altitudes between 20-30, the Sptfire XIV was 10mph faster.

    • Michael McCrath

      Aside from a little actual knowledge of the subject scattered here and there, this exchange mostly appears as uninformed as it is opinionated.

      Are there any actual pilots in this group? Thought not. Anybody here flown (or at least flown in) a Mustang or Spitfire? Nope, again, I’d wager. Any aeronautical engineers to be found? I doubt it.

      Truth be told, those who see the argument as moot because of its”apples and oranges” nature are probably nudging closest to reality. Engineering of any kind is a sea of compromises; Thepoor engneer is forever giving up something in order to get something else he/she wants. Thus, speed and maneuverability tend to be mutually exclusive; stability as a gun platform often gets sacrificed for maeuverability; rate of climb and diving speed fight each other; heavy armament obviates agility, etc. So one has to ask the simple question: which airplane did the best job at fulfilling the expectations of those who crafted it?

      When that question is put to the Mustang v. Spitfire comparison, the answer comes out a wash. Yes, the Spitfire was more maneuverable and could probably win a “knife fight in a phone booth” type of dogfight against a Mustang, given co-equal pilots and similar luck. No, the Spitfire didn’t have the legs of the Mustang, although you can bet that every RAF pilot in the business longed for one that did. Yes, the Spitfire easily outclimbed the Mustang. But then why not? The Mustang was an elephant if ever there were. What with an empty weight of 7,635 pounds, it came in just slightly north of the higher mark Spits’ absolute gross weights! The Mustang was always, always faster than any Spitfire, even the last marks to appear after the war. The B and C ‘Stangs, while officially rated at 440 mph, were easily capable of hitting the mid-450s at 25,000 feet without breaking a sweat. And if you count the very last production edition, the H model with its approximately 490 mph top end, the Mustang simply galloped away from any Spitfire — to the eternal consternation of Brits young and old.

      An old, late acquaintence of mine, Gunther Rall, put it very succinctly when he decared that, if you run across a P-51 you’ve got a fighting chance; Just stay sharp and try not to engage in a game of chase. But if you encounter a high-mark Spitfire, get the hell out of there! The good news was, the chances of running afoul of a Spitfire over the conntinent in mid-war were just about nil. They simply couldn’t reach the front very often due to their limited range, and until post-Normandy times when Allied airbases began to appear on the continent bringing Spitfires closer to the conflict, they became almost irrelevant over the scenes of battle.

      Finally, in small defense of the Mustang: With the introduction of the Griffon engine, the Spitfire remained such in name only. Truly, the Mk IX was the last true Spitfire of the original design. After that, it was a new airframe and, generally, a whole new engineering ballgame in the basrgain By comparison, one might just as well have called the P47 Thunderbolt the P-43B Lancer! Of course, one might also argue that the Mustang evolved considerably as well. (Never try to fit a P-51B or C wing to a P-51D! I can tell you from first-hand experience, it don’t work!) At the end of the day, though. the Mustang was still true to its original design, whereas the Spitfire had gone through such extraordinarily extensive modifications that there were virtually no structural parts from the Spit IX that would interchange with anything on a Mk. 24, for example. I suspect (although can’t prove it) that the Spitfire name was carried on through successive changes primarily for nationalistic, patriotic and morale purposes as much as anything else. One wonders if Supermarine’s last piston-engined fighter effort, the laminar-flow winged “Spiteful,” had appeared in, say, 1944 rather than just after the war, it might not have been christened the Spitfire 25…

      PS Just a couple of quick notes to contributers here: Contrary to one contributer’s remarks, The P-47 Thunderbolt was, arguably, the fastest rolling fighter plane in any theater of action! Throughout the war, arguments and wagers flew thick and fast over which could complete a 360 degree aileron roll the fastest, the P-47 or the BMW-powered FW 190. Fly in one sometime if you get a chance; its roll-rate definitely tends to separate skull from atlas vertabra!

      And finally, for the semi-literate in the crowd: there’s no such word as “alot.”

      • Mike

        During The Second World War there were dramatic technical improvements made in all types of military equipment including of course aircraft. The most advanced of the war being, of course the ME 262, which was a jet. The most advanced bomber by the end of the war was the B-29. But during the crucial period of 1939 until 1943, when the Germans were in a position where victory was still possible, it was the Spitfire that held the line in the air.

        Once the German war machine had been stopped in North Africa, and in Russia, and the Allies were able to fully retool, it was the beginning of the end for the Axis. Even with the technical advances of German engineers they could not deal with the industrial might of the USA, as well as that of Russia, Canada, Britain , and alike.

        A F-16 was a much superior aircraft to a Spitfire Mk V, or Mk IX, but they weren’t available at the time, neither was the Mustang or Corsair, it was up to the Hurricane, the P-40, and the Spitfire. The key battles were The Battle of Britain, and at Malta, aka for North Africa.

        In the Pacific there was The Battle of Midway, and in Russia, we had Stalingrad, Moscow, and Leningrad.

        Once these battles had been won Germany, although still very powerful was all but spent and in retreat. Italy after North Africa was finished. Japan was still a threat in the East but never really could compete technically. The Zero, although a great dog fighter was to lightly armored and to slow a fighter as compared to those of the Allies. They needed an up grade which never really developed. The Zero could not even defend against the B-29 bombing campaign since it few to high, and to fast. The Japanese also had inferior infantry weapons such as tanks which were greatly inferior to the American Sherman. Although, the Japanese fighting man was inferior to nobody!!!

      • Norm Shafer

        Concerning roll rate………….the P-39 Airacobra beats ’em all. You have someone on your tail you don’t want there. You do a quick roll with a pitchout at random followed by the same thing again with another pitchout at random. NO other aircraft (WWII) can follow this maneuver. (A Harrier can sit there and watch you do this and THEN clobber you.)

  38. Ess-Tee-Emm

    Squadron Leader T.S. Wade of the Air Fighter Development Unit had some interesting figures at the end of the war regarding comparitive performances. Although they are RAF figures, since they were flying all the types tested operationally, I can’t see why they’d be making any of it up. As with the US military, it’s really not their style, even though many of our Brit and American cousins – generally the ones not armed with any facts, nor even much half-right empirical data, and usually in about equal numbers (which makes for some great circular arguments) – are want to brag up their own side depending on who invented what.

    Most of the Mustang-Spitfire comparisons that come out in favour of the British machine in the fighter development tests do, however, seem to listed be Spitfire 14s. My understanding is the really major engineering changes came from the 14 on, not the 9 … but I’ll give a nod to someone who might know better on that score and defer to Mr McCrath.

    These comparisons are now available on the internet (do your own homework, though, guys, it’s not that hard) and contain graphs and drawings as well that give a pretty good breakdown between the performances of a number of allied fighter aircraft.

    While they don’t completely support Mr McCrath’s view on the speed difference between the Mustang and the Spirfire, they don’t completely shoot it down, either. They do a range comparison too, and of course the Mustang comes out way ahead of everything, with performances in every other aspect so close it does lend weight to the view that it was the best AND most useful allied fighter of WWII, if not the best dogfighter.

    The RAF studies were not done as mock combats but as comparisons, similar to the documented comparisons done by the USAAF with other allied and captured enemy aircraft. The speed difference between the two – Mustang and Spitfire – looks marginal and varies, mostly in favour of the P-51, especially at heights you’d expect most combats to have taken place. And would it have made that much difference at 30,000ft?

    As for the P 47, it might have runaway bragging rights regarding rate of roll. Unlike Mr McCrath I can’t tell you personally because I haven’t been lucky enough to try it – but according to the comparisons, the P-47 also does pretty well – exceptionally well in fact – in a dive. Straight down like a stone, you’d expect, and at uncatchable, breakneck speed.

    • Michael McCrath

      Well said STM… The first real departure ferom the original Spitfire design came with the Spitfire IV (type 337) in late 1940. The Brits wanted to take advantaqge of the available single-stage R-R Griffon II engine with all its additional power, but the trouble was the engine was simply too big and too heavy to incorporate within the design limits of the original Spitfire airframe, So, enter the reconfigured and quite different Mk IV.

      It was at this point in the Sptfire series that things begin to get a bit strange, because before the prototype Griffon-powered IV could get into the air, the Spitfire P.R. IV, a development of the “original” Spitfire design, had already entered production. Thus, the Griffon model was redesignated Spitfire XX. This shift has resulted in mass confusion in type designations aqnd has resulted in numerous repeated errors in subsequent articles and books about the Spitfire series. Indeed, tryijg to follow the convoluted twists and turns of Spitfire development is a task best avoided by the squeamish or faint of heart! All told, it’s been said there were over 100 variants of the machine, and a research project I was once involved with as Associate Curator of Seattle’s Museum of Flight persasded me that such was merely the tip of the iceberg!

      The Spitfire IX, the last model of the original Spitfire design to see extensive production and service, was pushed into the fight as an interim solution to the Fw 190 problem. Among other things, it introduced the so-called “E” wing that retained the 20 mm cannon in the outer gun bay, but replaced the two .303 Brownings of the inner bay with a single .50 cal M2. Onee might declare this machine to be the capstone of the Spitfire era and the last real, R.J. Mitchell Spitfire, to fly. Goup Captain Johnnie Johnson declared it the “bvest Spitfire of them all,”

      The Mk XIV (type 372), which seemed to receive a lot of noteriety in this forum, was originally produced as a standad Mk VIII, but strengthened and redesigned to take the two-stage Griffon 65 with a five-bladed Rotol prop. Of note, Mk XIV from 401 Squadron was the first fighter to draw blood against the Me 262. This plane was margainally faster than the P-51D at 30,000 feet, but couldn’t quite stay with the earlier -51B. or C models.

      • Michael McCrath

        (I got bounced out of my previous entry before I could finish.)

        About absolute speed at a qualitative indicator of a fighter’s worth:

        As the war proceeded, it became clear to aircraft manufacturers and designers of all nations that sheer maneuverability was not the be-all, end-all of fighter excellence. In fact, the vast majority of kills were made from ambush, with few aerial acrobatics involved. You simply snuck up behind some unwary opponent who had failed to heed his instructor’s advice about checking his six frequently. You then line up, pull the trigger, and watch the poor fellow melt to slag. As the Brits would say “Bob’s your uncle.”

        What did seem to count most was sheer speed. If you had that, you could engage or disengage at will and thus control the process of battle. However, even that can’t be pushed too far. A speed differential between two planes of, say, 5, 10, or even 20 mph made little difference. Bf 109G pilots flying their 389 – 415 mph mounts against 437 mph Mustang Ds considered their speed to be quite adequate. Most air combat of the day was being done at speeds between 200 and 300 mph anyway, so the only time absolute top speed entered the equation was in pursuit of, or in flight from, the enemy. But even then you’d need a speed differential in excess of 30 mph to have a telling effect. If someone is in range and he firewalls it and manages a speed 30 mph in excess of yours, he’ll be a smoking hole in the ground long before he clears your guns. Conversely, if he’s two miles away from you and you have a 30 mph speed advantage, it’ll take you four minutes at full throttle to reach him. Four minutes at full throttle with an Allison, a Merlin, A Griffon or a Diamler Benz, is pretty much sufficient to cook your engine. Besides, your opponent’s probably leading you back deep into his own territory anyway, so even if you get him you end with a wrung-out engine and probably a dwindling fuel supply, and all that deep in enemy territory. Not a good situation. In sum, even the vaunted and all-important speed advantage seems to disappear occasionally. I’ve gone up against 200 mph RV4s in mock combat with a little 130 mph Mooney Mite and come out on top in the majority of encounters. A good friend of mine, Mike Edwards, blew a MiG-15 out of the sky during the Hungarian revolt using a Bf 109 (the previously-mentioned Jumo-powered Avia variant.), an F4U-5 Cosair knocked down a Mig in Korea, and Hawker Sea Furies got a couple in the same conflict. P-51s claimed any number of Mig probables, and had they been equipped with anything more potent than their sextette of ma-duces, there likely would have been a few Mig aces among P-51 jockies in korea.

        Finally, as a response to “geemoney’s earlier post: The P-51K did not have a 480 mph top speed. The K model was simply a P-51D with a canopy that bulged out a bit more in the back for better rearward visibility, a General Motors Aeroproducts prop in place of the Hamilton-Standard model, and slightly different pressure relief grills up front in the cheek positions. Its performance was otherwise idential to that of the P-51D. “Eemoney” might be thinking of the P-51H, which, by the way, reached the front in the Pacific literally a couple of days too late to see combat.

        Again, who’s the best, the Spitfire or the Mustang? The best answer has to be: it depends.

  39. Ess-Tee-Emm

    On pure speed and other factors:

    I was lucky enough to have a nice, long, one-on-one lunch with Douglas Bader (what a character and an inspiration he really was) many, many years ago, during which he told me that while he thought the early-model Spitfires (I and II) the better aircraft (obviously), the Hurricane – nearing obsolescence as an interceptor even in 1940 – was perfect for the job required during the air battles over south-east England because at that point, the differences in speed were in reality marginal (mostly) against both the single- and twin-engined German fighters at the height they took place and with everyone milling about the sky often at speeds far less than the maximum they could do … and boost was there if absolutely needed.

    If I remember correctly, he said the Hurricane could turn inside the 109 AND the Spitfire, and outclassed the 110 in every area … except speed and armament. He and Pete Brothers, who I never knew, have said that many pilots during the battle preferred the Hurricane because the grouping of the eight .303s was much tighter and set to converge at a range of 200-250 yards or so, which gave much greater hitting power, especially against the German bombers.

    The fabric covering the aft section of the fuselage meant cannon shells and machinegun bullets would simply pass straight through much of the time if they hit in that area. Bader (and Brothers) said it skidded and slipped around at altitude and was hard to fly at height, with much effort required, but said they weren’t that high most of the time so it wasn’t that relevent.

    It was close enough, in other words, especially in terms of speed – but what it lacked in that department, it made up for with other advantages and at that point in history, close enough was good enough.

    The other great example I can think of off the top of my head is RAAF Group Captain the late Clive Caldwell, who is claimed to be the highest scoring P-40 ace (22 in that aircraft) of any of the allied air forces. Most of his victories were German aircraft in the northern African desert … including 109Es and Fs flown by aces.

    As Mr McCrath explains above, it was a case of sneaking up and boom. He later went on to head up the Spitfire wing in Darwin, which had mixed results, although Caldwell’s weren’t and he extended his tally both there and in New Guinea.

    The P-40 was hardly in the same class as the 109, especially the F, although he said it was pretty rugged, well armed and served his purpose. On one occasion, he was attacked flying alone in his P-40 by two 109Es, an ace and his wingman, and shot down one and damaged the other.

    Caldwell probably had above-average ability, and was a good shot even for a good shot, but it’s a classic example again of how certain conditions dictate the battle while others can be less important … depending. Other aspects such as height, pilot ability and good eyesight, armament, the ruggedness of an aircraft or ambush can be decisive over speed or manoeuvrability (witness the AVG in China as well). He was also a bit of a maverick, even into old age and before his death!!, and being more of a maverick than the next guy probably helps quite considerably in the circumstances these men found themselves in.

    Despite that, he never really bragged about his experiences, and disliked his nickname of “killer”, although once he warmed to the theme he could recount much of it quite technically.

    • Michael McCrath

      Your (or Bader’s) evaluation of the Hurricane was spot-on. It was a slower machine by a significant amount — the 2c model barely reaching 300 mph — but it was a perfect bomber-getter, and that’s exactly how the Brits used it. They sent their Spits after the 109s while the Hurricanes polished off the bombers. A perfect one-two punch! However, it fell short in performance when compared to the 109E. If there were no Spitfires and the Hurricane had been obliged to go it alone, Lord Haw-Haw might have become Britain;s new Prime Minister!

      I once in the early 80s had an opportunity to meet Dolphy Galland through a mutual friend, and I questioned him about his famous tribute to the Spitifre. (When asked by Goering what, as General of Fighters, he needed to defeat the RAF, he replied “Spitfires.”) Galland told me that by no means did he mean to praise the Spitfire per se; he was only trying to goad Goering into pressuring Herr Messerschmitt to jack up the performance of the 109 at his earliest convenience, which he subsequently did with the 109F.

      As to the P-40: an extraodinarily underated aircraft in its later iterations! The earlier Tomahawks were unquestionably sub-par, and their designer, Don Berlin, knew it. The P-40E, however, was another matter. While it was held back by its single-stage, single-speed blower Allison, the airframe did have possibilities (note the too-lilttle, too-late P-40Q…). However, once equipped with the Spit V’s Merline 21 engine in the “F model, it became quite the little performer. Unfortunately, that variant was short-lived, due to the scacity of Merlins at the time. In that configuration, though, it had a top speed nearing 380; a rate of climb just over 3,000 fpm with half-a-tank of gas; a lively roll rate of about 200 degrees per second, could cut a turning radius equal to that of the Spit IX, and of course could dive like a rock. .All-in-all, contrary to your statement above, it was every bit the equivalent of the Bf 109F, and in some areas superior, and it proved so over and over again in the African campaign. I can tell you for sure that no Spitfire IX pilot in his right jmind would try to stay with any P-0 in a Split-S or Immelman! The original Spitfires were horrific in the aileron roll department, and in fact, the Martin B-26 marauder could actually outroll a Spitfrire IX!

      That’s something you never hear about, though, which brings up another matter. “Great” planes are made so by a number of factors, not the least of which is publicity. Thus, a superb machine that rarely sees combat will not be hailed as a “great” plane, and the Macchi 202-205 series Italian fighters stand as a perfect example of that. Technically and performance-wise, they were among the best in the war in nearly every category. But, they appeared in such small numbers, and made so little impact on the outcome of the conflict, that they are now relegated to no more than an interesting footnote in history. One hangs in the Smithsonian air museum in Wash D.C. A curator there once told me that their visitors’ typical response to its presence is, “what’s that?” You don’t get that around the Thunderbolt, Spitfire,and Mustang exhibits!

      And once the publicity train gets rolling, it’s pretty hard to stop. The P-40’s reputation was built on the premist that it was an inferior machine that was being made to do the impossible via good old Yankee Inginuity plus a dollup of clever and talented leadership in the person of Claire Chennault. It made a great story at the beginning of the war, and was, all-in-all, a terrific morale-builder. Just imagine, implied the stories, what we’ll soon be able to do with really great equipment if we’re able to smack em around so badly with the inferior stuff! Sadly, that became the P-40’s legacy, and its lot in life, so that its later accomplishments, such as those in the hands of such luminaries as Klller Caldwell, tended to get overlooked.

    • Nick

      I also had the great privilege of meeting Bader during my RAF career, when he visited our mess at RAF Biggin Hill, a station very familiar to him from WWII.

      Did you know that Bader was not the only legless Spitfire/Seafire pilot? The other was Fleet Air Arm pilot Colin Hodgkinson. As he flew mostly over water, he was concerned that his aluminum legs would pull him down in the event of a ditching, so he filled them with table tennis balls. When testing a new mark of Seafire with the 60-series two-stage Merlin, climbing rapidly, he suddenly heard loud explosions and threw the plane into violent manoeuvers to escape the “cannon shells.” Then he realized that the explosions were the balls were exploding in the rarified altitude.

  40. Ess-Tee-Emm

    Michael: Much has been written about this, even more said, but … Bader expressed in quite certain and eloquent terms (well, OK, some of the other type of expression crept in too especially when he was talking about his German opponents) that the speed advantage of the two German fighters was negligable in most combat situations experienced during the battle, and the Hurricane could easily out turn them both … his contention, and he was Johnny on the spot at the time so he must be given some credit, was that the Hurricane could go against a 109 and even with pilots of equal ability, the Hurricane would not generally be at a disadvantage. He said the only real worry from the 110 was its heavy forward-firing armament and that once they were cornered, their only hope of escaping was to set up a wagon-train kind of circle, or dive.

    While that perespective on the 109 and the Hurricane might be a contentious argument among Spitfire and 109 pilots, those who never flew the aircraft or are now debating it 70 years later with the beneft of 20/20 hindsight, I’ve read and heard plenty of well-documented views from those who flew it in combat that also support Bader’s view.

    Evaluations by the RAF using a captured 109E (flown by George Stainforth) in mock combats against both Hurricane and Spitfire appear to support the view as well. I get the feeling from reading it that the RAF were quite surprised by their findings and by Stainforth’s opinion (remember, it was for pilots’ consumption, not public’s, and aimed at winning a war and staying alive, so we can discount jingoism as a factor). Without guys like Bader still around to tell us all this, and how it actually worked when push came to shove, Stainforth’s account is probably one of the few remaining and makes for fascinating reading: Generally, he found the 109 struggled to shake the Hurricane after the initial turn, even in a climb aimed at setting up another attack, and wasn’t particularly manoeuvrable. He also found it very heavy on the ailerons at high speed. When the 109 went up against the Spitfire II in the mock combats, the result was very similar … except the Spitfire took a little longer than the Hurricane to get on the 109’s tail in the turning contest. I believe Bob Tuck flew the RAF fighters. I imagine the 109 could escape and evade both in a dive, but then it was leaving the fight. Those evaluations can now be found quite readily on the internet, along with the other posted above from the end of the war. They are two quite interesting bookends.

    As for the P-40 not being up to the standard of the 109F overall (that word again), it’s also from Caldwell’s own mouth. Again, it had that problem: wasn’t much good at altitude, but then in the desert (and in China and the south-west Pacific, in New Guinea etc) most combats took place lower down, which completely negated the advantage of the German fighter (and the Japanese) and gave the P-40 some of its own. However, he said he really liked the P-40 (he flew Tomahawks and Kittyhawks) and I think he learned to make the most of whatever advantages it did have. In fact, again in his words, he thought it had plenty going for it and very little going against it. He did say it had a very tight turn and could evade or stay on the 109 in that scenario. He had a good oinion of SOME Italian fighters, and said their pilots were very skilful.

    We’ve moved way off topic here, haven’t we … still, it’s interesting stuff for those who like it.

    • Michael McCrath

      To be sure, these posts have experienced a bit of what we call in educational circles “curriculum drift.” But that’s okay, because it all comes full circle anyway. And at the close of the circle it finally comes down to the pilot him/herself. I can tell you from first-hand experience, a seasoned pilot in a mediocre airplane can trump a novice in a superb machine any day of the week. And as to the contentions of those who were there: they’re certainly not to be marginalized by any stretch, but I’ve sat in on numerous air ace conventions featuring pilots both Axis and Allied (many of whom have become life-long friends with one another, by the way), and opinions differ and often heated words get exchanged about the virtues of this or that airplane. An Allied pilot who flew in a squadron whose run-out time-builder was a Bf 109G6 can’t see how the Germans could stand to fly it, and that narrow undercarriage, by the way, was “just plain scary;” a Focke Wulf test pilot who was used to the “automatic” Fw 190 flew a P-47 at Rechlin-Roggenthin and declared that the machine kept one so busy in the cockpit minding this or that instrument or switch, or rollng elevator trim in and out, or keeping the engine temp in the zone with cowl flaps, or watching the mixture, or keeping an eye out for carb ice, or monitoring the flashing red “turbo” light, that there simply was no time to concentrate on the fight. In sum, it’s all what you get used to, I suppose.

      Then the post-war authors get into the fray and add fiction to the contention. William Green, writing in Famous Fighters of the Second World War (First Series), states flatly that: “The Bf 109G could not be flown in a landing ciircuit with flaps and undercarriage down other than at full throttle…” (P 14). Although a great fact gatherer generally, absurd statements of such nature mark Green as a non-pilot clearly out of his element, (Logic should intervene here, even for the non-pilot. How does a plane with such flight characteristics get off the ground in the first place?) The trouble is, these fables get digested and retold by persons interested in aviation history, and at length they become “facts.” This is the very means by which we hear that the latter P-80 models had a thinner wing; that the Spitfire had a habit of losing ailerons in a dive; that the early Martin B-26 really was a dangerous airplane (as opposed to being a really good one subjected to the machinations of the era’s indifferently-trained pilots); that the A6M5-series Zeros could climb at over 4,000 fpm and Grumman FM-2s could never best them in such a contest (it couldn’t and they could), and finally, that P-40s were a waste of perfectly good aluminium and deserved to get bulldozed ASAP onto the scrap heap of history.

      Fortunately, as time has passed the scholarship has improved immeasurably. One of the first monthly magazines to do uncompromising, propoganda-free research and set many records straight was the late, lamented “Wings/ Airpower” series. Although its writing was atrocious and editors were seemingly banned from the building, its facts were spot-on, and much was added to the corpus of aviation history by its mere presence. Its pages often featured the minutiae of old friend and pioneer fact detailer Pete Bowers, who couldn’t tell a story for beans, but made up for it by being a master encylopediast and a consumate pilot who “walked the walk.”

      “Aviation History” magazine has in part stepped in to fill the “Wings/ Airpower” vacuum, although AH is somewhat shorter on detail than on stories. Time will tell here…

      Meanwhile, the many good titles that continue to emanate from reliable sources, both in the U.S. and abroad, hone detail and add accuracy to the mountains of data already available. At the end of WW II my dad insisted that it would take 100 years to tell all the personal stories the war held. I scoffed at the time, but now I bellieve he was probably short by about two-thirds.

      Finally, a note about jingoism and propganda seeping into official reports: Don’t be fooled by mere logic! One would assume such reports would be value-free, because how else would they be of assistance in getting to the truth? Trouble was, they weren’t, not by a long shot! One of the great weaknesses of warfare is underestimating one’s enemy, and both sides did that to the extreme during WW II. Of course, in the process trhey sabotaged their own cause. One becomes a product of one’s own times and culture, after all, and few are the folk who can escape that reality.

      Long after Koga’s famous Alaskan Zero was discovered and its secrets unvailed, the War Dept. continued to publish obsolete information about the plane’s actual capability. Why? Because it was what we chose to believe, facts be damned.

      And in another war domain altogether, regard the Mk 42 situation. In numerous trainilng films the narrator insisted that this German 1,200 rpm, 7.9mm fireball’s “bark was worse than its bite.” In truth, it was the other way around, And how many Allied troops died for that bit if bravado?

      In 1942 anthropologist Geoffery Gorer was asked to do a “national character” study on the Japanese, so that we would better know how to deal with them in warfare as well as later in peace. His study, finally released in late 1944, indicated that they were “sneaky, oily, untrustworthy, back-biting, suicidal, robotic,” etc. In other words, the only data Gorer had to work with (being unable to journey to Japan just then to do proper participant observation) was Allied propaganda. Thus, essentially he fed the War Department back its own leaflets and called it a study. So much for jingoism-free official reports!

      (By the way, if you’re interested in seeing pictures of my current “fun” machine {as opposed to my 182}, go to the Mooney Mite web site. Just Google “Mooney Mite Web Site,” and look under “Mite of the Month” for — if memory serves — the year 2000. Otherwise, search the site under N283DE.)

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        Nice one that, mate!! Love the paint job too. That is a beautiful-looking aircraft.

        I was sceptical too, regarding the RAF reports, but they look like they’re properly done. Like I say, I got the feeling from reading Stainforth’s evaluation that they were all, well, a bit surprised. It was sent off to someone in the Air Ministry by Halahan in expanded form, where it did appear to have been jazzed up a tad. The other end of the spectrum is Pete Brothers, who said he was quite fearful of 109s … as you would be.

      • Michael McCrath

        One of the more fascinating aspects of doing research as a curator for Seattle’s Museum of Flight was in the myriad of ways various cultures deal with their conclusions about enemy equipment. The Americans seem to get very defensive about it all, insisting that, while differences exist between their stuff and that of the foes, those differences always add up to: advantage U.S.

        The Germans, on the other hand, seem almost self-effacing in their conclusions, assuming that any dfferences in equipment were to their ultimate detriment. Edgar Shmued, who had been project manager on the original Bf.109 and later emigtrated to the U.S. and worked for North American Aviation to help design the P. 51, contacted some of his old German colleagues after the war. After a long chat, it was deteremined that the German engineers had actually wind tunnel tested captured P. 51s for even more hours than did North American during its original design phase of the aircraft! They wer determined to find out how the damn thing went so fast and assumed from the get-go that the Americans were right and they were wrong. That was the Germans.

        Thje Japanese quietly learned from enemy equipment, took its designs, revamped them, and turned out superior products. (And they’re still at it!) When Admiral Perry hove his Black Shiips into Tokyo Bay in 1

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        Sorry Michael, left the comment reply at the end of the thread on the next page. I’ve done this one twice too. Cheers. I had another bit of a look at the Mighty Mite site today … really good stuff. I assume they’re also pretty rare these days. I like the story about the dad and the son (previous owner of yours) painting their aeroplanes up in camo. The story of the design is great too.

  41. Ess-Tee-Emm

    As for the Spitfire-Hurricane one-two punch, that is part myth, part reality. It’s part reality because individuals engaged in the battle realised it might be the best way to do things and might do it wherever it was possible, and part myth because it wasn’t official policy and there was very little time to organise anything like a split attack except to get squadrons up when a raid was coming in.

    In reality, the controllers on the ground put up whatever was available at the time; whatever got there first, Spitfires or Hurricanes, played, to use a popular rugby coaching term, whatever was in front of them … bombers, fighters or combinations of both.

    As a result, Hurricanes shot down an awful lot of 109s and 110s during the battle, and Spitfires shot down a lot of bombers. Ideally, it was recognised the one-two punch you describe would work best, but in practice it generally didn’t work out that way.

  42. Ess-Tee-Emm

    And no doubt you also discovered that the British nearly always muddled through, somehow developing great designs and rescuing good strategy from near disaster, all in the face of official interference driven by old boys’ networks and nasty, personal internal political agendas.

  43. Ess-Tee-Emm

    Sorry Michael, left the comment reply at the end of the thread on the next page. Cheers. I had another look at the Mighty Mite site today … really good stuff. I assume they’re also pretty rare these days.

  44. Snorts

    Nice thread. Nice, but full of data that is just flat-out wrong.

    First, the P-51 smoked the Spitfire in a dive, both in acceleration and top end. The Mustang stayed controllable up to mach .80, faster than any other plane mentioned in the above discussion. Just remove any idea the Spit could even compete with it in a dive, it couldn’t. The Mustang was probably the best airplane in a dive in the entire war.

    The Mustang owned the Spitfire in a zoom climb. The thing that bedeviled it in sustained climb (the fact it was the typical fat piggish and heavy US design) gave it an inertia that the Spit couldn’t hope to compete with.

    Roll rate was a wash. If you were puttering around at low speeds, the Spit was better. At high speeds, the Mustang was better, and in fact was the best rolling platform at high speeds in the entire war. You can look it up.

    Turn radius, once indicated airspeed dropped, favored the Spitfire. At higher speeds, the Mustang could pull 9 G’s, the models were stressed for that. It is one reason they were so freaking heavy. The Spitfire could pull more G’s at slower speeds, as we all know. One way the H shed weight was the decision to stress it for lower G’s.

    Range? Please don’t even pretend. You can’t hang but so much fuel on a bird, you know. You are risking sending the plane out farther than it can return if the range in externals exceeds the range on internal. The Pony wins this in a landslide.

    Sustained climb favored the Spitfire. Not as much as you might think, however. It all depended on boost or inches of mercury the plane was capable of. A Mustang could be a B or C or D model, pulling 67, 70, 72, 75, 80, or even 81 inches of manifold pressure. Climb rates went up accordingly.

    The Spitfire did not out-accelerate the Mustang. The Pony was the best accelerating allied bird in the ETO. At higher boosts, it wasn’t even close. This includes the P-38, unless you use the fastest Lightnings versus the heaviest and lowest powered Mustangs (P-38L vs early P-51D).

    4 x 20 mm beats 6 x 50, no question. Anything else is either a wash, or favors the Mustang.

    Ground attack? Pony was, despite its detractors, a superb ground attack bird. It carried a big load a long way at a high cruise speed, got in, hit the target and got out. More E/A were destroyed on the ground in the ETO by Mustangs than any other type. You can look it up.

    Speed? The top speeds for the Spit 14 were extrapolated for a boost the Griffon was never cleared for. The B and C models were tested at over 450 mph BY THE BRITS. The classic 437 listed for the D is at the bottom end….with a full load of fuel. Don Gentile tested a D model with drop tank racks at 445 mph, 67 inches HG. This would be the condition a Mustang would be in for many, many of its combats.

    This brings up another point, by summer of 1944 Mustangs, many US and nearly all British Mustangs, were flying with higher boost settings. British Mustang 3’s could exceede 400 mph on the deck at 25 pounds/67 inches hg. This gave the bird 2000 horsepower, and MUCH better climb and speed performance up to 22-24K. You do not see comparisons using anything other than 67 inches of mercury, the 72, 75, 80 and 81 inches Mustangs routinely pulled with 145 or 150 octane fuel are ignored, as far as performance….the “stock” 67 inches is always used, even when comparing Mustangs to late marks of other types. And, over half the Mustangs in the ETO at VE day were other than D models….the B, C and even Allison Mustangs served in numbers until the end of the war in Europe. The 67 inch D models performance, easily the worst of the Mustang family, is nevertheless used routinely for comparisons, and it is not really representative of what a huge number of P-51s were capable of at War’s end.

    80 percent of all aerial kills, from the beginning of aerial combat to the present day, are of the unobserved “bounce” type. Hard turning dogfights are the exception, not the norm. The Mustang was perhaps the best plane ever built, comparatively, for that. Combine great visibility, range, great high altitude performance and superb diving with a superb zoom back up to altitude, AND good to great performance at all altitudes, deck to 35,000 feet, and you had a tremendous boom and zoom platform. And, the numbers bear this out. If you outdive and outrun the other guy, nothing says you have to turn with him.

    So, I guess if you artificially constrain a combat to a one on one head on approach at moderate speed, basically forcing a slower and slower turning fight, the Spit had an advantage. However…NO airforce built planes to do that by wars end….the powers that be knew what the winning combination was….performance and speed. The Mustang was just absolutely superb at that…taking the fight to the enemy. Just as the Spit had the advantage at low speeds, the Pony was fantastic at high speeds.

    BTW, the Mustang was cleared for aircraft carrier landings. It just was never needed.

    US pilots flew Spitfires rather extensively in the Med. In Group after Group, as soon as the switch was made to the Mustang, the kills exploded. Losses went up too. All to be expected once range lets you go look for the other guy, WAY out there, rather than fly orbits around the airfield for 45 minutes.

    For every German you can find that feared the Spitfire, I’ll find you one that feared the Pony. Hartmann talks about the great respect he had for the p-51, as they were faster and newer than his G model 109. I’ll tell you this, a lot more Pilots didn’t come home after not seeing a P-51 than any other type in the ETO, regardless of which they feared more.

    I could go on and on….there was a Joint Fighter Conference, staffed by pilots from the Army, navy, civilian….they picked the Mustang as the best plane overall below 25,000 feet. The P-47 was chosen over 25,000 feet. For every pilot youcan find that like plane “X” best, I’ll name you one that like plane “Y” better.

    Mustangs were outnumbered routinely in the decisive air battles of Jan-Apr 1944. As has been noted, one Group would guard an entire bomber stream, 16 planes in front and 16 on each side. The Germans easily focused more planes in an attack than there were Mustangs to defend. Period. Looking at stats that say 400 allied planes escorted the bombers….sure, and all but a Group had turned back by the time the Germans attacked.

    My Dad flew both types extensively. He loved his P-47N, and went to war in it. When pressed, however, he readily admitted the Mustang did everything better except top end at about 27000 feet, with a couple of exceptions. The Jug had more firepower, and was tougher. It got pilots back home when other types would have given up the ghost long ago. No wonder its pilots loved it.

    Rant over. Like whatever plane you wish, but lets keep the facts straight.

    • Nick

      I’m all for keeping the facts straight. The Spitfire wing was one of the outstanding ones in aviation history, being both light, strong and able to house massive firepower, while maintaining both relatively low landing speed and mild stall characteritics, a combination that the P-51 could never match, and neither could the brilliant Kurt Tank (Fw-190) or Willy Messerschmitt (Bf/Me-109.)

      Your statement on diving speeds is nonsense. Twice, Supermarine test pilots dived Spitfires to Mach .9 – over 600mph – without problems (the propeller and reduction gear on one departed the aircraft, which was landed safely, but that had nothing to do with the wings.) In fact, the Spitfire wing was superior in transsonic speeds than those of early jets.

      Just diving fast itself is not enough. The ability to manoeuver during, and pull out of, high-speed dives is also paramount. The 109’s controls froze in fast dives, and the notoriously weak wing was apt to come off if a pilot was too forceful in recovering from a dive by means of elevator trim.

      As for climb rate, once the 60-series double-supercharged, intercooled and aftercooled engines were installed (Mk. IX et seq) the Spit could outclimb virtually any contemporary. There are several accounts of pilots climbing past 190s and telling about the astonished look on their pilots’ faces as the Spits blasted past.

      The later marks of Spit could out-dive, out-climb and out-turn the ’51. In the end, the most telling factors are these: 1) Most Luftwaffe pilots feared the Spit more than the ’51; 2) Most USAAF fighter pilots (those not biased by patriotic loyalty) preferred the Spit to the ’51.

      If you would like to read about the Merlin engine, try to get a back-issue of the Sept. 2009 Aviation History and read my article “The Magnificent Merlin” in it. I give due credit to both Spit and P-51.

    • mike gee

      Glad you stood up for the mustang, Snorts- these “spit” lovers will have you believing their on mythology that the Spitfire even had a small kitchen in it, serving hot tea and muffins ,if you let them! Tests by the Brits and Americans at Bascombe Downs and Wright Airfield bare out what you posted. The Brits were more conservative and wouldn’t have tweaked their acft to higher boost performance UNLESS it was mission specific- I remember an air show in Riverside,CA where a former P-51 mechanic admitted he’d ramp up the output on the already taxed engines for his pilots because they wanted that speed- teast showed you can get the heavier D model to climb several hundred feet/min faster and at 450 mph routinely.the spit could outdive and out turn the Mustang but not by as much as fan boy posters claim- and stats by Both Brit testing and American testing prove this! And the 20mms? Hispamo cannons were terribly unreliable in the early part of the war- but Spit lovers never admit this! Neither will they admit that even with the API .303 rounds, a spitfire could “run dry” trying to take out a single enemy acft! Both the Spitfire and mustang were susceptible to cooling system hits, but the P-51 was a better attack fighter with heavier payload carrying ability!( A Mustang SANK an enemy destroyer with “weaker” .50 cal guns alone!!! Hmmmm…) And even though the Spit IX and XIV were available in ’42 , the Brit pilots still could impose their will over Northern France airspace, until ’44- mainly cause they had to worry more about running out of gas like the Luftwaffe did over England in ’40 and ’41. Even top ace Doug Bader got shot down by the luftwaffe, while flying a “superior Spitfire”. Pilots love the acft they felt at home in- very few P-47 drivers wanted Mustangs, and vice versa. Soviet pilots prefered the lowly P-39 air cobra to the lend lease Spitfires they got, and I’m sure its the same for Spit drivers- that does not mean an acft is superior to any others unless you look at their mission capabilities- mustangs did every thing a spit could do, and did it farther !

    • mike gee

      Snorts- I read your reply about the superior performance aspects of the P-51 mustang in combat. It was a great plane, but you have to remember that most of the posters here are probably Brits or “former commonwealth” folks who see the Spitfire as the WW2 savior of “empire”. The Spitfire, from the Mark IX to XIV was comparable to the P-51 B/C/D in many ways and perfromed better in some aspects, but lagged in others. Many will harp on the Spitfires ability to climb( but never show actual war time figures, and only rely on “pilots bias” or maximum performance in TESTS- “ever NOTICE” they don’t show maximum performance tests of the mustang???). And the ” it out turns the mustang! BIG friggin whoop- when you can’t out run , outclimb, or out dive your enemy, you run around in circles ’til you puke or the other guy quits chasing!) The pro Spit folks also refuse to admit that the mustang intercepted and FOUGHT axis fighters as WELL as the Spitfire, BOMB trucked BETTER than the Spitfire, was a BETTER escort acft, and had the range advantage over the spitfire in all variants up and including the mark XIV ! (Want to intercept and shoot down enemy acft? Call the Spitfire. Want to intercept, fly to the FAR AWAY terroritory of, and deny airspace of enemy acft by shooting them down- CALL THE MUSTANG) Its amazing that the “superior” spitfire I- XIV was counted many times over on the kill records Luftwaffe, fascist Italian, and even Imperial Japanese aces , and that the “inferior” mustang( and according to some posters here) the “inferior” pilots – like Gentile, Preddy, Blakesley, and Preddy, actually were able to beat better pilots , especially the Luftwaffe flying acft like the ME 109 and FW 190 that deviled the brits so much they had to keep creating. A dozen combat variants to handle them while only five mustang variants were needed in all theaters of combat. But whatever- to me the mustang is the best overall fighter of WW2. Other acft including the Spitfire can also lay claim to that title based on what their admirers feel .

  45. Geoff Collins

    Which spitfire and which Mustang? At what altitude and performing what task? The most numerous and histically significant P-51 was the D model, which would have been contemporaneous with the Griffin powered Spitfire IXV. The Spit IXV outclimed, out-turned and, to a lesser extent, outran the P-51D. So it should have – it had several hundred more ponies on tap. The Spit two cannon and two .50 cal machine-guns against the 51s six fifties – the USAAF calculated the one 20 mm cannon was worth three .50 cal mgs so the Spit gets the nod for firepower too. And while its pilots praised the P-51s handling it is doubtful it could match the Spitfires reputation as an intuitive, almost viceless aircraft.
    But, and it is a huge but, the P51 was within a whisker of being as good as a Spit, and it was incomporable as an escort fighter. Here was a plane that could fly hallf way across Europe and compete with the best when it got there. Brilliant.
    I read an article by one of the RAFs top test pilots (sorry can’t remember his name) who got to fly just about every allied and axis aircraft after the war. His pick as best dogfighter? Spit IVX, followed by FW190D and then the P51D, with the proviso that you could throw a postage stamp over the three of them. His American couterpart, one of Grummans top pilots described the Hellcat and Corsair as plodding workhorses to the Seafires dashing Arabian stallion (he flew the P51 at the same meeting). And one of the Luftwaffe guys in charge of evaluating captured aicraft said the Spitfire V was “..a dream…my real baby…I had never flown an aircraft like this”
    So, best dogfighter? Spit by a long nose. Best escort fighter? P51 by about a thousand miles.

    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      Geoff, sorry, the test pilot I believe was Captain Eric Brown, not Alex Henshaw. I always get them mixed up as they were involved in similar work. His well-known quote is he’d preferred to have been fighting the Luftwaffe in a Spitfire, just not over Berlin as he’d never have got home. He thought the two aircraft, all things considered, about equal – but, as many of us have all said on here, quite different relative to their advantages and disadvantages.

      Perhaps that’s why this argument is ultimately moot.

  46. Ess-Tee-Emm

    Geoff: The test pilot was Alex Henshaw, who liked all three you mentioned, but preferred the Spitfire. He flew just about every fighter aircraft used in WWII, minus some of the Japanese ones. During the Battle of Britain, he crash-landed a Spitfire in a row of backyards in London and somehow survived with a few bumps and scratches. He also tested captured German jets.

    And come on Snorts, don’t just present a whole bunch of empirical data and dodgy hearsay evidence and present it as fact. Sweeping statements are great but they mean diddly-squat unless they’re sourced and attributed and based on evidence that actually exists. You’ve only atttributed a small amount of this to any sources, and they don’t tally with info I have that does carry attributions.

    Perhaps you are confusing Spit marks, perhaps not, but 90 per cent of what you’ve written regarding performance is not backed up by comparative data: the Air Fighting Development Unit comparative tests conducted at the end of the war.

    The Mustang wasn’t the best diving platform either … the Thunderbolt was. The roll rate and firepower of the P47 was one of the best of any fighter of WWII too. It just couldn’t climb. This is not only fascinating stuff, but illuminating. I discount any nationalistic bias too because a) In my experience, the RAF is a highly professional orgainsation and b) the RAF loved the Mustang III and the comparisons made their own British Hawker Tempest look pretty ordinary in many ways.

    But the way you’ve presented your case, with respect, you just sound like one of those Americans who can’t stand to come second at anything – and of the if we didn’t invent it, then it can’t be any good school.

    The Spit 19 and 21, according to the AFDU and Air Ministry data, pulled away from the Mustang III in initial acceleration, and it was only marginally faster than the 9. The 21 looked to open a considerable gap. By the late marks, the rate of roll was about the same … and not just at lower speeds.

    The Mustang pulled away markedly from the 9 in a dive, but could be caught in the climb if that was how it panned out. It also pulled away from the 14 and 21 but not as much and the advantage was negated after the dive, especially against the 21.

    The truth is, the later marks of Spitfire were superior to the Mustang III, according to the data, in almost EVERY respect.

    However, they were close enough (as Geoff, says, you could throw a postage stamp over them) to make the Mustang still the best fighter of WWII, overall, especially given its usefulness. However, that fact still doesn’t alter the truths of this argument.

    In the period between late 1943 and the liberation of the low countries in 1944 (when the Spitfire for the first time had the range to get over Germany), the Mustang’s value as a force multiplier is undoubted. It’s doubtful the USAAF without it would have been able to continue the daylight raids that helped smash German capacity to wage war in that period.

    I give it the nod purely for that … usefulness. Force projection and multiplication are key in strategic terms and given how good it was overall, that was where it was superlative and had no peer.

    As for your contention regarding Mustangs being outnumbered over Europe, it’s a nonsense. But when they might have been, the US pilots had the edge anyway. Most were veterans by then, and were ranged largely against inexperienced pilots. Very few German experten were still warm and vertical in 1944.

    But in any argument as to which was the better dogfighter and which was the most feard of the two opponents, their actual opponents – the abovementioned German aces – are unequivocal (read JG54): The Spitfire wins hands down.

    They’d really be the guys who’d know, too, having faced them both, rather than a bunch of folk like us pontificating about it 65 years down the track or arguing that we knew guys who flew Spitfires, or Mustangs, or dreamt about them.

    I disagree with your view too about bounce attacks. Certainly it was true in the Pacific, where no American fighter could keep turning with some of the better-known and more manoeuvrable Japanese fighters, so they (cleverly) used their advantages in other areas such as dive, speed and firepower in slashing attacks.

    That was less the case in Europe. While eveyone got bounced, veterans of the air battles over south-east England and the channel in 1940 will tell you the other side of the story. Even slashing attacks turned into hectic, turning melees. So it was bounce, frantic turning fight, then clear air.

    US pilots who swapped Spits for P51s in the Med would have been handing in Mark Vs, which had been consigned mainly to that theatre and were really obsolete in 1941 and well past their use-by date in 1942 and 1943 – in 1941, they were just holding their own against the 109F and were outclassed by the 190.

    And whatever you say, no Mustang could turn with a Spitfire. It couldn’t even turn with a Mark I, even if it could leave it for dead in a chase.

    But don’t take my word for it. Very little comparitive data seems to exist, but what little remains is now easily found on the internet. The ADFU stuff is a godsend, because it appears to shoot down any of these let’s believe our own nationalistic bullsh.t arguments (on both sides of the big pond, that is) about performance, and once and for all. It was probably under lock and key for decades, but can now be viewed. The analysis is accompanied by charts and graphs and is quite telling.

    The truth is, based on real information gleaned the hard way at the time and through genuine, against-each-other testing, with most aspects of the late-mark Spitfire and later Mustang performance so close one way or the other, given pilots of equal ability and the unlikely event they’d ever have met in combat, the Spitfire’s turn and firepower gave it a siginificant edge.

    That most of the allies’ opponents, if their own documented accounts are to be believed and I can see no reason why that’s not the case, also believe the same thing is telling too.

    For the record, I’m not British, nor do I have a great love for them, although they’re mostly decent folk in my experience and I think it’s fair to respect them as a great people. On the other hand, I’m a lover of most things American … and especially of the American people, who’ve mostly show me great hospitality on my visits to the US.

    So, I don’t have a dog in this fight, nor an axe to grind.

    In fact I couldn’t care less one way or the other. If the Americans had invented the Spitfire and the British the Mustang, I’d still be of the same view, although I’m certain many of the commentators here would be expressing opinions diametrically opposite to those they’ve expressed on this thread if that were the case.

    I AM, however, a great lover of truth, as opposed to a believer in myth, as entertaining as it is to believe, as comfortable as it is to believe, or as much we’d often love it to be so.

    So, please, at least go away and have a look at the figures and documented accounts, or any other genuine set of comparative figures you can find, sourced and attributed, then come back armed with the REAL facts if you want to have a second pass.

  47. Ron P

    Allied and Axis fighters had roughly equal performance. The difference came down to pilot skill. What made the Mustang so dangerous was its range and numbers. By early 1944 the Germans had started pulling their fighter bases deeper into Germany to avoid the increased range of the P-47’s due to drop tanks. New tactics freed the P-47’s from close bomber support allowing them to follow German fighters away from the bomber formations and run them to ground. The Mustang’s range robbed the Germans of any safe haven, keeping them under threat of attack from take-off to landing.

  48. Ben Nicholas

    Both lengenary great planes with great looks, names,firepower and engine. the mustang eats zero’s the spitfire humiliates messismits (mind the spelling) the best mustang was the p-51 d the best spitfire mark v. The only loser here is the nazis not these great planes!

  49. Mike

    I’ll add my two cents. In my opinion the Spitfire was the most important allied fighter of the war for one simple reason. The Battle of Britain! Although Hurricanes actually shot down more German aircraft during that summer in 1940, the Spitfire allowed The RAF to maintain air superiority thus defeating the German operation -Sea Lion, the invasion of the UK, before it began. At that time the British were completely unprepared to stop or defend against invasion. If the Germans would have gained air superiority over Britain they would have invaded and Britain would have fallen.
    If Britain had fallen the British forces would have been taken out of the war. Thus, North Africa and its resources would have fallen to the Germans and Italians, China and Asia, including India to the Japanese, and there would not have been an allied air campaign against Germany in 1943-45.
    Without the bombing of German industry by both the RAF and Eighth Air Force in 1943-45, as well as all the other operations conducted though Britain in that period the Germans would have been overwhelming on land and in the air and could have won the war.
    They were the first nation with cruise missiles, the V-2, the first with ballistic missiles, the V-1, they had the best tanks, the King Tiger II, and the Panther. They also were ahead in nuclear weapons technology, and were the first nation to develop jet aircraft. Without the use of Britain as a massive aircraft carrier, or forward operating base from which to bomb and harass German industry, and lets not forget all the British airmen, sailors, and soldiers, and their contributions, Germany could have certainly won the war.
    The Spitfire was the right aircraft, at the right place, at the right time to change history for the better!

    Thus: The Spitfire was the most important aircraft of WW2,…. NO QUESTION!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Jon

      I think the Royal Navy operating close to eastern coast would have made Sea Lion very difficult even with a different result in the Battle of Britain. There would still be some RAF planes being built and even if few in number would have helped defend the RN. The RN was an excellent fighting force and I think could have survived in spite of what happened to force Z if it was operating very close to shore with the support of small numbers of the RAF. The RN was simply too good for Sea Lion to be easy. Germany simply didn’t have the sea lift ability nor the ability to protect a large landing on the Isles.

    • Nick

      Well spoken. The Battle of Britain was THE crucial campaign of WWII. With Britain occupied there would have been no D-Day because there would have been nowhere to launch it from. The forced capitulation of all British air, land and sea forces across the globe would have meant that the AFrika Corps would have continued its advance eastward, taking the Suez canal and occupying the Middle East oil fields (removing the Axis’ great Achilles Heel) and linking up with the southern part of the German advance into Russia.

      Although the Pacific war was 95% American, stopping the Jap advance toward India (and linking with the Germans) was a British affair, with their army, plus the gallant Indian army with mainly British commanders, stopping the Japs, who had raced through Malaya and Burma, at the gateway to India. The pivotal battle, on the Imphal-Kohima road, was the Japs’ farthest advance, from which they began a retreat that never reversed.

      With Britain out of the war, all its armament and aircraft factories would have been producing for Germany, the same as the French and other European ones (like Skoda, e.g.) did, there would have been no D-Day or convoys to Russia, the entire German army – other than a token garrison force in Britain – would have been freed up to attack Russia, and Operation Barbarossa would probably have succeeded. America would have signed an armistice with germany and concentrated on the only country to have attacked it or that posed any threat of a future attack, Japan. If the Russians had prevailed, which is highly unlikely, they, instead, would have occupied all of Europe up to the Atlantic and Channel coasts.

      And the “Channel Dash,” where a fleet of two battle cruisers (Scharnhorst and Gneisnau ), plus several destroyers, were able to transit the entire length of the channel – at one point being just 14 miles from England – disproved the revisionist theory that the Royal Navy, most of its heavy units scattered around the globe or in its anchorage in far-away Rosyth and northern Scotland, could have prevented an invasion.

      • krb

        I’m not so sure that the British Navy would have capitulated even if Britain had been occupied. My guess is that in a best case scenario they would have made a hasty run to Canada or the US…Maybe even Austraila…worst case, they would have been scuttled to prevent Germany from being able to use them…That’s the mistake the French navy made, not scuttling their fleet, which resulted in the British having to sink much of the fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, a port near Oran in Algeria, to prevent their possible use by the Germans. As difficult as that must have been…it had to be done.

        I also think that the British factories would not have been all that effective producing for the Germans…something tells me the Brits would not have been all that co-operative in that regard…I’d suspect that most of those factories would have been blown up to prevent Germany from using them.

        Even so, had Britain been occupied…defeating Germany would have been very costly and much more difficult…and we all can thank two things for that…The English Channel and the RAF…

        I’d suppect that the US would have allied more heavily with Russia had Britain been occupied and been able to transport men and material thru the vastness of the Russian interior and take on Germany from the East.

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        One big problem Germany had was range, the Spitfire and Hurricane had short range, the Bf 109 lacked the range to be fully effective against RAF, and the Bf 110 had the range but couldn`t take on Spitfire`s or Hurricanes, so the best Germany could hope for was partial control of the skies over the channel and then RAF would still be able to attack an invasion force, Germany had a very limited period when an invasion might be possible, if they were too late they would run into winter and have to wait till the following year and the defences were being built up all the time, also the Scharnhorst and Gneisnau were helped by the bad weather that would have made a landing very difficult and both were badly damaged and anattempted landing would have given the Navy plenty of time to bring a considerable force if not to stop an actual landing certainly to disrupt any much needed supplies from being brought across

    • krb

      Can’t really argue that point…had the RAF not withstood the onslaught, things would have been much more difficult. Just one point of correction…the V-1 was the cruise missile…the V2 was the ballistic missile.

    • bbear

      To Barrie: you seem knowledgeable. What reference sources are you gettting your data from? I hope you get as far down the posts as the Spitfire handling debate and pilot survival.

  50. VF84PC

    I am going to throw my “two-cents” behind Ess-Tee-Emm
    My favorite aircraft is the Spitfire they look great they are wonderful to fly, etc.
    But lets compare apples to apples. Mk1 to IX were easy to fly beautiful aircraft MKIV and onwards lost that beautiful to fly label The large engine and heavier airframe changed the fly characteristics drastically.
    The Germans had great respect for the Spitfire and the pilots who flew it no doubt. The Germans preferred to Split-S and dive away they new the Spitfire would out turn them and they could out dive the Spitfires.
    The American Pilots who flew the 109 after the war said it was an excellent aircraft its weak point was “heavy elevators at high speed” So it was not a good fighter in a turning battle. IT was meant for speed, dive and zoom. The German Aces called the FW-190 the “Down stairs maid” It’s performance fell off rapidly above 20K feet
    The D-9 was not well liked by the pilots who flew it. It was an stop gap design and it had issues. IT was superior to the standard 190 at high altitude but the experienced German still preferred the 109.
    From 30K to the deck the mustang had them all beat with range to boot. Dave Schilling ex commander of the 56th Fighter group flew both and rates the P-51 head and shoulders above the P-47.
    The 4th Fighter group personnel who started with the Spitfire have nothing bad to say about it, however they prefer the P-51.
    Mission has allot to do with success, I had a P-47 Pilot who flew with the 9th Air Force in WWII and later flew ground support in Korea with the P-51 tell me hands down the Mustang was the better of the two however for close air support “Give me a P-47″ I had an 8th Air Force Pilot that flew escort missions in both tell me he missed the ruggedness of the Thunderbolt but the superior performance of the P-51 allowed them to engage or avoid combat at will. I asked him the big question which is the better He said whats my mission?
    What were the factors that would make the P-51 performance superior to the Spitfire the MK IX and the P-51 had the same engine.
    It comes down to 10 years of Aerodynamic progress. The Laminar flow wing, the P-51 was a very low drag Aircraft and that Airframe mated with the best liquid cooled engine of the war and you have the best piston engine fighter of WWII.
    The canon Vs. machine gun battle has been going on since WWII. Machine guns have more ammo fire faster with a higher muzzle velocity which gives better range. Canon has less rounds and a slower rate of fire but one round of a 20mm will down or seriously damage your foe.
    I know in the Pacific .50 Cal fire would sink a destroyer and the P-47 destroyed many targets in the ETO with 8 .50 cals. The Spit IX had two 20mm and two .50 Cals.
    This comes down to allot of opinion the Mustang had a few vices and they tend to be overlooked due to it’s success. But all things being equal success is the factor so I would rate the P-51 # 1 and the Spifire # 2 That being said the Spitfire the more famous of the two and we are debating this 75 years after it’s first flight. I give credit where it’s due that proves what a outstanding aircraft it was.

    • Nick

      Muzzle velocity and firing rate are not as important as projectile weight and kinetic energy, where the cannon wins very time. Add the ability of cannon fire to destroy by exploding, rather than bashing away until something breaks. Late in the Battle of Britain, the Luftwaffe bombers carried armor to protect the engines and flight crew, and m/gs were useless. As one BoB pilot remarked, on being congratulated on downing a Ju-88 with his Spit 1 (8 .303 m/gs), albeit by using his entire ammunitioon: “I just kept sawing away at it until it more or less gave up.”

      Later Spits had four 20mm cannon. And your account of sinking a destroyer with .5 cal m/gs is pure fantasy. Number of rounds is also unimportant. It was found that, on average, two 20mm cannon hits would down any fighter, and five any medium bomber (which is all the Germans had.) In attacking heavy bombers, like the B-17 and -24, the Germans found that m/gs were close to useless, and used 20mm and 30mm cannon.

      As for fire power, the fighter version of the DeHavilland Mosquito had four 20mm cannon and four .303 m/gs, and one, with a 47mm cannon, riddled a light cruiser in the Skaggerack until, turbines destroyed, it wallowed until sunk by torpedo Beauforts (“Torbeaus.”). But for the ultimate, look to the Bristol Beaufighter, with four cannon and six m/gs. Not a plane you would turn into.

  51. Ben Nicholas

    The brits loved their spits we all know that but the spit went for more difficult planes and left the bomers and less difficult planes to the hurricanes
    We know the yanks loved their mustangs the loved them so much they sometimes personolised them, they aslo went for difficult planes like the zero.
    they both helped win the war
    but who wins well it depends

    • Mike

      The Hurricane was inferior to the BF-109. Bombers were less maneuverable and slower then fighters. Whether the Brits used Spits or Hurricanes to shoot at bombers was irrelevant. Both could do the job just fine. The major concern was the fighters and air superiority. That is why the Spitfire was assigned to deal with the fighters. Spitfires were superior to BF-109. German pilots were by the way superior to all Allied pilots due to experience. The fact that the Spitfire could, while out numbered, and with much less experienced pilots maintain air superiority so Hurricanes could shoot at the bombers says allot about the Spitfire!

      PS The Hurricane is also a British built and designed aircraft! GO READ A BOOK!!!

  52. joe mincola

    Great planes all. I have tryed to read everything i can find about them over the years. Hard to compare as they were built with different purposes in mind. Joe

    • William Robson

      It iis very difficult to compare these great fighters as they are so close in their capabilities. One point I would like to mention is that Richard Bong, our top Ace made all of his kills with the P-38 Lightning. A highly trained and superbly skilled pilot will bring any of these fighters to the fore.A hell of alot of luck must be along for the ride. Bill

      • krb

        Yeah…Chuck Yeager also said the same thing…it’s more the pilot than the airplane. In his biography there is a story where he proved that point when testing a captured (actually gift) Mig 15 against the F86 Sabre. He went up in the Sabre and a fellow pilot went up in the Mig for a mock dogfight…Yeager waxed his tail. Then they switched planes…and Yeager still waxed his tail…

  53. Bryan

    Spitfires shoot more bullets than P-47, lighter and faster, cool aperance, and more comfertible seats!

    • Jon

      Shoots more bullets, ummm, no.

      Maybe shoots more effective ammo, I might buy that but not more.

      Lighter, yes.

      Faster, I think that depends on altitude, climbing, diving, and what versions.

      Is cool appearance a real factor?

      More comfortable seats? Your kidding right, I imagine the difference in seat comfort is not a big factor.

  54. H and B

    we perfer the tempest and corsair,p81 twin mustang and the v

  55. Kieran

    It is quite clear that a lot of the people posting here have very little knowledge of what they are talking about . . .

  56. janp

    It seems the controversy of p-51 vs the spitfire will go on forever. Both planes were some of the most beautifully built planes to ever fly and are still pursued to be seen at air shows all over. I have to admit though I still have a great deal of respect for the f4u corsair. I think its got something to do with the unique wing design or watching too many Black Sheep episodes.

  57. Richard de "Plantagenet"

    I love the Spitfire… I love the Mustang (feral horse?). Roi Rich loved to ride horses, eh? Without our fire spitting aero-machine, we have become Germans. Windsors are. For the Mustang, it really was a flying long-range kind of horse. I would ride on it to hit those Allemands in their Castels or Festung (fortress). J’aime les deux (Spitfire and Mustang). Both wicked!

    (Taking the mick out of this thread. HEHEHHE)

    BOB’s your uncle…

  58. paul wieg------

    p51 spit fire fw190 me109 all very good, a slight disadvantage or advantage could be used to good results. me109 was usually the best climb or dive , fw 190 and even p40 best high speed roll, high speed roll you can evade, , maybe not turn great but evade, spitfire and mustang best all around. me109 lost out on good roll at high speed, but climb like crazy , allways upgrading the spit fire to catch me109 so to up grade these aircraft was on going . me 109 had a rather small engine in 1939 but was a very adaptable design. often commented was., spitfire had trouble against with the fw190 , but was there a very clear advantage, not much, the 190 was a good all around performer, zoom and boom became so important and what made me109 so deadly, not so manuverable at new high speed but catch me if you can,if tight turns were so important you would still fly hurricanes and zeros . some of these new models didnt have much better climb then some of the older slower aircraft , usually hurricane climb rate refers to mk 1 or 2 with small engine, mk5 with 1600 hp extra armour, over 3000 fpm, slow to me109, hurricane could not zoom climb well as could not maintain good momentum . so all interesting spitfire wieght up 2000 lbs by 1945 not the same aircraft

    • Nick

      Ignoring the weird staccato language and lack of punctuation and upper-case letters (is it that hard to press the SHIFT key?) and strange things like “spit fire,” much of this is nonsense. The Fw-190 had the fastest roll rate of any WWII monoplane fighter, but that didn’t stop its being shot down in great numbers by the Spit. and the later Typhoons and Tempests. And when the Spit. IX, with the 60-series two-stage supercharged Merlin appeared, the 190’s initial speed and climb advantage over the Spit. V was reversed.

      The Bf/Me-109 did not have a “small engine.” It started WWII with a 35-liter one (compared with the Spit’s 27-liter.) And the Hurricane Mks. I and II used the same 27-liter Merlin. The Merlin output was steadily increased – without changing its size – from 950 at the beginning of WWII to 2,250 (with 2,650 available for short periods) at the end. Unlike the Spitfire, the Hurricane was never fitted with the 35-liter R-R Griffon. What “3000 fpm”?

  59. Jack

    The Mustang engineers benefited from all the research (and mistakes) and combat of other fighters/nations. It’s high speed was more related to aerodynamics of the scoop and the British invention – “Meredith effect” with it’s buried radiator than to the laminar wings, which rendered it susceptible to high speed stalls. The USAF pilots also benefited from lengthy trg programs, giving them the edge over the enemy pilots who were increasingly inexperienced thanks to the commonwealth pilots. In the end, comparing machines only from 1944, flying from forward airbases in Europe, the Spit X & XIV was more maneuverable and deadly.

    • Nick

      The abbreviation “it’s” means IT IS,so what you wrote, in effect, was “It is high speed … ” and “with it is buried radiator.” The possessive pronoun is, simply, its, with no apostrophe.

  60. krb

    The 1940 Battle of Britain Spitfire was inferior to the 1944 P51 Mustang. Later models closed that gap, but the P51 was the best overall fighter in the war due to its combination of range, maneuverability, and fire power. The original Spitfire was a product of 1930’s technology where as the P51 benefited from advancements in aircraft and engine design. Comparing the two based on the impact they had at the time they were used…then you get a dead heat…both proved vital to the task at hand…one being no less important than the other. The Spitfire along with the Hurricane won the Battle of Britain when Britain was all but on their knees…had Germany occupied Britain…Winning the war would have become extremely complex and more difficult above and beyond what it already was. The P51 on the other hand provided fighter cover for the bomber mission deep into Germany. Without that fighter cover…the bombing campaign would have been all but too costly to continue…and the war would have been prolonged for several years. As a result, Germany would probably have felt the impact of the Atomic Bomb as that would have been the only real effective way to bring them to their knees.

    • Nick

      Your statement that the 51 “benefited from advancements in aircraft and engine design” is erroneous. The later Spitfires not only “closed that gap,” in many respects they were superior to the P-51. The later Griffon-engined Spits were almost totally redesigned and were state of the art for the latter two years of the war, were every bit as fast in level flight as the 51 and they could dive faster (two test pilots dived Spits to Mach .9)

      The 51 was not superior in “manoeuverability and firepower.” The Spit could out-turn the 51 and its 20mm cannon had far greater destructive power than the 51’s .5″ m/guns [it is a total mystery why, when every other combabtant nation had switched to cannon, the US persisted with the .5 m/g through the Korean war, with planes like the F-86 Saber, putting our pilots at a disadvantage. Dumb.] Yes, the P-51 had the greater range and made daylight bombing and the progressive destruction of the Luftwaffe possible, but that was it.

      • krb

        Hey Nick…you make some good points, thanx for responding, but please read my original post carefully…I said the “1940 Battle of Britian” Spit was inferior to the “1944 P51″ and that later models closed that gap. I also said that “overall” the P51 was the best fighter of the war…Certainly the Spit was a great fighter plane, personally one of my all time favorites, and later models in many ways, on certain performance criteria, did surpass what the P51 was able to do…even so, in my opinion and I do believe most historians agree, the P51 was able to accomplish what the Spit was unable to do, and that was to primarily protect the bombers on deep pentration missions into Germany, and the 1944 P51’s ( basically the P51D ) overall performance was second to none. Of course the P51D would never have been the fighter plane that it was without that great British engine…

        Fans of that era’s history have their favorites and opinions…it’s an ongoing discussion that really has no right or wrong answers…mostly just personal preferances based on an educated understanding of the capabilities of the aircraft involved.

    • Nick

      I missed this part. Your statement that “the P-51 benefited from advancements in … engine design” makes no sense. Both the 51 and earlier Spits used the same engine, the R-R Merlin.

      • krb

        Of course they used the same engine…what i was implying was that by the time the P51D came on line, the engine designs had advanced well beyond what the 1940 Battle of Britain engine design offered and because of that, it benefited from those advancements. The whole point of the post was to put into perspective how much technology advanced in the few short years from the Battle of Britain until 1945. My overall comparison of the two aircraft were favorable…(Comparing the two based on the impact they had at the time they were used…then you get a dead heat…both proved vital to the task at hand…one being no less important than the other…) I could talk about this stuff all day long…but some of you guys take it way too seriously…it’s a great subject…and everyone has opinions and preferences…most of them based on historical precidents and informed knowledge…but they are after all…simply opinions…so chill out guys and enjoy this forum and don’t get so wrapped up in putting someone else’s opinion down…

  61. krb

    Having said all that…I’d like to address one of the most unsung aircraft of WWII…the P40. For some reason historians have relgated the P40 to the trash heap of one of the worst aircraft of WWII, and the Zero as one of the all time greats…why I have no idea. Let’s look at the facts. It was faster than its principle opponent the Japanese Zero, it could dive faster, it’s roll rate was quicker, it had excellant firepower, it was more durable, and ended the war with a superior kill to loss ratio over the Zero. Where it fell short was rate of climb, and in a slow speed dogfight where the Zero excelled, it could be out performed. Keep the speed above 250 mph, and the P40 could and often did defeat the Zero. It was actually more maneuverable than many later fighter planes that came along. Also keep in mind the Zero was the most maneuverable aircraft of the War in slow speed dogfight situations…no other fighter could stay with. Where its performance began to fall off is when the fight occurred above 250 MPH…the Zero had problems turning and maneuvering at high speeds, and its skin would buckle in a high speed dive above 350 mph that could cause its wings to fall off. The P40 could dive at close to 500mph. Once the Allies figured that out…the curtain came down on the Zero. The Zero gained its reputation early in the war when the allies were still using outdated dogfighting techniques that played into the strengths of the Zero. The one stupid thing that the allies did, especially the British when they went up against the Zero is that they would court martial a pilot caught diving away from a fight. That single thing cost a lot of pilots their lives. The FlyingTigers proved just how effective the P40 could be when fighting it using its strengths such as superior straight line and diving speed, and maintaining their airspeed during combat. The P40 in my opinion should be raised tothe level of one of the greates fighters of the war.

    • Nick

      As an RAF vet, and son of an RAF WWII (Burma, Malaya) vetI can find no evidence at all that any RAF pilots were court-martialled for “diving away from a fight” in any war theater. That is nonsense. In fact, after a few painfully-learned lessons where Battle of Britain veterans, who would not listen to the experience of survivors of fights with Zeros, were shot down when they tried to dogfight with them, OFFICIAL RAF fighter directions were to dive, shoot and continue diving, then zoom back to the fight.

      • krb

        I stand corrected…my resource was obvious flawed…and I meant no disrespect to the brave pilots of the RAF…

      • krb

        I’m trying to remember the resource I used in reference to the RAF pilots being court martialed…It was an article I read about the P40…I’m sorry i do not remember the authors name…that spoke of some of the early encounters the RAF had against the Zero. His remarks indicated that those early encounters often resulted in some good pilots being shot down because it was incorrectly considered…let me say ‘Bad Taste’ for a combat pilot to do so. He did indicate the court martial thing was part of the problem. As you indicated…I seriously doubt that ever happened, and I’m not sure where he came up with that idea. I do believe that once the RAF pilots learned about the capabilities of the Zero, and other aircraft, they used to great advantage their own planes strengths. I do appoligize if I mis-spoke and suggested anything other than the greatest respect for the RAF.

      • krb

        Hey Nick…I found the article that referenced the court martial thing…
        http://www.chuckhawks.com/p-40_vs_zero.htm. It is reference to the air war against the Japanese in the China/Burma theater where the Flying Tigers tactics of diving from altitude and thru a swarm of bombers / fighters then diving away seemed to be very effective. Still…I doubt that any court martials ever happened…

        Here is the specific paragraph from the article

        The P-40 Warhawk and the A6M Zero

        By Patrick Masell

        …This method of fighting did not go over well with the Chinese and British flyers in the area, either. Initially, British pilots seen diving away from combat would be court-martialed; Chinese pilots seen doing the same would be shot. However, as the Flying Tigers’ success mounted other units adopted their tactics.

    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      One of the top-scoring aces of WWII, Clive Caldwell of the Royal Australian Air Force, racked up his score on P40s (Kittyhaws) in the middle-east battles against the Germans and Italians. He added to his tally flying Spitfires against the Japanese in the South-West Pacific and northern Australia from – yet despite this, his campaign in the mid-east saw him remain the top-scoring P40 ace of any air force during WWII. In one lone engagement, he was attacked by German ace Werner Schroer and his wingman in 109Es. Caldwell shot down the wingman and heavily damaged Schroer’s aircat. Caldwell liked his P40s, claiming the aircraft had few vices. In the desert (and south-west Pacific), where engagements more often than not tended to take place lower down, it proved to be a good aircaft. For someone of Caldwell’s calibre to sing its praises meant that it really was good, and as has been pointed out here, hugely underrated.

  62. Alex

    I’ll say one thing here. Ask the krauts (their aces not the inexperienced ones) who they preferred NOT to go up against as their only bias comes from the fact their lives depended on it. Their only problem with the mustang was that there were too many of them.

  63. Ess-Tee-Emm

    Interesting bit of nonsense all round from KRB. Give yourself an upper cut, man! He does realise the Spitfire and the P51 were powered by the same engine … eventually, and that this engine was a Rolls-Royce (British)??

    Here’s the real story of the P51 KRB:

    It was designed to British specifications at the request of the Royal Air Force before US entry to the war, and steadfastly ignored by the USAAC/F, which had put its best eggs in other baskets – mainly the P47 – for a single-seater interceptor.

    The British purchasing commission asked North American Aviation in 1941 to design them a single-seat interceptor that could be manufactured in the US, thus boosting British output, which was mainly centred on the Spitfire. The design for the Mustang was done in 114 days, and the prototype flew about six weeks later, from memory.

    The RAF ordered some 650 of the early Mustangs (their original name for the P51). North American engineers had used the laminar flow wing design and also gave it huge fuel capacity for a single-set fighter, thus much greater range than the Spitfire.

    It was faster at lower altitude than the corresponding Spitfires of that era (Mark II and later V) but less manoeuvrable at most heights, and performance tailed right off at altitude … over 15,000ft the Mustang’s powerplant lost power and the aircraft couldn’t fight on equal terms with the two deadly German machines encountered at the time: the 109F and the FW 190.

    However, the British used their early Mustang Is in a ground attack role, sending them over to occupied France to hit and strafe German airfields at low level, where they had an advantage if any German fighters made it into the air.

    Generally, if that were the case, they would leave them eating dust as they did their business and went back across the channel. The British also used them for high-speed low-level recon flights, often to recce locations for bomber attacks or commando raids on the coast of occupied Europe. No German machines could catch them at low level, even though they were still powered by the Allison.

    The US, up to that point, showed no interest in the Mustang. But In 1943, a RAF officer decided to stick a Merlin engine (the Spitfire engine) into a Mustang and see what happened.

    The rest is history. It was the immediate solution to an American dilemma: how do we escort our bombers all the way into Germany at a time when daylight raids were proving too costly to continue unaccompanied.

    It was ONLY at that point that the USAAF picked up the Mustang (which they renamed the P51).

    Yes, it was a US design, but not a US design asked for by the USAAF. It was designed to requested British specs, and later given a British engine that eventually was made in the US under licence by Packard (and somewhat improved in some areas, mainly parts quality).

    It was only the marriage of the US airframe and the British engine that put it on a par with the Spitfire. Indeed, had the British not ordered the aircaft initially from North Ameerican Aviation, the Mustang might not have existed at all in the way we know it.

    However, in my view (for what it’s worth), it was still the best allied fighter of WWII, despite not being able to match the equivalent marlks of Spitfire in a digfight, simply because it was the most useful. They were very close, though, in performance stats so having lots of ’em and having them go so far on a single mission wins the Mustang the gold medal. But NOT as a dogfighter/interceptor. The two weren’t that close in that respect … the Spitfire wiped the dial of the Mustang after the Mark IX.

    These are the facts, they are well documented and well known by those who’ve done their homework, not simply a bit of patriotic nonsense we might have heard from a guy who knew a guy who knew Uncle Don’s friend who was a WWII fighter ace and might have lived in Des Moines (that’s if he existed at all) about four streets away from someone my mother also met at contrapuntal flower arranging classes..

    Let’s get real with this stuff if we’re going to have a proper debate about history.

    Arming yourself with at least some of the facts might be helpful at the outset.

    Cheers …

    • Rex B

      “British specifications” were what? I was under the impression that the BPC wanted Curtiss to build them a new fighter but they couldn’t deliver soon enough so they approached North American (NAA) with the request that they build for them the P-40 under Curtiss license. NAA told them they could design and build a whole new fighter in the time it would take them to tool up for the “dated” P-40.

      Also, when directed by NAA pres, Dutch Kindelberger to design the new fighter, Edgar Schmued was told to “design a plane that is as fast as you can and build around a man that is 5 foot 10 inches tall and weighs 140 pounds. It should have two 20 mm cannons on each wing and should meet all the design requirements of the United States Air Force.”

      And I am sure you meant that the BPC and NAA agreed in the spring of 1940 get the p-51 design started, because it first flew on Oct 26th, 1940.

      Also, fwiw, someone mentioned that an Allison p-51 never faced an FW-190. An Allison Mustang shot down an FW-190 (the 1st recorded kill by a Mustang in Europe) on August 19th, 1942 over Dieppe. Ironically it as an American pilot (Hollis Hills) in the RCAF who got the kill.

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        REX: Yeah, OK, I got the year of the order wrong. It entered RAF service in 1941, before the US entered the war. I’m working from memory. But the story is right. Yes, you are right about the initial P40 connection and Kindelburger’s response, although it’s not that relevant really. Fact is, they designed a new airacraft.

        However, nothing changes the fact that it was designed for the British, to their specifications, not the US military, which didn’t order it at that time.

        NAA told the purchasing commission they could design the RAF a new fighter, but it was the PC that issued the specifications to NAA outlining exactly what they needed. The NAA design was superlative, really.

        It is well documented that the US military was largely uninterested in the Mustang as a pure fighter virtually until the time the RAF whacked a Merlin into it to see what it would do. I do believe I’m right about how that came about.

        NICK: Ronnie Harker, a New Zealander test flying for Rolls Royce, had been flying the Mustang as well. He was impressed with the aircraft but not the Allison engine and was convinced it would go better with a Merlin. In the face of a good deal of reluctance from the RAF, he got his way. Performance was dramatically improved (top speed immediately leapt by around 50mph) and it was only at that point that the USAAF ordered the Mustang into large-scale production to counter the 8th air force bomber losses.

        I stick by my original points: 1) Had the BPC not ordered the new fighter from NAA, it’s more than likely it would never have been built as the US military had no interest. 2) If the US somehow HAD ordered the Mustang and NAA had somehow built it for them without being asked, had it not been in British service and through that connection eventually given a Merlin, it might never have fulfilled its true potential.

        I don’t see how that notion can be argued with.

      • Rex B

        ESS TEE EMM, you’ve been doing yeoman’s work here. I have been looking for some time now for just what the specifications were. Did the BPC dictate the length, wingspan, weight limit, cockpit layout etc. The closest specs I’ve found, which is what I quoted, came from Ray Wagner’s biography of Edgar Schmued- “Mustang Designer, Edgar Schmued and the P-51″. Edgar may have meant “RAF requirements”, but it is there word for word. Kindelberger is quoted by Schmued as saying USAF req’s. I believe the quote from Schmued was taken when he was getting on in years. I think he passed before it was published. But I would just like to get to the bottom of the whole “specs” and thought you might be able to help me more as to what they were. So thanks in advance.

        I personally couldn’t/wouldn’t choose which is better. So many great planes were working in different parts of the globe to destroy the Axis powers back then. From a historical perspective there is nothing better than Reggie’s Spit. It (and the Hurricane) were the ounce of prevention.

        As I said “I am sure you meant 1940″. Not trying to nitpick, but a year is a big difference. Even before the Battle for France, some Brits were on the ball and procuring as many available fighters as possible.

        I would however like to determine how much credit should go to this German immigrant that first came to America in 1929 (before the 109 was even a spark in Willy Messerschmitt’s mind) and who designed this plane that shortened the war in Europe enough so that we didn’t have to “demonstrate” to Japan a new weapon the Allies had.

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        REX, from memory, the RAF only ordered about 650 Mustangs from NAA … hardly enought to keep the company in the black (they got more later of course).

        I suspect Dutch was a great businessman who had an eye to the future and hoped that the US military would eventually work out how good the design was and put in its own orders.

        The specifications at that time for single-seat fighters wouldn’t have been that different, but the British wanted inline engines and a certain level of performance. Good aeronautical engineers in the US also had an understanding at that time that the British and Germans might have a better idea of what was needed because they’d been going hammer and tongs at each other for a while.

        The fact remains, at the time the Mustang was designed and built, it was done so as a result of an order from the RAFand would not have been built at that time unless that were the case, and that the US military studiously ignored its qualities and placed no mass production order for it as a fighter until the moment it got a Merlin.

        RAF pilots who got to fly it in their squadrons even with the Allison actually loved it and considered themselves lucky. They’d be even luckier later. One thing it always was was fast.

        I suspect Dutch was a bit like Reginald Mitchell (fittingly) and really had a belief in his company’s aircraft, which was as ground-breaking as the Spitfire (which is probably why we’re arguing the toss here). Both men turned out to be more right on that score than anyone originally gave them credit for.

        Lucky for all of us, I reckon. Imagine the German defeat of Britain in 1940, or if that somehow hadn’t been the case, the war against Nazi Germany continuing on for another year or so at least because the 8th air force couldn’t bomb German factories because of the unacceptable losses.

        History is a wonderful thing, especially when you start to consider the what ifs and alternative scenarios.

        But what happened, happened.

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        REX, also mate, for once Wikipedia has a decent history of how the Mustang design came about, detailing the British specifications. It quite clearly details too that the original design was done by NAA at the instigation of the British.

        However, Dutch Kindelberger approached them first through the US-based British purchasing commission, and after they asked if he could give them licence-built P40s, he told them he could have a better fighter than the P40, using the same engine, in less time than the tooling up would take to make the Tomahawk (the Brit name for early P40s) under licence from Curtiss.

        I’m surprised the book you read, if it bills itself as a definitive history of the Mustang, doesn’t detail any of this stuff.

      • Rex B

        STM, that wiki page doesn’t give much more as to the precise specifications. And it mentions that Kindelberger was shopping B-25 Mitchell’s, not fighters to BPC. My hunch is he had them half sold on a new fighter and they followed up for more details perhaps out in California.

        I think we all, even Germans, should be most grateful to the Brits for contracting with NAA for the new fighter and the Merlin swap. And yes, the US for the most part treated the Mustang as a Brit fighter, held deeper interest in its own a/c. Neglected the Mustang to its own detriment. (Failed to detect attacking waves of Japanese planes, etc etc.)

        But this whole “British specifications” line is ambiguous as hell. You can understand how it can become a blanket statement concerning all aspects of the fighter’s development?

        Anyways, the author is Ray Wagner. He is an archivist at the San Diego Aerospace Museum, a history teacher and has also written two or three other a/c books.

        Edgar Schmued lived in Oceanside CA, not far from S.D. In 1985 Schmued’s widow handed the personal papers of the late Edgar to the museum. An Air Force grant was offered to make a book, some of Schmued’s co-workers were also contributors. Smithsonian Books is publisher.

        Not a super thick book but it does have a factual timeline. Most of the drawings which Edgar made as well as the wind tunnel tests of models based on those drawings were done around the end of the Battle for France or at least prior to the start of the Battle of Britain.

        Also acknowledges some of the Brits who contributed to the design, including Beverly Shenstone. The Air Ministry sent him over to help improve the Radiator design in Feb 1941.

      • Ess Tee Emm

        Nick writes: “But this whole “British specifications” line is ambiguous as hell.”

        What is ambiguous about it, mate? The USAAF never ordered it, the British did. And they told NAA what they wanted.

        Since it was designed by NAA specially for them, and they were the ones doing the ordering and paying for it, you wouldn’t need to be a rocket surgeon to work out that the specifications for the new aircraft would have been theirs, would ya?

        Do you go into a store and order custom furniture, pay for it, only to be told that what you’re paying for isn’t for you at all but for the guy down the street.

        Seriously, I can’t for the life of me understand why we are even arguing the toss on this. It’s all pretty well documented.

        It’s a ground-breaking hot American aircraft designed for the British, which became an American icon when it got a hot new engine from the British. A perfect marriage of skill and know-how at both ends. What’s the problem with that scenario, especially since it’s the accurate one.

      • Ess Tee Emm


        And make that Rex, not Nick.

      • Rex B

        From the introduction, Schmued’s own words: “Many stories about the P-51 Mustang have been told, most of them out-and-out fabrications, or not really reflecting the actual history. This has prompted me to tell the real story as it happened, and here it is.” So, he died before he could ever complete it.

        Look, the design didn’t start with the BPC. A lot of other nations were looking for good fighter a/c at that time. Dutch and NAA weren’t ignorant of that fact. It wasn’t good business sense not to be. France had also been looking for fighters and Schmued had always been contemplating and drawing what he thought would be the best designs. He’d been hoping to get the chance and thank God the Brits gave it to him.

        But again the British “specifications” can lead one to think that NAA were merely like a police sketch artist clued in solely by this body of “hammer and tong” information based on what was happening in the skies already in Europe- before the US entered the war. Nothing significant had happened yet. Kindelberger had been asked as early as February 25, 1940 to build P-40s. On April 11, the agreement as made that launched the Mustang. Preliminary drawings accepted by the BPC in May, around the time Battle for France starts. Before Battle of Britain is over, the finished airframe, minus engine, rolls out on September 9th.

        I have recognized Britain’s great Merlin and the RAF adaptation. The BPC also liked NAA’s quality and it is to their credit they gave them the chance and took great risk on this young company which hadn’t designed a high performance fighter yet. But this engineer who should be ranked with Reggie Mitchell is about heralded as Joe Smith it appears.

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        Rex, with respect, I am starting to wonder whether there is something seriously flawed with your thought process and why you can’t accept this as fact when it is extremely well documented. It’s not based on half truths or myths, either.

        Is it that bizarre American thing of not wanting to come second at anything, or at least appearing to come second, or not wanting to acknowledge that sometimes people have better ideas than others? It’s just weird to the rest of us, most of whom couldn’t give a rat’s one way or the other when it comes to this stuff.

        The Mustang design DID start with the BPC in terms of a whole aircraft coming together, although I’d think you’d be right to suggest that the NAA might have been working on various aspects of it prior to that (getting the laminar flow wing to work as desired being the main one because beyond that, it was only as cutting edge as the fighters flying in Europe at the time … then its engine let it down).

        I think it’s fair to say that nothing being built in the US FOR the US military at that time matched the German or British fighters.

        But the Mustang did break new ground. Only problem was, the USAAF didn’t want it until 1943. After coming into the war, they bought even less of the early models than the British, in similar roles, and then only as an afterthought. They even tried a few out as dive-bombers.

        I honestly find it bizarre that Americans need to argue the toss on this for what seems almost a matter of national pride, a desire for a national icon to be all-American from go to whoa … which it plainly wasn’t.

        What is all-American anyway??? Is there even such a thing, and if there is, should anyone really care?

        In this case, no amount of attempted American-style myth-making or twisting of obvious truths will change that.

        I’m not American (or British, or Canadian) so I really couldn’t care less one way or the other but I CAN see very obviously the timeline of truth as to how the Mustang came about. I’m genuinely curious about this: Why is it that some Americans seem unable to accept that?

        Truly bizarre … and circular arguments can be frustrating.

        I wouldn’t expect you to agree with me Rex, if we were arguing about politics, say. I’m up for healthy and robust differences of opinion any time on any subject, including this one … just not when its main function seems to be about changing the historical facts, or making suggestions about myths from somone who died before he told his story, to suit some weird patriotic agenda.

        The thing about history: If it’s not documented and confirmed by many sources, it’s myth, not fact. All those may-or-may-not apocryphal stories really count for diddly squat.

        You seem to need me in this debate for some reason to acknowledge the great contribution of NAA’s two main designers on the Mustang.

        I do, and have. I also believe their boss was a man of great vision, as you’d expect of a clever American businessman. The big problem they have in the retelling of history is that story isn’t quite so romantic as Reginald Mitchell’s … you know, an inspired ground-breaking design by a dying man that saved freedom by staved off the filthy Nazi horde and in the process giving them a damn good thrashing.

        The NAA guys just don’t have that on their side, I guess. But there’s no doubt they designed a brilliant aircraft. There’s also no doubt that it’s an American design with much input by the British, especially in its later iteration.

        Why don’t we just agree to disagree, champ, and leave it at that?

      • Rex B

        STM, sir, I’ve given you a more accurate timeline, and one that calls into question your post at 63.1.3, than you have given me even a reference/lynk to the “British specifications” that often get bandied about. Yeah, it is getting stale, now we’ve both documented that fact.

        Whether I’m American, British, Irish, French, German, Native American or all the above, how is it an American trait to assert recognition of a foreign designer like Mr Schmued whose name you can’t even bring yourself to mention in any of the last few posts? Funny you can put Kindelberger’s name on par with Mr. Mitchell’s though.

        That book was never finished. But his notes and American friends that knew him help to tell his story. I’ve pointed to one of the myths already that it discusses: that Edgar had been on the Messerschmitt Bf109 design team. It traces that to a Ronnie Harker ill-conceived statement and the Brit press more importantly for generating that one.

        I’m done. My British specifications are leading me onward.

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        The timeline … I think in the first line of one of my early posts (a reply to you) I admitted I got the year wrong for the order, because I’m working from memory. Do you only read the bits you want to read, champ? Apart from that, the rest of it is well documented. Good luck hunting down the specs.

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        As to Schmued, he was only one of the design team. That’s why I’ve referred to “the design team”. To have Schmued, even if he was the brilliant mind latrgely behind it, as the only designer would be an insult to the others, wouldn’t you think?

        Kindelberger truly was the driving force. And yes, I do put him in the same category as Mitchell, although history gives Mitchell the more romance because of the circumstances. Let’s quite at theis point, Rex.


    • krb

      Well…first of all I do appreciate your feedback about my Spit / P51 comments…however…what I wrote was not non-sense as you put it…It was a complimentary generalization about two great fighter aircraft and the men who flew them…I am well aware of the history of the P51 and Spitfire…many factors went into the design of both. If you read the post carefully I did qualify it by saying the “1940” Battle of Britain Spitfire was a product of 1930’s technology…which it was. It was a great aircraft for the time it was used and the impact it had on the battle in which it fought. The designers of the P51 took full advantage of what was learned from previous designs to create a tremendous airframe, as did other later designs. The original Allison engine used in the P51 did lack in high altitude performance, anyone who knows anything about fighter aircraft in WWII knows that…and yes the marraige of the Merlin with the airframe created what most would consider the greatest fighter of the war.

      My point being…my post was a complimentary remark about the merits of both aircraft based on many years of reading history and other various video documentaries about the subject. It was never intended to be a definitive disertation about WWII fighter design. So take it for what it’s worth…and maybe next time reconsider making comments that really do not contribute to the discussion…

  64. Nick

    Slight correction. It was not “an RAF officer” who decided to retrofit a P-51 with the Merlin, it was a joint decision between RAF Fighter Command, the British government any Rolls-Royce. Five 51s were fitted with Merlins at the R-R experimental airfield at Hucknall (the same place Luftwaffe pilot von Werra, shot down in the Battle of Britain, almost escaped captivity by flying a new Hurricane Mk. II back to Germany, only being stopped at the last moment as he was starting the engine. He did eventually esxcape from a train taking him to a POW camp in Canada, made it to the then neutral US and back to fly with the Luftwaffe again. Great book and movie: The One That Got Away.)

    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      Nick, left a reply above. Cheers

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        And Ronnie Harker was an RAF officer on liaison at Rolls Royce. The initial test after Harker’s campaign for the Merlin was done on one aircraft only after reluctant agreement from the Air Ministry, then, as you point out, full-scale testing began on a number of Mustangs at Hucknall.

  65. Nick

    Something never mentioned is the misplaced patriotism and commercial pressure that prevented the Merlin’s being used in other US aircraft. The Brits obtained a couple of Lockheed P-38s and were about to do the same retrofit by replacing the Allisons with Merlins, promising a 50mph speed and 5,000ft altitude improvement. When word of this leaked back to the US, all hell broke loose, and the British government immediately ordered the borrowed 38s to be returned at once!

    Late in WWII the RAF wanted to try the 2,400hp R-R Griffon in the Mustang, promising the same performance gain as in later Spitfire versions, but nothing came of it. THAT would have settled, once and for all, the endless “which was faster” dispute. It was estimated tha the Griffon Mustang would have easily topped 500mph.

    The P-38 was a revolutionary design and, I believe, the first production fighter to exceed 400mph (the prototype of the Hawker Tempest did it some months earlier, but was in production later than the 38), and the turbocharged Allison performed well. But one dreams of what it could have done with one of the later Merlin 70 that produced 1700hp, or a couple of Griffons!

    Another instance was the P-82 “Twin Mustang,” the first of which were also Merlin-powered. Political/commercial pressure forced a reluctant USAF to replace these with Allisons in the P-82s that flew in the Korean war, while the training versions retained their Merlins, with the bizarre and unique result of a war plane where the combat aircraft were slower than the training ones.

    My article, The Magnificent Merlin, in the September 2009 issue of Aviation History covers a lot of the subject.

    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      Nick, I have a slightly different understanding of the P38 issue. I saw a great doco recently that quoted a former USAAF Lightning pilot who said there was some consternation among American pilots when they learned the British had knocked back the P38. His quote was: “They’d been doing this for a while now (flying fighters in combat) and they didn’t want the P38 because they didn’t think it was good enough. That bothered us”. In truth, probably just wasn’t the right aircraft for the job the RAF wanted it for. It had very mixed results with the USAAF in the ETO (although it served its purpose early in the piece), but of course excelled in the Pacific where it entered and broke off combat at will against the slower Japanese.

      The truth is, the British DID want the Lightning … but the US government wouldn’t let them have the superchargers that made the American version a good aircraft because they thought the Germans might get their hands on the tecnology. A moot point, because at that stage, Germany and Britain both had supercharger tecnology. So for the P38, no superchargher, no RAF service. I didn’t know about the Merlins, though.

      I would have liked to have seen a Griffon in a Mustang. But would the air frame have held up to all that extra stress?? Mustangs occasionally broke up under high stress.

      And I must admit, while an admirer of the Spitfire, I admire the Mustang equally. The Mustang is a classic example of two peoples putting aside their minor political differences and styles to put their heads together for a common cause.

      That cause, of course, no matter how hokey it sounds today, being a belief in rule of law underpinning democracy and personal freedoms and the courage of both nations to stand up against against barbarous, murderous and hateful ideologies in Nazi Germany and Imperial Japanese militarism. However flawed our democracy might be, what better cause could there be??

      Those of you on both sides of the big pond should remember that when you’re all arguing about which or who was better, especially today (my time down here in this beautiful paradise on the edge of the South Pacific, almost 7pm on 11/11/11). Cheers.

      • Alex

        Seems to be a common phscological inferiority problem on the part of the US if they couldn’t make the scientist/inventor a US citizen. Wernher von Braun, a german, who was responsible for the apollo space missions being an example. Same thing was happening with the development of the Sherman firefly tank, where they resisted the introduction of the british 17 pounder anti tank gun into the tank. This gun allowed the firefly to take on the tiger, panthers etc head on at range as opposed to the standard sherman which needed to fire from 5 feet from behind to have a chance.

    • Robin

      Merlins in the P-40F’s and L’s didn’t seem to make a ha’peth of difference (isn’t that why they were sent to the desert and SW Pacific – and Russia). They needed the P-38’s supercharger to make them worth anything as they were a tad on the heavy side. Retro fitting Merlins didn’t always work (so why make so may P-40s with them? Packard were churning out so many of Merlins it may have seemed like a good idea at the time?)

  66. Mark C. Johnson

    Low altitude…………….Lavochkin LA7 was supreme and also possibly the Yak3.

    In general utility, the mustang and the F4U4 were two best all around planes with the F4U being able to outturn the mustang with it’s flaps at slow speeds by a considerable margine while the mustang turned better at high speeds and altitude.

    The attrition of the war and differences in tactics makes it impossible to pick the “best plane” based on kills/deaths.

  67. Mark C. Johnson

    We have some good flight modeling at Aces High 2 so……if anybody wants to show up and try to use thier perceptions of performance to what they feel would be an advantage, I will gladly deliver pepperidge to your airframes.

  68. Nick

    Es Tee Em: The P-38 had a host of technical problems in Europe. What had worked well in balmy Burbank, CA (Lockheed works) didn’t in the cold, damp of a northern European winter. Things never encountered in CA, or the Pacific, like tetraethyl lead anti-knock compound separating out of the fuel, led to many engine failures and losses. There were also many other technical problems.

    But the main reason the P-38 didn’t fit RAF needs (or to tell the truth, USAAF’s) in Europe was that the P-51 filled the long range escort role and there were no long overwater flights where a second engine gives some added security. Also – as shown by the failure of the Luftwaffe’s Me-110 over England – twin-engined fighters cannot duke it out with well handled single-engine ones.

    Your account of the US refusing to let the British or Soviets have planes with turbochargers reminds me of the same saga with the P-39 Airacobra. This was also delivered to the RAF before the US’s entry into the war minus the turbocharger, and with the normally-aspirrated Allison was described by RAF pilots as “good for making low, slow turns.”

  69. Nick

    To: 65.1.1. Very true. Ask 1,000 Americans who first flew the Atlantic nonstop, and 999 will say “Lindbergh, of course,” and some will offer to punch the nose of anyone who says otherwise. Problem: Lindy wasn’t the first. Or the second, tenth, or even 50th. He was in fact the 96th. By the time of his 1927 flight, dozens had made the trip both ways. The first to do this were two ex-RAF officers, John Alcock and Alan Whitten Brown, in a converted WWI biplane, eight years before Lindbergh whose main achievement was to do it solo.

    Ask “knowledgeable” Americans what was the first programmable electronic computer, and they will say ENIAC, built at the U. of Penn. Wrong. The year before, the British had built Colossus, used to decode the German Lorenz code (even tougher to break than Enigma), allowing the Brits to decode and read top secret signals to the Geman generals and admirals before they themselves got them. How come nobody in the US has heard of Colossus? Because after WWII the Brit. government, afraid of the Soviets discovering the secret, ordered them and their plans destroyed. Many of the components were used in telephone exchanges. It also ordered that nobody, on pain of imprisonment, could speak about the machine, a ban that was only lifted in the 1970s, decades after an enemy could have gleaned anything useful from the equipment. A guy just completed a 5-year effort, building a nut-and-bolt replica of a Colossus, even using the original vacuum tubes and paper tape media. The U. of Penn still includes “Builder of the World’s First Electronic Computer” in its literature.

    The first jet fighter to enter squadron service? No, not the Me-262, but the Gloster Meteor, in July 1944, a month before the 262.

    Radar? British invention without which the Battle of Britain would have been lost. Ditto centrimetric radar, using such a short wavelength (high frequency) that the Germans couldn’t detect it and never duplicated it, made possible by the magnetron, invented at Birmingham University (UK) and given to the US (you use it today in your microwave oven.)

    The first purpose-built aircraft carrier? British, not the USS Langley, which was a merchantman with a deck on top. Three of the four key components of modern aircraft carriers, the angled flight deck, optical landing system and steam catapult? British inventions (the fourth, nuclear power, was American.)

    The turbojet engine? Invented by RAF officer Frank Whittle. The first Whittle jets, plus drawings and British jet engineers, flew to the US in 1943 to help start America’s jet engine scheme. The F-80 used a modified Whittle jet, as did the Mig-15 and the Gloster Meteor, with the bizarre result that in 1950 all the combatant nations in Korea flew jets with developments of Whittle’s original.\

    Who first split the atom, Fermi? No, Englishman Earnest Rutherford, in 1918! By 1941 British research had confirmed the practicality of an atom bomb, and later the research team took the entire research data, that had cost several billion $, was given to the Americans and probably helped bring the atom bomb to fruition six months earlier. A grateful America then placed the whole thing under total secrecy and refused to divulge to Britain any of its new data on the bomb.

    Penicillin? British discovery, of course. In 1941 Howard Florey, who headed the team that had produced the first penicillin to treat patients, went to America with his team and a sample of the penicillium mold. Britain did not patent the discovery, but America rapidly did, with the result that for years Britain had to pay millions of $ in royalty fees to make its own discovery.

    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      I’m neither American nor British (but still an English-speaker, kind of!). I don’t have a dog in the fight here but yes, I’ve noticed that about some Americans too. You will find a lot of young Americans arguing on here about history but it will only about America in history because any other history isn’t really taught at school.

      There is also quite a skewed view of American history … for instance, the defeat of the US in the War of 1812. Everywhere else, it’s regarded as a dismal failure by the US that resulted in the near bankruptcy of the new republic, a long and successful blockade, sedition in New England, and the burning of Washington, and a plea for peace by the US to Britain through an intermediary, but in the US it’s taught as the “second war of independence”. One of the main war aims of the US was to drive the British out of Canada and thus out of North America once and for all … probably the main war aim. The fact that Canada exists today as a sovereign nation and not a half dozen states of the US should be the clue to the truth of it. This is something that IS acknowledged by the leading US historian specialising in that era. However, his book dispelling the myths was not, for obvious reasons, a best-seller in America. I sometimes get the feeling Americans can’t stand to come second at anything. Considering they come first a lot, the odd second can’t be that bad. On these threads, you will witness young Americans arguing about the best planes of WWII and only mentioning American aircraft. I blame the History Channel for that … there are countless shows that focus solely on US involvement in say, WWII, which to a young viewer might give the impression that that was all there was and the US won the war singlehanded.

      Quite a lot of Americans are also surprised to learn that Britain was the first of the modern English-speaking democratic nations, not the US, and that it became so 100 years before America did and that they have actually never been that different in their exercise of that democracy. It can come as quite a shock to learn that the same rule of law underpinning democratic freedoms in places like the US, Australia and Canada actually comes from English/British law, not US law.

      Apart from that mostly tedious rant, which obviously doesn’t apply to all Americans, I do really love our American cousins. I can overlook a bit of jingoism and patriotic fervour and historical/geographical ignorance and the tendency to blurt out the first thing that comes into their heads :) in favour of their many wonderful qualities – especially their warm generosity of spirit and their amazing hospitality. I’ve learned to shut my gob and to enjoy the legion of good bits. I can’t think of another nation that my nation should be so close to. I can’t think of a place either where I’ve been treated better as a visitor.

      The ledger in all this certainly comes out in the black, fellas, in favour of Americans, not the red. Take the time to understand the reasons why this happens (the US school education system) and you will see things in a different light. When you are told one thing for a long time, there might not be any reason to go searching for the truth.

      I apply that also to the history of my own country. Not everything is as it was presented to me at school.

      I have an American friend who suggests that young Americans really seeking to understand their own history should go back to at least the Roman invasion of Britain and follow that line all the way through, and include as a parallel study the history of the other English-speaking nations. That certainly is how we did it as school. I learned a lot about Britain and its empire AND the US, including the War of Independence and the American Civil War in some detail. When tied to everything else going back to Roman Britain, highly recommended as a mind broadener.


    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      And, hate to say it Nick, but you Brit guys can be just as one-eyed with this stuff as can your American cousins on the other side of the big pond.

      I’d like to think I can make objective comments on this. The main one being: As ever, the apple never falls far from the tree. Luckily, though.

      And that American friend of mine tongue-in-cheek describes the US as the most loyal of the British colonies in the modern era. Of course, he’s pretty close to being right. Winston Churchill might have agreed with that assessment too.

      • Nick

        Which Brit? I’m an American citizen, albeit of British extraction; my grandfather was a London dentist. (That’s a pun.)

        And I agree; every country has its own chauvinists, and Britain was no exception. Few Britons appreciated util well into the 1950s the huge share of the war effort, in blood, treasure, food and armaments that the US gave after early 1943. “Why didn’t they come in in 1939?” was a popular refrain. (Why should they? They’d already helped defeat Germany in 1917-18, and to the great majority of Americans it was “here they go again,” just another of the endless wars that had soaked the soil of Europe for thousands of years.)

        The Russians don’t even call it World War Two; to them it’s The Great Patriotic War, and the other Allies’ contributions are largely ignored or minimized in their history books. (I suppose you can excuse this, since 17 of every 20 divisions in the war were Soviet, and they had over 90% of all militiary and civilian casualties.)

        The French, likewise, don’t say much at all about their surrender and collaboration with the Nazis. I went to school there in 11th Grade, and their history books are empty of descriptions of how the Gendarmes rounded up Jews with such bloodthirsty ferocity that it even made the Gemans blink, or how their army and air force killed scores of British, Canadian and American troops in N. Africa before surrendering. Their books of the war are full of Gen. LeClerk’s small army and its exploits. One night, the uncle of my exchange student lit into me about the RN blasting the French fleet in Mers-el-Kebir Harbor, sinking a couple of battleships and killing hundreds of their sailors. In vain did I attempt to explain that, since the French fleet’s falling intact into German hands would have turned the entire course of the Mediterranean war (an almost totally British affair) and almost guaranteed Gen. Rommel’s victory, the seizure of the Suez Canal and the Middle East oil fields, Churchill had given the Vichy French government three options about their fleets in Oran and Mers-el-Kebir: Join the Royal Navy; Scuttle the fleet; Sail to a neutral port for internment.

        The French admiral insolently kept a delegation of senior officers from Admiral Somerville (tragically, a long-time friend of his) sitting in an open boat in the harbor, in the equitorial sun at midday, for hours, and then imperiously refused the offer. Somervill had no option, as he was under orders from the Admiralty.

        Charles DeGaul, a colonel in the French Army, was saved from the Nazis and brought to London, put up in a luxury hotel, and given BBC facilities to broadcast to the Free French. Then, promoting himself to general although having taken no part in the war, he was flown to Paris in time to lead the victory procession down the Champs Elisee, at the head of LeClerk’s soldiers. The Americans, who had expended thousands of lives liberating Paris, should never have fed this stiff’s ego. Eisenhower’s mistake.

        DeGaul considered himself one of the top statesmen in the world during the war, irrespective of the fact that he didn’t lead a nation, and expected to be invited to the tripartite meetings in Teheran, etc., along with FDR, Churchill and Stalin. Outraged at not being accomodated, he showed his gratitude for the munificent treatment he had received otherwise by – after becoming President of France – vetoing Britain’s entry into the new European Common Market.

    • Alex

      Hello guys.

      If you really want to put the knife into our miss guided Americian cousins you might like to check out the name of Richard Pearse with regards to a couple of chaps known as the Wright brothers.
      The site http://www.ctie.monash.edu.au/hargrave/pearse1.html may shine some light on the subject.

    • Robin

      Rutherford was a New Zealander. Florey was Australian (Fleming was Scottish and headed the original team). Whittle patented the turbojet in 1930 but Hans von Ohain made the first workable and flyable one.

      Radar was a Great British achievement by the most oddly-named of heroes: Robert Watson-Watt.

      The US demanded British jet engine technology, the British demand nuclear technology in return. Only one side of the bargain was kept.

  70. Nick

    By the way, I live in southeast Pennsylvania.

    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      Ah, I do love an American who’s taken the time to find things out. It’s not easy when you’re taught one thing and in the looking, you find out it wasn’t always the case. I’m in Australia, and we’ve been taught a fairly skewed view of history over the years too. The Australian view of the Gallipoli campaign, while it might have a grain of truth, is pretty unfair to the Brits. The whole thing was a debacle from go to whoa. I saw a great show recently in which an Australian historian was travelling around the WWI battle fields of France, visiting the Australian cemeteries tended by the Commonwealth War Graves commission. He made a big deal of it … all the while, passing scores more cemtereries containing the remains of the British fallen. The Brit historian pointed it out to him in a very quiet way but I got the feeling the Aussie wasn’t that keen on listening but later begrudgingly acknowledged the obvious. In Australia, there’s almost a view that the fighting qualities of Australian soldiers won the war singlehanded. While they did doubtless do remarkable things, all volunteers and so far from home on the other side of the world, the picture isn’t quite as it’s painted. Not to dminish their sacrifice, but it wasn’t on the scale of Britain’s sacrifice. The Canadians have a tendency to do the same thing. Maybe it’s just a determination not to be written out of the histories and to have that sacrifice overlooked. Who knows?

      • Nick

        I love the Ozzies, having met many of them in my RAF career, but many of their films are uniformly anti-British – e.g. Breaker Morant and Gallipoli.

        It surprises Ozzies very much to be informed that the order to charge with just bayonets, against entrenched Turks with machine guns, was made by an Australian general, not a British one. Contemporary accounts cite the undoubted gallantry of the Australian soldier, NCO and junior officer, and the ineptitude of their own senior officers and politicians.

      • Alex

        Ess-Tee-Emm I liked that comment and being a Aussie myself must admitt some of the ideas put forward in our country make me cringe with embarrassment. One person in particular who I believe is portrayed in a particularly bad light is Churchill. On reading into that man a little found that he took command of a battallion(I think) on the western front for a period of time after the debarkle of Gallipolli. A comment found in a personal diary was something like “that I wouldn’t be able to look a veteran in the eye if I didn’t”. Those same diaries also revealed that he still had the gallipolli nightmare in mind while he was planning D-day, resulting in a leave no stone unturned attitude when looking for ways to make it easier for those who were to hit the beaches. But also like you said, we did have our virtues where we seemed to do better than most.

      • Robin

        The Kiwis always like to think they punch above their weight too. Aussies tend to forget there is an NZ in ANZAC. Aussies seem to totally ignore the Kiwi contribution to Britain’s wars, yet many of the early successful fighter pilots in the RAF during WWII were Kiwis. All Aussie really had then was ‘Cobber’ Kain , who killed himself showing off, whilst the Kiwis had Alan Deere, Brian Carbury, Colin Gray (as well as AVM Keith Park looking after 11 Group).
        Just a thought.

      • J. Eddolls

        Sorry Robbin, Cobber Kain, victor over at least 16 enemy aircraft, was a Kiwi.
        He was born in Hastings and educated at Christ College, Christchurch.

    • Ess-Tee-Emm

      And the less said about our French friends in these kinds of debates, the better. Although, given the millions of casualties in the Great War, you can kind of understand their reluctance to want to go through it all again barely 20 years later. That’s one of the things I can nver understand: How the Germans, who suffered horrific losses in WWI, decided to give the world another hot foot and almost forgot the tragedy of the previous war. I do understand the circumstances, but still … misguided patriotism can be a terrible thing, especially when allied to a murderous ideology.

      • Nick

        It’s a national characteristic, a mixture of rabid patriotism, inbuilt militarism and reverence of senior military persons, and the willingness like sheep to follow them, and top national leaders, into hell. With their cities and infrastructure being destroyed and their fellow-citizens killed by the thousands, and their soldiers by the hundreds of thousands, the war clearly lost, in early 1945 propaganda minister Goebbels was still able to scream at them in a mass-rally: “Wollen-ze totallen krieg?” (do you want total war?) and be greated by a mass JA!

        The paradox is that I met many during my service in Europe, and in vacations in the 80s and 90s, and they were almost unfailingly polite and helpful.

        Churchill summed it up: “They are always either at your feet or at your throat.”

      • Robin

        Nonetheless the Australian officers in command, the Generals, were pretty ordinary if not woeful in both wars. Monash might be legitimately revered, but Blamey was an embarrassment.

  71. Nick

    Anyway, neither the Spit or P-51 was the outstanding aircraft of WWII.

    What was? Glad you asked! The DeHavilland Mosquito. Designed as a private venture because the Air Ministry sneered at a plane made almost entirely of wood – fuselage, wings, main spar, tail – informing Geoffrey DeHavilland that this is the 1940s, and combat aircraft are made of metal, you dope. Undeterred, DeH made a prototype, equipped with two R-R Merlins, and his son demonstrated it to Air M. officials, almost blowing their hats off in a 400mph beat-up, and then returning to perform aerobatics on one engine.

    The Air. M. changed its mind and ordered the Mossie to be made as fast as possible. Cabinet makers, piano factories, furniture shops and even small cottage-industry sites with retirees putting bits together, plus the main plants at Hatfield, Totonto and in Australia, turned them out. Construction was of multi-layer plywood and spruce, steam-formed and fastened with the first epoxy cement.

    It appeared in fighter, night-fighter, bomber, fighter-bomber and photorecce. versions. The fighter versions mounted four 20mm cannon, plus 4 machine guns, and became the greatest night fighter of WWII. The bomber version could carry the 4,000lb “Cookie” bomb to Berlin (no USAAF bomber, even the Fortress, Liberator or mighty B-29, could carry the Cookie at all.). One version was fitted with a 47mm cannon, and one caught a German cruiser in the Skaggerak, staying out of a.a. range and drilling its hull, turbines etc., leaving it wallowing for torpedo-carrying Beaufighters (“Torbeaus”) to sink it.

    The Mossie was the ideal Pathfinder aircraft, flying well ahead of the main force of Lancasters and dropping target markers, using the new Oboe navigation system. A Master Bomber would then fly round the target, directing the bombers and correcting if the aiming point strayed. It was after completing this function. and radioing “that’s fine, chaps. Now beat it back home” that Guy Gibson, who had led the Dam Busters raid, was killed.

    The Air. M. tried to insist on the Mossie carrying a gun turret, not being able to understand that this would rob it of its great advantage – speed. For the first year and a half after it went into service it was faster than Luftwaffe fighters. The Mossie made regular flights between Stockholm and Scotland, carrying clandestine passengers and strategic materiel like ball bearings, only two ever being shot down by German fighters patrolling he North Sea. One carried nuclear scientist Nils Bohr to safety. Bohr’s mother was Jewish, and he was about to be arrested in Denmark and forced either to work on Hitler’s atom bomb project or go, with his wife and son, into a concentration camp.

    Together with the Danish underground, British agents spirited him to Sweden, and the Mossie brought him to Scotland, from where he was flown to the States and joined the Manhattan Project.

    Mosquito bombers made the most spectacular pinpoint raids of the war, including Operation Jehrico, where they bombed the outer wall and corner of the prison building where the Gestapo were torturing and executing French resistance members, allowing over 100 to escape. They hit the Gestapo HQ in Holland, killing scores of them. And in one of the best tweaks of Hitler’s and Goering’s noses, on the 10th anniversary of the Nazi Putsch, in 1943, just as Fat Herman Goering was about to speak at a huge Nuremburg rally, Mossies appeared at low level, dropped some bombs and disrupted the occasion.

    Goering was mad as hell, complaining that whereas he had to scramble to obtain strategic war materials for his Luftwaffe, “every piano maker in Britain is turning out Mosquitos.”

    • Alex

      While I will agree that the Mosquito was a VERY good aircraft there is one thing it couldn’t do as well as the spit or for that matter probably the P51 either. This was to deny the germans air superiority. It could look after itself with its speed and guns okay and the germans couldn’t stop them doing what they wanted to do, but it couldn’t go after enemy aircraft with the object of destroying them. A very good example of this is for that Gestapo raid you mentioned they had an escort that were not Mosquitos, and probably the greatest Mosquito pilot/navigator team were killed during that raid. Why, they hung around too long, allowing the germans to establish their air superiority and bingo, two dead poms.
      Another point is that the spitfires biggest asset was its strong airframe, and its ability to be developed to keep up with its enemies, something that the mustang also lacked though to a lesser extent than the Mosquito.
      I’ll end this little comment with the interesting point that the spitfire works were actually working on their own multi engined spitfire type bomber, that looked like it was going to be incredibly quick, when the germans managed to bomb the factory destorying all the blue prints, development work and data they were using and seeing that the original genius was already dead they lost the whole project.

      • Ess-Tee-Emm

        Alex, I knew it … I guessed you were from God’s Zone. Although the term “Poms” seems to be gaining a little bit of currency in North America, too. Probably from all the Antipodeans invading. Any Pom who thinks it’s bad to be called a Pom doesn’t understand Aussies or know that it’s better to have a nickname, no matter how bad, in Oz than to have none at all … because if you don’t have one, it means no one gives a rat’s. Been an interesting discussion here in which we, sadly, seem to have driven everyone else off. Note to self: Must be nicer to our cousins with the funny accents living in the large strip of land north of Mexico and south of Canada. Cheers fellas.

      • J. Eddolls

        The Mossie could go to Berlin with a ‘Cookie’ at greater speed than a B17 and unarmed at that and more importantly without an escort!

        Why put ten men in a four engined supposedly ‘Heavy’ bomber and cruise there at 180mph to drop a bomb load equivelent to a British ‘Cookie’!

  72. Ess Tee Emm

    I’m inclined to agree with thjat opinion :) It was the most versatile of any aircraft employed during the war. Many of its pilots say they’ve refused to fly anything sense, because what would be the point? How did a Yank end up on the wrong side of the pond in the RAF?

  73. Nick

    Operation Jericho was a success but the leader, Wing Cdr. Percy Pickard, together with his Navigator, Flight Lt. Bill Broadley, were killed when their de Havilland Mosquito was shot down by a Fw 190 flown by Feldwebel Mayer of Jagdgeschwader 26 in the closing stages of the operation. Unlike Americans, the British did not bring remains of their fallen back home, so they are still buried at the St. Pierre Cemetery near Amiens, France. Many of the surviving resistance members would make annual visits to the grave.

    The Mossie, together with the Bristol Beaufighter and the Spitfire, were the only British planes used by the Americans, in a kind of reverse lend-lease.The Supermarine bomber referred to above was designed by the same R.J. Mitchell, who was aiming for “a bomber as fast as the Spitfire.”

    This Yank was born in England, served in RAF Bomber Command on Handley Page Victor nuclear bombers 1958-62, and emigrated to the States in 1969. In 1959 I was taking a bombing and navigation course at RAF Yatesbury (among whose earlier alumni were Guy Gibson and Arthur T. Clark of 2001,a Space Odyssey). There were two Mossies that were still in use for getting weather data in the upper atmosphere. One day they were struck off charge, and, tragically, after the engines and a few other bit were removed, simply bulldozed into firewood. It was a very windy day, and I can still remember bits of spruce and balsa wood blowing around the station.

    Just watched “633 Squadron” on TV again. Dopey story and sugary love affair, but some of the most spectacular low-level flying, so it’s worth watching just to see that. As with so many British films, it was, of course, mandatory to place a mythical American in the lead so as to be able to sell it in the States, so Cliff Robertson was cast as the squadron commander (other examples that come to mind are Bridge on the River Kwai, The Man Who Never Was, and The Great Escape [with two Yanks in lead roles, although no Americans were involved in the escape]).

    Things you didn’t know about Cliff Robertson, who died a few weeks ago:
    In his early film career he was audited by the IRS for unpaid taxes on $10,000 in salary. At the audit, protesting that he had never received any such amount, he was shown a salary check with his name forged on the back. Unbelievably, it had been cashed by the head of the studio. Robertson was advised by studio staff to suck it up, as the head was a powerful man, but he insisted on taking it to trial.

    The studio head, it was found, had done the same with other actors to the tune of $60,000, and they had kept quiet to protect their careers. He was fined and imprisoned (on his release, he was immediately given a top position at Metro Goldwyn.) The studio heads closed ranks and Robertson was blacklisted, making no movies for 7 years.

    Cliff Robertson was an accomplished pilot, and after finishing 633 Squadron asked to buy one of the three airworthy Mosquitos, but the owner wouldn’t part with it. Instead, he bought a Spitfire, which he flew for many years.

    • Robin

      One of the Mossies used in 633 Squadron was from the old Skyfame Museum at Staverton Airport (now Gloucestershire Airport). I used to clamber over it and in it a kid most weekends. It had all the instruments and controls and was close to airworthy. They wrote it off in the movie. Never forgave them for that!

  74. Ess-Tee-Emm

    You are, Nick, to say the very least, a pretty interesting sounding fellow. In the process of getting to this point, we seem to have killed off all other commentators on this thread except for Alex, who I suspect might be one of my countrymen (G’day Alex! :).

    I lived in England for some years as a boy, where my interest in the Spitfire and the events of summer 1940 was sparked by some detritus of the battle found not far from where I lived. I miss England as a place to visit but I’m glad these days I don’t live there, although I did work in the UK for a short while in the 1980s.

    I intended to join the RAAF when I was a young bloke but didn’t, as I really didn’t want to risk being sent to Vietnam, which by that stage had turned into an absolute debacle. I’ve had to pursue my interest in aviation, which doesn’t stop at old warbirds, in other ways. Were the Victors the ones that suffered metal fatigue? I know they had problems with one of the three V bombers. Not sure if it was actually that problem, but there was something wrong with one of them that resulted in them being pulled out of service before their use-by date.

  75. Ess-Tee-Emm

    Forgot to mention: Also unearthed a small unexploded or dud bomb while on a picnic with a family we were friendly with. Not sure what it was but it was quite corroded. May even have been a dud mortar.

    This was in Kent, near Maidstone, where we lived. We were looking for hazelnuts and the thing was quite small and hidden in the bushes and I picked it up by the tail and took it to my friend’s dad. It was quite heavy, I remember.What I do also remember is his face going white.

    He told me not to move and very gently took it and laid it down then cleared the area and told someone else to drive off to get the local police (no mobile/cell phones in those days). Eventually, they arrived and we were all shooed off.

    Probably the most exciting thing to happen on a Kent family picnic in decades. But we were forever finding bits of metal and bullet casings in the fields that had fallen from the sky 20 years earlier.

    • Nick

      If you ever saw the movie “Hope and Glory,” of a kid’s experience in WWII during the Blitz, you will see me, in essence. There were always lots of “interesting” things to pick up after a night raid, including bomb and a.a. shell splinters and live ordnance like “dud” cannon and m/g rounds. One favorite occupation was to pull the bullet out of a dud .303 m/g round, put it in the vice in my dad’s shed, and bang the percussion cap with a nail hit with his hammer (he being in the RAF in Burma at the time.) A very satifying bang would usually result, the reason it hadn’t fired in the aircraft’s gun usually having been caused by a broken firing pin. In the movie, the kids do it without removing the bullet, which riccochets all round. Even we were not dumb enough to try this with a 20mm round. I highly recommend the film.

      If available in Oz, I also highly recommend a BBC TV series that came out on DVD some years ago, “Danger, UXB,” showing the adventures of a new 2nd. Lt. assigned to a bomb disposal unit (UXB=UnExploded Bomb). That also brought back memories.

      The Victor, like the other two “V Bombers,” the Valiant and the Vulcan, was designed as a high-altitude nuke bomber. By the time it went into service, ICBMs had largely taken over the role as M.A.D. deterrence, so the role of the Victor and Vulcan (the Valiant, the oldest, being scrapped) was changed to low-level. This imposed vibration loads on the airframe they were never intended to bear, resulting in hair-line cracks in spars.

      With the closing of RAF bases outside of Europe, the service began a winding-down that resulted in many officers being “bowler-hatted,” in the British lingo – i.e. let go, including me. (I was placed on the Emergency Reserve for 5 years, and was recalled during the Cuban Missile Crisis, but that’s another story.) Aircrew were told that when they separated from the service they would walk into airline jobs. Those who had been navigators (there were always many times more who wanted to be pilots than available slots), however, found that during their hitch airlines had done away with navigators (along with radio operators and, in smaller jets, engineers), so they found themselves looking for jobs in other spheres.

      The government had to choose between the Victor and Valiant for the small number of nuclear bombers they would retain. It had earlier compelled all British aircraft manufacturers into two conglomerates, so all the famous names, like Short Brothers, Fairey Aviation, Blackburn, DeHavilland, Vickers, AVRO, etc. disappeared. Handley Page, a family-owned company dating back pre-WWI refused, so the government cancelled orders for any further Victors, and those that remained were relegated to tankers.

  76. Blair

    What alot of people do not realize is that the spit, p-38, p-47, p-51, f6f, f4u where all about even when it came down to it. each plane had something the other did not as a advantage. Pretty much the only reason why anybody would say one is better than the other is just opinon and opinion is not fact.

    • Alex

      That is why, if you noticed, the question includes the phrase “all round fighter”. Most poms, Aussies, Canadians, New Zealanders etc would all have some sense that their countries cannot possibly be better than all others especially at everything (us Aussies are better but we don’t push the point:). The Americians however do, to the extent that they’ll even put their own troops at a bigger dissadvantage by sticking to that point by either successfully or attempting to prevent the marry up various bits and pieces, for example the Sherman Firefly (gave allied armour a chance against the Tigers and Panthers) and the P51 Mustang being to attempted efforts at prevention. Look at the Russians (another superpowere) by contrast (I am NOT communist but that doesn’t stop me seeing things that they do well) They weren’t fussy and took all help offered even if it had “Made in the USA” plastered all over it. Incidentally if you noticed they (the Russians) fought a lot more of the war than we did, fought with a “burnt earth” policy (a particullarly vicious but legal form of war, fought on their own soil, out produced the yanks, and had more of their women raped by the Germans (and I do NOT hold that against the Germans as a nation as they have looked at their own faults probably more than any other nation in the world) What the argument here is really about is to tell the USA that the USA is not nesseccarily translatable to best or good, Most other countries know this about themselves, also know that they are the best at somethings (like the Kiwis THINK they can play union:) and try to be vigilent for their own faults and do something about them once they find them.

  77. Mark C. Johnson

    Hawker Tempest?

    It turns, it burns much like the LA7 or LA5FN but will still perform well up to 36,000 feet.

    • Nick

      A totally overlooked piston-engined fighter that entered service at the end of WWII was the de Havilland Hornet. This was a single-seat fighter developed from the Mosquito, and using special “slim line” Merlins of 2,080hp and laminar-flow wings. Like the Mossie, it was of mainly wooden construction.

      The prototype batted along at 485mph, making it the second-fastest twin-piston engined plane of WWII (the strange fore-and-aft engined Dorneier 335 was just faster.) This lovely aircraft was so brilliantly designed that it could perform loops on one engine rivalling that of a single-engined fighter, was armed with 4 X 20mm cannon, and also could carry rockets and bombs. It was used mainly in the Pacific, where its long range and two-engine security were valuable. A carrier vesion, the Sea Hornet, also performed well.

      Unfortunately, it arrived just as the Meteor and Vampire jets were coming into service, so its own service life was brief. It was used with good effect in the late 40s and early 50s against communist forces in Malaya.

      Sadly, not a single example survives. There’s a good write-uo on Wikipedia, including quotes from the assessment of Eric Brown, who holds the record for test-flying more aircraft types than anyone else.

      • mike gee

        …. Well if that’s the case, let’s throw in the Grumman Bearcat as “ultimate piston fighter” if we are going to talk about more planes that didn’t make it to the WW2 battle field! Another point for people who claim the spitfire was the #1 fighter of the war-the the Novice RAF went up against Vet Luftwaffe pilots in good acft-BF109s ,Heinkel med.bombers and won, mainly due to home field avantage (tactics and numbers roughly equal) the germans also defended their turf but had superior numbers and homefield advantage YET lost to American daylight attacks from bombers and fighters-mainly the vets in P-51s. Why? Superior training and superior machines! Spits war record (fromBoB to’45) was 2.6:1, Mustangs was 7:1 in ETO and 19:1 overall….

      • J. Eddolls

        I wonder where your stats came from? Are they from US sources?

  78. Loki

    guys i can get on il2 in either one of these buitiful planes and own the opponent ITS THE PILOT NOT THE PLANE!!!

  79. Nick

    Yes – and no. In planes with reasonably similar performance (speed, acceleration, maneuverability, armament etc.) the better pilot will usually prevail. Of course, luck always enters into the equation. The top RAF, and in fact Allied, ace was Marmaduke “Pat” Pattle, who was credited with over 50 victories, but inevitably was unlucky enough in a dogfight to come into the sights for a few seconds of a Me-110. The 110 was no match in a dogfight with Pattle’s Hurricane (in the Battle of Britain they were so ineffective that they had to have their own escorts!) But he was trying to save a fellow pilot and his luck just ran out.

    Where there is a wide disparity in machines’ capability, even the best pilots usually lose. Ask any Brewster Buffalo, Boulton-Paul Defiant or Bristol Blenheim pilot lucky enough to survive.

  80. Alex

    A computer game used as a quantitative standard. I’d like to see that in a peered reviewed paper:) Just as the Germans which one they generally preferred to have trying to kill them. Much more reality based with no interjections from the armchair warriors.

  81. Thomas

    the spitfire and mustang are insanely close in performance. the spitfire could out turn a mustang but the spitfire could not fly as high or as fast as a mustang. the p-51D boasted a massive supercharger while the spitefire took a while to update and add their own super charger. The spitefire has a slight agility edge while the mustang had tradditional american brute power. the mustang is slightly better equipped for war but not by much. Give the spitefire the same horspower and longer range like the mustang and the spitfire wins but since the spitfire didn’t have those capabilities the mustang edges it out barely.

    and other fighters
    corsair, too big, expensive, and came to late to help
    helcat, excellent example of airframe sturdiness but lacks all performance
    the spitfire and mustang are the best looking and best for the mission of destroying the luftwaffe and jap airforce

    • Nick

      Sorry to be blunt, but that is a load of rubbish from start to finish.

      The later marks of Spitfire, with the R-R Griffon, were slightly faster than the P-51D and could dive much faster. Two were dived at over Mach. 0.9 (606mph), because the Spit’s wings were superior in high-Mach ability even to those of the early jets.

      The service ceiling of the Mustang was around 42,000ft. Several models of Spit. could go higher, and in 1951 a Mk. XIV, on a meteorological flight from Hong Kong, reached over 51,550ft, a world record at the time for a piston-engined plane. When cabin pressure began to fail the pilot had to get down to a lower altitude fast, and in the ensuing dive his air speed indicator registered 690 mph (Mach. 0.94.)

      The “massive supercharger” of the Mustang was idential to that of the Spitfires from the Mk. IX onward, because the two aircraft used the same engine, and saying that “the spitefire [sic.] took a while to update and add their own super charger” is nonsense. All Spitfires, from the prototype in 1935 to the Mk. 24 at the end of production, had superchargers. The main change was in the Mk. IX, which used the new 2-stage supercharged Merlin 61, adding 10,000 ft of altitude and 70mph over the Mk. V.

      The Spitfire, especially the later models with four 20mm cannon was certainly “better equipped for war” in regard to firepower than the Mustang. Finally, the P-51D’s Packard-built Merlin topped out at around 1,800hp, while the later models of Spitfire used the ultimate Merlin, boasting 2,250hp continuous, with 2,600 available for short bursts, or the Griffon, whose output grew from 2,200hp to some 2,550.

      • Thomas

        way to compare two different models. go check out the p51H and then look at the V tell me they aren’t close in performance.

        when the D and latestes spit were in service together they were close in performance Both in the 40’s used the same engines produced the same horspower. the mustang had a bigger supercharger than the spit that’s why the scoop on the bottom of the mustang was installed. regardless of the size the power was barely better then the spit. the D did not do very well at low altitude it did much better in higher altitude where it was meant to fly. when it was up there they almost matched the spit but not quite. however when a german plane was up with the mustang it was the mustangs game. The spitfires owned the lower atmosphere. the spits agility was always better than the mustang because of the wings mainly. the spit was a true dogfighting plane, the mustang had a more economic wing with as little drag as possible because it was an escort fighter.

        it is extremly difficult to compare such different aircraft. the spitfire stopped the luftaffe and the mustang brought the fight to the germans doorstep.
        both planes are excellent you can’t deny one is actually weaker than the other and i admit my words saying the mustang was better is rubbish
        both planes were needed without them we wouldn’t have won. i wouldn’t want a mustang at low altitude to dogfight and i wouldn’t want a spitfire to escort bombers at high altitudes. both were mission driven machines that worked perfectly together to take over the skyes of europe.
        I’m also gussing ur a brit because of you’re huge spit knowledge and little mustang knowledge. it’s fine most people here don’t even know what a spitfire is sadly. most americans are idiots about history and it makes me sad to be affiliated with them sometimes.

      • Thomas

        also one last thing we americans built the mustang for the RAF they hated the A B and C but when the D came around they did like it but they no longer needed it because the american bombers needed them. Frankly if they got the D ready sooner it would be a american plane flown by brits

      • Alex


        Some of your quotes are unadvised.

        “Frankly if they got the D ready sooner it would be a american plane flown by brits”
        I think the brits wouldn’t have minded getting the spitfire 9 “sooner” either.

        “way to compare two different models. go check out the p51H and then look at the V tell me they aren’t close in performance”
        The spit V fought the battle of brittian, (along with the historically underated hurricane), if we’d used the current P51 it would have been the A, B, or C models, and to be frank they wouldn’t have even been able to get up to the hieghts required, let alone fight there.
        Just go and check the following link.http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080724100046AAdRkuf

      • mike gee

        Actually the boost power for the packard merlins in all V-1650 variant MATCHED their merlin counter parts in the Spits- the Americans,howevver, stuck with the V-1650-7 which they were satisfied with in the P-51D. The later more powerful. V-1650 engine placed in the P-51H allowed for a faster climb rate equal to the Spitfire XIV through XXI models, and allowed speeds of up to 480 mph! The H model arrived to late for the war, and since there were plenty of surplus and EFFECTIVE D models there was no meed to extend the technology of the Mustang. I find it funny that spitfire lovers try to trounce the Mustang as being “second rate” to their favorite when it really wasn’t- each acft had similar or equal flaws, each used the SAME type of engine, and both had similar performance in combat, with the Spit going a bit higher, and slightly better turn and climb rate, while the mustang had better range, combat endurance and speed. As for griffon powered spits? Early griffons were DOGS in high altitude( above 15K) the same thing spit lovers hypocritically rant about the weakness of the early A model P-51s! The Merlin engines performed BETTER at higher altitude than the griffon engines. And again by the later phases of the war( early ’44) the air dominance had been achieved in many part of the war in Europe, and the Spitfires main weakness kept it out of continued air combat action until bases could be set closer to german terirtory. Lastly, if the Mustang was so “inferior” to the Spitfire, WHY did RAF and Commonwealth AFs eagerly use them ? V-1 flying bombs were chased down and SHOT down by RAF P-51s, at a time when “superior” Spit XIVs were available( could it be that the “inferior” .50 cal guns of the mustang- a BETTER GUN platform that the Spits. Were actually EFFECTIVE?) Again PLENTY of Commonwealth Aces USED the Mustang,nd the few American units that “whined” about their transitions from Spit Vs and IXs STOPPED when they got the chance to actually MEET and KILL Luftwaffe ME 109s and FW 190s over Germany,Czechoslovokia, and North Italy- places where even drop tanked Spits of later marks couldn’t. Get there!! I will never argue that the Spits , of which I Thinl the Mark IX and XIV are the BEST, isn’t magnificent as. Fighter, but it was NOT an air dominance acft,and its air superiority status was seriously challenged when the P-51B/C/D models held their own more times then many here will admit. One on one? If set at a fixed altitude and with equal pilots and functioning acft, its a “coin toss” but air combat was never and today, is never in a fixed situation. There is to much documented PROOF that other allied and axis acft could outperform both in certain instances- proof of the equality and “superiority” of both the Spit and Mustang is in how well the acfts were maintained and how well the pilots were trained and experienced. Doug Bader could have done the SAME thing in a P-51B, and Johnny Johnson also in a D model, likewise Preddy in a Spit IX, or Gentile in a XIV. Point blank- the P-51 wasn’t and has never been inferior to the Spit as a fighter plane, was developed faster and in LESS variants to achieve superior performance, and was and will always be a BRITISH influenced design, and equipment augmented ACFT….

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Mike, nice to hear from you, I typed a mighty post in my normal style this morning, slaging off the Stang and praising the beloved Spit! But looks like it has not appeared. We have a few internet issues here at the mo! Actually I am relieved you did not see that post!

        Anyhow, my understanding is that the first Griffon powered Spit was the XII, this was a clipped wing VB coverted to accept the larger motor.
        It was designed to counter ‘hit and run’ raiders mainly flying bomb equiped Fw190’s. These evil so and so’s would cross the channel below radar and tuck into the downland valleys, beyond the coast. They would then exit usually over a town and drop their bombs indescriminately. Many schools, pubs and private residences were destroyed.

        This was effectively the only way the Luftwaffe could bomb the UK mainland at that time, without having to accept terrible losses. Therfore the Spit XII was optimised for low altitude interception and was never meant to operate above 10,0000 feet. In no way was it a dog unless you meant a Greyhound or a Whippet!

    • J. Eddolls

      Who’s bombers were the Mustangs protecting during 1944? They were not RAF, so as the US insisted on daylight bombing, against British advice why bother to increase range on British types.

      Experiments were carried out to increase range on the Spit and according to J.E.Johnstone in ‘Full Circle’ Spits had flown the Atlantic. In addition Spits regularily flew as far as Berlin in the PR role, see the short film Spitfire 944. My research on the Mustang indicated there were many problems with flying them such long distances which have not been discussed here, one of which was the problem with fouled spark plugs.

      Rate of climb has barely been touched on, the humple Spitfire VB had a rate of climb superior to the P51D, not by much, approximately 40′ per minuite. The Spit IX left it standing. Lufftwaffe pilots routinely avoided combat with escorting US fighters by initiating a spiral climb which only a Spitfire could follow – Heinz Knoke ‘I flew for the Fureher’.

      Brute power is not much use if it cannot be translated into performance, yes the P51D could fly at 437mph in level flight, however this did not translate very well in anything but level flight. The Spitfire easily outclimbed all marks of Mustang and its acceleration negated any advantage in level speed.

      The Spitfire holds a special place in the British psyche, to us it is ‘probably the most important invention of all time’ – Jermey Clarkson. It is a trully insperational fully British product, which was flown and loved by pilots of all nationalities. What place the Mustang holds in the US is irrelevant to us. I live in Dover, Kent. We frequently have Spits and Hurricanes flying overhead and on one memorable occasion twelve spits flew over Dover Harbour, truly living history and a real treat. To the me the Mustang did not have much influence in our history, the Spitfire did and it was in the very skies above our country.

      • Thomas

        i’m just gonna mention this real quick not trying to start stuff but all mustangs before the D were terrible they broke all the time were slow and bumbling and useless the B and C models suffered engine problems all the time. When the D came around it was finally reliable. there is no story or recording that a D model ever had mechanical issues from just flying. However due to the matrials used in the D and the altitude it could fly they did occasionally suffur ice issues that sometimes jammed guns and landing gear. later modifications fixed that and the pilots didn’t fly as high for that long.

      • mike gee

        And YET the mustang piloted by US, UK, French and commonwealth pilots delivered the “knockout” punch in both the ETO and PTO against the axis. Funny and sad that in defending the remarkable spitfire, so many here have to keep droning on about “later models” that barely (if at all) saw combat! In war ,advancements in technology come fast, and better variants of the Spitfire did appear- models that did surpass the Mustang III/D design- point? The Mustang took over the FINISH of the airwar,which meant going into Germany, escorting the bombers on day raids(The RAF had switched to ni ght bombing cause it had taken high numbers in casualties), AND taking on the job of delivering the KNOCKOUT punch to the luftwaffe- a job the Spits, the P-47s, and the P-38s couldn’t do as well. If the Spits were a better fighter platform,it would have a higher kill ratio, machine to machine tha the mustang- it didn’t.

      • J. Eddolls

        Please Mike can you state your references for your statements. Most of us qoute the publications or accredited Authors of the ‘Facts’ that we discuss.

        Please also be aware that the RAF did take part in the ETO after the BofB, and secured many victories after that event.

      • bbear

        Mike – about time we had a good P 51 advocate on this subject. Welcome.

        I can sense your rising bile as you work your way through the posts. To me the plain fact is that the US and it’s machines won that war and everyone else lost. But this is not palatable for the Brits on this board, including me.

        I won’t respond to each interchange but perhaps you could summarise your argument at the end – with the references? It’s a bit much to ask you to quote references every time you want to ‘let fly’ but once, sometime would be good.

        Personally it’s the early models of Spit that have the greatest romantic appeal. The Mk 1 is really the ‘Director’s Cut’ for me. The later models seem to be compromised. I’m sure if Mitchell had lived he would have wanted new better designs not just overloads of his original.

        As far as kill ratios go i’ve expressed general scepticism elsewhere. Overreporting of claimed kills was rife in BoB (reference – popular history again). I’ve read of double claims by RAF and triple or more by Luftwaffe. I’d need proof that the figures were post war research on a like for like basis – and i don’t believe any such basis exists. I don’t have the reference to hand but i’m sure i’ve read that the USAAF did not always count their ownd downed fighters and pilots lost or killed.

        I am sure you are right to call attention to operations over enemy territory being altogether tougher than home defence. I’ve also stated elsewhere here that no-one wins a war by maintaining home territory.

        But there are other factors. For example I understand that the aggressor gets the initiative and can focus and direct the attack. The defender must spread forces thinly and respond quickly. I don’t think either factor counted for much in this case, the P 51 tactics as far as I’ve read were simply – aggressive, everywhere, all the time. Again that is from a brief Google search’ on ‘USAAF World War Two Europe’ mostly pilot and commanding officer interviews. Not proper research, but it would take time to find the necessary formal work and Mike is on a roll…

        The overall number of axis forces the P 51 faced were not nearly equal as in BoB. Locally the defence could be very large in comparison with the attacking Musangs, but overall the Luftwaffe had been taking losses ever since 1939 in Poland. I only have popular accounts as reference for this – Wikipedia pages and the like. I hope it is not contentious.

        Go Ponys!

  82. Alex

    Hello guys.
    The real people to ask this question of is the pilots who flew them, and who flew against them.
    Check this link out.


    If appears our German freinds had a decided aversion to spitfires and their only problem with the mustang was that there were too many of them. A fairly normal conditions when considering the USA and its people:)

    • mike gee

      Fear, paranoia, and inaccuracy in reporting lead to this; there are accounts of americans being concerned with the Me 262, brits worried about the “butcher bird”( FW190) and the joke about the ” P400″( a P-40 with a japanese zero stuck on its tail!) Even the Luftwaffe thought they were superior in a well facets against the Russians UNTIL they ran into better trained pilots with better acft. The spitfire was a good acft and had many advances, but many here disscount that the advances made by spit designers as well as real world usage ,led to the creation of the P-51! Neither the spit or mustang was perfect, but the P-51 was used in a variety of roles, and probably more so than the Spitfire. Spits escorted bombers, flew. CAP, intercept, dive bombing, etc, but they didn’t fly over germany like the mustang did. The Spit was NOT the ultimate war winner, and the mustang was simply the right plane for the LATER part of the war only. I believe a C/D model plane would have gotten the job done in the BoB, but it wasn’t available like the early 360mph Spit was; like wise a longer range Spit would have done well over Germany ’43-’45 but that type of spit didn’t exist. FWIW I also like the Spit IX amd love it in simulated flight but it doesn’t own a plane designed like it but with better range (a nd speed (the P-51)
      .. Also look at the tactics; more american pilots versus less Brit nd commonwelth pilots- US pilots were “easier” to replace in combat, hence more aggressive tactics, more kills( and more casualties) Guys like Preddyn Blakesley, Yeager, and Gentile bear out what aggressive fighter jocks on the US side can and did in the so called “inferior” P-51( amd many will tell you that the planes speed, climb and dive abilities made it possible) on the UK side you have men like Johnny Johnson and Bader that will tell you that agility and forgiveable traits led to high Spit kills. I am an american, my granfather worked on P-47s as a mechanic with the segregated 99th pursuit squadron( people don’t realize tht the tuskegee airmen flew as more of the P-47s than they did the P-51s!) For me the P-51 is the ultimate US fighter. The Brits have their hero with the ultimate Spitfire. Truth be told, the P-40. For all the allies, the F6F hellcat for the americans, and the Hurricane for the Brits and their commonwealth probably need MORE credit for winning the WW2 air war……

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Mike, Spits were over Berlin before Stangs were around! See the short film Spitfire 944. Very interesting and enlightening!

      • bbear

        Come off it J. Eddolls. The 944 documentary was about a Photo-reconaissance job?

        You, and I, have to give in where it’s due. The P 51 did fight over Germany in a way that the Spitfire didn’t and couldn’t. I’m aware there were special raids and the USAAF did (I’m sure i remember this) fly some escort missions with modified long range Spitfires. But really, there’s no comparison surely.

        Mike, you could now almost be quoting from the T. Wade source in a modern language re-birth. You’re not related are you? My interpretation is that different people emphasise different aspects of performance and history so ‘their’ machine comes top.

        But as for history herself – perhaps there have been phases of interpretation? The pilots leaving the war had a great influence, and probably great ‘book deals’ and great ‘consultant to Hollywood’ credits, so maybe there was some bias to early accounts. Then the revisionists and de-bunkers got going: BoB meant nothing, Hitler didn’t mean to invade, Spitfires are also-rans…

        If this debate about machines followed the path of the appreciation of the pilots then perhaps we’d have more of the clash of cultures between the West and Nazism that i see now in popular history (I just finished two BoB popular books so i may be biased). Nowadays air crew, ground crew and country seem to be more regarded as ordinary people doing extraordinary heroic things rather than single out the few as special ‘heroic’ examples of a type.

        So – if i say the contrast of design cultures is

        pre war culture, Handbuilt Spitfire (with great difficulty getting sizeble production according to Nick’s article) , with a craft built RR Merlin as power plant
        effectively post-war culture, designed for assembly line P 51. With a mass produced Merlin Packard equivalent to support it.

        which is best?

        The point is, in three or four web sites that i just googled, put as something like ‘what made Nazi Germany initially victorious – ruthless, order, beligerence, intolerance was in the end the reason for their defeat. They fought ‘dumb wars’ in a ‘dumb’ fashion though they were far from dummies. Made too many enemies, were too arrogant to learn, killed or suppressed too much talent etc.

        My answer to the culture question of US/Euro P 51/Spit is – as a question it makes no sense. It’s like saying is warm brown beer better than ice cold Bud, or is a lindy-hop better than a ballet. Actually, what am I saying, a lindy-hop is way better.

        You could ask if any Western democratic manner of pursuing aircraft design was bound to be superior to a ruthless culture of the Hand built for maintenance Bf 109 but perhaps only if you included the aspect of being ‘designed for warrior hero sky knights’ not average pilots.


      • J. Eddolls

        Come off it bbear, according to Mike’s comments Stangs won the War single handed! Accept it we have proved that a Spitfire XIV was a superior fighter to any P51 variant. It was about from January 44, before P51’s operated in the ETO theatre. It flew over Europe and engaged the same enemy A/C that any US type did.

        My point about Spitfire 944 is that Mike has made sweeping unqualified statements including ‘kill ratios’ probably sought from some History Channel Documentry. The claims about the P51 being the best ‘Climb and Dive’ fighter I would queery. I have had the good fortune to be able to study many hours of US gun camera footage. There is very little evidence of ‘Climb and Dive’ tactics being used.

        Face it Spits were far more versatile than Mike would admit!

      • bbear

        J Eddolls, I am more than williing to come off, on, up, down, sideways or fast out of control spinning dive it. As long as the coin turns up Spitfire in the end. In which I am perfectly confident so I don’t mind giving a point which is past contest.

        Model for model date for date XIV vs whatever you like:: The ‘Stang had greater range and higher top speed. Both compared with drop tanks or both compared without. I refer (and will continue to do so until shown a better source) to the T. Wade comparison.

        By all means fight every point with Mike if you wish. I enjoy the sparks. But I prefer to seek common ground wherever possible. Basically I’m a sucker for any underdog.

        Also this site has been settled on ‘Spits are bes’t for some time so it needs fresh data and a fresh look. I’m fine with a conclusion, but what is a fighter without a fight? Maybe Mike has his own stock of Gun camera data? Maybe someone new has been tweaking the Killl/Loss ratios? It seems to happen all too regularly. You know what i feel about the stats and numbers and guns and kills.

        By the way : what did you conclude from all that footage? Random attack plan?

        Another by the way : I notice that earlier you said the P 51 laminar flow designed wing was the reason for some ‘Stang limits on performance. I just looked at the distrusted specs again… As far as I can see the P 51 just plain weighed a lot more. Nearly double an equivalent Spitfire in some load conditions. Surely if you accept that the P 51 had greater or equivalent speed at most heights with a near equivalent powered engine that makes the wing a more efficient surface in level flight than the Spit wing? And a better load carrier, just with a bigger load to start. The wing was handicaped, not disabled. You don’t get all that range for free.

      • J. Eddolls

        Thanks for bringing me down to Earth bbear! I need to spend some quality time with the books methinks! Try and come up with something new like you!

        The outcome of all the footage was that most attacks were from the rear and the attacker had, in the case of attacks on single seaters, closed slowly. Unfortunately most RAF footage was not retained so a comparison could not be made!

        Now I wonder if we would be having this conversation if both A/C had been American!

  83. Thomas

    it occurs to me that this website may be biased to spitfires just a little bit. it’s all true that the spit could outmanuver a mustang but not by alot. people here make the p-51D sound useless. i’m sensing alot of her majesty’s subjects here.

    here’s something interesting, america only built two great fighters the mustang and corsair. england built two great fighters the spitefire and hurricane.
    the two also built the best bombers the flying fortress and lancaster. seen both fly together in an airshor last may pretty awesome. accompanying those two giants was a spit and a stang i serisouly had goose bumps the entire time.

    • Nick

      A few points.

      1) Nobody decribed the P-51D as “useless” – only a fool would. The question was: Which was superior? To which – other than range – most come down on the side of the Spitfire, irrespective of one’s nationality;

      2) America built more than two great fighters. The F6F Hellcat was the first carrier plane superior to the Jap Zero, which it was in every respect. The P-38 Lightning was a great long-range twin-engine fighter, designed for and almost exclusively used in the Pacific theater, where its range and the security of a second engine were decisive;

      3) Many would say that the B-24 Liberator was superior to the Fortress. It flew higher, faster and farther. The Fort got the publicity because it looked more streamlined and fast, while the boxy-looking Lib was like the ugly sister. The Lib did exceptional work hunting down U-boats in the Atlantic, the only plane with the range able to do so;

      4) A loaded Lancaster could fly faster than an empty Fortress, which was underpowered, using essentially four DC-3 (C-47) engines;

      5) You also said that “there is no story or recording that a D model ever had mechanical issues from just flying.” That’s nonsense. Any machine, especially in the stress of wartime, is subject to mechanical problems, and many 51Ds came down this way.

      6) May I suggest that you have someone proof-read your stuff? It gets wearying to read “alot” (there is no such word), “spitefire,” “outmanuver,” “airshor” etc. And is it too much trouble to press the “shift” key and correctly give proper nouns like “Lancaster” a first capital letter, ditto the first word of a sentence?

      Alex: Those in glass house shouldn’t throw stones. In an earlier post you said that the Spitfire Mk.V fought in the Battle of Britain. No it didn’t. The B. of B. was fought by Spit. Mk.Is and a few Mk.IIs. The Mk.V didn’t appear until much later.

      • Thomas

        My point was a few people here give the spifire due credit as i believe it stopped the luftwaffe in it’s tracks but i haven’t really read much about the mustangs being as important. some posts feel like we should have modified the spit to be long range and i think that’s a great idea but i wonder if it would effect the performance at all. The great thing about the mustang was it was almost as good as a spit and better than some germans and equal to others. It was able to do all of this over germany and fly home to england. I realize this might uproot some 190 followers but the simple matter is we still won.

        I also looked into the mechanical failues of mustangs and I did find a few suffured bad plugs or fuel lines stuff like that, however most of the failues I found were from fuel or radiator issues from hard manuvering. Once a radiator is shot that’s it, overheats and down she goes most of the time.

        also the hellcat was indeed a great fighter but i’m not entirely convinced it was great yet. it is however one of my absoloute favorite airplanes ever. The corsair served a little bit longer than the hellcat and was better in ever regard in performance. hellcats were smaller by a little and cheaper to make i think.

        I also don’t know that much about bombers I am only familiar with the Lancaster and Forttress and I’ve always thought the Lancaster was a better bomber but the Forttress was prettier to look at.

        Also never thought many people cared about hardcore grammer, my internet writing have gotten lazy because it takes longer to write properly and most don’t care if I do or not.

      • J. Eddolls

        The reason why the Mustang had such great range was because of the two great big 108 gallon drop tanks. Also it had been designed to have a additional fuel tank behind the pilot. Most British aircraft did not have this feature, prefering fuel to be held forward of the centre of gravity. The Mustang had this and more but also this big rear fuselage tank.

        This huge rear tank would be used first by most pilots as it greatly affected handling even when virtually empty, imagine what a couple of gallons of fuel would do sloshing about behind the centre of gravity!

        The Mustang had difficulty taking off with a full fuel load and drop tanks.

        Pilots in Fighter Command requested drop tanks when the US started deeper penetrations. These were held back despite compressed paper models being invented and made in Britain. It is thought they were held back as the 8th Bomber Command were suffering huge casualties and the British felt it was a US problem, there original advice had been ignored
        so politics could have been involved.

        Later in the war Spitfire IVX’s routinely flew deep into the continent with ‘slipper tanks’ I know this as the appear frequently in combat reports.

        The political statement made above I have largely assumed but it is hinted at in the writings of J.E. ‘Johnny’ Johnson in ‘full circle’.

      • mike gee

        …. And Nick , the Spit Mark V was a POOR mount against the FW 190, hence the rush to get better Spits out in combat! P-51 didn’t go through as many models to get to its optimum performance; many people here just won’t accept the fact that the RAF and commonwealth pilots took very high casualty rates against the luftwaffe- much of it due to inexperienced pilots,but some of it because the Spitfire in its early models was nothing more than a “very good middle weight” going up against “good heavy weight”( the luftwaffe) ;sooner or later the blows delivered by the bigger boxer will wear you down- and the latter part of ’41 showed how badly mauled the RAF was against the luftwaffe. Plain and simple the MYTH of the superiority of the Spit against the 109 has long been noted( both were TOO equal in terms of performance!). Brit pilots in the spit had their hurricanes partners in the fight, the.early warning of Radar, “homefield” advantage( flying from home bases,over england,and the chance if shot down to get down safely and be ready to return to the fight). Give credit to the combined Brit/US bombing campaign, and later flood of US and commonwealth pilots in BOTH the Spit and the supposedly “weaker” Mustang(NOT). Love the spit all you want- its a great plane, but I doubt it has the advantage over the mustang you claim. Put a pilot like Johnny Johnson in a C/D model, he’d have used the mustangs GOOD attributes to get the SAME or more kills; ditto an agressive pilot like Preddy in a Spit IX!PS Nick- if you can read the other posters comments, you need not flame them for typos- a bit childish, stick to the subject…..

      • bbear


        enoughs enough.

        I welcome your presence here and I hope you undertand but. Pretty please with a cherry on top – no personal remarks. Look at the top of the post and realise what you’re into. Seniors. Guys with records. Researchers. Museum officials. I’m not suggesting self-restraint or deference or any self control at all. Just curiosity and the natural rules of enquiry that come with it.

        Different people have different styles. Please understand that for some who contribute here loose grammar leads to loose reasoning and some will have bitter experience or hard study to show what happens when generals and politicians don’t attend to the data.

        I’ve blazed a trail of complete codswallop in these pages so no new entrant need feel embarrassed or intimidated. My ignorance will always top your newbieness.

        I actuallly hope you will come back with a stack of source references and primary data and knock this debate back to the tipping point.

        But i won’t respond again to any of your comments if they hector or intimidate or insult. There’s just no way through that path.

        Please would you also just throttle back a little. I can see the prevalence of word count in Spitfire favour is getting to you. But no one seriously thinks the P 51 is a dud or inferior.

        So no, really no. The Spitfire superiority vs Bf 109 has not been long noted as a myth (uppercase is shouting – please avoid it). That’s because it has never been seriously claimed, at least in the sense you mean. It has been contended here by some that the Spitfire had an edge over the 109 in some aspects. But circumstances and pilots have always had their share.

        Your stuff about middle and light weight makes little sense to me.

        It’s high time you declared your sources. If not, just take a look at the Wade comparison, there should be plenty of ammo for a Mustang brother.

        T.Wades tests in 1946 Comparative Performance of Fighter Aircraft

      • Gerald Swick

        Let me add this to bbear’s request for courtesy: HistoryNet has a policy against personal attacks in comments. Commenters may disagree with each other till the cows come home – that helps make these exchanges educational – but personal attacks do not educate, inform or add anything to the threads. And this is a great thread of comments. So please, everyone, remember – don’t make it personal! – HistoryNet senior online editor.

  84. Thomas

    hey just a thought since i know of two other planes that killed more enemy than teh spit and mustang. the hurricane and hellcate. both honestly not the best planes but still had huge kd ratio’s.

    Also if alex reads this gonna mention another thing here. Britain hated the mustang A B C cause they sucked alot. the raf wanted a long range fighter for, correct me if i’m wrong, bomber escort and chasing germans with no ammo and little fuel across the channel. the onlyl reason i can find that england asked america is because we weren’t under constant bomb threat and had vast supply of resources. I’m sure if someone in the raf wanted a better spitfire rather than a new plane the mustang would have never come around and america probably would have made a longe range spitfire instead.

    I think they asked for a new plane cause it was easier to due than change a current plane. they needed a long range fighter that was designed to fight in high altitudes only. they got the mustang eventually the D came out and it had a bigger supercharger with a big ram air scoop and other little bits of high altitude parts. they had to take the merlin engine and cut some power out for more range and design wings that could fly at lower speed than the spitfire and not fall. That’s why if you look at a mustangs wings they slope downward as you go back. americans built a long range fighter that was as good if not better than 109’s and 190’s and in that respect it’s incredible. the spitfire was built as one spit equals tens of germans. America didn’t bother with building something better because we can build thousands. germans hated that because now they had to worry about thousands of planes that were just as good as theirs comeing right at them and they dared not dogfight a spit because they lost everytime.

    when herman goring the luftwaffe general saw a squadron of mustangs flying over berlin he knew the war was over. some other german pilot accounts hating the mustang because it would just turn so much sharper at high speeds in high altitudes that the german planes often couldn’t match. mustang pilots knew if they climbed the germans lost considerable performance.

    the spit is the aerial brick wall of defense never letting a german go. seeing one could be enough to fighten a formation away(i read that somewhere online about spitfires not sure if that’s true but i believe it)

    also it’s been agreed by american and british pilots that the spitfire was the better dogfighter but if they needed to go far out for a mission every single one had no problems plopping down in a mustang. some pilots thought that both planes were both great planes and in some aspects equals.

    • Nick

      1) One more time, so that maybe it’ll finally sink in. The earlier marks of Spitfire and ALL Mustangs used the identical R-R Merlin engine (albeit the Mustang’s were made under license by packard, in the USA.) The had the same supercharger. Let me repeat that: THEY HAD THE SAME SUPERCHARGER. The “big ram air scoop” under the Mustang’s belly housed the radiator and oil cooler ONLY. The supercharger air intake was under the nose, just aft of the propeller spinner.

      2) The Me-109F and G could climb to over 40,000 ft, equal to the Mustang.

      3) The P-51B and C (the final letter simply means where they were assembled – P-51Bs at Inglewood CA., P-51Cs at Dallas, TX. They also used the Merlin, and did not “suck” and were not “hated” by the RAF, they were welcomed and used to great effect. The only diffence in the P-51D is that the armament was increased from the four .5 m/guns of the A, B and C to six, and a bubble canopy, like the Spitfire’s, fitted.

      3) There is still no such word as “alot,” and Germans, Luftwaffe, Herman Goering and Spitfire still need a first capital letter, unless your intention is to demostrate illiteracy as well as chronic inaccuracy. Someone once said that it was better to stay silent and be suspected of being dumb, than to open your mouth and confirm it.

      • Trevor

        you are really a huge ass aren’t you. Do you usually spend your nights insulting people on the internet. You have so many incorrect proof readings that i’m not going to bother with you.

  85. Alex

    Hello Guys
    And hello Thomas as well.
    This is going to take some doing so please stay with me as I’ll be basically answering Thomas’s latest.
    It would be very difficult to say that web site was biased, if you look at the sources. There were quite a few amerians, some germans (and their only bias was which one would kill them). I will admitt there were some pommies also but they were coming with some fairly substantial credentials.
    Let us now look at the “other planes that had a higher kill ratio than the spit and the mustang”
    Let us start with the hurry vs spit question and the place/time we have to look at, namely the Battle of Brittian, and go through a few other facts that may have impacted on these statistics.
    There were fewer spits than hurries, I think roughly a third were spits and two thirds were hurries.
    The hurry was better armed than the spit, carrying a number of 20 mm cannons against the spits 0.303 machine guns, but the spit had much beter flying characteristics, rate of climb, turn, speed etc. Bombers being larger aircraft tend to take more punishment than a fighter to bring down. Because of these aspects the british tactics tried to pile the hurries onto the german bombers, while the spits were climbing like buggery (even at this stage a year or two before the mustang doing it better) to prevent the german fighters, mainly ME 109 from piling into the Hurries. Because of the situation preventing an earlier warning, the spits quite often met the ME 109’s WHILE STILL CLIMBING. This statergy when it worked turned the ME 109s and spits into one be fur ball, with the english quite often out numbered ten to one, while the hurries were banging away with their artillery at the bombers. The spits main job was NOT to shoot down planes but more to get every ME 109 they could involved in that fur ball with them and to servive (actually they didn’t really give a toss about the spits themselves if the pilot could bail out safely). Any german fighters shot down were more of a secondary aim.
    Now for the hellcat vs the P51. I am tempted to say they were (the hell cats that is) only shooting down jap planes, but I will put a few more bits to that argument before someone claims I am racist. Jap planes, ALL jap planes could just about be represented as flying petrol (gas for our americian friends) bombs. The hellcat pilots would have had to be carefull not to fly too close if they were smoking in their cockpits(umm maybe a little bit sarcastic there). Also once the our side worked out that you did not dog fight a zero, and just used dived through the zero’s and kept on going the zero was just about obsolete. Another factor is that the quality of jap pilot training was very poor, this does not mean that japs make poor pilots, and some of the pilots they had initially were extremely good, but they were not able to replace pilots lost with quality pilots.
    Okay now for the story on how the mustang came to be designed, and I am amazed the Thomas doesn’t know this one because it is the most amazing point of the mustang. The pommies wanted fighters, ANY fighters, fast, and they knew that North Americian had production capability that was not being used and asked them if they would produce the P40, I think, under license. North Americian, thought they could design something better, but the pommies could only give them some rediculously short development time, something like 50 days I think. North Americian, too their credit, took up the challenge and the mustang was born. Oh, and the spitfires DID chase the germans accross the channel if they were available to do so. There is a famous instance where a WAF who job was on the radio’s actually heard her man go down fighting into the channel (a very emotional story actually).
    Next thing was that the mustang did not have a bigger supercharger and the spit (maybe the V) could actually go higher than the mustang and some types were actually used for photo recon, going higher than the germans could. Incidently the germans could deny combat with the mustangs by out climbing them, and the main time the mustangs were able to engage was when the germans were attacking the bombers.
    There never was an engine put in an aircraft during the war where they “cut back its power” to get more range, though they may have criused at a lower power setting . The reason the mustang did well in terms of range is to do with it’s low drag and the fact that it could carry more fuel internally due to the way it was put together. I don’t think you could put the mustang up against the FW190 one on one either Thomas. They were a hand full even for some of the earlier spits and it caused an acceleration of the next engine up of the spit when it appeared. I’d probably even argue about the mustang over the ME 109, but each had enough to give the other a head ache. Also, by the time the mustang appeared many of the better german pilots were out of the game.
    I will agree with you on these points however, the mustang could take the fight to the enemy with the bombers, and with great enough numbers of aircraft and crew. That is what the spitfire could not do.
    Okay that is enough for now.

    • Nick

      Not only is it enough, it’s too much, since much of it is wrong.

      1) The nickname for the Hawker Hurricane was Hurrie, not hurry.

      2) The Hurricane in the Battle of Britain had the same armament as the Spitfire at the time – eight .303 Colt/Browning machine guns, NOT 20mm cannon. The cannon-armed Hurricanes appeared much later, and some were even armed with 40mm ones specifically to kill armored vehicles like tanks in the Western Desert.

      3) The idea of Spitfires going after German fighters while the Hurricanes attacked the bombers was great in theory, but in fact once combat was joined it turned into a whirling free-for-all, with Spits and Hurries attacking whatever came into their sights.

      4) Saying that the Spitfires’ job was not to shoot down planes is nonsense. That was their ONLY job.

      5) The acronym for the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force was WAAF, not WAF.

      6) Jap pilot training was not “very poor.” At the outbreak of WWII, and certainly until 1944, they were among the very best fighter and bomber pilots in the world. The selection was far more severe than for the RAF, Luftwaffe or USAAF, with maybe one of every 100 applicants being accepted for training, and half of these washed out before graduating.

      The British and Americans believed their own propaganda – the Japs were poor pilots, couldn’t see in the dark and their planes were made of bamboo and paper, like their houses – and paid the price. In fact they had some of the best and most advanced bombers and fighters early in the war, and the Mitsubishi A6M Type Zero was superior to anything British or American until the arrival of the F6F Hellcat (the Hurricane and Spitfire were better in strength, speed, armor, self-sealing tanks and dive, but the Zero had three times the range, could turn well inside and outclimb them.) For the first couple of years Spitrfires and Hurricanes were reserved for Europe, and useless junk like the Brewster Buffalo was considered “good enough” for fighting the Zeros, resulting in hundreds of brave young men going to their deaths. In many engagements, the Zeros shot down an entire squadron of Buffalos without a single loss.

      7) The “main time the Mustangs were able to engage” was not “when the Germans were attacking the bombers.” When Gen Doolittle took over the 8th Air Force fighter command he had the sign at HQ that read THE JOB OF THE FIGHTERS IS TO BRING THE BOMBERS HOME replace with THE JOB OF THE FIGHTERS IS TO SHOOT DOWN ENEMY FIGHTERS. The Mustangs were given freedom to range well ahead of the bombers, destroying Germans planes on the ground and as they were taking off. Radio stations in England monitored the Luftwaffe radio directions assembling their fighters, and the Mustangs knew where they would be.

      And, Alex, I should suggest the same as I did for Thomas, that you get someone to proof-read your script before submitting it, and USE THE DARNED SHIFT KEY for proper nouns like Mustang so you don’t give the appearance of a 3rd-grade illiterate.

    • Thomas

      I like how when this started it was an uneducated group of people bickering and now it’s more intellectual. I recently, couple weeks ago, read about the luftwaffe’s opinions on the mustang specififly kind’ve a biased reading to the mustang but i could pick some truth from it. the germans lost a good many of their best pilots to spits and as a result the mustang which was nearly as good as a spit was able to easily pick off all german planes until the jets arrived late in the war. a well flown 190 was invincible for a time being in a dogfight with a mustang. the problem was that mustangs were in bigger numbers and it wasn’t long before a buddy teamed up and took out the 190’s the mustang had more expirenced pilots and could push themselves farther than younger germans. few aces were left when the mustang entered the war thanks to the spit which destroyed them. (not so sure how accurate this is but i’ve heard similar things before).

      also found out that the british carriers were dissatisfied to and extent with the seafire and wanted a better plane and brits flew wildcats, hellcats, and corsairs. not sure they were used for dogfighting more subhunting i would imagine.

      and the merlin engine changed slightly when packard made the merlin,(old car company in america for the brits, made huge car engines for it’s time) they tried changed the output of the same merlin design for less power only slightly and this was i believe for the A B and C, hence why they suffured sparkplug issures and wiring and all sorts of th things at first. when the D came around some squadrons modified there planes to be the exact engine the spitfire had because they wanted it, but those are officialy rumors from an old guy at the air museum i talked with.

      • Alex

        Hi there Thomas.
        Sounds about right. Most fighters of the period could just about survive through any odds if their pilots were experienced enough and were able to work the wingman systems where the “lead” fighter calls the shots and the “wingman” covers his arse. The trick to this system is when the “wingman” ends up doing the covering the system needs the “lead” to take over the “wingman” roll. Sounds like you got lucky finding that “old guy” as that is pretty much how things went.
        Just a bit more to the story, the krauts originally came up with those tactics in the spanish civil war before WW2, and taught the pommies the tactics the hard way in the early days of the Battle of Brittian with the basic unit of aircraft being the VERY loose “four finger” (arranged simmilar to the tips of the four straight fingers of a hand) formation which could brake into two pairs as the smallest effective component. The pommies were trying to fly tight full squadron formations which left the leader as the only set of “eyes” while everyone else was trying to stay in formation on him. The result was that a lot of Pommies died before they got themselves sorted out. To give you an idea on how important the wingman concept was the highest scoring (note that I didn’t say best) fighter ace of the war was a guy called (and you probably haven’t heard of him before) Erich “Buba” Hartmann (I appologise if the name is spelt wrong), to him his greatest achievement during the war was not his 352 confirmed victories but the fact that he NEVER lost a wingman. And he didn’t care what he had to do to achieve that either. One of his favourites was putting the green wingman in his own very recognisable plane so that any enemy who saw it wasn’t game to have a go. Just some interesting sidelines.

  86. Nick

    This began as an exchange among historically KNOWLEDGEABLE and technically proficient writers, and has degenerated into a series of posts by totally ignorant and illiterate people like Alex and Thomas. I have tried to educate these two, but without success. Be happy in your ignorance, guys; I’m signing off. Trying to teach a pig to sing is pointless; it doesn’t work and just confuses the pig.

    If you really want to get yourself educated about the Spitfire, Mustang and Merlin engine, get a back-issue copy of my article “The Magnificent Merlin” in the September 2009 issue of Aviation History magazine. You can also learn about the origin of the jet engine in the upcoming March issue of the same magazine.

    • Thomas

      you sir a quite a grammer nazi. I don’t feel like reading one mans article about the merlin. Read alot about it and the information I used is a little bit of everything, If there are mistakes in my information there are more polite ways to point them out. Also there is no need for complete and perfect grammer on an internet forum because no one other than a grammer nazi cares. Proper grammer is used when needed like in articles and published literacy, they need for proper grammer is not required.

      also if we are so unkowledgeable then why did they have to install a scoop on a mustang if the spitfire and mustang had the same one, maybe because one was bigger and needed more room.
      Why then was the horspower differenct on a Mustang if they had identical engines without modifications.

      The mustang A B C were supposed to be dogfighters to help the Spitfire and Hurricane almost all sources say this and as a dogfighter those planes were not up to the job.

      For someone who has a published article I would think they would have more courtesy and more idea of a polite debate. Instead you called to strangers ignorant and pigs.

      good day sir

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi there, the scoop under the fuselage of the Mustang was an improvement on the scoop found under the fuselage of the Hurricane. This was the engine radiator and on the Mustang produced foreward thrust via the forced exit of heated air, this was known as the ‘Meredith Effect’.

  87. Thomas

    This is off topic but i feel like this question of spit vs stang is done, i always wondered what was the difference between an american P40 and a british P40 the americans called them warhawks and the brits i believe called them tomahawks or something. i wondered if there was a real difference between them

    • J. Eddolls

      I think the debate is ‘done’ if we are all agreed that the Spitfire was king of air combat! The Tomahawk was the name given to P40’s B to C. Kittyhawk was the name given to P40D and later marks. Although with a very poor rate of climb (2000 ish fpm) otherwise was fast and and considered capable below 15000′.

      • Robin

        Thank you for your dispassionate and accurate information, J. Edolls. I have been enjoying this ‘debate’ or forum for its opinions and information, but not for its childish bickering.

        The P-40 naming is quite right, The Aussies in Port Moresby, New Guinea were waiting and waiting for their promised P-40sin early 1942 to augment their CAC Wirraways and Hudsons, and dubbed them ‘tommorrowhawks’.

        The Meredith effect belly radiator scoop was a feature of two most promising end-of-war aircraft, the Australian CAC 15, which was very promising, but too expensive and unnecessary, and the Martin-Baker (of ejection seats fame) MB5 (a sort-of contra-rotating prop Mustang). It’s a pity they never made it into the fame and glory of production, which their designs deserved.

      • mike gee

        Ohh, Mr. Eddolls! You recently posted that P-51 performance as “adequate”- far from the TRUTH and you know it. And Kill ratios for the Spit drivers for some reason just doesn’t seem to show up very much on the internet- WHY, I don’t know. I do know that in the BoB 2/3rds of the air “kills” were done by Hurricanes( a slower acft that actually could “out turn” several Spit fire marks ) As for recorded kills? Early on I’d estimate- from Dunkirk to Action over the low countries and BoB, that Spits probably had a 2:1 kill ratio , which grew larger as the war went on(seems Brit and Common wealth pilots in Spitfires got that same high kill stats due to the conditions that you like to be critical of pilots in the USAAF got- namely the attrition of Luftwaffe expertian in combat) I bet research will show at least a 10:1 ratio or higher( maybe even 12 to 15:1 considering time deployed in the war, from’39 to ’45). Also “think” you are still playing loosely with actual test stats of both acft- the Spitfire models contemporay with the P-51 again are the Spitfire IX and XIV. I find it funny that you claim the Spit could climb ” thousands” of feet faster than th HEAVIER mustang( yeah the mustang, using a virtual COPY of the engine powering like Spitfires) weighed anywhere from 1,100 to 1,500 lbs “slick” than the Spitfire it was compared to. You are obviously using low power settings of the mustang and compaing them to the higher power settings of the contemporary Spits- the Bascombe Down tests in October ’42 show a combat climb for the Spit IX at 3,680 ft per min to about 15k ft( the HEAVIER mustang at combat climb was 3,500 ft per min to 15k ft. At 25K ft, the Spit did. 2700 ft/min versus the HEAVIER Mustang @2,500 ft/min. Top speed for the IX was 415 mph vs the p-51 B/C at 445 mph , and the XIV at 446 mph, versus the P-51 D@ the “leisurely” 437 mph. You and many others keep harping on “turning” – no one argues that the Spitfire BEAT many othr acft in a turn- but when you “know” an opponent can out turn you, WHY be stupid and try to fight him at this??? Spitfire pilots, like their equally overconfident american partners FAILED to heed the warnings of of USN and RAAF,RNZAF pilots in the pacific and when deployed from the ETO to the PTO and there are rpts by BOTH IJN/IJA and allies of shoot downs Of spits and mustangs tail chasing Zeroes and Oscars!! Late in the war, aerial turning fights and “jousting” B.S was over! Bounce attacks and Boom and Zoom fighting that BOTH Spit and P-51 drivers did. Lastly, let’s REALLY analyze that “adequate combat performance” of the P-51. Successful air combat and air superiority is more than “fast scrambling and intercept”- it osis about air space denial not only of your controlled air space BUT the enemies as well- and WHAT acft did this successfully? The Mustang! Youse that “long range” that the Spitfires didn’t have meant you could not only. Those 8 hour “baby sitting” bomb runs, but afterward you can “vulch” the enemy bases, supply lines, troop formations, and have enough in the tank to HUNT the enemy in the sky!!! Let’s look at this in comparison – the BoB vs the “defense of the fatherland” by the luftwaffe- both conditions are similar. In ’40 the Germans had the superior#s( which you beat up the USAAF for in ’44-’45 over germany) they had the combat experience( again something you personally knock the americans for in ’44-45) and theythey were taking on a weaker force with LESS resources, LESS combat experience, limited fuel supplies, and smaller numbers- YET in BoB, despite heavy bombing and around the clock air attacks , held its own and knocked out 800 Luftwaffe acft to the loss of Maybe 500 to 600 acft. Funny- you look at the advantages the RAF had- early warning radar, well set up AA batteries, spotters, “homefield advantage” and you’ll see the Luftwaffe had the same in ‘late 43 to early ’45! “YET” those American pilots in P-51 B/C/Ds BEAT the stuffing out of the Luftwaffe- who ,BTW , were deploying there BEST senior aces left, well entrenched AA guns and radar directed fire, as well as advanced acft like the FW190D9 the ME109ks, and the ME262s( which P-51 drivers SHOT down both in the Air and on the ground taking off and landing!!!). If you want to argue that the Spitfire was the BEST intercept fighter of the War, I’ll agree, but “best” all around fighter??? Sorry Eddolls- with satisfactory performing guns, range, altitude, bomb load, speed, combat characteristics ??!! its the Mustang. The Spitfire has advantages that make it dangerous in “short engagements”, but the overall package. Goes to the ‘Stang! ( If I didn’t have the choice of the P-51 to do it all I’d choose the P-47 or the Tempest to bring me home…)

      • J. Eddolls

        Phew, long post mike! I don’t think we will see eye to eye, we both take stats that prove our arguments and ignore others! All I can say is that living on the South Foreland – Dover, I can see France 20 miles away (lets hope it stays there!), 60 miles behind me is central London. That means 80 miles of airspace through which the BofB was fought.

        The 8th penertrated Nazi airspace over a much wider area and had more space to manouver etc. When we take this into account the ‘home field’ advantage enjoyed by Fighter Command was minimal. Luftwaffe raids could have been in English airspace within minutes. RAF Manston was within sight of the French coast. Maruading Bf109’s would sweep in at zero feet between Deal and Ramsgate approach Thanet (Manston) from the West and straff the field and be back home within 15-20 minutes.

        This gives you an idea of the situation facing Fighter Command in 1940.

        The bulk of the RN were bottled up in Scapa Flow, hundreds of miles from the Channel.

        Hindsight was not available to the British war time leaders.

        Living where I do I just cannot understand how the Luftwaffe lost. We owe so much to those humble and unassuming Gentlemen in their Hurricane’s, Spitfires, Defiants and Blenheims.

  88. bbear

    I am no expert. I will try to help.

    I observe that in this stream there are repetitions and disagreeements about matters of fact that at first sight seem to be open to objective settlement. There is also some impatience and hectoring and a little interpersonal abuse.

    I am sad but this should not surprise me. ‘Best’ usually exists on a bad, good, better, best grade. Such ethical and aesthetic arguments about matters of history could easily be hard to conclude.

    I think such evaluations are often purposive. People will choose P51 or Spitfire to suit their purpose. In this day the purpose may be ‘to look or sound cool’, ‘to justify the terrible loss of life’, ‘to validate my nation or my personal history…’ all fine human purposes. Period witness testimony and documentation had more loaded consequences for the speaker/writer – the purpose in making the choice might be ‘to extend my reputation for professionalism’, ‘to get the airframe revisions I need’, ‘to get a quick answer even if wrong and let me get back to operational flying with the minimum delay’ and even ‘because it sounded strong and made my most hated colleague/superior shut up, put it another way : a tool to get influence’. Also fine purposes, taken in war conditions or with respect to war memories. Get between an overevolved ape and a purpose they care about and don’t be surprised if they are downright awkward about accepting any contrary true argument – that has to be ok.

    Unless one actually wants to learn something.

    For that you may need a different question.

    I see that some commentators seem young and have a ‘gaming’ mindframe. (‘What if the two planes fought each other, implying – which one would i rather pilot.’). They may prefer a question like ‘Which plane would give me the greatest success against any credible Axis opponent on all mission scenarios?’. To which my answer is – whichever motivates you or your alter ego to perform to your best ability. National pride and familiarity or conceptual ‘comfort’ included. That’s what comes of putting ‘me’ into a game or thought experiment about historical events.

    Others seem older and more concerned with witness, objectivity, accuracy and respect. Rather than an objective idea and an ‘apples and oranges’ answer (cop out), how about an ‘ankle and knee’ question. Like ‘How did each essential machine (P 51 and Spitfire) their procurement, pilots, formations and services and the missions they flew contribute to the success of the other? Best ‘team player’?

    My answer – whichever one your ally wants and you least want to concede.That’s the advantage of putting the question so the answer can’t depend on facts. Alliance is ‘better’ than truth. Victory is not permanent. Says an aged cynic….

    Final thought for the concept mongers – try comparing a 1939 Polish BiPlane fighter against BF 109s, or consider how a Spitfire or P 51 would perform on a strafing mission of roads crowded with refugees, now what is the question that arises about the nature of ‘good’ or ‘best’ regarding war machines?

    Personally I don’t mind seeing here ‘cool text’, ‘loose facts’ and ‘trash logic’ which must defy all rules of grammar and construction, politeness and restraint, that’s the point of it – a text rebellion. I also understand the comments of those who fought for or inherited respect for standards – of english grammar, truth and right conduct together.

    So pretty please with a cherry on top Thomas – there were once real Nazis and what they were and what they did are not to be forgotten or discounted, your last post diminished all those who stood (and flew) against them in my opinion. Very uncool.

    It all depends on what you mean by best and good. Better questions give better ideas of what is best. Indefinitely.

    I’ll stop there, sorry for the essay.

    Oh, by the way Spitfire was better, by dint of presence rather than absence 1939 -1943. Just as Spit was absent over Germany 1944-5 and concedes those points, parallel argument P – 51 was absent for most of the war in ETO and must concede those points. Spit loses least points from a nominal maximum. Spit contribution to victory was therefore larger – Spit wins because a weapon is a tool of war and war is a tool of policy.

    Just so you know I’m not actually a fence sitter or diplomat.

    • Thomas

      I have the uttermost respect for everyone who served in ww2 my grandfather did his part in the pacific in jungles. I have his dress uniform in my closet. I have learned quite a bit about the war and to me it is the most unbelievable thing ever to happen. millions of men plain shirts charging the undeniable machines the nazi’s created.

      my post was not meant to disrespect the actual men my post was out of anger to that individual who despite sounding like an adult acted so childish.

      also everything you said about the two planes is agreed we would not be here today living like we are if both planes hadn’t existed. both were needed and both came when they were needed most.

      nazi’s are extremly scary to me. There is a museum near my house and they have all sorts of war artifacts from the american independance from england to desert storm. there is one section for the nazi ss and it 100% gives me goose bumps looking at real uniforms and tools that were actually used. very very scary.

      btw you are the person who hasn’t come off as a bias person (myself included) and a pacifier to this heated moment.

      • bbear

        personally i’ll miss nicks bracing comments. i hope we dont loose STM and Mike too. How often does an open forum like this one attract comment from vetreran officers? I’m genuinelly sorry you fellas couldn’t reconcile or understand your divergent styles of argument. Of course nick expects respect – he’s been there. Also natural that you’d want your two cents worth without taking a degree in comparative engineeering, a PhD in modern history and a Nobel prize in grammar. Sad.

        I’ll mention two war films in tribute to Nick style. ‘Life and Times of Colonel Blimp’ Powelll and Pressberger, 1941 possibly, no Spitfire aircraft shown, pity but a nice sentimental line on ‘old ‘uns’. Also ‘Empire of the Sun’ Spielbberg 1987 i think, nice shots of P-51 and reflective rather than straight anti-war.

        Of all the people who could have commented on the ‘knee’ and ‘ankle’ aspect of the combination of Spit and P 51 and the matters of keeping an alliance going around the disputes that arise as the two machines are deployed and operated – the transatlantic ex-raf nick would have been tops. Shame.

    • Robin

      This is a very good and agreeable post. I agree with all your statements and the forum is better for it. Except for one thing. the ‘cool text’ rebellion is not cool. It is difficult and annoying to read and therefore it is far more easily dismissed. Typos, like accidents, happen: poor spelling and grammar, and lazy typing are disrespectful of your reader. If you want to be heard (i.e. your opinions read) please have the courtesy to write it in the best possible manner you can muster, no matter what time of night it is!)

      • Robin

        By the way, I also agree with your summation, bbear, the Spitfire has it over the Mustang on most accounts which have been amply debated in many of the previous educated and knowledgeable posts.

      • bbear

        I understand Robin. Personally I agree. But like it or not what is ‘cool’ is not for either of us to determine. Most youngsters think and write that way especially on computers. And if they can’t be admitted then why should they read on? And if they don’t read they can never learn. And if they don’t learn … oh boy.

        This space is not advertised as closed, just moderated and for history readers. If non-expert comment is really unwelcome pehaps someone could put in a ‘reply’ to an early posting or appeal to the site managers? Otherwise it is an interesting topic which is bound to draw crowd attention. Including from humble ignorant blunderers like me. Remember i only started this because I saw Nick leave.

        So i hope i do provide some ‘entertainment’ for Tom and Alex etc. as I flounder around. I’m asking for some latitude on this. Thanks.

  89. J. Eddolls

    Just to stir things up again, my view is that the Allies could have fought and won the war without the Mustang. This would have occured through changing tactics and equipment, we have all heard how a Mosquito could carry the same bomb load as a B17 to Berlin, unarmed and much faster and safer. As after all the Mustang was only promoted to protect the daylight bombers. However the allies could not have fought and won the war without the Spitfire. The allies could not have fought and won the Second World War without the pilots who flew them.
    The Spitfire was flown and fought by pilots from all corners of the globe including in RAF service, Germans! They fought against persons misguided by evil..

    • Thomas

      I have wondered if the mustang was actually needed really. If night time Bombing were to be the main bombing time rather than daylight bombing, then the A B and C mustangs might have never gotten the merlin engine and stayed with the low level allison and helped mosquitos in bombing and strafing. The D where known to dive down and strafe and bomb during daylight escort services so perhaps the mustang would have been a team mate for the mosquito. The mustang if it got the merlin and became a D could also be a support role for the mosquito bombing and strafing but at the same time occupying enemy fighters, at least until a longer range spitfire was created. Imagine the germans faces seeing thousands of spitfires, mosquitos and mustangs all headed right for them under the cover of night.

      Also to stir things up I failed to bring up the mustangs excellent and advanced gunsight that hugely increased accuracy. Also lets not forget the spitfires access to radar, pinpointing enemy positions.

      • J. Eddolls

        Actually the Gyro Gunsight was developed in Farnborough in England. The technology was given to the Americans, another piece of valuable kit given away, the hidden cost of ‘Lend Lease’!

      • bbear

        I can’t manage expert comment, i don’t think either machine ever had radar on board, the radar of the time was not capable of showing detail of positions either ground based or air bourne. Big formations could certainly… Oh i see, you mean the Cheyne Holm system (spelt right?) and the link to an Air Defence System of communication and dispersal set up by Dowding in time for Battle of Britain? Any craft in the sysem with RT wireless set had access to that. But it wouldn’t help in Germany 1943-44-45. I don’t think either ever had access to Oboe/Gee or other navigation aid. i may be quite wrong.

        Bs and Cs had Merlin i believe. As were used by RAF as recce and possibly ground tactical support. I’d neeed to check.

        The gunsight was changed for the D version only, maybe. I couldn’t say how it was better than a spitfire site, i’d be surprised if it made a dogfighting difference. Few air to air kills were made at distance from my general reading?

        I won’t go into a ground attack discussion – trying to refine the ‘fighter’ question still. P 51s took ‘targets of opportunity’ after they’d finished escort duty and were home bound i think. Plus missions in Battle for Normandy onwards – very possibly.

        I’m not sure the Mossies needed a faster single engine correlate, just bigger numbers of planes.

        But your question is sound, is best fighter plane the essential necessary one to prevent loss of defensive air superiority or the one that establlished war winning air supremacy, bearing in mind that other planes would do it, more slowly and more painfully but it woould be done.

        You see it’s not just the plane, its the formation they belonged to and the missions they were flown on.

    • mike gee

      The point is, Thomas, a longer range Spitfire wan’t designed! The Spifire was a point defense acft- designed for. Bomber interdiction and short range dogfighting. In the BoB it fought the Luftwaffe to a bloody DRAW- when RAF ran fighter sweeps over the channel in occupied territory, the luftwaffe and AAA chewed Spits up! When the IX model got into action ,fighter command could compete and take back the superiority around ’43. By then the 8th airforce showed up and the 24 hour bombing campaign began. The US had to learn the hardway when they didn’t listen to Airmarshal Harris and bomber command- the P-38 could go to germany but had too many issues, the P-47 had the altitude, and fire power, but was no where near as agile for dog fighting( a high speed dumptruck) and its legs were too short- Brit pilots took one look and knew it wasn’t a dogfighter! Nope the re-engined P-51* became the answer- the B/C models could fly up to 42k and had a top speed of 445mph at max output+ the range and fire power to take on the. Bomber killing germans .best. Dogfighter? Sure- call it the Spitfire-best ALL AROUND FIGHTER?(ETO) Mustang! The mustang was a tool- it did what it was assigned to from late ’43 to ’45. Nothing more or less. If it were garbage the Brits would never have used it, or made the upgrade recommendations that made it a high performing fighter…..

    • mike gee

      Oh yes they could have! Sooner or later you’d have seen a longer rangr P-47, or a merlin powered P-38, or a higher altitude Hawker Typhoon or Tempest! The Brits would’ve forced the stubborn americans to turn out more packard powered P-40s ( a 400mph@ 20-25k Warhawk?????!!!). I have seen some rather sarcastic remarks about the US daylight bombing efforts- the ONLY reason RAF bomber command STOPPED their efforts was because they couldn’t sustain the high losses and DIDN’T have any escort craft. The 8th USAAF had to learn this lesson the hardway in ’43. But without round the clock bombing, the allies. Would have fought the Nazis. Up to ’46( and as evil as they were,the allies might have had to face a germany with Jet bombers, better jet fighters, and atomic weapons) The weapons systems, whether Spitfires or Mustangs , meant NOTHING without the brave and “superior” men of the RAF, the Commonwealth, and the USAAF…..

  90. bbear

    Refining the question ‘best’ for further learning. My last attempt, promise.

    To restate the original question. Which of these famous World War two, piston powered, day, air superiority/intercept fighters is best (at day air superiority/intercept) of the two, and is there another, better than both?

    To make sense the question has to refer to the whole 1939-45 period or otherwise it isn’t World War two. You might as well ask which was better on August 18th 1945 – the war was over, so the question loses relevance. Did sitting bull or custer have the best horses the day after the Big Horn?

    As previously stated that is a boring question as the answer has to be Spitfire as the P 51(in B, C, D air superiority versions) wasn’t available for the whole period.

    So, try which had the best impact on the conflict? Assuming that the war aims of defeating Axis powers was a good cause for humanity, the term best would have to addresss all relevant technical issues plus cost, crew factors, spares and logistics, maintenance and up-time including refits. It would alternately have to address actual operational availability and the negative value of any misdirected missions, loss rates, kill effectivess and value in consolidating the alliance,,,.

    But that kind of thing is not what contributors to this thread are about.

    Try, which platform sequence, during 1939-45 has historically done the most to progress humanity by dint of it’s technical capacities?

    Add that by Spitfire we mean versions 1 to 9? and by P 51 we mean versions B, C and D.

    Has to be the spitfire, because the key air superiority missions of WWII were for Battle of Britain. The first time the Nazis were beaten. Hitler coould not move all forces East for Babarosssa. So Soviet losses were limited to 20million. And the soon to be victorious americans had a handy airstrip to launch Overlord from. Later ‘attack’ battles could be lost, BoBritain was war aims vital. In MTO/North Africa only the spitfire served i think? In PTO only P 51s. In Burma/India/China, some of both perhaps. I’v’e not heard that either made a critcial contribution. This paragraph is guesswork.

    Checking …. Spitfire operations supported legitimate lawful plan, no hygiene factors like corruption in procurement, good professional leadership, protection of human rights, healthy concern for pilots and ground crew, no association with costly screw ups. Sets good example for later generations. No false heroics involved. So no reason to forbid the award.

    Yup, Spitfire is ‘best’ of the two.

    Part two, is there a better? Has to be No even though i’m tempted by american PTO planes (Corsair?) none served as consistently on critical make or break missions as did spits in 1940-41 – unless someone knows rather than me guessing. Contribution of the Hawker Hurricane to BoBritain is noted but not accepted, many Hurricanes shot down Axis fighters in the thick of the fray but the acknowledged top fighter was known to Germans to be spitfre, and air superiority/intercept is the question in hand, not general all aircraft kill ratios or any other measure as such. The spit + hurricane combo denied air superiority to the luftwaffe in BoBritain in a way Hurricanes alone could not. Because of performance, speed , climb rate etc. they were the target of preference for the 109 pilots. Refer to TV intervew with D Bader, and others. references to follow.

    My untechnical best answer, sorry.

    Probably P 51 D had better figures on exiting the war than any legitimate heir to the spitfire mantle – but as said the conflict was over then , just an academic question wrt WWII.

    • Robin

      That would be ‘Chain Home’ radar. Something ACM Dowding insisted on in the pre-war period. He was also responsible for NOT sending Spitfires to the Battle of France. They were too few and too precious.

      In the end, to answer which was ‘better’ doesn’t relay on statistics and specifications, performance, mission style, and combat roles. It comes down to the intangibles of design style, aesthetics, cultural attachment, character, personality, sound, smell, and love.

      The question is not which one would you fly against a FW190, but which one would you marry, for the rest of your life?

      The Spitfire is the talented and beautiful girl-next-door, the Mustang (P-51D/K I’m referring to) is the well-engineered movie pin-up girl. I’d always go for the girl-next-door :)

      • bbear

        Yes, a good thought.

        Of course, to any red blooded American male the P 51 is the curvaceous, cheerleading cow-girl smelling of clean living, prospective motherhood and apple pie – needs flattery and continuous attention sure. But when it counts, she is even more reliable than your Peacemaker. Whereas the Spitfire is the icy, classy, expensive dame, nimble enough to lindy hop all night, but then you call a cab for her because she’s certainly no fun to talk to. Which one of those do you marry?

      • Alex

        Sorry bbear I can’t help myself:)
        Not many of the mustangs people, Americans, saw her in combat. Half of the English people saw the spitfire at work above them, if they were game to come out of the shelters. Seems to me the mustang was the one flitting around overseas while the spit was desperately, clawing, biting and slashing at her enemies defending her homeland, above her homeland.

      • J. Eddolls

        I pass a certain memorial every morning on the way to work. This morning we had a fantastic sunrise. I had to stop and look around and absorb the atmosphere.

        As the sun broke through the horizon I was standing next to a Spitfire and Hurricane on top of the Whie cliffs! Luckily I had my camera and recorded the moment to show to my Children and Grandchildren, and Facebook friends!

        If only I knew how to upload these images!

        As I walked around I past the ‘Our Wall’ dedicated to the few, then walking over to the statue of a seated pilot I noticed the French coast barely twenty miles across the Channel. Iooked to the NE and saw Manston very close on top of the hill at Thanet. Behind me was Hawkinge no more than two miles away.

        Whats the point of all this emotional nonsense, well Europe, Northern Europe, is different to the US. Everything is much closer, Enemy occupied France was only 20 miles from our most forward airfields. In 1940 The front line was our community/city/town. What protected the UK was a few planes and even fewer pilots, from all over the world. Thats why the Spitfire is important and of course she looks darned fine too!

      • bbear

        yes , quite a moment. Thank you. Worthy of a painting as well as a picture. I am gettting the remembrance and respect, the wonder and aesthetic appreciation. I also sense a certain ‘dawn is the hope of man’ about the encounter.

        I’ve never been to that memorial but i’ve seen pictures. I seem to remember that seated pilot looking out with a certain sense of – what i couldn’t say, mission, belief, even of ‘deliverance’ – but something.

        The intangibles in some ways are the most important things. Who ever ‘weighed’ freedom or could put a scewdriver on justice?

        And no doubt about it, the Spitfire looks great.

        As i am a Brit i understand exactly what you mean. My only concern is that our American friends see things differently and to keep the alliance i want too see things that way aswell. Not instead of, but aswell as.

        thanks again.

  91. Thomas

    I know very little about the gunsight but that doesn’t surprise me that much otherwise the hellcat and corsair would have similar gunsights and i don’t think they did. navy liked different stuff anyways. This reminds me of other things americans “borrowed” from england.

    • J. Eddolls

      The first Gyro Gunsights were developed at Farnborough in England, and were tenaitively available from early 1941. These were known as the Mk 1!
      These early models were steadily improved and the Mk II appeared. This was manufactured by Ferranti in England.
      The design was given to Sperry in America and exact copies of the British Mk II were produced for US fighters, these were called K14.
      However the Germans captured a intact US P47 with a K-14 fitted. This resulted in the Germans developing the EZ42 which found it’s way into the cockpits of Me262’s and Fw190’s.

      The US Navy also had copies of the British MkII sight and called it the Mk18.

      • Thomas

        fascinating, at the air museum near where i live they have a hurricane a spitfire and a mustang and i noticed they all had similar looking gunsights but not quite the same. the kittyhawk they have has a old school stick and crosshair set up

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Thomas, your local museum sounds well stocked with great aircraft! We have the Battle of Britain memorial near us and frequently have fly pasts.

        I think early US aircraft had basic ‘Ring and Bead’ sights. These would have been replaced or supplimented with British ‘style’ reflector sights. I beleive the P40 retained the ring and bead in case of bulb failure.

        Reflector sights work on the same principle as modern day ‘Red Dot’ or ‘Hollographic’ sights in that the dot always remains on the target no matter what angle you view from. In the case of British reflector sights they had a number of additional rings for allowing deflection. These rings could be adjusted to correspond with wingspans of various aircraft, thus being an aid to evaluating range.

        Gyro gunsights had to be continually adjusted via a turn knob positioned on or near the throttle to correspond with the enemies wingspan, their speed had to be input directly into the sight and was graduated to the type of aircraft whether Bomber or Bf109 or Fw190. Some pilots did not need the help given by this advanced sight and retained their trusted reflector sights, their ability to automaticly compute deflection by eye being faster than their ability to twiddle knobs!

  92. bbear

    I’ve just seen one engagement where several fighter types might be compared in combat conditions with real formations, actual commands and similar missions. The German Operationn Bodenplatte – Baseplate 1/1/45 attacked allied airfields in northern europe and at first glance it looks like there was some considerable intercept air engagements with p 51s, spits, p 47. Rather than obsess about spec sheets (which really only apply until real ground crew and operational conditions set in), theoretical availability and what do we mean by ‘fast’, or examining contemporary assessments and procurement and deployment decisions that are bound by wartime politics…

    The factual reports on Baseplate would no doubt require considerable interpretation and authors will disagree – so that’s good. Also at this stage luftwaffe opponents were not as they once were, but the same for all allied fighters and the operation was a large sample size. At least the term ‘best’ would be meaningful and we’d get back to the pilots eye view rather than my ‘high command – what does it all mean’ track which looked as though it would be disappointingly one sided, non-technical and facile. So Baseplate is what i’ll look at next.

    I’m determined to find a valid way to assert ‘P 51 was best’.

    • J. Eddolls

      According to my information, using Operation Bodenplatte as an example of fighter effectivness is not as smart as it may seem. All combats occured at low altitude, in addition USAF losses were not acurately admitted by the Americans, and finally USAF kill claims are known to have been exaggerated by at least 60% – in other words over claiming had occured, this was at Asch.

      • bbear

        I am sure you are well informed. Besides which I can’t find the right kind of precompiled encounter reports or other summary online. There seem to be good books, but the beest seem to come from the German perspective. So doing real research or buying books is beyond my wage range.

        By overclaiming kills and underreporting losses we are, i hope just talking about ‘fog of war’ confusion etc.

        I had hoped that such a circumstance would put the planes on some kind of even basis exactly because i think it was largely a low level surprise attack. So the defensive ‘scramble, climb to height, intercept’ that the spitfire was supposed to excel at and the range advantage of the Mustang would both be neutralised or minimised.

      • mike gee

        …And British claims were no different??!!! Please- War Ministry did this also in the BoB, and needed to-no one wanted the folks at home to know how horrible the loss rates were in fighter and bomber command!!!! There were no statisticians on either side acting as referees in combat- some margin of error as well as typical higher ups arrogance and political propaganda made “taking liberities” a necessity! Imagine people being told that Fighter command was nearly decimated!?! That Allied shipping was bieng slaughtered in the Atlantic for almost 3 yrs straight!!?!! To be frank- many USAAF pilots got little or no credit for “kills” or combat success because the ability to “verify” was poor. I doubt if any high performance fighter( Spit, Mustang, Yak,Corsair, Hellcat) got more than a 5-10:1 kill ratio…

    • J. Eddolls

      The ‘Spec Sheets’ cannot be ignored. P51D best climb rate 3200′ per minute, the ‘improved’ P51H best climb rate 3300′ per minute.

      Compare –
      Spit XII (Griffin VI) 4960′ per minute
      Spit IX (Merlin 66 ) 4700′ per minute
      Spit XIV (Prototype coverted from an VIII) 5110′ per minute

      The Spitfire VB much maligned and much mocked by FW190 fans climbed faster than the P51D. The Spitfire IX was still climbing at 2000′ per minute at 30.000′.

      • J. Eddolls

        Skilled pilots of Bf109G6 models whose best climb rate was 3345′ per minute, could avoid combat with all US escort fighters by initiating a spiral climb – Heinz Knoke (I flew for the Fuhrer).. This was not an option against a Spitfire – truly the real ‘Home-Sick Angel’ using American qoutes for their P51!

      • bbear

        I’m fine with spec sheets when they tell a clear and uncontested story. I just get weary and wary when it sets off claim/counter claim about who has/hasn’t studied etc.

        For example i see that in Dowding’s dispatch of 1941, after his effecitive dismissal, he reports that the Hurricanes relevant top speed was closer to 305 than 335mph – that’s from memory.But that
        was a ‘political’ report…

        Also i think US General Spaatz and set up a flyoff between P 61 and mosquito for a role as night fighter July 1944. Whereas the Americans ‘tweaked’ the P-61 the Brits flying the Mossie maybe played a good tactical game

        http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/AAF/AAF-Night/index.html, http://flgrube1.tripod.com/id337.html

        Those are both examples of poorly referenced arguments, and i’m certainly not going to dispute your climb figures.

        I guess i’m just familiar with manufacturers promises that under test turn out to be accurate, but only under special conditions. Low load, special preparation, operator must be standing on a quartz crystal with a copper spiked hat on etc.

        Numbers can be as biased as any other account, even when collected in laboratory conditions. Just my caution, cynicism and diplomacy. Please ignore me if you wish.

      • J. Eddolls

        Message understood bbbear! Climb figures are a nightmare as they vary according to altitude!

        However a Spit IX would draw away from the Stang at a rate of 25′ per second at most altitudes.

        Interesting about the P61 and Mossie, I heard similar things, however it was to do with the Brits cheating! Perish the thought!

        I hope I don’t sound too loyal towards the Spit, its just that they have been so important to the UK.

      • mike gee

        J.Eddolls- the “best” thing about the internet is, that after bluster, and opinions, and inaccuracies- there is always facts- please http://www.spitfireperformance.com- it has downloads of the actual performance tests(low outputs to high outputs,engine variables,etc) sadly much of it shoots your spitfire uber mustang statements down! When compared head to head according to those documented stats you conveniently leave out facts such as performance at max out put versus min. Output( you sight the max 5min WEP output of the spit versus the low power performance to make the P-51 look like a dog! In the 1943 Spitfire XIV testing at Vickers supermarine works- the Merlin 61,63 engines and Griffon 65 was tested – that 5100 ft/sec climb was up to about 2K!!!! Similar 1943 test of the P-51 B at Wright field showed a 4750 ft/sec- coming from aplane 1,000 lbs HEAVIER than a Spit. XIV( hmmm- “if” the brits had that mustang, they’d have shaved OFF that 1k lb.weight!) At about 26-28k, the spit is climbing at 3700 ft/sec whereas the Mustang at same height is doing it at 3600 ft/sec( again that 1k lb. Difference!!!!) Level flight at 25k? Spit XIV 446 mph, Mustang 441 ! Much of both acfts performance depends on use of WEP( w emergency power) dry weight, engine pressure boost( low rate 60hmg , 11 lbs boost versus 70-90 hmg! 18-25lb boosts); the spit can still outturn the mustang- not by much, but any edge in combat is important- but if you are talking combat observations, you are talking about mustang drivers over hostil nazi airspace, trying to maintain their acft for 4+hr flts versus Luftwaffe interceptors going ALL OUT for 30-45 mins , and having the advantage of being able to burn out their acft and be right at home! Love the spit as you should but PLEASE go to the “official” records- they have the tests from Bascombe down, Vauxhall, Dunsford, and Wright Field- the mustang is NOT the dog you make it out to be*nd to be fair, you need to look at the FULL accurate documentations. Even the “pigly” P-51 D, at 11,200 lbs combat weight, could be pushed to 450 mph with in the field adjustments, and PLENTY of war aces like Yeager admitted to pushing the ‘stang to high 500s and close to 600 mph in emergency dives!!!!! Oh and the Dieppe raid commented on earlier? RAF losses were 106 to Luftwaffe 48- 88 of the RAF were fighters(Spit Vs and a few IXs) and of those only 29 were from AA/ground fire- RAF couldn’t assert air superiority until late ’43, early ’44 and that was due to Luftwaffe resources being drained on all fronts – again, short LEGS and facing equally performing acft ( BF109Gs, and FW190B-Ds) as well as german aces! Spit drivers benefited from Luftwaffe attrition rates just like Mustang drivers( more spits in the air, just like more Stangs equal a bad day for Goerings gang!) Or as you guys say, “bobs your uncle!”

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Mike, I know all about the Spitfire performance web site. In fact I have it on a tab open at the mo, lets look at it shall we.

        Now according to ‘Appendix G’ the Spitfire XIV rate of climb at all altitudes exceeds the Mustang III.

        Mustang AUW (All up weight) 9200lb
        Spitfire XIV AUW 8500lb

        Power settings
        Spitfire +18 boost
        Mustang +15 boost

    • J. Eddolls

      I did some research on ‘Baseplate’ as Spit XIV’s and Tempests were involved. I gave up in the end as there was a lot of confussion over claims, a lot of Luftwaffe aircraft were downend by ground fire. Also a major air battle occured at Asch airfield which has been the subject of a major TV documentry. Total US claims for air to air encouters were from memory 35, but Luftwaffe records showed 14 losses.

      This is not suprising as all that smoke from burning aircraft on the ground etc would cause confusion, I got nowhere with British claims as the AAA units were very active and I think the Allies would have prefered to forget the whole thing. Few Allied pilots were lost and losses from straffing were soon made good.

      My main interest is to keep the good name of the Spitfire prominent and defend its legend. I am not a gamer, and am lucky to have access to a lot of factual information. Which I hope is accurate! I might get out at the weekend!

      • J. Eddolls

        The best English languge book about ‘Baseplate’ that I have seen is ‘Battle of the Airfields’ by Norman Franks. This is very expensive to buy now but I managed to obtain a copy from my local library some years ago.

        The author is a Brit well known for aviation lit.

        The book was exhaustive but I was still non the wiser!

      • bbear

        Thank you.That’s very interesting nonetheless. I’m sorry I didn’t contribute anything. I did see a luftwaffe figure of their losses to their own ground fire of 87 i believe. I understand there was poor communication to their ground forces who didn’t expect the attack which went in at low level.

        The sources i briefly flashed through on the web seem to rate the Manrho/Putz book ‘Bodenplatte: the luftwaffe’s last hope’.So the figure above would be a third hand version of that.

        The only way i can think of to make further progress would take a PhD student or two to go through the original data looking for ‘Ranger’ (right term?) mission reports… But if for late wartime conditions we can’t even trust the loss reports then there’s not even a theoretical hope of getting a comparative estimate of kill ratio or encounter survival or anything else to enhance or challenge the legend.

        I am reminded that I did see a similar ‘Battle of Britain’ analysis of Hurricane + Spitfire against Bf109 (RAF Historical Society – it looked good to me). For which i’ll try to submit a post later in the relevant stream above.

        Perhaps after all it is in the nature of the business that the Spitfire needs to face a deadly opponent in order to prove her worth. I’ll do my best. P 51s forever!

  93. Robin

    Was there anything better than the Spitfire/P-51 in WWII ? As an overall package of performance and character. If we stick to the ETO where these greats performed, I don’t think so. Neither the FW190D nor the P-47D really come close do they, in all honesty? The Mosquito possibly, for performance undoubtedly the Me 262. But, sticking to Merlin engines, the debate now has to be with the Mossie.
    I wonder how the Westland Whirlwind really would have fared if it could have had the Merlins that it so needed, instead of those incendiary Peregrines???

    • J. Eddolls

      The Whirlwind was an interesting aircraft, I feel that with Merlins it would have been better than the P38 as a dogfighter. It’s overall size, being a similar size to other single engined fighters of the day would have given it a significantly improved role rate over the P38. This being one of the main reasons for the P38’s presumed poor showing over Europe when up against smaller fighters particularily at low altitude.

      The range of the Whirlwind, approximately double the Spitfire, is interesting also, however rate of climb was poor and not as good as the P38L which was almost in the same league as British and German fighters.

      However the Whirlwinds small airfrane would probably made the fitment of Merlins too difficult without major redesign and ultimately a completely different aircraft – something similar to a Mosquito!

      • Robin

        Yes, it is very much a wot-if? but the Peregrines weren’t a small engine by any means. Perhaps the fitment of Merlins with leading-edge radiators that it already had (like the Mosquito) would have been accommodated. Again, as you say, the rate of climb may have been a drawback but it was on a par with fighters of the day. It would have made a fine fighter-bomber at least (as it proved anyway), though perhaps not an air superiority fighter. Perhaps a good escort fighter too for the Blenheims and Whitleys and Wellingtons over closer continental targets, before the bombers went on to night missions.

        The point is that is was there already and in service by the BoB in 1940 and who knows how it could have developed. Pity it was never given over to Bristol or some other manufacturer to develop, as Westland couldn’t really handle it at Yeovil. As it was, Westland had their hands full building Spitfires (more than any other company apparently) and designing Seafires (with Merlin engines…) and the odd Lysander or two I suppose.

        It’s successor was the high-altitude Welkin, which had Merlins, and had a fine performance but by then the Mossie was fulfilling the roles.

        One of the RAF’s serious lost opportunities.

      • J. Eddolls

        Sorry Robin, I had forgotten about the Welkin! The Whirlwind would have developed into a wonderful aircraft, I have seen that there is at least one claim for a Fw190 destroyed in the air, I will research this further and try and establish the types acomplishments.

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Robin, I have established the names and records of four pilots who had aerial success with the Whirlwind, one with 137 Squadron and three with 263 Squadron. I have also established three further pilots associated with 263 Squadron that had four confirmed aerial victories.

        However these three including one Canadian may have had some of their successes whilst flying Typhoons – more research needed!

        If anyone is interested I will put this info up

    • bbear

      I know i’m not technically qualified to speak etc. But, in case you missed it rather than deliberately ignoring it as it probably deserves – I have a problem with putting any Axis power option Fw190 or other any where near the ‘best’ list. I know it is a long time ago and that objectivity is highly prized but I fear that to examine any question of quality without its historical context and value puts the analysis close to the ‘gaming’ world. The question of’ which could best shoot up refugees’ isn’t far enough away.The Nazi fetishists, conspiracy theorists, word trivialisers, deniers and gamers worry me when considering this history. I think even true technology devotees who want accuracy and to bear true witness are wise to be cautious. That’s twice now so i’ll shut up.

  94. Clyde S.

    Hurrah for the rugged and deadly P-47, the beautiful Spitfire, the cool looking gull-wing Corsair, but in my book it’s the P-51. I have but one one reason for picking the Mustang as number one. My dad, who flew 35 missions from August ’44 to January ’45 as a radio operator/gunner in the 91st BG (H) said so. He loved his “little friends” and gave them all the credit for his safe return. Dad would comment that any P-51 pilot he should ever meet would never have to buy a drink. Although I don’t think he ever met any Mustang jocks, he meant it.

    I have one P-51 story of a personal nature I’d like to pass on. About 20 years ago while attending an air show in Pennsylvania I was video taping the start up of a P-51 to catch that wonderful sound. I stood by a chain-link fence next to one other person about 20 yards from the plane. As the P-51 began to taxi away I noticed the man, an older gentleman, appeared to be reacting emotionally to the scene. Just to be friendly, I said something like “Some plane huh?” He turned to me, with tears in his eyes, and told me he had been a mechanic on P-51s in England during the war, and this was the first he’d seen one since then. He really was quite moved by the whole experience. We quickly parted, wishing each other a good day, but I’ll never forget his “love” for his P-51s.

    • J. Eddolls

      My Father had close and intimate contact with PR Spitfires in the Far East, and later with Brigands and Mosquitoes. He tells a story about having to force land in a Brigand with 60lb Rockets onboard – why they wern’t jettisoned he would never say!

      When I was a child my Father always fascinated me by being able to identify aircraft by their engine note, he also had a fantastic stock of period pics which I would paw over!

      Lovely story about the Veteran and the P51, in this country emotions are heightened whenever a Spitfire or two appear.

  95. Robin

    I’m interested! but perhaps not in this forum – as we are digressing somewhat from our spits and mustangs. Perhaps we can start another forum.

  96. Thomas

    I’ve just thought of this and I am geniunly intrested in this thought. If both planes the spitfire and mustang were to be outfitted to do one thing shoot down planes. Basicly changing the D into a short range interceptor, different wings, bigger supercharger, less weight, etc. who would win that dogfight? I think the reason the Spitfire was so much better is it was a single mission fighter with some variants where as the mustangs where used for several things. Escort, Targets of oppoutunity, some ground attack/support, and dogfighting

    • J. Eddolls

      I think if all these changes were made it might not be a Mustang any more! The Mustang was very clean aerodynamiclly. However it’s wing was of a laminar flow design which whilst being very clean did not provide the same air pressure below the wing – in other words ‘lift’ as a normal aerofoil wing. Thus rate of climb would always be below those exerting the same forward power but sporting a regular aerofoil wing.

      Stalling speed as well is higher and other issues too complicated to go into.

      However later British Fighters sported ‘Laminar’ flow wings, however their rate of climb was not affected. The Tempest could 4700′ per minute, almost as good as a Spitfire XIV!

      • Thomas

        ahhhh you said something I think some people don’t realize. If those changes were made it wouldn’t be a mustang. one of the reasons i think these two planes were so great was because they both had missions. they were purpose built, later they were used for other things but it was what they were created for that made them special and famous in their own way. Britain needed the fastest most agile fighter to take down as many germans possible. America needed a fighter that was able to help bring bombers home and not get killed themselves. the D was made as an offensive, bring the fight to the enemy, escort fighter and the spitfire was made as an aggressive interceptor that could kill multiple planes in one sortie for the defense of Great Britain.

        WW2 in my opinion was the pinnicle of aviation, best designs, best pilots, best sounds, best everything. it was war i know and it was horrible i heard my own grandfathers stories about his days as an army captain in the jungles of the pacific. both planes are revered in their own respect. we imagine spitfires shooting down tons of planes and we imagine mustangs with bombers shooting down everything in it’s way.

    • J. Eddolls

      My understanding is that Spitfires were used for many missions in addition to air superiority. Many MkIX’s were designated ‘LF’, their performance being optimised for low altitude work. Spitfires designated HF were optimised for high altitude combat.

      Following D-Day many had bombs slung underneath them and assisted Typhoons with ‘Cab Rank’ work .

      Long range PR (Photo Reconassance) was undertaken by Spits, these were flown by Americans from Mount Farm, Oxfordshire.

      • J. Eddolls

        The type used for PR duties were the PR Mk XI, these were used in the ETO by the 8th because of problems with the F5. The Spit PR XI was the standard PR Spit during this period and was an adaption of the MKIX.

        Sorry for hurried explanation am doing the dinner!

      • Robin

        And the best PRU Spitfire was the Mk XIX. Long range, high flying, (Griffon engined tho) and pretty in pink (or in PRU Blue).

      • J. Eddolls

        Blue for me, plus invasion stripes!

  97. Thomas

    I also realized something about this discussion. Britains think of the spitfire as this savior to the world. some britains probably believe that if it wasn’t for the spitfire there would be no world as we know it. Here in America most think that we saved the world single handedly. Not everyone thinks that but i know there are some people that do. I think that subconcious belief tends to bias some people without realizing it. war is a machine and there are components that are needed. the spitfire and mustang are two of the most important parts of the air war. a spitfire can’t do a mustangs job and a spitfires job, likewise for the mustang. both were excellent teamates and teamwork will always win.

    • Alex

      Hello Thomas.
      Firstly just in case there is any doubt, I don’t try to ruffle peoples feathers but do try to put my point forward in a well mannered way. If I can’t be well mannered I don’t answer at all. Okay just making sure people know that about me.
      I’ll make the point I am looking to make now.
      I am not a pommie, but from what I can make out most people there realise they had a bit of help winning the war. I get the impression though there are a few more Americans who do think they could have won the war on their own.
      My own impression though is thank god (and I’m an athiest, another group the USA has trouble excepting) for Stalin. The war on the eastern front sucked up German resources like nothing else. And yes, they were helped materially by other allied powers but the majority of resources, by a large margin, came from mother Russia herself.
      By the way, I am not a communist, maybe a part time socialist, and believe democarcy is the best system we’ve worked out so far.

      • Thomas

        also lets remember the italian resistance that overthrew mussolini and made italy much easier to get through. and all the polish pilots that flew in the raf as well as the eagle squadron. everyone helped that’s why it’s called a world war.

      • J. Eddolls

        Thank god for Russia. Hitler certaintly bit off more than he could chew there!
        However Russia did have assistance from the ‘Lucy’ spy ring that fed Stalin with all of Hitlers plans in advance.

        Perhaps we could say that if the US had not entered the conflict, all Europe would be speaking Russian!

      • Alex

        Nice point J. Eddolls.
        We’re straying from the point a bit here, but you should do a little reading on Churchill. Among other things he wanted to roll right on into Russia after the war while the English speakers still had the atomic advantage. Maybe not the best idea he had but if FDR had lent a bit more his way the cold war may have been a little less intrusive on Europe. Churchill understood what Stalin was up to much more than FDR did. There is evidence that Stalin respected Churchill more but cultivated a “relationship” more with FDR as he percieved he could manipulate him more effectively. This is just a coment really. Too many “what ifs” for me really go into bat for it.

      • J. Eddolls

        Intersting Alex, now if Operation Market Garden had succeeded, what if, what if!

      • Alex

        Hello J. Eddolls.
        I think we’d better let this one rest. The “what ifs” are already starting to make my head hurt:)

      • J. Eddolls

        Okeydokey, Alex! But what if – – – —

    • J. Eddolls

      Some years ago I was wathching a TV import that I am sure you will remember called ‘Freinds’.. There was a scene where Ross was getting married to an English girl – can’t remember her name! An argument occured between the parties and a charachter played by Elliot Gould turned to his wife and said ‘if it wasn’t for us that lot (meaning Brits) would be speaking German now’.

      This comment although meant as a joke, did not go down too well!

      I am sure that this one example is not an indication of the average US citizens views but does highlight our differing attitudes.

      I guess that as peoples all the English speaking clans tend to be ultra compatative and this can only be healthy. But there is definately something very deep between us which makes us all pull together remarkably well when we have too.

      • Thomas

        nothing like super competitive people teaming up on one person. Americans and Brits still pull together swapping miltary tech and helping in conflicts. Brits like some of our guns and Americans like alot of vehicles Brits have. Some people don’t realize that the british sniper is using an american made barret or remington and barely no americans realize alot of the big trucks the army uses are built by Man

  98. bbear

    hi sorry to have been absent.

    I’ll post the case for P 51s tonight hopefully.

    I want to put forward something about spitfires that i think i got wrong last time. I need some attention so i will try to make this entertaining, but i’m actually seriously underneath this, asking a question about aviation here:

    Is the ace/expert idea of ‘superior skill of ace swats loads of rookies and wins the war’ outmoded, incomplete or a plain flat out fraud?.

    I see 10% of Bf 109s crashed on take off (narrow undercarrieage) and 4% of Spits and Hurries were lost to ‘accidents’, and i’m guessing many combat kills were assisted by unforced errors of the victim, I assume there were also ‘out of fuel’ and navigational errors that might be influenced in probability terms by the cockpit workload imposed by the machine…

    But i don’t see in the specs sheets anything like a number lablelled ‘tolerance of pilot error’ or ‘high marks for error tolerance’ or any other equivalent (nb tolerance not ‘Stability’).

    Serious question When did ‘human factors engineering etc’ arrive, what is the impact on WW II of the absence of any such formal care, were early designers all brutes to expect so much from pilots?. Except perhaps for Mitchell….

    To put my point with even more extreme humour:
    Would there ever be a pilots report saying ‘killed by my aircraft shedding its wings in protest at my utter folly’ or ‘killed by my aircraft bobbing up into the e/a’s gunsights to punish my ineptitude’. ie any report on fatal unforced error – I suggest these unacknowledged ‘intolerance kills’ have been unjustly misattributed to skill of the attacking pilot or to ‘pilot error on landing/take off’ for example.

    If the records were corrected, which marvellous machine might come out fully recognized as a ‘super ace all on its own with 157 intolerance kills less than its rival’ – the ever tolerant, forgiving, responsive Spitfire.

    Please accept my humble apologies that this post is overexcited, overlong, uninterpretable or is stupid. If anyone is interested in this ‘error tolerant airframes not pilots won the war’ kind of idea i can explain later. The first question i have is – do i sound nuts?

    • J. Eddolls

      I have been absent also! I remember my Father telling me that 10% of RAF aircrew were killed in training. Apparently these figures were witheld at the time.

      • Alex

        They probably also with held the chances of a rookie pilot surviving at the time also. And they were considerably less then 90% in the BoB.

      • bbear

        i’ve also looked around training issues. i saw one figure of 1/3rd casualties in training. That must be 1/3rd of each intake, but still.

        Raf training at the time was arond 200flying hours, 40 of which were on the fighter itself
        EFTS 50 hours
        SFTS 100 hours
        OTU 40 hours (fighters)

        I think that compares with 400 hrs for USAAF equivalent

        And the training schools were not supplied with aircraft, ie did’nt have the right ones to train on or enough of those – hmmm…..

    • Alex

      Hi there.

      Interesting concept to add comment to. I think the spitfire still comes out on top here having fought the BoB with many new raw pilots, and an initial poor understanding of current fighter concepts requiring looser (I apologise for any wrong spelling) formations etc, while the German pilots had come from a nice little training exercise in Spain. The P51 however was fighting over germany with many of those advantages on it side, well trained pilots, some of them especially the ones from the eagle squadrons had some very long standing veterans to lead the way. Some of them didn’t even see an enemy plane once in the air. BoB pilots had no problems finding targets etc.

      • bbear

        yes indeed, i’ll still argue that the P 51formations won the air supremacy battle if any did, but you are right.

        Truly in my journey on this forum so far: the more i write the more i read, the more i read the more i learn, the more I learn – oh boy…. The Spitfire walks on water.

        And as far as the
        ” ‘coat down first’ + Spitfire Public Relations + affection of a gratefful nation accounts for the peculiar British regard for an undergunned beauty”
        theory that one soon-to-be-shamed senior commentator from the USA gave us quite early in the forum? – no way.

        That 1940s, dewey eyed, romantic propaganda and tub thumper movie “The First of the Few”? That last line “They can’t take the spitfire’s mitch”? Utter nonsense of course – and actually an understatement. Judging only from what i’ve read so far.

        Good flying never killed [an enemy] yet. (bbear says – Wrong!)
        — attributed to Major Edward ‘Mick’ Mannock, RAF, ranking British Empire fighter ace of W.W. I. 61 victories.

        Nothing is true in tactics. (bbears comment – you bet!) — Commander Randy ‘Duke’ Cunningham, USN, first American ace in Vietnam.

      • J. Eddolls

        The attacker should always have the initative, most BofB combats took place across a front about three English Counties broad, about 100 – 150 miles. To approach, Luftwaffe aircraft only had to cross 20 -50 miles of water, depending upon their target and entry point.

        Whatever way you look at it, the Luftwaffe should have been all over Fighter Command like a rash. Radar although important would not have provided enough warning for raiders crossing at the Dover Straits (RAF Swingate). It has also been said that the Luftwaffe lacked a heavy Bomber. Well yes they were twin engined but they carried as many bombs as most US ‘Heavies’.

        I think that the British/Commonwealth pilots who faced the Luftwaffe first did a very fine job, later on in the battle pilots of other countries joined the fight, most famously in 12 Group. However that is a subject in it’s own right and needs to be reviewed to finish a lot of misconceptions.

        Yes the BofB was the most important battle of WW2 – in my opinion!

      • J. Eddolls

        Oh and there was no American aircraft used, the Browning .303 was American. However the ‘de wilde’ ammunition used, developed in Britain (copied by the Americans as API) was extremely effective and devastating at short range against any air to air target.

        The Spitfire was top of the pile in 1939 and was still there in 1945.

    • bbear

      yes, and now i’ve calmed down even more. I’ve been checking a few testimonys about just how fatigued, shocked, overloaded, undertrained and hard pressed the pilots really were at that time. It was extreme. Every surrounding factor in the wider world for the pilots was in mayhem, chaos, insufficiency. The luftwaffe appearing at will, the need to deal with great numbers of bombers and simultaneously with great fighter formations of 109s led by the greatest figures of all.

      The Germans should have been easily the victors. And the reason they did’nt win must partly lie in the handling and flight characteristics of the Spitfire. Even if no-one mentions it, not even the museum curator. I’ll need to hit the books tomorrow.

      I”ll be looking for testimony that Mitchell and his group really intended and understood their coup of handling and stability. It would make them excellent and human if they ‘saw the next fight coming’. Perhaps the initial test flights might be a good clue. I’d also want to know why the Supermarine team designed for pilots and no-one else did. And the more i think about how narrow a notion a Kill-ratio is the more i’m looking for an alternative for that too.

      • J. Eddolls

        Interesting stuff bbear, your next instalment will be eagerly awaited.

        My research has taken me into the realms of statistics where ‘Kill-ratio’ has arisen. Ratio is in my experience a very American term used to measure performance, in a previous life I had to report on credit ratios to a Texan Vice President! Aerial victories interested me no end when I discovered exactly how many aircraft were shot down and crashed within just a few miles of my home – it was hundreds!

        Americans love to qoute statistics, I tend to treat them with suspicion, particularily when the figures are quoted by the writers. For example a US P47 pilot is on record, in a web site, quoted by someone on this forum, claimed that the Thunderbolt was responsible for the aerial destruction of 11,000 enemy aircraft. Utter tosh! I know through my research that the entire 8th Fighter Commands aerial victories amounted to a little over 5000, this was on all types including Spitfires!

      • bbear

        J. eddollls, “eagerly awaited”! – I am relieved and blushing slilghtly – compliment indeed from the last of the forum elders to stick with this.

        I’ll deal with the statisitcs question here and deal with handling and hluman history below in the main stream.

        I don’t think the term ‘making a kill’ is quite fitting for most wwii combat. In ww i contests of manoevre and countermanouvre well inside the human frame’s tolerance i’d say it was like ‘air born pig sticking’, so a ‘kill’ and ‘making’ is ok. But in wwii it was more surprise or endurance or exploiting a momentary error. The speed differences were beyond the normal capacity to react except in close turning pursuit or unless you had planned the surprise or had it handed to you. Any clilmb or dive manouevre soon went to the machine with the best properties. Big sky, high speed, small planes.

        So i have no qualms about treating kills and kill losses with contempt. It is conventional to award kills to pilots but just as valid to award them to designers and Group Commanders in WW 2. Dogfights in this era as i’ve heard them, are a matter of skilled set up of a squadron leader and Group calling the scramble orders at the right time. After that there was mayhem, reaction time, endurance, selecting turn, rolll, climb dive etc – but no completiion of high/lo yo yo etc.

        And for each choice the ‘boost’ of spitfire handling favoured the brits.

        So for publicity i’d say The difference between German and UK losses is the efffective number of kills made by RJ Mitchell, shared with Group commander K. Parks or whatever where appropriate. The Hurricane share is a different problem to work out.

        I recommend: all pilots to get bravery awards, even those killled in training, and pilots to be well paid for technical achievement to and from combat zone and in set up of the attack. But in the thick of it – just respected for reflexes and tenacity – not skill as such. I’m thinking it is more like an infantry man in close quarters combat.

        Where skill has degraded or other factors have reduced skill factors to zero – the last pilot to ‘lose control’ wins by virtue of his machine. And that is the battle of errors or contest of faults as i call it. In which the design that allows for human lilmits wins.

        that is RJ Mitchell (supermarine spitfire Mk 1/II) scores 377 kills. More than any ‘ace or expert’ on the old scoring.

        that should mix it up.

        It is my lasting impressioin that fighter pilots are vain and petulant about their skills.

      • Robin

        I have been following the twists and turns of this discourse with avid interest – but I haven’t really felt the opportunity to ‘plunge into the fray’ as it were in case I get caught up in a dogfight without enough ammunition (always like to save a little for the flight home…)
        I’m new to this Historical blogging business and I realise that it can take up all ones spare time. However, I am humbled by the time and effort taken by some of the players here, in putting the best possible information and argument out there. Particularly bbear, I don’t know what you are on but I’d like to have a bit of whatever it is you’re having: although there is an element of obsession there to get to the ‘bottom’ of things, you certainly find the time to express it to the readers – of which I hope there are more than just you, J.Edolls and myself!

        I’ve been out of it for a while but coming back I saw your comment about why ‘Supermarine designed for the pilot in handling and flight characteristics) and others didn’t’ – What has always struck me is that Supermarine came up with a fighter at all, let alone a champion one. Although Mitchell designed the Schneider trophy racers, and was therefore very aware of ‘the competition’ of rapidly changing aeronautical developments, he was also responsible for the Walrus, not long before the Spitfire. The only other experience Supermarine and Mitchell had with a fighter design was the Type 224 ( a sort-of Hawker Henly-Stuka marriage with a sporty open cockpit) The MOD went for the Gladiator to be safe.

        My point is that Mitchell and Supermarine approached the fighter design with more originality and not constrained by being in the ‘box’ of British fighter design thinking. It was still an inspirational event in the mind of Mitchell (and inspired by his team). Did he perhaps have the feeling that he was aiming at his creative pinnacle and this was going to be his swan song? (Can’t help thinking of the dreamy Leslie Howard movie and his romantic notions of his ‘Spit-fire bird’! He wanted to design a the ultimate *flying* machine for pilots to fly and others to marvel at. I don’t think Sidney Camm at Hawker, Geoffrey De Havilland, or HP Folland at Gloster were thinking quite the same way (or Dutch Kindleberger for that matter). They were not thinking of an aircraft to be the ‘best flyer’ but maybe moreso of the best gun platform, the best endurance, the best to suit the specifications laid down. The other fighter designs of the day were not of the ‘inspirational’ type (excepting maybe the Bf109) but certainly not the Hurricane, the P-40, the Gladiator, (or the Defiant!!!). Remember the Spitfire WAS the first of the (Allied) great fighter designs, the P51 came afterwards – after the experience of the Spitfire and the Bf109 – and all the lessons learned from them.

        Mitchell was the right person in the right place at the right time in the right company with the right attitude, I don’t think medals should be awarded, or ‘kills’ should be attributed to the designer. It is to be celebrated with humble admiration of serendipity and the convergence of luck with inspiration and perseverance.

        As for ‘seeing the next fight coming’ I am positive that Mitchell and Vickers (Supermarine) did and they knew about the Messerschmidt designs even then. they knew it was going to be an air war but I can’t see that they knew precisely what was required. They wanted to put the best of British flying design around the best of British engine design – the Merlin (wasn’t that the original basis for this blog thread??!!).

        The P-51 was the right design for the right engine also. and Kindleberger has to be admired for having the deign in his back-pocket, as it were, and force the issue of not making P-40s for Britain but push his own inspirational (?) design to them – albeit with that OTHER engine. However, I’ve always thought the P-51 init’s early for to be a pregnant, Merlin-engined Messerschmidt anyway (a comment of praise by the way – but not to Kindleberger and co. I suppose).
        Sorry to ramble on. I’ve been caught up in bbear’s enthusiasm. I don’t feel the need for statistics. Many of which, as you say, are spurious. Though they may be technically correct they are often contextually corrupt.

      • Alex

        Nice going bbear, actually something different and interesting. I’d like to add comment to one of your statements as I think there is more to be said of it.
        The statement in question is

        “It is my lasting impressioin that fighter pilots are vain and petulant about their skills”

        While I do in general agree with your statement, the interesting thing is I don’t think it can be applied to them all, especially some of the greats who lead formations (someone above them apparently know what was going on), these men appeared to be much more effective in the fighting than their own “kills” reflected, some on the allied side actually didn’t claim kills after a while to try and stay in an active position.
        Names that come to mind are people like Erich Hartmann who is on record as saying his greatest achievement by far is to never to have lost a wingman, this is from the man who could easily make a claim as the greatest on kills alone. He was always trying to keep the new guys alive in an effort to improve the effectiveness of his formations as a whole.
        Another one was Don Blakeslee, started on spitfires, then the P47 (first to get a kill in one a bit of a “humerous” story about that one, then mustangs, the spitfire was his bench mark by the way. Was another one who seemed to last.
        I think the vain mindset was needed by most fighter pilots to survive, and it is only the special ones who saw though its failings.
        Other people were some of the occupied nationalities like the poles, I think many of them just flew on hatred alone and weren’t really interested in the lime light, just wanted to kill germans.
        There was also the public relations people who must have been stoking them up also. Remember a lot of these guys were only in their late teens early twenties and highly impressionable if someone said they were good.
        The whole mindset and how the fighter pilots at the time survived and somehow stayed sane I just find quite interesting.

      • bbear

        Thanks all for the encouragement. I hope we can finish this soon.

        I’ll respond to you fellas here and develop the argument more in the mainstream.

        J. Eddols : yes absolutely. But there’s lots of americans. They like guns and numbers. They own guns, use endless stats on baseball eetc. So its important that we let them idolise guns and numbers – because they have large numbers of guns!

        Both J. Eddols and Robin. Yes agreed. I’m obviously off on one with the numbers racket.

        But that said, i’m afraid i have a mission. It is no longer enough for me to come to private, humble appreciatiions. If no-one dares to correct the record – RJ, Kinkead, Brinton, all the few who are listed as ‘pilot error’ They’d all be in the dark – if we’re right – and if we’re not right we should be put right.

        The spitfire must have it’s full merit, in public. If we cant do it with a number, we must try to do it by ensuring the public ‘story’ is correct. Any way we can.

        Alex, agreed. Not vain and peevish, that was wrong, but perhaps vulnerable, rivalrous, volatile, scared. Rivalries i can understand. and no fighter pilot is going to be tremendously diplomatic. But for the likes of Brinton – the cold shoulder, as though they were quarantined, contaminated. Skill is a matter of prowess and status perhaps? They can’t afford to be associated too much? They have to deny loss of skill and instead call it ‘combat fatigue’ or ‘performance degradation’? The combat mind set is not easy for me to follow.

  99. bbear

    To continue — more calmly, from my 98 posting.

    Using the insight that J Eddolls had around 92.2 posting. The specifications sheets (from Jane’s or what have you) are never ignored in these deliberations.

    Combined with Ron P one of the Mike’s and a few others from 42 to about 49. When the aircraft performance is small then the variation of the pilot skills/aptitudes will determine which is the best air system.

    From which I have taken the logically nessary corollary: When pilot skill is exactly equal whatever remains in the design of each kind (P 51 or Spitfire) determines absolutely which is the best.

    I end part 1 of my explanation by selecting a test case that should illluminate my point. I believe that my next post will either convince everyone or loose the support of everyone. To make sure i keep you all on board i will apply the test case at first to performance specifications records (including Jane’s). I’ll propose a ‘correction for circumstances’ to the specs. I’ll then go on to extend the same logic to the ‘batttle-mechanics’ of fatal unforced errors. Then to wider matters.

    The test case in question will be the worst pilot in the world. Deadmeat.

  100. bbear

    From my last.

    Considering the ‘speed’ specification.

    Assume a pair of test verified speed figures for a Bf109 and a Spifire are chosen from the set of all such figures for every variant of either.Assume the choice has been made such that the maximum speed is equal between the machines.

    Now remove the test pilot from the cockpit and replace them with our favourite ‘Deadmeat’ pilot. We have introduced unforced errors.

    I’m asserting that pilot skill is identical at the moment in the action when they are both zero. By imagining the air path of the two fighters in ‘straight and level flight’ in one dimension, up/down, i can in my mind shift the time base of the ‘strip graphs’ thus created so that an error in one path matches the commitment of an error in the other. That is, by successive imagined reiterations of the ‘alignment’ process i will create a set of zero skill pairs of events. These pilot error pairs will coinicide in time but not nature or severity, by which i mean both large and small. Errors like overshoot on the small side and fatal miscorrection on the other.

    Deadmeat is as inadequate in one as he is in the other. For the moment lets assume wrongly that the rate production of errors will be the same but not the degree.

    The spitfire has fogiving, tolerant, light, graceful, perfect pilot characteristics.

    For as long as Deadmeat can continue straight and level flight at high speed, the spitfire is affected less by his errors and the 109 (harder to pilot) more. The air path of the spitfire is thereby shorter, many drag effects, etc etc. So the spitfire top speed in the direction of travel is more.

    In your imagination, apply the same concept to all other pilot controlled factors. These would include maximum roll, turn etc.

    Now repeat the same process with the best 109 at any time for each criterion, matched with its chronolgical contemporary. That is pick the contest which most favours the 109.

    The result shuld be that you are convinced that with Deadmeat at the controls the Spitfire wins every category at all periods of the war. Because of it’s flying ‘grace’.

    I’ll pause for comments. And in case i didn’t mention it before i am no expert and i only state things this way for the sake of clarity. Please be sceptical.

  101. bbear

    I apologise for my long posts which may appear soon. No matter how i searched i couldn’t find references.

    Now i find lots of material under Handling characteristics (precision and effort) and Flying characteristics (mostly stability with controls in neutral position). Unfortunatley this does not say anything about ‘tolerance of errors directly’ but at least i don’t have to try to explain how brilliant i think Mitchell and Shenstone (wing designer) were and why on my own.

    Here’s something about the effect of pilot limitation on nominal specs while in combat, its the section on manoeverability,

    it seems a good short summary, it doesn’t seem quite right or perhaps not complete. But i think this and other references i have now
    (http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin AD0689722 on pilot workload and precision :handling qualities
    http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin ADA484360 ‘The better the handling qualities (HQ) of an aircraft, the more likely a pilot will be able to accomplish the design mission.’

    “Requirements for Satisfactory Flying Qualities of Airplanes,” NACA TR 755, 1943

    performance and handling http://history.nasa.gov/SP-468/ch5-2.htm
    spitfire performance testing: http://www.spitfireperformance.com

    Together should show you that Handling and Flight Characteristics have been significant in the debate and not mentioned directly so far.

    • bbear

      The reason i’m harking on is because these ‘qualitative properties’ are what the Spit is famous for but as theres no ‘statistic’ we’ll have trouble convincing the USA that our lovely plane is worth any notice at all. If any american ever does start listenting – one look at the pop-gun armament – no sale.

      I’m very impressed that human limits to performance were known in the 1920’s (eg G-LOC), design criteria specified at the earlilest 1943, Shenstone had expeience from Germany, that Mitchell and Shenstone were practicing and preparing from about 1931 on this line, ie perhaps 7 years before the first definitions, that the Vickers Board backed supermarine to build the first prototype Spit – built on these pilot friendly lines – as a matter of commercial faith (ie A Plunge). I’m also impressed that the Government/RAF chose to commit to the project early on. … Such a great story.

      Extra medals for Mitchell would be in order just for that for a start.

      True style, effective result, possibly the single most influential object other than A bombs – and completely under appreciated even in the UK, even by me – thus my overexcitment.

      And as Shenstone said ‘…and it looked nice too.”. They both seem rather embarassed to have designed something beautiful. They were just being practical engineers really.

      Once again, apologies for my ‘born again Spitfire’ ranting.

      • Mike Gee

        no matter how I try to give credit for the Spit, in all its many variations, being a GOOD point defense interceptor and fighter, you won’t let it go that the Mustang matches and even exceeds the Spit in certain models and configurations ?

        True the LATER models were better in some aspects, but the models you are using were damn near in the early part of the Jet age, or were late in having any dramatic effect on the war unlike their earlier brethren.

        The fastest spit models were being produced when the U.S. and even the Soviet bloc had moved on to JET FIGHTERS!

        Facts? check them yourself- the good thing about the Brits is, unlike many nations, they were the model for meticulous documentation! The info i have gleened, but as of recent, have not listed came from http://www.spitfireperformance.com ; the page lists tests done on the Spit IX and up in 1943 to 45, as well as the mustang B model up to the H and K, 1943 to 46. on the charts the Spit does climb higher by 2,000 Ft in later models but DOESN’T significantly climb faster- in fact, according to the charts( again done by Brit and american analyst of both acft) the climb rates are comparable, with the mustang only trailing off fast when it nears MAX altitude, which varies between the B model( 42K and the D,H,K, models at 41K)

        The spits used the merlin 61, 66, 70 model engines- which gave them sea level speed of 380 mph. The mustang used the packard merlin V-1650-3 and V-1650-7, giving them 371-375 mph, and top altitude, mustang is faster 25K for the B is 440mph, vs even the later Spit models 420 mph at 26K. Later Spits had fast climb at emergency WP of 4,800-5,000 Ft/min, but the Mustang later models had 4,700 ft/min to 4,900 ft/min. The Spit porked out at 390 to 413 mph at 30K, but the mustang runs 408 to 440 mph at the 28K.

        The planes, guys are just too damn close, and when you talk about dives? both hit transonic speeds, as both U.S. and brit pilots in combat experienced up to and sometimes over 600 mph IAS in dives( and survived- so much for all that crap about “mustangs frequently coming apart in transonic speeds)

        The FEW Spits that hit that .92 mach speeds were TEST acft, and one broke up after losing power and damn near crash landing!!! High machs were not normal unless emergency and pilots on both sides of the war were advised against power dives that could cost their lives and their acft!

        The Luftwaffe 109s and FW 190s regularly used the tactic of climbing steeply to get away from early model spits and mustangs to survive- that did work so well against spit IXs and up models, nor did it work against high pressured P-51B/C/Ds.

        Face it- the mustang is a BRITISH called for design that americans took to being their own. IF the Mustang had been designed exclusively by Brits, there’d have been no spitfire- ditto if the Brits could’ve pushed the US to drop P-38s and P-47s and U.S. contract build spits. guarantee you if the Brits had control of the Mustang it, would have been the lighter K model( when the spit IX and XIV were bopping around at 6,900 lbs max weight, the mustang was doing so at 9,000 lbs, YET moving along at the same speed. best believe the Brits would have mixed in 20mm and 50cals as back ups rather than the 4 .50 cals or 6pack .50s……

  102. bbear

    from T.Wades tests in 1946 Comparative Performance of Fighter Aircraft

    The squadron pilot is sometimes the worst offender in this respect, as nothing delights him more than being able to prove that his squadron’s aircraft are superior in every respect to his rivals. In doing so, he commits a very forgivable sin and one, which only his unfamiliarity with another type can be blamed.

    He is most naturally, far more concerned with what he can do with his own aircraft in the air, and his conviction that the Spitfire, for example is better than the Mustang is largely based on his own experiences. Moreover, his yardstick will be very different from a Mustang pilot, for example, who measures his aircrafts capabilities by its ability to carry out long range escort work, whereas a Spitfire pilot is more impressed by rate of climb and turning ability. ”

    he mentions rivalry and commercial interest and caution on quoting stats and general scepticism.

    in short a good summmary of the forum so far – and 55 years ago.

    and even at that time, he talks of turning circle but not handling or pilot performance limitiation, though he must have known both.


  103. bbear

    We are left with handling and flying characteristics as the only possible knock down Spit advantages.

    1931:Schneider cup
    Lt ‘Gerry’ Brinton RN (aged 26) dies on take off flying a Supermarine S6A in southhampton waters- ‘pilot error’, cough, cough, shuffle shuffle ..better forgotten
    Several other pilots die or are injured
    Britain wins the trophy outright.No more such races are run.
    Mitchell awarded CBE aged only 36, gives speeches…
    Shenstone (27?) joins the team (slide rule wielding wing specialist whose existence spelt the end for mitchells more ‘freehand and hope’ methods – i know i’m summarising wildly – just ‘smell this’)

    Mitchell was singularly close to his pilots – how would you feel?

    The 224 prototype is not going well
    The Vickers boss calls Mitchell : “build the best fast interceptor killing machine, no government order, no ministry interference, no limitations, you have a free hand, build the best”
    B. Shenstone is your junior partner and very hep to the latest German design thoughts, knew what Germany was becoming?……

    You are a race bred, successful, professional engineer. What is your motiviation to project from the idea that modern planes are ‘too fast for mortal man to fly’ to ‘force protection by superior handling’ and thus to coach the eqully impressed Shenstone to ‘put one through for Brinton’ and accept no compromise or 2nd best until you had the perfect pilots plane. You are aware of ‘battle fatigue’ from personal experience. You have colon cancer. You are now 41 and will be dead within two years – but you only know ‘soon’.

    There had to be some reason for the immaculate and exceptional Combat winning properties of the Mk 1. Is this a plausible one? I’ve knowinlgy ‘skated’ over the facts and dates to get this out early.

    The first thourough references i can find on Handling and Fatigue come from around 1969. Are there any earlier sources? Were Shenstone and Mitchell that far beyond the curve?

    I’ve read what i can but i need more criticism, if this fanciful speculation ‘flies’ for now I will have to ‘call someone’ to do proper research before the last witness dies. Any ideas who?

  104. bbear


    This is the earliest reference i can find to a practice of ‘bearing the human in mind’ when designing. So it looks as though Mitchell was ahead of the game. Also the words related to this field would not have been fully defined. Unless anyone knows better i’ll stop searching for contemporary examples of what we think Mitchell was up to.

    Ergonomics 1940’s: World War II marked the development of new and complex machines and weaponry, and these made new demands on operators’ cognition. The decision-making, attention, situational awareness and hand-eye coordination of the machine’s operator became key in the success or failure of a task. It was observed that fully functional aircraft, flown by the best-trained pilots, still crashed. In 1943, Alphonse Chapanis, a lieutenant in the U.S. Army, showed that this so-called “pilot error” could be greatly reduced when more logical and differentiable controls replaced confusing designs in airplane cockpits.

  105. bbear

    I also found a handful of suggestive refernces in Gordon Mitchells biography of his father.

    Brinton was told several times to hold the stick back on take off, but by the way he badly ‘porpoised’ it sounds as thought the rest of the team concluded he did not heed the order so it was pure pilot error. They reassured Mitchell just as the earlier team had done for Kinkead’s death. According to Gordon ‘RJ’ put it behind him. But i don’t buy it.

    Although he put up a ‘practical engineer’, ‘heart and soul’ front, his wife tells a different story. Sensitive, always worried not exceited when a new plane was tried.

    Later when he was being feted: He pullled out of one national speech and made a recording later instead. And at one speech in his hometown he didn’t come on to the stage and was found elsewhere hiding.

    And we know he was so good at ‘brave face’ that no one at Supermarine knew he was sick until very near the end. However i think it is likely that his boss Robert Mclean knew and if so that would fit with his supporting Mitchell so strongly to stop wasting time on the 224 type and go for what he believed in – what became the type 300.

    That’s enough on motive for now. Also for silence on the subject of making it handle to compensate/forgive/fail gracefully/inform/train/nurture pilots. There were several things his team didn’t know, and the changes would be subtle and reasonable in other ways. I would think Shenstone and Smith would have guessed. And Quill the test pilot said he always wanted to talk about handling after a test.

    But it doesn”t seem he gave it the ‘big sell’ either. Dowding was the key procurement officer for the air ministry. No mention of anything like ‘pilot based design’ in the records for them that i can see. Perhaps he was glad all pilots liked it and gave it their eager support without him having to explain.

    And there is no such ambitiion mentioned in the Gordon Mitchell biography, which is the most detailed i”ve flipped through so far.

    And not a hint in Mutt or Quills testimony that lets on that Mitch had such a specific objective.

    Of course all the features could be accidental or purely mechanistic – but to get perfect balance of piloting factors doesn’t come without effrort. and RJ was the last to waste time….

    I have to say i’m still convinced, RJ designed a machine that took all the lessons from Schneider in mind, including the shortcomings of pilots with respect to speed and reaction, G-Loc and stiffness/ease of use. Many factors, including cockpit arrangements. But mostly handling.

    I’ll look back at testimony and see why the Few didn’t credit RJ even more with design for fatigue/error/skill limitation as a combat tool.

    Nearly there.

    • bbear

      This should close off the root of the difference in handling question.

      from a Messerschmidt Biography
      Hans Hackman, a close friend of Milch was killed testing the prototype Messerschmitt M20 transport plane. Milch was incensed by Messerschmitt’s lack of remorse for the death his friend,

      His early aircraft were all prone to failure, often with tragic loss of human life. Indeed it is hard to think of any other aircraft designer with such a record of disaster!

      and he was connected politically…

      Mitchell despite my last post fantasies was famously careful about safety, friendly and jolly (and privately very sensitive) to the test pilots and Schnieder pilots. All his designs including the monster racers flew well in the air. So i think his use of all that care and experience would find a natural and conclusive expresssion in the Spitfire. His last gift as it were. and yes i choose to believe he did understand what such an advantage would mean facing his known deadly rival

      W. Messerschmtt and the 109 (and his junior designer was a noted pilot – Lusser) were apparently not well liked by initial test pilots, and w know about the on the ground losses (1500 over the war period, 10% of airframes employed). Yes that makes sense,Lusser as a race/combat pilot would be aggressive regarding dangers to the less skilled? Not proven, but plausible perhaps? By reputaion the 109 was deadlly in the hands of an experienced pilot but a bit of work for a novice to handle.

      I hadn’t realised how parallel the biographies of the men and the advent of the designs were.

      Now back to the more technical/combat stuff. But an interesting diversion?

      • bbear

        I’m afraid i am just boring now but i’ll continue to the end as promised. I’ll try to wrap up and then summarise. Three posts and i hope to finish things today.

        First – The P 51 mark B,C,D aka Mustang II,III, these were the best at the time of their deployment.That is they are the best piston powered day fighters (intercept and intruder) from WWII event though they did not serve throughout.

        The best do i say? Let me count the ways:

        1 Performance figures: ( RAF Wade direct post war analysis and by extension to the time of the first introduction of B,C types) . The Mustang was the only fighter to enjoy a significant advantage over its Axis adversaries (except Komet and Me 262). It was faster, not quite a high flyer but considering all withall, such a speed difference is decisive. From the first contact over Poland/Pearl Harbout to the last gasps the machine with height, speed and firepower wins over the ‘aerobat’. Most kills without loss are suprise attacks.
        Speed can be traded for height in a shallow climb. Any form of disengagement puts the victim at a disadvantage. That is all it takes to be supreme. At most times the Spit had a similar advantage, but the P 51 had it from day 1 of it’s use in combat to the end and had more of that advantage over the Axis forces.

        2 Quanitities, mass produced and flown by prolifically supplied pilots of the US. Secure resupply. It all goes together.

        3. Range – i wanted this performance factor separate. Range enables supremacy contest and ground assault accross the whole of enemy territory pretty much. The first time any participant had managed this persistently. That is the ‘area’ war of air power rather than ‘line’ war of ground forces was fully completed for the first time ever in history- Theatre air supremacy without ground occupancy. It is a strategic matter, you see.

        4. Unequalled: The spitfire and other like contestants don’t figure in this, the range and number of the Mustang was such that ‘standing patrols’ for defensive purposes could if necessary beat any ‘fast climbing, turning, interceptor’.And mostly it wasn’t necessary. Manoevring is irrelevant as the Mustang can avoid it with speed/shallow climb. Good RT and sheer numbers of pilots ‘Mk 1 eye ball air radar’ means the enemy contact is rarely lost. Good RT equipment allow co-ordination sufficient to ensure that contact is predominantly finished at the Mustang’s choice. So the Spit and others were redundant or nearly so.

        5 Even allowing the logical chain of ‘Fate of Europe’ depends on BoB victory which depends on Sptifire (which is dubious to say the very least). You cannot win a war by retaining air superiority over your own territory! The P 51 specifically and the USAAF in general established air SUPREMACY in ETO western front and thus enabled victory by land manoeuvre/occupation. before Stalin/Soviet Russia dominated mainland Europe entirely. So the P 51 was the most vital tool to western allied war aims. The Pacific was different but parallel. It would be bizarre to have a machine from any other nation considered ‘best’.

        The Polish monoplanes, Hurricanes, French, Chinese, Russian and in particular the Spitfire might together be said to be the GREATEST fighters – I’m guesing that together they downed the most axis planes and pilots, lost by attrition gained by ‘scorched earth’ or ‘another victory like this and we’re finished’ effect. They took the brunt of the early Axis attack often in extreme or untenable positions and inspired the general populations – in the case of the UK, possibly the world the Spit was a vital tool of propaganda – as the ‘one that hit back’, the worm that turned etc. Plus each of these ‘target tugs with semi lethality’ have particular advantages the P 51 doesn’t have. Turning, climbing, handling, cost etc. But this is war not an aerobatic contest or running a commercial airline.

        Nobility is not victory, and fine looking wings and poetic words ‘butter no parsnips’. Supermarine ceased to be recognisable as an outfit around 1965, NAA as a division of other companies vanished around 2005. Spitfires did little service after the war. The P 51 served as fighters up until Korea. US aviation industry flourished, all UK industry dwindled. Commonwealth and new nations that left the crumbling European Empires stalled or imploded – a wide spectrum of fates, Poland was soviet until 1989 or so – 44 years, now they do have something to complain about.

        What i’m saying is ‘To the victor the spoils’ – that’s how you tell who won.

        The Brits must get this for their own good so I’ll spell it out. You came second in the war. And second is just first place among the losers. Great nations have no friends, no enemies – only interests. Now quit whining and seize the future.

        – of course i am a brit – I’m just seeing things from the other side of the pond…. for an exercise.

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi bbear, I wrote a magnificent response to this last night but got timed out! Will try and do it justice tonight.

      • bbear

        Hi J. Eddolls thanks. I look forward to a ‘smash to the canvas’ rebuttal in favour of the Spitfire.

  106. bbear

    Now the second part of the original question. Was there a better fighter?

    I’ll try to argue that there was – both in straight performance/combat terms as well as the ‘smart guy gets the loot’ post war considerations.

    The DeHavilland Mosquito/Hornet series of aircraft was as good or better together at what the P 51 did individually and did it better and cheaply. The bomber didn’t need an escort – at night. And even at night (by using pathfinder tecchniques) could drop more bomb weight on target than a B 17 with much lower crew and losses. So you could afford and crew far more of them. Nearly a squadron of Mossies (12 x 2 crew) for the crew of 2 B 17s.

    By day the low level fast attack option available to a Mosquito would give lower losses than any medium altitude US type. B 17 flew always at altitude. Mosquito only some of the time – but still had the lowest loss rate of any allied bomber at 10%. What is so for the B 17 is also the case for all other allied bombers except the B 29 – which typically operated beyond P 51 range i believe. So much for the long range escort role of P 51.

    The Mosquito bomber had no guns – it didn’t need them. The only point of guns on a bomber is self protection. Speed was the armour of a Mosquito and it worked! If converted B 17 crew missed their armoury – they’d pretty quickly get used to the advantage of returning alive!

    The fighter types up to Hornet were as fast or faster than any realistic P 51 development of equivalent period. Climbed faster, and had much more effective armament (nose located 4 x Hispano cannon at minimum). Pressurised cabins were easily possible for high altitude). The Hornet concept arrangement could carry more fuel and had potentially more range than any P 51.

    The Mossie/Hornet general type might be summarised as Schnell bomber/heavy fast fighter. This breed got the ideas implented with the best combination of technologies of the time : monocoque wooden fuselage plus best wing form and structure plus two Merlins = speed, high climb, excellent weight carrier, low wing load, low radar profile?…. that combination. The type was suited to mass production (with the later Packard Merlin engine). It was available earlier in the war, at best with Ministry support from the beginning, it could have been deployed in late 1940. It was also nominally available in a carrier version.

    I know the Hornet did’nt appear until after the war – but it so very easily could have done if the USA had taken up the concept. I’m quite certain that if US industry had gotten hold of the idea early, the lowly performance improvement curve from 1941-45 attained by the Brits would have been out done very quickly. For reference see the quick progress beyond the original specification of the Mustang. US industry led the general aviation field , that’s why they were so vulnerable to ‘not invented here’ syndrome. But once they got onto something, they had the great capacity to run with it.

    The two engines would make for higher survivability. Sometimes one engine would survive combat.

    The Mosquito/Hornet concept was way more capable in multi-role terms. It could have served in the Pacific to replace Dauntless/Defiant/P 40 generation (once the ‘glue’ fault was cured!). The M/H type therefore outclasses Corsair/Thunderbolt also. By which i mean – what holds for the P 51 holds here – aerobatics is not relevant. What is relevant includes speed,height, weight and power of guns and range – about 3,000 miles for the Hornet F 3).

    So the US fly boys could have dished the Axis forces in 1944 in all Theatres flying only in wooden crates. The Mossie/Hornet or reworked US development thereof could to this day be receiving the thanks of a grateful US nation.

    Please note a Nick – esque point : The Packard/Merlin US/UK engine should absolutely by rights receive that acclaim now, but the Merlin is not an airframe and Joe Public looks at nice shapes of wings, not manifold pressures. And maybe as Joe pays the taxes and the military like to keep the (political) peace the US does not recognise any exotic power plant unless they have to?

    But in any case in the event, the UK High Command were did not deign to sell the Wooden Wonder designs to the Americans. The UK cabinet, ie Winston, were obsessed with ‘heavy’ bombing. So Harris and Bomber Command of the RAF did not fully recognise the Mossies value (same bomb load as the B 17 but all the way to Berlin- in all it out performed even the RAF Avro Lancaster in terms of bomb weight per unit time per unit of blood and treasure). And because it was falsely decried as a strategic bomber the UK did not think to energetically promote its US manufacture to replace the B 17s. Parallel concept fighters and intruders similar to the Hornet were therefore not taken up successfully by the US. So the great advantage of low loss, flexible, accurate and effective bombing/intruder/ground attack misssions until Mustang II came on stream (say late 1941 to early 1943 in terms of bulk numbers at readiness) was lost.

    I think any B 17 pilot would have eagerly gone with the swap once he’d flown a Mossie mission. Fast, high, no flak, few fighter attacks, accurate delivery, Berlin and back, home for breakfast, no crew to worry about… In a Fighter/Bomber version the pilot had pretty good (axis fired 4×303 mgs and 4 x hispano cannon) gunnery under his own thumb compared with the bedlam of shouting and off axis deflection shooting effect of all the guns on a Fortress. The USAAF boys would never have thought of swapping a heavily armoured and much gunned ‘big ‘un’ for a ‘tiddler’ until the proof was in their eyes and hands of course, they loved the ‘Fortress so much. I’ve only scattered ad hoc testimony for this – but i’m convinced.

    So I’d say high allied bomber casualties continued unnecessarily. The UK lost one more commercial foothold in the post war world and the allilance was weakened. It looks to me like another wasteful, ruthless decision by Churchill. Curses.

    • bbear

      And to my third post of today and possibly last ever.

      From my wilder posts 99 to 101 and subsequent biographical detail on Mitchell and sports history of the Schneider cup, i don’t hear anyone significantly at odds with the line of reasoning:

      Mitchell based his practice in great care and concern, especially for test pilots and Schneider High Speed flight crews.

      Mitchell in accordance with the specification F7/34 and F10/35 built the Spit to match the performance of the ‘average’ spitfire pilots.

      By ‘average’ they seem to mean minimal pass mark in training or borderline readiness or ‘scraping the bottom of the barrell in recruitment’. The kind of pilot that might predominate in the decisive stage of a battle of attrition. That is if both sides enter a ‘maximum effort’ mode the side with the Spit that also could hold out long enough would eventually win an advantage. Then a bigger advantage the next day etc.

      I demonstrated (100 post) that in a contest between such ‘average’ performers the advantage in combat goes with the one in the ‘perfect pilots aircraft’ – Spitfire. The work on pilot fatigue provides some support for this. (http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin AD0689722 on pilot workload and precision :handling qualities
      http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin ADA484360 ‘The better the handling qualities (HQ) of an aircraft, the more likely a pilot will be able to accomplish the design mission)

      This ‘Spitfire effect’ would apply to the jockeying this way and that of manouevre/counter manouevre, tactical choice and manual task during any engagement. Thus affecting the statistical chance in an engagment of kill or escape overall.

      So it is as though when any opponent meets a Spitfire a downward correction to the specifications of his machine and his own skill rating must be made. The Spitfire will always be flown closer to its nominal ‘test’ condition than any other in combat conditions. Especially when the contest is between low performers.The tactical position has changed from the ‘Skill vs skill’ scenario. This new contest i call the ‘contest of errors’. Who doesnt dare wins as you might say…

      Now – speculating even further, as no-one has objected.

      The ‘Spitfire effect’ might also appear in the ‘single fatal unforced pilot error’ category. For example the hazard of narrow undercarriage of the 109 on take off and landing would be multiplied for new or under trained or fatigued or other low performing pilots. As would mid air structural collapse from overstress in manouevres. Spitfires still suffered 4% errors and were not easy to move on the ground. But once airbourne the relevant loss statistic should be lower for the Spitfire than for other contemporary types. Thus the contest of errors persists from pilot deployment to relief not just during engagement and not even just while airbourne. Every facet of service life might have an impact.

      I have not heard any similar argument in the public forums or read it in any of around 20 popular accounts. I have seen a statistic about relative survival from encounter rates for Spits and Hurries contacting 109s but no reason or conclusion that i can remember (i have now lost the reference)

      We also noted that senior commentators in this forum and outside make no reference to this ‘ forgiveness’ factor when explaining their ideas of what is ‘best’.

      I do see that Dowding was involved in the Spitfire procurement process and that his pattern of A, B, C Squadrons during Battle of Britain and selective rather than ‘maximum effort’ tactics he used played a brilliant hand as far as i can see to align the best forces in a Contest of Skills. That is, he tried to avoid sending new ‘chicks’ into battle. Or so it seems to me.

      What I do not see mentioned much is tactics for the low performer. There is little or no ‘Basic Fighter Manouvres’ list for overstressed, under trained and low quality pilots – no acceptance of the ‘Contest of Errors’ under some other name that i can see.

      I also wonder if sufficient attention is given in today’s air forces of ‘perfect handling perfects rookies’.

      Which way should commercial development be tackled? Is there still a place for the RJ Mitchell ‘band leader’ role?

      More than that I wonder if every pilot who is listed as ‘died in training before becoming a pilot’, ‘death due to pilot error’ or ‘novice killed in action’ are being given their proper appreciation by the public.

      Post war – did we listen too much to the Aces? In between their glory, glamour and assertiveness – did we miss something?

      That is, did we miss a motivational story of ‘national survival derived from national character and common humanity and expressed in metal’ because there is no number or statistic for it and no spokesman for the semi-competent dead flier?

      I therefore propose to send a short letter to the Spitfire Society and RAF Historical Society asking these questions.

      • bbear

        Despite many hours searching i cannot find my sweet reference to Spitfire pilot survivability against 109s, it seems that an article by one John Alcorn in Aeroplane Magazine in 1996 (updated in 2000) compared claims with loss reports from the other side, looked at the missiions reports from the Luftwaffe to tallly the two sets together to get corrected kill credits and put the numbers per squadron/equipment type.

        I wasn’t aroound to read the original and no doubt there were sceptics of the method.

        The paper I saw may have used the same data or a similar method but added allied losses from the squadrons to get a lethality/survial index or some such thing.. Not only can I now not find my web reference, i can’t even pull up a full set of Alcorns data. Just third hand anecdotes in other forums that say that per squadron Spitfires (19 Squadrons) downed more 109s than Hurricanes (30 squadrons -or 32 accounts vary) did during BoB. Sorry guys, i am feeling dejected.

        Even if i had beeen successful in finding the data, i am now so sceptical of all statistics that I wouldn’t put much weight on such latter day reinterpretations.

    • mike gee

      I believe the US should have used and contract built the lancaster over the Older(’30s designed) B-17 and. I feel that a P-51 B/C model operated by the RAF during the BoB would have meant pure air dominance! The Brits would have armed the mustang with 20mms and would have ranged over France, killing the Luftwaffe in higher #s. BBear- I think the US would have found a way to make the mosquito an aluminum acft, and that would have changed the acfts weight and even performance. There were no “perfect weapons systems” then or now. During the cold war the Brits had a potent fighter( the lightning) that outperformed a lot of US and allied fighters( the only true US fighter at the time was the F-8, not the highspeed bus F-4!!)All had draw backs and issues compared to their opponent Soviet bloc acft. Ditto the enemies in comparison. Japanese A6M fighters terrified allies until tactics and later BETTER allied acft chewedf them up! The BF109 could be equaled by the Spit I/ Vs “until” the FW190 showed up. In every evolution of war machines, the other side stepped up to make a better system.As you already pointed out, pruduction coupled with sustained reinforcement of men and materials wins wars! And we must credit the Brits for getting off their humps and prepping for war when every else,including the near useless french, the other naïve european nations, and the footdragging Americans let Japan,Germany and Italy run wild for nearly 4 yrs…

      • Alex

        The French were a very interesting case. If they’d attacked first there are some schools of thought that the war would have been over in a couple of weeks. Their air force was not up to speed though and would have needed help from the English, but I dare say if they looked like they were making a fist of it like in the first war the Brits would have been over there in a bigger way, and would have bought the spits with them. As it was the Germans attacked first and just went around the French defensive lines and that was that. Lots of if’s and if’s and but’s and but’s.
        Check out the WW1 and people can see that the French aren’t really useless, just didn’t want to fight another war in the trenches…….just like everyone else except the Germans, and Japs. And the Italians were more interested in making love not war, just that idiot “El Duce” kept getting in the road. Well I spose he did get the trains to run on time. lol

  107. Nick

    Now that the discussion has largely evolved into informed and intellectual posts by such as J.Eddolls and bbear, and less uninformed rubbish and illiteracy (although we still occasionally get the non-existent word “alot” and an apparent inability to depress the shift key to capitalize proper nouns – you know who you are), I’ve decided to reenter the fray, as it were, especially re. designing for the pilot, what today we call ergonomics. Here is an exerpt from an article of mine on the Spitfire, due to be published later this year. Comments are welcome:

    The exhilarating years of races and records having ended, Supermarine concentrated on building flying boats. But the experience gained in designing every British Schneider Trophy winner since WWI resulted in a team that knew more about high-speed aircraft than anyone else. When, in the early 1930s, the Air Ministry issued specification F.7/30 for a new fighter, they were ready.
    Mitchell’s team came up with several concepts that introduced features, such as retractable landing gear and an enclosed cockpit (against the insistence of some senior RAF officers that a pilot must be able to feel the wind in his face), but the Air Ministry specified a low landing speed, a holdover from the biplane era and influenced by the majority of RAF airfields being of grass, so the contract was won by a biplane design from Glosters, which entered RAF service in 1937 as the Gladiator and later gave valiant service against far more modern aircraft in the early part of the Malta campaign.

    Mitchell persuaded Supermarine to ignore government specifications and funding and embark on a private venture, incorporating much of what had been learned from the Schneider Trophy planes – a plucky decision in view of the shortage of cash. The resulting Type 300 exceeded the 275mph requirement of the new Air Ministry Specification F.37/34 by 60mph. Supermarine was now part of the giant engineering, shipbuilding and armament company Vickers Ltd. Chairman Sir Robert McLean told the Air Ministry that as the new fighter was being developed at company expense, no official interference with the design would be tolerated.

    Nothing anyone could do, however, could help with Mitchell’s own personal crisis. Two years earlier he had been operated on for colon cancer. With the grim prognosis for the disease, he might have been expected to take things easy, or even retire. During convalescence on the Continent he talked to some German pilots and returned to England convinced that war was inevitable. This, plus the knowledge that his time might be short galvanized him into even greater exertion. Together with the fighter project he was also designing a fast flying boat and a four-engined bomber.

    Departing from the limits of the Ministry’s specification allowed him to concentrate on his specialty – speed. He designed the fighter around the new Rolls-Royce Merlin engine, also a private venture and at the time yielding a meager 790hp (a figure that was to triple in the future.) Its narrow-angle V12 arrangement allowed a slim, monocoque fuselage. Compared with it future adversaries, the pugnacious Messerschmitt Bf-109 and Focke-Wulf Fw-190, to some the Spitfire looked too delicate – too pretty – to be a combat aircraft, but for all its elegant lines it was a deadly and efficient killing machine.
    Supermarine’s directors labored to name the new fighter; it had to begin with S and signify something small but ferocious, and they almost settled on the uninspiring Shrew. Sir Robert McLean suggested his daughter’s nickname, Little Spitfire, later shortened to Spitfire. Mitchell was not impressed: “Just the kind of bloody silly name they would choose.”

    [Annie Penrose, the original Little Spitfire, died last month at age 100. Celebrations for her 100th included a flypast by RAF aircraft, followed by a target tug towing the banner HAPPY ANNIVERSARY, SPITFIRE ANNIE.]

    The new fighter combined structural strength, high speed, low wing loading and light weight – it wasn’t a great deal heavier than the legendary lightweight Japanese Zero, which had no armor or self-sealing tanks. He and his team designed the wings, the Spitfire’s most familiar silhouette, in a double-ellipse with the low wing loading, for a powerful fighter, of 26 pounds per square foot. The Messerschmitt Bf-109’s, in comparison, was closer to 40, allowing the Spit to out-turn its opponent, a critical factor when either pursuer or pursued.

    The wing was exceptionally strong, with a central spar made up from hollow sections slotted into each other, acting like the leaf springs of an automobile. For all its deceptive thinness it easily accepted eight reliable and rapid-firing Colt/Browning machine guns and, later, four 20mm Hispano cannons, while still leaving room for undercarriage, flaps, ailerons, coolant and oil radiators and other essentials. It combined low drag, short takeoff run and mild stall characteristics, an achievement that even the brilliant Willy Messerchmitt never duplicated.

    In any kind of wind a Spitfire could be off the ground in 50 yards. As a comparison, the P-47 Thunderbolt needed closer to 300. (On one airfield shared by the RAF and USAAF, Spitfire pilots would take off on a runway parallel with the P-47s, retract their wheels and perform rolls while the Thunderbolts labored to takeoff speed. This ended when orders came from high command to desist as being contrary to the spirit of comradeship.)

    The design was so advanced that it had the capability of high Mach numbers. In 1943, Squadron Leader J.R. Tobin dived a Spitfire XI to Mach .9 – over 600 mph. When the feat was repeated in 1944 the overspeeding propeller and reduction gear departed the aircraft with a bang (the pilot landed safely.)

    This superb amalgam of qualities made its maiden flight from Eastleigh Airport on March 5, 1936, with test pilot Capt. J. Summers at the controls. With a relatively light airplane and an engine of massive torque, he began the takeoff run 35 degrees from the intended direction when airborne – a legacy of the racing seaplanes, which would swing nearly 90 degrees until they finally emerged from the spray kicked up by the propeller and left the water. In fact Summers found it easy to counteract any swing with the rudder.
    The watchers were impressed with how rapidly the fighter accelerated, becoming airborne in a few seconds and disappearing in the distance in less than a minute. After an uneventful flight, Summers directed “I don’t want anything touched,” since misinterpreted to signify that he thought that the aircraft was perfect. In reality he wanted things like rudder and aileron trim left as he had set them, ready for the next flight.

    The new fighter had flown. It was such a departure from previous designs – even the contemporary Hawker Hurricane, which for all its qualities was essentially a monoplane development of the Hart and Fury biplanes – that the government issued a new specification, F.16/36. This so closely replicated Mitchell’s design that it was more a case of the specification being rewritten to meet it, rather than the other way round.

    Nevertheless, Mitchell had to contend with the dead hand of officialdom, tradition and myopic thinking. Some, including Lord Trenchard, the “Father of the RAF,” rationalized that the only way to defeat an enemy was to bomb him. So, for much of the 1930s, more of the scarce resources were allocated to bomber than fighter production. The 1936 budget called for 68 bomber squadrons, but only 20 of fighters. Some in government even held that quantities of a radically-new single-engine fighter were not needed at all. High speed was less important. A few squadrons of Hurricanes would suffice; it was at least 100mph faster than German bombers, could be built more easily, quickly and cheaply than the Spitfire, and would be easier to service and repair in the field. It was inconceivable that France, with a bigger army and more and better tanks, could fall to Germany, so there would be no fighter versus fighter dogfights over Britain. The only aircraft that would have the range to reach the country from Germany were bombers, so preference should be given to twin-engine “bomber destroyers,” like the Westland Whirlwind, which also had the range to harass enemy aircraft over their own homeland. The Germans were to make the same error with the Me-110 Zerstorer (“destroyer.”)

    Fortunately for the survival of the Spitfire and, indeed, Britain, there was one far-sighted senior officer, Air Vice Marshall Hugh Dowding (who would later head Fighter Command in the Battle of Britain) possessing both a keen interest in technology and a stubborn nature. He was now in charge of the RAF’s technical development, and pressed for the development of advanced fighters and another key weapon in the forthcoming battle: Radar. Mitchell wrote in his memoirs how close the decision had been: “A lot of people felt that the Spitfire, although it had a good performance, had been bought at too high a price. In terms of ease of production it was going to be a much more expensive and difficult aeroplane to mass produce [and] a much more complicated one to look after and service …”

    As if this weren’t enough, the prototype Spitfire could only reach 330mph – slower than the Hurricane! If this could not be improved, the project was dead. A propeller of modified design was fitted, and as engineer E.H. Mansfield, supervising the prototype tests, wrote: “Jeffrey [Jeffrey Quill, Supermarine’s No. 2 test pilot] went off and did a set of level speeds with it. When he came down he handed me the test card with a big grin and said ‘I think we’ve got something here.’ And we had … we made the maximum speed 348mph, which we were very pleased with.” (Corrected for air density and other factors, probably a true speed closer to 355mph.)

    Not that Mitchell was out of the woods yet. Some thought that the Spitfire, from its racing origins, would be too difficult for average pilots. In May 1936, the sole prototype was evaluated by the RAF Aircraft and Armament Establishment. The Ministry’s representative asked the commander, Flt. Lt. Edwards-Jones, whether the aircraft could be flown by ordinary squadron pilots. “Yes it can,” he was told; in fact “it was a delight to fly.” One can imagine the “whew!” exhaled by the design team when they heard the verdict. On this basis, a contract for 310 was awarded.

    The Spitfire and Hurricane got their public début at the annual RAF pageant at Hendon. After some WWI aircraft, like the Sopwith Camel and S.E.5A, were demonstrated (some, not flyable, being towed across the airfield), the prototype Hurricane and Spitfire tore across the sky above an awed crowd. It was the first time the public had heard the glorious song of the Merlin engine, a sound that was soon to become familiar.

    But these were the only Hurricane and Spitfire to fly for two more years, and Mitchell was not destined to see his creation go into production.

    • J. Eddolls

      Many thanks for this Nick, really wonderful to read.

      Sadly due to pressure of work I have been away from my ‘trusty laptop’ for a while, however some of the things you have said have reminded me of some incidents that I have witnessed and may be of interest to other readers.

      During my last visit to Duxford during a non Airshow day I happened to witness the take off of a Spit IX also a P51D (Ferrocious Frankie) and also a Hurricane II.

      The Spit was airborne and climbing away rapidly within 100 yards, the Hurricane was airborne after a slightly longer run. The Mustang was still struggling to rise half way down the runway, in fact it was so far along we did not see it take off!

      On most weekends duing the summer months we are treated to Spitfires flying over my Kentish home. These flights are accompanied by Hellicopters carrying paying punters who pay vast sums to be so close to a Spit in the air.

      Well whats the point of this? The Spit is flying in formation with the Choppers and so is probably just above stalling speed. This Spitfire which is a VB is manouvering all around, pulling the most amazing tight turns and barrel rolling around the Helicopters, suddenly accelerating away and then pulling up in a vertical climb without stalling, before joining the Helicopters in their sedate procession

      If a Mustang tried to replicate these manuovers it would have fallen from the sky. This would have been for the same reason for its long take off run, it’s Laminar flow wing does not provide as much lift as a Spits.

    • bbear

      Nick first comments:

      I found the early part of the story a bit of a puzzle. You seem to have seamlessly elided the stories of Type 224 and Type 300 development. I understand that this makes a better flow of reading, but does it also under dramatise the Supermarine/Mitchell experience :
      Success, hubris, failure, convalescence and ‘motivation’, resilience, success-in-the-nick-of-time?

      Or in date order :
      Success: Schneider 1931,
      Hubris: 1931/2 honours, CBE etc,
      Failure: Type 224 prototype,
      Convalescence: cancer 1933, followed by a spell in Vienna?
      Resilience: Spec 425a 1934,
      Success: Type 300 K5054 1934- 1936

      I see an aviation engineers appreciation of the machine and its development. But I also wanted more about the war aims story. How did the Spitfire ideas fit into Dowding’s early plans for defence? I see that the relevant specs were influenced or written by Dowding. I wanted more about ‘war fitness’ and Dowding’s and Mitchells premonitions and procurement assumptions. I missed a sense of purpose rather than ‘natural sequence’ if you follow me.

      Then you give us the ‘average pilot’ tests of 1936 to conclude the ‘first development’ which is a nice roundoff.

      Nit picks:
      Wasn’t retractable landing gear only introduced as a paper proposal for Type 224: Supermarine Spec 425a July 1934? Detailed design work was perhaps only done for retractable carriage on Type 300? Will not the cognoscenti among your readers remember the type 224 prototype and its fixed carriage and ‘trousers’?

      Para 3 ‘Mitchell persuaded…’? In the popular account McLean willingly took on the ‘persuasion’ task himself. They made common cause against the Air Ministry. The period of the ‘open unfunded venture’ was only around a month (Price, The Spitfire Story p 17 attributed to Air Ministry contract AM 361140/34 Dec 1st 1934). F37/34 was then written around Mitchells design as a funded contract from the Ministry January 1935.This is part of ‘resilience’ i think : An example of ‘Excellence baffles Bull***t’? Or how to win an interminable argument with officialdom by beating them into dumbness?

      By the way I see there is some matterin F7/30 about ‘…shewn that the aircraft is safe to be flown by pilots of the RAF’ but I can see nothing about suitability for an ‘average fighter pilot’ in any of these specifications or modifications.Where did that come from?

      • bbear

        And let me say – i did enjoy the article. My comments, as always, are more a form of questions about how such accounts are written, the choices the writer must make, what to leave out, how to avoid giving a list of dates, enhancing pace, readability etc.

        Please don’t take these as serious criticism. They were not intended as such. I’m just inviting Nick to tell us more about his process.

  108. Nick

    Hi, bbear. Comments noted; thanks. My data come from multiple sources, so I’ll stick with what I wrote.

    Side notes to all readers:
    1) The text reproduced above and below is copyrighted, has already been submitted to a magazine showing an origin date of December 2011, and any unauthorized use will be prosecuted.

    2) Go and buy the March issue of Aviation History magazine, for my article “The Race for the Jet.”

    More on my Spitfire article:

    The contract awarded was tiny, when compared with the more than 22,759 eventually built, but caused consternation at Supermarine. They were craftsmen, not large-scale manufacturers; their largest previous order had been for 79 flying boats for delivery at the rate of 10 per year. They had never made 310 of anything, let alone something as complex and difficult to produce as the Spitfire. Those lovely elliptical wings, for example, had virtually no straight lines and, with their multi-part main spar, were difficult to adapt to mass production. The fuselage required the creation of special and expensive tooling.

    Although the company subcontracted as much as possible, the intricacies involved in making even minor parts resulted in manufacture remaining painfully slow for several years, even as war clouds gathered. At the outbreak of World War II, the RAF had only nine Spitfire squadrons, and when the aerial battles moved from France to England in 1940, preparatory to a German invasion, only eleven more. Luckily, there were many more Hurricanes.
    Such delay in the face of massive German rearmament and an almost inevitable war now seems incredible. The major problem for a small company in building large quantities of what had started as a hand-built prototype was the need to farm out manufacture of even such large assemblies as wings and tail units.

    Supermarine had no experience in large-scale subcontracting. With the company’s small staff, producing engineering drawing for parts took a year. At one point they had dozens of finished fuselages waiting for wings.

    Despite the knowledge that he was living in the shadow of death, and hiding the encumbrance of a colostomy bag beneath his customary three-piece suit, Mitchell retained control of the project. Whenever a test flight took place he would be at the airfield, taking notes and discussing the flight with the pilot. He even learned to fly, and obtained his pilot’s license. In 1937 the cancer returned, and he met it with characteristic fortitude. On June 11, he died, with his affairs in order and secure in the knowledge that his creation was performing as he had hoped, and had been ordered into production for the RAF. He was only 42. The project was taken over by Chief Draughtsman Joe Smith.

    On August 4, 1938, Jeffrey Quill delivered K9789 to 19 Squadron, the first operational Spitfire of what was to become the backbone of the RAF’s fighter force until the jet age. Squadron Leader Henry Cozens, the first pilot to fly it, had started his career on Sopwith Camels in 1917, and ended it at the controls of Gloster Meteor jets. Remarkably, K9789 survived the war, only to be scrapped in 1945.5

    • bbear

      A masterful response. Thanks again Nick. I also read your ‘Race for the Jet’ article which I enjoyed. There was plenty of human interest to the story, even for me. I am also adding the F. Whittle story to my ‘overlooked genius design file’ to add to the Mosquito/Hornet, and others.

      And of course my ‘single sourced’ comments are not intended as serious contention. Just a poplular view.

      But I’ve just spotted that you emphasise in part 1 of your Spitfire article the ‘ordinary’ and ‘average’ squadron pilot. And you say ‘some thought’ the Spitfire could be flown by such and’ the Air Ministries representative asked….’ We wouldn’t by any chance be talking about Dowding himself would we?

      And thus to Nick’s point aboout ‘…designing for the pilot, what we would call today ergonomics..’.

      ‘llI presume upon the patience of the group again. I’d like to put a further point about ‘ergonomic’ design and Mitchells team and the Spitfire given what Nick wrote in this article and also what I see now as very good sense from Robin in 98.3.3. But I need some time to look around more, and I’m also not sure where to look. I still can’t see where this line about the ‘average’ pilot came from. If it did come from Dowding, as he had the plan of an attritional defensive battle that might make sense. But I’ve been drawn down the line of speculation too often here. I must check.

      ‘Don’t try to eff the ineffable bbear’ In other words stick to the facts.

      • bbear

        I think i may be getting somewhere with R J Mitchell pre-ergonomic design and spitfire handling

        It turns out that Dowding was involved in ‘boosting’ the spitfire during his time in procurement at the ministry
        R J Mitchelll and the team did concentrate on handling whenever possible
        Quill Flight magazine 1953
        Both US and UK had units studying effectively human facctors and ergomomics in 1939. But not by that name. UK in Cambridge Applied Psychology Unit or Laboratory, the US had an aviation medicine lab in wright field and National Research Council Committee on Aviation Psychology got going at the same time.
        As one modern writer puts it (http://www.benchmarkrs.com/_uploads/What-is-Human-Factors-and-Ergonomics.pdf)
        World War II witnessed the tipping point where the technological
        advances had finally outpaced the ability of people to adapt and compensate to poor designs. This was most evident in airplane crashes by highly-trained pilots due to problems with control
        configurations (Fitts & Jones, 1947a) and instrument displays (Fitts & Jones, 1947b).
        Now recalling the deaths of Kinkead and Brinton in the Schneider cup. Mitchell had been at WWII speed and seen the consequences. And the continuing willlingness of Supermarine to sacrifce other performance for handling long after Mitchell died says volumes to me.

        Somewhere in Quills books should be the final pieces of the evidence
        R J saw the future of aviation limited by human physical ability saw what that meant for fighter design in his age and acted. And left such a strong legacy as a leader that the Spitfire never lost it’s magic despite war pressures and air ministry you know what’s.

        Handling: that’s the Texas mile factor between our planes. And between 109s and spits.

        Here’s a bonus :
        United States Navy pilot Corky Meyer 1943
        The Seafire had such delightful upright flying qualities that knowing it had an inverted fuel and oil system, I decided to try inverted “figure-8s”. They were as easy as pie, even when hanging by the complicated, but comfortable, British pilot restraint harness. I was surprised to hear myself laughing as if I were crazy. I have never enjoyed a flight in attitude. It was clear to see how few exhausted, hastily trained, Battle of Britain pilots were able to fight off Hitler’s hordes for so long, and so successfully, with it.

        Do any of you have the Quill books and can validate this?

  109. mike gee

    I think I will this debate as it is- people here have their opinions and al are right to their opinions. A poster even suggested that the mustang didn’t even need to be built as a lwar winner”- conjecture and quite possible, but tht doesn’t change the fact that it was and that the machine was effective! Simple reality: Britain was BROKE and a waning global power as a result of WW1. The US was rotting away from the effects of nearly 10yrs of the Great Depression when Hitler was rolling up Europem Neither country was prepp’d for war, and it was their combined naval assets which made them global threats to the Axis powers. The Axis severely underesimatefd both the UK and the US and paid the price. The BoB, in which the beloved Spitfire and their pilots became national heroes is and will always be a “Tie”. The RAF didn’t wrestle a decisive victory over the luftwaffe, and he Luftwaffe got humiliated when Goering had to accept that he didn’t have the fighters or bombers in numbers or to keep his forces from being bled dry once they flew over those famed Dover cliffsThe RAF was a small force that counted on its commonwealth to backfill manpower and that happened. It needed only tactical success!combine that with naval power, night time bombing and the addition of US men and material and the attrition war was in favor of Britain and its allies. Again the spitfire was no more the war winner inthe air than the mustang was. If you look into it, you’ll see uncelebrited work horse planes like the F4F used by both navies, the hurricane,and the P-40 warhawk/kittyhawk in use til the very end. I’m sorry if some here have been insulted by my replies, but it is an open forum with folks- as one poster pointed out, discussing the merits of acft that flew while many here were either small children or not even born!

    • Alex

      The point is though Mike that the spitfire one on one, had a better chance of victory or survival than the mustang. Yes the USA being able to out produce the germans with regards to producing fighters may have allowed the mustang to gain the upper hand as an offensive weapon. But if you want to bring these idea’s into the discussion you will have to take into account the contribution of Russia, and history shows their contribution to the war effort was larger by far than Britian and the USA combined.

      • mike gee

        Sorry alex, hogwash- keep knocking american mass production, but remember the arsenal of democracy kept England and the rest of the world in the fight!!! The mustang didn’t take YEARS to develop,and wasn’t a sport racer shoehorned into becoming Fighter like the spit. It was a total New design based on “lessons learned”. The RAF needed acft,and if the early mustang ,which matched the speed( 380mph+)and performance of the spit I to V early on, didn’t have that low performing allison engine , you can BET you’d have seen them in frontline RAF interceptor squadrons. Talk all you want about the. “Superior” spit, but the truth was it wouldn’t dominate the mustang flown by an equally trained pilot. Brits were more reserved in their fighter deployment, especially early on when it was one on one attrition against the luftwaffe, or else there wouldn’t have been a fighter command after ’43. The RAF suffered high losses over continental Europe, just like the USAAF, and german aces as well as AA guns racked up high scores with spits in their sights! With the influx of less combat experienced americans, the death toll stayed high until the numbers, pilot skill level ,advanced acft (Mustang B/C and D, Spitfire IX and up), and overwhelming #s stomped the nazis out of the war! Many here know of the addage,” the mustang can’t do what a spitfire can do, but IT CAN DO IT OVER GERMANY!” That, Sir, made ALL the difference, and the reason there was no airwar with glouster meteors and P-80 shooting stars tangling with Luftwaffe ME 262s over germany in ’46…..

      • Alex

        I wasn’t knocking American mass production merely suggesting that being able to out produce/resource ones opponent such that your losses are less than your production and theirs is not doesn’t mean the quality of your aircraft is better.
        I then extended this idea to include the Russians, and the meat grinder they turned the eastern front into. Consider such aircraft then as the Ilyushin IL-2 Sturmovik of which 36000 or so were produced. A particularly ugly looking aircraft, especially to the germans though the Russian ground forces found it quite beautiful for some reason, that could only be described as a tank with wings. Couldn’t do much but turn whatever was in front of it, including tiger tanks and the odd dumb german fighter pilot, into confetti. It is a particularly interesting aircraft to read about but would not say it was a quality aircraft unless weight of armour was considered quality.
        The last point I’d like you to consider when comparing the aircraft specs is to not to concentrate on speed, even though there is a case that puts the spitfire in front there also, but to include particularly climb rate and equivalent models. The germans could routinely break off a dogfight with a mustang by just using their climbing capability. They could not do this with the spitfire and as far as top speed is concerned other contributions on this topic have pointed out that it also depends on how long it takes to build up that speed.

    • bbear

      Thanks Mike. A calm and reflective post. I take it that this post is your summary of the ‘P 51 is best’ case. Or at least the ‘Spitfire isn’t as best as some think’ case.

      I think you are generally sceptical about myths and ‘favourites’. I think that is a health warning for all of us. I think you have some points. I’m sorry you couldn’t name sources to support the argument.

      I’m not sure I follow your logic at all stages, and the style of argument is a bit… overburdened with conclusions. What i mean is, pretty much all conclusions. I know I’m the last person who should pick others up for making grand sweeping statements but I would not repeat the errrors I’ve made in the past here and if i do chance a conclusion without evidence it will be because I don’t anticipate disagreement.

      I can’t quite agree with all your conclusions, but as you say, we’re all entitled to an opinion. That is, I completely disagree with 95% of what you say, and about 110% of the way you put it, but would still argue for your value in saying it.

      For example a very senior contributor on another page argued that as the equally important PTO featured a major conflict using carrier based aircraft, no fighter ‘without a tail hook’ variant should be considered as best.

  110. Rafael Jimenez Sanchez

    The Merlin engine was used by the Spanish version of the Me 109, built by CASA in the fifties. In the film “The Battle for Britain”thirty-two Heinkel He 111 bombers and seventeen Merlin-engined Me 109s from the Spanish Air Force were used. The Heinkels were Spanish-built He-111H-16 models (C.A.S.A. C-2111s) and were also powered by Merlin-engines. Both planes saw action in the ground support role in western Sahara and Sidi-Ifni.
    The Messerschmitts were Spanish-assembled versions called Hispano-Suiza HA.1112 Buchon

  111. mike gee

    BBear- take time to accept”some” of the points of my ramblings- the spit was NOT a superior acft to the Mustang until the “equal”IX and later models! I am proud of the fact that when America does it right, they really do it right- and the mustang is one example. It would have NEVER come to existance IF not for British urgings for a supplement to the Spit as a fighter- the hurricane wasn’t going to make it, and the Spit has “short legs” in a fight. Could the allies have done without it? The later Spits, the P-38L and the P-47 N are what would carried the airwar without a mustang; kill rates would have been lower too without mass produced BETTER spits! Many here refuse to admit it but until .303 brownings in the spit were “adequate”,not devastating( hence the 8 gun configuration) and the early hispano suiza. 20mm guns jammed and had a low velocity. Acft were not that reliable (due to wear , battle damage and occassional war time rush work at the factory,) and the hurricane jocks had more KILLS. Bottom line, the spit is a stud among fighters, but it isn’t the ultimate fighter. And truth be told, neither is the mustang-BOTH had their own strengths and vices(Johnnie Johnson in a mustang D/III model would have STILL made ace 6X over!). A wily old german ace may talk about the trouble he had tangling with a Spit, or ‘stang, but the bottom line is he LIVED and he is an ACE( got that way by sending down at least 5 or more spit or mustang drivers!)To me the spit is the #1 for the allies in the first part of the war (’38 to ’42)and the Mustang #1 from ’43 to ’45; other than that, I’m riding the “jug” into battle……..

    • Alex

      The Mustang was NOT a front line combat aircraft untill the “equal” IX and later models were the current front line spitfire.
      Also the numbers of kills a particular aircraft type achieves is a VERY unrelliable statistic to use for anything.
      I would also suggest a pilots view point can provide some of the best insights on aircraft types, in particular the aces and pilots who have flown a variety of aircraft.
      If you’d like to start with one of your countries more “effective” fighter pilots you could try Don Blakeslee. Flew spitfires (loved them), jugs (first ever pilot to make a kill in one and still hated them), and mustangs (reminded him of his beloved spitfires and also why he got his group to change over to them with only 24 hours change over time per pilot)

      • mike gee

        Alex, you can stay in fanstasy land all you want. The mustang was a Better all around fighter than the spitfire. Whts you problem with american mass production? That’s one of the main factors that KEPT England in EXISTENCE during two wars! And for a plane that was fielded in ’42( with an alison engine and good a mid altitudes of 5k to 15K) then excellent at 15k to 35k, you simply are ignoring the mustang out of pure bias. By the time the mustang came into the stable of the high altitude airwar the turn fight was a thing of the past- even the germans and Brits had gone for speed! The later spits were nothing near the I-V models and performed pretty much on HP and guns( the later german 190Ds did the same) in its element high up only later model 109s could climb higher faster- something the spit didn’t do! ( German fighter tactics. Used out climbing and the split S to get awa from Spits too!)The mustang is an ENERGY fighter , and the german pilots that thought they could run away by going up paid the price for trying that tactic. Again, have your ever been next to a real one? They are NOT junk, they were front line fighters as good, if not better and more advanced than many early and mid mark( V-IX model) spits. Face it, mustangs closed the war in a way the spit didn’t and couldn’t do-period

      • J. Eddolls

        Erm Mike, ‘American Mass Production kept Britain in the War’, Most front line weapons fielded by the Brits were their own products.

        I think most of the tanks used at El Alamein were probably American – Shermans etc and I think we bought a lot of second hand Destroyers and the odd small Carrier. The Brits wouldn’t touch any of the US infantry weapons.

        Now Great Britain did very well with it’s own Industries, bearing in mind their Factories were being bombed and skilled craftsmen in danger. Same can be said for Cananda and of course Aus and NZ, they were quite capble of producing cracking kit without ‘help’.

      • J. Eddolls

        I note that in a few posts you seem to be under the misconception that Spitfires were not capable at altitude. I wonder where you have obtained this view?
        During a Meteoralogical flight in 1952 a Spit reached 51,500′ and on the way down clocked up a speed of Mach 0.96 !

        Both the Spitfire IX and XIV had a service ceiling of 43,000′

        The P51D had a ceiling of less than 42,000′ !

    • bbear

      Mike, very well, taking time.

      I’ll need to start by ‘unscrambling your rambling’. In posts 109 thru 111 your main points seem to be.

      1. Bob was not necessary to allied war aims, Hitler already had other plans than invasion, and reasons for failure in those plans other than defeat in Bob

      2 Bob was a ‘tie’ or indecisive, not an Allied victory

      3. Spits were not necessary even to that outcome

      4. Other aircraft have a better claim to the best allied fighter in Bob

      5 The Mustang was necessary to win the war, if not specifiically Mustang then some long range intruder/escort was necessary, and as in fact that role was largely fulfilled by Mustangs the point is academic. The necesssary step being large scale destrution of the Luftwaffe/establishment of air supremacy over Germany.

      6 Spits earliier than Mk IX are not superior in a ‘face off’ with a P 51 B, C or D.

      7. Apart from range and speed, the stand out feature of a Mustang is mass production. Suitability of a design for mass production counts when large numbers must be assembled to take air supremacy in the face of attritional losses from combat, mechanical fault and accident.

      8,You are in full agreement with other commentators that both aircraft have their merits, parts in the war time-line and specialist roles

      9 Notwithstanding 8 above, you have no qualms about boldly, insistently and loudly stating your preference :: The Mustang, and will defend it in terms of engineering, role in history and (proudly) your patriotic affection. (But your heart is really ‘jug shaped’).

      Please check that i have understood you correctly and completely.

      If so then

      Agreed 5 and 7,
      Disputed 1-4 (more posts to follow)
      Not interested in 6 (allies don’t face off),
      Conditionally agreed 8 (except P 51 did not reach significant numbers of B-D types in combat until well into 1944).
      Yeeehaaaaa! 9


      • Mike Gee

        Well I take exception to being considered dismissive of the BoB- hitler ,from what I’ve read, couldn’t make his mind up regarding Great Britain. He apparently didn’t want to destroy England, and for some freakish reason, hoped England would “join the bandwagon” on his perverse conquest of the western world.

        The BoB was indeed important, but still it was a DRAW. and tie goes to the “home team”.( England!) Performance wise, the early spits were fairly even with the 109s , and the Luftwaffe suffered from the same problem as the Spits did- SHORT RANGE. The Spit I ,IIb and later V variants had homefield advantage and could go “balls to the wall”, while the Luftwaffe could push their acft as hard( and expect to survive or get home) in the short violent clashes in english skies.

        when the RAF spits ventured across the channel they were also faced with the same drawbacks the Luftwaffe faced. in 1942 the first “butcher birds”( FW 190s) showed up and beat the stuffing out of the spit jocks and their acft- that is until the IX model showed up and tied things. historical note- BF109G and FW190D pilots often simply OUTCLIMBED early spits and even the first B models of the P-51; that didn’t work as well against D models and later variants of the Spits.

        I take serious issue with so many posters here happily touting the “superiority” of the Spitfire by putting up the latest and greatest Spits, like the XIV and XIX against the “stock” P-51B/C,D models but never try to compare those late spits to the P-51H, which beat those models in speed, nearly equals their climb at emergency WP and regular climb, and can match or come close enough to be a threat if they faced each other in terms of role.

        The later Spit models could still out turn and beat a P-51D/H in a dive( but not by much). The big thing you all gloss over is the fact that the P-51 can carry a heavy bomb load, ground attack, fight, and go “the distance”, something the later spit models managed to somewhat achieve.

        if you want proof, you need to look no further than you own EXPERTS. check http://www.spitperformance.com . That site has both Spitfire IX and up stats as well as P-51 B to K stats.

        The obvious factor is that the engines, with the exception of the later griffons, were virtually IDENTICAL( the merlin 61,66,70) vs the Packard-merlin V-1650-3 to 7 variants. You’ll see actual records of each Acft’s performance ( Spit IXs tested in ’42 and 43, XIV and XIX tested 44-45) compared to P-51bs, Ds and Hs( Mustang III/IVs) by both american and british testing experts.

        The Spit IX, had a better roll and turn rate, higher altitude(@ 43K) but was STILL 30 to 40 mph slower than the HEAVIER P-51B( 6,700 lbs loaded versus 9,100 lbs loaded) climb rates normal and at emergency WP was virtually the SAME. at “”sea level” the Spit was faster,at about 380 mph vs the mustang at about 371 mph.

        The Spit XIV was a better acft in terms of performance than the P-51D, but still in peak combat performance altitude( 30K in the charts) the Spit was about 35 mph slower and by that time the spits had lost the turn ability so cherished by the Brits that the early spits had! SPEED and ability to climb and DIVE were the key factors BOTH British and Americans had gone for as winning dog fights.

        And again when you compare the later Spits to the D model, they are superior UNTIL you throw in the H model which is FASTER than the later Spits, still doesn’t do as high( less 1,000 to 1,500 ft) can climb as FAST as those Spits, and weights more, carries more fuel load, and bomb/ ordinance loads!

        If I had to fight a quick scramble defense and get up 5 – max 25 k I’d go for the spit, no doubt. but if I had was up at the 15 k to 25 k range already? Mustang plain and simple, and at those heights its all about pilot skill and “first look, first shoot” angles.

        Keep in mind that those spits also attained their performance the same way that their “american cousin” 9 the P-51 did- better, higher grade US fuel, and the tweeking done by both british and American engineers. high pressure adjustments to the engines also increased performance.

        Lastly, take dry satisfaction that the american “war winner” P-51 wouldn’t have gotten out of the womb if not for the BRITISH. I am fairly certain, the Americans would have tried to up grade the P-40 with a supercharger( which still wouldn’t have done much), and its obvious they stuck with the P-38( until the L model) and P-47( N model) could finally take on the already worn out Luftwaffe. By then the Spitfire would have BEEN the only TRUE fighter plane, and would have been designed to escort bombers over Germany….

      • bbear

        oops forgot to give my sources for deployment pattern of P 51s. I meant of course deployment in ETO, principally by 8th USAAF. The sources are

        cross checked to a sample of three fighter units taken from http://www.8thafhs.org/fightergrps.htm

        I am aware there will be exceptions and complications and vagaries about exact modification types and I think one formation moved from 9th to 8th Army and even ‘simple lists’ are rarely simple… but this seems to indicate that the ‘Median’ month for deployment of P 51 (B and Cs I assume) with USAAF 8th Army was May 1944?

        Earlier deployments with RAF would have been P 51 A’s – Mustang 1s – I think? Still respecatable machines by what little i’ve read for ground attack and reconnaisance but not the P 51 long range and high altitude actual fighters that most people mean when they say ‘P51 Mustang’

      • bbear


        thanks for that.

        So my
        1: ‘BoB was unimportant as Hitler had other plans’ Should have said
        1 BoB was important but German high command was making a mistake to the extent that it did plan invasion of British mainland and was making a number of other errors at the same time which means it wasn’t quite the pivotal battle that some make out? Closer?

        If so my riposte is:

        Points 1-4:
        1: Whatever Hitler intended BoB was a pivotal engagement. If it had been lost in say June 1940 Hitler would have changed his mind and launched Sealion. I am convinced of that on prima facie grounds, the Luftwaffe was a vital part of German war making mechanism and would not have been sacrificed or ‘badly diminished’ for a small trifle. Ending British resistance was a valued aim.

        I am also convinced that on a 20 mile Channel gap no naval force (like the Royal Navy) could stop an invasion reaching the beaches in some small numbers under air domination by the Luftwaffe. Surface fleets were later found to be highly vulnerable from the air. This was not D-Day in reverse. Estimate (pessimistic guess) at least 1/3rd of the German forces would make it ashore.

        I am also convinced that any significant ground force attempt on the British mainland around that time would succeed – I won’t source this but there are many contemporary accounts of how badly off British army units were. I hope that is a matter of consensus already. Churchils famouse speeches of the time were vital – because mostly untrue.

        And if Britain went down …. I and others have made that point before.

        I am willing to accept contrary evidence on this but not contrary unsupported viewpoint. Certainly not a viewpoint from ‘Hitler’s Personal Diary’ or any such nonsense – the guy was a liar. A lying liar who lied. And then the lying liar lied some more.

        2-4 rebuttal follows

  112. Mike Gee

    .. and J.Eddolls, I’m sorry BUT the “arsenal of democracy” did save England!!! True the brits stuck to their tried and true Lee-enfields, their excellent 6pdr – 17 pdr cannons, BUT they certainly used lend -lease Thompson machine guns- FAR better than stamp metal Stens, as well as .30 cal and .50 cal brownings in combat.

    you talk about the african campaign but you do realize that even the less than perfect Lee-Tanks and the sadsack shermans stood up better in combat than the early british tanks to early Panzers. The brits came up with better tanks later on, ala the comets and churchills, but like the Shermans they really weren’t a match for later Panzers and the tigers.

    The shermans did work well in troop support and break through tactics by virtue of speed and mass attacks( that “awful” mass porduction you had) recently read about the 761st tank battalion(The”real” black Panthers). Until the”easy 8″- the M4E8, the sherman was simply a quick meal to the German armor. Sad to think how many allied tankers( Brit, US,French,Aussie,Canadian,Poles, etc) DIED because they sent a light weight to fight monsters. If given over to the Brit engineers, the sherman would have had BETTER armor, probalby diesel engines, and a potent 17 pdr gun right away! As far as the “commonwealth cracking kit??? funny but they had PLENTY of “mass produced” american shlock in their stockpiles and were happy as all get up to use it!!( as in the canadians, aussies, and Kiwis using P-51s, P-40s, B-25s,F6Fs, F4U corsairs, etc)

    Be glad you had your “rustic cousins” on the other side of the Atlantic sending bombs, bullets, spam and beans your way. you didn’t starve, you hung in the fight,kicked butt, and you got walk in the doors of your enemy right with you rustic distant relatives by your side….

    • J. Eddolls

      Thanks Mike for reminding me about Spam!

      I remember back at the time of the millenium being sucked in about the scaremongering over computers crashing, Airliners falling from the sky, not to mention the Banks computer systems failing.

      Guess what I stocked up on Spam by the case load! We are stll eating it!

      • mike gee

        Many laughs and cheers Eddolls! I still have 200 cans of the “mystery meat” known as spam, much of it I bought just before Y2K and vacuum wrapped- then boxed in a cooler section of my garage!(Got dehydrated/ dried fruit, as well as canned veggies too , which equals a Min. 6 month food supply, along with water purifiers, and 8 boxes of MREs) – sad but should there be a serious disaster- spam will be like gold, when you don’t have gold chains or real silver ware, for trading “until” normal society can be restored .When I was a “kid” and would have backyard camping adventures with my cousins, my uncle- a U.S Marine, would sometimes visit when he had leave. He would bring us treats like stuff he bought in Korea or Japan( still a cherised cheapo samurai sword) and funny enough, he’d bring us boys a big box of “C rations”- I have a few kept for nostaliga and went to look at one the other day- it had a production mark that. Was from the late ’50s! Bear in mid that we were wolfing down that stuff as kids in the mid 70s! I suddenly remember how salty but stale the crackers were,how waxy the cheese was( which we melted wih the small make shift “camp fire” we had, and how”white” the aged chocolates in each C-rat was( as an adult aged chocolate like this is an obvious throw away) weird though was that the spam cans, though gelatinous and with a greenish tint almost equal to the cans they came in, actually tasted good! No , I didn’t dare open one of the few momento boxes I have! Anyway- suffice to say that in this debate, we see the love and admiration the WW2 Spitifre still invokes. But I hope you also see that the P-51 was NOT the dog people make it out to be( especially with the Duxford and Wright field test documents I referred to in an earlier test) interesting note to the many spit supporters here- the RAF rejected the P-47 and P-38 in their stables of fighters, but not the mustang. Reason? Other than a high variant Spitfire, the mustang was the only other fighter that performed as well as a Spit!

  113. bbear

    Mike to continue

    2 Bob was a ‘tie’ or indecisive, not an Allied victory. No. By common custom if a force attacks or besieges a position (nation, town or fortress – its all the same) and is beaten back it is called a ‘Victory’ to the defenders. Was the Battle of Baltimore 1814 a draw or a tie? – there was even a song of victory I seem to remember…. How about the Battle of the Bulge – do you want to tell the 101st Airborn that Bastogne was a tie? If so you are definitely on your own in that conversation. I’ll pick up your mangled body from the hospital later…
    Recant Mike. Know when you are nailed. Give the Brit a point – you know you’ll get it back, times 10, later.

    3. Spits were not necessary even to that outcome. This is the crux of the matter and why i don’t mind giving in to you on some non-essentials. A fighter that could contend with the 109 on even or near even terms was necessary, greater numbers of (slower) Hurricanes would not do. In Bob the critical factor for the defenders was pilots not planes. And pilots had a greater chance of survival in an encounter with 109s in a Spit than a Hurricane. I had a really good source for this I’m sure from RAF History Soc related research. I’ve now gone and lost it – curses – but will try again. Although Bob was never near being lost in absolute terms still a withdrawal of fighter cover from south coastal areas was briefly considered. And that would be seem by you know who as a near granting of ‘air superiority’ over the landing zones.

    4. Other aircraft have a better claim to the best allied fighter in Bob.

    The other key point. I’ll let you and J. Eddols knock lumps of Spam out of each other on the numbers. They don’t impress me. What does sing out from every pilot who has flown 109s and Spitfires is – the Spitfire mk 1 handled extremely well and was aerobatic – the perfect pilots plane. With near equal performance to 109s otherwise. This certainly suited the less well trained pilots who emerged with about 20 flying hours on their equipment, straight into combat. There should be enough testimonial sources on the T Wade and wwiiaircraftperformance site to convince even you.

    The Spitfire walks on water because it stood upon the shoulders of water racing birds that were a lot of trouble to handle. It’s such a neat story, most of which i’ve put forward at length elsewhere here.

    Your attacks on this point 4 will be gratefully recieved because they would be the first. Sincerely. Unlike points 1-3 this is the one i’d like your comment on most. Please do your level best to knock the argument down. It’s how i improve my case.

    • Mike Gee

      Ha ahahaha! Sorry, no can do! well actually I can to a degree- I can’t sit here and watch people run down american “know how” just because you guys “lucked up” and one determined designer and his people made you take an ACFT that actually saved your bacon!!! The Spitfire, as has already been said- was a GREAt point DEFENSE fighter for its time, but by the time the later mark spits came around , the air war had changed and the Spits “short legs” kept it out of the rest of the plane on plane shooting war. Had thespitfire been so superior to even what the germans were flying, WHY couldn’t fighter command IMPOSE its will over the continent until LATE ’43, early ’44?

      The dieppe raid showed that in reality the short legs of the old spit , combined with “homefield advantage for the luftwaffe” made pushing the issue over France as moot as the germans coming over the white cliffs of dover a year or so earlier..

      We can rag all day( and honsetly I see this a gentlemen’s joust) but I really give the credit to the ground troops of both sides, as well as bomber Command and the 8th, 9th, and 15th AFs!!!! The bold RAF bomber command, and the mighty 8th BLED more than any fighter jock squadrons, and did MORE damage to the enemy

      Haven’t been around lately, but lurked and saw all this “the SPIT is superior” crap, when in reality, both planes complimented each other if you put them side by side- The contemporary of the high performance mustangs( B/C models and the later D) are and will always be the Spit IX and XIV- PERIOD9 to me the BESt ALL AROUND PERFORMING SPITS). you can throw out the griffon powered spits all you want- technically they are a DIFFERENT ACFT and didn’t perform in the air combat role the way that the IX and XIV did( check the records- brit and allied pilots got more KILLS in IXs and XIVs than in the griff powered fighters)

      Love the spit all you want( actually I like the plane too, because of its sleek and nimble look and style) but you have to remember, I’m an american- brute horse power and muscle always turns us on, which is why we’ll bore out a camaro to take on a ferrari !!!!

      Just because you tweak a technology to its limits doesn’t mean its superior- By the time the high mark spits were bopping around in the 50’s , America and Russia were clashing over Korean skies in transonic F-86 Sabers and Mig 15s !!!

      And not insult you, but the BoB was a TIE- Fighter command was worn out , and within breaking distance but the Germans were just too tactically STUPID to realize they were winning! in any prize fight, the champion retains the belt- and in this one the wiley British bulldogs bit down and held on long enough, despite bruises and the pain, to make the german doberman back off.

      Lets leave it as it stands- Spitfire? Great plane and high altitude interceptor- period. Mustang , Great plane for long range high altitude escort fighting- period.

      the only thing that boggles me is why didn’t some crafty Brit figure a way to shoe horn a 20mm into a mustang III/IV they were flying? the brits pushed for tail stabilization,pushed the advance gun sights, better radios, et al. Like the continued improvements on their own spits, obviously the Brits thought the Mustang wasn’t quite junk if they eagerly worked to get more goodies into it…

      oh and the Battle of Baltimore? We OUT NUMBERED the Red coats “2:1″ and were hiding behind heavy brick walls!!! guarantee if the RAF had 2:1 superiority along with homefield advantage”- the luft waffe wouldn’t have NEVER DARED come across the channel…….

      But I’ll throw you the proverbial bone- with the Brit War ministry, there’d be no Mustang- flat out.We’d(U.S) have tried to put out the P-40 on steriods( with a merlin/packard) or would have been stuck with a P-47 N, and the escort war would have had to go to hard pressed high mark spits with overlyburdened pilots dragging BIG fuel tanks and struggling to make it there and back….

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        You make rather a lot of obvious mistakes, The Mustang was not a bad aircraft, much better with a Merlin, The Spitfire and Hurricane not only did well in the Battle of Britain, but also over Dunkirk, as for Dieppe the RAF certainly held their own against Luftwaffe, Over France in late 1942 and 1943 the Spitfire was flying a lot of sweeps and was escorting B 17`s before the Americans had any aircraft capable of doing so.
        Long range tanks of 30, 45, 90 and 120 galons were available for Spitfires, Mk XIV Spitfires often carried 90 galons and far from struggling they often fought against thw Fw 190 D9`s and Me 109 K 4`s without jettisoning the tank. The P 51 H was too late for service in Europe and Lacked the range of the P 51 D, in fact not much more than the Spitfire and while fast had a much lower rate of climb, 3300 ft/min against 5200 ft/ min for the Spitfire, The few delivered in the Pacific did not see any action and were not used in the Korean war. The Spitfire Mk XVI was a Mk IX with a Packard built Merlin, the Mk XIV had the Griffon and for a plane that didn`t perform very well in combat the Mk XIV which was not built in the same numbers as the Mk IX did rather well.
        In the Battle of Britain, Once the Germans thought they had put Biggen Hill and some of the other airfields out of action they stopped bombing them while Biggen Hill was badly damaged but never out of action for long and RAF rotated and rested Squadrons which Germany never did also German losses in the Battle of Britain of both pilots and aircraft was unsustainable, Germany postponed then gave up any idea of operation Sea Lion, I call that a win for England and RAF rather than a tie. Britain was still using Spitfires in the 50`s as well as Meteor and Vampire and developing the Hawker Hunter, America and Russia were flying the Sabre and Mig 15, both benefiting from British jet engine technology , America was also using the P 51 D

      • bbear


        so Spitfires could have escorted B17s to Schweinfurt, and didn’t?

        Is this another example of the Combined Bomber Offensive that didn’t combine much?

        I can imagine RAF reluctance to support a US daylight campaign they had no faith in.

        But it doesn’t say much for their confidence in the Spit as an escort.

        And, given your previous compliments about mult role Spitfire adapdabiiity, the intruder, ground attack missions deep into Germany performed famously by Mustangs could also be done by Spitfires earlier in the campaign but were’nt?

        If you are the high roller i think you may be, is there a reason why so many US airmen had to die for the lack of Brit grit?

        (I’m pre-empting a Mike storm on this one – play along?)

      • bbear

        Thank you Mike (I think) for recognising our ability for shopping so well we provoked a P 51 into existence.

        I notice that neither you nor Barrie comment on my point 4 above, which is in summary
        Spitfires have some advantages in small measure over P 51 BCDs but not the range and flat out speed.
        What all Spitfires did have (especially Mk 1/IIs) was that unmeasurable property of handling. Had it so prominently that all pilots agreed that it had that property significantly over their own equipment.
        For experts and aces flying close to their ‘Test flight’ nominal performance this made little difference. But for the scrapings of the pilot talent pool, forced into combat with 200 hours of training only and maybe 20-40 of those on the right ship, this property was a life saver for the pilot and a danger to the enemy. Because more novice spitfire pilots could get good performance from their machines.
        Maybe Mitchell and Dowding just happened to be in the right place at the time . Perhaps there is no determinacy that a kind country produces a kind designer that drew afault tolerant fighter ahead of its time, which impiressed the Ministry but that allowed for pilots, and combat factors. I prefer to think of my country as humane and Mitchell as a genius, that the Schneider cup did matter and that all deaths in combat or training are meaningful and the two ar connected delivevering the resultant victory over brutality and ignorance (make that devastating tie, not victory if you must).
        Please comment back and challenge me.

  114. Thomas

    It seems as though this discussion has rebirths i read alot of informaation that has already been stated wayyyy up up in the thread. the question that started this hailstorm of histoical mudflinging across the atlantic is which plane was better. The simple answer to that is neither was better than the other. both were excellent mission based fighters that were both crucial to the allied victory. they were practiclly parrellel throughout throughout their career, the spit always managed to edge out the mustang in dogfighting performance. but the mustang was near spit ability in dogfighting and could do it much higher and much farther away.

    I’m sure someone will say the spit could climb higher and go faster too but it’s always a later model that was made after the war was over. the mustang was technologicaly farther ahead. the spit was the superior fighter if the fight was close.

    it’s chosing the right tool for the job and you don’t defend bombers with spits and you don’t protect englands coast with mustangs even though mustangs did that a little bit early on they just weren’t that great at it adn the hurricans and spitsfires were much more adept for that job. a better discussion question would be which one is prettier to look at. much more difficult to decide i think. haveing seen both together in person adn seen both fly together i can’t quite decide which one is prettier. the might of american mass production with suberb engineering or the refined streamlined spitfire that showed the world what the next generation fighters will be like.

    • bbear

      I am not quite done, i am only quiet because i am still trying find a line on ergonomics, Mitchell, handling and Spitfires. I’m trying some popular 2ndary/tertiary summary books and there are strong hints but nothing I can nail down. I’m still not quite sure what i am looking for or how to ask. I don’t have unlimited time or budget or academic researcher access or piles of primary source material but I’ll keep plugging. I’ll report here if i get anywhere.

      Does anyone have any clue to a link Mitchell/Supermarine and early ergonomics studies? Somethng that would explain why the Spit handles so well (supposing it does)? Why Mitchells engineering creed was strong on safety and handling (always supposing it was)? I don’t see any singular biography for Smith at Supermarine and Shenstone has a biography out soon but I don’t hope for much from that. I think i will try some other websites too.

      • Thomas

        I’ve always been told that the spit handled so well because of the wing shape and the placement of the wing. made the plane fly very aggresivly. i’m sure there’s other factors as well the but the wing was always the big thing when it came to spitfire handleing.

        I too have been curious as to the secret of spitfire handling but i can’t find any decent explanation of how the planes ergonomics and aerodymanics createdone of the best handling fighers of all time

        i apologize for the poor grammer i’m useing the server for this forum is so backed up that the letters i type aare about 7 seconds behind when i actually type them and it’s too tedious to correct some of the errors i make.

  115. Icepac

    December 1943

    P51s with packard built merlins enter service.

    Before this, the P51 is not competitive VS the spitfire variants of the same time period or before.

    I don’t believe the P51H flew any combat missions in WWII which would make it a post war airplane.

    I would consider the Spitfire XVI to be the final spitfire variant to have flown combat in WWII.

    A distinction might need to be made concering planes that flew combat missions by the country that manufactured them and planes that never flew combat.

    Instead of patting each other on the back on the superiority of your exquisite prose, why not compare each mark or dash of the two planes by the dates of combat service?

  116. paul wieg------

    I read on this stuff for 40 years now , its a good hobby, i like to compare all these fighter aircraft, the americans tried all kinds of different stuff for fighters or interceptors , where the brits really just went with the spitfire and the hurricane, hawkers other aircraft really were few in numbers and had some teething problems, though the typhoons may of bien impressive with its rockets , the mustand for sure was a great aircraft, does it all come to math and horse power. the hurricane 1 could out climb the spitfire1 because of its thick wing , but this all so made it slow the mustand was very fast but did not have agreat climb rate, the spit was more manureable and had a bit better climb generally but was not usually as fast , so you gain on one end and lose on the other .Sure they had many different models. in compare the messersmitt 109 had a great zoom climb as it was called , a very fast ,rather flat climb angle, not being a great high speed roller, the germans used its great acceleration and dive speed to maintain hieght advantage, so tuurning tight was not the biggest thing,if it was the zero would remain on top. so in the end rate of roll and dive and climb was the trump, so the spit and mustang were probebly the best all round performers, Interesting ,at the highest speeds. its said the old p40 could roll better then maybe anything other then the fw 190. so old p40 could still evade the best if it needed to . great stuff

  117. Barrie Rodliffe

    There are so many misinformed people, The Spitfire would climb with a Hurricane and was better at altitude, both would match a Bf 109 in a turning fight, The Mk V had a much better climb and was only matched late in 1941 by the faster Fw 190 A which had the advantage until the Mk IX Spitfire in 1942, which was more than a match for the Fw 190 and was not only the first plane to shoot down a Me 262 in combat, but along with the later Mk XIV, shot down a number as did the Tempest V. The Spitfire Mk XIV and Tempest V were both in service some 6 months before the Fw 190 D9 and Mustang P 51 D, The Spitfire Mk XIV with a 90 gal drop tank could take on the Fw 190 D9 which many pilots did if the tank still had fuel in it, also when Somewhat trigger happy American P 51 D pilots tried to shoot down a flight of four Mk XIV Spitfires the Spitfire pilots simply pulled up into a turning climb that left the Mustang pilots standing. Most V1`s were shot down or destroyed by Tempest V, followed by NF Mosquito`s then Spitfires then P 51`s, America`s best plane of WW II after it got the Merlin. Maybe I am biased in favour of British aircraft, but not without good reason.

  118. Barrie Rodliffe

    Mike Gee is very much misinformed, The Packard Merlin 266 was derived from the 66 with 1580 hp, the 63 had 1650hp and the 63A and 64 had 1710 hp, The early Griffon engined Spitfire Mk XII was not a dog above 15,000 ft, it was designed for low altitude use against specially modified Fw 190`s and as such performed best at low altitude, The Mk XIV had the two stage supercharger and the same ceiling as Mk IX. The P 51 H was a special light weight version of the Mustang, with barely half the range and too late for service in WW II. Tempest`s, Mosquito`s and Spitfire`s all destroyed more V 1`s than P51`s, Spitfire was developed in more variant`s because it was used for more different tasks, Fighter, Escort fighter, Ground attack, Dive bomber, PR, use from aircraft carrier and because it first flew 6 years before P 51 and apart from the 109, no other aircraft was a front line fighter from before WW II until well afterwards

    • mike gee

      “Misinformed?” Really? Doubtful- read the stats from the USAAF Technical command- The “slower” D model mustang could physically dive between mach.75 to .8 “safely”- the Spitfire that went past mach.8 tore its own engine out- BOTH acft suffered compressibility issues at near trans sonic dives. Luft waffe Test pilot Hans Lerch even said the B/C/D models( those recovered and repaired by the Luft waffe) were “deadly” and had good turn rates that made them deadly to 109s and FW190s in a turn fight! You are aso WRONG abpout the “H” model- it could attain 487 mph in level flight, climb as fast as the Spit XIV, andhad LONGER range than any other P-51 model. As far as that friendly fire incident? Doubt the mustang pilots were true vets or there’d either have been DEAD spit pilots, or the accidentl shootings would NEVER have happened !( Fog of war tragedies happen even today!)And again, although the early and mid mark griffon Engined Spits were faster, they STILL did not have the high alt performance of the Mustangs or the Spit IXs!!! Did the Spits shoot down more V-1s ? Of course! There were MORE deployed for that purpose!!! As for the spits “superiority???” Did rule the air over Northern Europe until total allied air superiority in ’44( by then spits were replaced in the long range action by P-51s) Far too $any aces of the war on the german side made their “names” on KNOCKING down Spits of ALL marks in larger #s than. P-51s. Another Spit myth was that A Spit was the first allied fighter to shoot down a ME 262- nope , 2 P-47s did it in Aug ’44. I will never argue that the Spit wasn’t an excellent fighter, it doesn’t “just dominate” a P-51 or any other acft in the skies of Eurpoe during the ETO; if that were the case there would have been higher Kill ratios for Spit pilots and you’d have NEVER seen a mustang being designed. Again check out the “real” stats before you simply regurgitate pilot lore or biased “opinions” – I already posted a website that details performance of all ETO acft- READ the real technical documents

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        Sorry Spitfire Mk IX reached Mach0.92 and maybe 0.95 in a dive, effects of compressibility were less on the Spitfire. The P51 N was the long range version, P 51 H with long range tanks not much better than Mk XIV Spitfire. Even when the water injection was working the P 51 H did not quite match the Spitfire in a climb, it was close, Friendly fire incidents did happen quite often, B 17 bombers which returned from france and claimed 25 German fighters shot down while the escorting Spitfire fighter pilots saw very few enemy fighters and only claimed 2 destroyed, they had been forced to take evasive action when fired on by the B 17`s but all got back some with a few bullet holes, Tempests attacked by P 47`s, Douglas Bader who was in a Mk V Spitfire and having shot down one and was chasing a second of the 4 Me 109`s he was in a dogfight with, believed he had been in a collision with one of them but it seems most likely he was shot down by mistake by a Spitfire from another Squadron and since the Mk XIV is better in the turn and climb, it was no problem for the pilots of a Belgian Squadron to evade the Mustangs and if they had been German they would have been dead not the Spitfire pilots. The Mk XII was developed for low level and was very good at low level, and fast up to 20,000 ft, it was followed by the XIV Spitfire which was faster and had a better climb and ceiling than a P 51 D. The P 47 myth that they shot down the Me 262, the Me 262 was landing out of fuel and the pilot was unhurt, the plane was damaged due to the failure of the nose wheel, not shot down. Many Spitfire combats with the Me 262 were not when the 262 was taking off or landing , are you sure there were more Spitfires deployed for shooting down V1`s, if so maybe they were better at it, certainly the Tempests of which initially only 30 and later 100 were used, and were the best for use against the V1, destroyed over 3 times the number that the much slower Mustangs managed. You posted a website, there are many websites and books, they don`t all agree, I double check all my information and do not rely on just one web site

  119. Nick

    I’ve stood aside, as it were, for a couple of months and let one or two knowledgeable – and several loud-mouthes and confident, but ignorant and in many cases illiterate – hold sway. Here is my last summary before I quit this endless debate permanently. Comparison:

    SPEED: Little difference in flat-out max, straight and level. A & A.E.E. figures show 456mph for the Spit. 21, and 448 for the Mustang III (British P-51D.) In any case, this is less of a crucial factor than acceleration and dive speed (whether in chase or evasion)where the Spit, with its transonic-capable wings (two were dived to Mach .9, and don’t bother to give your BS about this was with “special prototypes” etc. In both cases they were essentially standard models, although the first instance had a pressurized cockpit.)
    MANEUVERABILITY: Spitfire wins in all parameters, a crucial advantage in a dogfight.
    RANGE: The automatic answer is “Mustang, of course.” But wait a minute; the unarmed photoreconnaisance Mk. XIX Spitfire had a range of 1,500 miles. Hmm. So I guess you have to change the category to “combat range.”
    ARMAMENT: Spitfire, from the Mk. V onward. The .5 m/g was a reliable, rapid-fire weapon, with good effect against soft targets. But there was no no comparison with the 20mm cannon’s destructive and penetrative power. The four cannons in later marks of Spit had 8 times the kinetic force of the ’51’s six .5 m/gs.
    Four 20mm hits with explosive rounds were almost always enough to bring down a bomber, and one or two a fighter. Against hard targets in ground attack, the 20mm a.p. round outperformed the .5 totally. It has always been a mystery why the USAF stuck with the .5 m/g, even on its F86 jets into the Korean War, when all other combatant nations had been using 20mm and 30mm cannon for years.
    LENGTH OF FRONT-LINE SERVICE: Spit – 12 years (1939-51 [Malaya].) Mustang 10 (1943-53.)
    CONTINUOUS PRODUCTION: Spit – 10 years (1938-48.) Mustang – 5?
    SERVICE CEILING (production models): Spitfire – Mk. IX 46,000ft. A pressurized-cockpit PR XIX climbed to 51,550 ft. in 1951, a record for a piston-engined aircraft. It might have gone higher, but cabin pressure began to fall and the pilot, Flt. Lt. Ted Powles was forced to descend. No Mustang ever came close.
    VARIANTS: Spitfire. There were night fighter, naval, floatplane and ultra high altitude photoreconnaisance versions (the Spit. pioneered photorecce.) No such Mustang versions existed.

    CONCLUSION: The sole parameter where the Mustang was superior was range. (A long-range armed fighter version of the Spitfire was under development, using wing- and fuselage-tanks, which would have eliminated this one advantage, but as there was no need for a second l.r. fighter it was discontinued. Pity.)
    PILOT PREFERENCE: Those who flew the Spitfire and Mustang – both Brits. and Yanks – almost without exception preferred the Spit.

    THE WINNER: The Spitfire, by a Texas mile.

    Now, carry on arguing unimportant stuff. Signing off -permanently.

    • mike gee

      Wow, “Nick”- did you stick your tongue out and ran away too!????!!!!! Again you can throw ALL the variants you want out there, the Spitfire was not “superior” to the Mustang, anymore than the mustang to say a P-47 or any other top tier allied or axis acft( proof in that is the Macchi 202 and 205 fighters that BAGGED both Spits and Mustangs jocks who tangled with them) each acft was good at what it did- rapid, lightweight point defense, air superiority? I have and will always say Spitfire( and I dig the more reliable mark IX) all around fighter work-escort,ground support, recon, CAP/ air superiority? P-51. If you insist on throwing in higher mark Spits, some that barely or didn’t even see combat, add the Mustang H in that list too( which,like the later mark Spits, I don’t even consider to be the SAME plane) @ 480 mph at 25K AND 5K/ MIN. Climb rate! Both acft had flaws, and both had significant performance traits that made them excel. A I’ll stand by my assertions that IF the Brits really could have toyed with the Mustang as freely as with the Spit, you might have seen an “I,or J” ( British V, VI?) model flying at 45k ft, at 470 mph and armed with 20mm guns ! The Marks IX and XIVs are the contemporaries of the B/C/D model mustangs- each had something the other didn’t and each complimented the other- To me the Mustang simply finished the job started. And maintained by the Spit; we are all humbled and grateful for the young men who gave so much in those thin skinned aluminum flying gas cans more than 70 yrs ago…

  120. mike gee

    Bbear- in your earlier “bridge building efforts”, you fairly pointed out the merits of both acft- The Spitfire and its pilots were stud, true enough, but the mustang was the closer.period. I take noting from the valiant sacrifices of RAF pilots. The BoB, and I’m sorry if I insulted anyone across the “pond”, is a TIE fight to me because the RAF didn’t break the might of the Luftwaffe, and the Luftwaffe could defeat the RAF. Now take the vicious attrition fight in the air and add to it that the RN still was too powerful for the Kriegsmarine to take it on in a channel invasion, and we have- in my humble Opinion a VICTORY! Again all Britain had to do was “hang on”- once America got into the fight, England would be re-equipped and supplied enough to push whatever strategic goals it wanted. Proof of this was the success of British forces in North Africa and the defense of Malta. The reality is that, with the exception of the RN and “maybe” the USN, no one was ready for German combat ability in Europe, and most certainly neither the US or UK were ready for Imperial Japan( and both Germany and Japan had less resources and less manpower than the US or the British commonwealth). But aback to the thread- I am truly “waiting” for Mr Eddolls to chime in and add “correction” to folks stuck on “mustangs suck”(like Radliffe) with equally bogus info and stats( but I figure is deep love of the Spitfire will prohibit that from happening- hahahahha!!) “Again” thank you Brits for pushing for neat stuff to keep western civilization free- like the wonderful Spitfire and the “cadillac of the sky”, mustang

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      You can`t even get my name right, and what bogus info. or stats. I love the Spitfire for what it was, the best fighter, along with the Bf 109 at the start of the war and certainly as good if not better than any other fighter at the end, also both 109 and Spitfire were in production from before the war till after and both still front line fighters

    • bbear


      i’m sure some people in your virtual world like your aggressive, argumentative style. And you have a direct manner and a way with humour. I’ve put up with your loose keyboard so far, given you a rich reference source, and encouraged you and made arguments to support you because the thread needs a P 51 advocate, because i’m allowing for a sense of isolation, and allowing for bad debating style you pick up on the web and because I believe in inclusion and debate and learning here.

      I’m not sure you realise that it is only you who use terms like dog, stud and i won’t repeat the others. You are using capitals, and repeating the same argument, baseless allegations of poor study in your opponents and not paying attention to those who give you definite specific counter argument…. It makes you and the Mustang case lose face – I’m not sure you are sensitive to how people here react to you and how much patience is being used.

      And now Nick, the last known senior voice leaves and all you can do is add further insult. I’m sure you think it is funny. Well I’m not laughing for one. The seniors made this thread worth reading. I’m not blaming you for teh Nick thing but i do expect you to care. This is not about deference or seniority but basic to the continuatiion of a debate. Respect and opennesss are necessary – A willingness to learn. I don’t believe you have these and i don’t think you actually want to join in – just showboat.

      Every one here agrees the P 51 was a great plane. No one has disparaged it.

      Frankly the P 51 deserves a better advocate. And I think the guys here have earned a better debating partner. I’m sorry I ever gave you attention.

      Although your posts conform to the moderation rules in a strict sense I for one invite you to consider your position. I’m certainly considering mine for having encouraged you and having used some loose language to do it.

      In your style – get real or buzz off. That’s my student/junior/ignorant vote anyway.

  121. Thomas

    Which one is superior? Fantastic question, but i’ve been following this for sometime now without saying anything and i’ve seen a lot of knowledge and a lot of biased people bickering. To mee i love both aircraft for what they are, the best fighters for what they were designed to do. You need tools to win a war and the spitfire and mustang are two fighters I would always pick to be on my side. Sure the mustang wasn’t as good as the spit but it was damn close to being just as good. I would certainly take near spitfire performance to the enemy any day. The spit is a wall of flying lead that frankly kept England from being another victim of Germany. If the spit couldn’t keep Hitler out then the mustang probably would have never existed, if America hadn’t agreed to help support the allies the spitfire would have a difficult time protecting the free world. A lot of great British engineering used American made ammunition and such. I know the British could make their own stuff but they couldn’t make enough in a short enough period of time, the monster industry in America could.

    I’ll make an example that hopefully is clear. Let’s take a twin turbocharged jaguar xj, fast maneuverable, fantastic engine. A supreme example of what England can do. Now lets look at a range rover (which until recently was owned by ford). Take the fantastic engine from the beast of a jaguar and put it in a body that’s designed to go over anything anywhere all the time. It can’t accelerate as fast or turn as fast but it’s still close the extra weight and different body make for different handling. But when you need to race through the streets to save the prime minister you take the jag and when you need to climb mountains and go through rivers to kill the enemy that plotted the attack you take the land rover. Same engine used for different tools to achieve different outcomes.

    If you take away the laminar wing on the D, put it on a diet so it loses all the extra weight it gained to fly far and fast and some other little tweaks what would you end up with? It’s not a mustang anymore is it, nope it’s a spitfire. Argue all you want about that but it’s basically true. A long range spitfire would need more equipment which adds weight, also needs to hold more fuel you would probably loose those giant cannons everyone says is so much better than a .50 cal. (side note: too my knowledge the machine guns used in a large number of spits were American made browning .50 cal’s, teamwork won the war here) next add large drop tanks and possibly modify the high performance elliptical wing to be more fuel efficient to save fuel. Now that’s a basic set up someone might follow for a long range spit, but as nick already stated we already had an aircraft that fit that exact model and it was a mustang D model. Both planes are more alike that some would like to agree with.

    I’m going to end with a question. It’s always been my understanding and people like veterans and “experts” telling me that the spit was a master in its operational altitudes but once a mustang D reached its operational altitude which I’ve been told is much higher than a spit, that the D would be best. So lower altitudes are the spits territory but if it tries to fly high with mustangs it lost power and couldn’t keep up. I know mustangs flew to their ceilings to fight sometimes and were able to win (those wins due a little bit of credit to the Hamilton standard propeller I think). Anyways is that true I know the spits could fly high but I thought they might lose performance from the altitude. If I can get a knowledgeable person to help me out I would be much obliged.

  122. Gerald D. Swick

    As editor and moderator of this site, let me add a comment to bbear’s appeal for civility. While we give a good bit of latitude to those who offer their opinions on HistoryNet articles, we do strive to maintain a higher level of debate than can be found on many Websites. Personal attacks are off-limits.

    Because the lively debate on this subject has provided readers with a great deal of information to mull over, we’ve allowed even greater latitude in these comments than might have been the case otherwise. However, if personal attacks continue, we will be forced to close the topic to further debate. It would be a pity to have to do that.

    Please remember, you may hold your opinions very dear, but it is not necessary, desirable or helpful to ridicule others in expressing or defending those opinions.

    • Mike Gee

      Well, I for one will “apologize” for any perceived improper comments or behavior- I hope MANY others will likewise do so!

      It seems nationality trumped any realistic comments here, so I’ll defer to the SENIORS here on this blog. Now for the rest of us, its purely “pseudo academic”- manty of us here probably have NEVER seen these actual acft in combat( I “think” poster Eddolls commented on seeing them as a child, so he’d have a realistic experience)

      Apart from renting a ride on a Mustang years ago at Chino Airport, I have no idea on how they would handle in combat- my “experience” is that the mustang pilots of that era( and I’d hazard Spitfires as well) had to have some serious guts, were naive and young, or complete LOONS to get into what amounted to being a flying gas can ( “petrol” if again, I’m insulting anyone) .

      I will remark that an earlier poster did point out the fallibility of relying solely on the “opinions” of pilots- some stubbornly stuck to their personal views and bias towards a particular machine, and were rarely going to change that opinion.

      You can find this in even Axis pilots, regardless of the type of acft available that could supplement or replace what they had.( some liked their 109s, some liked the FW 190, some liked their Macchis, while others loved the A6M2)

      I merely pointed out that both acft were comparable in performance, and got into an rgument fit only for 6 yr olds about “mine’s better”- shame on me for doing it , as I should know better on the internet world of opinions.

      for now, the few spitfires and mustangs that fly are indeed a testiment to the technology of their era. One day I’ll probably tell my grand kids about an F-16 the same way, and will be on another site “arguing” with someone about the Mig 29 versus the F-16

      • bbear

        In which case I for two apologise. Particularly to Barrie for the horrible ‘Schweinfurt’ provocation. Sorry Mr Rodcliffe.

        I did think that fighters needed a fight. Now i think in debate you can either win or learn, not both. and winning is .. trivial.

        Standing up for history and seeing something others may have missed is different. Spitfre as the first among equals by a small head won’t do for me. I would feel similarly if Mitchell and Spitfires had been American or even German.

        At the time ‘pilot error’ was in, design failure was out – except R J saw it differently (that’s my hunch). That is he saw things the way a modern accident investigator or regulator sees them.

        Wright and Mitchell – genius belongs to the world.

        I’ve still to complete my evidence. Certainly the ‘twisted wing’ gave up a lot to improve handling – speed probably not to mention production costs. So it must have meant a lot to him. Schmeud on the other hand had absolutely no time. Commission to design to production in record time for the P51. No room for farsight there.

        For me its as much, or more, the human as the technical issues that matter. I want all that suffering to mean something. Or at least to be appreciated,

        I note what Nick said about pilot preference and perhaps we could even actually do a quick web survey of ‘top 2nd preferences’ concentrating on the less experienced pilots who flew both in combat – and whether ‘pilot joy’ or handling are the determinants of the choice.

        But for me first the books, Quill, Dowding, Henshaw, and a 1950’s military aviation ergonomisist if i can find one. Maybe more evidence in academic post-war analysis of design in Flight, Aeoplane, Aeronautical Society Proceedings. I’ll be a while.

        If this thread does get closed – I’ll be around.

  123. Thomas

    I’m pretty sure everyone here can agree that the mustang and the spitfire were the best aircraft for the allies.

  124. Maw-z

    Many good technical points, well explained have been identified in this discussion. However, given a chunk of sky and a choice of aircraft to defend it…..its the Spitfire XIV (Mk XIV given the general time of arrival of the P-51 into ETO).

    To save my neck….the Spitfire was built as a dogfighter….period.

    If I may add one extra little thought…..
    As a Canuck, I have made the pilgrimage to the Battle of Britian museum and in there sits a Mk I Spit. She is tiny when compaired to a P51. I look at her and cannot help but think of the time she fought and the nation she inspired to fight with her. This airplane chokes me up and I am not alone.

    The Mustang is truly a great aircraft and a blessing when it arrived…..but its not a Spit.



    • Barrie Rodliffe

      For a plane that was built for defence and excelled in a dogfight, the Spitfire was developed for many other uses, PR, high altitude fighter, fighter bomber, Seafire, there were even long range fighter versions, while not the range of the Mustang they were escorting B17`s before Mustangs were built, the Mustang was a very good aircraft but to compare a P 51D to a Mk XIV Spitfire just doesn`t work, the Mustang is good as a long range escort fighter, but to take on late model German fighters with experienced pilots was where the Spitfire`s were the fighter to have, the Germans towards the end of the war had lost many of their experienced pilots and the new pilots were not trained well enough, which gave P 51`s, P 47`s and P 38`s a chance against the better Fw 190 D9`s and Me 109 K`s

  125. caracoid

    I don’t know what you guys are debating. The massive consideration in determining a better fighter is how much power its capable of providing to its pilot.

    Why power? Besides speed, which any combat will tell you is life itself, power determines how many and how potent the
    armament is and how heavily armored. How much of these critical things are compromised by required duration of flight tells you what that platform is limited to.

    Here, the Mustang is simply unmatched. Its laminar flow wings gave the plane less air resistance than any other plane of the time and its design was based on the highly advanced conic aeronautical design formula–and less resistance translates into more power.

    Coincidentally, the laminar wing’s shape allowed for additional fuel storage, which also added to the plane’s range.

    Any issues relating to whether 6-50s could compete against 8-30s or even an air cannon are ridiculous when you consider the weight was traded for fuel, a far more important requirement at the time.

    As for turning capability, if that’s what you are relying on, you might as well be flying a triplane against an F-18. Or more to the point, a Zero against a Hellcat, which shot them down 20-1.

    Finally, despite what the British think, nothing is more beautiful than the Mustang. The Spitfire looked almost exactly like the ME-109 except for the elliptical wing, so I guess if you find that wing sexy you like the Spit. But the Mustang with its complex curves, oversize air intake on the belly, angled wings and tail bases gave it a more modern, refined look and when combined made it look mean as hell. I mean, come on!

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      Speed is important in a straight line, so are other factors, like rate of climb, rate of roll and turning ability in a dogfight, they did happen and in all of these the Mk XIV was better than the P 51 D and in service month`s ahead, the Americans are well known for having shot down more Japanese and more German aircraft than were available

      • caracoid

        I guess the reason we’re debating this is that nobody really knows what the exact capabilities were. I heard the P-51 had a faster roll rate and climb.

        Are there any definitive statistics out there?

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      I don`t agree that the Spitfire looks anything like the Bf 109, maybe some Americans do, it might explain why AAF Mustangs attacked Spitfire Mk XIV`s without hitting them, the Spitfires pulled into a turning climb which the Mustang`s could not follow

      • mike gee

        “Friendly” fire happened quite frequently – many times because. “Green” AA gunners or new pilots were scared; even veteran pilots made this mistake. Consider the speed of the Acft at the time, crude IFF, and plain old “eye I.D.” Led to this. Mustang Ace George Preddy was shot down by. Friendly AA fire after being mistaken for a messerschimdt near christmas of ’44. Another reason US acft weren’t painted in combat camouflage, other than weight and drag, was because gunners and pilots couldn’t immediately tell the difference between friend and foe in a high speed gunfight situation

    • J. Eddolls

      Oh come on Caracoid! All these elements have been debated previously, now the laminar flow wing, this may have been cleaner than the more standard aerofoil type wing employed by most aircraft. However it was very prone to damage on the leading edge, and, more importantly, provided less lift, thus never allowing the Mustang to ever be competetive with the Spitfire in either climb or dive.

      Armament, nothing comes close to explosive 20mm shells, MG’s were only retained in Spit’s to take snap shots with deflection, as soon as ROF was increased in 20mm cannon, Brit aircraft had four of them fitted.

      Turning circle, now if a Spit climbs faster, dives faster and also turns tighter than it’s oponent (Mustang) that means it’s superior!

      Looks, well a Spit is very attractive, particularily when seen in the same sky that it fought in 60 years ago. A Mustang to this particular Brit looks sort of OK, but has too few curves – squared off wings, tail etc, radiator copied from the Hurricane and landing flaps copied from the Bf109.

      I once met an American who made an interesting observation, he said ‘if it was British, it looked good’. I had to agree with him.

      • Mike Gee

        .. and again Barrie, thats like saying that the British couldn’t find the FIGHT cause they COULDN’T get there in their spits IXs and XIVs! slow speed turns are great if your enemy is dumb enough to get into a turn fight with you in a less manueverable plane( ask the Spit pilots who learned this the hard way against Japanese zeros)

        Even the Freight train P-47 drivers knew BETTR than try to fight a FW 190 in a turning fight- YET many made ace and clobbered fast agile 109s and FW 190s, like Gabby Grebreski, but face it roll rate wasn’t that superior to mustangs, and mustangs were actually designed to take more g forces than the Spit. Recently read an interesting issue by a RAF test pilot named John Houlton, who witnessed first hand the dive issues, g force problems, of the spit and compressibility on the acft- “seems” wings shearing off and nasty stall issues weren’t only the mustangs fault either… anyway this is boring- for birst and some common wealth folks , the Spitfire is the best- for the rest of us who WON the war and the PEACE, its the mustang…..

  126. Barrie Rodliffe

    P 51 D 3,475 ft/min, Spitfire Mk IX 4,100 ft/min Mk XIV 4580 ft/min, and most of the Spitfires in use especially for low altitude had the clipped wing to improve rate of roll to combat Fw 190 which they did with ease. The Mustang was too heavy to climb as well as Spitfires

    • Thomas

      You guys that are new should browse the above statements; some are filled with accurate specs and comparisons notes. In simple terms the spitfire edges out the mustang by a small margarine, the mustang was very close to the spitfire level of performance but was also designed to bring the fight to Germany.

      Also the note about the turning roll climb I find inaccurate D models with the deep paddle Hamilton standard propeller could easily keep up with the Germans 109 and 190’s and it’s slightly larger turning circle due to it’s shape not it’s weight made it slower.

      Official reports are hard to make judgments on, a comment above about a usaaf mechanic boosting his mustang’s performance to above official spitfire levels is believable and I’m sure the brits did similar things.

      It’s also been said above that the mustang D was built for higher altitudes that the spitfire. It performed extremely well if not better than a spit at its preferred operating altitude. It’s all about engine tuning and pilot capability. Spits and mustangs are closer than most think. Same engine different primary missions near identical performance are warned gentlemen there are very passionate people here that can and will destroy you’re claims with numbers and primary sources.

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        My comment was about the Mk XIV which easily out climbed the P 51 and since it turned tighter, that is exactly what the pilots did The Mustang was supposed to be good at high altitude but The P 51 D ceiling was 41,900 ft, the Spitfire L.F Mk VIII 41,500 ft, the F Mk VIII 43,000 ft and the H.F VIII 44,000 ft. The Mk XIV also reached 43,000 ft and got there well before the P 51 D, There was also an extended wing tip and pressurised cockpit Mk VII which was capable of very high altitude work
        Rolls Royce was trying out modifications right through the war with different levels of boost and high octane fuels

  127. caracoid

    Okay, after doing some research here’s what I came up with.

    Without reading 100+ posts, the planes most people are most likely to compare would be the P-51D to the Spitfire Mk XIV. Both operated at similar times. And yes, I would have to admit that the Spit had it over the Mustang in most categories.

    But did anybody mention that the D version was operating on a measly 1720 HP will the Mk XIV had the updated 2035 HP engine?
    Here, the D made 437 MPH to the XIV’s 448. Almost the same but on over 300 HP less. Not bad.

    Later versions of the Mustang had a 2220 HP engine (again, hard to compare to the earlier Spit’s 2035, but was able to reach an astonishing top speed of 487 MPH.

    If the Brits had just leased us their GOOD engine, the story might have been completely different!

    • Alex

      Hello guys.

      Just something to add to this debate. I’d suggest there is evidence that the US authorities were the ones against modification of their creations by the british. They weren’t that enthusiastic about putting the merlin in the mustang early on, or that big british gun in the little US tank to create the Sherman firefly. Even the tigers kept an eye out for big gun barrells on that little tank.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      The Spitfire Mk XIV was in service month`s before the P 51 D. The 300 hp less certainly shows up, not only slower but also low acceleration and climb compared to the Spitfire. The P 51 H which was a light weight fighter still wouldn`t climb or accelerate with the Spitfire and lacked the range of the P 51 D, also did not see service in WW II and was not regarded as suitable to be used in Korea while the P 51 D was. also laminar flow wings were not efficient if dirty or with slight damage, in which case the performance dropped badly.

      • mike gee

        What I find interesting is that, despite all the “technical Proof” of the Spitfire variants “superiority”,the mustang was SUCCESSFUL in combat. I have read all the technical info and noted as an earlier poster did, that the Mustang ran FASTER on a lower power rating, and achieved similar performance as the Spitfire despite being 500- 1100 lbs heavier!!!! I have noted sarcastic comments that the only reason US pilots were successful was because the Brits “shot the best ones down”( sure -if that were true, the war would have been over in ’43 and RAF bomber command, with the 8th USAAF would have destroyed the german homeland and NOTHING would have stopped the Soviet VVS!)

        Also “loved” other comments the suggested that “only” americans fudged stats and numbers in combat , that american pilots weren’t aggressive, that only higher numbers made them a serious threat, and that the only way a Mustang pilot could shoot down a Me 262 was by ambushing them defenselessly landing ( “but of course” ONLY British Spitfire pilots were “brave enough” to take them on in the air- the FIRST ME 262 kill be Spits was also of a LANDING german pilot bounced by a pair of spitfires, just like the climbed shoot down by P-47 pilots a few weeks later!) again, total B.S.over look the performance of the Mustang all you want- throw in maximum tuned Spitfires against lower tuned P-51s all you want( the similar tuned Spitfire IX climb rate was 3,680 ft/min.vs the heavier P-51 D climb rate of 3,475 ft/min- a max’d manifold pressure boosted mustang could run a 4k ft/min and the later H model could make 5k ft/min like later Spits) Turn rates? Again the Spit had that, but not so great that they’d “walk away” from a mustang!( You had luftwaffe pilots climbing the same against P-51s yet. Even German tests on captured and repaired Mustangs PROVED this wasn’t true) and cannons? Brits put the same 20 mm in the early A models for ground attack, and low level intercept – where at 5 to 10′ made them as fast and faster than like period BF 109s and Spits( an A model recorded an aerial victory against an FW 190 BEFORE a Spitfire did!) Lastly 51 SQUADRONS of British and common wealth pilots flew the Mustang into combat, and many made ACE- again, how many american squadrons of “superior” Spitfires were there?????? The russians had an addage that “quantity has a quality of its own” – in that aspect, BOTH the. Better design features of the Spitfire AND Mustang and their mass productions wiped the Nazi menace out of the air! For pure intercept and combat? The spitfire edges the mustang. For multi role work (CAP, bmbing, ground attack, long range escort, and intercept)- Mustang edges the Spitfire……

      • J. Eddolls

        Hi Mike, some stats for you, taken from the RAF order of battle for the 6th June 1944.

        Number of RAF Squadrons and aircraft type,

        Mustang Mk I – 4 Sqns
        Mustang MkII – I Sqn
        Mustang MkIII – 7 Sqns

        Total of 12 RAF Squadrons operating Mustangs as at 6th June 1944 – D-Day,


        Spitfire – 60 Sqns
        Seafire – 4 Sqns
        Typhoons – 20 Sqns
        Tempest – 2 Sqns
        Mosquito – 23 Sqns
        Beaufighter – 9 Sqns

        US 8th Air Force order of battle for the same period.

        P51 – 21 Sqns
        P38 – 12 Sqns
        P47 – 12 Sqns

        US 9th Air Force order of battle for the same period.

        P51 -10 Sqns
        P47 – 39 Sqns
        P38 – 9 Sqns

        To correct your comments about Americans ‘making ace’ in the Spitfire, I can confirm that 37 US citizens achieved ‘Ace’ status whilst flying the Spitfire, a further 30 almost achieved that feat. A large number of these Aces achieved these victories in reverse ‘Lend Lease’ machines.

        On D-Day US Navy Squadron VCS-7 flew Spitfires, these initially were for bombardment spotting on the big day, and later for ground attack.

        The RAF was made up of pilots from many nationalities. Just under half of the aerial victories accredited to the RAF were made by non Brits. Mainly pilots drawn from the Commonwealth countries, in particular Canada, Australia and New Zealand not to mention South Africa and the then Rhodesia (Zimbabwe). France, Belgium, Holland and Norway had their own Spitfire Squadrons within RAF Fighter Command.

        One particular American Pilot who has always interested me is Flt Lt David Fairbanks, he shot down a Bf109 in a Spitfire VB on the 8th June 44 he then went onto score 11.5 victories in Tempests. Why he remained in British service has never been explained.

  128. caracoid

    Upon further, further research I at last came up with this apples-to-apples comparison of the two airframes with engines producing equal horsepower:

    Spitfire MK XVI had the Merlin 266 rated at 1670 HP at 3000 rpm producing a top speed of 408 MPH.

    The P-51D had the Merlin 69 with an identical 1670 HP at 3000 rpm producing a top speed of 437 mph.

    Interestingly, the P-51D had an empty weight of 7635 lbs. but was still able to achieve this high speed while the Mk XVI at a mere 5739 pounds couldn’t keep up.

    Granted, the Mk XVI did have a phenomenal climb rate, as one would expect from such a light airframe, but one also has to wonder what sacrifices were made to its structure and armor to achieve that weight (almost a ton lighter than the P-51D). In the end, did it lean more toward the Zero, with unbeatable climb and turn and with good speed but sacrificing survivability?

    I suppose you could always fly a damaged Mustang covered in mud and the Spitfire would look a whole lot better. :-)

    • Alex

      I don’t really know what to say here. A plane called a Spitfire is a Spitfire, and a plane called a Mustang is a Mustang. Your trying to support an argument by saying that the opposition didn’t give you enough help!!!! And the Brits gave the Mustang the Merlin in the first place.
      Could someone also do some research and tell me what the ceiling of the zero was, along wtih some other stuff like their high speed dive characteristics.
      Survivability, maybe you should champion another great plane, (which by the way I believe the Mustang to be, just not up to spitfire level) I’ll cringe here, the IL2 Sturmovik.
      That should throw a cat amongst the pigeons:)

    • J. Eddolls

      Hi Caracoid, yes the Stang did have a higher speed in level flight than the Spitfire Mk XVI, however this Spitfire version was a refined version of the Mk IX and only given the moniker of XVI as it was furnished with the US Packard Merlin.

      As we know the Mk IX was brought into service late in 42 and as a response to the Fw190. However your investigations have ignored one salient point that has been raised previously and does not come through in stat sheets. Acceleration, any difference in top speeds is negated by the slower rate of acceleration for the Mustang. That is unless it is cruising at over 400mph!

      At these speeds even the Mustangs huge fuel tankage would diminish quickly.

      Armour and survivability, both aircraft had similar protection for the pilot, hoewever because of the huge fuel load of the Mustang, it was vulnerable to explosive ammunition in those areas. The Zero had no armour protection whatsoever so comparing a Spitfire to that aircraft does not work. Apart from the the fuel issue I would consider their abilities to withstand punishment similar.

      However because of the lethality of German ‘Mine’ ammunition which exploded on impact the armour plate in both aircraft would protect the pilot from shrapnel and small calibre rounds only.

      • Keith J. Mohrhoff

        J. Eddolls: Towards the end of the war–as planes became ever faster–many were left in “bare metal” finishes with whatever coatings applied being anti-corrosive or to assist in creating a smooth, aerodynamically superior surface. The reasons for this were twofold: 1) As planes became faster it became all-but impossible to keep pain on the plane. This changed by Vietnam with the introduction of epoxy-based paints. If you’ve ever use “Krazy glue” you know epoxy sticks to everything! 2) A certain amount of arrogance in that, it was believed that some planes–P-51 Mustang and P-38 Lightning among them–were “too fast” to be shot down.

      • J. Eddolls

        Thanks for that Keith, I seem to remember hearing somewhere that painted finishes began to be deleted from US aircraft particularily on bombers because of the weight! And of course you could not hide such large formations no matter how clever the design or scheme.

        I remember when I worked for an American Airline many years ago, and being told a story about an Accoutant. He deleted the olive from in flight salads and saved the company $100,000 a year. Deleting paint from the outer skins of aircraft could have an even greater saving!

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      Actually these Merlin`s were all used in Mk IX`s except the 266 used in Mk XVI, The 66 and 266 gave 1585 hp, the 61 1565 hp, the 63 1650 hp, the 63A and 64 1710 hp, the 70 used for high altitude 1475 hp which were the fastest Mk IX`s Mk IX with Merlin 70 415.5 mph at 37,500 ft, a lot depends on the supercharger gearing and altitude they were designed for. Speed did not change a lot with weight. Spitfire`s were very strong and had good protection for the pilot with armour plate, the Mk IX was around 500 lb heavier than the Mk V, nothing was sacrificed. Mustang was a fast aircraft but The P-51 Mustang was the first aircraft intentionally designed to use laminar flow airfoils. However, wartime NACA research data shows that Mustangs were not manufactured with a sufficient degree of surface quality to maintain much laminar flow on the wing and an absolutely smooth surface was necessary due to the fact that any surface break or rough protrusion would interrupt the airflow and detract from the laminar flow theory. Because of the exactness required, the foil had been shelved by other manufacturers due to the clearances and tolerances which are used in mass production. The engineers at NAA approached this problem with a plan to fill and paint the wing surface to provide the necessary smoothness but the same smoothness has to be maintained which makes for more work for ground engineers and the slightest damage causes a major loss of speed

      • J. Eddolls

        Thanks Barrie, now I understand why the IX and XVI were kept in service until the end of the war and the VB utilised for ADGB until very late also. They were still competative and lethal. Whats the point of high top speed if it takes an age to get there!

        I had also understood that the true speed of the IX was 418-420, which is not that far away from the D model Mustang. American pilots called the IX and also the VIII the ‘Hammer’ because of the experience of the ‘blower kicking in at about 20,000′.

        Also my understanding of wing coatings utilised by NAA is as follows. ‘During manafacture the wings of the Mustang were heavily primed with Zinc Chromate paint, they were never left as natural metal. On later models they were further coated with silver paint’, perhaps this was to cover the filler in the wing panels! This qoute came from a Squadron Signal publication sourced in the 80’s don’t know if it is reliable.

  129. Keith J. Mohrhoff

    I don’t understand the venom of so many posters over “which aircraft was better”. Remember, the #1 rule of warfare: Confuse the enemy! Fielding various types of aircraft–each with it’s own set of strengths–Luftwaffe pilots were constantly being thrown a new set of variables and had to re-learn and develop skill sets to address each new threat. That said, I think that what many people are overlooking is that the Spitfire was developed in the 30s as a RACING aircraft–unlike other notable aircraft that were developed during the war and FOR the war. You may notice that nobody suggested putting the GEE BEE (or it’s derivative) into combat–in spite of the fact that it set many speed records and offered enemy gunners a small silhouette. From this perspective, we can clearly see that the Spitfire was FAR ahead of it’s time.

  130. caracoid

    Okay, here’s what I’m reading from the Spit fans:

    First, my apples to apples comparison of equal engine HP at equal RPM for both airframes got thrown up in the air and juggled with a whole lot of other mixed fruit to distract from the issue. (But it was entertaining.)

    Second, I’m hearing a lot about how the Spitfire had excellent pilot armor–as did the Mustang. I will recognize that some additional weight had to be added to the Mustang for tanks (something that partly gave it the tremendous range it had); although I doubt A TON. And they most certainly didn’t build it out of wrought iron. So unless someone can come up with specifics as to the two planes’ respective constructions and how they differed, I have to come to the conclusion that it was a sturdier airframe, thus having increased survivability.

    And Barrie, I must say I have enjoyed sparing with you for the last couple days and you’ve made some very good points, but your statement about how one version of the Spitfire weighed 500 pounds more than a different version both with identical engines without any change in performance defies the laws of physics. Something had to be changed in order to achieve that.

    Finally, I know a lot has been said about the Mustang’s range and we all know how this enabled us to take the war to Berlin, etc. etc., but another extremely important aspect to range is the ability for a plane to loiter for ground support or air patrol. An equal transition from range to time-in-air gives us a monumental difference. The Mustang could presumably stay aloft for approximately 3.6 times as long as the Spitfire. And this means one plane can cover a given area for that much longer than another, thus requiring fewer planes for equal coverage.

    In fact, when adding time-in-transit, covering the same amount of area using Spitfires would require far more than 3.6, depending on the distance to and from the area.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      The Mk IX was heavier than the Mk V mainly as a result of having a strengthened engine mounting and stiffened rear fuselage because of the extra torque of the more powerful version of Merlin I was not trying to confuse anyone just trying to clarify things, because you seem to think the Spitfire with the same power was much slower, while it depends on many factors and the least powerful Mk IX was the fastest. The Mustang weighs more, being bigger as well as carrying more fuel may have something to do with it, The Spitfire certainly is not lacking in strength. So maybe the problem is not with the Spitfire being too light but the Mustang being too heavy. For combat I would rather have the Spitfire Mk IX with better acceleration, turning ability an climb than a slightly faster P 51and if speed is that important the Mk XIV Spitfire which has speed as well

  131. caracoid

    Oh, I forgot to address the claims that laminar wings were useless unless designed without rivets. My answer would be then why did they design them this way and why did the Mustang perform so well? Could be the wings were ancillary to the conic design, I can only guess.

    And as for the claim that the slightest damage to a laminar flow wing results in tremendous drop in performance, well, I’d have to see the data on that claim and what specifically “slightest damage” and “tremendous drop in speed” actually means.

  132. Thomas

    I think there are a lot of spit fans here which is to be expected the spitfire is no doubt a great plane that will never be forgotten but I’m having trouble with the spit being superior to the D model mustang. I hear an Mk (random model) was a long range fighter and the Mk (random model) could fly higher and driver faster. All these spits against one plane. One plane that had a smidge under spit performance that could fly high and far and long. The climb rate of both planes is going to be about the same once you reach a certain altitude. At mustang operational escort altitude 40,000 something feet could outperform a 109 or 190, not with ease a lot of pilot skill came in here but the climb rate was about the same with Hamilton standard deep scoop props which were added late to the D I don’t remember how late but the other props were garbage compared to the Hamilton’s.

    So with all that said can someone explain how a plane that needs tons had tons of variants is in which only a handful were actually better defense interceptors is better than one plane that could do it all longer and farther with literally only a few integers of difference between performance numbers. How is the spit actually better as a weapon of war? The D is well rounded great performance easy to fly easy to build that square shape saved money and time hell the D was made in such a short time as it was.

    There’s a reason why other countries bought old D’s and used them and some still do use them as active fighters and trainers. Spits are hard to come by and I think from all the hype and praise they’ve become overpriced and expensive to maintain. After the war the world wanted D’s the spit may have changed planes forever but the D was more advanced than the spit when it came out. Doesn’t take an expert to realize that.

    Also one other thing these two planes are really brothers both planes used pieces from both countries to make them. A lot of metal came from America a lot of guns and ammo came from America and the engines and radar and gunfights were all advanced and British. Two brothers in war ones a bit fatter not quite as nimble but runs farther the other is nimble and quick but it has short legs.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      The Mustang was a good aircraft, considering it was designed and built 6 years later. The reason for so many different versions of Spitfire were made was that the Spitfire was used for many different purposes, the Spitfire did everything well, the Mustang only did one thing, long range fighter. The Spitfire Mk IX and Mk XIV were both in service before the P 51 D, and while the Mk XIV was better than a Mustang in everything but range, that includes much better climb and tighter turn as well as high altitude performance and the Mk IX was in service before any P 51 and the different engines in use were depending on what it was to be used for high or low altitude work, the Standard Mk IX would climb faster and higher turn tighter and was better in combat at any height, many countries used Spitfires`s after the war, Israel, Egypt, Burma, Syria, France, Belgium, South Africa, Canada used Seafires. and a number of others, RAF used them for many years, the reason they are in such demand probably has a lot to do with their flying quality, one of the nicest and easiest fighters to fly, the Mustang apparently wasn`t as nice or easy

      • Thomas

        From what I’ve heard from interviews from D vets and some enthusiasts who flew them afterwards they said the D is really simple and easy to fly it takes little training to get them confident enough to perform basic aerobatics and with practice they were soon flying insane maneuvers. I heard about a one D ace who I can’t find the name for but I think it’s the old crow D he said in an interview that one of the craziest things he ever did was purposely stall his plane as the German he was fighting dove down then pushed his D into a stalled dive the torque of the engine rotated the plane putting the German right in front of him. Not sure if that’s actually feasible or not but he said that he could not do that in a jug but the D let him fly like that because it was an easy plane to fly. Perhaps not as easy as the spit which I know was designed heavily with pilot input but the mustang still was an easy plane to fly and win in.

    • J. Eddolls

      Thomas, P51’s ‘operational escort altitude’ was much less than 40,000′ this was almost at the Mustangs service ceiling. Most combats took place below 30’000′.

      • Thomas

        i’m just basing this off a D pilot i meet at a ww2 airshow he said he often followed germans up to 40,000 feet . He might be off he was ageing and had been flying planes for a while but who am i to critic a true vet.

    • J. Eddolls

      Thomas, in October of 1942 a Spitfire MkIX was tested at Boscombe Down, England. It had recently been converted from a Spitfire VB and fitted with a Merlin 61 powerplant. Maximum climb rates recorded in testing were 3860′ feet per minute.

      A P51D tested in 1944 had a maximum climb rate of 3200′ feet per minute.

      Please note 660′ per minute is not a ‘smidge’.

      Bear in mind also a MkIX when fitted with Merlin 70 in early 43 climbed at 4530′ per minute, a difference of 1330′ per minute is also not a ‘smidge’.

      A similar MkIX fitted with a Merlin 66 was rated at 4700′ per minute, again not a ‘smidge’ but outright superiority.

      Please note these tests were carried out with normal production aircraft and a long time before the P51B/D were in action.

      The MkIX flown in January 1943 and fitted with a Merlin 70 had a top speed of 415 MPH. Not much different to a P51D in 1944.

  133. Thomas

    The original question is also “which was the better all round fighter” I think the D is the winner in that, However I’m willing to see other people’s reasoning. Pick one variant of the spit that is better in you’re opinion. I don’t see how this is a debate when the spit fans just ramble off variant 13 could do this better and 15 was better at that. All against the D one plane is taking one an arsenal of spits and still managing to hold it’s own. Let’s go spit fans I want to hear how much the D is inferior now!

    (no need to get all heated up about this, it’s just a debate that has so far been directed by personal opinions with stats that are so different they can’t be taken seriously anymore)

    • mike gee

      “They” can’t and won’t Thomas. I’m sure you’ve noticed every absurd excuse from “all the german experts were already gone” as well as how dismissive many here have been about the effect of the mustangs long range capabilities, even the IMPORTANCE of the day light bombing on german industry and production. This WAS important to the war effort, and it WAS the P-51 B/C/D that accomplished this. Without round the clock pressure, german casualties would have been less, the wermacht and luftwaffe would have had precious materials and oil supplies( like the oil supply from Romania) and they would have been in the war until ’46. IF the Spitfire( whatever combo of variants the proponents can list) was so superior, then WHY wasn’t it also developed for the long range escort duty? You can’t tell me that the British War Ministry was so callous that they were okay with the high casualty and loss of so many british bomber crews,and later american crews ! Why wouldn’t they develop their superior fighter to be able to take the fight to the enemy over his own homeland? You are right in pointint out “inconsistencies” in the stances of the Spifire supporters- by the time the Spit XIV came out, it had lost many of the. Characteristics hailed as superior traits that made the Spitfire unique( light weight, manueverable,etc) not to mention the XIV had mechanical issues that are glossed over. Again BOTH are a credit to the incredible designers and even end users- but neither are inheritantly superior to the other if compared side by side- they each have traits that compliment as well as pass one another….

      • J. Eddolls

        Mike, why on earth would the British develop a long rang escort, Bomber Command were bombing at night with their heavies. Any daylight pin point bombing requirements were dealt with by Mossies.

        I have made this statement in an earlier post, American Bombers needed an escort not British.

        You have criticised the pro Spitfire lobby in a rather unhelpful manner. The need for so many variants of Spitfire was that they needed to be available to defend the UK and many other theatres from a variety of threats. Did the Mustang ever destroy enemy recon aircraft at 49,000′ ?

        A long range Spitfire was operated early on in the war, it was the Spitfire Mk II LR.

    • J. Eddolls

      Hi Thomas, can’t let you get away with this! There were so many variations of Spitfires because of A.D.G.B. I will reply more properly when I have more time, however in the meantime check out the different threats that the UK had.

      • Keith J. Mohrhoff

        “why on earth would the British develop a long rang escort?” I can give you two reasons: 1) Psychological. Like Doolittle’s raid on Tokyo (yes, I know it was a bombing raid) but, like Doollittle’s raid, the psychological effect on German pilots knowing that the skies over their homeland were not safe had value. 2) Logistical. Knowing that the Allies were using long-range fighters required different deployment of their own fighters than what would’ve been required in their absence. Thus, the German Luftwaffe was forced to spread out their resources and maintain round-the-clock combat patrols

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      Since the P 51 D first entered service in 1944 well after the Mk XIV Spitfire which was faster as well as climbing much better turning much tighter and accelerating a lot faster I feel it is a bit unfair on the Mustang which only has an advantage of range by the way the XIII was a Photographic Reconnaisance version and XV was a Seafire, they still used roman numerals until the Mk 21

      • Mike Gee

        because BOMBING, J. Eddolls, in addition to large troop deployments is WHAT WAON TH WAR!!! Brits stopped day light bombing becuase THEy learned that the “bombers will NOT always get through”- it took your rustic cousins across the pond- the USAAF almost 2 yrs to discover that was a myth- and the use of long range fighters , that could also DOG FIGHT very well, and strafe, bomb and suppress enemy fighters ,was VERY,VERY,VERY important. “Bomber Harris” got the “sack” because the losses to brave RAF bomber pilots was so horrific without ESCORTS, and Hap Arnold should have been sacked too, if he had insisted that US bomber crews ran to germany without Mustangs!

        No matter how you slice it, the spitfire was “short legged” all way up to the Mark XIV. and yes the spit XIV could climb 5,000 ft/min ( up to 3,000 ft) after that its climb rate to 22,000 ft was 3,550 ft/min at manifold boost of +18 lbs/in( the P-51B could run up to 3,320 ft/min to 15K, and the D model 3,475 ft/min up to the same )and at low to medium altitude, the Spit XIV could run and burn with best- overpowering FW 190s and BF 109s, and hauled butt ,going 448 mph at level flight at 24-26K compared to the Mustang B/C doing base line 445 mph at same height, and the D model doing 437 mph.

        NO ONE disputes the spit at the top tier interceptor it was, but a long distance fighter? mustang has it beat. The mustang from get go had a larger fuel capacity, could carry a heavier ordinance load, and something you just won’t admit- like the early mustang B/C with their 4 .50 cals, the brits kept the .303 machine gun combo, and later .50 cal combo with their 20mm hispano cannons, because the cannons had a slow rate of fire, and JAMMED badly in high stress turns and manuevers!

        Also the Mossies were tactical high speed bombers- NOT precision daylight bombers, and although more almost 300 were built including more than 3 dozen built for high alt( 42K) missions, it was at tactical speed bombing, attacks on german bombers, phot recon,and shipping harassment the mossie excelled at.

        Eddolls, chum- you just can’t be so dismissive of the contributions of the USAAF and the impact they had on the war,along with your beloved RAF. you can’t claim the spitfire as the wonder acft all to itself, when in reality, it was a combo- the stubby hurricane, the “younger brother” long range Mustang, and the hard hitting P-47, which I feel performed better in many cases than the typhoon and tempest( RAF pilots are recorded as having DIED in those acft due to toxic engine fumes during combat operations, and other mechanical faults) on ground attack, and despite its beastly weight of 1/3 larger than the mustang, as well as damn near twice the weight of a spit, it was a DEADLY Boom and ZOOM fighter against German FW 190s and 109s !

        I take no offense in your views, but i have commented in return to the views some of the “pro spit” posters have, including slights about accuracy of after action reports, ability of american fighter pilots, even the quality of the aircraft turned out by some of the BEST , and in some case current , companies in the world(Lockheed, NAA,Consolidated, Boeing, Macdonald Douglas- many now part of the other companies)

        You and i both know , England had the german noose around its neck- the ability to doggedly fight off the Luftwaffe, coupled with the might of the RN at sea is what put the Nazis at a stalemate- had they been willing to incur the massive man power loses, they’d have taken England and the world would be a different place today. Be thankful that we “rustics” brought our overweight fighters, cocky mid western fly boys and our massive arensal of democracy to the game. and be THANKFUL your clear sighted British designers and War ministry wanted something BETTER than our P-38s and P-40s, which ended up being the P-51 D-“cadillac of the sky”..

      • J. Eddolls

        Mike, I do hope you do not think I have been dismissive of any US contribution or of the bravery or abilities of your servicemen.It was not intended, and I would be the first to sing their praises. Particularily the skills of the agressive US fighter pilots.

        I have done a great deal of research into aerial victories particularily of the RAF. I have steered well clear of analysing claims by other waring nations for a variety of reasons.

        With regard to the Israeli’s my understanding is they could only get their hands on MkIX’s and these had to come by a circuitus route due to trade bans.

        With regard to your comments about the Amiens raid, it was led by Group Captain P.C. Pickard, an Englishman. I believe most of the crews were Commonwealth, although I may be wrong. He was shot down as he lingered at low level near the target, only leaving when all his crews had deprted safely, his Mosquito was easily spotted against the snow on the ground and bounced, and then destroyed by gunfire.

        The French were so touched by Pickards sacrifice they lobbied hard for his award of the Victoria Cross. This was never granted, sadly.

      • J. Eddolls

        Oh Mike, forgot to say in my last post. The Mustang was a great aircraft and better than anything the Axis had, but, (you know whats coming now). It was not a Spitfire!

  134. Steve McCarty

    Probably the best fighter flying and air to air combat took place in 1946 and ’47 between reserve pilots on our west coast. Pilots had plently of aircraft and parts and the pilots were experienced. On Sunday after noon they ‘d drive to the base and launch in their 51’s, F6’s and F4U’s and hassel over San Francisco Bay. While talking to guys who did this, they said to me that the 51 usually won the fight.

    • J. Eddolls

      Steve, no Spits available? Shame as a pure dogfighter it would have been interesting to see what they made of it!

  135. Thomas

    All that I can get from the spit fans defending the almighty spitfire is that no single spitfire can match the D it takes 4 or 6 together to do the same thing.

    Also I know this doesn’t count but the earlier mustang that had the Allison engine was from some random documentary made in the 80’s a favorite of the brits. The A/B/C were all terrible at higher altitudes like the spit and D but in lower altitudes it was great “Like an old super marine racer sometimes” that quote came from fighter command when asked to give his opinions on the planes. That quote mind you was a little before the spit made its grand debut and the Brits were begging America for more P-40’s war hawk here tomahawks in England.

    I’m playing the bias card again I think the Brits are too proud to say anything other than a spit is superior. The D was a close match for any spit in a dogfight and was longer range than most spits and even then the long range spits did not have the performance to still dogfight. There’s no single spit that does everything in one package the D does.

    • J. Eddolls


      1.Did America have sneek raids by low level bombers along her coastline. Which was only 20 miles from enemy territory. No
      2. Was America under threat from aircraft capable of altitudes over 50,000′.
      The answer once again is No.

      3. Was America attacked by V1’s, No

      4. Was America even bombed by fleets of bombers – apart from Pearl Harbour No again.

      As so elequently put by Barrie, all the Mustang was required to do was escort daylight US raids, which it did extremely well.

      The Spitfire was asked to do a lot that the Mustang never needed to do as the Spit was already there! The Mustang never needed to intercept JU86P’s at 49.000′ as the Spitfire already had that covered. It was unable to intercept a Fw190 at zero feet, over Hastings, that had just bombed a school. Because, guess what a Spit XII was there

      The British opted to bomb by night and had specialist units to attack high value targets by day. This they did extremely well.

      A very great deal of technical advancements were made in the night time bomber offensive. Many of these were given to the US to enable them to bomb through cloud. This being Europe we don’t see much sun! Targets frequently were covered in cloud.

      The Spitfire was available in many marks, because it was the weapon that could excell in so many areas.

      I also think that throughout British history certain weapon systems have come to the fore. Be it Excalibur! The Longbow, the Brown Bess Musket and the Baker Rifle. We look upon these implements of war and see them as Battle winners which in the main they were. In the Twentieth Century we have the Lee Enfield Rifle and the Spitfire. Whilst the Mustang was a truly wonderful aircraft, and was responsible for utter carnage in the skies of Europe and anywhere else it operated, To the British and I suspect many Europeans and especially the people of the Commonwealth ( who were such dedicatedl warriors for freedom, and to whom the British owe so much ), it is not a Spitfire.

    • Nick

      Thomas – once again, for heaven’s sake have someone knowledgeable check your stuff, or get a good reference book or two, before you write. The Mustang P-51 B, C and D ALL HAD MERLIN ENGINES, so the B and C (the difference was not technical, it was just the plant where they were made) were no more “terrible at higher altitudes” at higher altitudes, and I don’t understand for the life of me whet you mean by “like the spit [Spit?] and D.” And the name of the company was Supermarine (literally “above the water”) not “super marine,” which if anything would mean a really tough member of the USMC :)

      And the British Purchasing Commission did not ask for more P-40s (the British do not beg) “befoe the spit [Spit] made its grand debut.” The prototype Spitfire and Hurricane were shown in an air display in 1936, many years before the Brits asked North American to make P-40s.

  136. caracoid

    Well, after doing the research and having it out with you guys, here’s the–hopefully–balanced and unvarnished conclusion I’ve been able to draw comparing the two airframes.

    First the Spitfire:

    Airframe designed several years before the Mustang. This has to be taken into account when comparing the two. And it is quite the accolade that, despite that, it certainly has some legitimate claims for being the best fighter of WWII. I don’t think any other fighter (including quite possibly the Zero–especially at speed) had its turning capacity nor absolute mind-blowing climb rate.

    The Mustang:

    Be it the laminar wing or the conic design or fairies flying in the sky, it simply moved through the air better and made the most of an engine’s HP. The word is still out on just how durable the wing was, but I think anybody without actually knowing would–honestly and in all probability–have to admit that the reason one war plane of similar age is heavier than another is that it is sturdier and/or better armored. And despite this additional weight–a full ton–could still fly faster than the Spitfire when compared apples-to-apples.

    In combat:

    The airframe I would choose depends most on what stage of a dogfight I’m in. If I were about to be jumped by 109s and I had no idea they were around me (a sitting duck, which was, very importantly, the most common way a plane was shot down) The sturdier Mustang could almost certainly absorb more damage and fly on than a Spitfire.

    If I had just escaped the initial onslaught, a Spitfire would be the best plane for maneuvering to shaking an enemy tail; however, the Mustang could always zoom out of the danger zone.

    And if I were the one doing the jumping on, the Spitfire could probably follow an enemy pilot’s attempts to throw me off better than a Mustang.

    At the end of the dogfight, you run out of ammo and/or gas and have to go home, regardless of whether you’re poised to flame an enemy plane. Of course the Mustang here can track an enemy to the ends of the earth and not conk out and its speed will eventually catch what its after.

    And once again this endurance is a force multiplier. For most tasks, the Mustang could handle the workload of two to three Spitfires–at least. And, despite what I’ve heard about the British not needing a long-range fighter because they bombed at night, once again– honestly and despite various nighttime bombing strategies and technologies–nobody who wants to hit a target actually chooses to bomb at night with nothing but a blip to guide them. Daytime bombing simply had to be more accurate as it was chosen as the preferred time to do so before and after the war right up to the advent of stealth, aerial night vision, and GPS.

    I haven’t mentioned armament because I don’t feel in this case that its very important. 50s were best at shooting down light planes and fighters, cannon best to take down a bomber. Both planes held comparable complements.

    In conclusion, the Spitfire was certainly a hell of a dogfighter and probably the plane to beat in a fur ball, and . . . gulp . . . I have to admit . . . the Mk XIV was one sleek, sexy beast.

    The Mustang’s ruggedness and extreme endurance, coupled with good handling and excellent speed are hard to beat. If I were a commander, I would choose the Mustang all day. Just too damn useful and versatile with many traits, like endurance and sturdiness, less sexy but far more important than most recognize by providing a force multiplier, ability to reach targets anywhere, and ability to bring home a pilot from the most likely form of death, the ambush. And more experienced pilots mean better pilots, the ultimate determiner of survivability and effectiveness of an air force.

    But that Spitfire was flashy, sexy, agile, and one hell of a plane to show off in if you’re a good pilot.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      The Mustang with the same engine was faster but took a long time to accelerate and slow to climb and without the ability to turn tight, was a big disadvantage if being bounced by a German Me 109 or Fw 190, the Spitfire was a very strong aircraft, I`ve already commented on the fact the Mustang was bigger, part of the reason it carried more fuel, also part of the reason it was heavier, the later P 51 H was lighter with a lot less range than the P 51 D, and the range of the P 51 D was with full tanks and drop tanks, it`s top speed was without drop tanks and using the War emergency rating for a short period. To achieve the range the Mustang could cruise at 280 mph at 20,000 ft, it`s acceleration from cruising was slow. If the Pilot was half asleep then his plane might be damaged, both Spitfire and Mustang would suffer if hit by 20 mm, however the Mustang does not have the ability to zoom out of range, the Spitfire, Especially the faster Mk XIV would leave it standing, never mind the turning ability and climb of the Spitfire that would leave Mustang, P 47 109 qnd 190, the Mustang will not catch a well flown 109 or 190, since Mk XIV pilots didn`t drop their tanks until empty, and still regularly entered combat the tank on they did not run much risk of running out of fuel. The 20 mm was far deadlier than the 0.5, a very few hits would destroy a fighter. Another point is that the Spitfire could use much shorter airfields and as well as being the first fighter to land in France they continually moved forward so the range was not a major factor in the last year of the war. American bombing was rather ineffective until they decided to bomb the synthetic fuel plants, bombing factories had little effect as production went up until very late in the war, British night bombing against special targets using pathfinders had some notable successes, including the raid on Peenemunde or we might not be having this argument.

    • Alex

      Just having problems with your daylight bombing assumptions. If the Brits wanted to hit a very particular target, say the wall of a jail holding numerous French resistance fighters, WITHOUT killing too many of the said fighters, they would have (did) used the mosquito. This aircraft could carry what the B17 could (and some things the B17 could not) and for fighter protection just relied on running quicker than any german fighter could for most of the war, that is it did not need fighter protection. If the same attack was tried with the B17s the wall stood a good chance being left standing and all the Frenchies stood a good chance of being left dead instead of just two.
      This aircraft was also used to hunt night fighters (including me109s and fw 190s coming after the lancasters.

      • Mike Gee

        the fastest operating Mossie ran at 418 mph@ 28 K, climb rate was about 2,800 ft/min- that speed was still nto enough to always out run most of the german 109s and FW 190s it would have faced in WW2, especially after ’43!

        and don’t brag on that 1944 Amiens prison attack- the raid was haphazard, and actually KILLED the main resistance leader and some of his partners the “precision bombing” was supposed to free( but I guess that ws the “plan” all along- to shut him up actually worked better to protect the resistance movement!) the flight leader- Captain Pickings was killed when an FW 190 simply ran him and his crewmember down, and used its propeller to “buzz saw ” the tail of the mossie off ! A brave man died that day, but it also showed that a fast bomber can be overtaken by a FASTER fighter any day.

        and as far as the mossie being a better bomber? for fast action bombing? sure- precise daylight bombing? “no” why would you use a tactical bomber for strtegic heavy bombing?

      • Alex

        Firstly thank you J. Eddolls for your information on the Amiens attack. I was trying to source accurate infomration on the attack when your corrections came through. In addition the Mosquito’s were also used as path finders for the Lancasters so had to be precise with their targeting at altitude. They could also drop larger bombs than the B17 could.

        Getting back to the core argument is a quote from http://www.chuckhawks.com/spitfire.htm

        The German ace Gunther Rall (275 victories), who test flew captured versions of practically all of the top Allied fighters, stated that he prefered the Spitfire. This was a common sentiment among German fighter pilots, who commonly regarded the Spitfire as their most dangerous foe.

        This is from the guys with the largest incentive to be unbiased in their assesments as being biased would have led to an even higher risk to their allready precarious life expectancy.

  137. Nick

    Well, I said I wouldn’t contribute any more, being p.o’d by the plethora of uninformed opinions, based on speculation rather than knowledge, appearing here, but I still kept in touch and read all the entries. Many of youhave missed (or evaded) the original question: Which fighter was the better of the two? Not the longest-ranged; that is just one parameter, but OVERALL.

    Group Captain Wilfred Duncan Smith banked to land on the runway at the British crown colony of Singapore, displaying the familiar lines of history’s most legendary fighter, after leading 60 Squadron in an attack on communist positions in Malaya. Switching off its Rolls-Royce engine, he may have reflected on the historical moment; January 1, 1951, the last combat flight of a Royal Air Force Spitfire
    72 years ago Britain stood, alone, against a cruel and brutal enemy, and handed him his first defeat. And to meet that challenge she had, only just in time and in barely enough numbers, the most magnificent fighter she, or any other country, ever produced.

    The Supermarine Spitfire remained in front-line service for 17 years, the longest of any World War II combat aircraft, and 19 years after its first flight – a testament to the soundness of the original design and its potential for major modifications. It was the only World War II fighter to be in continuous production for 10 years (1938-48), during which its engine power would more than double and top speed increase by 100mph.

    But to the British the Spitfire was more than just a machine; it was an icon, a symbol of the nation itself, the very name signifying its defiant stand against the Nazi juggernaut. When the threat of invasion was very real and Britain’s armies were suffering defeat after defeat, it was an invaluable boost for the morale and spirit of the people.

    Designer R.J. Mitchell insisted that the wings, the most crucial factor in any aircraft, should be both as thin and strong as possible, with low drag, mild stall characteristics and high speed capability – a seeming engineering conundrum that even the brilliant Willy Messerschmitt never duplicated.

    The resulting double-ellipse shape, largely the work of Beverley Shenstone, with a main spar of hollow sections slotted into each other, was exceptionally strong, with the low loading of 26 pounds per square foot. The Messerschmitt Bf-109’s was closer to 40, allowing the Spit to out-turn its opponent, a critical factor when either pursuer or pursued. Despite their thinness they housed eight Colt/Browning machine guns and, later, four 20mm Hispano cannons, ammunition belts, undercarriage, coolant and oil radiators, flight controls and other essentials. There was even room for fuel tanks for future long-range photoreconnaissance flights.

    The design was so advanced it could achieve high Mach numbers. In 1943 Sq. Ldr. J.R. Tobin dived a Spitfire XI to an indicated airspeed (IAS) of 675 mph (Mach 0.92). In a 1944 replay by Flt. Lt. “Marty” Martindale, the overspeeding propeller and reduction gear (not the engine, as one uninformed said here) departed the aircraft with a bang at 606 mph (he landed safely.) And in 1951 Flt. Lt. Ted Powles flew a PR XIX to 51,550 feet, a world record for piston-engined aircraft. When cockpit pressurization began to fail, Powles had to lose altitude rapidly, reaching an IAS of 690 mph – Mach 0.94.

    Vickers test pilot Jeffrey Quill: “That any operational aircraft off the production line … could easily be controlled at this speed when the early jet aircraft such as Meteors, Vampires and F-80s could not, was certainly extraordinary,” especially when almost nothing had been known in the 1930s about aircraft behavior at transonic speeds.

    The Spitfire combined structural strength, high speed, agility and it wasn’t a great deal heavier than the legendary lightweight Japanese Zero, which had no armor, self-sealing tanks, starter motor and battery or, usually, radio. In a moderate wind it could be airborne in 50 yards, while the heavy P-47 Thunderbolt needed over 500. Spitfire pilots on shared airfields would take off and perform rolls while the Thunderbolts labored to takeoff speed. This eagerness to leave the ground contributed to one of the war’s enduring anecdotes. Flt. Lt. Neill Cox, DFC, unaware that WAAF mechanic Margaret Horton was still riding on the rear fuselage (normal procedure to keep the tail down when taxiing) gunned the engine and took off with Horton still clinging to the tail. Informing flying control that he couldn’t trim for level flight, Cox was ordered to land, without mentioning his “passenger.” Cox told the shaken but unharmed Horton: “put in a chit for ten minutes’ flying time and I’ll sign it.”

    This superb blend of qualities made its maiden flight on March 5, 1936. With a relatively light airplane and an engine of massive torque, test pilot Capt. J. Summers began the takeoff 35 degrees from the intended direction when airborne, a legacy of the racing seaplanes which would swing nearly 90 degrees until they emerged from the spray kicked up by the propeller and left the water. In fact Summers found it easy to counteract any swing with the rudder. After an uneventful flight he directed “I don’t want anything touched” – not that he thought the aircraft was perfect, he just wanted controls left as he had set them, ready for the next flight.

    The new fighter was such a departure from previous designs – even the contemporary Hawker Hurricane, which for all its qualities was essentially a monoplane development of the Hart and Fury biplanes – that the government issued a new specification, F.16/36. This so closely replicated Mitchell’s design that it was more a case of the specification being rewritten to meet it, rather than the other way round.

    Compared with its main adversaries, the pugnacious Messerschmitt Bf-109 and Focke-Wulf Fw-190, and even its compatriot Mustang, the Spitfire might have looked too delicate for a combat aircraft, but for all its elegant lines it was a deadly and efficient killing machine and the warning “Achtung, Spitfire!” would strike fear into Luftwaffe aircrews. And tough. Spits have hit the ground, touched the sea, punched through trees, cut high-tension lines, collided in the air, been shot to pieces, lost rudders, ailerons and parts of wings – and brought their pilots back. One, shot down at low level, somersaulted along the ground shedding wings and tail, but the pilot walked away. An Australian pilot who ditched his Spit escaped from the bottom of Darwin harbor.

    But, while relatively easy to fly, it could be unforgiving of careless or inexperienced handling. Drastically shortened training during the Battle of Britain had pilots going into action with less than 10 hours on Spits., with inevitable consequences. Miroslav Lisutin, a Czech pilot training at Grangemouth in 1941 recorded that of the 30 student pilots on the six-week course, six were killed in flying accidents. Bert Hall, who had flown SE5a fighters in WWI, related that seven men died in the first week of his course at Ayr, Scotland.

    On August 4, 1938, Jeffrey Quill delivered K9789 to 19 Squadron, the first operational Spitfire of what was to become the backbone of the RAF’s fighter force until the jet age. Sq. Ldr. Henry Cozens, the first pilot to fly it, had started his fighter career on Sopwith Camels in 1917, and ended it on Gloster Meteor jets. Remarkably, K9789 survived the war, only to be scrapped in 1945.

    Air Vice Marshal “Johnnie” Johnson, RAF ace of aces with 38 confirmed victories, most of them in Spitfires, said: “Men came from every corner of the free world to fly and fight in the Spitfire; men from countries where freedom had a meaning in their minds, and all came to love her for her thoroughbred qualities.” In his most successful Spit., Mk IX EN398, he shot down 14.

    The Spitfire, and its Seafire carrier version, were exceptional in many ways, in action from the outbreak of World War II in 1939 to the Inchon landings in Korea in 1950. They were the first allied fighters to operate from French bases – Mk. IXs of 222 Sq. On July 17, 1944, a Mk. IX strafed Rommel’s staff car, the resulting crash fracturing his skull. They were flown by two legless pilots – the legendary Wg. Cdr. Douglas Bader and Sub-Lt. Colin Hodgkinson. Spitfire pilot and ex-ice hockey star Billy Fiske was the first American to die flying in the RAF. Other Americans flew them in the RAF Eagle Squadron, and when the US entered the war, they equipped three USAAF fighter groups and one US Navy unit, in a kind of reverse lend-lease, scoring 256 victories.

    They appeared in more versions (24) and purposes (9): air-superiority fighter, fighter-bomber, ground-attack, night fighter, floatplane, army cooperation, folding-wing carrier plane and long-range photoreconnaissance (PR) than any other fighter and were used by more Allied nations in WWII (nine), including the Soviets, and post-war countries (32).

    The Spit originated unarmed PR in 1939; the later PR.X version, with extra fuselage and internal wing tanks, had a range of over 1,690 miles, more even than the long-legged P-51D Mustang. A PR Spit. brought back the first pictures of the Peenemund V1 and V2 secret weapon sites. On February 14, 1945, the first Messerschmitt 262 jet fighter to be lost to a fighter in aerial combat fell to the guns of a Mk. XIV, piloted by Flt. Lt. F.A. Gaze, of 610 Sq.

    On February 24, 1949, the last Spitfire – a Mk. 24, VN496 – left the factory, and on June 9, 1957, a PR19, PS583, landed after a meteorological flight – the last by an RAF piston-engined fighter – ending an era without equal in aviation.

    Add to this the long list of American air force pilots who said that they would pick the Spit every time over any other fighter, plus the Luftwffe ones who said they feared the Spit over the P-51, and add it to the above, and I believe you would have to be hopelessly prejudiced to call the Mustang the better of the two.

    • Mike Gee

      again, Nick that “long list” was actually very short as it included members from the former eagle squadrons and a few who flew the worn out V models in the ETO during the sicily invasion( they transitioned to P-51s and their KILL RATIOS went up) even the famed “checker tail clan” of the 325th cherished their worn out P-40s and got LOTS of german 109 and FW 190 kills before getting BETTER P-51s and higher kills.

      pilot bias will always be an issue- you’ll find pilots who flew in Vietnam swear up and down thatthe F-8 crusader was the ONLY real fighter plane in that conflict( but guys like robin Olds and Duke Cunningham will tell you it was the F-4 phantom) .

      I once heard an F-16 pilot tell folks that his craft was the best at dogfighting UNTIL my co-worker ( a former Lt commander in the USN) chimed in that he had flown a super hornet in the 2nd gulf war, and could run circles around the little falcon ! The reality? both the mustang and the Spitfire equally OUTCLASSED the FW 190s and ME 109s in many ways, and thats all that matters for the history books.

      you can come up with all the anectdotal comments, the fact sheets- which I believe you are using summarized or biased accounts, to down the mustang for what it is- a long range, fast, and deadly fighter, to justify the pseudo superiority of the spitfire.

      Again I know the spitfire out performs the mustang in certain areas, but then again the mustang can match or even surpass the spitfire in some ,or even perform better in others- they are too close to call one superior( i have previously posted that the best fighter RAf pilots of WW2 cold have gotten the SAME scores and perfomance with Mustang B-D models, and vice versa USAAF guys like Preddy and Blakeslee in a Spit V- to XIV) funny that for a fighter plane supposedly “2nd rate” to the spitfires, the RAF used 1800 P-51 BC/D models( brit designations Mustangs III-IV ) in combat and for v-1 busting. Even the famed Polish squadrons of the RAF- who SHOT DOWN MORE german fighters than other RAF squadrons, re-requipped with Mustang IIIs and IVs and were satisfied with the acft.

      I respect the Spitfire as a symbol of british resistance and pride. I respect the FACt that a designer of sports planes( Mitchell) had the gumption to kick the muddle headed military establishment and force them into the future, which saved a nation in 1940. but I also respect the fact that when pushed to achieve, the U.S. can build a marvel of war in a short time, and have it function with excellence against the best the world has to offer- that acft was and will always be the P-51 mustang.

      and lastly, that the spitfire survived so long- into the late 50s as a fighter mirros the fact that the Mustang ALSO survived along with it- the Isrealis happily used it in fighter-bomber and attack missions during their 1956 conflict.

      Isreali pilots also seemed to love it in addition to their spitfire IXs( as most isrealis felt the XIV sucked in terms of dogfighting characteristics- you know, that extra wieght, and less manueverability some pro Spit folks claim was the achilles heel of the mustang!)

  138. Mike Gee

    can we just call it as it is- the mustang was indeed a quality fighter, and compimented the spitfire- the spitfire had lots of qualities, and in later variants actually outmatched even the best of german upgraded piston fighters- ALONG with the Mustang. the two are too close to call one specifically the best- the sptifire, of which the BEST model to me, and from reading comments from historians and pilots, was the Mark IX at 420 mph, is the best choice for quick intercept of enemy fighters and bombers-period. The mustang will alway be the best- to me, for CAP, and fighter escort in WW2

  139. Thomas

    Best overall fighter, granted the spitfire was an excellent frontline fighter that was superb at shooting down planes, but it there are drawbacks to the spitfire not mechanically but in other ways. It was expensive to make Mitchell had a hell of a time getting the fighter command to like it if I remember correctly, the hurricane was more favored for it’s wood and canvas body. The spit needed metal to perform the way it did. The spitfire was by far the better dogfighter but could not do much else so they made a different version then another and another.

    The mustang was built originally as a replacement for the war hawk which it was lower altitude smaller hp engine from that fighter command asked America for a long range fighter for daylight bombing missions which they soon got rid of that idea but the Americans eager to show off the flying fortress thought what better than to have their latest bomber and latest fighter together. The mustang soon destroying planes over Europe and started shooting and bombing secondary targets along the way and back sometimes. The brits used another plane for that mission the mosquito I think.

    Point is really is the mustang D really could and did do everything, once D-Day was over and the push to Berlin began D’s along with the jug and lighting flew sorties and escort bombing missions.
    I believe if the war went on longer and the Germans had to face the D more they would be just as feared as the spit. Didn’t goring say once he saw a squadron of spits flying over Berlin that the war is over?

    There is no single version of the spitfire that can match the D’s ability. It can and did do everything in its career. Both planes were amazing that’s why both planes were bought up by other countries and used for several years and some still do use them in active duty.
    Overall the D although it was slightly below on performance could do everything all the spitfires could but without 20 versions. The D is essentially all the spitfires rolled into one streamlined silver sexy package.

    Although on a side note I do like the spits lines. I really don’t have a favorite I love both and I got to see a D and a spit can’t remember which variant there’s so many escort a Lancaster and a flying fortress for an air show. So much horsepower and plane it was fantastic. Also on a side note the Lancaster was way better than the flying fortress I think we should have just used Lancaster’s to bomb.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      The Spitfire was expensive and hard to make initially but as time went on the factories acquired the experience and ability to produce them faster, I understand it cost less than the American fighters, also rather than just being and excellent fighter it was developed for many other uses because it could do so many things so well and there was nothing else available, Photo reconnaissance, it was the best PR aircraft right through the war, high altitude fighter, nothing else could match it, dive bomber, certainly not what it was designed for but used as such when their was nothing better, low level fighter bomber, most Mk IX and many of the earlier Mk V late in the war were attacking ground targets, against the V1 it was quite effective, along with the Tempest and Mosquito Night Fighter, the Mustang was also used against V1`s but all 3 British aircraft shot down more than the Mustang. I would rate the Mustang as a very good long range fighter. but for anything else pick a Spitfire

      • J. Eddolls

        Barrie, I have done some research into costs of various weapons during the War. My findings are as follows.

        Average cost of a Spitfire, £5000.

        Average cost of a Mustang £10,000, ( $51,000 )

        Average cost of a Thunderbolt £17,000, ouch! ( $85,000 )

        Average cost of a Hellcat £10,000 ( $51,000 )

        Compare to the cost of a Lancaster Bomber – £45-50,000.

        The exchange rate used 5 X USD to the British Pound which is about right.

  140. J. Eddolls

    Thomas, please read previous posts in this long running saga. The Spitfire XIV which we have chosen to compare to the P51D was in service months before even the P51B!

    It flew faster than the Mustang, turned tighter than the Mustang and climbed faster, in most people’s book that means it was better.

    The Spitfire MkIX which was in use from 1942, did everything better than the Mustang also, except level speed, this we have addressed also previously.

    I am not going to repeat all the information provided by previous knowledgable contributors, otherwise the debate will never end!

  141. Nick

    TO: ME

    Message flagged

    Wednesday, May 9, 2012 3:35 PM

    Thomas: rather than continually posting uninformed nonsense, I suggest first having someone knowledgeable look over your stuff. Let’s look at your latest claims:

    The Spitfire “was expensive to make.” Not once production and subcontracting was set up in several factories and the initial special tooling and jigs had been made. And the Mustang was certainly much more expensive.

    “Mitchell had a hell of a time getting Fighter Command [grammatical note: proper nouns require first capitals] to like it.” Nonsense. While some in the Air Ministry (not Fighter Command) wanted more emphasis on bombers, under the erroneous assumption that France, with half a million men under arms, its “impregnable” Maginot Line and more and better tanks would fall, and the only German planes with the range to reach England would be bombers so there would be no fighter dogfights over England, fortunately for the Spitfire and, indeed, Britain, Air Vice Marshall Hugh Dowding, later to head Fighter Command, possessed a keen interest in technology and a stubborn nature.

    In the 1930s, in charge of the RAF’s technical development, he stated “the best defense of the country is fear of the fighter,” and urged the development of advanced fighters and another weapon that would be decisive: Radar. Without Dowding the Battle of Britain could have been lost in a matter of days, with incalculable effects on Britain and the war.

    In May 1936, the prototype was evaluated by the RAF. Aircraft and Armament Establishment commander, Flt. Lt. Edwards-Jones, was asked whether it could be flown by ordinary squadron pilots. “Yes it can,” he declared; in fact “it was a delight to fly.” Stall characteristics brought particular praise, warning the pilot by a slight but easily-recognized wobble, contrasting with that of some contemporary fighters, described by one pilot as “a grand piano off a cliff.”

    On this recommendation, a contract was awarded. (Edwards-Jones later confessed that he almost wrecked the only existing Spitfire by nearly landing wheels-up, a common error by pilots familiar with fixed-undercarriage aircraft. At his suggestion, production planes were fitted with warning horns.) From this point Fighter Command clamored for more and more Spits. and eventually got over 22,000. Even three USAAF groups and one USN group flew Spits in a kind of reverse lend-lease (the USAAF also got reverse lend-lease Mosquitoes and Bristol Beaufighters).

    Compared with its main adversaries, the pugnacious Messerschmitt Bf-109 and Focke-Wulf Fw-190, the Spitfire might have looked too delicate for a combat aircraft, but for all its elegant lines it was a deadly and efficient killing machine and the warning “Achtung, Spitfire !” would strike fear into Luftwaffe aircrews. (Nobody ever screamed “Achtung, Mustang !”)

    You go on: “The Hurricane [note first capital for a proper noun – even if you write rubbish you could at least be literate] was favored for its [not it’s] wood and canvas body.” The Hurricane body was not made of “wood and canvas.” Firstly, it was a plane, not a tent; nobody ever covered an aircraft with heavy canvas. The Hurrie was mainly metal (the front half of the fuselage and wings); only the rear fuselage was of steel tube and doped fabric.

    Your next sentence – “The mustang [Mustang] was built originally …” etc. – is hard to follow, but you seem to be saying that the RAF wanted it to replace the P-40 Warhawk (AKA Tomahawk) “which it was lower altitude smaller hp engine” (huh?) with a “long-range fighter for bombing missions.” No, they wanted a fighter to complement the Spit and Hurrie. The RAF never asked for a long-range escort fighter. Bomber Command was only conducting short-range bombing operations at the time, and when it commenced long-range ones it was at night, unescorted.

    “The Mustang soon destroying [do you mean “was soon destroying”?] planes all over Europe. Yes, and the Spitfire was the first fighter to operate from French bases after D-Day (222 Squadron) and spent the last year of the European war shooting down Luftwaffe planes, including the Me-262 jet, and attacking ground targets with cannon fire and bombs. A Mk. IX shot up Rommel’s staff car, the crash fracturing his skull.

    You write: “Point is really the Mustang D could and did do everything.” No it couldn’t and didn’t. There was no carrier Mustang. No Mustang amphibian. The Spitfire did everything the Mustang did except fly long-range escort, and more: air superiority fighter; fighter-bomber; carrier fighter; floatplane; army cooperation; long-range recce; ground attack. It could certainly have done long-range escort if necessary. The leading edges of the wings were hollow (they had originally been intended for condensers of the first proposed engine, the steam-cooled Goshawk, one of R-R’s few failures). With these and extra fuselage tanks (similar to the ‘stang) the PRX photorecce. Spit had a range of 1,675 miles (much farther than the Mustang D) WITHOUT NEEDING DROP TANKS. Tests were underway in 1944 to produce an armed version, which would have eliminated the D’d one and only advantage, but as it was not necessary the idea was dropped.

    It reminds one of the fact that the 35-litre R-R Griffon was never developed in the same way that the 27-litre Merlin was (780 to 2,250hp). Had it been so, it would have yielded well over 3,300hp – possibly as much as 3,800 – and a Spit with this power plant and contra-props was projected to reach 515mph or more, a quantum leap over the Mustang D and even the experimental, lightweight and non-operational H. Like the long-range Spit, further development of the Griffon was dropped becasuse the first jets were appearing, making ultra-high speed piston planes unnecessary.

    All that said, I do agree you about the Lancaster vs Fortress. The idea of an unescorted bomber being able to battle through against modern fighters was tried and failed in the B. of Britain, but the USAAF generals believed their own propaganda (hence “flying fortress”). No matter how many heavy m/gs. the B-17 and B-24 packed – the weight of gunners, armor, extra oxygen & parachutes, electrically-heated flight suits, guns and ammo reducing bomb load significantly – they were clubbed down in their hundreds; as much as 40% on some raids if those having to be scrapped on their return were counted.

    One of the B-17s major problems was that it was underpowered – four Wright engines similar to those on the C-47 passenger plane (B-24 pilots, flying with Pratt & Whitney Twin Wasps, ribbed their B-17 colleages with “when you’re Wright you’re wrong.”)

    Lose one Wright engine and you lost height steadily. Lose two and it was POW camp if you were lucky. Compare that with the Lanc’s four Merlins. Several Lancs returned after bombing on two engines. Guy Gibson lost an engine ON TAKEOFF, fully loaded with fuel and bombs, but made it to Stuttgart on the remaining three, using maximum power for six hours, bombed and returned OK. In a similar situation, a B-17 would have been smeared all over the countryside. The propaganda figures of the ’17 being able to fly over 300mph were ludicrous. Most raids the cruising speed was around 180. A loaded Lanc could cruise faster (230-240mph) than an empty B-17.

    Similarly the BS about the B-17 and B-24, with the Sperry/Norden bomb sight, only doing precision bombing while the Lancs only scattered bombs over cities: From 1943 the RAF had the SABS (stabilized automatic bomb sight) – every bit as accurate as the Norden – and conducted many pinpoint attacks, initially at night and later during the day, while many USAAF raids encountered 100% clouds and had to unload their bombs on dead reckoning, essentially area bombing.

    The Lanc eventually developed into the Lincoln, and finally the antisubmarine Shackleton, with Griffons. I had a flight in a Shack once, and couldn’t hear properly for a day due to those exhausts.

    One thing I can say is that you had to have balls of steel to be an aircrew on either bomber. However, a USAAF crewman could decide to stop flying at any time, with little or no reflection on his character, while his RAF equivalent had to go on until he was dead, wounded or a POW. Same with the Germans and Japs. If an RAF aircrew wouldn’t fly any more his file was stamped LMF (Lack of Moral Fibre), if an NCO he was stripped down to private and posted to another station in disgrace, even forbidden from buying a new uniform jacket – so everyone could see the faded outlines where his flying badge and stripes had been, then given the most menial tasks like latrine cleaning. Medals for previous gallantry were no defense.

    • Mike Gee

      and 500+ miles later?….( where the enemy is WAITING with ME 262s, FW 190 Ds, and BF 109K4s) ” Mustang “.( unless you can get a crazy mossie bomber pilot to go fighter hunting!)

  142. caracoid

    Barrie, once again you’re throwing a direct comparison up in the air, adding anecdotal information, and then singing the praises of the 20 mm cannon. The cannon was effective against a slow, heavy bomber, try to hit a fighter with that thing and its a different story. Yes, if you hit it it would do significant damage, but its slow rate of fire just wasn’t up to the task against fast, agile fighters. The reason the Spit was equipped with a cannon was that England was being bombed. Same for the Germans. The reason the P-51 and other American fighters never adopted it was because they never encountered heavy bombers, and rarely medium or light for that matter.

    And comparing various versions of the Spitfire favorably to a single Mustang is again ridiculous. The simple law of physics is you can’t get something for nothing. If one trait is maximized for a specific job, it lags somewhere else. Also, I don’t know if you want a good portion of your air force stuck on the ground because it happened to be the wrong version for any particular task at any particular time in any particular place.

    And American daylight bombing was ineffective compared to what? Bombing at night mostly served as a (not very effective) demoralization tool for the populace but was, in effect, a terror tactic and even more so for German cows. In ’43 the British warned the Americans against daylight bombing because–without escort–they’d be torn apart by German fighters, not because of any claim that bombing at night was more accurate. And, once again, please save the anecdotal evidence.

    And I, too, have to take exception to the claim that all the good German pilots were dead by ’43–’44. What killed them? Since the early days of the Battle of Britain, the Germans also bombed at night without escort and they certainly weren’t getting blown out of the sky on the Eastern Front. From what I read, a good many of them met their end defending the skies over their homeland, which was being blown to smithereens during the day by American bombers. In fact, if I were a new pilot and had to choose flying against a Germany pilot with at most three months of combat experience during the Battle of Britain or three years by the time the P-51 started clearing the skies, I’d take the three months.

    The fact that, prior to the invasion, newly minted American pilots were able to decimate the mighty Luftwaffe with their highly experienced aces–some totaling hundreds of kills by that time mostly from air battles over the Eastern front–is testament to the P-51.

    As for the weight of the Mustang–once again–that’s empty weight compared to the empty weight of the Spitfire, i.e. no gas. Equal comparison.

    Any mention of the Mustang as “slow to accelerate” is only in comparison with a Spitfire running 300 additional horsepower. But I guess we’ve been through all this before and don’t want to get into a wagon wheel discussion. Put 200 HP over the Mk XIV and the Mustang achieves a whopping 487 MPH while weighing a ton more. God only knows what its acceleration would have been. And keep in mind that at those high speeds, it becomes exponentially more difficult to increase an aircraft’s velocity.

    And Alex, try convincing the Germans that they could do it all with light bombers when the Soviets were building tank plants east of the Urals.

    Nick, well written an inspirational, but mostly anecdotal. One thing you addressed that I haven’t yet is the Spitfire wing construction. And I don’t know if anybody actually knows how much additional surplus strength the wing had once it was slimmed down to its design spec. I looked for specific design, construction information on the P-51 but couldn’t find anything pertinent. (I noticed others seemed to be coming up with nothing, as well.) The only things I can say about the Mustang’s durability would itself be anecdotal, so I’d rather not other than to mention that you add 2000 pounds to an aircraft and you get something for it. Everybody was using aluminum, so the only thing I can think of was heavier construction with some additional weight dedicated to larger fuel tanks (not the fuel itself).

    I think my prior post was pretty fair and balanced. I gave high kudos to the Spitfire after reading up on just exactly what it could do–quite the aircraft and possibly the best dogfighter of WWII. That says a lot. But guys, at least recognize that the mighty Spit wasn’t superior in every way to every plane out there. Give credit where credit is due. Geez!

    • Mike Gee

      “now ,now”- don’t go bursting bubbles- you’ll only get Barrie claiming the Spitfire shot down the FIRST UFO, or that the mossie was so great it was never shot down because it was soooo”fast”( in late ’44 the Luftwaffe simply used ME 262s to knock down Mossie recon and bombers!) They aslo forget that the USAAF used the A-20 havocs, which were fast, but STILL got bounced and shot down by AXIS fighters!!

      As for the superior spit fire power- again caracoid, and Thomas both pointed this out- the hispano guns SUCKED- lots of work was put in them to get them to work, and they still didn’t function as well until mid ’43. americans used a similar design , and modified it, from the M-1, to M-2, M-3 20mm gun and the result was piss poor enough to make american designers realize that the tried and TRUE Browning M2 .50 cal was destructive and EFFECTIVE enough to down most of the acft the US flyers encountered in WW2- 1,080 rds in the early mustangs to 1,600 rds in the later Ds is far better than 200 -240 slow firing, often jamming cannon- now if the RAF had re-engineered the FASTER firing,more functional GERMAN 20mm and 30mm guns from captured downed 109s and 190s, that would have been a different story

      The biggest INSULT here is that instead of those Spitfire supporters admitting that the Mustang was a fine fighter on PAR with their beloved spitfire, they come up with INACCURATE statements or blanket statements( the Spit XIV climbing at 4,100 ft/ min? yeah for a LIMITIED TIME and at high boost of maniford pressure- it never in actual daily use made more than 200 ft/min more than a mustang ,which weighed a full 1/3 heavier than the spitfire!!! in such a tail pursuit, that would put the spit well within the mustangs guns- it apparently wasn’t so slow that it kept up and shot down messerschmits and focke wolfes in climbs, dives, turns and straight level flight!!!)

      Again ,while we sing the praises of the spitfires as fast interceptors, our compatriots spew out insulting crap like how the effect of daylight bombing by the BRAVE USAAF was a “waste”( the germans wouldn’t have switched to SYNTHETIC OIL “if” the daylight bombing was such a waste) and most assuredly, they won’t admit to the shortcomings of the spitfire in its ability to DOMINATE airspace belonging to the enemy( like most of Nazi held western europe- the dieppe raid showed that the Nazis could do to the Brits what the brits did to them in the BoB- “Barrie” claimed the brits held their own, when in reality spit Vs and the newly arrived spit IXs got “jumped on”, with higher air to air losses unfortunately for the RAF than for the Luftwaffe) or even the sad fact that the RAF bombing missions in daylight FAILED because they didn’t have a “superior fighter” to defend those bombers- so I guess the lives of nearly 70,000 RAF heroic bomber crews weren’t important enough to PROTECT in comparison to a few spit jocks getting the glory for shooting down acft that could be REPLACED when german factories weren’t being bombed out of existence. apparently when the 8th USAAF thought they could do a better job and the loss rates starting hitting he numbers the Brits had less than a year earlier, some less competent american commander said, “hey lets use them darn long rangin’ P-51 B mooostangs!” and history shows the loss rate DROPPED significantly along with bullet riddled ME 109 s and FW190s falling to “inferior” P-51s.

      A B-24 pilot personally documented how he was SAVED on a bail out by Acting Maj George Preddy in his P-51B; Preddy saw a BF 109 closing in on the helpless crew that had parachuted out of their buring bomber- the 109 realized he had a mustang on his tail and gunned it to get a way, using every supposed tactic it could that many claim would throw off a “sluggish, poor turning mustang”- the end result? the mustang-later id’ed to have been flown by Preddy- closed the gap easily, and blasted the 109 out of the air !!!!

      FACT is, the mustang DID to the Germans in ‘late ’43 to ’45, what the Germans couldn’t do to the British in ’40 to ’42( and waht the British couldn’t do to the Germans until late ’44) it was piloted by GOOD ,well trained crews into the HEART of the enemy , took the airspace from the enemy, and wreaked havoc and destruction on the enemy on his OWN turf.

      worst yet? Barrie snuck in a snide comment about “overclaims” made in combat by USAAF and USN pilots, when in reality- everyone did this. Check your history books- on Battle of britain day- `15 Sept. 1940- RAF claims in the “superior” spits were nearly 200 109s shot down, when in reality only 60 were loss in clashes with the RAF!

      I’ll throw you a bone, in the “furballs” that often ensued at 15- 25K, everyone was shooting at everyone- not uncommon for one pilot to flame an acft, while another wing man or squadron member was punching rounds into the SAME aCFT- hence why Americans often used 1/4, 1/2, 3/4 credits for acft shot at/down. the Luftwaffe was actually much harder for aerial kill credits, and would be skepticle about large claims by their pilots, unlike US AND BRITISH pilot commanders.

      I believe the spitfire to be exactly what it was – a fast, high flying interceptor, when tuned right and with a fairly decent pilot ,it was more than a match and quite successful against AXIS fighters, but this all accounts for the pilots skill as well as the acft. I’ve said it once before, and its true- take a Doug Bader and put him in a P-38 or a P-47, you get Doug Bader the RAF ACE; put chuck Yeager in a Spit IX, you get Chuck”first to fly at mach !, but claimed he came close in a Mustang” Yeager the USAAF ACE!

      • Nick

        The Hispano cannon didn’t “suck,” it was a reliable, hard-hitting and relatively rapid-fire gun when properly assembled and serviced. It was originally designed for mounting in the V of a V-12 engine like the Hispano-Suiza, firing through the airscrew spinner, as in the Messerschmitt, recoil being absorbed by the mass of the engine. The RAF’s initial use in the wings posed problems, including feed jams due to the high G-forces in fast rolls. After about mid-1942 the problems were being fixed and by early 1943 largely eliminated.

        Statements like “I guess the lives of 70,000 RAF heroic bomber crews weren’t important enough to protect” shows abysmal ignorance and is insulting. Firstly, 55,358 bomber aircrew were killed in action or in flying accidents, not 70,000 (which is total aircrew – fighter, transport, coastal command, army cooperation etc. – losses) Secondly, the vast majority of Bomber Command losses were in the night raids from 1942 onward, which anyone with a vestige of knowledge of operational flying, as I have, would know could not, by their very nature, be escorted.

        The early USAAF daylight raids were almost all escorted by Spitfires as they were not deep-penetration, long-range ones until early 1944. USAAF commanders were unstinting in their praise for these escorts.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      The first point about cannon is that they were very effective against fighters at a longer range than the 0.5. The real reason U.S did not use 20 mm was, “A massive building program was set up, along with production of ammunition, in 1941. When delivered, the guns proved to be extremely unreliable and suffered a considerable number of misfires due to the round being “lightly struck” by the firing pin.[9] The British were interested in using this weapon to ease production in England, but after receiving the M1 they were disappointed April 1942 a copy of the British Mk.II was sent to the U.S. for comparison, the British version used a slightly shorter chamber and did not have the same problems as the U.S. version of the cannon.[9] The U.S. declined to modify the chamber of their version, but nonetheless made other modifications to create the unreliable M2. By late 1942 the USAAC had 40 million rounds of ammunition stored but the guns remained unsuitable. The U.S. Navy had been trying to go all-cannon throughout the war but the conversion never occurred. As late as December 1945 the Army’s Chief of Ordnance was still attempting to complete additional changes to the design to allow it to enter service.

      Strangely enough the RAF used hardly any 20 mm during the Battle of Britain but did put them to good use when flying sweeps over France against German fighters, Before the P 51 D was in service Britain had both the Mk IX and the Mk XIV. If we just compare the Mk XIV at 8,400 lbs, the normal loaded take off weight with full fuel of 111 gals Maximum level speed 447 m.p.h. at 25600 ft. Climb at 21,000 ft 3,550 ft/min. P 51 D at 9,200 lbs with 180 gals , not full tanks 439 at 28,000 ft Climb at 19,000 ft 3,200 ft/min. The Mk XIV was faster and climbed better at all levels.

      Britain did warn the Americans about daylight bombing but the Americans thought their heavilly armed B 17`s carrying a small bomb load would get through, after very heavy losses they were happy to have Spitfires escort them, During July 1943, the Tangmere Wing with Spitfire XII (this was before the Mk XIV entered service) was primarily engaged in Ramrods – escorting Fortresses, Mitchells, Marauders, as well as Typhoons to attack targets in France. These targets included the marshalling yards at Amiens and St. Omer; airdromes at Poix, Abbeville and Tricqueville; and assorted targets at Le Havre, Villacoubay, Le Bourget and Yainville. The Wing would often sweep ahead of the main bomber formation. Other times they would provide target support, withdrawal support or escort cover. Rhubarbs were carried out when the weather was not conducive to bombing, the favorite target being trains. The Tangmere Wing received the following Signal dated 15/7 from General Anderson Commanding 8th U.S. Bomber Command:

      American Bomber Crews are enthusiastically grateful for the splendid fighter cover provided today by the Spitfire Pilots of your Command. Following are typical comments of our crews “As we were leaving the Target area a heavy formation of enemy fighters flew in to attack but almost immediately they were chased off by a strong formation of Spitfires. On the way home about mid-Channel one of our ships with half its tail blown off dropped out of formation. A couple of Spits went to the aid of the crippled bomber immediately, circled the ship and brought her home safely”. “The Spit cover was perfect” exclaimed Capt. Carrol D. Briscoa. “I’d like to thank them personally”. May I add my grateful appreciation to that of our crews for the splendid co-operation of your command.”

      I would like to mention the very successful British night raids on the submarine pens, Peenemunde, Operation Chastise (The attack on the Moene, Edersee and Sorpe Dams, Moene and Edersee destroyed and Sorpe damaged. Many of the German pilots with only 3 month`s experience had fought in Spain in 1935 and been in training since then also they gained experience, in the air battles leading up to the fall of France, by the time America joined a lot of their experienced pilots were dead or injured, including Adolph Galland who was shot down and injured twice by Spitfires in a short space of time, and the German`s were short of pilots, good aircraft and ammunition in the last year of the war the worst shortage was fuel, which was the main American success in bombing, The Mustang lacked acceleration and climb compared to the Mk IX Spitfire with the same engine I have given credit to the Mustang as a long range escort fighter, but it did not perform as many roles as the dare I say it more versatile Spitfire. The reason I rate the Spitfire so high is that for a plane that first flew so much earlier with a much lower power it was able to take more powerful Merlin`s and even the bigger Griffon, the best fighter`s in 1944 had to be the Tempest V at low to medium level and the Spitfire Mk XIV which was the best medium to high level fighter and used to give high cover to the Tempests. During July1943 (before the Mk XIV was in service) the Tangmere Wing (Spitfire XII) was primarily engaged in Ramrods – escorting Fortresses, Mitchells, Marauders, as well as Typhoons to attack targets in France. These targets included the marshalling yards at Amiens and St. Omer; airdromes at Poix, Abbeville and Tricqueville; and assorted targets at Le Havre, Villacoubay, Le Bourget and Yainville. The Wing would often sweep ahead of the main bomber formation. Other times they would provide target support, withdrawal support or escort cover. Rhubarbs were carried out when the weather was not conducive to bombing, the favorite target being trains.

      The Tangmere Wing received the following Signal dated 15/7 from General Anderson Commanding 8th U.S. Bomber Command:
      American Bomber Crews are enthusiastically grateful for the splendid fighter cover provided today by the Spitfire Pilots of your Command. Following are typical comments of our crews “As we were leaving the Target area a heavy formation of enemy fighters flew in to attack but almost immediately they were chased off by particularly strong formation of Spitfires. On the way home about mid-Channel one of our ships with half its tail blown off dropped out of formation. A couple of Spits went to the aid of the crippled bomber immediately, circled the ship and brought her home safely”. “The Spit cover was perfect” exclaimed Capt. Carrol D. Briscoa. “I’d like to thank them personally”. May I add my grateful appreciation to that of our crews for the splendid co-operation of your command.
      I had already suggested that the extra weight was quite likely to do with the Mustang being bigger than the Spitfire as well as the extra fuel it carried. While arguing the merits of 2 fine fighters we seem to be neglecting the Hawker Hurricane which was a very good aircraft at the start of the war. The P 51 H didn`t see service in WW II and was not considered suitable in Korea. As far as I know it never saw any action.

    • Alex


      I’m not having a go at you here just trying to work out the direction of your comment to me. If you are referring the to mosquito as a “light” bomber, consider the fact that it could carry a 4000 lb bomb load as opposed to a B17 4800 lb bomb load, also the B17 could NOT take the 4000lb “cookie”. This plane was also used as a path finder for the Lancasters (had range also) and did so with only a crew of two and without the requirement of fighter cover.

      While I am here I will also repeat that I see the P51 as a great fighter, just not as good as the spit on a pure fighter level.

      Another point I’d like to point out about the spitfires speed is that it could tecnically out dive the me262 and any other fighter of the time, where the chief requirement was to keeping the wings on, not getting power out of the engine.

      • caracoid

        The B-17 hauled 4500 lbs on long missions, 8000 lbs on shorter missions. Don’t know how far a Mosquito could go with a 4000 pound load.

      • Nick

        The RAF classed the Mossie as a Light Bomber, irrespective of its weight-carrying performance. The reason the B-17 and B-24 could not carry the 4,000lb cookie was the shape of the bomb bays, which were limited to much smaller bombs (the same reason they couldn’t carry the 12,000lb Tallboy.) The ’17 and ’24 could carry heavier total loads than the Mossie, albeit for shorter distances.

      • Alex

        The Mosquito could apparently make it to Berlin and back with the 4000 lb bomb load. It COULD also carry the 4000 lb “cookie” The B17 could NOT carry the “cookie”. This ment it couldn’t even hit as hard as the Mosquito, had less chance of getting home, risked the lives of approx 8 more men (and I do respect all men who fought in the air war INCLUDING the germans), used a truck load of ammo, and another one of fuel in the process.

      • Alex

        Can agree with all that Nick. Would be interesting where the Brits classed the B17 when comparing it against something like the Lancaster.

      • J. Eddolls

        The Brits did operate a few B17’s (Fortress Mk II, III) within 100 Group, Bomber Command. Squadrons involved were 214 and 223, they also had a few Liberators also.

        These few US aircraft in Brit service did not carry normal bomb loads but were used for electronic warfare, jamming radar signals and generally trying to upset Luftwaffe responses to night raids. This was very hi-tech stuff for the time and of course all developments made by RAF boffins was given to the US.

        Coastal Command also used a few Fortress aircraft, however the Liberators used were particularily succesful in anti submarine patrols.

        Therfore it would be safe to say that the Brits rejected the two main US bomber aircraft for service in that role.

    • Nick

      I’ve no idea what you mean by “anecdotal,” which you use repeatedly as if it had a pejorative connotation. It means something based on personal experience or reported observations.

      The very long coolant lines and fuel tanks in the P-51’s rear fuselage would add a lot of weight. And the RAF didn’t change to cannon because of heavy bombers; by the time RAF single-engine fighters changed to two and later four cannon, Luftwaffe daylight raids had ended (the dedicated night fighters, like the Beaufighter and Mosquito, had four cannon and also m/gs – four in the Mossie and six in the Beau. The m/gs were intended to silence return fire and help zero in the more destructive cannon.)

      The reason for arming the Spit with cannon has been endlessly explained, but here goes again. The B. of B. had RAF pilots with 10 or fewer hours on type, and virtually no aerial gunnery practice and deflection shooting (there was no time!) The eight m/gs were better for this kind of greenhorn, in what was called “spray and pray,” allowing a better chance of hits. The Germans, who had had plenty of time to perfect their marksmanship, and had a dress rehearsal in the Spanish Civil War, had one 20mm cannon and a couple of m/gs in the Bf-109E, and were far more able to use the cannon effectively, even against agile fighters.

      (There was even a prototype Mk. IV with SIX 20mm cannon, but it was found that the extra weight had too much negative effect on maneuverability. What a devastating punch that would have had!)

      As the frantic pace subsided somewhat, with the Huns changing to night raids, there was time for RAF pilots to practice against towed targets, and marksmanship improved rapidly. So it was time to adopt the modern ordnance, both for aerial combat and strafing hardened targets like tanks, armored cars and trains.

      And yes, deny it as you might, many of the “experten” were dead by the time the USAAF P-51s started running up big scores. By mid-1944 such greats as Hans Joachim Marseille and Werner Molders were long gone, as were many lesser aces (lesser, in the Luftwaffe, meaning “only” 20 or 30 victories). “What killed them?” you ask. Many were shot down by British and American fighters, or parachuted to become POWs, and a great number were lost on the Eastern Front. Others were grounded because of wounds. As fuel suplies dwindled in the last year of the European war, Luftwaffe training shrank to even less than the British B. of B. pilots had in 1940. No, no; I’m not suggesting that the Americans were not skilled and gallant pilots, just that these factors must be taken into account too in their high scores in the 12 months or so until May 1945. To reiterate: Many ace Germans said that they feared the Spitfire (in any national’s hands) more than the ‘stang.

      Your explanation about why the Americans never adopted the 20mm cannon because they didn’t encounter heavy bombers is faulty. There were technical problems in the models they tried using (as has been explained elsewhere) but also political ones. As a loyal US citizen for 36 years (and legal resident for 43) I must comment on a lamentable characteristic of Americans known as the NIH (“not invented here”) syndrome. They could simply have imported the same Hispano cannon used by the RAF, but the Colt and Browning companies had great influence in Congress. So much so that – quite incredibly – F-86 Sabres in Korea had the same .5 cal. m/gs when all other air forces in the world had long changed to cannon.

      The same NIH madness had the operational Twin Mustang in Korea fitted with the low-performance Allison engine (you know, the one dumped for the Merlin in the P-51) while the training versions retained their Merlins, with the ludicrous result that for the first time in history the training version of an aircraft was faster than the operational one. Similar political pressure from Wright, Pratt & WHitney etc. likely delayed America’s entry into the jet age. And when the RAF found that the new Lockheed Lightnings lent to them for evaluation suffered multiple problems in the cold, damp skies or Europe – trouble not encountered in the warm, dry Burbank, CA. plant and test areas – they took three and began doing a Mustang-like retrofit with Merlin 65s. However, when word got back to the 8th AF command theyhad the Air Ministry ordered them returned immediately. THAT would have been some plane!

  143. J. Eddolls

    Geez, Caracoid! Please look at my earlier posts regarding British thinking concerning the arminig of their aircraft.

    To summarise, a mix of weapons were used on British aircraft, and firing of these could be selected according to conditions. So fast snap shooting of deflection targets were supposed to receive attention from MG’s. More deliberate shooting could utilise the cannon. I list below the ROF of various weapons.

    The .303 M1919 ROF (rate of fire) 1200 – 1500 RPM

    The 0.50 M2 (AN) ROF 800 RPM (max of 850)

    Hispano 20mm Cannon 850 RPM (max)

    The ROF for the M1919 was originally much lower but had been improved in Belgium by FN.

    Experiments conducted by the Air Ministry indicated that bullet spread at 250 yards for the M1919 was 12′. Further tests indicated that harmonisation of all weapons at that range provided a lethal cone of fire.

    A typical three second burst from a battery of eight M1919’s saturated the target area with at least 480 strikes most of which concentrated in a 12′ cone.

    The ROF for the Hispano cannon had been originally 600 RPM, this was gradually improved until it exceeded 800 RPM for airborne versions and finally 850 RPM. It was as fast if not faster firing than the M2. America did adopt cannon in later marks of Naval aircraft, I suspect that they considered the .50 to be adaquate and they wished to protect their own arms industries.

    Your generalised comments about Bomber Command I will choose to ignore as this debate is not about this part of the air war.

    The question is which is the better Fighter, Spitfire or Mustang? Not whose Air Force was better!

    Plenty of air fighting occured between the BofB and the introduction of the P51 in 1944, You seem to be under the illusion that air war underwent a hiatus during this period. I do not wish to get involved in analysing aerial victories for this period as it is not the debate here.

    Acceleration, it has been stated in these pages many times previously that the Spitfire MkIX accelerated faster and climbed faster and also turned tighter than any Mustang. The MkIX was brought into service in 1942, and had a similar engine to the P51D.
    The only area where the Mustang could compete is on LEVEL speed. which you would expect on an airframe introduced two years before the P51, however this difference is quite small.

    The Spitfire MkXIV came later than the IX and so was an improvement in every way. The P51B tirned into the P51D and got slower !

    • J. Eddolls

      Another point which is usually ignored when comparing the M2 and the MkV Hispano (20mm) is Muzzle velocity. They are virtually identical, indicating the Hispano as used in the Spitfire to be far more efficient and just as capable against fighters as it was against bombers.

      Therfore the MkV Hispano gave identical rates of fire at the same Velocity as the American M2 Browning, but with much greater hitting power.

      The P51B had tremendous issues with stoppages when first introduced. The guns were laid sideways because of the thickness of the wing. This caused poor charecteristics when stoppages occured, due to the effects of uneven recoil on the airframe.

    • Nick

      The RAF, unlike the Luftwaffe and JAF, for example, had single firing buttons that operated m/gs and cannons simultaneously, not selective ones as you state. The original idea of mixed ordnance was that the m/gs, with the DeWilde (a fake name for security reasons) bullets interspersed with solid and AP, would show a flash as they hit, indicating to the pilot that he was on target.

      This faulty reasoning was dropped when it was (duh?) realised that a) was misleading as the two types of gun had far different trajectories, and b) the much larger flash when a cannon shell hit would be all the indiction the pilot needed, so 2 cannon and 4 m/gs changed to 4 cannon..

      • J. Eddolls

        Nick, I hate to argue with a fellow lover of the Spitfire, however most Spitfires from the VB onwards had a rectangular fire button.

        This allowed the pilot to fire all weapons simultaniously when depressed in the centre. Cannon only when depressed at the top and mg’s when the bottom was depressed. This feature became redundant with the introduction of four MkV Hispanos.

        Please corect me if I am wrong.

    • caracoid

      I’ll have to brush up on that 20 mm cannon. What I can say for now is that nearly tens years later, the US air force was still using 50s on their jet fighters despite have full access to auto cannons.

      I mentioned the bombing campaign only because it had been brought up and leveled against the US air force previously. Geez! (And I was going to say “Crikey!” but didn’t know how to spell it.) :-)

      And as for comparing one fighter to another, let’s stick with the Mk XVI against the D, for reasons I already stated above. And I repeat, top speed of the Mk XVI, 408; P-51D, 435 while still being a hefty, rugged plane. As for acceleration that you guys have been bragging about, I’d have to see
      the Spitfire’s acceleration curve. It sure wasn’t speeding up after 408.

      And, of course, the P-51 could have been fitted with larger engines during the war and increased all performance categories; but remember, it had to achieve the range necessary to force an engagement with the enemy in order to nullify it for the landings at Normandy. The Germans weren’t going to engage us in number for much the same reason the British wouldn’t during the BoB. And the clock was ticking on the invasion.

      So eliminating all the razzmatazz about swapping this version for that and heroic stories of daring do, can we all agree on the following (and I’ll duplicate this question below for general response):

      1. The Spitfire was better at maneuver and climb with acceleration probable.

      2. The Mustang at speed, probably durability and definitely distance.

      Now remember, when you all chime in, let’s stick with the only version of the Spitfire–at least that I’m aware of–that had engines of equal performance to the P-51D: the Spitfire Mk XVI.

  144. Thomas

    How many spitfires were made 20 or so during the length of ww2? How many are comparable to the P-51 D not as a collection but a single fighter? None there are 5 or 6 spits that both out perform the D in some way but not in all ways. One spit flew higher for PR, one flew farther, and one turned climbed and was a tiny bit faster. There is no mention of a single spit that can do what a mustang D model could. The spitfire was a great series of airplanes and all had missions and were built for those missions but the original question all the way at the top is “which was the best overall fighter” the spitfire had many variants that were fantastic planes but not a single one covered so many possibilities at the D could. Long range escort, dogfighter, although the it took longer to take off it could still be used as a defense interceptor, it could fly high enough and far enough and fast enough for PR missions low level bomb missions and so on. The D could do everything with only a PR modification needed. All other missions the D could remain untouched. And the stats between both planes are so close that their not worth arguing about. The Spit wins in the numbers with the D coming a very close second the spit did not run circles around a D but it was a little bit more nimble. The D is the only real plane that was a great overall fighter. Used the same British gun sights and radar and engine it’s an American born British plane and it may not be the best at everything but it can do everything. One plane can do everything, I can’t say that about one spitfire a lot of spitfires yes but not one spitfire.

    • Nick

      The fact that the original Spitfire could be developed, adapted and improved in so many ways showed how advanced, strong and adaptable the airframe was. It could be lengthenedin the Mk. IX to accomodate the new 60-series Merlin with its two-stage, intercooled and aftercooled, which was almost a foot longer, and later easily accepted the even bigger Griffon.

      It could use several wing shapes and sizes, from clipped-wing low-level V1-chasers to extended-wing very high altitude ones, it could be pressurized, given a variety of guns (including SIX 20mm cannon in an experimental Mk. IV), cameras, fuel tanks inboth wings and fuselage, night-fighter equipment, floats, folding wings for carrier use and so on.

      The Mustang could not be adapted to ANY of these. What you saw was what you got. It couldn’t even take the Griffon engine. For some bizarre reason you repeat your mantra that the Spit needed all these variants to equal one P-51D, which is absurd and ridiculous.

    • bbear

      Your point , i think is that a D could and did do things that were done by specialist variants of Spitfire.

      But ‘did’ does not imply ‘did better’ for a Mustang, and ‘did’ does not imply ‘needed’ for a Spitfire. There were speciail spit variants but as far as i know the main seeries progression, V, IX, VIX etc all could and did do ground attack escort etc. The RAF did not need the variants to compensate for some deep lack in the Spit. They wanted the variants to make the advantage of the Spits in combat even greater – and since they could, they did.

      Either the P 51 could not be varied or possibly USAAF had other priorities and just happened not to or did not know or couldnt agree what variants would be useful. Perhaps the RAF made those variants and regretted it because of cost and delay. Perhaaps high command said no or Hap Arnold had an ‘opinion’…. Perhaps lots.

      Its for you to find out which perhaps applies if you want the logic in your argument to be respected.

      Strange how you and Nick seem to argue on parallel lines.

  145. Barrie Rodliffe

    How many different Marks of Spitfire? That`s quite easy to answer the I, the II had a slightly more powerful engine, III was never produced, IV was experimental with Griffon, PR IV for photographic reconnaissance, V more powerful engine, VI high altitude with pressurised cockpit, VII strengthened VI for more powerful Merlin and more fuel for longer range with pressurised cockpit and retractable tail wheel, VIII modified VII without pressurised cockpit, IX initially an interim modified V strengthened for the more powerfull Merlin, PR X Pressurised cockpit version of PR XI, XII first production Griffon engined Spitfire, PR XIII armed Photographic version of V, XIV is basically a XII with 2 stage supercharger and 5 blade prop, XVI is IX with Packard Merlin, XVIII is a XIV with additional fuel, PR XIX is unarmed Mk XIV with pressurised cockpit.
    But how many of these after the P 51 D came into service is interesting, just the XVIII

    • Thomas

      Exactly my point I’m trying to make. The D is a ton of spits all in one it can be assigned to so many assignments. One plane could do the job of 14 different spitfires. That makes it a better overall fighter.

      • Keith J. Mohrhoff

        Actually, the stiffer airframe and rigid lines of the P-51 made it less suitable for low-level troop support or strafing due a higher susceptibility to win-in-ground effect. For this duty, the flexible airframe, elliptical-shaped wings and organic lines of the Spitfire made her far superior for sustained, low-level flight.

      • Barrie Rodliffe

        Since all these Spitfires except Mk XVIII were in service well before the P 51 D and even the standard Mk IX in service 2 years earlier could climb, turn and accelerate better and had a higher ceiling, P 51 D only has the range. where does that leave it.

      • Nick

        You see, Barrie; as I predicted, the same, tired old theme from Thomas. It’s all he’s got. So “one plane could do the job of 14 different spitfires [Spitfires] could it?

        Yes, I’d forgotten the P-51DN naval carrier fighter, the P-51DVLR Very Long Range (1,675 miles) PR version, the P-51DF floatplane, the P-51DNF nightfighter, the P-51D51 51,000 ft. ultra high altitude version, the P-51DP pressurized version, the P-51DC 20mm cannon version and the P-51DAC army cooperation versions.

        No, wait. None of these ever existed. Pause for Thomas to, once more, parrot that the Mustang D could do everything all the Spit versions could.

  146. caracoid

    Okay guys, here it is:

    Eliminating all the razzmatazz about swapping this version for that and heroic stories of daring do, can we all agree on the following:

    1. The Spitfire was better at maneuver and climb with acceleration probable.

    2. The Mustang at speed, probably durability and definitely distance.

    I’m tempted to add for the sake of agreement that the reason the Mustang was able to achieve a higher speed while carrying around a heavier weight was laminar wings and conic design, but I don’t think most of you Spit fans are ready for that yet. (And even though P-51 fans admit readily that the Spitfire’s excellent maneuverability and climb rate came from a brilliant wing design. –Ahem!)

    Now remember, when you all chime in, let’s stick with the only version of the Spitfire–at least that I’m aware of–that had engines of equal performance to the P-51D: the Spitfire Mk XVI.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      Speed is difficult because it varies with altitude and a mustang with bombs or rockets for ground attack at low level is going to be much less, probably only around 350 mph and to get the range has to fly at around 280 mph, while the Spitfire normal cruise speed is 324 mph.
      One question, is the engine in the Spitfire XVI the same as the P 51D.
      The Spitfire XVI uses the Merlin 266 optimized for low altitude and is best below 20,000 ft, while The P 51 D seems to be at it`s best above 20,000 ft, The P 51 has an advantage in speed, not as much at low level. The Spitfire climbs faster at any level up to over 30,000 ft. At sea level, Spitfire around 1,200 ft/min better, at 30,000 ft the Spitfire is still around 700 ft/min better. Acceleration, the Spitfire is much quicker, about 10 seconds less from 150mph to 300mph, 250 to 300 about 3 seconds less. Turn, the Spitfire without flaps has a 60 ft smaller turn radius than a Mustang with full flaps, both planes without flaps Spitfire over 200 ft smaller turn radius, both planes full flaps Spitfire still almost 200 ft smaller turn radius service ceiling, about the same, Mustang maybe 300 – 500 ft higher, but Spitfire gets there quicker
      “The Spitfire Mk XVI is a tough plane to fight but an excellent one to be in. At the low-medium altitudes of most of the fights it is one of the most dominant and well suited aircraft. It may not be the outright best at any one thing but it’s very flexible in almost any type of fight which is why it’s so well suited. Certainly it can make any average pilot very dangerous and an Ace death on wings and so it is always a difficult opponent”.
      Not my words but very apt.
      There is no reason for the Mustang to be more durable, especially the wings which have to be stronger just to equal the Spitfire wings, it is really quite simple, because they carry a heavier load and have a greater wing loading P 51 D 41.2 lbs./sq ft. Mk XVI 30.7 lbs/ sq ft. they have to be stronger which also adds more weight.

      • caracoid

        So basically–if you remove the biases in the adjectives–you agree with me with the exception of durability. Well, I’ve got news for you. “Stronger” translates into more durable. Your word, not mine.

        And where are you getting your stats on the Mk XVI and were all your stats derived from the Mk XVI?

      • Mike Gee

        again- you generalize too much Barrie! “depends on which engine- the merlin 61, 66, 70 then manifold pressure rating, etc. Also, we can go round and round, but for a plane that basically flew with the packard V-1650-3, and 1650-7 engine( which fell somewhere between the merlin 45 and 61 for Spits) and weighing at anywhere between 8400 to 9400 lbs against Spits that weighed at low end 6,500 lbs to 8,000 lbs, the Mustang performed WELL in its duties.

        avg climb for the Spit IX was 3,860 ft/ min compared to the P-51D at 3,475 ft/min ( the P-51B climed at 3,320 ft/min, but hauled in level flight at 25 k ft at 445 mphs versus 425 mph for the similar Spit IX) move the boost rating up to 25 lbs per in and you get a Spit hauling butt at 4,500 ft/ min compared to a mustang- THE HEAVIER plane, at 4,000 ft/min. this climb rate didn’t last long for either acft after 10K,and dropped off after 25 to 30K from an avg 2,500 ft/min and dropping.

        You got to ask yourself, how many different engines were in spitfires on station per squadron, and what was their particular mission? Since you have been so dismissive of the daylight bombing efforts of the USAAF( which despite your opinion, DID do a lot of DAMAGE to the german war industry) the war had moved on from pure fighter intercept missions, and many of the spitfire squadrons were not involved in the escort missions in germany that brought the Mustang to the forefront of aerial battles. after 1944, it was Mustang Pilots tangling more often with the Luftwaffe, especially over german skies. Spitfire pilots were tasked with ground support along with P-47s and typhoons. No shame in that at all because it was a vital war mission.

        You are far too quick to gloss over the fact that no one has said anything about the spitfire other than it was a superb interceptor and dog fighter, but the FACT is it was still too short legged to continue the next phase of the air war- BOMBER escort.

        Had Harris run BOTH Bomber and fighter command- you can BET the RAF would have continued day light bombing and that the heavier , longer range( and NOT an armed PR version) Spitfire would have flown Lancasters, Wellingtons, B-17s and B-24s to the targets in Austria, Romania, Czechoslovakia, and the US would have contract built them and used them as well( and NO mustang!). you also seem to FAIL to realize that while the spit IX to XIV whipped up on many 109s and 190s, the Mustang- in the hands of a moderate to expert pilot, did so also! The the specs on the late model german planes- despite speed increases and less weight, the mustang often over powered , out dived , and kept up in turns and combat manuevers with the best the axis had!( so when you through in your Spitfire late marks, you already know that the Luftwaffes best were unevenly matched!) Still experts are experts, and many of the Luftwaffes top aces- still took down BETTER equipped USAAF and RAF pilots- the manchine alone cannot make up for skill.

        As far as durability? Name one american Acft in the war that wasn’t heavier than its opponents ? The P-40 outweighed the Zero , and Oscar and STILL shot the down( the 325 FG, aka the “checker tails BEAt the hell out of oppposing BF 109 squadrons in early ’44 before they transitioned to the P-51C/D models. The AVG ran down and KILLED Zeroes with one of the highest kill ratios of the war- NO “exaggeration” on their kill to loss record.) Same with the P-51 to its “superior” German acft. You can tell all the “hobgoblin stories” about German pilots being scared of Spitfires- yet they confronted them and routinely shot them DOWN- and didn’t give a rats’ tail about what mark they faced.

    • Mike Gee

      to answer Barries reply in 145.1.2- where does that leave the Mustang?? Over Germany shooting DOWN ME 262s, and FW 190 Ds !!! don’t be mad that a planes that often MATCHED the Spits in performance and could do more than the Spit at longer range, got the job done!

      Mustangs carried more ordinance could go out on a mission, as a total strike package- light on station ground attack, CAP, and long range search and desrtoy in one mission. They also could hang big gas cans on and follow the bombers to hell and back( too bad the whiz kids in the UK didn’t come up with in flight fueling, BECAUSE old Barrie would also be QUICK to tout how good a long ranger fighter the spti was also!!!)

      Barrie won’t give an inch on admitting the spitfire wasn’t the all around war winner he claims- and you are right Caracoid in pointing out that the mustang did in fewer models what it took literally a DOZEN different models of spitfires to do. a testament to the ability to reinvent the same airframe( Sptifire) vs, a TESTAMENT that you didn’t have to change an airframe too much to get the same results( P-51)

      funny, despite all the “mustang is second rate”, I have YET to find any info showing that the Brit and commonwealth pilots flying mustang III and IVs hated their acft !!! Rodliffe stated in an earlier post that spitfires and “other” acft shot down More V-1s than the mustang squadrons, but then again- he answered what was already obvious -IF you have more of different acft doing the same work, their combined totals will be higher than one single type of acft!! “apparently” the RAF must have known the Mustang was good for something. Also, in Sept 1944, the RAF bomber command DId resume daytime bombing, and guess what planes they used to protect the Lancaster bombbers( and occasionally USAAF bombers in the air that needed assistance with german fighters) Was it the Spitfire IX??? NOPE!! the “superior Spitfire XIV???” NOPE The “Spitfire XXXXLIVVV and 1/2 .3″ ( just joking!!!) no, it was the “inferior” mustang III/IV.

      22 RAF squadrons HAPPILY used these “inferior” acft and were in the THICK of the action from 44-45- please show me one documented complaint about the mustang from crews that depended daily on the performance of the acft!!!!! i often wonder IF the brits had shoe horned the griffon 65/66 into a mustang IV, would folks like Barrie sing the same tune…..

  147. Barrie Rodliffe

    How do you think I agree with you or am biased, The Spitfire was better at Maneuverability, climb, and acceleration, the Mustang a bit faster with longer range, not more durable, if you don`t understand that the heavier P 51 D with higher wing loading needs stronger wings just to equal the strength of the Spitfire then there is no point in my explaining what seems obvious to me.
    I have many books in my own library on Spitfire and many other aircraft, some long out of print, These performance figures were from test flights at the time.

    • mike gee

      Barrie- we’re “arguing in circles”- you have been called to task because 1) you subtly insinuated that american pilots “lied” about aerial victories 2) our bombing campaign in europe was a waste of time( so much of a waste that your own RAF returned to doing it with “heavy bombers” in 1944, and USING MUSTANGS to SAFELY get them through, and lastly that the mustang was totally inferior to the “guizzilion ” variants of the spitfire! We all agreed that the spitfire was the best allied interceptor- BUT the best all around fighter was the mustang.period! It couldn’t attack ground targets better than the P-47 or Typhoon, but it could do it satisfactorily. It couldn’t dog fight as well as the Spitfire IX to XIV , but it was easy enough to transition to for most pilots that it could be used to over power and DEFEAT the same threats that SHOT DOWN Spitfires as well. And no matter how you down the Mustang, it had something the Spitfire didn’t- the ability to GO to the enemy’s homeland and take the Air from the luftwaffe! So through all your. Fantastic Spit variants out there, count ALL the different engines used, through out your “summarized performance stats”( sure the girrfon 65 engined Spit XIV could climb 4,500 ft/min- UP to 5,000 ft. And that’s “smooth”- no combat load of extra bombs or fuel tanks, with 150 OCTANE fuel-and then that climb rate, while still impressive, starts to drop rapidly like the 1/3 heavier Mustang!) By the way- you’ve still NOT answered that not all Spitsclimbed higher than the mustang( the AFDU tests tests in 44 on the Mark XIV as well as the Bascombe Down test on the mark IX show 41,600 to 43,000- Wright Field and AFDU tests on the mustang B/III and D/IV show 42k and 41,300- not much of a differenc! Face it – if you have to bring the whole stable to compare to and ACFT line that only ran maybe 6 wartime variants( a-36, A/B-C/D-k,H ) you’re drawing “blanks”….. And the 6 highly successful in combat I might add,

  148. Thomas

    The question is not which plane is more agile and good at climbing and turning. Which is the overall best fighter? The Mustang is in reality quite close to spitfire performance closer than most planes of that time. The mustang has a wider range of mission possibilities. Spitfires were great so were mustangs both looked more attractive than any other plane in that time except for maybe the corsair. They are the two legends of ww2 I think that everyone has a personal opinion about which is better. I believe that the mustang gives a fighter command more options with one plane. At the same time I think the spitfire is the plane I would choose for a dogfight anytime, but for patrols and escort and everything else I would consider the mustang immensely.

    If the B and C models were equipped with a Merlin engine I think the spit would have a serious run for its money. These two planes although sharing an engine is so different it’s hard to really compare them. Its long range fighter vs. a short range fighter that’s like comparing a M1 grand vs. the sten machine gun; Both were great in their own regards but you would never really use one for close quarters or long range.

    But the best overall fighter is similar to that metaphor. Sure the m1 grand isn’t good at clearing buildings or being shot first in a quick draw moment but it can still do it. Maybe not as good as a sten machine gun but it’s more versatile and that’s what the spitfires lack respectfully. Instead of trying to make a mk that did everything they made lots of versions. The D can be compared to a group of spits all at once, the mustang is more versatile to use even if the spitfire is better at certain missions.

    The mustang was more expensive to make but one mustang was the cost of 4 spitfires so if you look at the numbers you actually save money with the D in the long run. If I had to make a short legged interceptor version of the mustang I would put a the most powerful Merlin possible into a C model mustang. I would have two planes that did the grunt work the D and a C with a Merlin engine. If anyone could attempt to help me see what kind of performance a C would have with a Merlin that would be great I don’t have all the resources some author’s here do.

    In retrospect if we could go back and change something I would do that for the USAAF merlins in C and D mustangs. I would however still keep a handful of the spits, they still would be the best interceptor the allies had.

    • Nick

      Here we go again (I think this is the sixth or seventh time).

      Let’s try it in upper case, and maybe it’ll get through. DEAR THOMAS: BOTH THEP-51B and C HAD THE ROLLS-ROYCE MERLIN ENGINE. “B” and “C” referred to the different plants where the pre-model D were made. The major difference between the B/C and the D was that the earlier design had a “greenhouse” cockpit canopy and razor-back rear fuselage, which provided poor rearward visibility and several blind spots to the sides, while the D had a copy of the RAF bubble canopy and a cut-down rear fuselage.

      To repeat: THE P-51B AND P-51C HAD R-R MERLIN ENGINES.

      P.S. The WWII M1 rifle was called a Garand, not grand, and both it and Sten have a first capital letter (as do Mustang, Spitfire and other proper nouns.) Push the little key at the bottom left of your keyboard, and Hey Presto!

  149. Barrie Rodliffe

    If the ability to climb, accelerate and turn isn`t important to a fighter aircraft I don`t know what is, as for being close to the Spitfire, not close in climb turn or acceleration.
    The mustang has a wider range of mission possibilities. such as medium altitude escort fighter and ?
    lets see Photo Reconnaissance, no it doesn`t have cameras, you could put a camera in, but it doesn`t fly high enough or fast enough, Ground attack, not very good at low level.
    Air superiority fighter, I think that`s when it would need acceleration, turning and climbing ability and better guns, maybe they could borrow some from Britain
    I do know how the C would have performed, much the same as the D

  150. Thomas

    It was pretty good at ground targets considering how many trains and convoys they picked up because they had a chance; we’ve already said that the mustang is faster in level flight and flew just as high as most spitfires so if you attached a camera it would be a great pr aircraft. The only thing that could be changed is the type of Merlin in it. A newer faster engine that could give it more performance is all it really needs. That shortens the take off that makes it able to be a fast response interceptor it’s taken out ground targets before so ground support can be done. And what do you mean better guns if you want to add a canon you could but why when you could add different types of ammo for its 50’s. Incendiary rounds were around and rockets and small to medium bombs could be attached as well. This one aircraft with minimal changes could perform the job of 10 spits. I’m not sure where you are getting you’re information but it doesn’t sound like it’s backed up by evidence more bias. The mustang featured a lot of great British design and technology giving it a wide ability. Even though it wasn’t called for the missions like ground support and pr it could have if it was required and with less cost for changes so small that it could still be called a D mustang.

    • Barrie Rodliffe

      The Mustang was not the best by any means at ground targets, Spitfires were taking out trains, convoys and many other targets including V1 launching sites, The P 51 was not much faster especially at low level and only flew as high as low level Spitfires, most Spitfires flew much higher, so if you attach a camera it does the job that Spitfires did better, it just needs a newer faster engine, like the Griffon, if it would fit in the airframe, wouldn`t that make it a different version, just like the Mk XIV Spitfire compared to the Mk IX, I thought it could do everything, and fit a camera, would that not also be a change like the Mk XIX, a Mk XIV with cameras and extra fuel instead of guns, many of the various Spitfires just had minimal changes. The Spitfire was still a Spitfire The P 51 D with a camera would be a P 51 D PR, or the P 51 D with a Griffon would be a P 51 E, it would be a major change, America did want to fit 20 mm to all their aircraft, but they got the 20 mm and could not get it to work, even after Britain gave them all the details of the 20 mm in use in our fighters, since America made 40 million rounds and large scale production of guns during the war but never got them to work reliably, I guess they had to make do with a second rate weapon. It was probably better for America to just use it for escorting B 17`s and B 24`s and let Spitfires do the other jobs that they were more capable of, since the P 51 D could not fly high and fast like the PR XIX, that was one job it could not do, since it could barely catch the V1 that was a job it did not do to well, since it didn`t climb or turn like the Mk VII, VIII, IX XII XIV or XVI it wasn`t as good in combat, and these had the same or similar engines except for the Mk XII and XIV . Perhaps the many jobs it wasn`t required for were because it wasn`t the best aircraft for these jobs. Why not face it, The Mustang was quite a good plane, but not the best and if Britain did not give you the Merlin it could have been like the P 40, completely outclassed

    • J. Eddolls

      This debate is getting too personal for me!

      Thomas, The Spitfire defended a nation, a people and way of life (and all that means), the Mustang defended a Bomber stream.

      Mike, I have not seen anyone here making derogatory statements about your armed services. We are debating here with the benefit of hindesight, which wasn’t available to the combatants.

      In all my research into BoB claims by the RAF, the average overclaiming was between 10 and 5 %, this was due to damaged aircraft limping home. Press releases were generally propoganda.

  151. mike gee

    Let’s “see”- The American Air Forces had 1) Garbage,second rate acft that weren’t up to the standards of “fine British fighting machines” 2) second rate fighter and bomber crews 3) showed up too LATE for the war effort 4) tactics and deployment were INEFFECTUAL for the war effort- this is the general sentiment, right ??? EXCEPT that. The USAAF showed up with the BEST they had and used them DAMN well( the B-17 and B-24 bombers, when the RAF gave up their FAILED daylight bombing efforts- hmmm, “where” were those “superior” spitifires when RAF bomber crews were being shot from the sky ?). And when the RAF was fighting. From ’39 to early’43, again WHERE were those SUPERIOR Spitfires? The “ALLIES”-( that includes the US supplying all that”useless kit and food stuffs” the British were being STARVED out of by the Kriegsmarine U boats- a replay of WWI) DIDN’T HAVE CONTROL OF THE AIR IN WESTERN EUROPE until early’44- which coincides with the invasion of Italy and D-Day. The germans being pushed back, stopped manned bombing offenses all together, and turned to V-1 attacks. And DUE to the US daylight bombing efforts against VALUABLE german assets,like refineries, factories and train marshalling yards INSIDE of germany itself- pulled back many of their remaining fighter assets for home defense( kinda’ like when the Germans BEAT off the british from much of europe in ’39 and they fortified England in anticipation of being over run and bombed out too!) Once again- WHAT Acft( from LATE 1943 to 1945 protected the bombers? The Mustang. WHAT acft could fly the distance to fight german fighters AND attack targets of opportunity deep in enemy territory? The mustang. And what acft equipped 22 RAF squadrons and another 28 allied squadrons, often REPLACING Spit Vs,IXs, and some XIVs for combat duty??? Yup- that ” inferior” mustang. IF Britain had not “given” the US the merlin, we’d have simply built a better allison V-1710( which, by the way. Pummeled the Early merlin 45 engine at alts of 5-15K in terms of speed, reliabilty, and power!)- but that argument is a DUMB as saying “if we had not given the UK ammo and war material”. You do realize that the dbl wasp radial motor WORKED quite well and put out tremendous power!!???!! You realize that even the cumbersome P-47 and P-38s could fly at 44+K and routinely shot down 109s and FW190s ??!! Last , to comment on the issue of “experten”- in the BoB many of the british pilots were “green” with few experts, and the tactics of RAF aerial engagement SUCKED up to after the BoB(1941)- the Germans outnumbered the RAF,they had experts, and the “mount” they flew- BF 109 matched the performance of the early Spits- “know” how they LOST??? Piss poor leadership at the top level and “short legged” fighters- in ’44 to ’45 do you know how the USAAF won against the germans? LONG range mustangs with P-47s and P-38s assisting, damn good pilots that were well trained and AGGRESSIVE! Also, if the Spitfire was such a dominant fighter, WHY didn’t it wrestle the skies from the germans in the ETO by ’42???!! Answer- it wasn’t. Being able to turn is great- almost all of the. Allied and axis fighters could do this( except the P-47, and Jug pilots used high speed slashing turns and dive tactics!) Being able to climb is GREAT( for intercept purposes- once close in combat occurs, even the spitfire- or mustang- couldn’t freely runaway from the fight like you alleged) but pure speed KILLS!! Power to dive, power to blow past an enemy- Focke Wulf, 109K, Spitfire, Mustang, and the Lightning all had it and USED it. The mustang is the best ALL around fighter because it can do all of the missions required satisfactorily- it did successfully intercept V-1 flying bombs, it did ground attacks and bombings, it did fighter intercept and CAP, and it did the MOST critical mission Spitfires couldn’t- it went to the heart of Germany and defended B-17s,Lancasters, and B-24s on heavy PRECISION bombing of targets that night “terror” bombing and firebombing couldn’t do( come now, was the firebombing of Dresden really necessary to end the war?) Also to make my last point- the mustang ALSO defended a people and several nations- american men LEFT their homes to protect people they didn’t know, and many never came home!the mustang-flown by Americans, Brits, Aussies, kiwis, South Africans, Poles, French, some czechs, even later some free Italians was used to save England, free france and europe, and DID a DAMN LOT More than “just protect( a very valued) bomber stream”…..