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What if the Me-109E had drop tanks in the Battle of Britain

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by west6008, Nov 28, 2013.

  1. west6008

    west6008 New Member

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    Almost every history of the Battle of Britain talks about the short combat endurance
    of the Me 109e.
    Belated introduction of 60 Imp. gallon drop tanks came with the E7 model.
    If these were available during the battle,109's might have bested the token
    RAF sorties sent up, and had time for ground attack also.

    This short-sightedness is puzzling, was the technology of drop tanks considered wasteful
    to the Germans?
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Or the opposite..Many RAF pilots reported missing the kill due to the Me 109 bugging out back to France...The Spits and Hurricanes could stay up longer, they could therefore fight longer...and garner more kills.
    I would take the 20-30mm out and place a tank in front of the pilot..
     
  3. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    Yes, they didna have to fly as far...Also that may have been dangerous, the tank above the engine. Another Ronson?
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Hehe...Yes that may have been dangerous...its the bloody war!

    There are other aircraft with an extra tank in front of the pilot...Not good in case of fire, bail quickly.
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    Bf109E's in the Battle of Britain didn't have a cannon in the nose - the hole in the prop boss was present, but no gun. The wing 20mm guns were very effective. Extra tankage would certainly have been useful but I don't think would have effected the final result ; the Luftwaffe couldn't afford the attrition rate of both aircraft and trained pilots. The technology must have been available ( Bf110s had extra tanks ) but the need hadn't been foreseen for the 109 and events moved too fast.
     
  6. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    How much extra time would the tank have actually added and don't they get dropped as soon as enemy planes appear. Considering how close the airfields were to Britain would they have been that useful.
     
  7. west6008

    west6008 New Member

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    Extra fuel for assembling big formations, for altitude, for feigned attacks, for free roving ground attack, and last but not least, diverting because of a socked in base.----everything the P-51's did
     
  8. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr Patron  

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    Bf109Es didn't get involved in ground attack during the BofB ; they had no bomb-carrying capacity at the time.
     
  9. steverodgers801

    steverodgers801 Member

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    West the question was not what it could be used for, but how much actual time would be gained.
     
  10. Poppy

    Poppy grasshopper

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    I wonder if any WW2 single engined fighters had a gas tank above the engine. Pilot survival was rather important, planes- not so much...Also read that the German tanks were made out of paper? Or was that the Zero...Was it the US who first came up with the idea of drop tanks, or were they the champions of using them?
     
  11. Dave55

    Dave55 Member Patron  

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    I'll throw in that there were many fighters with gas tanks between the engine and the pilot. I don't know if there were any with the tank above the engine.
    The Hurricane, Spitfire and Corsair come to mind and Hurricane tank fires caused some horrible injuries and deaths by flames blowing back into the cockpit.
     
  12. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    Martin, that's not quite correct; the various marks of Bf109s of ErprobungsKommando210, as well as its 110s, were converted to carry bombs....and used them on many occasions. Byt the end of September the Luftwaffe had realised that fast, low-level no-warning attacks by bomb-armed 109s was actually the way to win against Fighter Command....but the battle had indeed swung away fron Luftwaffe vs Fighter Command by then. But by the end of the official dates for the BoB, half the 109s in Western Europe could carry centreline ordnance...

    But of course it would THEN be a per-sorties choice between range OR ordnance - for the centreline drop tank used the same mounting shackles as centreline bombs!

    IIRC the provision for centreline shackles arrived with the E4....it was the fuel lines etc. for drop tanks that arrived with the E7.

    There are two MORE aspects to this debate. One is that there's a persistent rumour that SOMEHOW the Luftwaffe's fighter pilots had a big downer on 109 drop tanks as a result of bad experiences with their drop tanks in Spain - the shellack-and-papier-mache items delaminated in the heat there! I think E.R. Hooton for one repeats this rumour...even though there were very VERY few 109s reached the Condor Legion, and I'm not aware if they could use drop tanks or not...but the rumour and prejudice must have begun somewhere.

    The OTHER aspect is of course that it doesn't actually stretch your range THAT much...they still have to be dropped before entering combat...and if the Luftwaffe's fighters encountered RAF fighters over Kent and Sussex ALL that would happen is that they'd use a certain amount of what was in the drop tank on the way FROM France and the Low Countries. As long as there are RAF fighters available and sortie'ing against them, Kent would be covered in dropped half-full drop tanks!
     
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  13. Achaylus72

    Achaylus72 New Member

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    I don't know if this is correct, but I once read that up to 95% of German fighters came home without firing a shot in anger. Even if the Germans had drop tanks, the standard doctrine still persists.
     
  14. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    The trick is to use up the drop tanks first. Read up about that with the P-51 Mustang.
    There are some good stories about pilots putting aircraft in unusual attitudes to drain the last drop out of them before ditching the tanks.
     
  15. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Thanks Fred...thats new for me...would almost have to be upside down (inverted) wouldnt it?
     
  16. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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    Do the math. Not wing tanks, for sure!
    Pitch, Yaw and Roll Coupling. Quite the skill set.

    There are lots of good stories about draining tanks that had been hit by gunfire...
    + Lots of good stories about bombers draining tanks too - all relevant.
    - Big part of a Flight Engineers training I think by the looks of it.
     
  17. Fred Wilson

    Fred Wilson "The" Rogue of Rogues

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  18. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Drop tanks may have actually made things worse for the Germans. The temptation would have been to strike deeper into Britain and spend more time over the island. Both of these increase the potential for the plane being shot down or damaged and decrease the chance of the pilot making it back to German controlled territory. Both of the latter may also increase the chance that some of the other fighter groups get into action. Likely it would have upped the loss rate on both sides at least initially. Like others I don't see it changing the results of the battle though.
     
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  19. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor Patron  

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    I think it would have made a difference. The RAF pilots were tired when the airfields were the target and this was with the short range of the German fighters. Imagine if the fighters were available. Plus I think the majority of the aircraft downed were bombers. Don't know the stats but that would tell the story.
     
  20. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I'm not an expert on this but from what I recall it was mostly 11 group that was fighting the Germans. 12 Group tried to get into the action on occasion but the fact that they were further from the incursions and their concentration on "big wing" tactics meant that they often couldn't get there in time. If the Germans are spending more time over Britain and striking deeper then 12 Group is likely to get into action more. Furthermore if it is hitting German formations already somewhat disordered by 11 Group in large and well formed numbers that could be a serious problem for the Germans.
     

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