Discussion in 'Weapons & Technology in WWII' started by C.Evans, Jun 5, 2003.
Naturally I think the German machine was better.
What do you think?
what year of battle and what variant ?
I think the 109 was superior, the zero did well against older US fighters, but was totally outclassed by later models. Not to say the 109 wasn't, but not by much. Many luftwaffe aces preferred to keep their 109's even when newer models such as the FW-190 were produce. I think Hartmann stayed with the 109 for the duration of the war.
The Zero was made of wood and it's wing design led it to be more manueveable thatn the 109. The 109 from 1943 in the many variants was faster with the G-10 able to hit 450mph plus.
As to aces staying with the 109, it depended on what fighter geschwader they were stationed with and in particular since U brought up Hartmann, his JG 52 never deviated away from the 109 as they were offered nothing else.
The 109 was a better in the fighter vs fighter combat and had a higher altitude ceiling than the Fw 190A's. The Fw 190A's were better suited as a more stable gun-platform to take on US heavy bombers. Anton Hackl of Stab./JG 11 for example flew both, to take on P-51's with the 109 and then the Fw 190 for the B-17's/B-24's. Only latter marks such as the Fw 190D-9 could fly upwards of 27,000 feet and the pen-ultimate was the little produced Ta 152 flying with JG 301 which could out-soar any Allied a/c in existance.......but that is another story....
AH that was quick--and thanks.
WHat year? how about mid to late war period and no particular battle.
Now--if Hartmann were used at the pilot--I'd say he could whip their butts flying a Box-kite and firing a squirt-gun.
Seriously though--just a mid-to late war set of aircraft and no particular arena.
my opinon in the 5 Cents column.......the Zero was crap, period ! and it didn't really matter who the German pilot was from flying a Bf 109G-6 to K-4 models
The Zero may have been only a step above origami, but it could maneuver better than the Me-109, especially the G and K models. Again, it would have to depend on the pilots and the variants of the birds, but I'll bet on the Zero...not too much though.
As long as the Bf 109 didn't try and dogfight with the Zero, and used the same tactics as the later Allied fighters used against the Zero, the Bf 109 should win with ease.
Good replies and thanks...
I'm I guess too one-sided on my thinking and simply like the German machines better. ((One-track-mind))
The 109, the Zero had zero armor (no pun intended ). Plus I've read that when they captured the Zero in the Aleutian Islands and flew it they found out that in a hard right turn the engine would conk out. So they told pilots if they have a Zero on their tail to dive and break hard right. Can anyone back this up? This is one of those things I read and never remember where I read it lol.
First, unlike one post states, the A6M Zero was made completely of metal (aluminum) except for cloth covered control surfaces.
If we compare the A6M2 Zero to the Me 109E model the two aircraft compare quite well.
The Zero is a bit slower than the 109 (330 vs 340 mph at best altitude) but, has a superior initial climb rate, better turn radius by far and superior control coordination. Both suffer from heavy ailerons at high speed limiting roll rate. At low to moderate speeds the Zero is superior in roll. The 109 has the edge in diving, having a better initial dive and higher diving speed.
Both aircraft had the same armament: 2 7.9 mm MG's (often dirisively called "paint chippers") and two 20 mm cannon that were equal in performance.
The Zero has infinitely better cockpit visibility and layout to the 109. It also has a phenominal range, something the 109 suffered a lack of throughout the war.
On the whole, the A6M2 was probably the superior aircraft to the 109E.
Now, the 109F model improved performance sufficently that it clearly was the better aircraft except in armament which was almost an afterthought of understatement.
Another "urban legend" not backed by fact. The test pilots (Cdr Frederick M. Trapnell and LCdr Eddie R. Sanders) stated nothing of this sort in their reports to BuAir. The A6M2 was tested against the F4F-4, F4U-1, P-39D, P-40F, P-38F and, P-51.
In the end, the testers determined that combat pilot reports and recommendations that were already being used in the Pacific were effective against the Zero. US pilots were using high speed, diving passes and, mutual support tactics like the Thach weave before PO1c Koga Tadayoshi's Zero was captured.
The Zero was by far the most manoeuverable aircraft in the war. In the hands of an experienced japanese Pilot (of which there were few by 1944) the Zero could be a handful even for more advanced US aircraft, who could simply not get a bead on it.
However, its maneuverability was gained at the price of armour, a decent engine and (its bane in the early models) a self-sealing fuel tank.
Trivia: The maneuverability of the Zero was legendary among the US pilots near the beginning of the Pacific war, in particular in the hads of an experienced japanese Pilot. It was not uncommon for the US pilots engaged with the Zero to expend all of their ammunition trying to shoot it down, without scoring a hit on the agile little craft.
The .50 cal guns of the P-51 had 27 feet of ammunition, and when a Pilot fired all his ammo at a Zero and failed to bring it down, he "Gave it the whole Nine yards", hence the origin of that expression.
People tend to have a ^poor impression of the Zero due to its poor performance in the war after the initial stages, but that has more to do with the fact that the Japanese lost their entire cadre of top flight naval aviators at Midway, and the Pilot training program (qualitatively the best in the world) could not turn out replacements anywhere near fast enough. Thus, After that more and more Zeros were flown by ill-trained inexperienced japanese Pilots. It was pilot quality that let to the Marianas Turkey shoot, not aircraft quality.
However, I would still have to give the nod to the 109 for all-around performance and durability.
I'd have to agree with the general concensus so far. The Zero "came out of the gate" well, especially in the early Pacific dogfights in 41-42, but this was a false dawn, IMHO. It was pitted against P-40s, P-39s, and the like. All of which were far more sluggish.
But we could go on & on about their performance record. Rather, spare a thought for (as Carl mentioned earlier) the difference in quality/reliability of the two. The Germans were big fans of subcontracting. Example: the 109's turbo/supercharger was made by a company called KKK that had EXCELLENT durability, whereas the Japanese Nippondenso parts were almost something to laugh at. Endurance/reliability deserves some consideration as to which aircraft was better. Ironically, both companies (although Nippondenso is now just "Denso")still make parts for Honda & Mercedes to this day.
P.S. - By the time the 109 K model came out late in the war, there would simply be no comparison of these two airplanes.
[ 24. September 2003, 08:37 PM: Message edited by: Erich Hartmann ]
I would disagree that the Japanese aircraft industry and, the Zero were poorly made. While it did lack armor and was of light construction, the Zero was generally a quality aircraft throughout. One need only peruse commentary from the Technical Air Intelligence Center, NAS Anacosita MD to see this.
Both German and Japanese aircraft by the second half of WW II were suffering from quality control problems. The lack of strategic materials, shortages of skilled manpower and, increasing production demands all led to a decrease in quality in both countries.
The Germans had a larger engineering base and aircraft manufacturing sector to draw on allowing them to develop (if not put into production) a far wider range of aircraft types. Some of these designs were very advanced as well. But, even the most advanced suffered from limitations in materials and production techniques. Look at the Me 262: It had large numbers of stamped parts. These took little skilled labor to produce but, made repair and servicing of aircraft far more difficult in the field. The Jumo 004 engines had a service life of hours due to their being almost totally made from generic low carbon steels (ASTM 1000 series in US terms).
Both the Germans and Japanese were unable to put into production an exhaust driven supercharger for example, due to lack of suitable alloys.
I have to take sides with Herr Hartmann to a point. The latter marks of Bf 109 were superior in speed and armament to the Zero. As to superchargers the Bf 109G-6/AS and G-10 which was the fastest of the 109 series both used a methanol/water injection two stage supercharger and although could only be used for 10 to 15 minutes duration in combat altitudes of 30,000 feet the speed could be obtained of over 425 to 455 mph. Especially for the first variant G-6/AS in the summer/fall of 1944 this was quite impressive !
Certainly, the later model 109's were superior to the Zero. The 109 did prove more upgradable than the Zero did but, in 1940 I would say the Zero was probably the better of the two.
As to performance, again the late model 109's certainly had the Zero beat. But, compared to Allied developments they were getting long in the tooth, like a race horse that had seen better days.
I agree whith TA. I think the later 109's were very superior and could outmatch a Zero easily. Speed was essential but firepower was also very important.
If you think about it, it all boils down to who's flyin the thing and luck.
Exactly. One word: EXPERTEN