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Heavy Metal
Jim "Twitch" Tittle

When we all get the opportunity to fly the WWII sims of late summer and early fall it must be remembered that the aircraft modeled were once real machines in the stormy European war skies more than fifty years ago. Let's look at some of the statistics and features of the aircraft modeled in Janes WWII Fighters.


This is the premier fighter aircraft of all time. It was created in a mere 117 days but lived up to every hope that was sought by U.S. fighter pilots who desperately needed an upper hand.

P51D Mustang

The "D" was preceded by the "B" in action and any "B" shortcomings were addressed in it. A bubble canopy and cut-down rear fuselage vastly improved visibility. Two more .50 caliber machine guns were added for a total of six. With a range of 2,000 miles it could stay with the "big friends" all the way to Berlin and beyond.

The 1,695 h.p. Packard-built Merlin V-12 propelled it to 437 m.p.h. at 25,000 feet. Its ceiling was 41,900 feet and rate of climb of 3,200 feet per minute. With a competent pilot it was able to maneuver with most any German plane though classic dogfights were rare. The Mustang truly owned the air over Germany and many Luftwaffe pilots were very apprehensive of engaging them in a one on one basis.

Once the 4th Fighter Group had Mustangs they matched the best German fighters turn for turn if need be and began running up good scores. American pilots generally used the advantage of altitude with speed and slash techniques to pass through the enemy formation, pick a target and fire on it; try it in sims, it works.

Up to 2,000 lbs of bombs or six 5 inch rockets could be slung beneath the P-51 for ground attack work. When the Mustangs debuted over Europe in 1943 even Herman G”ring conceded that the war was lost. The "Debden Gangsters" of the 4th were a great contributor to his opinions.

109 G6


It's predecessors had been flying since 1936 but the G was the most proliferous model due to its ability to accept infinite modifications. The G-6 was the first model to supplant its two 13mm cowl mounted machine guns and nose mounted 20mm cannon with either a pair of 20mm MG 151s or 30mm Mk 108s! Further tinkering added a 21 cm. rocket tube beneath each wing for still greater potency against Allied bombers.

Field modifications by master armorers led to many varieties from one aircraft. Of course the bolt-ons degraded performance. This author once asked General Galland if his personal aircraft carried the extra 20s when the practice was just starting. He simply snorted, "Hell yes!"

Its 1,475 h.p. Diamler-Benz direct port fuel injected V-12 gave it a top speed of 387 m.p.h. at 22,970 feet. The plane's ceiling was 39,750 feet with a climb rate of nearly 3,300 f.p.m. Range was only 615 miles at best. And with the extra gondola guns, maneuverability suffered.

Favored by the top German aces, the 109G-6 excelled as the workhorse of the Luftwaffe. What ever shortcomings it had, one must remember that Ace of Aces, Erich Hartmann, scored his 352 kills in the venerated 109.

Click to continue . . .


P38 Lightning


The Lightning never gained the ascendancy in Europe that it did in the Pacific. The Luftwaffe had plenty of high altitude aircraft that the Japanese did not and this nullified the advantage the P-38 had: swooping down on its prey.

It easily took part in long-range escort missions with its ample 2,260 mile range. In the Mediterranean It was dragged down to low altitude in most fights and never excelled. Two Allison V-12s of 1,425 h.p. gave the "J" a climb rate of some 3,000 f.p.m. while on its way to a 44,000 foot ceiling. At 30,000 feet the Lightning managed its 414 m.p.h. top speed.

The 20mm cannon and four .50's mounted in the nose were easier to hit with compared to wing mounted guns that were most effective at certain convergence ranges. The P-38 could tote ten 5 inch rockets and up to 3,200lbs. of bombs and was successful as a ground attack plane but was phased out of air to air work as P-47s and P-51s became plentiful.

The key to success was the basic energy fighter concept- high speed slash through of the enemy formation. You can see this modeled in most sims artificial intelligence as the American fighters go way, way out to take advantage of the speed, inertia, and distance before they turn to face you with their guns down your throat.

FW 190 A8


As sister-in-arms to the BF 109, the FW 190's airframes lent themselves to endless modifications and sub-variants. No plane was better armed. The A-8 normally carried four 20mm cannon and two 13mm machine guns, but some had two of the 20mm's replaced by MK. 103 30mm's. This made for a superb bomber attacker, but after maximum speed of 408 m.p.h. was attained at 20,000 feet, performance fell off.

Two 21 centimeter mortor rocket tubes could be attached beneath the wings also. Again, creative armorers attached up to four extra 20mm's under the wings. If you've flown any of the sims with this modification modeled you now have a taste of how severely it degraded performance.

The BMW 14 cylinder radial pumped out 2,100 h.p. with methanol-water injection. It did not have a high ceiling at 37,400 feet. Initial climb rate was 3,450 f.p.m., and in its element as a pure fighter it was splendid. The 190 had a high roll rate, better armament and could take more punishment than the BF 109, but possessed a range of only 500 miles. It was capable of carrying an 1,800 Kg bomb for a short distance and supplanted the effective but slow Ju 87 Stuka as a close support aircraft.

From Captain Brown's tests in 1941:

"The Canadian pilots had to evade the German attacks and break for home as best they could. Three Spitfires made it back to their field at Rochford. Two more force-landed at Manston; one of these was a complete writeoff. The other seven planes came down in the Channel. Only one of their pilots was rescued. The survivors claimed no victories over the Focke-Wulfs.

This battle, which lasted only seven minutes, resulted in eight confirmed JG 26 claims. Hptm. Muencheberg tallied his eightieth and eighty-first victories, while two of his Second Gruppe pilots scored singles. Hptm. Seifert scored his thirty-fifth victory, and three other First Gruppe pilots scored. The cumulative effect of encounters such as these was the demoralization of all levels of Fighter Command, from top to bottom.

The Air Ministry was slow to react, apparently lulled into complacency by its own government's constant claims of aerial success. On 17 July, Sholto Douglas put the matter bluntly in a letter to his superiors:

'We are now in a position of inferiority. . . . There is no doubt in my mind, nor in the minds of my fighter pilots, that the FW 190 is the best all-round fighter in the world today.'

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