WW2 fighter aircraft wings

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paul.mercer
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WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by paul.mercer » Mon Apr 09, 2018 5:39 pm

Gentlemen,
As you know the Spitfire was built with what I believe were called elliptical wings, whereas almost all fighter aircraft on all sides had conventional rounded wingtips and even the last Spitfires has the end of their wings 'clipped', was this an admission that the original design was not as good as it might have been?

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Dave Saxton
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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Apr 10, 2018 3:21 pm

The P-47 and the Zero had elliptical wings.

The clipped wings versions of the Spitfire was done to increase the rate of roll. The Spitfire without clipped wings had a slow rate of roll, which put it at a disadvantage against the FW-190, particularly. The FW-190 had the highest rate of roll of any WWII fighter. Even the clipped wing versions of the Spitfire could not match it.

Other advantages of clipped wings was a reduction in drag, and a much quicker response to the controls when changing direction. Fighters need to cut a balance between stability and instability to be capable of rapid air combat maneuvering. Stability makes them easier and less fatiguing to fly, but it also makes it slower to respond to control inputs.

The main trade off of clipped wings was less lift and higher wing loading, which in turn would reduce the rate of turn, possibly the rate of climb depending the power to weight ratio, and certainly increased the stall speed and reduced the allowable angle of attack at stall. The clipped wing versions would be less forgiving to fly, requiring greater pilot skill and experience to attain the best performance compared to the elliptical winged versions.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by Byron Angel » Sun Apr 22, 2018 12:32 am

Dave Saxton wrote:The P-47 and the Zero had elliptical wings.

The clipped wings versions of the Spitfire was done to increase the rate of roll. The Spitfire without clipped wings had a slow rate of roll, which put it at a disadvantage against the FW-190, particularly. The FW-190 had the highest rate of roll of any WWII fighter. Even the clipped wing versions of the Spitfire could not match it.

Other advantages of clipped wings was a reduction in drag, and a much quicker response to the controls when changing direction. Fighters need to cut a balance between stability and instability to be capable of rapid air combat maneuvering. Stability makes them easier and less fatiguing to fly, but it also makes it slower to respond to control inputs.

The main trade off of clipped wings was less lift and higher wing loading, which in turn would reduce the rate of turn, possibly the rate of climb depending the power to weight ratio, and certainly increased the stall speed and reduced the allowable angle of attack at stall. The clipped wing versions would be less forgiving to fly, requiring greater pilot skill and experience to attain the best performance compared to the elliptical winged versions.

Hi Dave,
It has been a while. Hope you are well. Re elliptical wings, the wing of the Spitfire indeed featured a fully elliptical plan-form, both leading and trailing edges. With respect to the P47, only the trailing edge was elliptical in nature; the leading edge was straight. The Zero wing, I would suggest, was not elliptical in nature: both the leading and trailing edges were straight and the wing-tip was almost circular in plan-form.

Spot on regarding the logic behind the clipping of the Spit Mk 5's wingtips. A lot of the early roll-rate problems suffered by the Spits (and Bf109s and Zeros) were a function of aileron design - both the early fabric coverings utilized and also the manner in which the gap between the leading edge of the aileron and the wing itself was managed. By comparison, the roll-rate of the Fw190A at conventional early war maneuvering speeds was sensational; I do not believe there was any contemporary fighter a/c that could match it. Interestingly enough, the P40 was considered a very dangerous turn fighter due to its impressive roll rate at maneuvering speeds; JG27 pilots in North Africa would studiously decline to enter turning fights with P40s. Another less well known point is that late war US AAC fP47 and P51 series both had impressive high-speed roll-rate performance (say, 300+ mph or so) and unmatched by opposing Axis fighters.

I see that the Battle of Denmark Strait still rages on. Wow.


Rgds / Byron

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Dave Saxton
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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by Dave Saxton » Mon Apr 23, 2018 2:16 pm

Welcome back Byron.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

paul.mercer
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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by paul.mercer » Wed Sep 26, 2018 8:33 pm

Gentlemen,
Once again, many thanks for your replies, I was watching a program on the ME 109 and they were talking to some of the remaining pilots some of whom claimed that thanks to the 'slats' on the leading edge of a 109 wing they could often out turn a Spitfire in combat. Were these 'slats' that efficient and if so, I wonder why the RAF did not copy them on their aircraft?

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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by Byron Angel » Fri Oct 26, 2018 11:12 pm

Hi Paul,
Taking a short break from the Battle of Denmark Strait .....

The leading edge slats of the BF109, from what I have read, did work. But they had certain peculiarities, one of which was described as "snatching" - a situation when, in a high G/high angle of attack situation, the slat on one wing only might activate or activate before the other wing. Apparently, this could disconcert inexperienced pilots and induce them to loosen up their turn. OTOH, more skilled or experienced pilots would press on. How much of an advantage these slats conferred remains unknown to me; my suspicion is that difference in overall pilot skill was probably more important.

The biggest problem in comparing the performance of these two aircraft (IMO) is keeping track of which models of the respective aircraft were facing one another. The earliest Spits in 1940, lacking variable pitch props, high test fuel and negative G adapted carburetion, were inferior above 15k feet altitude. After that, it was a see-saw technical battle for the remainder of the war.

B

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Dave Saxton
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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by Dave Saxton » Wed Nov 14, 2018 3:46 pm

My brother told me of a conversation with a fellow pilot who was checked out to fly several warbirds. This pilot was currently flying an F8F Bearcat on his way to Oshkosh, but he told of test flying one of the few still flying BF109s compared to Spitfires. It was that pilot's opinion that the BF109 was the best pure fighter plane he ever flew. I do not recall the model if it was given. He did mention that the 109 cockpit would be "one hell of a place to die," though.

Several accounts by RAF and FAA pilots mention that the clipped wing versions and particularly the Griffon powered Spitfires were a handful to fly compared to the earlier marks. The early models are often described as a pleasure to fly.

As good as dog fighters such aircraft as Spitfires were, pilots who flew Spits against Japanese fighters reported that it was a fool who got in a turning fight with a Japanese fighter in a Spitfire. Many pilots who transitioned from Hurricanes to Spitfires greatly preferred the Hurricane. The adage was that one could always tell an ex Hurricane jockey because one landing a Spitfire would bounce three times before setting down.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: WW2 fighter aircraft wings

Post by OpanaPointer » Wed Nov 14, 2018 5:43 pm

You gentlebeings might be interested in a new sub at Hyperwar: http://ibiblio.org/hyperwar/NHC/NewPDFs ... cognition/

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