Early Jet Fighter development

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Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:55 pm

There are several early patents dating to the early 20th century for the basic concept of the jet engine. The first patent for a practical turbojet or a gas turbine engine was entered in Great Britain by Frank Whittle in 1930.

Whittle was an RAF officer but his ideas generated little official interest. The RAF wasn’t even interested enough to request that his ideas be kept secret. In 1935 he was forced to let his patent lapse because he couldn’t afford the five pound fee to renew it. In 1936 he placed his RAF career aside for while to form a private firm Power Jets LTD, funded by venture capital.

Whittle’s first functional experimental engine was first run in 1937 and proved almost impossible to control. This jet engine utilized the centrifugal compressor concept, which was enormously complex and would require considerable developmental time. It would not be until 1939 that the Air Ministry showed enough interest to attend a demonstration of Whittles latest design, and decided to act. This was mainly a cover all the bases act should the technology prove useful in the upcoming war that everybody knew was likely.

Across the North Sea in Germany, the Germans were also pursuing the jet engine. Innovative aircraft designer Ernst Heinkel supported a private research effort by Dr. Hans von Ohain and Max Hahn. Von Ohain’s engine, the HeS, was first run in 1937 producing 500 lbs of thrust. This engine was much like Whittle’s, utilizing the centrifugal compressor concept.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:57 pm

The Luftwaffe RLM showed early interest in von Ohain’s work, but the RLM’s experimental engine expert liked the axial flow compressor concept better, and in 1938 began to commission the various German companies that specialized in aircraft engines to develop competitive axial flow turbo jet prototypes. The von Ohain engine was given the identification number 001. BMW began designs of two separate jet engines 002, and 003. Junkers Jumo’s prototype was given the number 004. Heinkel’s axial flow design was given the number 006, and Daimler Benz’s entry was given the number 007.

By 1939 von Ohain had produced an operational turbojet to be flight tested. Heinkel designed an experimental airframe to test the engine known as the He- 178. The first jet powered flight took place on Aug 27th 1939. The He-178 attained a speed of 435 mph, but it consumed all of the fuel that could be carried in only ten minutes.

During 1940, both the British and the Germans were secretly developing prototype jet fighters. The Air Ministry in Britain commissioned Gloster Aircraft Company to develop a jet fighter. In Germany Heinkel and Messerschmitt was each developing fighter concepts to compete for one contract.

Heinkel’s jet fighter the He-280 first flew on April 5th 1941. The airframe had been designed to utilize two von Ohain designed HeS8 jet engines producing 700kg of thrust each. But the engines only produced 500kg of thrust each. Despite this the aircraft attained a top speed of 485mph on its first flight. The Heinkel design featured a few innovative concepts. It used tricycle landing gear and it used an ejection seat.

The Messerschmitt airframe design (Me-262) was completed but waited on engines. It was expected to use the more powerful new BMW 003 engines in the wing roots of a swept wing design. Popular legend has it that the wings were swept to adjust the center of gravity of the aircraft after it was decided to mount Junkers 004 engines under the wings, but the Germans did have a supersonic wind tunnel and most likely this was just a cover storey. Meanwhile, the Me-262 was forced to fly its first few test flights powered by a piston engine and a propeller. The early 262 prototypes were also trail draggers.

Not until Nov 1941 did the first set of the BMW 003 engines arrive. They both failed during the flight. It was then decided to use the Jumo 004 instead, although it produced less power, because it could hopefully be made reliable sooner.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Aug 23, 2010 1:59 pm

The Gloster Meteor prototype made its first jet powered flight in March 1943, attaining a max airspeed of 426 mph.

It was not until April 1943 that the He-280 and the Me-262 were ready to square off in competition. The He-280 was forced to also adopt the Jumo 004 engines as well. The He-280 attained level flight airspeeds of 559 mph during these tests. It also demonstrated a superior dog fighting ability, being able to hold its own vs. an Fw-190A, which was very good. But the aircraft had been designed to utilize the more fuel efficient HeS8B engines, and with the Jumo 004 engines the combat range of the 280 was at very least 30% less than the Me-262’s, which was itself not very good. A problem with almost all jet fighters, then and now.

The Luftwaffe decided on the Me-262 based mainly the comparative fuel fractions of the two fighters. Although the 262 did not have the makings of a dog fighter as good as the 280, it had potential for far greater speed with its advanced aerodynamics and swept wings. It was ideal for a high altitude interceptor and bomber killer with heavy firepower. This was exactly what they needed. In the tests the 262 had easily attained speeds of 540 mph, even though the test pilot Fritz Wendell had babied the engines. Indeed within a month test pilots were regularly attaining level flight airspeeds of 590 mph- once the fragile engines finally spooled up. Up to this speed, the 262 handled rather nicely in the hands of skilled pilots. However, as it approached 600mph it began to become a more difficult beast to manage. In 1944, the Me-262 broke the (then secret) world speed record set in 1941 by the Me-163 swept wing rocket plane of 623.8 mph, by attaining a level flight airspeed of 624.5 mph. It would be common practice to approach bomber formations at airspeeds exceeding 570mph once the 262 finally entered combat as an interceptor.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:01 pm

Adolph Galland, Gerhardt Milch (although a long time personal opponent of Willy Messerschmitt) and the director of Luftwaffe fighter weapons development Col Kneymeyer lobbied to have the Me-262 go into immediate mass production as an interceptor. In consultations with Albert Speer a feasible plan was developed where 25% of current fighter production resources would be transferred to the 262, with about 6,000 man hours required per aircraft. This would produce about 1,000 new 262s per month. It could have been possible to have a few thousand Me-262s operational by the time the Merlin powered P-51’s become operational in late 43/early 44.

Kneymeyer proposed providing the most experienced fighter pilots for an elite force of 262 units to challenge the bomber streams and their escorts at the perimeters of the Reich. This would strip the bombers of their escort and partly breakup their cohesion before they could penetrate deep into the Reich. Less experienced fighter pilots flying piston engine fighters could then mop up the remaining bomber formations. Used in this way the 262 solved a number of severe problems then facing the Luftwaffe.

• It could break the Allied bomber offensive
• It would reduce the devastation on German war industry, weapons production, training facilities, fuel supplies, and cities, caused by the Allied bomber offensive.
• It would reduce the stress created by the increasing deficit in numbers of highly skilled German fighter pilots
• It could reestablish German air superiority over Germany and occupied Europe.
• It would not require that the Luftwaffe withdraw most of its pilots and aircraft from the battle fronts and naval fronts. (this was a major factor in loosing battles and being forced onto the defensive on a number fronts, as well as the establishment of complete Allied air superiority over these fronts)
• It would buy time for the Luftwaffe and the German military to regain the offensive initiative and develop yet more advanced weaponry.

Hitler failed to catch the vision of how the Me-262 should best be used. He saw at as a Blitz Bomber that would make the invasion beaches untenable in the upcoming invasions. Hitler forbade its production as a fighter or a defensive weapon, so the program languished into 1944, and the Mustangs wore the Jagdwaffe down to impotence through early 1944. Ironically had the 262 been employed as a fighter as Galland, Milch, and Kneymeyer, had envisioned it could have done more to stop the Invasion than it ever could have as a blitz bomber. An absolute requirement for the Invasion was complete Allied air superiority, and without it the Invasion and its successful follow through could not go forward.

By D-day the production of 262s was still barely 60 a month. The 262 went into combat operations as both an ineffective blitz bomber and a very effective interceptor over the fatherland the same week as Overlord. The Gloster Meteor also commenced combat operations that week.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Mon Aug 23, 2010 2:04 pm

The Meteor was inferior to the 262 in most important performance parameters, mainly because of its straight wing airframe, although the British jet engine state of the art had advanced farther than the German jet engine technology. When Galland flew British Vampire jets for Argentina after the war he commented that if the more reliable British jet engines could have been combined with the more advanced Me-262 airframe the result would have been very good indeed.

The US had also produced the P-80 Shooting Star. The P-80 was designed around a deHavilland jet engine imported from Britain. Its first flight occurred in Jan 1944 and was the first American fighter to exceed 500 mph. It was not until Dec 1945 that the P-80 became operational with a mass produced jet engine, the Allison J-33. However, the P-80 was also a straight wing design with inferior performance compared to the Me-262, as post war fly off trials at Wright Field proved.

By 1945 the Germans had already prepared their next generation of jet fighters to replace the Me-262. Airframe designs by Focke Wulf, Messerschmitt, Blohm and Voss, and Heinkel, all featured swept wings, ejection seats, and other innovative features. These advanced fighter designs only waited on a more advanced jet engine; the He-109-011 to be declared ready.

The Messerschmitt team had produced a series of designs known as the P1100 series. These designs were variations on a theme, with one version, the P1101, also featuring a pressurized cockpit, and the P1110 version featuring variable geometry wings. The basic design featured a nose inlet for the jet engine to be mounted in the aft fuselage. Many people have noticed the basic similarities of several 1950s fighters such as the F-86, the Saab J29, and the Dassault Mystere, to the Me-P1100 design. The Focke Wulf design known as the Ta-183 was also similar, but featured a high tail to get it out of the way of shock waves that could develop over the wings during transonic flight. The Mig-15 appears to be based on the Ta-183 design.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Aug 23, 2010 3:52 pm

Dave,

Thanks again for sharing with us your research and expertise. The understanding and insights you have gave us in regards with radar fire control (and busting the common wisdom myths that surrounded it for so long thanks to the navwweaps originated disinformation) and on IZ related issues (with also comparable myth busting) now add to this issue of the Me 262.

It is incredible interesting this development and Hitler's intervention in this particular weapon deployment. You are correct that a Me 262 air power enviroment on June 1944 would have affected the Normandy landings.

In previous threads it has been determined that the attrition of panzer units on the field of battle during the Normandy Campaign was due in a great part to alllied air power. Many of those Mk IV, Panther and Tiger tanks destroyed and photographed for the amusement of some were hit and destroyed from airborne adversaries, which was something that definitively affected the outcome of this campaign. However the great "if" of this was what would have happened if the full production of Me 262 would have been available to deal with the P51s by then?

We already know, for a fact, that the German Luftwaffe had the greatest top aces of all History guys as Hartman, Marseille, Nowotny, Galland, etc. etc. The quality was there. Now the appropiate weapon in the appropiate quantity would be the missing factor. No doubt that the Me 262, dispite it's shortcommings, could have given the necesary edge for the Germans to beat the western allied threat giving their technological superior panzers with tactical more proficient crews to overcome the numerical superiority of allied tank masses.

However it is important to remark that this kind of enviroment would nor forbade a soviet victory in the East. Russians were not that dependant on air power as the more fragile western field armies were.

It is very interesting indeed.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby mkenny » Mon Aug 23, 2010 8:47 pm

This is a thread about jets but I would like to correct a misconceptions introduced on an unrelated subject.


Karl Heidenreich wrote:In previous threads it has been determined that the attrition of panzer units on the field of battle during the Normandy Campaign was due in a great part to alllied air power. Many of those Mk IV, Panther and Tiger tanks destroyed and photographed for the amusement of some were hit and destroyed from airborne adversaries


This is simply untrue. Tanks destroyed by Aircraft numbered around 15% of the total . By comparison over 40% of German tank losses were caused by Allied AP shot.
As a simple statement of fact this needs no further elaboration so I will refrain from any further participation in this thread.






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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Mon Aug 23, 2010 9:48 pm

mkenny:

This is simply untrue. Tanks destroyed by Aircraft numbered around 15% of the total . By comparison over 40% of German tank losses were caused by Allied AP shot.


I think something is missing:

15% +40% = 55%

There still missing a 45%. Who destroy this missing: the french resistance and malfunctions?
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby yellowtail3 » Mon Aug 23, 2010 10:13 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:mkenny:

This is simply untrue. Tanks destroyed by Aircraft numbered around 15% of the total . By comparison over 40% of German tank losses were caused by Allied AP shot.


I think something is missing:

15% +40% = 55%

something is missing - realization that 15% of X is not related to 40% of Y, so... their addition is meaningless, and demonstrates nothing but... confusion.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby mkenny » Mon Aug 23, 2010 11:37 pm

Karl Heidenreich wrote:
I think something is missing


Ask in another thread and I will answer you. It is impolite to to hijack the thread.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Karl Heidenreich » Tue Aug 24, 2010 1:25 am

mkenny:

Ask in another thread and I will answer you. It is impolite to to hijack the thread.


No, I (as almost all the members of this forum, including those that are pro allied here) don´t want anything to do with you. Have a good night.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:20 pm

One point about jet fighters in WWII that may carry over to any peripheral debate about the effect of TAC air vs armor is the basic concept of air superiroity and the potential effect of jets on this equation. It was an essential requirement for successful operations both at sea and on land in WWII. If one had it one is likely to succeed, and if one doesn't have it one is unlikely to succeed. This was what the Battle of Britain was all about. The Germans had to establish AS or Sea Lion could not go forward. Likewise, the Allies had to establish AS before Overlord could procceed. Proper deployment of the 262 could have made the establishment of Allied AS over the continent very difficult.

German Enigma messages intercepted by Betchley make it clear that the complete control of the skys over Normandy locally by the Allies was major factor in the failure of the panzers to repulse the invasion, and in panzer losses to Allied artillery from a varriety of sources. For example, after Rommel finally got the release of the panzer reserve they had to wait until dark to move, lest the panzers be wiped out by Allied TAC air. Once they reached their tactical positions they reported via Enigma their exact positions and their conditions. They reported that because of their fuel and supply situation; due to the destruction of vital supporting units from Allied TAC air; they were not ready to launch a counter attack. In other words although the panzers themselves got through intact, their support units did not. This gave the Allies time to prepare a pre-emptive strike. Later during another attempt by the panzers to launch a counter strike after filtering in during the darkness over a period of time, the panzers went right into a prepared ambush with heavy anti-tank guns, and then were additionally cut up by TAC air, and then finally by naval bombardment. A major factor in the overcoming of the panzers was the denial of mobility to the panzers by TAC air. The panzers were forced to hideout and stay put in the daylight or they would reveal themselves to TAC air and pay the price, either directly or by anti-armor artillery. This forcing them into static positions, meant they could not fight Allied armor while maintaining favorable battle ranges and favorable combat positions. This situation was further compounded by Hitler's usual orders of no retreat, which in many cases kept the virtually static panzers within range of naval gunfire. An Enigma report from Eberbach to von Kluge in Aug summed up the indirect effects on the panzer groups by complete Allied control of the air:

" My ammunition and fuel supplies are already short. Due to Allied aircraft I cannot move in the daytime..."
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby boredatwork » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:27 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:Hitler failed to catch the vision of how the Me-262 should best be used. He saw at as a Blitz Bomber that would make the invasion beaches untenable in the upcoming invasions. Hitler forbade its production as a fighter or a defensive weapon, so the program languished into 1944, and the Mustangs wore the Jagdwaffe down to impotence through early 1944. Ironically had the 262 been employed as a fighter as Galland, Milch, and Kneymeyer, had envisioned it could have done more to stop the Invasion than it ever could have as a blitz bomber. An absolute requirement for the Invasion was complete Allied air superiority, and without it the Invasion and its successful follow through could not go forward.

By D-day the production of 262s was still barely 60 a month. The 262 went into combat operations as both an ineffective blitz bomber and a very effective interceptor over the fatherland the same week as Overlord. The Gloster Meteor also commenced combat operations that week.


Are you sure about your production numbers? As far as I know the first 29 production 262s weren't delivered UNTIL June 1944.

I see frequent references to Hitler's Fuhrer-Befehl as the reason there weren't swarms of Me 262s sooner - however I see no evidence that is the case. The modifications to make the jet into a fighter bomber were relatively trivial and would have had minimal impact upon production.

What did impact production was the non-availability of a reliable powerplant.

The bulk of 23 pre-production airframes were completed in January of 1944 but had to wait until April for their engines.

The Jumo 004B wasn't frozen for production until June 1944. Hitler's order did nothing to delay the engine - he needed it urgently for his bomber version as well as the Arado 234 afterall.

Even after June engine availability was the primary production bottleneck, not airframes - June - 29; July - 59; August - 20 due to lack of engines; September 90. This was further compounded by the short life span of the engines which meant a substantial proportion of the trickle was being used as replacements, rather than for new built aircraft.

Given the first production engines (and still very unreliable ones at that) weren't available until June I fail to see how a massive force of Me262s could have been available in time to make an impact on D-Day regardless of how they were emplyed.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:35 pm

Hitler's idea of the blitz bomber was not a realistic proposition for the 262. Goering was probably the one responsible for planting the idea into Hitler's imagination. Goering bragged that it could carry two 1,000 lb bombs. This wasn't the case at all. It could carry at best two small bombs and their extra drag and weight sapped the 262s performance and combat radius. It could not even reach the combat areas while carrying bombs from a safely located airfield. This aircraft was totally unsuited to this type of application. Historically, most early production 262s were converted to Jabos as a sop to Hitler, but these proved almost completely ineffective in that role.

Arado had developed a medium jet bomber and reccon aircraft that was much better suited to such a role. But Hitler only wanted to use it against Britain as an additional vengence weapon instead of tactically.
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Re: Early Jet Fighter development

Postby Dave Saxton » Tue Aug 24, 2010 3:57 pm

boredatwork wrote:Are you sure about your production numbers? As far as I know the first 29 production 262s weren't delivered UNTIL June 1944.

I see frequent references to Hitler's Fuhrer-Befehl as the reason there weren't swarms of Me 262s sooner - however I see no evidence that is the case. The modifications to make the jet into a fighter bomber were relatively trivial and would have had minimal impact upon production.

What did impact production was the non-availability of a reliable powerplant.

The bulk of 23 pre-production airframes were completed in January of 1944 but had to wait until April for their engines.

The Jumo 004B wasn't frozen for production until June 1944. Hitler's order did nothing to delay the engine - he needed it urgently for his bomber version as well as the Arado 234 afterall.

Even after June engine availability was the primary production bottleneck, not airframes - June - 29; July - 59; August - 20 due to lack of engines; September 90. This was further compounded by the short life span of the engines which meant a substantial proportion of the trickle was being used as replacements, rather than for new built aircraft.

Given the first production engines (and still very unreliable ones at that) weren't available until June I fail to see how a massive force of Me262s could have been available in time to make an impact on D-Day regardless of how they were emplyed.



Production numbers prior to June 1944 was about 60 per month. In fact it was 60 units in May. The units did not begin combat operations until June 44 though. 29 units Approx. matches the Jabos reported placed into operations to Hitler in July, and not the total number available.

I think this is the BMW engine, not the Jumo engine that was unavailable as a reliable unit until late war. The Jumo engine could have been made available in significant numbers by late 43, it was just a matter of doing it. Since it was not made a priority, the production of engines also languished. The Jumo engine was available, however, in numbers prior to June 44, but the problem was that it was dispersed among several other projects, which held down delivers of the 262. This was once again down to Hitler. For example, Hitler had dreamed up the idea of the Salamander jet that would be flown by Hitler Youth pilots. This was a total waste of resources. The Salamader was actually more demanding of pilot skill than was the 262.
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