First Class Member
- Aug 16, 2009
- Reaction score
Not sure how you can call the FW190 a plain Jane, very elegant design in my view!The Spitfire and the Bf109 were the products of the early change-over from biplanes to monoplane fighters. Both were made to fill the role of short range interceptor, and that fact limited their operational tactics. At the relevant times, this lack of range did not matter as at the start of the war, the Spitfire was operating over its own territory, but the Bf109 was on the long haul runs. Later the situation reversed as Germany went on the defensive.
Both planes became the pin-ups of their times, but other aircraft - the Plain Janes - did a lot of the work. That the Spitfire and the Bf109 formats remained in the Front Line all through the war, and afterwards is due to their good fortune in being able to be upgraded as required. For the Spitfire, control of the air over Britain enabled a good fighter to be constantly upgraded despite the arrival of stronger aircraft having greater firepower and range. For the Bf109, lack of security of German aircraft production meant that it was wiser to retain established tooling than to stop production of the Bf109 and retool for another design.
On both sides there were very good Plain Janes such as the British Hurricane and the FW190. It is only the fact that the Spitfire and the Bf109 appeared in the media more than any other contemporary aircraft that has given both their celebrity status.
I am fortunate enough to have worked on a couple of Spitfires whilst working for a couple of years for Personal Plane Services in England. ‘Flimsy’ is something it certainly wasn’t. I was actually surprised at quite how rugged and well designed they were. I would agree though that the Hurricane, due to it’s construction methods was probably a lot simpler to repair. No personal experience unfortunately!One element often overlooked is the "availability" of the aircraft. How many highly-skilled people are required to build one and to maintain it between sorties?
I've inspected a Hurricane and a Spitfire side by side and the Spit. wins hands down of looks and sleekness, but it's flimsy compared to the Hurricane.
An old Luftwaffe pilot told me stories about flying the 109 late in the war, when most ground crew had been sent off to fight the Red Army. He and other pilots could prepare and hand-start their aircraft on snow-covered runways by themselves, then climb up to engage the fighters so the Focke-Wulfs could get at the bombers.
I doubt many fighters could get into action in such difficult circumstances; our new F-35 is apparently scared of rainshowers.