Wednesday, August 9, 2017


1 comment:

Will said...

I read an interesting story about dueling with Me-109's in the ETO, or possibly the Med. The technique was to initiate a climbing righthand turn when one got on your tail. IIRC, they had more trouble turning right, due to engine torque, and the stabilizer/rudder angle set to help correct for this. (Didn't matter which direction you turned the P-38, with the counter-rotating engines)

Keep it tight enough, and they couldn't get enough lead to hit you. Keep the climb steep, and eventually the German would stall and fall off. Close the inside(?) throttle, and the plane would rotate around the pilot while coming to a stop. Advance the closed throttle when you have rotated 180*, and you will be heading downhill at your enemy while he is still trying to get his plane to fly again. Pretty much a guaranteed kill, unless you really screw it up.

Seems to be a hammerhead turn, that doesn't require you to be vertical, since it is controlled by off-axis thrust, instead of gravity. Which means you don't have to wait for the aircraft to stop moving before it can rotate.

No idea how widespread this technique was. I suspect only a good, experienced p-38 pilot would attempt it, and combat conditions would be important, since you end up moving very slow toward the end of the climb. Makes you vulnerable to another fighter who still has energy or altitude over you. Still, a valid tool for your bag of tricks.

This was written in a P-38 flight test maybe 20 years ago. The pilot's father was the wartime pilot, and the son got seat time in a restored Lightning, and tried it. Said it worked fine, that handling and control was excellent.

Unfortunately, the son died later in a P-38 crash, when he botched the fuel tank selector switching during a landing pattern. Apparently, it's badly designed, and has killed a fair number of pilots. No idea why the US never moved to the British fuel tank feed system. NIH Syndrome, I guess. Jeffrey Ethell, was the name, I think. Good aircraft writer.