One of the most interesting things after having spent over a month remodeling a fighter series, is to run tests of how the new flightmodels perform compared to the other fighters. Especially the turning performance is interesting to me since all we often have is vague, and sometimes contradicting, ww2 pilot accounts. Hopefully the soon-to-be-released new Messerschmitt flightmodels are as close to historical performance as possible, and I've now run several tests on them. Below is a summary of what to expect from the new Bf 109 models regarding turn fighting.Q: British pilots claimed they could just go into a hard turn against diving Bf 109's and the Messerschmitt had no chance to stay with them. British pilots also claimed they could outturn the Bf 109, while many German pilots stated they could turn inside the Spitfire. Were the British or the German pilots correct?
A: Yes they were.
Q: There are accounts that the Bf 109 could easily outmaneuver the P-51D, while several Mustang pilots have given accounts of outturning their German adversary. Would the Bf 109 or the P-51D win a turn fight?
A: Yes they would.Explanation
When we talk about turning performance, the question one must ask regarding the Bf 109 is: "At what speed is it turning?". This since the elevator, ailerons and rudder quickly become heavier to operate with increasing airspeed in the Messerschmitt. At 311 mph (500 kmh) Mark Hanna, a well known test pilot, stated he could pull 5G's with both hands pulling back the stick. At 400 mph IAS the pilot really struggles to move the elevator in the Messerschmitt. The Bf 109 is a fairly small and light airframe though, with the slats increasing it's turn and stall speed performance surprisingly well near the stall, and at low speeds this bird can really maneuver and turn.
From my tests a Hurricane I will outturn the Bf 109E when low n slow, but I was almost surprised to see how well the Spitfire and the Messerschmitt are matched. The Spitfire I & II has a great turn rate and would probably win a prolongued turn fight after several laps, but the Bf 109E has a quite narrow turn radius and can keep inside the Spitfire for some laps, especially with 10° flaps deployed. It can definitively shoot the Spitfire down if the Spit pilot goes into a hard turn as a defensive tactic when both are at slow speeds. Against a Dunkirk era 87 octane Spitfire (limited to +6.25 lbs of boost) the Bf 109E can even win a sustained turn fight due to the 87 octane Spitfire's lack in max power/weight performance. This goes well in hand with a German Ace claiming he could outturn the British fighters at the battle of Dunkirk. Even the mid- and late era Spits and Bf 109's are quite evenly matched in a turn fight indeed. This is at slow speeds though, and at high speeds the Spitfire will easily outturn the Bf 109's due to the elevator quickly getting heavier to operate in the 'Scmitts above 300 mph (480 kmh). This explains why British pilots could easily evade a diving Bf 109 by going into a hard turn. British pilots also commonly used the defensive tactic of rolling over, diving to pick up speed and then pulling out in order to escape a trailing Messerscmitt. There are even several ww2 pilot accounts of German pilots plunging nose first into the earth when trying to follow British pilots who were diving out and pulling up again close to the ground.
In the endless debate about the turning ability of the Bf 109G/K vs a P-51D, from my tests the much lighter Messerschmitt will easily win a maneuver and turn fight at low speeds. Above 300 mph IAS though the Mustang might get onto the six of a Bf 109G/K for a quick burst and then extend. Above 400 mph IAS the Mustang can dance around the Bf 109. This goes very well in hand with all the pilot accounts I've read where American pilots stated that the best way to fight the Messerschmitts was to keep the speed up, and as Mark Hanna states: "I think it (The Bf 109) will give most of the Allied fighters I have flown a hard time- particularly in a close, hard-turning, low-speed dogfight. It will definitely out-maneuver a P-51 in this type of fight because the roll rate and slow-speed characteristics are much better... ...At higher speeds, the P-51 is definitely superior, and provided the Mustang kept its energy up and refused to dogfight, it would be relatively safe against the 109"
All in all I would say the Messerschmitts seem to be quite competitive turn fighters, and at low speeds the Bf 109K can outturn most late war opponents and even give the Spitfire IXe and XIV a run for the money. The 109G's are a bit more cumbersome but better armed than the earlier planes in the series, but the G-14 has a good power/weight ratio with it's MW 50 injection boost. The 109F's are quite nimble for their era. Regarding Bf 109E's there are several early war fighters that turn better, but these usually have a slower top speed than the Bf 109E and this German plane can still crank the nose around quite well. The heavier Bf 109G/RVI and Bf 109K/RIV have great armament with their added gondola cannons, but are noticeably more cumbersome in both the roll and turn.Becoming an Experten in the Messerschmitt
A good tip to become an ace in the Bf 109's is to really learn how to use the elevator trim. Always be ready to trim the elevator up at high speeds in order to increase your high speed turning performance and not lose the bandit in a sudden break. This is especially true when diving at high speeds or you might plunge head first into the ground like several German ww2 pilots did. A good tactic is to try to get the fight below 300 mph IAS (480 kmh) where the good roll rate and turning performance of this German bird will play into your hands. Reducing the throttle and turning in a High Yo-Yo is a smart way to bleed of excess speed. All Bf 109's have good top speed and acceleration for their era though for when you need to catch the enemy or run away.
This article from Mark Hanna is very well written about flying the Bf 109, and you can find some interesting info under the "Handling" and "Contemporary comparisons" headings: http://www.eaf51.org/newweb/Documenti/S ... 09_ENG.pdf
Other test pilot accounts:
Rob Erdos: http://www.vintagewings.ca/VintageNews/ ... f-109.aspx
Rick Volker: https://www.warhistoryonline.com/guest- ... ience.html
<S> and hoping to release the remodeled Messerschmitt series before September