By Carl Molesworth
Even if the P-40 and the Bf 109 either joined the air struggle over North Africa at approximately an identical time in early 1941, the venerable German fighter was once already totally taken care of with a wrestle occupation courting again to 1937 in Spain, whereas the yankee fighter used to be making its wrestle debut within the palms of the RAF's barren region Air strength. either airplane have been low-wing designs powered by way of a unmarried liquid-cooled engine of approximately an analogous output, yet there the similarities ended. The Bf 109 used to be small and agile, in a position to working at excessive altitudes. The P-40's weight and engine constrained it to middle-altitude operations, however it was once extra manoeuvrable than the Bf 109 and very able within the fighter-bomber function. In usual encounters, Bf 109 pilots might climb above a formation of P-40s after which dive into conflict, trying to preserve the initiative and a velocity virtue. The P-40 pilots may reply by means of attempting to become the assault. The tide grew to become within the autumn of 1942, during which time USAAF P-40 squadrons had joined the struggle in time for the ultimate Allied push from El Alamein and the Operation Torch landings in Morocco.
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Extra resources for P-40 Warhawk vs Bf 109: MTO 1942-44 (Duel, Volume 38)
One advantage enjoyed by USAAF fighter groups was having the opportunity to fly frontline fighter types during their final phase of training while providing air defense in the USA prior to shipping out for a combat zone. These P-40Fs of the 314th FS/324th FG are on alert at Baltimore, Maryland, in the summer of 1942. com When their operational days ended, many early model Bf 109s continued to serve the Luftwaffe in the training role. Pilots chosen for fighter training went on to fighter school for about 50 hours of further instruction on obsolescent single-seat types, and the first flight in a Bf 109 was always a challenge for them.
From this uneventful start, the campaign quickly escalated into full fury six days later when 32 Warhawks escorted B-26s to Decimomannu airfield, where the bombers were to attack a supply depot. /JG 51 jumped the fighter escorts from above, and soon a big dogfight was underway. Two future aces of the 325th FG scored their first successes during this engagement, which saw the group claim five victories in total. Maj Robert Baseler of group headquarters and 1Lt Herschel H. “Herky” Green of the 317th FS, who was on his first combat mission, got one apiece.
In the Mediterranean, the German pilots had the superior aircraft to utilize these tactics because the Bf 109’s service ceiling was much higher than the P-40’s. com Although used to operating from unprepared grass strips, German fighter pilots found that the sandy “airfields” in North Africa, which were strewn with rocks the size of house bricks, were something else entirely. The biggest handicap of all was the dust cloud thrown up by any kind of aircraft movement. This aerial photograph of a Schwarm taking off – each of the four widely spaced machines trailing its own lengthening plume of dust and sand – illustrates the extent of the problem.
P-40 Warhawk vs Bf 109: MTO 1942-44 (Duel, Volume 38) by Carl Molesworth