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Talking of FW190s and ME262s ...

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#1
On the opening track of Bob Calvert's (he of Hawkwind) 1974 work, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters, attributes Franz Josef Strauss, German Air Defence Minister in 1960, when demanding new, sexy aeroplanes for the renascent Luftwaffe, with the following statement:

This Airforce is in a terrible state. Just look at it. Leftovers from the last war. This is not an airforce, this is an air-circus. Even the Red Baron himself would laugh at such antiquated aeroplanes. We must modernize.
The track opens with the sound of a tired propellor turning over.

My question:

At the end of the war, the Luftwaffe had FW190s (and their IMHO sexy TA152 variant) and ME252s. Were these so antiquated in the scale of things? More importantly, are they really what the Luftwaffe was still flying in 1960 when, if the album is to be believed they placed their order for 700 F104G (G for "Gott strafe England") Starfighters?

http://www.starfarer.net/captlock.html
 
#3
The Luftwaffe was disbanded in 1945 and not reformed until 1956 (the West German Luftwaffe, that is). It was mostly equipped with US jet aircraft - Sabres and the like, which would have been reasonably "modern" at the time. I don't think any German WW2 aircraft were used operationally post-1945. Maybe Strauss was referring to transport aircraft, which would still have been allied WW2 types, or perhaps they had some P-51 Mustangs, as did the swiss and one or two other European countries.
 
#4
AlienFTM said:
On the opening track of Bob Calvert's (he of Hawkwind) 1974 work, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters
Now thats an obscure start to a thread.


Was not this purchase of F104G Starfighters subject to a massive criminal investigation? And given the starfighters safety record - crashing more often than a speed freak after a two week bender, would the luftwaffe been better off with Me262's?
 
#5
armchair_jihad said:
AlienFTM said:
On the opening track of Bob Calvert's (he of Hawkwind) 1974 work, Captain Lockheed and the Starfighters
Now thats an obscure start to a thread.


Was not this purchase of F104G Starfighters subject to a massive criminal investigation? And given the starfighters safety record - crashing more often than a speed freak after a two week bender, would the luftwaffe been better off with Me262's?
Indeed there was a massive investigation, AJ. It led to Strauß having to resign his post! Strauß was an "ideology officer" during WWII and also the CO of Hans-Helmut Kirst (he of 08/15 fame). However, he always maintained he'd never been a member of the Nazi party.

MsG
 
#6
The Me262 was extremely primitive compared even to the first postr-war generation of jets. At a minimum it would have had to be completely re-engineered to have new engines - the jumos just had a service life of a few hours. Even UK's less agile 1944/5 Meteor had proper engines and went on to become a relatively successful cold-war aircraft.

I'm not sure that 262s were any safer than a Starfighter anyway - i think I read somewhere that more than half the Me262 pilot deaths were not due to enemy action, but rather aircraft failures.
 
#7
The Starfighter had a much better safety record in other air forces, whatever modifications the germans did to their aircraft gave rise to the nickname "widowmaker".
 
#8
I wonder if the WW2 Luftwaffe connection isn't via some of the commanders of the Luftwaffe in 1960. Erich Hartmann, Johannes Steinhoff and Gunter Rall will always be more associated with the Third Reich than the FRD. Steinhoff was badly disfigured in an Me262 crash.

In his memoirs Steinhoff wrote about what might now be called the steep learning curve of the Luftwaffe in the 1950s. This article claims that the did somethign active to remedy the problem. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luftwaffe

The WW2 luftwaffe had a culture which tolerated a high accident rate in training. This may have carried over into the new regime.
 
#9
There were some air forces which used FWs and MEs. I believe the egyptian AF had some MEs 109. Bulgarian as well.....

But the Germans were given / sold a lot of american gear.


http://www.luftwaffe.de/portal/a/luftwaffe/kcxml/04_Sj9SPykssy0xPLMnMz0vM0Y_QjzKLN483CTMHSUGYxvqRaGIBhgihoJRUfW99X4_83FT9AP2C3NCIckdHRQAoGL3H/delta/base64xml/L2dJQSEvUUt3QS80SVVFLzZfN19QRkw!?yw_contentURL=/01DB060000000001/W26REEF9399INFODE/content.jsp#par1

Some aircraft...
 
#11
That's one hell of an album, Alien!

Now to more prosaic matters:

i. When the Luftwaffe acquired the '104, almost all other fast-jet types were retired. Last to go were, I believe, the RF-84F Thunderflashes. The Sabres, Sea Hawks etc were all gone. Thus, if a jet crashed, it had to be a '104 - there were no other jets flying!

ii. One of the "problems" in the early days was the requirement to stand on nuclear alert, ready to drop buckets of instant sunshine on the WarPac hordes. Such was the poor serviceability in the early days (understandable in such a highly-complex aircraft) that after a Geschwader had generated 2 serviceable kites to stand alert, there were very few left for the important job of continuation training. I believe Steinhoff may have been responsible for addressing this issue. The Luftwaffe did not wish to lose face by not being able to play their part in the tripwire stance: it took a big man to 'fess-up to NATO and stand-down their nuclear forces so that pilots could get some stick-time.
 
#12
Some of the bad press the F-104G got was a bit unfair. The tendency for WW2 pilots to leap in and treat it like any other aircraft and find out the hard way that it wasn't is a good example, equally the training and currency issues already mentioned.

At one time the Lightning in RAF service actually had a worse loss rate - being as it was a trials aircraft rushed into service as the RAFs last manned fighter.
 
#13
The Luftwaffe’s first generation jets were the F-86 Sabre in the fighter role, F-84 Thunderstreak in the ground attack role and the RF-84 Thunderflash for reconnaissance.

One of the causes of the Luftwaffe’s problems with the F-104G was a lack of pilots and ground crews with extensive experience on supersonic jets. The leap from the subsonic jets caused a very steep learning curve which they found hard to cope with at first.

Interestingly, the Royal Norwegian Air Force also made the leap from the F-84, RF-84 and F-86 to the Starfighter, and they didn’t loose a single one during its service until it was replaced by the F-16.

The Italian Air Force also had a very good safety record with the aircraft, and they were one of the last to operate it, the upgraded F-104S version that could carry Sparrow AAM. The F-104G could only carry Sidewinders.
 
#14
The ting is. Norwegian Starfighters did not operate as low altitude attack aircraft like the German planes did.
And all Norwegian pilots associated with the Starfighter knew it was a difficult plane to fly.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#15
Norge said:
The ting is. Norwegian Starfighters did not operate as low altitude attack aircraft like the German planes did.
And all Norwegian pilots associated with the Starfighter knew it was a difficult plane to fly.
Aha but did the Norwegians ...

need a plane for bombing, strafing, assault and battery, interception, ground support and reconnaissance. Not just a fairweather fighter.
(see link)?

As mentioned by others, the links off the thread (repeated here:
http://www.starfarer.net/captlock.html
for ease of finding it again) make very interesting reading.

I have always had the urge to build model aircraft. Even though my penchant has always been for Spitfires, since I fell in love with this album earlier this year (see Amazon) I have wanted to build a Starfighter, but it seems that Starfighter kits are like Queen's Own Hussars (rockinghorse) droppings these days.

One of the links describes how the Italians absolutely had to retire their Starfighters in 2004
1. because there were no more parts cos the Septics had retired theirs in 1994 (IIRC) and
2. because Italy had signed up for the Eurofighter.
Otherwise I think they'd have kept on flying them forever.

I commend the links off the site to all readers.
 
#19
You did Basha, and many of them are now in the RAF museum.

The 190 I think came via that route. They used to do engine runs on it at St. Athan.

Maybe the RAF museum should have ground running days?
 
#20
Another Starfighter issue was that they were one of several US types to have a weird ejection seat. ISTR it ejected you DOWNWARDS...which was a problem at low altitude... F-111 had a complete ejection cockpit, which didn't work either. Yanks later ate humble pie and bought proper bang seats from Martin-Baker. I think the F-104Gs were retrofitted with them, and the casualty rate dropped dramatically.

Other bizarre Me109 variants included a licence-built Spanish job that used a surplus RR Merlin engine - must have gone the speed of heat! I think the Israelis operated a few.

Re bizarre German kit that ended up in the UK, I think the RAF got most of the planes (under an agreement, we were meant to get the V2 plant too, but the yanks reneged and shipped all the bits out of the country on the quiet - Wernher von Braun is said to have held a meeting of his top engineering team where they decided that a) there was no way they were going anywhere near the Russians, b) the French were not worth talking to, c) the British couldn't afford them, so d) they made a beeline for the US advanced guard), and also Hanna Reitsch's services - which was handy, but they could have done with listening to her.

RAE Farnborough insisted on test-flying the Heinkel 162 Volksjäger wooden whizzjet, despite Reitsch saying it was a death trap that would be better off burnt. Two dead test pilots later...remaining 162 locked up in museum.
 

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