FW 187 instead of BF110

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by wiking, Jun 8, 2012.

  1. wiking Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focke-Wulf_Fw_187

    What if the FW187 was developed in lieu of the Bf110? Rather than focusing on the POD or 'meta effects' (does Germany win the war), let's make this a discussion of the immediate and intermediate effects of the decision.

    Before we can discuss what the advantages/disadvantage of the aircraft were, let's get some basic information straighter and realize what the Wiki-article leaves out.

    Originally this aircraft was to fulfill the need for a long range escort fighter, but was 'shot down' by Udet after his take over of the technical department in 1936.

    Before that happened Udet tried to shoe horn the FW187 into the Zerstörer role to compete with Goering's envisioned need for a bomber destroyer.
    Of course the addition of a second crew member, a defensive rear machine gun, and the extras that go along with this dramatically reduced its performance, but left it still as more maneuverable and faster than the Bf110. Also it was never coupled with the DB601 in the single seat role, which the Bf110 had by 1939.

    So the FW187 would have had two DB601 fuel injections engines by the time it enters production in early/mid 1939 which would give it a speed of about 400mph flat out. It could also dive in excess of 500mph. It also climbed much faster than the Spitfire Mark I to boot and with the single seat and DB601s could out climb the later Marks as well. The first units would have been operational by the time of Weserübung, the invasion of Norway, in April 1940.

    By the time of Case Yellow, the invasion of the Lowlands and France, its fair to estimate that about 200+, about 2 geschwader, would be operational, with more on the way.
    Come July-August, even with losses, its conceivable that 300, about 3 geschwader, would have been available.

    This aircraft was just about as maneuverable as the Me109E, but much faster, which means that it cannot hope to maneuver with the Spitfire or Hurricane. Instead it would be a sublime "Boom and Zoom" aircraft, much like how the P38 dealt with the superbly maneuverable Zero in the Pacific.

    So for the Battle of Britain and beyond the FW187 wouldn't need escorting by the Me109's and could actually fly top cover for them.
    It could use many of the same tactics that the P51 used over Germany in 1944-5, loitering over airfields and bouncing British squadrons taking off, especially as early on the RAF had orders not to engage fighter sweeps.
    It also helps free up the Me109's to takle the Hurricanes while the faster FW187's dive on the Spitfires.

    What effects would this have on the course of events?

    Also for those worried about the lack of a nightfighter without the Bf110, the Ju88c heavy fighter was already in service in 1940 and was a much better nightfighter than the Bf110 and could take heavier radar gear than the slower and less maneuverable Bf110. This was also evidenced with the Ju88G, the purpose designed nightfigher, showed up after 1943 and was easily the best nightfighter Germany produced.
     
  2. Just Leo Well-Known Member

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    It would be intersting to see a comparison of the Falke vs Merlin/Whirlwind. Both aircraft failed to gain interest in officialdom because they cost more than a single-engine aircraft. Only the US seemed to have the surfeit of resources allowing Lightning production to proceed, and the demand for Lightnings never ended, often interfering with possible modifications to better perfomance because of the delay in production. Me-110 performance was considered outstanding up until it was found wanting, and that was only in an environment of defending Spitfires. OOPS.
     
  3. wiking Member

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    Eh, not exactly. The Fw187 was cancelled because it did not fit into Goering's vision of what was necessary for his air force and because he thought the Bf110 could fill multiple roles including long range escort.
    The professionals in the Luftwaffe hated the project, the Zerstörer, embodied by the Bf110, and Wever tried repeatedly to get it cancelled precisely because its performance was left wanting even from the design stages. Wever even lived, shortly, to see its ignominious debut with the prototype being very unmaneuverable and prone to serious ground looping. Even after the design was improved from these earlier problems, the aircraft was obviously too unwieldy for use as an escort against single engine interceptors, yet because of Goering's orders it was used that way, against the explicit advice of everyone familiar with the aircraft, and ended up getting Goering's nephew killed early in the Battle of Britain.

    In fact the speed bomber concept was separated from the Zerstörer by Wever, because he understood that the Jack-of-all-Trades is the master of none.

    It wasn't just Wever either; Richthofen tried to get that and the dive bomber cancelled while in the development branch of the technical department, as did Wimmer as the head of the department.

    Wever's death ensured that the Bf110 got built because it opposition was dead (Wever) or removed (Wimmer, Richthofen), while the FW187 lost its champion (Richthofen, who pushed the project heavily) after Udet replaced Wimmer (Goering thought he was too 'dull and pedantic' for trying to actually educate him in the necessities of modern aerial warfare technology).

    Have Goering die and Wever live and the Bf110 get cancelled the next day, while the FW187 gets approved.
     
  4. Just Leo Well-Known Member

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    I would have been in favor of the Falke, but I wasn't in charge. Neither was Wolfie. I would also have favored development of the He-100, but nobody asked me.

    focke_wulf_fw_187_falkesmall.png
     
  5. AdA Well-Known Member

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    Consensual alternative

    I think we'll all agree that the FW187 would be a much better use of resources than the Bf110. I personally think it could be, with proper engines, a german DH Hornet, available much earlier. The question is what impact it would have, and would it have been preferable to more single engined fighters, namely to a properly developed He100 with greater range and top speed than the Bf109.
     
  6. corditeman Corditeman

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    A winning team?

    Heinkel's brilliant work was better than Messerschmitt's, but not flamboyant enough for the top Nazis. Thank Heaven they were so stupid!

    He100 and FW187 would have been a nightmare for the Russians and the Allied air forces. But there's a more sinister possibility...

    ...Heinkel and Ohain built the first effective jet fighter (He178) before Willy Messerschmitt. If they had been listened to, I could see appalling day bomber losses. Furthermore, the Spatz (He162, Volksjager) might have been produced when it could make an impact. The Spatz would have been a nightmare - perfect for mass attacks, if steel was diverted from the useless V-weapons programme to make its bodywork and throwaway engine...
     
  7. Just Leo Well-Known Member

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    The He-178 was a research aircraft only, and the He-162 would possibly kill a lot of it's pilots, since it was hard to fly, and scheduled to be operated by the poorly trained.
     
  8. wiking Member

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    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinkel_He_100
    The HE100 wasn't in competition with the ME109, as the Me109 was in the generation of fighter before the He100. The HE112, which inspired the HE100, was a direct competitor of the ME109.

    The HE100 was in competition with the FW190 and the FW190 won because of the lack of DB engines.

    Unsolved Issues:
    http://mitglied.multimania.de/lastdingo/he100.htm
    This specifically is problematic; without upgradability it is only worthwhile to have short lifespan and would need to be replaced within a couple years of service, which was very costly to convert to another type. Not only that, but the high landing speeds make it much more prone to crashing on landing, potentially just as bad if not more so than the Me109 (BTW I'm not a fan of the Me109).

    There were also issues with the suface evaporation cooling, which was tried on every later generation German aircraft, even the FW187 (but was only tried with one of the later prototypes and quickly dropped), but was integral to the He100.

    I think the question is how much better was the He100 over the FW190 if at all, as it would end up replacing the 'butcher bird' and the ME109.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  9. wiking Member

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    Moving on from the HE100, let's get back to the FW187.
    What tactics could/would they use? What effect would it have on the Norway campaign, Case Yellow, the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, and so on?
     
  10. AdA Well-Known Member

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    He100 issues

    The He100 was, like the FW190, a 2nd gen german monoplane fighter. Unlike the FW190 it could have been in units in relevant numbers in time for BoB. Regarding the FW187, admitting a DB601 powered single seat version was avaiable for BoB, it would have a role not unlike the P38s when they first came to Europe and failed to make much of an impact on the LW.
     
  11. BlairWitch749 Banned

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    Very minimal with negative ripples later

    the entire concept of long range escort as the germans employed it was pointless

    namely they were only required on deep penetration raids against the UK in daylight... and even with longer ranged or somewhat better performing escorts it doesn't change the fact that the Germans didn't have the numbers to press the issue home and more to the point, British early warning radar saw them engage the raids as soon as they crossed the coast and harry them all the way in and out of the target, forcing escorts to break off due to low fuel/ammo allowing their fighters to get at the bombers

    longer term, the lack of flexibility that the ME-110 brought to the party would be missed

    the me-110 was a successful design; it just wasn't useful against single engine fighters; but in it's other roles and employments it was worth every penny
     
  12. AdA Well-Known Member

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    And could we please forget the evaporation cooling of the record setting He100V1 and realise that the He100D had a ventral radiator and did not have cooling issues?
    Regarding BoB, would you rather have, from the LW POW, a 1940 P38 or a 1940 P51? The FW187 would have been a lot better than the Bf110, sure, but what the LW needed was a single engined fighter with more range than than the BF109.
    if you look atbwha could be done within the DB601 power limits, the Kawasaki Hien was probably what they needed and could have had with proper design. The He100 was there, could have been built, and was more of a game changer than the FW187 would have been...
     
  13. wiking Member

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    What role did the Bf110 play, besides long range ground attack, that wasn't fulfilled by other aircraft in a FW187 scenario?

    The long range escort was sorely needed in the BoB and was useful in Norway and France, especially one that wasn't as vulnerable as the Bf110 proved in June against the British fighters flying out of Southern England.

    Also the FW187 wouldn't have just needed to escort as you suggest. It could linger over British airfields (they had about 1000 miles range from internal fuel tanks) and bounce fighter taking off, not to mention escort reconnaissance aircraft that were very often shot down during the BoB, costing the LW valuable intelligence. It could also run raid against British trains and deep airfields because of its range and speed, which made it very difficult to intercept. It also had the firepower to shoot down bombers in the Bomber Destroyer role at this point in the war.

    Modified recon versions could outrun anything the British had until the Mosquito, much like the recon Spitfire did for the British.

    Later, over Russia, the FW187 could escort deep missions against Russian fighter defenses, which became a problem from 1943 on, as the LW discovered over Kerch.
     
  14. wiking Member

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    Alright. But what about the high landing speeds and the very limited upgrade capabilities? I agree that in 1940 it would have been useful, but would not really have been available operationally until late 1940 after the BoB. From 1942 on it would have lost ground considerably in utility and after 1943 wouldn't be able to keep up in firepower of HP, as its frame couldn't take the later, bigger engines that the ME109 and FW190 did.

    The P38 was badly misused over Europe, but also fought an enemy whose advantages were shared by the P38, so its advantages weren't as great and the Germans were better trained than the Japanese when it was employed in both theaters.

    The Fw187 was a better aircraft than the P38 for its period and had major advantages over the Spitfire and Hurricane that put it in the category of the P38 vs. Zero. Also the British pilots weren't getting combat training at this time, so were qualitatively worse than their German opponents. Pilots not needing to worry about fuel and having such a speed, diving, and climbing advantage that it could literally decide when and where to fight would be far more effective in the BoB.

    As to the HE100 vs. Fw187, that's somewhat tricky. The Fw187 would be available much earlier, so would have time to train and build up their numbers. They could also develop tactics and build experience in easier campaigns in Norway and in France, so when the BoB rolled around the FW187 units would be ready in numbers to fight.

    The HE100 first flew in 1938 and it takes two years if there are few problems to get it into production. The HE100 link doesn't list when it enter production, other than to say 1940. So it probably wouldn't enter production until February 1940 at the earliest. It takes about 6 months to get a unit operational once it received all of its aircraft, as the pilots and ground crews need to familiarize themselves with their new aircraft.
    So the He100 would at the earliest be available in mid-August with 1 Geschwader. That's at full strength ~100 aircraft.
    From August on more Geschwader would become available, but the pilots would be still familiarizing themselves with the aircraft in combat and probably won't be a major factor in combat before mid-September to October, by which time the BoB was over.

    It could still be a useful aircraft after this period. But what about its strengths? It had very high wing loading, so wasn't good at turning, which was the advantage the British aircraft had over the Germans. Yes, it was faster and had good diving/climbing, so it would be a Boom and Zoom fighter, a better one than the Me109. But still unforgiving to the inexperienced pilot when landing.
    Basically its a later, single engine version of the FW187 with less range and less speed.

    The problem is that the units that switch out their Me109s wouldn't be available during France or the early part of BoB and usually the veteran units were given the new models first, so the best post-Poland German fighter pilots won't be available until August-September 1940. There would also be fewer Me109's, which were in short supply anyway in July-August 1940 compared to the available number of pilots, as the He100 also took the DB601 engine.

    If I had to chose I would chose the FW187 because it would be operational in number in May 1940, so would have more units in the sky in August and September and would do the same thing with better range, speed, and dive/climb. Post 1940 the He100 would be great, but by then the FW190 was available and I would take the FW190 over the HE100 because of its upgradability.
     
  15. Faralis Potato Anarchist

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    For example, night fighters required a radar operator ... FW187 needs a redesign to do that, the Bf110 no
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  16. wiking Member

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    Ju88C
    http://www.historyofwar.org/articles/weapons_ju88C.html
    http://www.wwiivehicles.com/germany/aircraft/night-fighters/junkers-ju-88c.asp
    It was a better nightfighter than the Bf110 and was much more adaptable to the AIR than the BF110. There was a reason that the Luftwaffe was putting so much pressure on getting the ME210 operational in 1941-2.
    Until 1942 the Germans didn't have AIR so spotted just by sight, which gave the Ju88c the edge because there were more eyes, heavier weapons, and more speed, plus wasn't slowed down by the AIR when it became available.

    Later Ju88G
    http://www.airpages.ru/eng/lw/ju88g.shtml

    OTL the Bf110 was used because it was the only role it was good for after August 1940. Come Barbarossa, where it could have actually made a contribution and use its strengths, though being hopelessly outdated by that point, as was evidenced by the LW taking it out of production by that point in favor of the soon-to-be-cancelled-for-its-failures ME210, there were only 51 aircraft (!!!) assigned to Barbarossa.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messerschmitt_Bf_110_operational_history
    Even the fighter-bomber role was done better by the Fw190F. Until the time that it was available it was cheaper and more accurate to use the Ju87D and G series, the HS129B and C, and HS123C (ideally if it weren't cancelled).
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  17. BlairWitch749 Banned

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    The FW wouldn't have been well adaptable for scouting, fighter bombing, artillery spotting and night fighting which the 110 did admirably

    The sorely needed in BOB is misplaced, it was only needed for daylight deep penetration raids which were still disasters waiting to happen anyway due to the British early warning network and the german lack of numbers; you are talking about a minor difference in total kill count the fw is strategically insignificant versus all the handicaps the LW brought to the BOB

    versus and France it doesn't matter as France had no early warning network and crappy AA guns, so the LW could get away with a lot of surprise bombing

    the other missions you mentioned are plot holeish

    standing patrol over bases gets handled by the British linging up light flak near the airfields (as was done in 44 to protect the me-262 fields which will lead to prohibitive losses... escorting recon aircraft will see them overwhelmed by numbers, the British vectored multiple squadrons onto the recon aircraft to test their radar network; the germans will still have to operate at high altitude to reduce interception, which reduces picture quality and the quality of intel (an otl problem)

    hitting train's is out (despite British vulnerability) as those targets were reserved for sealion

    the 110 was fine as a bomber destroyer if not better due to the nose layout taking a shitload of cannons which wouldn't be adaptable to the 187

    whilst it would be fine for recon, that role was already well filled by the ju-88

    it wasn't required for russia... and the losses over kerch where a question of not only the LW being outnumbered like hell, but the Russians committed 4 of their best guards fighter regiments to the theater which ground the LW down like hell

    superior speed is not a war winner; the ME-109k's war record versus slightly slower late model spitfires and mustangs was not super impressive
     
  18. Just Leo Well-Known Member

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    Re: He-100, the engine cooling was not perfected and the wing loading was high. Regarding the FW-190, it started out with the engine cooling not perfected and the wing loading too high. The FW prototypes started with 15 sq meters of wing and it was enlarged to 18.3 in subsequent production. The He-100 had 14.5 sq meters to carry 5500 lbs of airframe. The FW had 18.3 to carry over 9,000 lbs of airplane. If you do the math, you will note that the FW has the higher loading, something I mention when the FW is suggested for ship-board use. Had the Heinkel adopted the wing of the Folgore, 16.82 sq meters, or Ki-61, 20 sq meters, whole new ball game. Engine cooling problems would be solved by going conventional, or better yet, Meredith effect.

    Re; Me-110 night fighter. I have read that the Ju-88 was a superior machine as well. I don't believe everything that I read. We could ask Germany's night ace, Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer, 121 confirmed, but he was killed in Bordeaux in 1950 when tanks fell upon his open roadster, proving that whining isn't a good thing. During the war, he was Me-110 exclusive.
     
  19. wiking Member

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    Agreed, but were those functions really necessary from the Bf110? There were plenty of different scouting aircraft, including Do17s, more accurate dive bombers in the Ju87 that was capable of glide bombing, as was the Ju88 IOTL that could dive at 60 degrees, same as the Bf110 and could achieve the same accuracy. The Ju88C was a bomber destroyer too and was also a fighter bomber with greater range and the same bomb load. There were dedicated artillery spotting aircraft like the Fiesler Stork or FW189. Night fighting had the Ju88C and later G.

    Not just deep penetration bombing raids. The fighter could be used to target Coastal Command patrols over the Atlantic and near Northern Ireland/Liverpool.

    It will also add extra firepower to bombing raids and free up more Me109s to hit the Hurricanes instead of having to tangle with the Spitfires. An extra 300 fighters is a massive improvement over OTL, as at the start of BoB the Germans only had 850 Me109s and the number dropped to a low of 600 by the end, which means that the additional 300+ would push available fighters to over 1100 aircraft.

    Add to that the linger capability over airfields before a bombing raid and British losses go up. It was somewhat possible that more losses to the RAF fighter command would have pushed them north, which 300+ versatile long range fighters with a massive speed advantage, meaning it could dictate combat terms, would have a major effect on the battle considering that this was about 1/3rd of ME109s available.

    Nevertheless bombers still needed escorts during the fighting, such as in Case Red and over Dunkirk.

    Stay above the range of light flak. Not only that, but light flak is then not available for use around cities and the British had a major shortage of AA in 1940-1. I'm not saying the recon escort is perfect, but it could appear to radar operators as a fighter sweep, which the RAF was ordered to ignore from July on.

    What about when sealion is cancelled?

    The firepower of the FW187 and Bf110 in the air was the same in 1940 and 1941.

    Okay. The FW187 was faster, so had an advantage in daylight.

    Support from more than just Me109s and Fw190s would have made the situation less bad, though still less than happy.

    The K series actually degraded the performance compared to the F series. The F was the furthest the airframe could be stretched. Usually in air combat in WW2 speed was better than not having it.



    Fair point. Still, I'm not sure that replacing the FW190 would be totally advisable, even though the HE100 is starting to look better.

    The Ju88 was a superior night fighter, better than the later He129 too. It could mount heavier equipment and weapons without being slowed down.

    In early night fighting, spotting with the naked eye was critical and the Ju88C had three pairs of eyes facing forward, rather than the Bf110 with one pair facing forward, one backward. The Ju88C and G wasn't slowed down by the 1942 addition of radar as the BF110 was and could also mount the Schragmüsik, which the Bf110 couldn't.

    It was also more versatile in that it could carry bombs and conduct intruder raids in Britain, which were really effective in 1941-2 until Hitler cancelled them for political reasons (he wanted wreckage of British bombers to be photographed, which they couldn't do if the wrecks were in Britain).

    The Bf110 was used OTL too because it was only thing on hand that was free. Given the situation pre-1942 they were effective enough, but the Ju88C and G were better in their era, 1940-43 and 43-45 respectively.
     
    Last edited: Jun 9, 2012
  20. SactoMan101 Well-Known Member

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    I think if the Fw 187 with two DB 601's had been available, the relatively long range (operational radius probably well beyond that of the Bf 109E-3) and its very high stop speed for its day would have meant any twin-engined British warplane (e.g., the Bristol Beaufighter) would have been a sitting duck for the Fw 187, operating as far north as Manchester from French bases. And the Fw 187 would probably have switched to the DB 605 engine with an improved wing by middle-late 1942, and Germans could have a twin-engined fighter with probably around 440 mph top speed, which would have made it a perfect plane to "bounce" the de Havilland DH. 98 Mosquito.