Home Forums Air and Sea Air How would you rate WWII fighters?

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  • #153641
    Thomaston
    Participant

    If you could only use a single number from 1-5 to rate fighters what aspect of the aircraft would you use to rank them.

    Examples of some I have been playing with.
    Performance
    The single number represent speed-maneuverability relatinship, the higher the number means faster, lower numbers means more agile, a rating of 3 represent a balanced fighter. Far from perfect and I’ve found a lot of exceptions.

    Handling
    This is how easy the aircraft was to fly, the logic is a forgiving fighter would perform better in the hands of a rookie while a punishing one needs experienced pilots. Problem I ran into is planes like I-153 being rated the best while good but temperamental planes like F4U gets rated low.

    Kill ratio
    This one is a can of worms. Rating depends a lot on opponents than actual aircraft performance and data needs a lot of sorting through to isolate fighter-fighter numbers if its even available.

    I’ve open to ideas, really looking for out of the box thinking here.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153642
    John D Salt
    Participant

    If you could only use a single number from 1-5 to rate fighters what aspect of the aircraft would you use to rank them.

    Examples of some I have been playing with.
    Performance
    The single number represent speed-maneuverability relatinship, the higher the number means faster, lower numbers means more agile, a rating of 3 represent a balanced fighter. Far from perfect and I’ve found a lot of exceptions.

    I’m not wholly clear what you’re proposing — you use the word “rank”, but the example suggests a categorisation where class 1 has less speed, but more maneouvrability, than class 5. Choosing five categories of fighter (say “Butterfly”, “Dogfighter”, “Hotrod”, “Powerhouse”, and “Heavyweight” (or “Outhouse”)) is much easier, and probably a better reflection of reality, than a monotonic linear scale.

    Assuming that it’s a monotonic scale we want, I’d suggest the factors that dominate fighter performance are, in order of importance:

    1. Pilot quality. Having extensive areas with good weather and no enemy interference for young pilots to be trained in will help.
    2. Power to weight ratio. This directly affects acceleration, but will also tend to be associated with high speed, good rate of climb, and sustained turn performance. Access to 100 octane aviation spirit will help.
    3. Punch. Cannon are better than heavy MGs are better than rifle-calibre MGs, the more weapons the merrier, and so much the better if they can be mounted close to the centreline and not firing through the airscrew. Probably more important is the ability to score hits, which depends largely on gunsights; computing sights are best, twice as good as reflecting sights, and ring-and-bead sights are worst.
    4. Protection. This encompasses both structural strength and armour.
    5. Nimbleness. This includes attained rate of turn and roll rate. Fowler flaps will help, but probably more important are servo-assisted controls and G-suits.
    6. Fenestration. Field of vision is aided by a bubble canopy with minimal framing.

    Note how the Western allies would score well because of the availability of extensive safe training areas in the USA and Canada, US production of 100 octane fuel, and the late-war presence of computing gunsights and G-suits.

    All the best,

    John.

    #153643
    Thomaston
    Participant

    “I’m not wholly clear what you’re proposing”
    I’m looking for a simple way of rating how good a WWII fighter is. Looking for a single number, preferaly 1-5.

    Pilot quality I’m using as a separate factor.
    Nimbleness – this was my first go to, but there’s too many variables and the monster of a formular I came up with to calculate wasn’t very accurate to history.

    I like the Thrust/Weight ratio idea, since it’s objective number crunching. But the numbers I ran found a lot of late war aircraft coming in the middle with a lot of the less impressive types like Ki-44 and early war lighter aircraft (P-36, I-153) giving better mumbers than late war aircraft.

    Is the idea too abstract/impossible? Should I just use numbers from boardgame counters?

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153652
    deephorse
    Participant

    “I’m looking for a simple way of rating how good a WWII fighter is. Looking for a single number, preferaly 1-5.”

    As I read this sentence I thought to myself, “why not look at some air war boardgames, they usually distill combat values down to just one or two numbers?”

    And then you write this!

    “Should I just use numbers from boardgame counters?”

     

    Trust science, not the scientists.

    #153654
    irishserb
    Participant

    John offers a great post above.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to do with the numbers, but the first only tells us if the aircraft has balance in its performance characteristics, giving no info about relative quality as it relates to those characteristics.

    In WWII, I’m convinced that roll rate is far more important than turn rate, and much of the time, more important than speed or rate of climb, and any of these characteristics are relative to whether you are focused on the attack or defense.  Roll rate keeps you alive, but can’t get you out of the fight, speed can get you out of the fight.

    Ease of handling is probably more or less important depending on the country’s training situation.  Important to late war Germany, not so much for the US.  Pilots that get to train for a long time in an unforgiving aircraft, get past ease of handling issues.

    Kill ratio probably doesn’t really tell us much, the ratio is qualified by the circumstances in which it was achieved.  A great aircraft with barely trained pilots, grossly outnumbered but good pilots in a fair aircraft is in probably in trouble relative to kill ratio.

    An Oscar is tremendously maneuverable and a challenge to shoot down if pilots are equal, but is never a great threat, as its two 30 caliber guns just don’t put out that much lead.  Even type of weapon in abundance can be hard to qualify.  The four 20mm in an FW190D are brutal, but so are the eight .50s in a P47, just with a shorter engagement envelope.

    Toughness is a big, big  deal.  That P47 is almost never getting shot down by that Oscar, despite the quick roll rate and amazing turn.  The Oscar just doesn’t carry enough lead.  And all the P47 needs is that one shot, and it will cut the Oscar in half.

    Again, I don’t know how you plan to use the numbers, but if I were going to rate the aircraft in a relative sense, I would use a cumulative number for the basic performance characteristics, modified by pilot skill, lethality, and toughness.  You can still have a 1-5 number result, though maybe 1-10 would give a better relative range for overall “goodness” of the aircraft as a weapon.

    #153661
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    Assigning an aircraft a ‘kill ratio’ is pointless. Planes don’t kill things, pilots do.

     

    “I’m looking for a simple way of rating how good a WWII fighter is. Looking for a single number, preferaly 1-5.” As I read this sentence I thought to myself, “why not look at some air war boardgames, they usually distill combat values down to just one or two numbers?” And then you write this! “Should I just use numbers from boardgame counters?”

    Battleline/Avalon Hill’s ‘Air Force and its expansion ‘Dauntless’ is the ne plus ultra of the genre. The aircraft characteristic cards are a thing of beauty and genius. Detailed, playable and fun.

    https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/3608/air-force

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #153672
    Thomaston
    Participant

    @irishserb
    I’ve tried many years to come up with a formular to give aircraft stats (not even a single number) based on it’s specifications, speed, engine power, wing loading etc. Had never managed to get satisfactory results from increasingly complex claculatons. I’ve given up on that now. It really doesn’t amtter what the range for teh rating is I’m basucally looking for a single number that approximate aircraft performance.

    @Not Conard Sage
    That game is on the opposite end of the spectrum I was loking for 🙂

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153673
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    . @Not Conard Sage That game is on the opposite end of the spectrum I was loking for 🙂

    Perhaps, but there’s a lot in it that can be distilled down 😉

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #153676
    Thomaston
    Participant

    @Not Connard Sage
    Ahhhhhhhhh, I see. That is a good idea.


    @deephorse

    My only problem with using numbers from boardgames is they don’t have everything aircraft I want.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153677
    Nathaniel Weber
    Participant

    For my own purposes, part of the interest of air combat gaming is the interplay between different aircraft capabilities, which I think would need to be more granular than rating them 1-5. However, if you were going for a 1-5, I would say make the number scenario specific.

    If your scenario is a high-altitude intercept over NW Europe in early 1944, rate your planes on an amalgam of power-to-weight and roll ability, with a special +1 or -1 for really tough or really fragile planes, and factor in pilot quality.

    If your scenario is a low-altitude turning fight over the SW Pacific, maneuverability and roll are the things of greatest importance, again with a +1 or -1 for tough/fragile.

    This would mean that the same aircraft will be rated differently depending on the game.

    For NW Europe, a P-47 might be a 5 (tough, good roll, superior pilots), early P-51 a 4 (high power, superior pilots), an ME-109 might be a 3 (fragile, inferior pilots), and an FW 190 a 4 (good weapons, lousy pilots).

    For early SW Pacific, a Zero might be a 5 (maneuverable, excellent pilot, deadly armament), a P-40 a 3, a KI-43 oscar a 3 (good pilot and maneuverability, but poor armament and fragile). But for later pacific, that Zero would fall to a 3 or 4 as P-40s improved (keeping them at a 3, but giving Lightnings a 4?), and the Oscar would fall to a 2.

    This could make for a nice and simple conventional game; perhaps allow players to put their aircraft anywhere within a certain radius (say, within 4″ of their frontal arc, or within 2″ of their rear arc, changing facing a certain amount) and giving the player with the better ratings more dice to shoot or similar.

    #153678
    Thomaston
    Participant

    @Nathanial Weber
    I’ve been taking that path so far but had problem because I wanted to mix aircraft from all theater. I think there were a few accounts fo F4U and F6F in Europe but now way to compare Fw190 and A6M.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153679
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    @Nathanial Weber I’ve been taking that path so far but had problem because I wanted to mix aircraft from all theater. I think there were a few accounts fo F4U and F6F in Europe but now way to compare Fw190 and A6M.

     

    You’ll be needing the ‘Dauntless’ expansion. Along with time, patience and practice 🙂

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #153680
    Thomaston
    Participant

    I took a look at Air Force aircraft card. It looks like a board game of aircraft flying.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153685
    Not Connard Sage
    Participant

    I took a look at Air Force aircraft card. It looks like a board game of aircraft flying.

     

    Nah that would be SPI’s ‘Air War’ :p

    If you can give me a detailed! idea of what you’re looking to achieve, I’ll take a look at my copy and see if I can kick some thoughts around.

     

    It’s not like I’ll be going out anywhere in the foreseeable.

    "I go online sometimes, but everyone's spelling is really bad. It's... depressing."

    #153686
    Thomaston
    Participant

    “If you can give me a detailed! idea of what you’re looking to achieve, I’ll take a look at my copy and see if I can kick some thoughts around.”

    Honestly, want to see if anyone has ideas on rating aircraft performance. I’m hoping to create a uniform system so I can apply to all aircraft by increasing the value range and then I can make up some rules based around the stats. I’m not looking for supper accurate results I’m fine with F6F, F4U P-51D and Fw190D all grouped into one rating as long as there is a simple way to derive the value and still roughly represent actual perfromance.

    One of my idea was grouping aircraft by time period. biplanes would have a value of 1, early war planes a value of 2, mid war 3, late war 4 and jets 5. I could expand it with Korean war jets as 6. This is a little simplistic and there’s a lot of problems with different variants of th same aircraft.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153689
    zippyfusenet
    Participant

    Thomaston, I agree with the posters who say it is very difficult to distill all the variables of WWII fighter performance into a single figure-of-merit, and limiting yourself to a 1 to 5 scale across all aircraft types in all theaters for the entire duration of the war makes the problem more difficult.

    If you want to see an attempt at something like that, you might look at the counter sets for the old, long OOP Europa series of board wargames. The designers for those games rated the relative combat abilities of squadrons of aircraft on a universal scale across all of WWII in Europe. A fighter squadron was rated for: attack strength, defense strength, bomb load and range. For instance, a Bf-109E has values 7, 5, 1, 7. For your purposes, you can ignore the bomb factor and range, and average the attack and defense strengths. However, the scale of values in Europa is greater than 1 to 5, so you’ll need to re-scale the resulting values. I know where you can find images of these counter sheets, if you want to wade through them.

    Instead, I suggest you take a simplistic, subjective approach. On your scale of 1 to 5, pretty much every modern WWII fighter is a 3. Early war fighters that did poorly, like the Fokker D-21 or the Buffalo, or later fighters with deficient performance like the Boomerang are 2s. Totally obsolete death traps like the PZL-11 or the Wirraway are 1s. Outstanding late war fighters like the Mustang and FW-190 are 4s. Jets, like the Me-262 and P-80 are 5s.

    I see now that you were posting something similar to this suggestion while I was typing. It really seems to be the best approach to what you want.

    You'll shoot your eye out, kid!

    #153690
    Thomaston
    Participant

    @Zippy

    Thanks for the suggestion I’ll check Europa out. I’ve been sifting through counter sheet images of Avlanche Press’s Second World War At Sea games. They’re close to what I’m looking for but lacking a few types.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153692
    Etranger
    Participant

    It’s almost impossible to define a fighter’s quality in terms of a single number from 1-5, unless you’re also dividing up the selection criteria too. For example take the Brewster Buffalo – a dog of a fighter in USN/USMC or RAF/RAAF/DEI hands against the Japanese in 1941-1942, perhaps 2/5. In Finnish hands against the Russians in the same time period? 4/5. Granted it was not exactly the same model of aircraft, but to divide it up further would be extremely granular.

    #153693
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Given your criteria, I would start from speed and then modify, usually downwards, if there is a specific reason to do so.  I would ignore any factor which was directly linked to pilot quality since that can pick up lots of other stuff.  I pretty much did this when I was messing about with my own version of Bob Cordery’s Portable Air Wargame rules and it worked fine.

    The other measurement I would use is what replaced what, modified slightly by role and reputation.  Air Forces in WW2 were trying to constantly upgrade, so I would just assume that aircraft got ‘1’ better when replaced by a significantly different type or marque, e.g.

     

    1 – Biplanes, obviously outdated early monoplane fighters, oddball design errors (e.g. P-26, Skuas, I-16s, Defiants, Blenheim IFs)

    2 – Average early war fighters (Hurricane, 109D and earlier, MB152, Bf110Cs, Oscars, LaGG-1, Buffalos)

    3 – Best early war fighters, Average mid war fighters (Spitfire I-V, Bf109E-G, P40s, Zeros, Typhoons)

    4 – Best mid-war fighters, Average late war fighters (Fw190A, P47s, Spitfire IXs, P51Bs, Bf109Ks, MiG-3s, Tojos)

    5 – Best late war fighters (Tempest, P51D, late-marque Spitfires, Fw190D)

    6 – Jets

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #153705
    Benjamin Cato
    Participant

    As a way of comparing aircraft the one plane that flew in all the major theatres was the Hurricane, so if the Hurricane is a 2 then you can compare all fighters that fought the Hurricane directly or flew at the same time as the Hurricane and then use this as a starting point for subsequent aircraft.

    Of course how “thick” are the bands? Is it meant to be a bell curve or just linear?

    #153710
    Thomaston
    Participant

    @Etranger
    I agree it’s almost impossible, but it’s that “almost” that keeps giving me hope of one day pulling it off 😀

    @Benjamin
    Thanks, I’ll use the Hurricane as base. I don’t really care if the band skewed one way or another, I’m just looking for a passable comparison of performance.

    @Whirlwind
    1-3 looks a lot like what I have now bar a plane or two. I think doing variants is a must because performance varied so much through the war. I’ve been playing with keeping each type to a single model (most produced) and it was making the results weird.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153713
    warwell
    Participant

    You may want to check out the Down in Flames card game. Aircraft are rated by just a few numbers – performance, speed, horsepower, and damage.

    #153714
    John D Salt
    Participant

    If only to console Thomaston that he is not a lone voice barking in the wilderness when it comes to melting aircraft performance down into a single number, I refer everyone to the Ps number developed by Boyd (yes, that Boyd, the bloke with the loop) and Christie (no, not tank suspension Christie, another one). This is calulated as Ps = speed x ((thrust – drag) / weight). Apologies for not mentioning it earlier, I had forgotten all about it until I stumbled across a reference to it in an old spreadsheet. The relevant Wikipedia article is at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energy%E2%80%93maneuverability_theory

    I like the Thrust/Weight ratio idea

    Boyd uses thrust-to-weight, because he’s talking jets. I said power-to-weight, because that’s the number I have used to date, and it’s the one you are usually given for propeller-driven aircraft. It would be nice to be able to covert to thrust-to-weight, first, because of the intuitive meaning of a thrust-to-weight ratio of 1.0, and because this would then include the effects of propeller efficiency, which can make an appreciable difference to performance (consider, for example, the Thunderbolt before and after fitting the paddle-bladed prop). Unfortunately, the only maths I have been able to find so far that deals with propeller efficiency is, or produces, useless glurge.

    In WWII, I’m convinced that roll rate is far more important than turn rate, and much of the time, more important than speed or rate of climb, and any of these characteristics are relative to whether you are focused on the attack or defense.

    Indeed. On the basis of combat reputation, I’d say that the P-47, the Fw-190 and the F4U Corsair were aircraft of otherwise fairly undistinguished characteristics (though the Corsair did have a beast of an engine) that had a high rate of roll. Also, it’s easy to see that the effect of turn rate must be severely limited by the onset of GLOC (G-induced Loss Of Consciousness, or “blacking out”). A few calculations of turn rates well within the abilities of WW2 fighters show how quickly G limits are reached, and I suspect that there must have been a lot more blacking-out than one might think from reading accounts of air combat. No surprise if it’s badly under-reported: first, pilots suffering episodes of GLOC are known to fail to recollect them afterwards, and, second, suffering a temporary loss of consciousness in the middle of a dogfight can easily lead to a permanent loss of consciousness through being dead. This is why the possession of G-suits matters. People who enjoy extreme equipment-centric technerdery can try to quantify the effect of seat positioning on onset of GLOC; people who prefer squishy human factors can point out that there is a massive variation between individuals in resistance to blacking-out when squished, and training can help (learn to grunt).

    Battleline/Avalon Hill’s ‘Air Force and its expansion ‘Dauntless’ is the ne plus ultra of the genre. The aircraft characteristic cards are a thing of beauty and genius. Detailed, playable and fun.

    Detailed, certainly. It is however one of the two air wargames in my collection I do not enjoy playing (apart from “Birds of Prey” which I have not yet been brave enough to try, but which makes “Air War” look like a folio game). The other is “Mustangs”, which is so beautifully produced that I desperately want to like it. Unfortunately it has the same designer as “Air Force”, and for some reason — I think it’s the charts — I have never liked any game designed by S Craig Taylor, with the sole exception of “Machiavelli”, which is brilliant, but doesn’t help much with WW2 fighters. “Mustangs” is probably easier than “Air Force” to ransack for performance details, because each aircraft type is rated for looping, rolling, and turning ability, as well as speed, power, gunnery, ceiling, and possession of a bubble canopy. A horrifically complete listing of “Mustangs” ratings for fighters of various kinds is given in “The General”, vol. 30, no.5, available Harry Freeman’s here: https://www.vftt.co.uk/files/AH%20The%20General/The%20General%20Vol%2030%20No%205.pdf

    It might also be worth pointing out the miniatures rules, with the odd title “Air Pirates”, that are derived from “Mustangs”: http://www.warflag.com/mustangs/rules.html

    The ultritude of “Air Force” may have been unplussable circa 1978, but since 1993 I think most air wargamers would acknowledge the superiority of Jim Webster’s “Fighting Wings” series.

    I was rather hoping to post the results of some spreadsheet number-crunching using my own half-arsed version of Boyd’s Ps number, but my MacBook Air seems to have entered a terminal sulk this morning, so I have lost a bit of work, and the numbers are all Wikipedia stuff because my 3-vol set of Mondey’s WW2 aircraft books is hiding from me.

    Expect more drivel from me later.

    All the best,

    John.

    #153718
    Thomaston
    Participant

    Ps magic algebra.
    I’ve used the one for Fox Two Reheat years ago but despite the complexity I didn’t like the results much (was for jet aircraft). It was also difficult tracking down loaded weight for aircraft of some countries that only list empth and MTOW. Then add all the manipulation to amke the numbers fit the range I want them in, it becomes ugly very fast.

    The algorithm is below.
    http://www.aandagames.co.uk/f2r.html


    @warwell

    I’ve checked that out. If all else fails I’ll check it again and take an average of all the stats because I’d hate to come up with a formular to condense them down to a single number.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153739
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Ps magic algebra.
    I’ve used the one for Fox Two Reheat years ago but despite the complexity I didn’t like the results much

    That’s vastly more intricate than the Boyd and Christie formula.

    It was also difficult tracking down loaded weight for aircraft of some countries that only list empth and MTOW.

    Annoying, isn’t it? What I do in that case is take the mid-point between empty and maximum weights. Of course in real life the weight of an aircraft is constantly changing as it burns fuel and expends ordnance, just as the power/thrust is constantly changing as it changes altitude, so it is futile to worry too much about the precision of a number that wobbles about anyway.

    I promised more drivel, and now that I have restored the work I lost and punched in rather more aircraft details than I originally meant to, I can present another set of results you won’t like very much. I used googled numbers, mostly from Wikipedia pages or Air Vectors, and applied the Boyd/Christie formula using power instead of thrust.

           Br            Fr            Ge            It            Jp            SU            US
    5  Spitfire 24                 Fw 190D-9                   N1K-J Shiden   Yak-3       
       Spitfire XIV                                            Ki-84 Hayate   La-7        
       Spitfire IX                                                            La-5
       Spitfire XII
       Tempest V
    4  Spitfire V                  Fw 190A       Macchi 205 V  Ki-44 Shoki    Yak-1       P-51H Mustang
       Typhoon IB                  Bf 109G                     A6M5 Zero      LaGG-3      P-51D Mustang
                                   Bf 109F                                                P-63A Kingcobra
                                   Me 410                                                 P-39Q Airacobra
       	                                                                              P-38L Lightning
                                                                                          F4U Corsair
    3  Mosquito FB VI  MB 152      Bf 109E       Re 2005       Ki-43 Hayabusa Yak-9       P-38J Lightning
       Whirlwind I     D 520       Me 210        Macchi 205 N  A6M2 Zero      MiG-1       P-51B Mustang
       Spitfire IIA                Bf 110C       Fiat G55      Ki-61 Hien     MiG-3       P-39D Airacobra
       Spitfire IA                               Macchi 200    A5M4           I-16        P-51A Mustang
                                                 Fiat G50      Ki-27          Yak-7A      P-47D Thunderbolt
                                                                                          F6F-5 Hellcat
                                                                                          F2A-2 Buffalo
    2  Beaufighter X   MS 406                    Fiat CR 42    Ki-45 Toryu    I-153       F4F-3 Wildcat
       Hurricane IIC                                                                      P40E Warhawk
       Hurricane I
       Gladiator I
       Firefly I 
       Fulmar II
       Defiant I   
    1  Skua II                                   Fiat CR 32 
    

    The two good things that can be said about that categorisation are that 1. it is based on an objective criterion, and 2. it is slightly less stupid than some other possible categorisations.

    A lot of the band splits one can readily agree with, especially within nationalities. However some things are obviously stupid. No top-category aircraft for the Americans? Really? Buffalo better than a Wildcat? What craziness is this? The method seems to systematically discriminate against American aircraft, and in favour of Russian and Japanese ones.

    I think there are three things that might rescue this kind of procedure:

    1. Do something to reduce the weighting given to power-to-weight ratio. As things stand, the performance of high power-to-weight machines is overstated, doubtless because using power where the formula wants thrust misses out the reduction caused by including propeller efficiency. In the absence of any data on that, picking a believable global fudge-factor to apply across all aircraft is the best we can do. Anyone have an idea of a hand-wavingly global number for propeller efficiency?

    2. Add a factor to incorporate the value of armament and protection. American aircraft, being typically well armed and well protected, should profit.

    3. Try to estimate the benefits of servo-assisted controls and g-suits. The reason that Thunderbolts could massacre Bf-109Gs was not so much that the Jug was hugely superior in numerical measures of flying characteristics (it’s got a higher top end, but worse power loading and wing loading) as the fact that the 109s, lacking servo-assitance, had flight controls that became impossibly heavy to move at very high speeds. Similarly, the fabled agility of Japanese fighters became unusable at high speeds, for the same reason.

    Finally, I’m tempted to suggest that six categories might ultimately enable a less daft categorisation than is possible in five. Consider RAF fighters; it seems clear to me that the Hurricane is an improvement on the Gladiator, the Spitfire I is an improvement on the Hurricane, the Spitfire V is an improvement on the Spitfire I, the Spit IX on the V, and the XIV on the IX. But to show all those differences you need 6 categories. Is there a particular reason to want 5?

    All the best,

    John.

    #153744
    Thomaston
    Participant

    Reason for range band of 5 are
    1-5 results fits on a D6 roll with an extra value for spiffiness.
    1-5 had a clear middle number of 3.
    1-5 isn’t too much to remember. Having 6 groups of aircraft to remember is a pain, preferably 3 would be good but grouping WWII fighters in 3 groups is just crazy.

    I like the look of your table. I’m ok with US aircraft not having anything in the 5 range since their performance had always seemed mediocre to me. Factoring in pilot experience will probably bump the planes up in game. From a gaming perspective it gives flavors to the nationality.

    Did you take Drag as 0? if not how did you derived it?

    I think power-weight ratio might be the most important thing. At the very least it affects how long a plane can sustain a turn or regain speed form a maneuver.

    At the risk of over complicating the formula. What do you think of adding firepower and durability? Firepower could be weight of a 3s burst, but protection will be pretty subjective. I can see a few Japanese, Italian and Russian planes dropping from this. It’ll probably result in US planes staying bunched up.

    I’ve minimize the issue you mentioned with the Gladiator-Hurricane-Spitfires by only using the most produced variant of each type. Mostly this was so I wouldn’t need minis to represent every variants or identify them correctly. In the end I ended up making life harder. Now I have to find which variant was the most produced and track down variant specific performance data.

    F2A vs F4F is one of those weird thing I’m not sure how to deal with. On paper and out of combat F2A looks better than F4F. I’m one of those weird people who like the F2A and think what happened at Midway was a perfect storm of green pilots in overweight aircraft vs elites in superior aircraft. There’s a lot of bad press about the F2A and one of them was engine over heating. Coincidnce that the only place it was successful was in the Winter War? Stuff like these flaws aren’t factored into the specs.

    I feel like in order to produce this list of highly abstracted performance value I’ll have to do some deep research. Starting with finding engine envelope charts for every engines used on WWII fighters so I can have accurate output at the chosen altitude range.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153768
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Given your criteria, I would start from speed and then modify, usually downwards, if there is a specific reason to do so.

    As an exercise in brutal simplification, I tried bunching my spreadsheet entries using the single criterion of top speed.

    Here’s another slab of tabulated drivel:

           Br            Fr            Ge            It            Jp            SU            US
    5  Spitfire 24                 Fw 190D-9                                              P-51H Mustang
       Spitfire XIV                                                                       F4U Corsair                          
    
    4  Tempest V                   Bf 109F-G     Macchi 205N    Ki-84 Hayate   La-7       P-51 Mustang           
       Typhoon IB                  Fw 190A       Re 2005        N1K-J Shiden   La-5       P-47 Thunderbolt
       Spitfire IX                 Me 410                                      Yak-3      P-63A Kingcobra               
       Spitfire XII                                                            MiG-3      P-38 Lightning
                                                                               MiG-1      P-39Q Airacobra
                                                                                          F65 Hellcat
    
    3  Spitfire I-V     D.520       Me 210       Fiat G55       Ki-44 Shoki    Yak-9      P-39D Airacobra
       Hurricane IIC                Bf 109E      Macchi 205V    Ki-61 Hien     Yak-7      P-40E Warhawk
       Whirlwind I                  Bf 110C                     Ki-45 Toryu    Yak-1      F4F Wildcat
       Mosquito FB VI                                           Ki-43 Hayabusa LaGG-3     
                                                                Ki-100-I       LaGG-1
                                                                A6M2-5 Zero
    
    2  Hurricane I      MB.152                   Macchi 200     Ki-27          I-16       F2A Buffalo
       Defiant I        MS.406                   Fiat G50       A5M4           I-153
       Fulmar II                                 Fiat CR42
       Beaufighter X
    
    1  Gladiator I                               Fiat CR32
       Skua II
    

    That, I reckon, is quite a bit less head-burningly stupid than the previous slab of tab blab. Although I am not delighted that the Fiat CR42 comes out a whole category better than the Gloster Gladiator, that’s arguably less daft that classing the Gladiator as equal to the Hurricane, as in the previous effort. Making the CR42 equal to the Hurricane is admittedly silly, but I understand the Falchi weren’t such pushovers as some Hurri pilots had initially believed.

    Even without any modification based on other factors, the categories are not madly different from the Whirlwind-proposed ones, and they don’t show the consistent prejudice against American designs evident in the previous effort (or, if you prefer, they comply better with the Western prejudice that the Japanese and Russians can’t design really good aircraft).

    This still takes no account of armament and protection. Indeed, it takes account of almost nothing — top speed, and that’s it. In deference to Thomaston’s desire for five categories (an “augmented Goldilocks” scale, as I call it) lumping the Spitfires I, II and V together seems the least objectionable distortion. The immensely unsophisticated algorithm I used to determine what category an aircraft falls into is to round off the square of the top speed, in km/h, divided by 111111.

    cat = round((speed^2)/111111)

    This should be comprehensible with very little effort to even the most determined mathophobe. The Salt Constant of 111111 was determined by an intense programme of stochastic iteration (random guessing) lasting for a period of several minutes.

    Did you take Drag as 0? if not how did you derived it?

    Assuming a square law for drag, I took the square root of the top speed, divided by the power loading. I did the same thing when I tried to convert power loading to thrust-to-weight ratio. Assuming propeller efficiencies of 75% for variable-speed, and 55% for constant-speed propellers (of which few remain in this period) it seems that WW2 fighters had thrust-to-weight ratios in the range from 0.130 to 0.346. I’d be interested to know to what extent people with real aerodynamics knowledge would consider such an estimate to be piffle.

    I think power-weight ratio might be the most important thing. At the very least it affects how long a plane can sustain a turn or regain speed form a maneuver.

    I certainly thought so, and it seems Boyd and Christie partially agree. However for WW2 fighters I’m now thinking that it looks as if speed is the dominating factor. I wish I could remember which fighter ace said that speed was the main attribute of a fighter aircraft.

    At the risk of over complicating the formula. What do you think of adding firepower and durability? Firepower could be weight of a 3s burst, but protection will be pretty subjective.

    Throw weight is fairly traditional, but something related to muzzle energy seems more reasonable, and it would be good to find some way of allowing for the explosive effect of cannon shell. Tony Williams has an excellent piece on WW2 fighter armament at https://www.quarryhs.co.uk/WW2guneffect.htm and there used to be a similar discussion on Emmanual Gustin’s pages. I cannot find that again, but his new web site at http://users.telenet.be/Emmanuel.Gustin/ seems to contain lots of interest. Apologies if it makes you buy books. There seems to be a piece on aircraft armour that I shall read, but until that makes me change my mind I reckon that weight is a pretty good first-order SWAG for vulnerability — presumably empty weight, as adding fuel and munitions to an aircraft can hardly be expected to make an aircraft less vulnerable. Knowing the weight of armour carried would be interesting, but I have only been able to find very patchy data on that. And don’t forget the massive effect of having gyro sights, which historically seemed to double your probability of success.

    Somewhere I have some WW2 fighter armament spreadsheets, so brace yourself for more incoming drivel.

    I feel like in order to produce this list of highly abstracted performance value I’ll have to do some deep research. Starting with finding engine envelope charts for every engines used on WWII fighters so I can have accurate output at the chosen altitude range.

    Just in case you haven’t met them, I recommend

    http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/

    http://kurfurst.org/

    Allowing for different engine performance at different altitudes is one of the trickier aspects of characterising fighter capabilities. Taking an average over altitudes seems unsatisfactory, as it fails to show the tactical preference forces will have for fighting at high or low altitudes. And for the purposes of squashing things into five categories, it might be tempting to stick with the absurdly simple cat = round((speed^2)/111111).

    All the best,

    John.

    #153773
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Somewhere I have some WW2 fighter armament spreadsheets, so brace yourself for more incoming drivel.

    Found ’em.

    Below is a table summarising the relative values of different air weapons following Tony Williams’ methods, allowing for weight of filling, and so emphasising cannon armament more than Emmanual Gustin’s method of just considering kinetic energy.

           Br           Fr         Ge         It           Jp A         Jp N         SU            US
    1   Brwng .303   MAC 1934    MG 17      7.7 Breda    7.7 type 89  7.7 type 97  7.62 ShKAS   Brwng .30
    2                            MG 131     12.7 Breda   12.7 Ho-103
    3   Brwng .500                                                                              Brwng .50
    5                            MG 151                  20 Ho-5                   12.7 UB
                                 MG 204                  37 Ho-203
    6                20 HS9      MG-FF                   20 Ho-1, 2   20 type 99   
    7                                                    20 Ho-5                   20 Berezin
                                                                                   20 ShVAK
    8                                                                                           37 M4
    10  20 Hispano I             MG 151/20               30 Ho-155-II                           20 M2
                                                         40 Ho-301
                                                         57 Ho-401
    12  20 Hispano V                                     30 Ho-155-I  30 type 5    VYa-23 
    17                                                   30 Ho-204
    20                                                                30 type 3
    21                                                                             NS-37
    29                           MK 108                                            NS-45
    35                           MK 103                                               
    

    As I hope should be obvious, where an entry begins with a number, that is the calibre of the weapon in mm. I did not want to write “mm” after every such number, as it would have widened the table annoyingly, especially as I have listed the Japanese Army and Japanese Navy as separate “nationalities”.

    The ratings represent how many .300″ or .303″ Brownings a gun is worth, and are based on the product of rate of fire and a “punch” score as calculated by Tony Williams (and if anyone knows more about heavy automatic weapons than Tony Williams, I’d be surprised — he literally wrote the book on the subject).

    Notice how the best 0.5″/12.7mm HMGs are about as good as the worst 20mm cannon. The best 20mm cannon are as good as the worst 30mm cannon, but the best 30mm cannon are screamingly good (these are the late-war German jobbies the very succesful post-war Aden and DEFA were based on). There is a horrific amount of variability in the performance of 30, 37, 40, 45 and 57mm cannon, and taking just the calibre is no sort of guide to the ordering of performance. Fortunately a lot of these can be ignored, as they are late-war Japanese Army efforts, desperately seeking a weapon that can knock down a B-29 if you can even catch it.

    I have made no attempt to modify the figures for the reduction in rate of fire caused by using synchronisation gear.

    If you want to be really niminy-piminy, the rifle-calibre MGs all rated as 1 should really be 0.75 for the Italians and Japanese and 1.5 for the Russians; but I wouldn’t worry too much about what the Russians called “paint-scratchers”. Likewise, I rounded the Hispano V down from 12.5 rather than up; I reckon it’s good enough already. Probably the Tempest armament of 4 fast-firing Hispano Vs, with a gyro gunsight, was the ideal WW2 all-purpose fighter armament, and similar to the kind of armament sported by many post-war jets.

    All the best,

    John.

    #153776
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    If you want to be really niminy-piminy, the rifle-calibre MGs all rated as 1 should really be 0.75 for the Italians and Japanese and 1.5 for the Russians; but I wouldn’t worry too much about what the Russians called “paint-scratchers”.

    I have been giggling about that way more than I should.  Love Russians!!!

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #153777
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    Looking at that last performance chart, the only ones I think I really want to put a performance down-shift on are the 110, 210, 410; the Defiant; and maybe the CR4 & the I-153 too.  All for one reason or other design dead-ends for piston-engined air superiority fighters.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #153778
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    And thanks for all your work on that John, very much appreciated.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #153789
    John D Salt
    Participant

    Looking at that last performance chart, the only ones I think I really want to put a performance down-shift on are the 110, 210, 410; the Defiant; and maybe the CR4 & the I-153 too. All for one reason or other design dead-ends for piston-engined air superiority fighters.

    Looking at your boundary cases, I could do nothing with my square-of-speed rule to get things as you wanted. However, looking at the boundary speeds your marginal cases need to be the other side of, I was struck by the fact that you can produce a really good classification — into six categories, not five, but I’m just going to treat it as a very large value of five — by awarding a point to start with, then one point for being able to make 500 km/h, and another point for every 50 km/h after that.

    Yes, of course there’s another table:

           Br            Fr            Ge            It            Jp            SU            US
    6  Spitfire 24                 Fw 190D-9                                              P-51C/D/H Mustang
       Spitfire XIV                                                                       F4U Corsair
       Tempest V                                                                                                
    
    5  Typhoon IB                  Bf 109F                      Ki-84 Hayate   La-7       P-47 Thunderbolt        
       Spitfire IX                 Fw 190A                      N1K-J Shiden              P-38 Lightning
                                                                                          P-63A Kingcobra
    
    4  Spitfire XII                Bf 109G       Macchi 205     Ki-44 Shoki    La-5       P-51A Mustang I
                                   Me 410        Re 2005                       MiG-3      P-39Q Airacobra
                                                 Fiat G55                      MiG-1      F65 Hellcat 
                                                                               Yak-3  
                                                                               Yak-9
                                                                               LaGG-1
                                                                                 
    3  Spitfire I-V     D.520      Bf 109E       Fiat G55       A6M5 Zero      Yak-1      P-39D Airacobra
       Hurricane IIC               Me 210        Macchi 205V    Ki-100-I       Yak-7   
       Whirlwind I                                              Ki-61 Hien     LaGG-3      
       Mosquito FB VI                                            
                                                                                                                            
    2  Hurricane I      MB.152     Bf 110C       Macchi 200     A6M2 Zero      I-16       P-40E Warhawk
       Beaufighter X    MS.406                                  Ki-43 Hayabusa            F4F Wildcat
       Firefly I                                                                          F2A Buffalo
    
    1  Defiant I                                 Fiat G50       A5M4           I-153      
       Gladiator I                               Fiat CR42      Ki-27
       Fulmar II                                 Fiat CR32                            
       Skua II
    

    That, I think, will match a remarkably wide variety of informed opinion on the relative merits of WW2 fighters, and all from a rule even simpler than my original square rule. As a Mustang fan, I like the fact that it shows the P-51D a grade higher than the P-47; it better discriminates the progress of American types; and I think it is more believable to make the P-40 and Wildcat equivalent to the Hurricane, rather than the Spitfire. The Bf-109F seems over-rated, but there were pilots who considered it a better flying machine than the Bf-109G, and a scheme based purely on speed cannot allow for the drawback that the Bf 109F’s armament was crap. Really, I’m surprised at how good a classification such an absurdly oversimplified rule gives, although it’s a bit disappointing I didn’t see it earlier.

    All the best,

    John.

    #153791
    Whirlwind
    Participant

    That looks pretty good to me, especially if as you say, you give a damage rating independent of that or modify the rating by the damage (giving/taking) capacities. Many thanks.

    https://hereticalgaming.blogspot.co.uk/

    #153792
    Thomaston
    Participant

    This last table is that much closer to the ultimate goal. This fits my need very well since the bottom bad is filled with aircraft I don’t have minis for. Being based on speed only also makes it easy to rate aircrat. Thanks.
    I’ll test it out a bit.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153800
    John D Salt
    Participant

    This fits my need very well since the bottom bad is filled with aircraft I don’t have minis for.

    An excellent reason for discarding the bottom band!

    I was going to suggest that, if you really needed five bands, then you would need to conduct the exercise of deciding what speeds the breaks should fall at — it’s a bit of luck that neat 50 km/h slices do rather a good job, but there’s no reason you can’t pick different boundaries to produce the bands you want.

    An alternative, based on the idea proposed by Nathaniel Weber, would be to use a sliding window of five bands superimposed on a total collection of seven or eight, according to time period. “World War Two” encompasses a terrific range of aircraft technological development, from fabric-covered biplanes to the first jets (I didn’t include jets in my initial effort because power to weight ratio was inapplicable, but having converted it to thrust-to-weight ratio there’s no reason not to, and of course top speed is easier yet as the standard of comparison). It’s all a bit much to cram the lot into five categories covering the whole war; but what’s the point of having more bands than you will ever get on the table at once? I don’t think there are going to be any scenarios where Gloster Gladiators meet Dora-9s, or P-51Ds take on CR-32s, so the five-band window can move along with time as the bottom class becomes obsolete.

    All the best,

    John.

    #153802
    Thomaston
    Participant

    The grand plan is to have a list of everything from A1N to F-35 and as suggested, use 5 bands of aircraft at a time.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

    #153813
    MartinR
    Participant

    It might be easier to just rank them in specific contexts. Spitfire better than Hurricane better than Defiant etc.

    It depends if the 1-5 number is an actual combat value, or just influences some modifiers (better planes +1, better pilots +3 type of thing)

    Both the economist and agile practitioner in me value the power of relative ranking if you haven’t got an accurate model. Humans are quite good at relative ranking, and you can infer value from that.

    "Mistakes in the initial deployment cannot be rectified" - Helmuth von Moltke

    #153895
    Thomaston
    Participant

    @MartinR

    I’ve tried that, but it’s too difficult camparing aircraft that never met like Fw190 vs F4U or Bf109 vs N1K. Tracking down combat accounts is a pain and is influenced by pilot skills. 1-5 is supposed to be strictly aircraft capabilties, pilot skill is separate, and why I wanted a very objective way to rate aircraft. Reading combat accounts.

    There was that flight test of most types at the end of WWII that concluded F4U was the best overall. It was an evaluation by experienced pilots, but it was for late war aircraft only and doesn’t give a complete list and rank them.

    Tired is enough.
    R-rated narcissism

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