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From: "Emmanuel Gustin" <>
Newsgroups: rec.aviation.military
Subject: Re: Worst Planes of WW II
Date: Fri, 3 Jul 1998 19:29:47 +0200

ArtKramr wrote in message

>Goering was once quoted as saying that he wished he had 50
>caliber Brownings in steadof the small German mg's.The
>German's did a lot more wrong than right.

I don't whether he really said so. If he did it just showed his lack
of understanding of the problems his fighter pilots were facing.
Goering's understanding of air combat seems never to have
evolved beyond WWI.

The problem of the Germans was not that they did not have
a gun as good or better than the Browning .50. The MG 151/20
was a very suitable aircraft cannon, a good match for the Browning
in rate of fire and ballistic performance, while firing far more deadly
ammunition. But that wasn't enough for their purpose.

The best defense of a B-17 was its immense sturdiness, and to
shoot it down with .50s would have been far too difficult. Using
the common formula that projectile effectiveness goes with its
volume, hence the third power of its calibre, it would have required
about 80 hits with .50 rounds to shoot down a B-17, probably
many more, because of the small explosive/incendiary content of the
bullet. With an average 4% hits (the number given by the Germans
themselves) it would have required the expenditure of 2000 rounds
of ammunition, or more than even the P-51D carried. Even with
20mm cannon 20 hits or so were required, and that was just too

The reason why the Germans developed 30mm cannon with
thin-walled high-explosive shells is that three hits would down
a B-17, and a single hit would cut a fighter in two.

But the Germans had to choose between high-velocity
20mm guns, the best weapon against fighters, and low-velocity
30mm guns, the most suitable weapon against bombers. The
performance and handling of their fighters suffered very much
if it carried heavy armament, and they could not possibly carry

Hence the bomber interceptors, heavily armed and armoured to
get in close and get a certain kill, were far too unwieldy to engage
in combat with the escorts. They had to be provided with a screen
of fighters equipped for fighter-vs-fighter combat, but this system
of course considerably reduced operational flexibility. Being
outnumbered by the allied escort fighters did not help at all.

Goering and Hitler never seem to have understood the problems
that fighter pilots faced, and they consistently refused to take
sufficient actions. Infamous is Goering's order, quickly
retracted, to court-martial a pilot of every squadron for

Emmanuel Gustin <>
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