Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Focke-Wulf Fw190 - Pilots and Armament. Part 5 - Compiled by German Dzib

Pilots

Otto Kittel

Otto "Bruno" Kittel
Otto "Bruno" Kittel (21 February 1917 – 14 or 16 February 1945) was a World War II Luftwaffe flying ace. He flew 583 combat missions on the Eastern Front, claiming 267 aerial victories, making him the fourth highest scoring ace in aviation history. (45)(46) Kittel claimed all of his victories flying the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and Focke-Wulf Fw 190 against the Red Air Force. (47)
Kittel joined the Luftwaffe in 1939, at the age of 22 and flew his first combat missions in 1941. (48) In spring 1941, he joined Jagdgeschwader 54 (JG 54) supporting Army Group North on the Eastern Front. Kittel claimed his first victory on 22 June 1941, the opening day of Operation Barbarossa. Kittel took time to amass his personal tally of aerial victories. By February 1943, he reached 39 kills, relatively insignificant when compared with some other German aces. In 1943, his tally began to increase when JG 54 began to operate the Fw 190. Kittel earned the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross (Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes) on 29 October 1943, for reaching 120 aerial victories. By the time he was officially awarded the decoration he had a tally of 123. A large number of his Soviet victims included the IL-2 Shturmovik aircraft, leading the German Army to call him the "Butcher Killer", a nickname they had given to the tough Shturmovik. (49)
During the remainder of World War II, Kittel was credited with 144 other aerial victories, which earned him the covetedKnight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. On his 583rd combat mission, he was shot down and killed by the air gunner of a Shturmovik on 14 or 16 February 1945. Kittel was the most successful German fighter pilot to be killed in action. (50)

Walter Nowotny

Major Walter "Nowi" Nowotny
Major Walter "Nowi" Nowotny (7 December 1920 – 8 November 1944) was an Austrian-born German fighter ace of World War II. He is credited with 258 aerial victories—that is, 258 aerial combat encounters resulting in the destruction of the enemy aircraft—in 442 combat missions. Nowotny achieved 255 of these victories on the Eastern Front and three while flying one of the first jet fighters, the Messerschmitt Me 262, in the Defense of the Reich. He scored most of his victories in the Focke-Wulf Fw 190, and approximately 50 in the Messerschmitt Bf 109. (51)
Nowotny joined the Luftwaffe in 1939 and completed his fighter pilot training in 1941, after which he was posted to Jagdgeschwader 54 "Grünherz" (JG 54) on the Eastern Front. Nowotny was the first pilot to achieve 250 victories – 194 in 1943 alone – earning him the coveted Ritterkreuz mit Eichenlaub, Schwertern und Brillanten (Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds) on 19 October 1943. For propaganda reasons, he was ordered to cease operational flying.
Reinstated to front-line service in September 1944, Nowotny tested and developed tactics for the Messerschmitt Me 262 jet fighter. He was credited with three victories in this aircraft type before being killed in a crash following combat with United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) fighters on 8 November 1944. After his death, the first operational jet fighter wing, Jagdgeschwader 7 "Nowotny", was named in his honour. (52)

Erich Rudorffer

Major Erich Rudorffer
Major Erich Rudorffer (born 1 November 1917) is a German former Luftwaffe fighter ace, one of a handful who served with the Luftwaffe through the whole of World War II. He is the 7th most successful fighter pilot in the history of air warfare and, since 2014, both the oldest jet fighter ace and the most successful ace still living, as well as the only living fighter pilot with more than 100 victories since the death of Walter Schuck in March 2015. Rudorffer claimed a total of 222 victories, fighting in all the major German theaters of war, including the European and Mediterranean Theatre of Operations and the Eastern Front. During the war he flew more than 1000 combat missions, was engaged in aerial combat over 300 times, was shot down by flak and enemy fighters 16 times and had to take to his parachute 9 times. He distinguished himself by shooting down 13 enemy planes in 17 minutes. His 222 aerial victories include 58 heavily armoured Il-2 Sturmovik ground attack aircraft. He also claimed that he sank a British submarine on 19 May 1941 off the Isle of Portland but Royal Navy losses do not corroborate this claim and the Luftwaffe only credited him with damaging the submarine. Rudorffer is the last living recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. (53)
After the War, Rudorffer started out flying DC-2s and DC-3s in Australia. Later on he worked for Pan Am and the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt, Germany's civil aviation authority. He is the last living recipient of the Knight's Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords. Rudorffer was one of the characters in the 2007 Finnish war movie Tali-Ihantala 1944. A Fw 190 participated, painted in the same markings as Rudorffer's aircraft in 1944. The aircraft, now based at Omaka Aerodrome in New Zealand, still wears the colours of Rudorffer's machine.

Armament

MG 131 machine gun

The MG 131 (shortened from German: Maschinengewehr 131, or "Machine gun 131") was a German 13 mm caliber machine gun developed in 1938 by Rheinmetall-Borsig and produced from 1940 to 1945. The MG 131 was designed for use at fixed, flexible or turreted, single or twin mountings in Luftwaffe aircraft during World War II.
MG 131 and MG 151/20 
It was one of the smallest, if not the smallest among the heavy machine guns, the weight was less than 60% of the M2 Browning or the Breda 12.7 mm. Despite this, the MG 131 was a rapid fire weapon with an elevated firepower for its mass. It was equipped with HE rounds. The nearer equivalent could have been the Ho-103. The other Axis main machine gun, the Breda 12.7 mm, was around 13 kg heavier and bigger, while slower by at least 150 rpm. The small size of the MG 131 meant the possibility to replace the 7.92 mm machine guns even in the small nose of the Luftwaffe fighters, which was commonplace from 1943 onwards. This weapon was a marked improvement as the greater armour protection Allied aircraft received rendered smaller calibers almost useless. This was especially true when it came to heavy Allied bombers.
Maschinengewehr 131
It was installed in the Messerschmitt Bf 109, Me 410 Hornisse, Fw 190, Ju 88, Junkers Ju 388, He 177 Greif bomber, and many other aircraft. The Fernbedienbare Drehlafette FDL 131Z remotely controlled gun turret system, used as a forward-mount dorsal turret on the He 177A, used two MG 131s for dorsal defense, with the experimental Hecklafette HL 131V manned aircraft tail turret design, meant to be standardized on the never-built A-6 version of the He 177A, was also meant for standardization on many late-war prototype developments of German heavy bomber airframes such as the separately developed four engined He 177B and the 1943–44 Amerika Bomber design contender from Heinkel, the BMW 801E radial-powered Heinkel He 277, both airframes being intended to use the HL 131V tail turret unit mounting four MG 131s, two guns each mounted in each of a pair of rotating exterior elevation carriages on either side of the seated gunner, with horizontal traverse executed by the turret core's rotation. The design of the turret originated with the Borsig division of Rheinmetall-Borsig (the manufacturer of the guns themselves) and was a design with promise, using hydraulic drive to both elevate the turret through a 60º arc of both elevation and depression, with a capability for horizontal traverse of some 100º to either side, all at a top traverse angular speed of 60º per second. (54) The Hecklafette tail turret design was never produced beyond a small number of prototype and test examples from 1943 onwards, with few relics of their existence remaining.
The MG 131 fired electrically primed ammunition in order to sustain a high rate of fire when shooting through the propeller disc of a single-engined fighter. A pair of MG 131 machine guns was used as cowl armament on later models of the Bf 109G (which originally required one blister or Beule on each side of the fuselage, flanking the upper rear end of the engine, to house the larger breech of the new gun) and the Fw 190.

Technical data

Weight : 16.6 kilograms (37 lb)
Length : 1.17 metres (3.8 ft)
Muzzle velocity : ~ 750 metres per second (2,500 ft/s)
Rate of fire : ~ 900 rounds per minute
13 mm API (Pzgr. L'Spur) - 710 m/s, projectile mass 38.5 grams (594 gr), muzzle energy 989 m/kg (55)
13 mm HE-T (Sprgr. L'Spur) - 710 m/s, projectile mass 34 grams (520 gr) (56)
13 mm HEI-T (Br. Sprgr. L/Spur) - 750 m/s, projectile mass 34 grams (520 gr) with 1.4 grams (22 gr) PETN + 0.3 grams (4.6 gr) thermite, muzzle energy 975 m/kg (57)

MG 151 cannon

The MG 151 (MG 151/15) was a 15 mm aircraft-mounted autocannon produced by Waffenfabrik Mauser during World War II. Its 20mm variant, the 20 mm MG 151/20 cannon, was widely used on German Luftwaffe fighters, night fighters, fighter-bombers, bombers and ground-attack aircraft. Salvaged guns saw post-war use by other nations.

Development and wartime history (MG 151/20)

The pre-war German doctrine for arming single-engine fighter aircraft mirrored that of the French. This doctrine favored a powerful autocannon mounted between the cylinder blocks of a V engine and firing through the propeller hub, known as amoteur-canon in French (from its first use with the Hispano-Suiza HS.8C engine in World War I, on the SPAD S.XII) and by the cognate Motorkanone in German by the 1930s. The weapon preferred by the French in this role was the most powerful 20mm Oerlikon of the time, namely the FFS model, but this proved too big for German engines. Mauser was tasked to develop a gun that would fit, with a minimum sacrifice in performance. (As a stop-gap measure, the MG FF cannon was developed and put in widespread use, but its performance was lackluster.) (60)
MG 151/20
Production of the MG 151 in its original 15 mm calibre format began in 1940. After combat evaluation of the 15 mm cartridge as the main armament of early Messerschmitt Bf 109 F-2 fighters, the cannon was redesigned as the 20 mm MG 151/20 in 1941 to fire a 20 mm cartridge. Combat experience showed that a more powerful explosive shell was preferable to a higher projectile velocity. (59) The MG 151/20 cartridge was created by expanding the neck of the cartridge to hold the larger explosive shell used in the MG FF cannon, and shortening the length of the cartridge case holding the longer 20 mm shell to match the overall length of the original 15 mm cartridge. (59) These measures simplified conversion of the 15 mm to the 20 mm MG 151/20 simply by changing the barrel and making other small modifications. A disadvantage of the simplified conversion was reduction of projectile muzzle velocity from 850 metres per second (2,800 ft/s) for the 15 mm shell to 700 metres per second (2,300 ft/s) for the larger and heavier 20 mm shell. (58) With an AP projectile the new 20mm cartridge could only penetrate around 10-12mm of armor at 300m and at 60 degrees, compared to 18mm penetration for its 15mm predecessor in the same conditions, but this was not seen as a significant limitation. (59) The 20 mm version thus became the standard inboard cannon for the Bf 109F-4 series onwards. (59) The 20 mm MG 151/20 offered more predictable trajectory, longer range and higher impact velocity than the 580 metres per second (1,900 ft/s) cartridge of the earlier MG FF cannon. (58) The MG FF was retained for flexible, wing and upward firing Schräge Musik mounts to the end of the war. (61)
The German preference for explosion rather than armor penetration was taken further with the development of the Minengeschoß ammunition, first introduced for the MG FF (in the Bf 109 E-4), and later introduced for the MG 151/20 as well. Even this improvement in explosive power turned out to be unsatisfactory against the four-engine bombers that German fighters were up against in the second part of the war. By German calculations, it took about 15-20 hits with the MG 151/20 ordnance to down a heavy bomber, but this was reduced to just 3-4 hits for a 30 mm shell, from the shattering effects of the hexogen explosive in the shells used for both the long-barreled MK 103 and shorter barreled MK 108 cannon. (Only 4-5 hits with 20 mm calibre ordnance were needed for frontal attacks, even on B-17s, but such attacks were difficult to pull off.) The 30 mm MK 108 cannon thus replaced the MG 151/20 as the standard, engine-mount Motorkanone center- line armament starting with the Bf 109 K-4, and was also retrofitted to some of the G-series. (62)
Eight hundred MG 151/20 exported to Japan aboard the Italian submarine Cappellini in August 1943 were used to equip 388 Japanese Ki-61-I Hei fighters. (63) The 20 mm MG 151/20 was also fitted on the Macchi C.205, the Fiat G.55 and Reggiane Re.2005 of the Regia Aeronautica and IAR 81C of the Romanian Royal Air Force.

Postwar Use

After World War 2, numbers of ex-Luftwaffe MG 151/20 cannon were removed from inventory and from scrapped aircraft and used by various nations in their own aircraft. The French Air Force and French Army aviation arm (ALAT) utilized MG 151/20 cannon as both fixed and flexible armament in various aircraft, including helicopters. The FAF and ALAT jointly developed a rubber-insulated flexible mount for the MG 151/20 for use as a door gun, which was later used in combat in Algeria aboard several FAF/ALAT H-21C assault transport helicopters and on HSS-1 Pirate gunship helicopters. French Matra MG 151 20mm cannons were used by Portugal and Rhodesia (64) fitted to their Alouette III helicopters, while Denel designed its own variant for the South African Air Force. (65)

MG 151 specifications

Type: single-barrel automatic cannon
Caliber: 15×96mm
Operation: Recoil-operated; short recoil
Length: 1916 mm
Barrel length: 1254 mm
Rifling: 8 grooves, right hand twist, 1 turn in 16"
Weight (complete): 38.1 kg (84 lb)
Rate of fire: 740 rpm
Effective range: 1000 m
Muzzle velocity: 850 m/s (AP-T); 960 m/s (HE-T, HEI-T); 1030 m/s AP(WC)
Projectile types:
AP-T weighing 72 g
HE weighing 57 g. HE filler: 2.8 g

MG 151/20 specifications

Two versions of the 20 mm MG 151 were built. Early guns used a percussion priming system, and later E-models used electrical priming. Some rounds were available with a timer self-destruct and/or tracer (or glowtracer). There were also different types of high-explosive shell fillings with either standard PETN, a mixture called HA41 (RDX and aluminium), and a compressed version where more explosives were compressed into same space using large pressures (XM).
Type: single-barrel automatic cannon
Caliber: 20×82mm
Operation: Recoil-operated; short recoil
Length: 1766 mm
Barrel length: 1104 mm/55 calibers
Rifling: 1 turn in 23 calibers
Weight (complete): 42.7 kg
Rate of fire: 750 rpm
Effective range:800 m
Muzzle velocity: 805 m/s (M-Geschoss); 705 m/s (HE-T, AP)