Photos & Drawings
© Michael Bykov
The Bf 109G2 of commander 7/JG5, oberlieutenant T.Vajssenberger, 1943.
Midway through the war, new German fighters remained in the focus of the Soviet aviation command element. Moreover, there was the necessity to inform Stalin about the improved Messerschmitts. On 23 October 1942, Red Army Air Forces Chief Engineer A. K. Repin reported this to the Leader: "Recently, modified Bf 109F-4 and Bf 109G-2 fighters have appeared at the front. Based on information from line units, they have greater level and vertical speeds. According to the Red Army Main Intelligence Directorate, these aircraft can reach a speed of 625-650 km/h at an altitude of 6700 meters. I would kindly ask you to task the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry to do the following: by spring 1943, design and build a single-engine fighter with a speed on the order of 680-700 km/h at altitudes of 6000-7000 meters, maximum speed at ground level of 550-560 km/h, technical flight weight not exceeding 3300 kilograms, and with metal wings".
However, a captured Bf 109 had to be tested in order to know both the strong and weak points of the new fighter. Such was the task set before the institute leadership in late autumn 1942. Thus, as soon as the news about the I/JG3 Group Messerschmitt captured near Stalingrad was received, Captain A. G. Proshakov flew there at once. On 25 December, after simple repairs, he managed to fly the trophy to the institute repair shops. In early January 1943, Engineer-Captain A. S. Rozanov began examining Bf 109G-2 No. 13903.
The Institute's chief assigned the task to compare the German machine with the best Soviet experimental and series-produced fighters, above all, the Yak-1 Yak-7b, La-5, Yak-9, as well as the Yak-1 M-106 and N. N. Polikarpov's I-185. The inspection showed that the new Messerschmitt differed from previoush examined Bf 109F-2 No. 9209 in its more powerful DB 605A engine, additional underwing 20mm MG 151 cannon, armor-glass windshield, and 18mm Duralumin plate behind the fuel tank.
Test flights by seasoned test pilots like Colonel P. M. Stefanovskiy, Captain A. G. Proshakov, and Captain A. G. Kubyshkin demonstrated that it was hard for Soviet series-produced fighters to equal the Bf 109G Gustav in combat. The power plant on the German aircraft was more convenient to control, bu the view from the cockpit, especially to the rear, turned out to be much worse than that of, let's say, the Yak-9. Engineer-Lieutenant Colonel A. N. Frolov, Chiei of the Fighter Department, noted how painstakingly German designers anc engineers sealed the construction elements. Slots on control surfaces were reduced to a minimum, motor cowlings fitted tightly against the fuselage, ant: the fuselage had rubber gaskets.
Only the experimental I-185 fighter could compete with the Bf 109G-2 in rate of climb and only the MiG-3 could reach a service ceiling of 11,250 meters (the best series-produced examples could climb to 11,500 m). The Messerschmitt salvo weight was 4.67 kilograms per second.32 Underwing cannon considerabh reduced the horizontal maneuverability of the aircraft, which we called the "five-pointer". The German designation was Bf 109G-2/R6. It took the German fighter 22.6 seconds to complete a bank at an altitude of 1000 meters (similar to the series-produced La-5) and most Soviet fighters could perform a run-in from the rear during the second or third bank.
Aerial combat between the Bf 109G-2/R6 and La-5 was simulated at the Air Forces Scientific Research Institute. The Lavochkin had improved visibility and its weight was reduced by 160 kilograms. At low altitudes, it was flying with the M-82 engine in afterburner. Lieutenant Colonel N. I. Shaurov, who was evaluating the aircraft from the tactical point of view, came to the conclusion that the upgraded Soviet airplane could successfully counter the Messerschmitt at low and medium altitudes. He thought that its poor visibility to the rear and the danger of involuntary entry into a spin when the stick was overbalanced during a bank gave the La-5 an equal chance, even in vertical aerial combat. In a prolonged dive, the Bf 109G-2 was somewhat faster, but a Lavochkin recovering from a dive could overtake the German owing to a steeper trajectory.
Institute Chief General P. A. Losyukov in his report on testing the "five-pointer" Bf 109G-2 noted that the test results had to be disseminated to Red Army Air Forces line units. "In order to combat the new Messerschmitt successfully, there is an urgent necessity to use the TsAGI recommendations to improve the aerodynamics of domestic series-produced fighters and to accelerate production of Yak-1 and Yak-9 airplanes with the M-106 engine and the La-5 powered by the M-82 NV (with direct injection)," the general noted. Losyukov also drew the attention of the People's Commissariat of the Aviation Industry leadership to the necessity to eliminate defects degrading the combat qualities of our fighters.
The test results had an impact on development of the domestic aircraft industry. The military wrote to People's Commissar Shakhurin, asking him:
1. In order to increase horizontal and vertical speeds of domestic fighters, oblige chief designers comrades Shvetsov, Klimov, and Mikulin to install hydraulically driven superchargers on M-71, M-82, M-106, M-107, AM-39, and AM-42 engines. Recommend use of an automatic hydraulic clutch control unit similar to the one on theDB605A/l.
2. "Free" the pilot from the requirement to constantly monitor the power plant temperature during aerial combat and oblige chief designers comrades Yakovlev and Lavochkin to design and install automatic devices regulating the position of radiator shutters and cowl flaps to reduce drag by using a more rational way to open the shutters regulating the temperature.