Military Review

The weapon of the Second World War. Night fighters. Comparisons


Which aircraft do you consider the best?

1. Messerschmitt Bf.110G - 15 (9.49%)
2. Junkers Ju-88C-2 - 4 (2.53%)
3. Dornier Do-17Z-7 - 0 (0%)
4. Dornier Do-217J - 5 (3.16%)
5. Heinkel He.219 - 46 (29.11%)
6. Messerschmitt Me-262B - 13 (8.23%)
7. Bristol Blenheim I (IV) F - 2 (1.27%)
8. De Haviland Mosquito NF - 48 (30.38%)
9. Douglas P-70 Nighthawk - 1 (0.63%)
10. Northrop P-61B Black Widow - 24 (15.19%)
Finishing the resulting rather large topic of night fighters, of course, it will be quite fair to compare them with each other. And walk along the strengths and weaknesses, good history We considered planes well in previous materials.

1. Messerschmitt Bf.110G

He was the first. Yes, he still had fairly easy opponents, but nevertheless, in the daytime battle, the Destroyer did not prove to be a cool fighter, in the night ... Well, in the night it was a little better.

In the night battles over Europe at the beginning of the war, Bf.110 was quite successfully used with the Himmelbett guidance system, which did not require either a long flight range or a long duration of stay in the air. But as faster bombers and jammers appeared, the 110 became sadder, although it fought until the very end of the war.

The only question is how effective.

Pluses: mastered aircraft in every sense. A good set of weapons.

Disadvantages: speed and maneuverability. Plus a small radius of action. In addition, there was a shortage of aircraft with a crew of three people. This is the problem of a radar operator leaving a damaged parachute machine. To do this, the shooter was the first to jump out, but if he was injured or killed, then it was not possible to leave the plane.

2. Junkers Ju-88C-2

Maybe not the most widespread night fighter of the Third Reich, but - the most important element of German air defense. In 1944, the assembly lines of Junkers and its allies almost completely switched to the production of a fighter variant.

The weak side of the plane was that he did not keep up with the "stuffing", which was constantly added to it. Various radar systems, the FuG 101 radio altimeter, the FuG 25 radar transponder used to interact with the Himmelbett guidance system and anti-aircraft artillery, as well as the FuG 10 receiver, of course, improved aircraft capabilities, but constantly increased its weight and worsened aerodynamics.

Advantages: excellent radar equipment, a heavy volley (one of the best), good flight range.

Disadvantages: slow and not very well maneuvering aircraft.

3. Dornier Do-17Z-7

Not a very successful experiment to turn a bomber into a night fighter. This aircraft was not equipped with a radar, but no less interesting equipment was installed on it: an infrared night-vision device.

The weapon of the Second World War. Night fighters. Comparisons

The device was called "Spanner-Anlage." It consisted of two parts: an infrared spotlight and a receiving Q-tube with a small screen.

The searchlight was in front of the nose fairing, and the Q-tube was installed through the windshield of the cockpit in front of the pilot.

An infrared illuminated target appears on the screen.

There was also a passive device, without a searchlight, which caught the hot exhaust gases of the engine. The downside of the systems was a short range.

It is not surprising that by the 1942 year, all the Dornier Do-17Z had been transferred to training and withdrawn from the Luftwaffe.

Advantages: light weight, hence good maneuverability.

Disadvantages: speed, weapons.

4. Dornier Do-217J

In fact - work on the Do-17 error, but not the most successful work. Of course, the appearance of the Liechtenstein radar greatly simplified the work of the crews, but the overload of the structure played a role.

The armament was impressive, and the fighter could really destroy anyone if it caught up. And this was a huge problem. Attempts to install more powerful engines did not improve the situation, and at the beginning of 217 Do-1943J began to change to Junkers and withdraw from the combat units of the Luftwaffe.

Pluses: powerful weapons

Disadvantages: heavy weight, low speed, poor maneuverability

5. Heinkel He.219

Heinkel’s designers created a truly advanced machine, with real advantages such as a pressurized crew cabin, catapults and remotely controlled defensive weapons. Therefore, in fact, the plane did not go into production until Kammhuber took up it and offered to remake it into a night fighter.

Unfortunately for the Germans, Heinkel was unable to build He.219 in sufficient quantities. In total, 268 machines of all modifications were built, which is clearly not enough. And the car was pretty decent in all respects. I would say that it was the most powerful of the night fighters in terms of armament, plus it also flew pretty well for itself. In general, this is perhaps the only piston-powered aircraft that could fight on equal terms with the Mosquito.

Pluses: LTH as a whole, weapons.

Disadvantages: perhaps a bit heavy. But not critical.

6. Messerschmitt Me-262B

He was. That's all there is to say about this plane. No special merits and big victories, just the war ended before the Germans were able to debug the production of cars and training pilots. The prospect, of course, was.

Advantages: speed, height.

Disadvantages: undeveloped design as a whole, weak weapons. Two guns MK-108 30-mm - it's frankly about nothing.

7. Bristol Blenheim I (IV) F

As I already wrote, by the beginning of World War II, this plane was so outdated that it just had to be written off quietly. However, he was forced to fight.

They fought at night, "Blenheim" and the defense of Britain, and in North Africa and India. But the victories of this fighter were more an exception than a rule, because its speed qualities simply did not allow anyone to catch up. Therefore, by the 1944 year, all Blenheim were replaced by Bofayters.

Pluses: perhaps not.

Disadvantages: weak weapons, LTH as a whole.

8. De Haviland Mosquito NF

Well, it's horror flying on the wings of the night. This is a fighter that was able to calmly and effortlessly destroy enemy night fighters. In general, the Mosquito shot down everything that fell into sight, from bombers to V-1 and V-2 shells.

Perhaps, if there were problems with anyone, then with Me.262 and Ne.219. The first was superior in speed, and the second was created as a response to the Mosquito, therefore, too, could smite with all my heart.

In general, this is a candidate for one of the prizes.

Pluses: LTH, weapons, everything is just fine.

Disadvantages: perhaps that was not.

9. Douglas P-70 Nighthawk

This gentleman, in theory, was supposed to be somewhere together with 110 and Brenheim, because he was a clumsy one and, as a whole, was completely unsuitable for battles with fast and maneuverable Japanese aircraft.

That is why the "Night Hawk" was used as you like, and as an attack aircraft, and as a scout, and as a training aircraft.

Pluses: strong, well-armed aircraft.

Disadvantages: maneuverability and speed.

10. Northrop P-61B Black Widow

The total number of victims of the "Black Widow" is not large, since they entered service at the time when the Allies had already established almost complete control over the airspace.

But this remarkable aircraft fought, and fought quite well. Moreover, when the Japanese ran out of planes, the Widow was quietly adapted as a night attack aircraft.

The last aircraft shot down during World War II was destroyed precisely by the P-61В. On the night of 14 / 15 on August 1945, the P-61B, piloted by Lieutenant Robert Clyde and radar operator Lieutenant Bruce Leford, shot down a Japanese Nakajima Ki-43 army fighter over the sea near Yeshima.

By the end of World War II, in the USAAF, fifteen of the sixteen night fighter squadrons were armed with the P-61A or P-61B, which says a lot.

Pluses: LTH, weapons.

Disadvantages: no.

In general, the table is the main medium of information. It can be judged by how bad this or that plane was or is good.

If it seems to some that some fighters are obviously out of place, because they are from the first half of the war, I’ll explain. It’s easier to see the evolution that these planes did. And they did it, moreover, it was thanks to work on night fighters that we (including) received universal jet aircraft at the exit.
Articles from this series:
Combat aircraft. Night fighters
Combat aircraft. Night fighters. Continuation

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  1. Comrade
    Comrade 15 September 2019 05: 40
    The review is interesting, thanks, but maybe it makes sense to end the cycle with an article devoted to the most productive night pilots?
    After all, "the main detail of any weapon is the head of its owner," in this case, the personalities of the pilots and radar operators, who sometimes achieved phenomenal success on obsolete machines in conditions of the quantitative and qualitative superiority of the enemy.
    1. bubalik
      bubalik 15 September 2019 08: 26
      dedicated to the most productive night pilots
      hi ,, and what to consider then?
      The best night light was Heinz-Wolfgang Schnaufer from the NJG 1 night squadron. Of the 164 sorties, the 121 victory was counted, the 114 are bombers. I flew only on Bf 110.
      1. bubalik
        bubalik 15 September 2019 10: 01
        ,,, from the British, probably Bob Braham, who flew the Beaufighter planes, 29 victories, 19 of them at night.
      2. Earthshaker
        Earthshaker 15 September 2019 21: 01
        Kurt Welter, NJG 11, flew a Me-262A-1a equipped with a FuG 218J-3 radar, 51 wins, of which 46 at night, 25 downed by Mosquitoes, awarded a pk with oak leaves.
        Friedrich-Karl Müller, commander 1./NJG 11, flew single-handed messers and tricks in the light of floodlights, 52 departures 30 wins, 29 of them bombers and 1 Mosquito (a unique case), awarded the pk.
  2. Sergey M. Karasev
    Sergey M. Karasev 15 September 2019 08: 08
    Today, somehow quite fluently, without details. It's a pity...
  3. Nycomed
    Nycomed 15 September 2019 08: 32
    A fairly complete, albeit very brief overview. "Beaufighter" is not enough. Thanks!
  4. Gardener
    Gardener 15 September 2019 09: 51
    The British still had a Bolton-Paul "Difient" NF Mk.lA. With a radar. There were 7 squadrons. Moreover, these squadrons had the largest percentage of victories in relation to the number of sortie sorties compared to other types of night fighters at the end of 1941.
  5. peter1v
    peter1v 15 September 2019 13: 56
    I'd like to read how they shot down a V-2 mosquito.
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh 16 September 2019 09: 22
      I did not find such information. Against the V-2, the British from 1944 had jet interceptors - the Meteor.
      Mosquitoes were used not in air defense, but for any special missions that needed range and speed (to escape from the chase or, conversely, to shoot down)
      1. peter1v
        peter1v 16 September 2019 14: 24
        Sorry, this was a sarcasm for an explicit typo of the author.
      2. The comment was deleted.
    2. Sergey M. Karasev
      Sergey M. Karasev 16 September 2019 11: 24
      No way. V-2 is a ballistic missile, which at that time was not realistic to intercept. Intercepted V-1.
      1. voyaka uh
        voyaka uh 16 September 2019 14: 42
        Right I inadvertently confused V-1 - a cruise missile (they were shot down) and V-2 - a ballistic missile (they are still shot down with great difficulty).
  6. NF68
    NF68 15 September 2019 15: 22
    He was the first. Yes, he still had fairly easy opponents, but nevertheless, in the daytime battle, “The Annihilator"

    Not a "destroyer" but a "destroyer".
  7. Potter
    Potter 15 September 2019 21: 30
    Voted for Mosquito, in the aggregate of fighting qualities. But, the 110th is the most massive nightlight, and probably did the biggest job as an aircraft of this type. He is also a plus.
  8. Alf
    Alf 15 September 2019 21: 34
    By the end of World War II, in the USAAF, fifteen of the sixteen night fighter squadrons were armed with the P-61A or P-61B, which says a lot.

    This suggests that the US Air Force did not particularly need nightlights.
    With whom to fight something? The Japanese, of course, flew at night, but "without a spark."
    In Europe, the British completely coped with nightlights.
    In Africa, there were no German night-lights.
    We ordered Northrop the Widow, for the most part, "so that the bulo" or, as they say behind the puddle, "so that everything was like the Johnsons."
    Yes, I almost forgot. In the aviation of the fleet there were such alterations in nightlights as F6F-3, F6F-5, F4U-1D and special buildings F7F.
    1. Alexey RA
      Alexey RA 16 September 2019 13: 00
      Quote: Alf
      With whom to fight something? The Japanese, of course, flew at night, but "without a spark."

      As for the "no light" - tell the crew of the PA "Pennsylvania". Or LC "Maryland". Or AV Intrepid. smile
      The night work of Japanese aviation forced American aircraft carriers to first introduce night fighter units into the AB air group, and then separate individual night aircraft carriers with exclusively night air groups. For example, in the battles of Iwo Jima into the dusk left "Big E" with 9 CAG (N) and "Lady Sarah" with 53 CAG (N).
      However, nightlights worked not only from decks - after the capture of Okinawa, the Americans were forced to transfer two night fighter squadrons of the Marine Corps to the island - they were so affected by night raids.
      1. Alf
        Alf 16 September 2019 21: 24
        Were there night raids comparable to the Battle of Britain?
  9. Dooplet11
    Dooplet11 16 September 2019 08: 09
    10. Northrop P-61B Black Widow


    Disadvantages: no.

    "Do you see a gopher?
    -And I can't see! And he is! "
  10. yehat
    yehat 16 September 2019 12: 51
    Quote: peter1v
    I'd like to read how they shot down a V-2 mosquito.

    intercepted the V-1 winged V-1
    the British had few planes that had the speed and weapons to shoot her down
    therefore, mosquitoes were attracted, but only until the latest version spitfires and tempestas appeared.
  11. yehat
    yehat 16 September 2019 12: 54
    Quote: Potter
    But, the 110th is the most massive nightlight, and probably did the biggest job.

    At 110, tactics and weapons were worked out for nightlights, especially radars and communications.
    although it was far from the best, it became a springboard for accelerating the development and combat readiness of other machines and a source of personnel.
  12. dgonni
    dgonni 16 September 2019 15: 36
    The wonder is foldable short and practical. Respect!
    Those who want to familiarize themselves with the nightlights on professional sites in more detail, there, for every plane and pilots flying, a sheet is written by Mama Do not Cry!
  13. Warrior2015
    Warrior2015 21 September 2019 22: 34
    Another attempt by the author to make some kind of aircraft rating, now from the "night lights" section. IMHO the idea is fundamentally wrong. Briefly a few thoughts.

    Quote: Roman Skomorokhov
    But as faster bombers and jammers appeared, the 110 became sadder, although it fought until the very end of the war.
    Yeah, it's sadder. For Anglo-American bombers. If everything was sad for the Germans, why would they release 45 until spring? Just the peak of fame Bf-110 - it is the role of a night fighter.

    Quote: Roman Skomorokhov
    But this remarkable aircraft fought, and fought quite well. Moreover, when the Japanese ran out of planes, the Widow was quietly adapted as a night attack aircraft.
    The novel again assesses the situation "in the moment"; in the same way, apparently not understanding the role of the same Me-262, which was generally a unique technological step "for a new war." In fact, the situation is much "deeper" - all the leading countries not only solved tactically tasks "for now", but also prepared for the next leaps in development - and the "Black Widow" car is an airplane for the "war for tomorrow", in case of victory or the Reich, or the USSR, as an interceptor of new hordes of piston bombers, which, according to American estimates, are capable of releasing, to one degree or another, a united Europe under one or another banner.

    This is from the same section, why Stalin did not give the "Thunderbolts" received from the USA to the front, but put them "in the piggy bank", and demanded instead of the Aircobras Kingcobras and other aircraft, such as B-17, B-24 and especially B-29, and also did not give them to the front.
  14. slowpokemonkey
    slowpokemonkey 19 November 2019 14: 41
    I vote 110, Criterion of Truth - Practice
    Whoever knocks more is the best.