|Originally posted by aghart|
These two fine aircraft were pretty evenly matched in the early years of WWII. The Spitfire in my opinion wins it because of it's ability to be upgraded as time goes on. The ME 109 may have soldiered on until the end of the war but was basically superseded by the FW190 from about 1942 onwards. The Spitfire is the only fighter that was in service at the start of WWII and could still hold it's own against any (piston engined) fighter at the end of the conflict.
Why do people seem to forget that it was the Bf109 that was actually far more upgraded than the Spitfire? Israel was using the Me109 as the mainsaty of it's emerging airforce. Spain was also using it up until the 50's.
Those two machines encountered themselves during WWII and I think that the Me109 is slightly better than the Spit. Let's see:
The E vs the MkI and/or MkII. The E could dive and climb better and had tremendous acceleration - this was probably what made the 109 distinctive. Its armament, especially the two MGFF, was not the very best thing against a Spit. Aiming was tough. The two Mg17 on the other hand were far better. Easy to aim yet still lacking the necessary punch. The eight .303 of the Spit were better, on the other hand, since they were pouring a lot more lead into the enemy fighter. That would have wounded at least. The Spit was also a circus plane and had a slight higher top speed. But due to its chracteristics the 109 could always break away. Anyway, in BoB the two were in the wrong hands. The Spit was better suited for escort since it was a fighter vs fighter rather than the E who, using its guns in dashing attacks, would have turn the Balbos into metal shred. Oh, another thing, the visibility from the Spit was wonderful, unlike the 109 who always was rear blind.
The F vs MkV. In these versions the MkV was hampered by being "clipped, clapped, cropped". Yet it did packed enough punch and was agile enough. The F2 was seriously undergunned but the F4 was a tough customer. That Mg15/20 in the proppeler hub was deadly for a Spit. The F was agile enough but not for a dogfight withe a MkV. Head to head the F would win (better gun, easyer to aim). And bouncing, off course. The MkV also lacks the high altitude advantages that will come later.
The G vs MkIX. Now it's no more about fighting. The IX is really trouble for the G. The german fighter is outgunned and outpowered. Yet it still has a lot of hidden cards. First, the Mk108 on the G10. Man, if you spit a Spit with that it will drool allower the sky! So, the G still had a chance. High, dive, hit and run. If caught in a fight, it still had enough acceleration and still could outdive the Spit. In the end, it was up to the the pilots.
The K vs MkIV. The MkIV is considered to be the top Spit but in my opinion these two late versions of the fighters show that the potential of the 109 was superior. Because the K was better than the MkIV. The weaponry was deadly, it had speed and the MkIV was less agile than the IX. The K was better at low and medium height and almost equal upstairs. Bounce, dive and hit hard. The Spit was still better at turning fights but ...
All in all I think the Spit is maybe the best defensive plane of WWII while the 109 was the finest weapon a hunter would want. The advantage of the Spitfire lies especially in the fact that it was a pilot friendly airplane. The 109 was a rather unforgiving machine. And that made the difference. USA shown it. It would have been easy for the Americans to build the Spit but instead they built the P47, P51 and the F6. A little off the track here but let's see:
Both the Spit and the 109 could mock "The Jug" but noone of them would withstand a burst of the eight M2's. While the P47 was harder than a He111. And it could dive like a rocket.
The Spit and the 109 (G10 maybe and the K for sure) where in the same league as the P51. Only the latter could fly for hours. And it was working in packs. Teamwork was the solution and it worked. Not a fair fight, one on one, no. Four against one, even more if possible.
The Hellcat faced a different foe but let's look at it. Simple, rugged, hard hitting and powerful. The slick lines of the Spit or the agressive look of the 109 are better looking but the "clumsy" F6 is a life saviour.
To conclude: The Spitfire was a dancer in the sky. The 109 was a killing machine but only aces could really handle it.