After the Battle of Britain: further development for the RAF?

tomo pauk

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What might be the workable options for the RAF to grow both in capability and numbers after the late 1940? RAF's tasks include air defense of the UK, waging the war against Germany, control of N. Africa and Med, and shortly in future the Asian front will open (came as a surprise to the West). Also the air cover for the shipping in Atlantic need to be secured as much as possible. Includes the gear imported from the USA, possible & plausible improvements in strategy, tactics, hardware.
Not the thread about the FAA.
 

alertken

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tp: not clear what you are exploring here. The precise answer to your Q is: none. Churchill's take in his work of fiction which won the Nobel was to look to the bright star in the West, so UK to do what it takes to bring US in, not as arsenal of democracy, but as soldiers thereof.

Drawing breath with relief, 9-11/40 after our near-run thing, Minister of A/c Production Beaverbrook assigned industry resources to produce kit for the Spring 1941 renewal of German/Italian attacks on us, world wide. The Heavy Bomber Production Groups were launched, briefly including the Supermarine one, bombed out late-Sept. The only course we felt we could follow was to add aerial blockade to the Brit. tradition of Naval weapons of mass destruction upon the littoral civil population. Anything but full frontal attrition.

If...FDR had dismissed our assertions that we were broke, had demanded cash to continue, no Lend Lease, and :
If...Musso had not bounced Germany to turn South before East, 4/41, and/or:
If...Germany had chosen to brush UK away 3/41 before heading East in, say, July,41...then...this board would be in another language.

UK had no workable options, 9/40, except to try to survive awhile till something turned up. Or to ask nicely whether the Offer was still open, that he has the Eurasian Land Mass for Lebensraum and we have the sea.
 

Hood

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I think from a manpower and resources viewpoint it would have been impossible to grow the RAF any faster than historical.
The only options would be diverting more Canadian and Australian pilots (which could lead to serious problems in the Far East).
Lend-Lease was a blessing and a curse, rubbish like Bermudas and Clevelands were of no help where other became highly important. Even so no point having hundreds of extra airframes without the people to fly them.

The biggest improvement would be to make sure Harris doesn't get the Bomber Command job, keep him annoying Americans in Washington post him somewhere else where he can't do any harm.
Then we might have had more long-range aerial cover over the Atlantic sooner. The only caveat I would have to this is that closing the gap was useful but still limited effectiveness until all maritime reconnaissance types got radar.

British airpower did ok in the Med from later 1941 onwards, but as I said elsewhere, being far from London helped. The Far East had problems but again, by 1943 things had improved regards tactics and equipment.
 

tomo pauk

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A few squadrons of long-range patrol aircraft would've probably improved the situation wrt. convoys heading from the UK. A considerable performance improvement of fighter types (Spitfire, mostly) will be needed. Early acceptance of the Mosquito idea, too. Make a contract with NAA for Merlin-powered Mustang already in 1940, or at least in early 1941. Bomber Command will need to revisit the night flying & bombing capabilities ASAP, via improved training and electronic devices; also the early adoption of flares to mark the target area.
 

EwenS

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Merlin powered Mustang in 1940-41? Few questions.

How can production be speeded up? Contract for the prototype only signed in May 1940 after resolving a few difficulties with the US Govt. It flew on 26 Oct 1940 with first production aircraft in April 1941. It takes about 5 months from factory door to front line for delivery. Actual service entry was Feb 1942. Can't see that being shortened much. Put a Merlin in and you get further delays while it is developed.

Is it worth it at that time? Allison V-1710 v two speed single stage Merlin 45 engine any major benefit to performance. Maybe lifts it from 15,000 to 20,000 ft. The two speed two stage Merlin 61 doesn't enter production until March 1942. That is what really boosts the Mustang's performance. Development of the Merlin 61 powered Mustang started with an idea in April 1942.

Where are Merlin engines going to come from? UK production is being fully utilised unless you are going to cancel some Merlin engined type in Britain (Halifax, Beaufighter II, Spitfire, Hurricane or Defiant?). Lancaster adds to demand (prototype Jan 1941. First production aircraft Oct 1941). But you want the heavy bombers for Coastal Command.

Packard signed a licence agreement for Merlin Production in Sept 1940 (after Ford turned down the opportunity - several months wasted). First engines (single stage) don't appear until Aug 1941 (two stage for the P-51B is an expansion of production in mid-1943)
 

tomo pauk

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How can production be speeded up? Contract for the prototype only signed in May 1940 after resolving a few difficulties with the US Govt. It flew on 26 Oct 1940 with first production aircraft in April 1941. It takes about 5 months from factory door to front line for delivery. Actual service entry was Feb 1942. Can't see that being shortened much. Put a Merlin in and you get further delays while it is developed.

Curtiss received the Merlin 20 from UK in order to be trialed for installation on the future P-40F. Have another Merlin to be shipped to the NAA by late 1940. I'm okay with V-1650-1 powered Mustang in service by August-September 1942.

Is it worth it at that time? Allison V-1710 v two speed single stage Merlin 45 engine any major benefit to performance. Maybe lifts it from 15,000 to 20,000 ft. The two speed two stage Merlin 61 doesn't enter production until March 1942. That is what really boosts the Mustang's performance. Development of the Merlin 61 powered Mustang started with an idea in April 1942.

Minor tidbit - Merlin 45 was with 1-stage 1-speed S/C. That S/C was much more capable than what V-1710 got. At 19000 ft, Merlin 45 will give ~1100 HP, vs. V-1710-39 making ~870 HP, ie. Merlin 45 will do 25% more there. The V-1710-81 (installed on the Mustang II/P-51A, and on P-40N) gave ~970 HP at 19000 ft, propelling the Mustang II to above 410 mph.
Is it worth it? It gives a 400++ mph fighter that is capable for long range work between Autumn of 1942 and 1943.
V-1650-1 was making similar power vs. altitude as the Merlin 45.

The full conversion of all surviving Mustang I airframes with RR-made Merlin 61/63/65 gives even more for early 1943 and on, just like a lot of Spitfire IXs were up-engined Spitfire Vs.

Where are Merlin engines going to come from? UK production is being fully utilised unless you are going to cancel some Merlin engined type in Britain (Halifax, Beaufighter II, Spitfire, Hurricane or Defiant?). Lancaster adds to demand (prototype Jan 1941. First production aircraft Oct 1941). But you want the heavy bombers for Coastal Command.

Cancel the Defiant and Beaufighter II from early 1941. Halifax with Merlins was a far worse bomber than it was with Hercules engines. Make a few hundreds less of the Hurricanes, in 1941 and 1942 a total of 6000+ was made. Even in 1943 more than 2700 was made. Doh.
Packard signed a licence agreement for Merlin Production in Sept 1940 (after Ford turned down the opportunity - several months wasted). First engines (single stage) don't appear until Aug 1941 (two stage for the P-51B is an expansion of production in mid-1943)

With V-1650-1 powered Mustang, RAF has no desire for the same engine in the nose of P-40.
 

Archibald

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I thought the fighter Mustang (P-51B) IOC was delayed to late 1943
because
- British side: no use for it post BoB with Spitfires and Hawkers (Hurricane then Typhoon / Tempest)
- American side: A-36 dive bomber, and (before Schweinfurt) flyalone bombers self defending with their machine guns

How early could have the P-51B been available otherwise ? 1942 ?

(well NINJA'D by Tomo Pauk, ok)

Curtiss received the Merlin 20 from UK in order to be trialed for installation on the future P-40F. Have another Merlin to be shipped to the NAA by late 1940. I'm okay with V-1650-1 powered Mustang in service by August-September 1942.
Is it worth it? It gives a 400++ mph fighter that is capable for long range work between Autumn of 1942 and 1943.
Very interesting. But for what ?
- RAF had switched to night attacks since 1940 butcherings of bombers.
- 8th AF was only timidly beginning their raids, July 1942 over Northern France - they would no try attacking Germany before a year later, with well known results...

Note that in 1942 the RAF was using the few A-36 it had for low altitude straffing raids over Northern France. The pilots become experts at machine-gunning steam locomotives to make them explode and wreck the rail tracks in passing.

Circus and rodeos, with Mustangs (rather than short range Spits, obsolete Hurricanes) ? to bleed the LW over France ? now that would be something.

But Typhoon is coming (fast) for that job. Although its beginnings were so troubled and difficult, earlier Mustangs may have it cancelled (it come very close OTL).
 
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robunos

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Simple. Get jets into production and service ASAP . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

EwenS

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And it took Curtiss until June 1941 to get the British built Merlin 28 they received, flying in a converted P-40D airframe (production of which was itself only starting in July 1941) as the prototype P-40F. Production aircraft had to wait for those Packard built engines and didn’t start until Jan 1942 alongside the Allison powered P-40E.
 

tomo pauk

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Very interesting. But for what ?
- RAF had switched to night attacks since 1940 butcherings of bombers.
- 8th AF was only timidly beginning their raids, July 1942 over Northern France - they would no try attacking Germany before a year later, with well known results...

Note that in 1942 the RAF was using the few A-36 it had for low altitude straffing raids over Northern France. The pilots become experts at machine-gunning steam locomotives to make them explode and wreck the rail tracks in passing.

Circus and rodeos, with Mustangs (rather than short range Spits, obsolete Hurricanes) ? to bleed the LW over France ? now that would be something.

RAF was making daytime intrusions almost on daily bases above mainland already by spring/summer of 1941, receiving the bloody nose from LW in late 1941, and then tried to adopt the tactics and whatnot to somewhat lower the pressure by Fw 190s. They needed a good number of fighters that can go against those and live to tell.
Granted, the whole premise of Rhubarbs/Circuses/Rodeos needs an overhaul - LW will not play above France by RAF rules unless RAF can force them, ,and that will not be accomplished via sending a few bombers as a bait. Germans were not stupid.
RAF was not using A-36, only 1 was delivered for tests. Mustangs all the way.

Long-range fighters were badly needed in the Med, something better than Beaufighter will be needed.

But Typhoon is coming (fast) for that job. Although its beginnings were so troubled and difficult, earlier Mustangs may have it cancelled (it come very close OTL).

Time to speed up the design and production of a proper set of wings for Typhoon, while having it carry 200 imp gals + drop tanks?
 

tomo pauk

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A good thing might be to go with Spitfire III, with it's good streamlining, even if it has the Merlin XII in the nose, and later the Merlin 45. The sooner the Manchester becomes Lancaster, the better. Press on with development of Merlin 60 series - the 1st data sheet that sports Merlin 60 that I'm aware is dated 13th August 1941, for the Welligton VI. Take a good, hard look on the Typhoon.

Some not so great changes that might make 1941 and 1942 easier for the RAF's pilots:
- better carburetors ('fuel pump' type, or 'pressure-injection') for their engines, especially for the Merlin; a good carb offered speed increase of 10 mph vs. the float-type carb on the Spitfire V, extra 1500 ft in ceiling, and no ;
- take a look at the low-drag exhausts on the LW aircraft, copy that ASAP (7-8 mph gain on Spitfire, for example)
- make sure that fit & finish is as good as it should be (easy loss of 10-15 mph if the fit & finish is not good)
- extend the range/radius of the fighters beyond the effort of installing the drop tanks; the 29 gal rear tank on Spitfire is a good step in that direction
 
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