Alternative RAF, 1936-41?

tomo pauk

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What changes should've been imparted to the RAF in order to make things easier in the 1st two years of the ww2 for the UK & Commonwealth? What do we axe/cancel, what to insist upon? Bar the suggestion for more Spitfires, this is too obvious. What on the BC bombers' force? Commitment to the continent once things go south?
Not a thread about what should France do better :)
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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More Spitfir......aahh.

For a different take, what about getting in on the LB-30/B-24 as early as possible and purchasing more of them? The U-Boat was an existential threat and arguably more important than any early (ineffectual) offensives. Possibly cascading Whitleys (Stirlings too?) to Coastal Command early as well and leaving the bombing campaign on the Wellington's geodesic shoulders, limiting it to as few raids as morale dictates until the Lancaster & Halifax are ready for the big show? Too much hindsight?
 

EwenS

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B-24? Not sure you could do much more on that front.

Short version (that hides much contractual juggling). Development of the design only begins in Jan 1939. First flies Dec 1939 and doesn't meet all the design specs so required new turbosupercharged engines that dn't appear until the B-24D. French order placed June 1940. Total ordered 165. First aircraft off the production line in March 1941. Some juggling between US and French/British orders means Britain gets 26 of the very earliest YB-24 & LB30B/B-24A aircraft. Then delivery of French/British order LB-30 from Aug 1941 to Dec 1941 with 75 of the 139 initially grabbed by USAAF after PH some of which were delivered in 1942 in lieu of B-24D.

10 LB-30B to Coastal Command in 1941 from initial 26 - remainder only fit for transport duties. Bomber versions of LB-30/ Liberator II finally begin to arrive on squadrons in Dec 1941/Jan 1942. Another 10 converted in 1942 to GR.II for CC and some as transports.

B-24D (RAF MKIII) begins production in Jan 1942. And the British have an order in place for 700 of these to be delivered via Lend Lease. USAAF also has a high demand for these aircraft. First deliveries to Britain in April 1942.

Queation is how do you manage to get Consolidated to increase production of an entirely new type in 1941?
 

tomo pauk

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RAF can have it's own 4-engined military A/C manufactured in the UK early enough: have Armstrong-Whitworth skip the Whitley and Ensign, and instead make a 4-engined aircraft on military specs. 4-eingined aircraft have a benefit of not needing the latest and riskiest engines, here the humble Pegasus will do; engine-out situation as also much more manageable in a 4-engined A/C than in a 2-engined type.

But, lets axe a few aircraft 1st: Botha (Blackburn makes something else instead), Defiant (have B-P make Hurricanes instead), last 1000 of Merlin-powered Battles (again Fairey will need to make something else instead). Making much more 2- or 4-engined bombers (Wellington, Hampden, A-W's bomber) is tempting, but much more investing in training the crews is needed. Also the better night flying navigational aids are needed, unless RAF introduces a workable 'day' escort fighter - can do, but there is no doctrine yet.

Have Gloster make a monoplane fighter instead of Gladiator.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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@EwenS, thanks for that. So it looks like they did get in on the B-24 pretty much as early as possible. Shame we couldn't get someone like Blackburn or Airspeed a licence for production.

lets axe a few aircraft 1st: Botha
Agreed! Lerwick and Albemarle could be cut as well. Maybe one prototype of each so they can be made to sit on the step and think about what they have done?!

RAF can have it's own 4-engined military A/C manufactured in the UK early enough: have Armstrong-Whitworth skip the Whitley and Ensign, and instead make a 4-engined aircraft on military specs. 4-eingined aircraft have a benefit of not needing the latest and riskiest engines, here the humble Pegasus will do
I think the Whitley fuselage will do (for the most part) but with a new 4-engine wing (without that incidence :oops:). Firmly agree on the peggys!
 

uk 75

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Being really radical I would put the resources that went into the four engined heavies into fast lighter hard hitting Mosquito style aircraft that could reallly strike military and industrial targets.
Strategic bombing was a colossal sacrifice of trained crews from beginning to end.
The earlier I could get such a force into service the better.
Looking at the late 30s I would ramp up Hurricane production and replace Battles with the Henley variant.
The Spitfire is important and necessary but Hurricanes are easier to build and fly.
US types are always going to be essential, especially for the RN.
The Blenheim used properly with fighter cover could have been effective but twin engined fast bombers are the way to go.
 

tomo pauk

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Spitfire's production can be increased by having Westland to get in that bandwagon ASAP. This means either no Lysander or no Whirlwind, or both (yes, Lysander - for better or worse - was made for Army needs, while Whirlwind is sexy). And/or, have Blackburn making Spitfire since we have axed the Botha there. British government can perhaps loan the tooling that was being bought for Castle Bromwich factory to both Blackburn and Westland, so they can make a good number of those in 1939-40 and on. Add some production dispersal as it was the case historically and we can have a lot of extra Spitfires.
Introducing Gloster early into Hurricane business + no Defiant = B-P can also make Spitfires.
I'd also have Saro making Supermarine's flying boats (Saro Lerwick is no more) so they can concentrate on making Spitfires.
 

Archibald

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Cross-posting from the French thread... (cut short)

Boucing off this - I really appreciate the way you British optimized your fighter production around only THREE core elements
- Hurricane
- Spitfire
- Merlin engine
And that was it. 100% efficiency that saved your souls in September 1940.

From 1938, few if none other fighter with a different engine was allowed to happen (ok: Gladiator, Defiant, Whirlwind: they fought in the BoB, but togethers represented, what, 6 squadrons ? two Gladiators, two Whirlwind, and two Defiant squadrons...)

I wish France could have proceeded with the same ruthless efficiency...
 

tomo pauk

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Gladiator was produced in almost 750 copies. Instead of those, even if we can have Gloster making 500 extra Hurricanes before 1940 that is a major boon.
One thousand of Defiants not made, and another thousand of Battles not made (ie. only the 1st 1000 is made) leaves 2000 Merlins to play around in 1939-40. No Whirlwind and it's low-production Peregrine engines frees RR to make more Merlins, that are by 1939 in mass production in the UK.

Not making 580 Bothas frees 1160 9-cylinder Perseus engines. Being sleeve valve engines, we're probably better off with Bristol concentrating on Hercules production instead, that can be further helped with forgetting the whole Taurus idea. Obviously, the production of simple engines, like Mercury and Pegasus will need to be increased a somewhat. No Botha scenario also leaves 1000+ worth of variable pitch props, so there is no rush in spring and summer of 1940 to change the props on the operating fighters that were delivered with Watts fixed-pitch prop.
 

Hood

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How are we defining "easier"?
Not having a bog-up in France would make 1940-41 much easier, no BoB, no Blitz.
Not trying stupid daylight raids with a handful of Wimpys against the Luftwaffe in their own backyard. Night time bombing is of course a waste of resources for the RAF, keeps the German cows awake but not much else. No real easy fixes to that, even USAAF daylight bombing in 1944 was often wide of the aim.

No-one has mentioned giving the RN some modern aircraft which is a shame. A better equipped Coastal Command would help too, Hudsons are good but more range is needed. A few more Sunderlands wouldn't hurt.
 

tomo pauk

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Thread is about the RAF, the FAA might use it's own thread? :) But indeed even a timely addition of perhaps 20 Sunderlands is a major boon to the anti-sub campaign in the 1st two years of the war.
For the night bombing to work, technology need to be developed, and crews trained. A simple receiver of radio emissions on the leading bombers, since radio-goniometry or triangulation was well understood even during before he Great War? Or, use the known locations of the powerful British/French/Belgian radio stations (national broadcasters mostly) to triangulate. Certainly not a level of accuracy to hit a targeted factory, but should put the bombers close to the city the factory is located. Use leading bombers to illuminate the loal area (nick the FAA trick)? Granted, not having the political will to bomb stuff in Germany until it was too late renders the techy stuff irrelevant. If/when the bombing is green-lit, go for the fuel infrastructure and naval/U-boat bases?

Guns - the .303 Brownings were excellent, then next step favored were the 20mm cannons. Shop at Oerlikon since the Hispano 404 is too late? Tony Williams favors/favored the FFL type, even the early Hurricanes and Spitfires will be able to lug two of them per A/C without much of performance lost.

Napier - what should them be doing in 1936-41? Dagger is the only product that looks useful, even if it was a strictly low-level engine.
 

Archibald

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Gladiator was produced in almost 750 copies. Instead of those, even if we can have Gloster making 500 extra Hurricanes before 1940 that is a major boon.
One thousand of Defiants not made, and another thousand of Battles not made (ie. only the 1st 1000 is made) leaves 2000 Merlins to play around in 1939-40. No Whirlwind and it's low-production Peregrine engines frees RR to make more Merlins, that are by 1939 in mass production in the UK.

Not making 580 Bothas frees 1160 9-cylinder Perseus engines. Being sleeve valve engines, we're probably better off with Bristol concentrating on Hercules production instead, that can be further helped with forgetting the whole Taurus idea. Obviously, the production of simple engines, like Mercury and Pegasus will need to be increased a somewhat. No Botha scenario also leaves 1000+ worth of variable pitch props, so there is no rush in spring and summer of 1940 to change the props on the operating fighters that were delivered with Watts fixed-pitch prop.

The Botha was a piece of junk, so good riddance. Interesting take on Defiant and Gladiators, and Battle.
So it would boils down to "500 Gloster Hurricanes with half (1064 /2) Defiant's Merlins" ? interesting. Plus Merlins from the other half of Defiants and a lot of Battles.
Radials are for bombers, in-line engines are for fighters, bombers need two engines - so the Battle was all wrong.

I love the Whirlwind but no to the fanatical level - I've long understood the Peregrine were a major PITA, at every level.
If indeed Rolls Royce can churn more Merlins as result, then go for it.

(check Wikipedia) Frack, they built 2201 battles ? :eek::eek:o_Oo_O

Dang, with 1064 Defiants, that's 3365 Merlins, not wasted (unfair) but not available to
a) moar Hurricanes
b) moar Spitfires

Just like non-turret Defiants were designed, maybe a Battle fighter could be created ? (hello, Fairey Fulmar my old friend... !)

Could a Battle been given HS-404 gun pods under the wings, flown by a single pilot, and used as a bomber destroyer ?

In passing, there was a heavy fighter Blenheim, the IF variant...
 
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Archibald

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Well, silly me - Fairey Fulmar, of course. D'oh !

Now that's an idea. How about screwing half of the Battles and turning them into Fulmars ? Tadaaaam, 1100 more Merlin-fighers (even shitty ones, admittedly).
Plus 532 non-turret Defiants ! (the other half having been turned into the engines of 532 Gloster Hurricanes, total 1064).
 

tomo pauk

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We'd probably need the 1st thousand of Battles, or perhaps just the 1st 500, since all those Hinds are in need for replacement, plus the crews and ground crews need the crash course on monoplane aircraft with retractable undercarriage. Indeed, a 'proper' land bomber is better served if designed around two engines rather than around a single one.
Fairey Fulmar was powered by the Merlin VIII, that was the low-altitude engine. If the Merlin III is in the nose - a 'proper' engine for fighters - the performance would've been better. IMO, RAF is better off with, indeed, more Hurricanes and Spitfires, even if we hang a pair of cannons under the respective wings. Trick with Hispano 404 is that it was just being produced in the UK from mid-1940, leaving the BoB dynamic duo without the cannon armament; the cannon itself was unreliable even in 1941.

For inspiration sake (for a speedy 2-engined aircraft that can be turned into reasonable bombers) we can take a look at the IMAM Ro.58: with engines no better than early Merlins, it was supposed to do 375 mph. That is ~35 mph faster than the Bf 110C (same engines on board) or the Pe-2 (about same HP available). Ro.58 was a fairly small aircraft, between the Whirlwind and Fw 187. Have had rear gunner, too.
Something like that might be workable even with Dagger VII engines, that will hopefully get some exhaust piping so the crews are not subject to the high-volume engine noise, while also getting some exhaust thrust. Even if it can do 'just' 330-350 mph, it still stands far better chances against the Luftwaffe than it was the case with Blenheims and Battles.

But then again, a 'pre-Mosquito' is even better - a gun-less wooden bomber with a proper bomb bay and Merlins at the wings.
 

Archibald

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Sooo...
- No Gladiators, 500 Gloster Hurricanes instead
- Their Merlins provided by screwing half of the Defiants (532)
- the other half of Defiants (532) can live their OTL lives, with or without a turret
- Over 2100 Battles (easier to divide that number than 2200) 700 are produced as bomber but up to 1400 could be turned into land-based Fulmars

So the RAF would end (fighters) with
- 532 less Defiants (not a great loss)
- no Gladiators (yet only 247 Squadron and 239 Squadron fought in the BoB)
- 500 more Hurricanes
- 1400 Fulmars

Hence 1400 more fighters ?
(the lost Defiants somewhat cancel - in raw number only, obviously - the Hurricanes)

EDIT - Honey, I have de-turreted the Defiant (from Wikipedia). Looks much, much better like this. Except it has no armement left, damn it. Should have pasted the machine guns into the wings !
 

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tomo pauk

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Veritable river of fighters :)
Though, I'd probably have B-P making the Spitfires instead the Defiants. Perhaps the 'alt-Fulmar' should be even smaller and lighter than the historical one, so it is at least on par with Hurricane performance-wise.
 

robunos

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Following this thread with interest . . .
My take on this. Yes. get Gloster, and Armstrong Whitworth, as part of the Hawker Siddeley Group, to build Hurricanes, but also, for other manufacturers with spare capacity, make MORE use of the Defiant. As can be seen in THIS THREAD, the single-seat Defiant, the P.94, was designed for ease of construction, and had a better performance than the Hurricane.
The original armament scheme was 12 .303 machine guns, or 4x20mm cannons plus 4 .303s. Remember the Defiant's turret weighed 620lbs fully loaded (not sure if that includes the gunner), so there's plenty of weight to play with, for more fuel, or reduced gun armament plus a decent bomb load, 500lbs or so.
Getting more radical, now. The Spitfire was a superb fighter, but difficult and time consuming to manufacture, so can it . . . build more P.94s as a stop-gap, while Supermarine re-design the Spitfire to be easier/quicker to build. Or, get Supermarine to improve the aerodynamics of the P.94 . . .
Regarding the Battle, by the late 1930s, the whole concept is obsolete. The RAF needs to learn the lesson of the Spanish Civil War, and deploy agile, single-seat fighter-bombers, able to perform in what would nowadays be called a 'swing role', either Hurricanes, as were later used as 'Hurribombers', or yet again, reduced armament P.94s . . .
God, I'm beginning to sound like Mike Sparks, and the 'Gavin' . . .
You mentioned Napiers, in an AH I worked out, they would exit aero-engine manufacturing, and switch to producing marine and tank-engine versions of the Lion. Their aero design, and any excess production capacity would be placed at the disposal of Bristols. This means no Sabre, but the Centaurus might see service before the War's end . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

Archibald

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The bottom line is that Defiant and Battle, totaling 3265 airframes (!) are by 1939 the closest thing from a Hurricane and a Spitfire in large scale production - unlike the Miles M-20, unfortunately for this wonderful and cute fighter.

Turn a fraction of those 3265 Merlins / airframes / production into a decent fighter... hit gold.

I kind of like Robunos swap of Battles for fighter-bomber, no-turret Defiants
(= P.94 indeed).

How should we call that hybrid ? Batiant ? Defitle ? ROTFL

And 12 machine guns - I know Hurricanes were to get that armement (or they got it in the end, can't remember) but Defiant would have more room for it. Plus guns - LW bombers would be turned into lose chards of metal.
 

Archibald

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Hell of a terrific idea. Behold: "Turret syndrome" - how Boulton Paul broke the bank.

The year is 1939 and the Defiant is in trouble. Clearly Hurricane and Spitfire seems better idea; the very concept of a "turret fighter" is denounced as idiotic.

Undaunted, Boulton Pual creates the P.94, evidently a turret-less Defiant nearly as good as Hurricane - but less agile as it is bigger and heavier, even de-turetted.
The RAF bluntly tells B.P "Forget it. We are no French scattering their money and war effort on a bazillion of different fighter concepts: we only want Hurricanes, more Hurricanes, and Spitfire."

Boulton Paul is a little depressed... and then somebody has a lightbulb moment.

"Eureka ! Instead of attacking frontally, Spitfire and Hurricane: how about screwing Fairey's Battle and stealing its Merlin engines ? They have 2201 of the silly things in order: twice as much as our cancelled Defiant order of 1064 airframes."

"How on Earth could a Defiant take the role of a Battle ? it ain't a freakkin' light bomber !"

"Well, so do you think. Imagine we put bombs under the wings of a P.94... we would got a fighter-bomber with Hurricane performance, far less vulnerable than a Battle and with only one crew member, not three. And same Merlin engine, so what's not to like ?"

"Eureka ! That's the idea of the Century !"

And so Boulton Paul salesman returned to the Air Ministry, with a whopping number.
"3265 Merlins; 3265 more fighters. Just think about it.

"Holly cow, indeed. But Fairey would go bankrupt... hey, how about turning their Battle orders into Fulmars, for the FAA and eventually, a land based variant for the RAF ?

"Terrific idea ! But the P.94 is far better. So let's split that pie, 2/3 rd P.94 and 1/3 rd Fulmars.
"Dang. That's... 1088 Fulmars, and 2176 P.94 ! Unbelievable."
 

HoHun

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Hi Tomo,

We'd probably need the 1st thousand of Battles, or perhaps just the 1st 500, since all those Hinds are in need for replacement, plus the crews and ground crews need the crash course on monoplane aircraft with retractable undercarriage. Indeed, a 'proper' land bomber is better served if designed around two engines rather than around a single one.

Your point about training is a very good one, and it's my impression that historically, the Battle of Britain was more characterized by a shortage of well-trained pilots than by one of aircraft, or engines. Maybe the important aircraft to provide to the RAF were training aircraft, rather than combat types. (In fact, I believe one of the criticisms raised against Beaverbrook's effort to ramp up fighter production was that he cut back trainer production, increasing the difficulty of actually increasing the operational fighter strength for lack of trained pilots.)

"The Paladins" by John James outlines the historical preparation phase of the RAF up to the Battle of Britain, and I was quite fascinated by the methodical nature of the build-up that in the period in question actually satisfied political requests for greater number of units without greatly deviating from the pre-determined plan to build up a combat-ready aircraft by 1940 or 1941.

By that perspective, the Battles probably were intended, to a degree, to serve as crew trainers and not so much as combat aircraft. Replacing them with twin-engined types would probably have reduced the number of aircraft available for training, or as vehicles to gain valuable experience on, and with the rapid expansion of the bomber force already on the mind of the RAF planners, this would probably have been a counter-productive change.

But then again, a 'pre-Mosquito' is even better - a gun-less wooden bomber with a proper bomb bay and Merlins at the wings.

It's my impression that the Blenheim really was the Mosquito-equivalent of the 1930s, so it seems sensible to assume that the RAF when looking for a twin-engined high-speed bomber would have specified something like a "Merlin Blenheim" instead of a wooden aircraft. Of course, that might have provided the opportunity for de Havilland to offer a "pre-Mosquito" in response to that specification ...

(By the way, I just checked - John James book in the Kindle edition is available for $0.99. Really a great book on the historical background with some very deep insights, in my opinion.)

Regards,

Henning (HoHun)
 

robunos

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"Holly cow, indeed. But Fairey would go bankrupt... hey, how about turning their Battle orders into Fulmars, for the FAA and eventually, a land based variant for the RAF ?

Fairey's will be alright, they're still turning out Swordfish, Albacores will follow, as will Barracudas, remember Fairey transferred Swordfish production to Blackburn's, in order to make room for their other orders, and the FAA will still need the Fulmar. Interestingly, the Fulmar was based on the unnamed P.4/34 design, which was effectively an improved Battle, smaller with a 500lb bomb load, see HERE.
This design lost out to the Hawker Henley, mentioned above, although the whole 'light bomber' requirement was later cancelled outright . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

tomo pauk

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Your point about training is a very good one, and it's my impression that historically, the Battle of Britain was more characterized by a shortage of well-trained pilots than by one of aircraft, or engines. Maybe the important aircraft to provide to the RAF were training aircraft, rather than combat types. (In fact, I believe one of the criticisms raised against Beaverbrook's effort to ramp up fighter production was that he cut back trainer production, increasing the difficulty of actually increasing the operational fighter strength for lack of trained pilots.)

Cheers,
Yes, many times we can read that Fighter XYZ was deemed good, but that RAF was in much greater need of pilots, rather than of yet another hundreds of fighters. Thus I'm in favor of making more of better fighters, with actually modest increase of numbers total. Hurricane covers the 'get the decent fighters ASAP' role, Spitfire is 'the next-gen fighter with potential'.

It's my impression that the Blenheim really was the Mosquito-equivalent of the 1930s, so it seems sensible to assume that the RAF when looking for a twin-engined high-speed bomber would have specified something like a "Merlin Blenheim" instead of a wooden aircraft. Of course, that might have provided the opportunity for de Havilland to offer a "pre-Mosquito" in response to that specification ...

Either wooden or in metal, I have no horse in that race :) What indeed is needed is the follow-up to the fast bomber idea past Blenheim - talk 330-350 mph by 1939-40. Merlins, enclosed bomb bay and up-to-date aerodynamics should've given that to the RAF.
D-H was offering an gun-less bomber to the AM early on, no takers.

My take on this. Yes. get Gloster, and Armstrong Whitworth, as part of the Hawker Siddeley Group, to build Hurricanes, but also, for other manufacturers with spare capacity, make MORE use of the Defiant. As can be seen in THIS THREAD, the single-seat Defiant, the P.94, was designed for ease of construction, and had a better performance than the Hurricane.
The original armament scheme was 12 .303 machine guns, or 4x20mm cannons plus 4 .303s. Remember the Defiant's turret weighed 620lbs fully loaded (not sure if that includes the gunner), so there's plenty of weight to play with, for more fuel, or reduced gun armament plus a decent bomb load, 500lbs or so.

It is curious to note that there was no photograph of a the non-turret-Defiant/P.94 with any gun installed. We also don't know whether such a fighter ever flew armed. Going faster than Hurricane was easy, especially with Merlin XX that offered 20% better power above 12000 ft than Merlin III. Hurricane IIA (8 gun version, with pilot protection) powered by Merlin XX was making more than 340 mph.
The unarmed Spitfire III prototype went almost 400 mph with Merlin XX onboard, while armed & armored Spitfire II was as fast as unarmored and unarmed P.94, despite the power deficit for the former.
 

Desertfox

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Another idea would be to build the Whirldwinds with proper Merlins instead of Peregrines. They mounted a very heavy 20mm cannon armament, that would have been perfect in the anti-bomber role as the Germans did later on against the 8th AF.
 

HoHun

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Hi Tomo,

Thus I'm in favor of making more of better fighters, with actually modest increase of numbers total. Hurricane covers the 'get the decent fighters ASAP' role, Spitfire is 'the next-gen fighter with potential'.

A fairly straightforward way of doing so would be to build the Hurricane in a small-wing variant.

The requirement for a low wing loading was meant to ensure that the new fighter could operate from relatively short grass fields, not for air-to-air capability since it was not expected to actually be used in air an superiority role.

Willy Messerschmitt, faced with a similar requirement for low wing loading issued by the Luftwaffe, opposed this requirement since in his opinion, a fighter intended for bomber interception would have to have the highest possible top speed in order to intercept the fast bombers that were state of the art at the time. His request to be allowed to ignore this requirement for the Luftwaffe fighter tender was granted by the RLM, and the result was the very successful Me 109.

Had Sidney Camm went the same route as Messerschmitt, and gotten permission from the Air Ministry to ignore the wing loading requirement as well, he'd probably have been able to build a fighter more similar in performance to the Messerschmitt than the historical Hurricane. If the Air Ministry was aware of the potentially superior performance of the more advanced Spitfire, they might have been all the more willing to let Camm deviate from the original specification, as it would have been evident to them that the original Hurricane didn't really represent the state of the art.

The small-wing Hurricane might not have been up to full Me 109 or Spitfire performance levels, but it probably would have been a worthwhile improvement over the original Hurricane, as far its competitiveness against the Me 109 was concerned.

Regards,

Henning (HoHun)
 

tomo pauk

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The small-wing Hurricane might not have been up to full Me 109 or Spitfire performance levels, but it probably would have been a worthwhile improvement over the original Hurricane, as far its competitiveness against the Me 109 was concerned.

Hurricane also have had the radiators in a airbrake fashion.
Wing does not have to be much smaller, but in can have a thickness-to-chord ratio of perhaps 15%, rather than of 19% as it was the case. Lower T-t-C is bound to reduce drag. A smarter radiator set-up - 'beard', or in front of the wing would've also helped. Even if these two changes gain just 15 mph there is less of disadvantage vs. Bf 109E, and almost no speed disadvantage vs. Bf 110C. Granted, making a thin-wing Hurricane would've meant designing and tooling changes.

Another tiny bit that might gain another 10 mph is the application of a pressure-injection carbs on the British engines (Merlin in this case). Spitfire V gained 10 mph and 1500 ft of practical ceiling (test report) when the float-type carb was swapped for the pressure-injection type. The less draggy individual exhaust stacks would've also helped.
 

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(check Wikipedia) Frack, they built 2201 battles ? :eek::eek:o_Oo_O
Sources differ.
  • Putnams RAF Aircraft Since 1918 says 2,200.
  • Bowyer, in Aircraft for the Few, says 2,196.
  • The British Official History on the Design and Development of Weapons says 1,164 by Fairey and 1,032 by Austin for a total of 2,196.
  • The Aircraft Profile on the Fairey Battle says 2,184.
  • My RAF Serials spreadsheet says 1,155 by Fairey, Stockport and 1,029 by Austin for a total of 2,184.
I compiled this from the section on the Fairey Battle in the British Official History on the Design and Development of weapons.

Fairey Battle Orders and Production from the Design and Development of Weapons.png
 

uk 75

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Fighter Command had the right aircraft in the Hurricane and Spitfire. Getting rid of the pointless Defiant gives you more of them. Trainers could have been built in greater numbers.
But the real chalkenge is to replace the Battles and Blenheim's of the RAF units sent to France in 1939.
 

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(check Wikipedia) Frack, they built 2201 battles ? :eek::eek:o_Oo_O
Because nothing better was available and to retain the labour forces at Fairey and Austin until something better was available.

Fairey was supposed to stop building Battles and start building Avro Manchesters. However, that aircraft's problems led to more Battles being ordered and the Firm eventually built the Handley Page Halifax.

Austin was supposed to stop building Battles and start building Short Stirlings but that aircraft wasn't ready to be put into production on time and more Battles had to be ordered to fill the gap.

If you want to have a better Fairey Battle you need to alter the specification, which was issued in 1932, which is beyond the scope of the thread because the point of departure in 1936.
 
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robunos

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If you want to have a better Fairey Battle you need to alter the specification, which was issued in 1932, which is beyond the scope of the thread because the point of departure in 1936.

The contenders to P.4/34 both fly in 1937, if comparative testing reveals their superiority to the Battle, then switch production to the new type . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

robunos

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Wing does not have to be much smaller, but in can have a thickness-to-chord ratio of perhaps 15%, rather than of 19% as it was the case. Lower T-t-C is bound to reduce drag.

I'll have to check the reference, but IIRC, the thick wing on the Hurricane came about as a result of wind tunnel work which showed that thick wings did not suffer from high drag, as was generally accepted. It was only after the Hurricane had been designed, built, and put into service, that it was discovered that the wind tunnel results were flawed, and that thick wings did indeed suffer from high drag. Unfortunately, the Hawker Typhoon was also designed on the basis of these results . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

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If you want to have a better Fairey Battle you need to alter the specification, which was issued in 1932, which is beyond the scope of the thread because the point of departure in 1936.

The contenders to P.4/34 both fly in 1937, if comparative testing reveals their superiority to the Battle, then switch production to the new type . . .

cheers,
Robin.
The Battle was already in production in 1937 and the time required to retool to build either of those aircraft would do more harm than good.

cheers,
NOMISYRRUC
 

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It's my impression that the Blenheim really was the Mosquito-equivalent of the 1930s, so it seems sensible to assume that the RAF when looking for a twin-engined high-speed bomber would have specified something like a "Merlin Blenheim" instead of a wooden aircraft. Of course, that might have provided the opportunity for de Havilland to offer a "pre-Mosquito" in response to that specification ...

Either wooden or in metal, I have no horse in that race :) What indeed is needed is the follow-up to the fast bomber idea past Blenheim - talk 330-350 mph by 1939-40. Merlins, enclosed bomb bay and up-to-date aerodynamics should've given that to the RAF.
D-H was offering an gun-less bomber to the AM early on, no takers.

There was a fast Blenheim opportunity for the 1940s. Trouble was there was too much changing of specs leading to redesign. The Bristol Type 162 light bomber, Hercules engined development out of the Beaufighter. It emerged as the Bristol Buckingham which first flew in Feb 1943.

The Centaurus engine was appearing from 1943. See the Buckingham, Vickers Warwick and Tempest II (first aircraft produced in Oct 1944 but not issued to squadrons until later 1945 as it was planned to be sent to equip Far East squadrons).
 

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There was a fast Blenheim opportunity for the 1940s. Trouble was there was too much changing of specs leading to redesign. The Bristol Type 162 light bomber, Hercules engined development out of the Beaufighter. It emerged as the Bristol Buckingham which first flew in Feb 1943.

Hercules time-line can probably be improved via not making the sleeve-valve engines for the Botha, not naking the Saro Lerwick, and skipping the Taurus? I'd go with Hercules-powered Beaufort from day one, making a general-purpose bomber out of it.
 

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Hi Tomo,

Wing does not have to be much smaller, but in can have a thickness-to-chord ratio of perhaps 15%, rather than of 19% as it was the case.

Well, the wide-track landing gear required stronger wings than on the Me 109 or Spitfire with their narrow-track gears, and I'm sure the high thickness ratio also helped to achieve the necessary wing strength with the Hawker approach to wing construction, which didn't require a load-bearing skin. However, a smaller and thus shorter wing would have decreasing bending moments at the wing root, and thus helped to make a thinner wing feasible.

If we can go by the Me 109 drag calculation example by Dr. Hörner, the parasitic drag of the a fighter's wing is about one third of the overall drag. The Hurricane wing can be decreased in size by about 20% to give a wing loading still a bit below that of the Me 109E, which should give a 6% decrease in drag, which at 320 mph speed of the original Hurricane should result in a 20 mph speed increase.

With a smaller wing, a smaller tail will suffice, for another though more modest gain in top speed.

Of course, the smaller wing can be combined with the more efficient radiator you're suggesting, so that would make the Hurricane even more competitive.

(It's worth noting that the roughly contemporary D.520, MS.406, Me 109, Jak-1 and LaGG-3 all had wings of 16 - 17.5 m^2 size. Except for the LaGG-3, these were all bit lighter than the Hurricane, but as the Hurricane historically had a 24 m^2 wing, it would still have the largest wing of the group even if you'd reduce its area by 20%.)

Regards,

Henning (HoHun)
 

tomo pauk

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(It's worth noting that the roughly contemporary D.520, MS.406, Me 109, Jak-1 and LaGG-3 all had wings of 16 - 17.5 m^2 size. Except for the LaGG-3, these were all bit lighter than the Hurricane, but as the Hurricane historically had a 24 m^2 wing, it would still have the largest wing of the group even if you'd reduce its area by 20%.)
I'm all for Hurricane having a smaller/thinner/less draggy wing.
We can note that Hurricane was outfitted with the heaviest engine of them all when introduced. Guns' set-up was also much heavier than what Bf 109A/B/C/D had. All of that combined + the fact that Hurricane as-designed was with the fixed-pitch prop = it is easier to understood why the big & thick wing was chosen.
Soviet and French brass and designers were at 2nd generation of monoplane fighters when the Yak-1 and LaGG-3 were in design phase, those fighters being a few years younger than the Hurricane. Willy M probably looked at the wing size & thinnes of the Polish and French fighters when designing the Bf 109, all while having the experience with Bf 108 trainer. If the Hawker Fury and/or Gloster Gauntled were designed as monoplanes - even with the fixed U/C - by the time a Merlin-powered fighter was mooted, we'd probably have had the 'alt Hurricane' designed with a more 'aggresive' wing, so to say, since the in-house experience is already there.
 

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Seems everyone is looking at engine and airframe development separately. But chicken and egg? Which comes first the airframe spec or the engine development? To me engine manufacturers were providing engines with power outputs sought by the airframe manufacturers.

Taking Bristol, there were 3 engine development lines in the lead up to WW2:

Mercury (Gladiator & Blenheim) followed by Pegasus (Swordfish, Hampden, Wellington, Sunderland) poppet valve designs.

Aquila (little use) followed by Taurus (Albacore and Beaufort) sleeve valve

Perseus (Botha, Skua and Roc) then Hercules (Stirling Beaufighter) then on to Centaurus, all sleeve valve designs.

Each engine series seems to be built around a core group of parts. For example each uses an identical cylinder bore to others in the same series and extracts more horsepower by increasing the stroke and/or adding more cylinders.

So, interesting question. If you cut an earlier engine do you get a later one at all, or at least get it in the same timescale as historical?

The obvious target to cut in the above is the Aquila/Taurus series particularly in hindsight due to problems introducing it to service. But AIUI it was developed to fit a niche in terms of power output around 1,000hp. Perseus was below that and the Hercules was to come in above it. Axing that line means telling the aircraft designers to find another engine.

Take out Perseus and Taurus and the FAA is in an even worse position than historical.
 

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Seems everyone is looking at engine and airframe development separately. But chicken and egg? Which comes first the airframe spec or the engine development? To me engine manufacturers were providing engines with power outputs sought by the airframe manufacturers.
Taking Bristol, there were 3 engine development lines in the lead up to WW2:
Mercury (Gladiator & Blenheim) followed by Pegasus (Swordfish, Hampden, Wellington, Sunderland) poppet valve designs.
Aquila (little use) followed by Taurus (Albacore and Beaufort) sleeve valve
Perseus (Botha, Skua and Roc) then Hercules (Stirling Beaufighter) then on to Centaurus, all sleeve valve designs.
Each engine series seems to be built around a core group of parts. For example each uses an identical cylinder bore to others in the same series and extracts more horsepower by increasing the stroke and/or adding more cylinders.

Agreed all the way.
To me, engine is crucial; if an engine fails, a whole host of perspective aircraft designs are in shambles. It took about 4 years to come out with a workable engine in the 1930s-40s (even if the company was well versed in type of engines), while OTOH people were able to design an aircraft in matter of months.

So, interesting question. If you cut an earlier engine do you get a later one at all, or at least get it in the same timescale as historical?

The obvious target to cut in the above is the Aquila/Taurus series particularly in hindsight due to problems introducing it to service. But AIUI it was developed to fit a niche in terms of power output around 1,000hp. Perseus was below that and the Hercules was to come in above it. Axing that line means telling the aircraft designers to find another engine.

Take out Perseus and Taurus and the FAA is in an even worse position than historical.

Pegasus was making 1000 HP already on 87 oct fuel in 1938. It was a reliable engine, certainly cheaper than the 2-row sleeve-valve Taurus. Fairey can design the Albacore around that Pegasus, or they can design it around the Hercules. Or they can make the Swordfish with the 1000 HP Pegasus (a surplus of 300 HP vs. historical), that also has enclosed cockpit so it is better suited for bad weahter in N. Atlantic (some were retrofitted with enclosed cockpit in Canada IIRC).
Alternatively, a 'Sea Battle' by Fairey?
I'd keep the Perseus, it shares the bore and stroke with Hercules, thus the production of sleeves can be siphoned more and more to the production of Hercules.
 
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