Alternative RAF, 1936-41?

EwenS

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And something else to consider if you start axing particular types. How long to retool a factory? And what knock on effects does that have on subsequent types? Some of this planning was being done years in advance. For example Fairey was operating 2 factories.

Hayes - Swordfish to Feb 1940. Albacores from Nov 1939. Then Fireflies.

Stockport - Battles from 1937. Then Fulmars from Jan 1940, then Barracudas from 1942 (but that was planned in 1939 even though the date moved a bit to the right in the end).

But Stockport also built components for Beaufighters and Halifax.

Blackburn was able to take on Swordfish production because it ha finished producing Skuas and Rocs. First left the factory in Dec 1940.
 

tomo pauk

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We haven't done much talking about the land-based torpedo bombers here. That role was supposed to be fulfilled with Botha (we know ow that ended up) and Beaufort. Perhaps have Hampden and/or 'Hercules Beaufort' to do it together? An 1-engined monoplane torpedo bomber maybe?
How many torpedo bombers are needed actually?
 

EwenS

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At the end of the day the Botha and Beaufort were meant to fulfil two specifications:-

M.15/35 General reconnaissance/torpedo bomber
G.24/35 General reconnaissance

The torpedo bomber to be replaced was the biplane Vickers Vildebeest with two squadrons at home and two in Singapore in peacetime. Such were the delays that an additional 90 Beauforts were ordered from the Australian production line to equip the latter but they were only beginning to appear in Dec 1941 so they went to war with Vildebeest against the Japanese.

They were also meant to replace the Anson in the GR role. Again the delays resulted in Hudsons being acquired. There were about 9 squadrons of Ansons in Coastal Command on the outbreak of war. RAF and RN planning pre-war was based on the assumption that CC operations would be relatively close to Britain as U-boats would be based in Germany. No one expected France to fall leading to U-boats sortieing from the Biscay ports and ranging much further afield and resulting in CC needing much longer ranged types.

Both types entered service mid-1940 but Hudson’s were able to be delivered from Feb 1939.

Edit- the Beauforts went to the two U.K. Vildebeest squadrons initially.

The Botha was only used operationally by 608 squadron where it began to replace Ansons. It proved so bad in the role that it was withdrawn 6 months later.
 
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robunos

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he 'Second Generation' heavy bombers to Spec. P.13/36, Avro Manchester, Vickers Warwick, and H-P Halifax forerunner, were to be able to carry torpedoes as well . . .

From Wiki :-
'Specification P.13/36 called for a twin-engine monoplane "medium bomber" for "worldwide use", which was to be capable of carrying out shallow (30°) dive bombing attacks and carry heavy bombloads (8,000 lb/3,630 kg) or two 18 in (457 mm) torpedoes.'

cheers,
Robin.
 

EwenS

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he 'Second Generation' heavy bombers to Spec. P.13/36, Avro Manchester, Vickers Warwick, and H-P Halifax forerunner, were to be able to carry torpedoes as well . . .

From Wiki :-
'Specification P.13/36 called for a twin-engine monoplane "medium bomber" for "worldwide use", which was to be capable of carrying out shallow (30°) dive bombing attacks and carry heavy bombloads (8,000 lb/3,630 kg) or two 18 in (457 mm) torpedoes.'

cheers,
Robin.
The torpedo dropping requirement in P.13/36 was dropped from the spec on 26 August 1937. All covered in this thread.

 

EwenS

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Another problem to consider when deciding what not to build in the run up to ww2. Although aircraft may have been less than stellar in their designed roles, or even been complete failures, they often played a very useful part in other roles. So their construction was not completely wasted. So how are you going to plug those gaps? By way of example:-

Night fighters - 7 squadrons of Defiants in May 1941 and still 5 in April 1942. They could be used as such as there was a second crewman to operate the radar. Can’t do that with a single seater version. It was tried with Spitfire’s and Hurricanes and quickly dropped.

How many more Beaufighter NF can you extract from the factories before that time? Prototype Beau only flew in July 1939 with only 100 produced by Dec 1940 and another 100 by May 1941. Havocs from the US are only entering service in the NF role in April 1941. Still want to rely on the Blenheim in that role into 1942?

Trainers - yes the Botha was a failure as a front line aircraft. But the 580 built served into 1944 as trainers for bomb aimers, navigators etc. What aircraft will be available for them to train on? Or are you going to build more of a front line type just to do that? Of course training losses might have been reduced but they were horribly high anyway no matter what types were being used.

The RAF Beaufort was withdrawn from front line squadrons in NWE and the Med around mid-1943 but continued on with two in Ceylon until Sept 1944 who saw no action. But production continued until Nov 1944. The last 121 aircraft were built as trainers and many more converted to that role.

So you have sorted out some of the front line roles. How do you intend to fix the secondary roles? Not all those aircraft you now have in your alternate plan are going to end up on the frontline or fill the roles that appeared in wartime. Do you actually end up in any better position than historical?

Butterflies gentlemen, butterflies!
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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Although aircraft may have been less than stellar in their designed roles, or even been complete failures, they often played a very useful part in other roles....... Defiants.....
Indeed so. I certainly wouldn't advocate getting rid of the Defiant as it was quite adept in some secondary roles. Moonshine & Mandrel particularly come to mind as useful contributions.

I might personally diverge from your point on the Botha however......
 

tomo pauk

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Night fighters - 7 squadrons of Defiants in May 1941 and still 5 in April 1942. They could be used as such as there was a second crewman to operate the radar. Can’t do that with a single seater version. It was tried with Spitfire’s and Hurricanes and quickly dropped.

How many more Beaufighter NF can you extract from the factories before that time? Prototype Beau only flew in July 1939 with only 100 produced by Dec 1940 and another 100 by May 1941. Havocs from the US are only entering service in the NF role in April 1941. Still want to rely on the Blenheim in that role into 1942?

Pilot was operating the radar in the Defiant NF, not the gunner.
Blenheim as a NF can do. Even more so since Blenheim was well past it's prime as a bomber by 1940. As for the next-gen night fighter, people suggested the Mosquito-equivalent to be made early, I've suggested the Hercules-powered Beaufort instead of the historical type. Between the 1+2 two-engined aircraft, a lot can be done to plug the gaps. Gaps that were there more due to the low availability of radar sets.

Trainers - yes the Botha was a failure as a front line aircraft. But the 580 built served into 1944 as trainers for bomb aimers, navigators etc. What aircraft will be available for them to train on? Or are you going to build more of a front line type just to do that? Of course training losses might have been reduced but they were horribly high anyway no matter what types were being used.

Let's put the trainees in the death trap, instead of in the something safe, like Blenheim or Battle? Even the RAF was not that crazy, despite all the bad press they something received.
Ceterum censeo: axe the Botha, have Blackburn make something useful.

The RAF Beaufort was withdrawn from front line squadrons in NWE and the Med around mid-1943 but continued on with two in Ceylon until Sept 1944 who saw no action. But production continued until Nov 1944. The last 121 aircraft were built as trainers and many more converted to that role.

Please note that I've already suggested that Bristol makes a Beaufort around the proper engines.
 

_Del_

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Although aircraft may have been less than stellar in their designed roles, or even been complete failures, they often played a very useful part in other roles. So their construction was not completely wasted. So how are you going to plug those gaps?
This is a very fair argument, but it's also fair to say in many cases those aircraft were relegated to useful "other roles" simply because they were there, and available -- not because they were particularly well suited to the "other role".

More Beauforts, means more "spare" Blenheims for secondary roles. And following that more Beaufighters means spare Beauforts, etc.
 

robunos

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. . . that Bristol makes a Beaufort around the proper engines.

They did . . . the Twin Wasp powered Mark II . . . ;)
There's a passage in R.C. Nesbit's book 'Woe to the Unwary', where the Beaufort in which he's flying as a navigator suffers an engine failure over water. Filled with dread over the forthcoming, inevitable ditching, with relief he suddenly remembers that his aircraft is a Mk.II, and thus able to maintain height on one engine . . .

cheers,
Robin.
 

tomo pauk

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Yes, the ones with Twin Wasps were decent combat machines.
Beaufort as-is was very strong, the table posted here notes the allowed G load of 9.4. For comparison sake, the A-20/Boston III was just at 6, same as Martin Maryland; the early Hurricane was rated at 10G. So let's not wait, lets have the Beaufort designed with Hercules engines from day 1.
 

Archibald

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Yes, the ones with Twin Wasps were decent combat machines.
Beaufort as-is was very strong, the table posted here notes the allowed G load of 9.4. For comparison sake, the A-20/Boston III was just at 6, same as Martin Maryland; the early Hurricane was rated at 10G. So let's not wait, lets have the Beaufort designed with Hercules engines from day 1.

That's no aircraft... that's a strongbox ! o_O
 

von hitchofen

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Scrap any plans to build Stirling, Halifax, Whirlwind, dispose of the Typhoon/Tornado if/when they become too troublesome. Then reassign workers, resources and government funds to the Beaufort/Beaufighter, the DH98 and the Avro 679/683 (and the Hurricane and Spitfire, naturally) and the Sunderland/Seaford

Get Fairey at Stockport to build Spitfires, as the boss of Fairey wanted to in 1939.

Airspeed have a licence to build DC-2s from Douglas. Get them doing that.
 

von hitchofen

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Opportunistic Minnow

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NOMISYRRUC

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Comparison of RAF Expansion Schemes A, C, F, L and M

Comparison of RAF Expansion Schemes A, C, F, L and M.png

Explanatory Notes:
  • There were several changes of designation between 1934 and 1938. For example:
    • At 31st March 1934:
      • Heavy Bombers were Night Bombers.
      • Medium and Light Bombers were Day Bombers.
      • General Reconnaissance aircraft were Coastal Reconnaissance aircraft.
    • According to some of my sources the 4 General Reconnaissance (Land Plane) squadrons in Scheme A were designated General Purpose squadrons. Furthermore, some of the sources include them in the Home Defence Force, which increased the size of the Home Defence Force in Scheme A to 884 aircraft in 75 squadrons.
    • The Torpedo Bomber squadrons were part of the Home Defence Force in Schemes A, C and F. There weren't any in Schemes L and M because they were renamed Torpedo Bomber General Reconnaissance squadrons (T.B.G.R.) and are included in the total of General Reconnaissance (Land Plane) squadrons which also became T.B.G.R. squadrons.
  • Re the Bomber Force at 31st March 1934.
    • The Medium Bomber unit was No. 101 Squadron which had 8 Boulton Paul Sidestrands in 2 flights of 4 aircraft.
    • The Light Bombers at 31st March 1934 don't include 2 squadrons (Nos. 15 and 22) that were incorporated in one of the experimental establishments (the A&AEE).
  • At 31st March 1934 the plan was to create a Home Defence Force of 594 aircraft in 52 squadrons by 31st March 1938 which would consist of:
    • 390 bombers in 35 squadrons consisting of:
      • 150 night bombers in 15 squadrons.
      • 240 day bombers in 20 squadrons.
    • 204 fighters in 17 squadrons.
  • The fighter force in the Metropolitan Air Force included a number of squadrons that were assigned to the Expeditionary Force. That is:
    • 3 squadrons (36 aircraft) Scheme A.
    • 10 squadrons (120 aircraft) Scheme C.
    • 9 squadrons (126 aircraft) Scheme F.
    • 10 squadrons (160 aircraft) Scheme L.
    • 4 squadrons (64 aircraft) Scheme M.
  • Scheme C's completion date of 31st March 1937 only applies to the Metropolitan Air Force. The completion date for the Overseas Commands was 31st March 1939.
  • The number of squadrons and aircraft in the Overseas Commands in Scheme F doesn't match the table in Post 28. That's because they came from different sources.
 
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kaiserd

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dispose of the Typhoon
While I might be inclined to make some ...err... adjustments to the Typhoon with the benefit of hindsight, I would definitely retain it. Quite a useful machine on the ol' cab rank.
It did nothing a Spitfire IX/XII, Hurricane, or Mustang couldn't do just as well.
With respect by 1941 and beyond the Hurricane was very obsolescent and potentially a death trap when faced by the contemporary fighters. The Typhoon was a marked step up in performance and survivability if still not displacing the Spitfire as the British fighter best suited to fighting those threat.
 

Archibald

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dispose of the Typhoon
While I might be inclined to make some ...err... adjustments to the Typhoon with the benefit of hindsight, I would definitely retain it. Quite a useful machine on the ol' cab rank.
It did nothing a Spitfire IX/XII, Hurricane, or Mustang couldn't do just as well.
With respect by 1941 and beyond the Hurricane was very obsolescent and potentially a death trap when faced by the contemporary fighters. The Typhoon was a marked step up in performance and survivability if still not displacing the Spitfire as the British fighter best suited to fighting those threat.

Mostly agree. The Typhoon found itself a niche as a powerful fighter bomber, and the Tempest took over the fighter role.

What is really a pity is the number of iterations it took to reach Tempest V & Tempest II - Tornado (failed) Typhoon (mixed bag) and the myriad of prototypes & engines combinations. The engines were the main culprit - Sabre, Vulture... give me Centaurus any time, any day.
The crowning jewel of the family was the Fury / Sea Fury.
 

uk 75

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The RAF got the Air Defence of Great Britain right by and large. The Defiant was an obvious exception.
What the RAF did not get right was the provision of tactical and strategic bombing forces.
The drive to create a Bomber Command able to emulate German Gotha strikes from WW1 on as large a scale as possible was a failure both in the short and long terms.
In the short term it saddled the RAF with bombers umable to do any worthwhile damage to military targets and stop German operations in 1940.
In the long term the bombing of German cities did little to weaken the Third Reich and cost the lives of too many aircrew.
A tactical rather than strategic RAF would have taken a leap of imagination beyond the experience of WW1 and greater overall awareness among Army and RAF staffs of the needs of modern combined arms warfare.
 

red admiral

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In the long term the bombing of German cities did little to weaken the Third Reich and cost the lives of too many aircrew.
I think the argument with hindsight would be that a much smaller strategic bomber force for much more targeted strikes on critical infrastructure e.g. synthetic fuel plants, mining the Rhine etc. may have produced a much similar effect for far fewer resources. Especially if all were fast bombers.

For a tactical force with hindsight don't you just want as many fighter bombers as possible? Hurricane and then Typhoons? Greater effectiveness is more down to doctribe / tactics / training then equipment?
 

kaiserd

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Isn’t this the classic alternative history conundrum.
Early WW2 attempts at strategic bombing by the RAF were largely ineffective and objectively (talking with the advantage of hindsight) a waste of resources.
However probably by 1943 (and more certainly into 1944-45) Bomber Command had become an increasingly powerful instrument of war and the arguments are less about the absolute value of strategic bombing and more about if RAF Bomber Command was too focused on Harris’s city burning strategy. And there is an argument that more resources could have directed at a larger Mosquito force by reallocating some that went to the 4 engine bomber force; this would still be strategic bombing and somewhat ignores the need at the time to keep up with 4 engine bomber losses.
And it’s very much not clear if you can have your cake and eat it in this scenario; if you can really reallocate some/ a fair portion of the resources away from the early unsuccessful bombing effort and then turn back on the resources at the perfectly chosen time and still end up with the powerful capable bomber force at the end.
Somehow I doubt it and it is important to remember that both the UK and the US were intent that focus on technology and firepower would reduce the strain and toll re: human lives. A far more tactically focused RAF would have also involved a far greater focus on the Army and it is likely the greater toll in terms of ground forces losses from such a fundamental strategic shift would be very significant. And given the real world issues the British Army actually had by the end of the War in continuing to be able to replace losses it’s arguable that such a strategy change wouldn’t be sustainable.
 

Hood

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There was an element of overkill though in Stirling, Halifax, Supermarine 316, Manchester, Lancaster, Lincoln, Windsor plus stuff like Warwick and Albemarle that had no real use in bombing (only as B-26 analogs at best). Then there were the Super Bombers that the MAP killed off in 1940, imagine if they had continued to suck development effort, as it was the Bristol Brabazon was proof of the kind of warping suction that programme could have had, a failed British B-36 could have done serious industrial damage.
Chuck in wanting Flying Forts (B-17C!) and Libs (thankfully diverted to Coastal Command and transport) too. Plus Canadian and Australian production lines for Lancasters. No other combatant in WW2 took strategic bombing to such industrial lengths. The USA only had 5 major strategic bomber programmes (maybe 6 if you include Northrop's flying wings) during the period 1935-45.

Then you factor in the tens of thousands of aircrews involved, we're talking about a training programme across four continents! Thousands of Ansons, Oxfords, Tiger Moths and Lend-Lease types funded by the USA and Canada. Plus thousands of Dominion aircrews to bolster Bomber Command both as integrated personnel within the RAF and separate RCAF wings and RAAF squadrons.
We're not even touching on the fuel stocks required - which were never an issue despite the Battle of the Atlantic thankfully, and engine production plus turret manufacture, machine gun ammunition and bomb production, electronic apparatus (the majority of Britain's late war radar production went into expendable bombers thus a net loss on the war economy and other fields that needed radar).

It was an industrial juggernaut that couldn't be easily stopped by 1941 let alone 1942 or 1943.

The closest comparison is probably Germany's U-boat arm, a lot of treasure invested in production and a lot of manpower committed with high losses in return for some nasty moments and tactical successes but overall no strategic punches commensurate with the efforts invested into them.
 

NOMISYRRUC

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Blackburn was able to take on Swordfish production because it had finished producing Skuas and Rocs. First left the factory in Dec 1940.
That isn't true because the Rocs were built by Boulton Paul, the Skuas were built at Brough and the Blackburn-built Swordfish were built at Sherburn-in-Elmet.

Contract No. 534298/36 for 190 Skuas was let to Blackburn Aircraft Ltd in July 1936. The first aircraft flew on 28th August 1938 and they were delivered between September 1938 and March 1940. The aircraft were built at Blackburn's Brough factory which is near Hull.

Contract No. 534401/36 for 136 Rocs was let to Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd on 28th April 1937. The first aircraft flew on 23rd December 1938 and they were delivered between February 1939 and August 1940. The 136 aircraft were built at Boulton Paul's Wolverhampton factory.

692 Swordfish were built by Fairey's Hayes factory and they were delivered between 27th January 1936 and 22nd February 1940.

A grand total of 2,300 Swordfish were ordered in eight batches from Blackburn Aircraft to Contract No. 31992/39. However, the last 600 were cancelled which reduced the total built to 1,700. The first aircraft to fly was V4228 on 1st December 1940, but the first to be delivered was V4229 on 29th December 1940. The last aircraft (NS204) was delivered on 18th August 1944. These aircraft were built by a new factory at Sherburn-en-Elmet near York.
 

NOMISYRRUC

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Stockport - Battles from 1937. Then Fulmars from Jan 1940, then Barracudas from 1942 (but that was planned in 1939 even though the date moved a bit to the right in the end).

But Stockport also built components for Beaufighters and Halifax.
My information (for what it's worth) is that Fairey, Stockport didn't built components for the Beaufighter and Halifax. Instead the factory built complete aircraft.

And for what they're worth my figures are that from 1936 Fairey, Stockport built:
  • 14 Fairey Hendons
  • 1,155 Fairey Battles
  • 600 Fairey Fulmars
  • 1,160 Fairey Barracudas (the 2 prototypes were built at Hayes)
  • 500 Bristol Beaufighters
  • 662 Handley Page Halifaxes
As I've got the spreadsheet open... The Barracuda was also built by Blackburn (at Brough), Boulton Paul, and Westland. Their figures were 700, 692 and 18 respectively.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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And something else to consider if you start axing particular types. How long to retool a factory? And what knock on effects does that have on subsequent types? Some of this planning was being done years in advance. For example Fairey was operating 2 factories.
Here's a different example.

244 Bothas were ordered from Blackburn, Dumbarton in October 1936 (and subsequent contracts increased the total to 544) but the factory only built 200 aircraft which were delivered between October 1939 and June 1941.

Blackburn, Dumbarton also built Short Sunderlands. The information I have is that the first 40 were ordered in April 1940 and the first aircraft was delivered in November 1941. That's about 18 months between the order and the first delivery.

Blackburn, Dumbarton delivered its 40th Sunderland in November 1942. It would deliver another 210 between December 1942 and November 1945 which made a grand total of 250. Except that most of the reference books say that Blackburn built 240 Sunderlands.
 
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NOMISYRRUC

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How many torpedo bombers are needed actually?
A front-line of 92 in 7 squadrons by the end of March 1939 as follows:
  • 32 in 2 squadrons of 16 in Coastal Command.
  • 12 in one squadron of 12 at Malta.
  • 24 in 2 squadrons of 12 in Singapore.
  • 24 in 2 squadrons of 12 in Hong Kong.
That is according to the transcripts of the Air Ministry documents dated October 1936 that I uploaded into Posts 27 and 28.

The document in Post 25 (also from October 1936) says 95 aircraft for the 2 Coastal Command squadrons and 180 for the 5 squadrons overseas for a total of 275, but that includes reserves.

However, I've got another Air Ministry document (which is dated June 1936) which has a total front-line of 112 torpedo bombers at the end of March 1935 because the 5 squadrons overseas have 16 aircraft each instead of 12.
 
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Archibald

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I have to say British numbers truly impress me. Notably the number of Battles produced besides all those Hurricanes, Spitfire and Defiants fighters, all of them using large amounts of Merlin engines.

In a sense, Great Britain succeeded admirably in 1937-40 where France made great plans 80% disconnected from harsh realities of the times.

Plan V renforcé, 1940: 9500 aircraft by Spring 1941. From 1500 aircraft in 1938. Yeah, sure...
 

EwenS

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Blackburn was able to take on Swordfish production because it had finished producing Skuas and Rocs. First left the factory in Dec 1940.
That isn't true because the Rocs were built by Boulton Paul, the Skuas were built at Brough and the Blackburn-built Swordfish were built at Sherburn-in-Elmet.

Contract No. 534298/36 for 190 Skuas was let to Blackburn Aircraft Ltd in July 1936. The first aircraft flew on 28th August 1938 and they were delivered between September 1938 and March 1940. The aircraft were built at Blackburn's Brough factory which is near Hull.

Contract No. 534401/36 for 136 Rocs was let to Boulton Paul Aircraft Ltd on 28th April 1937. The first aircraft flew on 23rd December 1938 and they were delivered between February 1939 and August 1940. The 136 aircraft were built at Boulton Paul's Wolverhampton factory.

692 Swordfish were built by Fairey's Hayes factory and they were delivered between 27th January 1936 and 22nd February 1940.

A grand total of 2,300 Swordfish were ordered in eight batches from Blackburn Aircraft to Contract No. 31992/39. However, the last 600 were cancelled which reduced the total built to 1,700. The first aircraft to fly was V4228 on 1st December 1940, but the first to be delivered was V4229 on 29th December 1940. The last aircraft (NS204) was delivered on 18th August 1944. These aircraft were built by a new factory at Sherburn-en-Elmet near York.
Yep. Complete brain fade on my part.
 

tomo pauk

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RAF and fighter-bomber idea: that will require a big doctrine shift? To the better, probably.
What kind of F/Bs we're looking at? Bombed-up Hurricane and/or Spitfire (since we're much expanding the production anyway); something with Hercules in the nose, something else? An 1-seater 2-engined job of modest size and good payload and performance?
 

Hood

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RAF and fighter-bomber idea: that will require a big doctrine shift? To the better, probably.
What kind of F/Bs we're looking at? Bombed-up Hurricane and/or Spitfire (since we're much expanding the production anyway); something with Hercules in the nose, something else? An 1-seater 2-engined job of modest size and good payload and performance?
It shouldn't have been a huge shift, its precisely what the RAF in 1918 was doing, it just forgot in the intervening years.

There is some logic to that; aircraft like the F.2B and DH.9A proved that a 2-seater with the best engine could equal any 1-seat fighter and could fight and strafe and bomb. This led to the rise of the General Purpose biplane, go anywhere, do anything. Fairey stuck a Curtiss D12 into the Fox and annoyed the hell out of the Air Staff for beating current fighters. Camm stuck a Kestrel into the Hart and again had a fighter-beating performance. The result led to the Demon two-seat fighter and then 1-seat Fury.
So when Fairey wanted to stick a Merlin into the Battle it looked like a winner, the latest and best engine in a monoplane, what could go wrong? Plenty, by 1935 it wasn't' purely about horsepower anymore and even having the best engine didn't mean large speed increases could be obtained anymore over the fighters, in fact drag and weight became critical and the lighter and smaller fighter won out.

Something pugnacious like the Henley might have worked out with better forward armament. But a single-seat Defiant with bombracks and wing guns would have sufficed I think for the early war. But probably it was much better that they made use of the Hurricane already set up for mass production. Typhoon got a new role to justify its production but even late-mark rocket-toting Hurris would have done a decent job over Normandy in conditions of total Allied aerial supremacy.
 

Archibald

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Best case
- "more Merlins because no Whirlwind and Peregrine"
- less Battles - turret-less Defiant with the spare Merlins (P.94)
- less Battles - land-based Fulmar with the spare Merlins
- Gloster Hurricanes instead of Gladiator
- "something with Hercules in the nose"

Now that's four fighters options instead of two (Defiant was flawed)
 

tomo pauk

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So when Fairey wanted to stick a Merlin into the Battle it looked like a winner, the latest and best engine in a monoplane, what could go wrong? Plenty, by 1935 it wasn't' purely about horsepower anymore and even having the best engine didn't mean large speed increases could be obtained anymore over the fighters, in fact drag and weight became critical and the lighter and smaller fighter won out.

Agreed pretty much.
A note that Battle was not a fighter-bomber (just one fixed MG was installed, plus the F/B doctrine wasn't there), but a long-range 1-engined bomber, that flew with 200 imp gals + bombs. For comparison, Spitfire had 84 imp gals on board before mid-ww2.

Something pugnacious like the Henley might have worked out with better forward armament. But a single-seat Defiant with bombracks and wing guns would have sufficed I think for the early war. But probably it was much better that they made use of the Hurricane already set up for mass production. Typhoon got a new role to justify its production but even late-mark rocket-toting Hurris would have done a decent job over Normandy in conditions of total Allied aerial supremacy.

Hurricane looks indeed like a best pick here - it can lug a lot (those big & thick wings were good inn lifting stuff), and when bombs are gone it can ruin the day to any enemy flying. 8 .303s are excellent to trash soft-skinned targets - open-topped AFVs, trucks, guns and their crews, infantry etc.
Being faster and more maneuverable will also make work of the Flak gunners harder, though not impossible. Time to armor it a bit?
 

Volkodav

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The thing that comes to mind is the prewar RAF leadership was institutionally delusional.

  • The bomber will always get through.
  • You can buy 1000 bombers for the price of one battleship.
  • The terror of bombing will make the enemy population rise up against their government and sue for peace.
  • Enemy bombing of our population with destroy the nations will to fight so it is necessary to bomb the enemy into submission first.
  • Fighters are a waste of resources because bombers are unstoppable.
  • Tactical air power and close air support are too dangerous and a waste of pilots and aircraft.
  • Dive bombing is too dangerous for pilots and aircraft as well as being ineffective.
  • Army cooperation is what the RAF thinks the army needs not what the army actually needs.

Verses the lessons of WWI and experiments after.
  • Close air support and tactical bombing in close coordination with the army wins battles.
  • Strategic bombing is largely ineffective.
  • Level bombing is virtually useless against maneuvering ships.
  • Bombers are highly vulnerable to fighters.
  • Bombers are much more expensive than fighters.
The biggest issue the RAF had was doctrine.

In truth many of its aircraft, while not perfect, were perfectly good enough. It was how they were used rather than their numbers or quality that was the problem. Only after the doctrine was shown to be so seriously flawed where the more intelligent, innovative and competent leaders able to rise to the challenge.

The RAF in 1939 was very much like the Cavalry on the Western Front in 1915, too many of its leaders were completely out of touch. It is ironic that so many of the RAFs senior leaders between the wars were ex cavalry officers.

Another irony is that the Middle East in WWI saw highly mobile Corps and Army scale combined arms operations integrating Cavalry, Infantry, Tanks, Armored Cars and Aircraft being used successfully together in a way that was not seen again (with trucks instead of horses) until the Middle East and African campaigns in WWII.
 

EwenS

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And something else to consider if you start axing particular types. How long to retool a factory? And what knock on effects does that have on subsequent types? Some of this planning was being done years in advance. For example Fairey was operating 2 factories.
Here's a different example.

244 Bothas were ordered from Blackburn, Dumbarton in October 1936 (and subsequent contracts increased the total to 544) but the factory only built 200 aircraft which were delivered between October 1939 and June 1941.

Blackburn, Dumbarton also built Short Sunderlands. The information I have is that the first 40 were ordered in April 1940 and the first aircraft was delivered in November 1941. That's about 18 months between the order and the first delivery.

Blackburn, Dumbarton delivered its 40th Sunderland in November 1942. It would deliver another 210 between December 1942 and November 1945 which made a grand total of 250. Except that most of the reference books say that Blackburn built 240 Sunderlands.
From “Ocean Sentinel” Blackburn production at Dumbarton was 250 aircraft.

Contract B.37753/39 built as 15xMk.I (T9083-T9115); 5xMk.II (W6000-W6004); 20xMk.III (W6005-W6016 & W6026-W6033) produced Nov 1941-Dec 1942.

Contract B.37753/40/C.20(b) 40xMk.III (DD828-DD867) Dec 1942-Jun 1943

Contract B.37753/39 25xMk.III (EK572-EK596) June 1943- Oct 1943

Contract Acft.2228 85x Mk.III (ML835-ML884, NJ170-NJ194, PP135-PP144) produced Oct 1943-Oct 1944. 60x Mk.V (PP145-PP164, RN277-RN306, VB880-VB889) produced Oct 1944-Nov 1945.
 

pathology_doc

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Scrap any plans to build Stirling, Halifax, Whirlwind, dispose of the Typhoon/Tornado if/when they become too troublesome. Then reassign workers, resources and government funds to the Beaufort/Beaufighter, the DH98 and the Avro 679/683 (and the Hurricane and Spitfire, naturally) and the Sunderland/Seaford
Three heavy bombers was too many, but what would have happened if the Manchester had never become the Lancaster or the transformation had not been as easy and successful as it was? The Halifax needs to stay IMHO, at least until the Lancaster has proved itself.

The changeover from Beaufort to torpedo Beaufighter should probably have happened sooner.

Hurricane looks indeed like a best pick here - it can lug a lot (those big & thick wings were good inn lifting stuff), and when bombs are gone it can ruin the day to any enemy flying. 8 .303s are excellent to trash soft-skinned targets - open-topped AFVs, trucks, guns and their crews, infantry etc.
Who was it that said the best single-seat tactical ground-attack fighter is the last generation's best interceptor?
 

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