RAF buys only monoplane fighters from early 1930s?

tomo pauk

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Let's have RAF/AM and British aero industry step up their game by the early 1930s, perhaps by requesting that new fighter is capable for 250 mph (so it can reliably catch perspective bombers). 4 machine guns as minimum.
What might the non-Gauntlet and/or non-Fuy look like? What about the next-gen fighters, both from these companies and other?
 

red admiral

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250mph and 4 machine guns was literally the historical F.7/30 spec which gave the Gladiator
 

tomo pauk

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250mph and 4 machine guns was literally the historical F.7/30 spec which gave the Gladiator

Let me rephrase.
My intention is that RAF specifies fighters capable for 250 mph and 4 MGs for service for early 1930s, to what Gloster and Hawker respond with monoplanes.
 

red admiral

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Let me rephrase.
My intention is that RAF specifies fighters capable for 250 mph and 4 MGs for service for early 1930s, to what Gloster and Hawker respond with monoplanes.
But thats the historical spec that was met/exceeded by the Gladiator. The monoplane entires lost that competition.

Shortly after when both Supermarine and Hawker proposed to the RAF that they could so better, they were funded immediately.
 

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Ah ok, I don't see how the manufacturer's can respond with anythingbthat meets that spec in that timeframe. The RAF heavily pushed for more speed and more guns and took as much as the technology of the time would provide.
 

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Ah ok, I don't see how the manufacturer's can respond with anythingbthat meets that spec in that timeframe.

Please note that I've specified that RAF buys monoplane fighters. Monoplanes tend to have better speed on same engine.
 

tomo pauk

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But not as good in maneuvering. In early 1930s, everybody was still thinking mainly in "dogfight" terms.

Let me put it this way. Premise of the thread is that RAF decides they want actually fast fighters, well armed.
 

red admiral

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But not as good in maneuvering. In early 1930s, everybody was still thinking mainly in "dogfight" terms.

For the RAF at this time it was really about climbing quickly to intercept bombers on their way to London following visual cues from the South coast. Or loitering in the air in fighting zones to intercept. Coupled with as many machine guns as possible.

Added on to that are small grass airfields which demand a low stall speed and hence lots of wing area for lots of drag regardless of monoplane or biplane. And fixed pitch propellors which mean you have to choose between high or low speed performance.

If we just want fast fighters then lets get pouring concrete on some of the bigger runways in the South East and look at a fighter dervied from the Gloster VI. De-rated Lion engine with a more normal ventral radiator; braced wing small area monoplane with fixed landing gear in streamlined spats? So with about 3 times the wing loading of contemporaries it'll be fast in a straight line but that's about it.
 

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For the RAF at this time it was really about climbing quickly to intercept bombers on their way to London following visual cues from the South coast. Or loitering in the air in fighting zones to intercept. Coupled with as many machine guns as possible.
This means assuming that the enemy would not include France. Otherwise situation get... tricky.
 

kaiserd

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No body else of significance only bought monoplanes in this start of the 30’s (maybe Poland?)

The RAF had no aversion to fast fighters (Hawker Fury, etc.) and it’s not really fair or accurate to paint them as overly conservative or backward re: their ideas for fighter aircraft in this period.

And re: the Gladiator it faced competition from monoplanes that weren’t all-in-all as good as it (hence the selection of the Gladiator).

In equivalent time scales only the Russian I-16 is arguably a truly modern monoplane fighter (the likes of the 109, Hurricane etc. being later designs). And by the time of the WW2 the I-16 was at best obsolescent, was arguably seen less favourably as the biplane I-153, and suffered horribly at the start of the German attack (and had already been out classed by the 109 in Spain).

And the RAF arguably timed it’s transition to “modern” monoplane fighters better than most and it didn’t enter the War with a backbone of obsolescent or obsolete fighters (be they biplanes or “pre-modern” monoplanes with fixed undercarriage etc.).
 

riggerrob

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RAF adoption of fast monoplanes would probably be done in increments. First generation wire-braced, second generation strut-braced. Third generation with retractable landing gear. Fourth generation with enclosed cockpit, etc.

Note several modern light planes cruise at 200 knots with fixed, spatted landing gear: Lancair, Cirrus and RV-?? series.

If the RAF pushed for earlier adoption of 20 mm cannons, they might have adopted Hispano-Suiza engines or pushed Rolls-Royce to re-configure engine intakes to accommodate raised intake ducting and a propeller speed reduction unit that allowed a motor-kanon to fire through the prop-shaft. Earlier mono-plane fighters would have had barely enough horsepower (800 to 1,000 hp.) to loft a single 20 mm cannon.
 

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One of the fascinating what-ifs is what would have happened if World War 2 had broken out over the 1936 Rhineland Crisis.
I mention this only because as far as I know noone has gamed air combat between possible combatants in 1936.
The RAF's biplane fighters might have performed better against the Luftwaffe than some think or?
 

kaiserd

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In 1936 the would have been a very large numbers superiority to the UK and France (or even to France alone) re: fighter aircraft; quite possible that one-on-one superiority (and I’m not aware that the Henkel He 51 or Arado Ar 68 had any such marked superiority) wouldn’t really have much significance or impact in that context.

But unfortunately such an intervention in 1936 was not a real political or military possibility.
 

uk 75

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Agree that intervention in real life was impossible. I use it only as a device to imagine possible air combat scenarios.
Individual air battles would be fascinating simulations.
 

Archibald

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Buy Dewoitine D-500, first flight 1932. :p (June 18, like De Gaulle).


More seriously - was there a British aircraft, even a prototype, similar to the D-500 / 501 / 510 in the 30's ? Can't think of one. Put a Peregrine on it, and there you are.

EDIT: d'oh, silly me: Supermarine 224 that lost to... the Gladiator.

supermarine-type-224.jpg
 

Archibald

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One of the fascinating what-ifs is what would have happened if World War 2 had broken out over the 1936 Rhineland Crisis.
I mention this only because as far as I know noone has gamed air combat between possible combatants in 1936.
The RAF's biplane fighters might have performed better against the Luftwaffe than some think or?

Seems France built 381 Dewoitine D-500/501/510 and exported few of them - so at some point the AdA had large numbers of monoplane fighters de facto superior to the He-51; and a bit more advanced. Bleriot Spad S.510 was also pretty good late biplane.

Unfortunately March 7, 1936 was a weekend, and too close from the first round of legislative elections that would see Front Populaire victory - so nothing moved.

And September 1938 had AdA boss Henri Vuillemin depressed by a LW potemkine air show and telling PM Daladier "Don't fight, our aviation is miserable compared to the LW" (which wasn't true in 09/1938).

We need a TL were Giulio Douhet never existed or kicked the bucket early - and the fear of massive bombings against cities didn't scared the shit out of interbellum politicians.

Mind you, French politicians were truly paralyzed by that fear of Paris being bombed into rubble.
This led to very pathetic decisions such as
- "don't fight for the sudetes"
- "fighters are defensive weapons, bombers are offensive weapons"
- "don't provoque Germany or they will bomb Paris"
- "rebuild the Fighter command before buying modern bombers"

Sure, dude, by 1940 France had 360 modern fighters but only 27 modern bombers close enough from the Belgium border to try and stops the Panzers onslaught near Sedan on May 12. I kid you not: basically two squadrons of LeO-451 not built for that job, plus a handful of Breguets 693 survivors from the butchering they had taken in central Belgium (Tongres, Gembloux, Namur: 70% loss rates, wiped out in two attacks).

And so they had to send two squadrons of antiquated Amiot 143s bombers by day, and Farmans 220-series by night. Dinosaurs of aircraft...

Then again, Guernica and Rotterdam are proof that even the 1935-1940 LW bombers could do a lot of damage (while no Lancasters or B-17s by any mean, nor Dresde or Hambourg or Tokyo level of damage capable).

 
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Hood

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Dare we just admit than Sidney Camm and Henry Folland were too conservative?
The idea either of them would doodle out a P-26 or I-16 at that time seems unlikely.

It may also be instructive that internationally the D.500 was the only successful inline-power monoplane fighter of this era?
 

red admiral

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Dare we just admit than Sidney Camm and Henry Folland were too conservative?

Camm was definitely conservative. Very much a follower of evolutionary designs.

I think the main issue is that without a bunch of technology that didn't exist until the mid/late 30s a monoplane wasn't actually better than a biplane in this period.... Even bringing technology across from the bleeding edge Schneider trophy seaplanes doesn't get you there.
 

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And September 1938 had AdA boss Henri Vuillemin depressed by a LW potemkine air show and telling PM Daladier "Don't fight, our aviation is miserable compared to the LW" (which wasn't true in 09/1938).

It was very true.
Luftwaffe received more than 400 He 111s and ~390 Do-17s until 1st March 1938. Around 540 Bf 109A-D were also delivered by that date. Plus asorted number of other types, like Ju-87s, different recce birds, obviously trainers etc. German industry was making dozens of each of 2-engined types monthly - more than French industry was managing with 1-engined fighters. MS.406 just entered service in meagre numbers in 1938, the best fighter available (D.500 and 510) stood at ~350 pcs in French inventory; D.500/510 was 70-90 km/h slower than Jumo-powered Bf 109s, and were barely faster than latest (as of late 1938) versions of the He 111 and Do 17.

Camm was definitely conservative. Very much a follower of evolutionary designs.

Very true. In May 1931, Camm told to Beverly Shenstone, when the later was hoping for a job at Hawkers, that fighters are supposed to be biplanes only. (source the 'Secrets of the Spitfire' book, pg. 56).

I think the main issue is that without a bunch of technology that didn't exist until the mid/late 30s a monoplane wasn't actually better than a biplane in this period.... Even bringing technology across from the bleeding edge Schneider trophy seaplanes doesn't get you there.

I-16 was definitely better than Fury, Gauntlet or He-51.
 
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Archibald

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First MS-406 entered service in December 1938 and the Curtiss H-75, in March 1939 - so too late indeed.
A pity, because they could kick ass of every Jumo-powered 109 so up to the D. The DB on the 109E changed that and left behind even the D-520.

What was the ratio between He-51s and 109 B/C/Ds in 1938 LW ? the D-500 series fell right between the two, performance wise.

It had the HS-9 when early 109s only had machine guns. But the much vaunted "moteur canon" actually did not worked too well, as shown by the Nationalist Chinese Dewoitines against the Japaneses.
 

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First MS-406 entered service in December 1938 and the Curtiss H-75, in March 1939 - so too late indeed.
A pity, because they could kick ass of every Jumo-powered 109 so up to the D.
I'd say that that MS.406 and H-75 were a tad better, an were much better in taing down tougher A/C like 2-engined bombers. Armament was very weak of the 109s before the E-3 arrived.

What was the ratio between He-51 and 109 B/C/D in 1938 ? the D-500 series fell right between the two, performance wise.

He-51 was delivered to the LW to the tune of 458 copies before April 1st 1937; there was no further production. Along with the Fiat CR.32, it was one of the last fighters powered by un-supercharged engine, so it's performance above 2-3 km was awful.
The Ar-68 was barely better, LW again bought more than 500 of those. 450+ of those were powered by Jumo 210 engines, those were supercharged. Last delivered by January 1938.

French Wikipedia states 359 km/h max speed for the D.500/501 (ie ~30 km/h faster than the German biplane fighters), around 140 were delivered to the FAF. Engine was the HS 12X (~650 HP at altitude).
Around 340 of D.510 was delivered to the FAF, powered by HS 12Ycrs engine (860 HP at altitude), just topping 400 km/h.

All in all, French AF in late 1938 had to confront 2500+- of Luftwaffe bombers, dive bombers and fighters with less than 500 fighters.
 

red admiral

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I-16 was definitely better than Fury, Gauntlet or He-51.

I-16 was later than those types and it wasn't until even later in 35/36 with more power and aerodynamic tweaks it got faster than those types. Otherwise it was inferior, especially in manoeuvring and low speed performance which isn't surprising given double the wing loading.

It was very much second best to the CR.32 over Spain, so you'd expect similar compared to Fury/Gauntlet.

Monoplane doesn't mean "better" in this time period.
 

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I have doubts - seems that in September 1938 109B/C/D were a minority and He-51 / Ar-68 a majority. D-500 series might have been able to handle such LW fighting force...

 

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tomo pauk

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I-16 was later than those types and it wasn't until even later in 35/36 with more power and aerodynamic tweaks it got faster than those types. Otherwise it was inferior, especially in manoeuvring and low speed performance which isn't surprising given double the wing loading.

You've stated that "without a bunch of technology that didn't exist until the mid/late 30s a monoplane wasn't actually better than a biplane in this period". I-16 was born well before late 1930s; both monoplane and retractable U/C were there well before late 1930s, and I-16 with Cyclone engine of the time was soundly over-performing. Or, the Type 4 with same obsolete M-22 engine as installed on the I-15 biplane it was faster than the later by 80 km/h.
Monoplane doesn't mean "better" in this time period.
It indeed does not if one botches the job of designing one. Or it is just the fault of Polikarpov & I-16 of not being from some cool country, like Germany, USA, France or UK.
It was very much second best to the CR.32 over Spain, so you'd expect similar compared to Fury/Gauntlet.

Yeah, right.

I have doubts - seems that in September 1938 109B/C/D were a minority and He-51 / Ar-68 a majority. D-500 series might have been able to handle such LW fighting force...

I was drawing the numbers from the pg. 42 of the "German aircraft industry and production 1933-1945" by Dancey and Vajda.
Handling the LW fighter force is one thing (LW can throw in two biplane fighter for each D.500/501/510 the French can offer). Handling the many hundreds of long-range bombers visiting the French air-bases without the French having radar support is something else.
 

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So what sources indicate the I-16 (or D.500) performed better than the contemporary biplanes? I have yet to see any. The results from Spain with later model I-16s really don't seem to support this.
 

tomo pauk

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Performance is one thing, and usually can be easily quantified, while war record is another. Source for I-16 Type 4 performing better than I-15 version with same engine is the book 'Soviet combat aircarft of the ww2' by Yefimov and Khazanov, pg. 100.
PZL P.11C was as fast as the Gloster Gauntlet despite the later having more HP from it's version of Mercury engine; nobody will state that P.11 was a miracle of streamlining with it's struts, fixed U/C and open canopy.

I don't recall saying that D.500 performed better than the contemporary biplanes.
 

Archibald

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We need a "Czech decides to fight, September 1938" TL...
 

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PZL P.11C was as fast as the Gloster Gauntlet despite the later having more HP from it's version of Mercury engine; nobody will state that P.11 was a miracle of streamlining with it's struts, fixed U/C and open canopy.
Huh? How do you figure that?
The Gauntlet had a 645hp Bristol Mercury VI.S2.
The first 50 P.11C had a 560hp Mercury V.S2 and the remaining125 had the same 645hp Bristol Mercury VI.S2 (albeit licence-built by Skoda).
The P.11C was about 10mph faster at altitude.

The later P.11g of 1939 had an 840hp Mercury VIII. Indeed the P.11 was further developed for export as the P.24 with 760-930hp Gnome-Rhones. So PZL were well aware of the need to put vastly more horsepower into the design. Even the P.24F with 970hp wasn't able to do more than 267mph (the I-16 tip 24 could do 20mph better on similar horsepower from its M-63).

But even if the RAF got a P.11/I-16 clone in service in 1935/36 it wouldn't have been any better against the Bf 109 of 1940 than the Gladiator, P.11, P.24 or I-16.

Let's not forget than when Spec F.7/30 was drawn up, no-one had forseen fast monoplane bombers like the Do 17, even the DC-1 and Boeing 247 were 3 years in the future. The Air Staff were thinking of lumbering Potezs not He 111s. A LOT of development was packed into 1933-38 in aviation, what looked cool in 1932 was crap by 1936 and what seemed the bee's knees in 1935 was lame by 1939.

Nowadays though there seems to be some revisionist views that Gloster could have jumped from Gladiator to Meteor by 1940 if the RAF had only listened to Whittle...
 

Archibald

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what looked cool in 1932 was crap by 1936 and what seemed the bee's knees in 1935 was lame by 1939.

Hell yes. The 1934 AdA aircraft that looked so modern (MS-406 and Potez 63) took soooooo much time to be industrializedin any meaningful number that between 1938-1939 the AdA received what Le Fana de l'aviation called "old new gear" (du vieux neuf !)
 

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Huh? How do you figure that?
The Gauntlet had a 645hp Bristol Mercury VI.S2.
The first 50 P.11C had a 560hp Mercury V.S2 and the remaining125 had the same 645hp Bristol Mercury VI.S2 (albeit licence-built by Skoda).
The P.11C was about 10mph faster at altitude.

Please see the Polish-language Wikipedia (linkhttps://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/PZL_P.11#Napęd):

  • P.11c: Bristol Mercury VS2 (PZL Merkury VS2) o mocy 565/600 KM (416/442 kW)[23]
  • P.11c (demonstrator): Bristol Mercury VIS2 o mocy 605/645 KM (416/442 kW)[23]
(my bold)

Manual for the P.11c notes just 560 HP at 3660m for the "Mercury V - S 2" (manual can be accessed here ; engine - 'Silnik' in Polish - is at slide 14, or pg.25). Lumsden notes 645 HP at altitude for the "Mercury VIS.2".
The later P.11g of 1939 had an 840hp Mercury VIII. Indeed the P.11 was further developed for export as the P.24 with 760-930hp Gnome-Rhones. So PZL were well aware of the need to put vastly more horsepower into the design. Even the P.24F with 970hp wasn't able to do more than 267mph (the I-16 tip 24 could do 20mph better on similar horsepower from its M-63).

People at PZL were behind the curve by the time P.24 was mooted. Rule of the day was cantilever low-set wing, and a retractable U/C. P.24 had neither.
But at any rate, P.24 is not in the required time frame here.

But even if the RAF got a P.11/I-16 clone in service in 1935/36 it wouldn't have been any better against the Bf 109 of 1940 than the Gladiator, P.11, P.24 or I-16.

Wrong time-frame - I was asking for 'early 1930s monoplane'.
By late 1930s, British aero industry would've been already at second generation of monoplane fighters, incorporating the lessons learned from the 1st generations. So we might have the 'non-Hurricane I' doing 330-340 mph instead of 315, perhaps the Gloster monoplane that does 310+ mph on Mercury and 340-350 mph on Merlin, faster adoption of Spitfire (if Supermarine want's to remain in the fighter business), Typhoon with proper wing design in testing phase by 1940 etc.
Let's not forget than when Spec F.7/30 was drawn up, no-one had forseen fast monoplane bombers like the Do 17, even the DC-1 and Boeing 247 were 3 years in the future. The Air Staff were thinking of lumbering Potezs not He 111s. A LOT of development was packed into 1933-38 in aviation, what looked cool in 1932 was crap by 1936 and what seemed the bee's knees in 1935 was lame by 1939.

The future Martin B-10 flew 2 years before the Supermarine Type 224 or Bristol Type 133.
 

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Even bringing technology across from the bleeding edge Schneider trophy seaplanes doesn't get you there.
It brings you an incredibly fast airplane (top speed at low level pretty much unbeaten until well into WW2, and then only with boost pressures and octanes never dreamed of when the S6b won the Schneider trophy) with godawful visibility for combat, tied to long (but ironically indestructible) "runways", and shockingly bad service:flight hours ratio. So... yeah, not your ideal interceptor. (That didn't stop the illustrators of "Biggles, Air Commodore" from rendering the aircraft which attacks Biggles's seaplane at one point as an S6b...)
 

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Please see the Polish-language Wikipedia (linkhttps://pl.wikipedia.org/wiki/PZL_P.11#Napęd):
It would seem then that several English language histories of the P.11 are incorrect then, though I note that some Polish sites like http://www.samolotypolskie.pl/samoloty/2399/126/PZL-P-112 make the same assertion that the first 50 had V.S2 and the rest VI.S2 so its no surprise there is confusion on this.
But given the Polish sources that mention only the VS.2 I'd say that seems more logical.

Wrong time-frame - I was asking for 'early 1930s monoplane'.
There were some that might have counted, like the Westland Wizard or Westland Interceptor. They didn't even get to 200mph and were very much in the mould of fast climb interceptors rather than dogfighters. Ironically once Westland failed twice to interest the Air Ministry they stuck to army cooperation types.
Westland_Wizard.jpg

Westland_Intrceptor.jpg
 

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