WW2 inflight refueling


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4 June 2006
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Inflight refuelling was tested pre war with civilian trans-atlantic flying boats (and had been tested earlier in 1923 with USAAC aircraft).

Has anyone seen anything to say why it wasn't used to extend the range of aircraft for the Battle of the Atlantic?
Luftwaffe over America from Manfred Griehl describes development from the German side.
(pg 156-157)
Serious trials started by November 1943 involvind Ju-290 and Ju-390. Operational capability were not expected before 1945. Tests seem to have been succeful but full data is not recorded.
On page 218 and 219 are drawings of different devices for inflight refuelling.

Could anyone recommend readings on British or US experiments?
I'll see if I can dig some details about the Airspeed Courier trials in 1933 from some RAe stuff. iirc there was an earlier project with F2.B Bristol Fighter
"For some time throughout his survey flight career, Cobham had toyed with the idea of in-flight refuelling. In 1934 he attemoted the first practical demonstration of this, flying the prototype Airspeed Courier whilst using Handley Page W10s as tankers. However his attempt to fly to India using this method had to be abandoned at Malta, due to technical problems with the Courier's throttle linkage. Nonethekess, later that year he founded Flight Refuelling Ltd and continued to experiment with his equipment. The story of the eventual development in 1949 of the probe and drogue system is related by Procter in the first of this Society's Cobham Memorial Lectures and by Cobham himself in his memoirs."

Aeronautical Journal May 2002
There was an attempt to in flight refuel an early model BF109 fighter, but rather than the tanker having the boom the fighter carried a trailing boom with predictable centre of gravity problems. ie Crashed
Not to be forgotten the soviet trials in the mid-thirties, carried out by the
NII VVS (Naucho-Issledovatelskiy Institut Voyenno-Vozdushnikh Sil) using
a Polikarpov R-5 as a tanker. The receiving aircraft was a Tupolev TB-1,
which was said to have stayed in the air for up to 25 hours. The crew of
the bomber had to catch the hose from the tanker manually.
(described in AirInternatioanl 8/98 "Russian flight refuelling")
This might help:



"The war rekindled some curiosity about in-flight refueling in the U.S. military. In 1942 the Army Air Corps asked Flight Refuelling Limited to outfit a B-24 Liberator as a tanker and a B-17E Flying Fortress as a receiver. These retrofitted planes performed successful refueling tests at Eglin Field, in Florida. Nevertheless, the Army Air Forces Board concluded that aerial refueling would have limited use on bombers because long-range bombers would soon become available, and by that time the United States expected to have occupied islands within their range of Japan. Consequently, American interest hibernated again."

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