A Western 'Sturmovik': great asset or waste of resouces?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Apr 5, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    A dedicated, well armored single-engined attack plane - would it be of use for the RAF, USAAF and/or other 'Western Allied' air forces? A plane entering the service in, say, mid 1941, either a 'classic' layout or a pusher. It need to be able to carry plenty of armament (guns/cannons, bombs/rockets), perhaps able to dive bomb. The speed, even in 'clean' configuration, is in 300 mph range, maybe up to 350 in war's ending -we can discuss the pros cons of such a plane for years after 1941, too.
     
  2. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    Off top of head: Seems like the RAF and USAAF were headed in that direction judging by lines of development toward war's end resulting in AD-1, Martin Mauler and the like, and Typhoon and such so my guess is that early development of something like you describe was thought to be worthwhile in retrospect. However, I would guess development of a single engine airframe would be a challenge. It's stand-in for the time was the twin engine Douglas DB-7, and a host of other twins that gave it the payload you describe, no?
     
  3. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    Such type of aircraft was adopted by tatical airforces like the VVS, Luftwaffe and the IJAAF. The Western Allies needed fighters when the war started, because they were short of them. They needed fighters first to defend themselfs and later to escort their workhorses that were the heavy bombers. Later, the rocket-armed high performance fighters of the Western Allies proved adequate to deal with the targets they faced.

    In short: I don't think such type of aircraft would be useful for the Allies.
     
  4. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #4 michaelmaltby, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    It all comes down to that magic phrase "air superiority" ..... the Eastern Front and the Western Fronts(s) were very different animals as we have discussed on this forum many times.

    When the Soviets were unable to secure "local" air superiority in a sector, 'Sturmovik' paid the price. Huge losses. They were unwieldy and needed air cover. But even unloaded they were unable to run. Whereas .... Typhoons and P-47's certainly required fighter protection when they were loaded up ... but they could run and fight as fighters when need be.

    I think the 'Sturmovik' was very much a creature of the Soviet Game and the Soviet Front - like the T-34, used in masses with no qualms about losses.

    But - that said - the modern Gulf War 'Sturmovik' certainly was inspired by the original .... and is a marvel of destruction. :)

    [IIRC, Rudel was not only a tank ace but an airplane 'ace' -- mostly flying Stukas. Were there any 'Sturmovik' aircraft aces on the Soviet side ...?]

    MM
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Rudel was also flying the Fw-190s, hence the aerial kills.

    The Sturmovik was good vs. (light Flak), but weak vs. fighters. Ideal for 1944 over NE Europe, even earlier at MTO - with plethora of 20mm, but almost no LW? Was the P-47 better attack plane that Vultee Vengeance? How dothe planes fare in the payload vs. combat range vs. take off run charts?
     
  6. Jenisch

    Jenisch Active Member

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    #6 Jenisch, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2012
    The IL-2 was a relatively fast and agile plane when was introduced as a single seat acft, and typical from Russian hardware: cheap, reliable and easy to use. The gunner add a considerable wheight and consequentely negative flight characteristics. This was only "fixed" with the advent of the IL-10.

    I don't think the Russians went wrong with the IL-2 and the T-34 (which was a world beater at it's introduction). The problems of such machines were much about the circunstances in which they had to operate i.e without personal adequately trained, effective fighter cover, rustic contruction due to extreme necessities of the war, ideal construction materials, lack of radios, etc. Certainly those machines would have performed much better if they had followed what was expected to them.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Part of the problem for the western allies was range. IL-2s could perform several missions a day on the Eastern front and didn't have to fly far from their bases to the front lines. Such missions, while not unknown to the western allies, were not as common. The A-20 was not long legged for a Western bomber/attack plane and had troubles in certain theaters. While IL-2s could be used over most if not all of the Russian front all of the time, such a specialized attack plane could only be used at certain times and in certain areas of the Western (or asian) theaters. While it may have been useful at times, at other times they would have been sitting idle with no targets in range making them a rather expensive proposition for the benefit they offered. Remember that it takes 2-4 years to get a plane into service so even wanting it for 1944 means start of work should have started in 1941. Such planes were not a priority in 1941 or 42.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Thousands of Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon, P-40, P-47 and P-51 fighter aircraft were destroyed attempting to perform CAS missions they weren't designed for and weren't particularly good at. Why not give these pilots an aircraft designed for CAS? An aircraft that can bomb accurately from low level and armed with cannon powerful enough to punch through light armor.
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Lets not get carried away here,

    You want a Western IL-2?

    Take a Fairey Battle. Stick in an early Griffon engine, move the rear gunner closer to the pilot, armor the crap out of it, stick four 20mm Hispano's in the wings and a few .303s. basicly add 3000lbs (50% of the empty weight) to both the empty and loaded weight and go for it.

    The extra weight will pretty much kill a good part of the extra performance of the Griffon engine. The 30% or so rise in wing loading from the Battle is still less than some of the fighters but means less maneuverability than the Battle, and we all know how well the battle did in low level attacks :)

    the armor will help a lot from Flak but if there are any fighters around the "Super Battle" is little more than a fresh kill mark on the fighters.
     
  10. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    You're not the first to have thought of turning the Battle into a dedicated ground attack/tank buster aircraft, Shortround. As the discussion goes, with local air superiority it's a grand idea.

    The RAF were hampered by their 'Bomber Barons', who tended to see that level bombing was an answer to everything. This all goes back to the Italian Douhet and Stanley Baldwin's "The bomber will always get through...", not to forget Trenchard's imposing figure. RAF policy pre WW2 stuck rigidly to the idea that the best form of defence was offence; i.e. more bombers. This meant dedicated ground attack aircraft and dive bombers did not enter service with the RAF for some time later. These were known as Army Co-operation and initially such units were equipped with the likes of Westland Lysanders. The dive bomber/close support Hawker Henley, which would have been an impressive machine, became a target tug and never got to prove itself in combat because of this narrow minded policy. This changed when chaps like Arthur Coningham appeared and changed RAF perceptions of close support in the North African desert. He became head of 2 TAF in France from 1944. Brilliant man.

    Specification B.20/40 for a day bomber spec was also classified as a Close Army Support Bomber; the aircraft had to have a high speed, 280 mph at 5,000 ft using a Merlin, plus dive bombing and photo reconnaissance capability. Boulton Paul, Fairey, Hawker and Westland submitted proposals. Nothing happened. The Fairey design resembled a land based Barracuda.

    In 1942 a spec was raised and issued to firms, but didn't receive a number, for a "highly manoeuvrable single-seat low attack aircraft for employment against military forces on the ground, aircraft, invasion craft and shipping." It's primary role was as a tank buster to replace the Hurricane IID armed with 2 x 40 mm cannon. Armament options for the new type was to be 3 x 40 mm, 2 x 40 mm plus 2 x 20 mm, 4 x 20 mm and six unguided rockets, or 2 x 20 mm and one Vickers 47 mm gun. Provision was also to be made for 2 x 500 lb bombs. Max speed was to be at least 280 mph at 3,000 ft. This spec saw responses from Armstrong Whitworth, Boulton Paul, Cunliffe-Owen, Martin Baker and Philips and Powis (Miles). Both AW, BP and Martin Baker submitted twin boom pushers, although BP submitted three designs, their P.100 was a pusher with swept main wing and canard foreplanes and end plate fins. They also submitted a short span cantilever reverse staggered biplane (!) design.

    From all this in 1943 it was decided not to put a new ground attack aircraft in service and the Air Staff settled on the Hurricane IV and the addition of rockets to the Mosquito, Typhoon and Tempest; the advantages to these two latter types being that they could revert back to being fighters.
     
  11. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #11 michaelmaltby, Apr 5, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 6, 2012
    "... Rudel was also flying the Fw-190s, hence the aerial kills."

    Rudel was bagging planes for years before he got 190's. He'd lost his leg(s) by then.

    MM
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Battle was just an example, it was really too old and it's wing makes a Hurricane's look thin. But a large, thick, high lift wing is what is needed for close support aircraft operating from short bad airfields near the front.

    The Battle was never intended to be a tactical bomber. It was a cheap, single engine, semi-strategic bomber. It was meant for level bombing.
     
  13. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    ".... Thousands of Spitfire, Hurricane, Typhoon, P-40, P-47 and P-51 fighter aircraft were destroyed attempting to perform CAS missions they weren't designed for and weren't particularly good at."

    Or not ........

    Read Closterman on flying Tiffies off steel plank in France, db, ..... huge losses ...... guys flying into the ground and FLAK .... and FLAK towers.

    But I'm not convinced Sky Raiders would have survived any better than P-47's .... in Western Europe.

    MM
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    One reason the IL-2 was important to the Russians for the CAS mission was their fighters weren't very good for it. With many of their V-12 powered fighters having a single 20mm cannon (and that gun not having the 'punch' per round of some other 20mm guns) and single 12.7mm machine gun it took several of these fighters to equal ONE IL-2 for strafing (or to equal one Hurricane). Many of their single engine fighters (not special variants) were limited to a pair of 100kg bombs which also means a light bomber for ground attack was needed more than in Western air forces. No disrespect to the Russian fighters, there is only so much you can do with a 1200hp engine. If you bias the plane to air combat (small wing for higher speed) you can't also have large load carrying capacity.
     
  15. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    The western allies would probably have had the luxury to field such an attacker, but in my opinion, a more simple armor upgrade of a suitable front line fighter such as the Tempest / Typhoon, maybe P-47 or possibly even P-51 would yield a similar result without the need for a new airframe and the logistical effort needed for it. It'd also keep training efforts to a minimum.
    The Germans did that with the Fw 190 F series and it proved successful, basically eliminating the need for a dedicated attack aircraft.
     
  16. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Riacrato
    the Typhoon was in fact armoured. Mod 346 (55 lbs of fixed armour) and 347 (496 lbs of removable armour) were introduced in spring 1944. I am not sure of the exact disposition of this armour but photos show trial installations of sheet armour applied to the cockpit sides and floor and around the radiator. Nor do I know to what extent this armour was employed on operations. However many photos of Typhoons from D-day onwards show stencilling on the radiator fairings - "This fairing is armoured" - as a warning to groundcrew who might be removing the fairing.

    Juha
     
  17. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Suspect the F4U would have done "quite well" in the context of this thread.
     
  18. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Agree about that. Maybe to install the belly armor, akin to the AU-1? The generous wing should (and did) allowed for a great payload, with decent take-off run distances.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so.

    The Ju-87D / G was a far better CAS aircraft then the Fw-190F. But like any dedicated CAS aircraft the Ju-87D required air superiority. If there's little chance to achieve air superiority then the Fw-190F offers some CAS capability plus good survival vs enemy fighter aircraft.
     
  20. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    Hi Juha,
    learned something new today. It surely helped contribute to the success the Typhoon enjoyed as a ground support aircraft.

    @dave: The Ju 87 D is a dive bomber, not an attacker. Something people tend to forget when they compare it to the IL-2 or similar planes. Sure the two aircraft types have a large area of overlap in their roles but there are things one can do that the other can't. A Ju 87 D is not very suitable for roaming over the battle field at low height a Fw 190 F is not as precise when it comes to dive bombing. The Ju 87 G is more similar, but heavily gauged towards anti-armor work.
     
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