A what if about the P-51...

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Clay_Allison, Jan 31, 2009.

  1. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    What if the P51-A was available with a P-43 style Turbocharger, (making it an all-altitude fighter) in 1938 to blow away the P-39, P-40, and P-38 in competition.

    Probably because of its cheapness and ruggedness, the P-40 would have still been bought as a fighter-bomber, to be superceded in the role later in the war by the bigger, more versatile P-47.

    On the other hand, would the P-38 and P-39 have been bought at all? I'd have told Bell and Lockheed to make the P-51 under license. The P-38 would have been a loss, but what would it have delivered to make up for being twice as expensive and far more complicated to build than the P-51. Putting it this way, would a singe P-38 do anything useful against 2 P-51s?

    Meanwhile, I'd order Brewster and Grumman to make a folding-wing "Sea Stang" to fit the P-51 for Naval use.

    Finally (and the most fun idea for me), I'd commission Hughes aircraft to make an export P-51 (EP-51?) out of Duramold Plywood to send for Allies like the Aussies who were strapped for planes.

    The question is, am I going overboard?
     
  2. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    I would miss the P-38. And the P-40 a little bit too.

    They still tried to do their job, even if it wasn't always perfect.
     
  3. merlin

    merlin Member

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    Quck answer YES!

    The P-51 didn't exist in '38 - not even in the imagination of North American!

    The RAF didn't know they would need such an aircraft - they wanted originally North American to build the P-40 (the Curtis factory was already full of orders), hence the P-51a after NA said that they can do better.

    The USAAC didn't have a requirement for high-altitude, that only came as a result of combat reports from Europe in '39/40. The Allison engine was built to the US spec of performance at 15,000 ft.

    The USN prefered radial engined aircraft, so why would they choose an unproven aircraft over the 'Wildcat'.

    As for the wooden version - Hughes didn't do too well with the 'Spruce Goose', so the likelihood would be that it would be heavier not lighter. If memory serves, the Japanese tried a wooden version of the Ki-84 wich came out heavier and slower.
    Only De Haviland it seems knew how to build wooden combat aircraft.
     
  4. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    A Sea-stang is not possible judging from the very high stall speed and the unpleasent stall approach of the P-51. Such a plane wouldn´t be accepted by the Navy.
     
  5. merlin

    merlin Member

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    What if the RAF had been successful in ordering the Italian Re 2000 either before war broke out with Italy, or Italy stayed neutral?

    Perhaps, that would have corrected any immediate short fall in fighters the RAF felt they had, and wouldn't felt the need for extra P-40s, or could wait for Curtis to build them.
    So with no British requirement/order the P-51 doesn't get built. North American builds more trainers and B-25s.
    And of course later a lot more B-17s and B-24s get shot down!
     
  6. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    The USN looked at the Mustang for carrier operations in 1944 aboard the USS Shangri La. They began initial flight tests at Inglewood with a P-51D-25-NA and North American's engineering test pilot Bob Chilton.
    The aircraft was fitted with a taller fin and rudder similar to the P-51H but slightly broader chord. Strengthening in the form of extra plating to the upper wing surfaces was added over the ammo boxes.
    The results of these simulated deck landings were successful and at this stage, an arrester hook was not fitted.
    They took these results to the USS Shangri La with another aircraft, P-51-D-5-NA which they did fit with an arrester hook aft of the tailwheel and more structural modifications were made at the Dallas plant.
    Once the mods were complete, they flew it to the Norfolk Naval Yard in Virginia and the Philadelphia Naval Yard in Pennsylvania for ground catapult tests and again, tests were successful, so successful that they cancelled further tests as unnecessary.

    The Shangri La (27,100 tons, 855ft 10ins) left Norfolk Yard on 13Nov44 and proceeded to a point 85 miles east of Chesapeake Bay. Piloted by Lt R M Elder USN, the Mustang arrived punctually at 1130hrs the following morning and with the carrier turned into the wind, Elder made a 90mph approach and executed a perfect landing, being cheered by hundreds of ships' personnel as he did so. Lt Elder then made a further four successful landings and take-offs,

    i. the first take-off from the 700ft line and the pilot forgot to trim the aircraft properly.
    ii. the second take-off from the 600ft line and after a run of 250ft the a/c was airborne; bearing out North American's claims that a headwind of 35kts would get the a/c up in less than 600ft.

    On landing, the a/c with a gross weight of 9,600lbs had a maximum run-out of 82ft.

    Lt Elder then flew the a/c back to the Norfolk Yard where it was scheduled to perform a series of severe off-centre landings at the Philadelphia Yard.

    The Mustang's wide-track undercarriage, good handling qualities and exceptional range would have made it an excellent carrier-based fighter and North American did carry out design studies of carrier-based versions incl. the P-51H.

    Early in 1944, comparative trials were flown between the Corsair in F4U-1 and F4U-1A versions and the P-51B. The Corsairs were flown at a weight of 12,162lbs against 9,423lbs for the Mustang. The Corsair had an equal range to the Mustang and twice the firepower, the Corsair also proved to be faster than the Mustang at all heights up to about 24,200ft, above which the Mustang had the edge. The Corsairs climbed better to 20,000ft and once again, the Mustang had the edge in climb above this height.
    The Corsair proved better than the Mustang in level-flight acceleration, manoeuvrability and response as well as a lower stalling speed while the Mustang had a better dive acceleration.

    The Mustang's lateral control at low speeds was felt to be inadequate for carrier-based operations and forward-visibility over the nose in the 3-point landing attitude was very poor (although that criticism could be levelled at almost any naval fighter at the time).

    For these reasons, the Mustang was not ordered by the USN, in spite of its successful carrier trials.

    Sources
    The North American MUSTANG
    M J Hardy
    David Charles
    ISBN: 0 7153 7624 1
    Pages 63 - 65
     

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  7. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    I am not that optimistic wrt the Seastang just because some trials with experienced pilots were successful:

    A) 100 mp/h stall speed (!)
    Landing speed is typically higher than stall speed for the approach

    Landing speed and flight deck length are statistically proportional to the number of landing accidents. If You chek the official USN statistical digits You understand that the FM-2 was having the worst accident rate (keep in mind it was operated by shorter flight deck CVE), with the F4U beeing rated 2nd.
    F4F stall (full flaps, power on): 70 mp/h
    F6F stall (full flaps, power on): 84 mp/h
    F4U stall (full flaps, power on): 90 mp/h

    B) STALL APPROACH

    The P-51 had a nasty stall. Near laminar flow wings receive a very abrupt stall, covering most of the wing without much pre warning. Spin at low altitude is fatal.

    Both together implies a very high operational non combat related loss rate had that A/C beeig used in this capacity. Quite comprable to the Corsair but worser. The Corsair at least didn´t had such a nasty stall.
     
  8. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Hi Del
    Neither am I, the point was made more to Clay to inform him that the Mustang was in fact looked at for carrier operations. You do make one point about experienced pilots being used, well, I'd argue that anyone putting an a/c down on a carrier is going to have a similar level of experience.

    Yes, but surely that is borne out by the closing sentence in the report?
     
  9. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Ok, I KNOW when it was designed. Obviously it couldn't have been done unless they came up with the idea in 1937 for an Army proposal:
    The P-38 was selected for this role though the P-39 and P-40 were put forward for it. For some reason Bell didn't mount a turbocharger in front of the pilot of the P-39 to make it the P-63 until much later.

    On Hughes, the "spruce goose" was the biggest airplane ever built! It was a marvel the thing got out of the water that one time. Hughes' design team were geniuses at streamlining, lightening, and making planes fast. I direct you to the H-1 racer for proof. Even the Hercules is proof of that because no other company could have gotten that insane thing light enough to fly. They were also some of the best in the world at the time in using Duramold Plywood.

    The P-51 was a great aircraft not least because of its simplicity for mass production. Moncoque fuselage, simple to build wings, modular easy-assembly construction. Of course it wouldn't be as good as the real thing, and I probably would omit the turbocharger to save weight. The Yak-1 was not as good as the Yak-9, but a Yak-1 is better than no Yak at all. (I actually came up with this idea looking at whether we should have built Yaks or Hurricanes under contract)
     
  10. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    As for the Navy thing, it was not worth trying in 1944 because the more forgiving F6F was already introduced. On the other hand the difference betwen even a Mustang-B and a F4F is staggering enough to make you wonder if they were really from the same era.

    I think that when the folding wings were being designed a little efficiency might have been given up for a little stability. The F4U had much worse visibility and was a killer to land even on the ground.

    I'm never a fan of rough landings but I'm not a fan of getting shot down by Zeroes either. My answer to its landing flaws (besides attempts to design a "sea wing") is very simple, more training. Build a mock carrier dack like they did for Doolittle's Raid and practice difficult landings.
     
  11. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    The P-38, was a technology platform to me. It was an aircraft that forced the U.S. to learn more about aerodynamics at high subsonic speeds. Plus its basic platform, large twin engine , load carrying ability was the "future" of the U.S. air superiority fighter. A WWII F-15 Eagle or F4 Phantom.
     
  12. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    The only thing wrong with it was we never had enough of them and they cost twice as much as a single-engined plane. It was amazing though because it was a legitimate twin-engined dogfighter, not a big lazy battleship like the Mosquito, Black Widow, and Beaufighter.
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Not really true - they did cost more (about 30% and supplies, especially to the south Pacific took off in 1943. By 1944 General Kenny, the major -38 "customer" was getting a plentiful supply, but there was ALWAYS a need for more....
     
  14. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

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  15. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

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    RE the wing stalling, that was fixed with the F4U-1A, as a small spoiler was added to the leading edge of the wing and that was found to rectify the problem, so really, you can't use it to knock the Corsair as only the early -1 birdcages had that problem.
     
  16. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Couldn't that be added to a Sea-Stang wing?
     
  17. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure to be honest. I would think it's one of those quirky things that worked on the F4U, but maybe it would work. It just made both wings stall at the same time, as opposed to allowing the one wing to stall before the other.
     
  18. merlin

    merlin Member

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    It still has a liquid cooled engine - not a radial which the USN wanted to have. Can any posters think of any liquid cooled engines in USN use during WW2?
    They only conducted the trials in '44 because the P-51 was so good. Try it earlier - the USN wouldn't look at it. The FAA got away with using liquid cooled engines on carrier aircraft - they had to. The USN already had experienced naval avaition manufacturers who knew how to make carrier aircraft.
     
  19. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

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    Exactly, as is shown by the fact that the FAA started adopting US types. And you're right, I cannot think of a single US Naval aircraft that used the in-line engine.
     
  20. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    I think a few mock dogfights would change their minds. I know they liked radials, but the if the Fleet Air Arm could adopt Seacanes and Seafires, the USN could have adopted a Seastang and it would have been better than the Zero rather than inferior.
     
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