Alternative RAF Battle of Britain Aircraft

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by merlin, Dec 30, 2006.

  1. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    I'll assume everyone knows what RAF aircraft (principally Fighter Command), were involved in the BoB. But which other aircraft could have been - and please can your suggestions be believeable!

    There is a minor side issue - that of armament, was eight x 0.303" right, or should it have been four x 0.50" machine guns? The former was only saved by the Dixon (usually referred to incorrectly as De Wilde) incendairy ammunition.

    Obviously the Spifire and Hurricane would still be selected. But in my scenairo the Gloster F.5/34 (Guardian) was ordered, by the RAF, being later re-engined with the Taurus. It and the Hurricane completely replaced the RAF's biplanes fighters well before the War started (a flight of Gladiators guarded Plymouth in the BoB); supplemented by the growing arrival of the Spitfire.
    Gloster also supply the RAF's twin engined aircraft - the F.9/37, with a two-seat night-fighter variant as a stop-gap until the Beaufighter. A better option than the Blenheim!
    Also Dowding is more forthright in his opposition to the Defiant, and with his industry contacts the single-seat alternative P.92 is offered earlier, and this time accepted. Although initially named Defiant 2, it is soon renamed 'Defoe'. And makes a valued contribution in the Battle, against the Me109's, to the Spitfire.

    Interesting to see how others change the timescale to fit e.g. Whirlwind, Wildcat or indeed Re 2000!
     
  2. the lancaster kicks ass

    the lancaster kicks ass Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    19,980
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    The RAF would've never considdered the .50 for it's fighters, they realised that the .303 wasn't perfect during the BoB and it is because of the experience against bombers we went straight to the 20mm, besides the MASSIVE shortage of .50s in the country, i don't see the need for alternative aircraft none of them really compared to the spits and hurricanes and we had little need for a twin engined fighter, the beaufighter was there to be a nightfighter during the blitz the only aircraft i would've liked to've seen would be the Whirlwind as a low level raider attacking the LW airfeilds in northern France to dissrupt raids over England..........
     
  3. Crow

    Crow New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Messages:
    20
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    1
    the .303 gets a poor press, mainly because towards the middle of the war aircraft had up-armoured and up-gunned and left it behind. In the BoB it was still a lethal armament when hosing the unprotected glass cockpits of German bombers. Its unfair to compare it to 0.50 armed fighters since by the large those American fighters didnt get to the UK in decent numbers till mid to late 1942, by which time the RAF had switched to 2x20mm cannons

    As for alternative fighters, the one probably closest to production if things went badly was the Miles M20, a little fighter quicker than the Hurricane despite fixed undercarriage, and able to be made vastly quicker than both (made in large parts from Miles Magister trainer components).

    However what effectively sunk it was it required the same Merlin engine being built as fast as possible for the Hurricane and Spitfire, and the fact that when it was ready to fly the major shortage was pilots not fighters.

    One lesser known fact was that there was even an emergency plan to arm the Percival Gull racer as a fighter, should the factories be unable to produce enough frontline fighters to stem the tide.
     
  4. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2005
    Messages:
    1,090
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    Teacher
    Location:
    Japan
    Well, the Whirlwind should of been available about 8-10 months earlier than it was.

    The prototype, which was ostensibly complete by March 1938, suffered from delays in delivery of the undercarriage and the protracted development of the Peregrine. The Air Ministry wouldn't approve full scale development for the Peregrine until the Whirlwind was ordered in quantity, while the Whirlwind couldn't get enough engines for proper flight testing, slowing down testing and development for it. Something of a vicious circle. Eventually RR delivered two engines in June and the prototype first flew in October 1938.

    After A&AEE testing in Dec-1938 the tail unit required a significant rework, resulting in the 'acorn' type tail, as well as installation of new flaps and numerous other, but minor, adjustments. Although necessary, similar developments to the Hurricane and Spitfire were carrierd out while the fighers were entering service. It was probably a case of wanting too much, too soon from the Whirly.

    The Air Ministry kept delaying production decisions on the Peregrine and the Whirlwind, eventually settling on an order for 200 airframes in Dec-1938, which was then cut to 114 in May-1940. RR, who were busy with Merlin development (as well as the Vulture), never really had the time to put into the Peregrine that it deserved (as well as trouble getting Hobson downdraft carburettors for the engine), and told the Air Ministry and Westland in Sep-1939 that it was terminating Pergrine production .

    Westland estimated that it would take them 9 months to get the first airframe ready for delivery. Unfortunately, the tooing and froing with production decisions and engine manufacturing balloned this out to 17 months, 8 months longer than originally expected.

    If the RAF and the Air Ministry had really got their act together, then the Whirlwind could of begun deliveries in F eb/March 1940, instead of July-August. This would of given the RAF at least 1 squadron for operations in the Battle. Operationally however, they would of been hamstrung a little by the tendency for the engines to overheat and cannon jamming caused by case crush.
     
  5. Nonskimmer

    Nonskimmer Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2004
    Messages:
    8,848
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Naval Electronics Technician
    Location:
    Halifax, Nova Scotia
    Lesser known indeed. I don't think I'd ever heard or read about that before.
     
  6. the lancaster kicks ass

    the lancaster kicks ass Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2003
    Messages:
    19,980
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    either way i can't see how we can really have this debate as no other aircraft were needed really, you can talk about the M.20 'til the cows come home but you can't convert an entire airforce to a different aircraft type in the middle of the most intense air battle the world's ever seen..............
     
  7. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    I am a bit perplexed, where do I suggest that the RAf should 'convert an entire airforce to a different aircraft type in the middle of the most intense air battle the world's ever seen ... '??

    No, the whole point of my scenairo was that different decisions could have been made, in the late 30's regarding the aircraft that made up Fighter Command.
    As regards armament; when the decision was made to go from four 0.303" guns (as per Gladiator) to eight for the new monoplanes, it could have been 0.50" instead - with the manufacturing capability to go with it!?

    Some interesting info on the Whirlwind, yes perhaps it could been available earlier. I wonder if the Hispano 12y engine would have been a suitable alternative - similar hp howabout size?

    Look forward to some further alternatives.

    PS Would you still have Leigh-Mallory in charge of 12 Group? If not who?
     
  8. Tony Williams

    Tony Williams Member

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    273
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Freelance gun and ammunition writer and editor
    Home Page:
    The RAF had rejected .50 cal guns after extensive testing, reckoning them to be "neither fish nor fowl"; i.e. they were much heavier and slower-firing than .303 cal but lacked the destructive effect of a 20mm cannon. So they had decided to adopt a 20mm cannon as early as 1935: it just took too long to be service-ready.

    However, as the fighting approached they did get more nervous and showed an interest in the 13.2mm FN-Browning. This was effectively the .50 M2 in a slightly larger calibre, made in Belgium. It was lighter and faster-firing than the US original, and also had HE ammo. It would have made a good fighter armament in 1940 (and bomber gun later), but the idea had to be dropped when Belgium was overrun.

    Tony Williams: Military gun and ammunition website and discussion forum
     
  9. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    As there have been a few threads recently over the BoB, I thought I would resurect an old one of mine!

    Re-reading - I can see an error, the single-seater defiant was a P.94.

    In 1940 the RAF had the Gloster Gladiator (a biplane) max speed 253 mph, the Bristol Blenheim 1F max speed 260 mph, the Boulton Paul Defiant max speed 304 mph, all of these had 4 x 0.303" machine guns. Then of course there was the Spitfire Hurricane with 8 x 0.303" machine guns.
    In this list I am discounting the Beaufighter as its first 'kill' wasn't until 11th Nov.

    If we ignore the comment about the armament - it's been done to death recently. I would be interested in further posts.
    Yes, many would like to see more Whirlwinds - excellent fighter in the air - but I wary though over the long take-off and maintenance problems - twelve man-hours to change a wheel.

    Hence, no Gladiators - Gloster E.5/34, no Blenhiem 1F - Gloster F.9/37, some Defiants - but production reset mainly to the single-seater, no change with Hurricanes and Spitfires. An extra alternative would be if the Boulton Paul P.88 had been ordered - quite feasible.
     
  10. pinsog

    pinsog Member

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2008
    Messages:
    658
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I think a few F4F-3 Wildcats, 4 50's and no folding wing would have been a blessing during the BoB. They turn very well, can take much more punishment than anything else in the battle from either side, and have better firepower than either British aircraft. They would have made an outstanding bomber interceptor while the Spits delt with the 109's.
     
  11. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2004
    Messages:
    1,907
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Location:
    Barnsley, S. Yorks, UK
    They might have helped, but the FAA did not receive it's first (fixed-wing) Martlet Is until August 1940. They might have been just about ready for combat by Adlertag, but they would have added an extra logistics and maintenance complication to the 11 Group airfields, being a few squadrons of radial engined fighters with .50cal guns in a fleet of inline-engined fighters with .303 guns.

    Still, would have been interesting to see how they performed.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Maybe not. The RAF could reject the Spitfire for the same reason that the Luftwaffe rejected the He-112. Too expensive to mass produce.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,987
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    He-112 did have another problem: it was not as good as the 109.
    Spit was faster then Hurricane on the other hand.
     
  14. Hop

    Hop Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2005
    Messages:
    624
    Likes Received:
    16
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The Spitfire wasn't particularly difficult to mass produce. Supermarine certainly had trouble in the beginning, but that was because Supermarine were a very small company to begin with.

    In January 1940 the number of man hours to build British fighters was given as:

    Spitfire - 15,200
    Hurricane - 10,300

    However, Castle Bromwich was building Spitfire Vs in 10,400 hours by 1941. I'd expect the hours required for the Hurricane to have dropped as well, but not as dramatically. The Hurricane was much further along in the production process by 1940 than the Spitfire was.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Exactly my point. The Me-109 required 4,000 man hours to build during 1940. This dropped to 3,500 man hours by 1942.
     
  16. HellToupee

    HellToupee Banned

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Spitfire wasnt really harder than a hurri to make, i think it was actually easier it was just down to the methods used, where spit used modern monocoque construction just took more time to adapt to the new methods.
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2005
    Messages:
    23,196
    Likes Received:
    778
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Maintenance Manager/ Flight Instructor
    Location:
    Colorado, USA
    The Spitfire was harder to make and required more skilled assemblers than the Hurricane. Fabric and tube aircraft are easy to manufacture and the only jig required for the fuselage is the welding jig for tube structure, unless you have any bolt on assembly tools for aligning up individual components. The Spitfire fuselage and wings were jig built and the wing was complicated, especially around the elliptical tip.

    "In 1986, the historian Corelli Barnett upset enthusiasts by suggesting the Spitfire took twice as many work-hours to build as the Messerschmitt Bf 109. It seems he took his figures from earlier production in Southampton."

    Science Museum | Inside the Spitfire | Manufacturing the Spitfire

    "The Hurricane was ordered into production in June 1936, mainly due to its relatively simple construction and ease of manufacture. As war was looking increasingly likely, and time was of the essence in providing the RAF with an effective fighter aircraft, it was unclear if the more advanced Spitfire would be able to enter production smoothly, while the Hurricane used well-understood manufacturing techniques. This was true for service squadrons as well, who were experienced in working on and repairing aircraft whose construction employed the same principles as the Hurricane, and the simplicity of its design enabled the improvisation of some remarkable repairs in Squadron workshops."

    I've maintained and assembled both types of aircraft and although I hate doing large fabric work, it is easier to assemble and in a short term maintain.
     
  18. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2008
    Messages:
    531
    Likes Received:
    6
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Ohio
    If the U.S. Air Corps hadn't lost the first XP-38 in a stunt, and maybe Lockheed been able to speed up development, I think Lend Lease (non-castrated) Lightnings would have been terribly effective doing what they were born to do....intercept bombers!
     
  19. HellToupee

    HellToupee Banned

    Joined:
    May 30, 2007
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0

    Hurricane as i said used the old fashion techniques, the difference was in adapting to new techniques with monocoque construction. Once monocoque and semi-monocoque(spit was semi as were most AC) construction matured its production costs were lower than that of skinned frames. Not a great deal of the hurri was fabric ither, its wings were all metal, only the rear fuselage was fabric.
     
  20. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

    Joined:
    May 18, 2008
    Messages:
    1,309
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    The Spitfire gave so much trouble to build in its early days that the Air Ministry were actively looking to cancel their orders and turn Supermarine over to building Beaufighters as early as 1939.

    It was partly to do with adapting to new techniques, but it was also to do with what was seen as unnecessarily complex construction methods when time was running out. The Beau was also a stressed skin metal aircraft, but was easier to build than the Spitfire.
     
Loading...

Share This Page