Alternatives to the Blackburn Firebrand

tomo pauk

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How should the British carrier-borne 'torpedo-fighter' looked like for post-1945, so it is an actually useful aircraft? Obviously, it needs to be capable to carry a torpedo (doh), with performance when clean at least as good to hold it's own vs. late-ww2 fighters, with acceptable handling, visibility over the nose and maneuverability. Let's recall that Hellcat was rated for the heavy Mk.13 torpedo (among it's other qualities), so the new TF will need to at least beat the latest Hellcat.
The TF is still a tail-dragger, 1-seater, piston engine power as it is available historically in the UK from 1944/45 on, with folding wings, 4 x 20mm cannons as guns' armament.
 

EwenS

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Well let’s use the historical as a starting point for ideas:-

Spec S.28/43 that resulted in a Firebrand development with a thin wing, the Firecrest

And the successor programme, Spec N.11/44 that led (eventually) to the turboprop Westland Wyvern:-

One of the original Eagle engined TF1 can be seen at the FAA Museum at Yeovilton.

Oh, and as an aside, a recent defence of Blackburn and the Firebrand.
 

tomo pauk

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Thanks for the feedback.

Spec S.28/43 that resulted in a Firebrand development with a thin wing, the Firecrest

Unfortunately, there wing as used on the Firecrest was not thin at the end, with 17% t-t-c if I'm reading the data from Wikipedia right.

Oh, and as an aside, a recent defence of Blackburn and the Firebrand.

Seems like that problems with visibility were not exaggerated, the next Blackburn designs were with cockpit moved forward and fuel tanks behind him, with downward sloped 1st 1/3rd of the fuselage in order to improve visibility over the nose.

Some ideas of what could've been:
- Fairey Firefly version? I'm not sure how they managed to get it being slower than the Hellcat, despite the wonderful engine on the Mk.IV.
- Sea Fury with 'full-size' wings like the Tempest had, with Fowler flaps.
- Something shaped as a Seafire but bigger, with better flaps and forward cockpit?
 

EwenS

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Well, with the Sea Fury, and probably the Firefly, you are going to have to splice some extra into the wing centre section to allow carriage of a torpedo, otherwise it interferes with undercarriage retraction. Firebrand wingspan grew by 15.5” and weight by 1,400-1,500 between the F.I and TF.II for just this reason. See below

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Firebrand F.I note inner undercarriage doors.

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TF.II
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And with that comes added weight to beef up the centre section to take a centreline pylon to carry the 1,801lb and 17ft long (plus weight and length of the Monoplane Air Tail) of the then standard Mk.XV torpedo. And watch the space under the fuselage. Firebrand had to be fitted with a special pylon to change the angle at which the torpedo was carried on the ground and in the air.

TF.IV on the ground
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And in the air
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So it is not just a case of sticking a torpedo underneath.

The Firebrand was very big for a single engined fighter in 1940. Span 50ft v Spitfire 37ft, length 38ft v Spitfire 30ft, empty weight 11,000lb v Spitfire 5,000lb. It was built like a battleship for the rough and tumble of a carrier deck in Atlantic weather and that long nose (c13ft) while a nuisance for deck landing (they fitted a second ASI forward of the cockpit port side in pilot’s line of sight when flying a curved deck landing approach - an early head up display!) at least meant that generally accidents happened a long way from the pilot!

As for the Firefly, are you comparing like with like? Remember it was designed as a two seater with much tighter deck landing limits and in WW2 Mk.I form had an engine rated at 1,735hp (single stage supercharged, Griffon IIB giving 316mph at 14,000 feet) compared to the Hellcat’s 2,000hp and more with water injection. Postwar versions of the Firefly got the much more powerful (2,250hp) two stage Griffon 74 which lifted the top speed to 386mph at 14,000 ft.

Most sources give the Hellcat a max speed around 376mph, boosted to c390mph with water injection.
 

tomo pauk

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Well, with the Sea Fury, and probably the Firefly, you are going to have to splice some extra into the wing centre section to allow carriage of a torpedo, otherwise it interferes with undercarriage retraction. Firebrand wingspan grew by 15.5” and weight by 1,400-1,500 between the F.I and TF.II for just this reason. See below

A reason why I've mentioned the Tempest wing to 'return' to the Sea Fury is that it leaves space for torpedo betwen the U/C legs.
(Tempest I, to illustrate the point)
Some trimming of the flaps on bot Tempest/Fury and Firelfy will be needed so these don't hit the torpedo when extended.
Unlike the Firebrand I, Firefly was already with some distance between the wheel wells , but I guess better safe than sorry.

And with that comes added weight to beef up the centre section to take a centreline pylon to carry the 1,801lb and 17ft long (plus weight and length of the Monoplane Air Tail) of the then standard Mk.XV torpedo. And watch the space under the fuselage. Firebrand had to be fitted with a special pylon to change the angle at which the torpedo was carried on the ground and in the air.

Yes, strengthening of the fuselage is required.
Wrt. the special rack - I'd go with a longer tailwheel strut instead.

As for the Firefly, are you comparing like with like? Remember it was designed as a two seater with much tighter deck landing limits and in WW2 Mk.I form had an engine rated at 1,735hp (single stage supercharged, Griffon IIB giving 316mph at 14,000 feet) compared to the Hellcat’s 2,000hp and more with water injection. Postwar versions of the Firefly got the much more powerful (2,250hp) two stage Griffon 74 which lifted the top speed to 386mph at 14,000 ft.

Most sources give the Hellcat a max speed around 376mph, boosted to c390mph with water injection.

You are right, with 2-stage Griffon it was matching Hellcat's performance.
 

Admiral Beez

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How should the British carrier-borne 'torpedo-fighter' looked like for post-1945, so it is an actually useful aircraft?
If we must combine fighters and torpedoes, just stick the short torps from your Tarpons onto the FAA’s Hellcats.

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But post-1945, fighters are increasingly jet powered, and we soon move to PGM ordnance rather than torpedoes for anti ship work, such as guided glide bombs. Postwar the fighter-torpedo concept was obsolete and resources should have instead gone to getting the Attacker, Vampire and Sea Hawk into earlier FAA service.

This is what early postwar FAA anti ship strike should have looked like.

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Assuming these are RP-3 rockets, if armed with a 60 lb warhead they have a speed of 750 ft/s (511 mph). Assuming the launching Attacker or Sea Hawk is approaching from above at something like 450 mph, firing eight to twelve 60 lb rocket at close to 1,000 mph, no WW2 surplus cruiser or thin skinned postwar warship will do well.
 
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EwenS

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If we must combine fighters and torpedoes, just stick the short torps from your Tarpons onto the FAA’s Hellcats.

View attachment 695301
View attachment 695302

But post-1945, fighters are increasingly jet powered, and we soon move to PGM ordnance rather than torpedoes for anti ship work, such as guided glide bombs. Postwar the fighter-torpedo concept was obsolete and resources should have instead gone to getting the Attacker, Vampire and Sea Hawk into earlier FAA service.

This is what early postwar FAA anti ship strike should have looked like.

View attachment 695307

View attachment 695303

Assuming these are RP-3 rockets, if armed with a 60 lb warhead they have a speed of 750 ft/s (511 mph). Assuming the launching Attacker or Sea Hawk is approaching from above at something like 450 mph, firing eight to twelve 60 lb rocket at close to 1,000 mph, no WW2 surplus cruiser or thin skinned postwar warship will do well.
For shipping strike the RAF/FAA concluded in 1943 that the solid 25lb AP head was better than the 60lb HE head and used it in that role to the end of the war. It proved far better at letting the water in!
 

Admiral Beez

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For shipping strike the RAF/FAA concluded in 1943 that the solid 25lb AP head was better than the 60lb HE head and used it in that role to the end of the war. It proved far better at letting the water in!
Combined with a fast jet launch aircraft, the much faster speed of 1200 fps (818 mph) the 25 lb. RP-3 would do some serious damage. If we’re flying a strike of Supermarine Attrackers, each armed with twelve 25 lb. RP-3 rockets against a large warship bereft of air cover, such as a Kirov class light cruiser, how would you run the strike? I assume the 590 mph Attacker is significantly slower at lower altitude and carrying the rockets. Plus, in this era of visual targeting, if we approach too quickly would the pilot be able to locate and accurately close on the target?
 

tomo pauk

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Spad is all good and well, it does not cover the 'fighter' part of the 'torpedo-fighter' designation.
 

EwenS

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Combined with a fast jet launch aircraft, the much faster speed of 1200 fps (818 mph) the 25 lb. RP-3 would do some serious damage. If we’re flying a strike of Supermarine Attrackers, each armed with twelve 25 lb. RP-3 rockets against a large warship bereft of air cover, such as a Kirov class light cruiser, how would you run the strike? I assume the 590 mph Attacker is significantly slower at lower altitude and carrying the rockets. Plus, in this era of visual targeting, if we approach too quickly would the pilot be able to locate and accurately close on the target?
Should have said, the object of a rocket attack was not to hit the ship but the water about 25 yards from the ship's side, so that the rockets arced upwards after hitting the water and punched holes beneath the waterline so letting the water in and sinking the ship. In training, Coastal Command pilots (flying Mosquitos & Beaufighters with 8 RP) were taught to launch pairs at 1,200, 1,000, 800, & 600 yards. Didn't always work as planned though. Any hit above the waterline simply punches a 3" hole. It has no explosive effect. So the only internal damage is to what it then physically comes into contact with, and then only if it retains sufficient force after entering or leaves through the other side.

And then you have a second problem. A Kirov is not an unarmoured ship like a merchantman or destroyer. It has an armoured box of side (50mm in the first pair, 70mm in the others) & deck armour (50mm) covering about two thirds of its length + other protected areas. And the armoured deck is not the uppermost deck. There is an upper, albeit thin, deck that will slow an RP before it gets to the deck armour.

An RP3 was nominally capable of punching through 3.5" (88mm) of armour at 700 yards. But if it travels through water first it will be slower so will have less penetrative power when it reaches the ship. So its effectiveness will depend on whether it strikes the armour itself or beneath, forward or aft of that box and how far out you launch it.

So to even think about hitting a Kirov you need to get close. Closer than with a torpedo (Barracuda pilots were trained to drop from 1,000 yards out). And a hit from a 18" torpedo with 545lbs of Torpex will be a damned sight more effective in putting a Kirov down. And it means penetrating ever more effective AA systems on board surface warships.

It is one reason for the USN developing the Tiny Tim rocket in WW2

Postwar Britain set about developing Uncle Tom 11.5", 9ft long rocket powered by 6 x 3" rocket motors. That was followed by Red Angel designed specifically to tackle armoured warships. 11.25", 10.75ft long weighing 1,055lb & containing 88lb of explosive.
 

tomo pauk

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Just by name - compare this aircraft to Firebrand. It was a bit slower but it outperformed it in almost every category and I don't think you're going to find an other aircraft in the post war period that can carry a torpedo and then double as a fighter...

Hence this thread :)
Hellcat was rated to carry a torpedo. P-38 was tested with two.
 

EwenS

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Maybe this will help focus minds.

The Admiralty in late 1944 were drawing a clear distinction between a "strike" aircraft (like the Fairey Spearfish and some other Fairey tandem Merlin designs and the US Skyraider & Mauler) and a fighter bomber to replace the Firebrand and US escort fighter types like the Hellcat & Corsair. So the Specs N.11/44 & N.12/45 drawn up to meet the latter requirement specified the following:-

Function - primary, air combat & secondary, strike.
Size - 50ft span (18ft folded) x 40ft length, and 15.75ft high
Speed - as high as possible (c500mph / 434 knots at 20,000ft); best performance 10-20,000ft.
Climb - 15,000ft in 5 mins with full internal fuel
Combat radius - 240 nautical miles minimum (400 nautical miles with drop tanks)
Armament - 4x20mm Mk.V (800 rounds), 2,000/3,000lb of bombs (incl 1x2,000lb or 1,600lb) or a single Mk.XVII 18" torpedo or a single Mk.VI mine

Out of this eventually emerged the turboprop Westland Wyvern TF.2

So while The Spad & Mauler might tick the boxes for weight lifting and size, they are way too slow for what the Admiralty was seeking. So what do you have to do to them to make them contenders? What are you going to re-engine them with? Maybe this comes closer:-

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Needs trimmed down a bit sizewise. Don't know manoeuverable it was to fill the fighter brief.

By 1951 Admiralty thoughts are turning to the Sverdlov class, to which the solution was not the torpedo by the nuclear bomb carried by the NA-39 Buccaneer. So it is a limited window of time wea re looking at here.
 

Shortround6

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What is the "window" of opportunity for such a machine?

You only have about 3 potential users.
The British, the Americans and the Soviet Union.
In the late 40s nobody else had a navy that needs attacking by torpedo equipped aircraft.
Greece needs torpedo aircraft to attack the old Goeben ?

Now at what point do the "defenders" in such a scenario start using jet interceptors so that a piston powered torpedo fighter just says "target" on it's side after it drops the torpedo?

We are back to the questions of the 1936-42 single engine bomber.
If you make the plane small in order to keep up performance you need an awful lot of power to achieve take-off while reducing the room for fuel.

The Boeing XF8B was not small but it used about 3600hp (water injection) to that power and the thing still would not climb worth rotten apples.
Feeding a P & W R-4360 or a Centaurus is not easy,

Sales folder for the Sea Fury says 200 imp gallons internal.
22 gallons for run up
10 gallons for climb to 10,000ft
66 gallons for 15 minutes of combat.
The absurd allowance of 7 gallons for reserve.

Gives you about 300 mile radius off action while cruising at most economical.

If you want a single seat strike airplane then build it.
A fighter and a strike aircraft are diverging.
You can adapt a fighter into a strike aircraft, it was often done, but there is something left out that a new design would be essential and run up the size/weight and ruin the aircraft as a real fighter.
 

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