Battle of Britain Hurricane or Wildcat

Discussion in 'Polls' started by pinsog, Mar 9, 2010.

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Wildcat or Hurricane

  1. F4F3 Wildcat

    44.0%
  2. Hawker Hurricane

    56.0%
  1. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    If you were running the RAF during the BoB and you had a choice between the Hurricane or F4F3 Wildcat in addition to the Spitfire, which would you have chosen? As a pilot, which would you have chosen to fight in?
     
  2. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Not an easy one
    better ceiling for the Hurricane but I'd give the F4F the call as a better bomber-killer; radial engine for durability and 4 x .50cals that would mess things up in a Heinkel's glasshouse but that's assuming the Luftwaffe were obliging enough to come in at a decent height for it.
    Hurricane possibly shades it on manoeuvrabiity but I don't think either plane was all that in the vertical.
     
  3. Markus

    Markus Banned

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    Wildcat is is! Compared to the Hurricane I the F4F-3 had a better high-altitude performance due to her two-speed supercharger and her armament was vasty more powerful.
     
  4. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Are we talking about relative performance or historical timeline reality? The first production F4F-3s were only available in Feb 40 so producing sufficient numbers to equip all the Hurricane squadrons employed during the BoB was improbable at best.

    If we're talking just about relative performance, I agree that the Wildcat had superior altitude performance although I'd hardly consider 4x50cals being "vastly more powerful" than 8x303s. It would also be interesting to consider other factors like time-to-altitude climbing performance and ease of turnaround between missions as both were vital in the BoB. Don't have answers to these questions but I'd be interested to learn the answers.
     
  5. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    I'd have chosen a MiG. FTW.

    Fury monoplane or converted biplane is otherwise difficult choice. Both are pretty good second echelon models from leading design nations. I'd probably go for the Wildcat because of better equipment and range for similar performance. It did reportedly very well in comparative mock dogfights against P-40s in the Pacific, winning usually. Fuel tank is very well protected, reliability is great, armament is good, etc.
    Hurricane loses energy quickly in sustained manoeuvres, Wildcat loses it in the vertical. Both are very stable platforms and easy to fly and land. The fifties have extra range and penetration but double the amount of .303s has equivalent damage at normal conditions and better chances of hits. The fifties really only to draw way ahead when the targets became more heavily armoured which didn't happen 'till later. Also consider that if the Wildcat was adopted on a large scale as a ground based fighter it probably would've been swapped for .303s anyway, like the P-40 (this was not due to ammunition availability so much as the fact the Browning .50 was considered relatively untested in terms of reliability by the British ministry, which is the original reason they weren't placed in Spits and Hurricanes instead of the 8-gun armament).
     
  6. Markus

    Markus Banned

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    Here´s a bit of info from Tony Williams website:

    The RAF was also very short of AP-rounds during the BoB, replacing them with FMJ-rounds and reducing the already meager firepower of the cal.303 even more. I pressume that was not a problem any more a year later but even than Hurricanes with 12*.303 were having a lot of trouble bringing down Ju88. Cal.50 machine guns are vastly superior to rifle caliber machine guns because a cal.50 Browning bullet is more than four times havier than a cal.303. IMO RCMG are useful only against single engine A/C or unprotected ones.


    Sea level climb rate was 3,300ft/min, time to 20,000ft eight minutes.
     
  7. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Good points, Markus, but if the RAF was short of AP .303 rounds in 1940, where on earth would they have acquired sufficient .50 cal rounds? Remember, the question was which aircraft would we have chosen "in addition to the Spitfire". Operating a mix of weapons calibres would have presented logistic and operational issues. Also, with .50 cals you get fewer rounds per weapon in a given space so, under dogfight conditions, you run out of ammo faster. Don't disagree that the .50 cal is, one for one, better than a .303 (4x20mm cannon are better still!) and there were difficulties with the Ju-88 (catching the buggers was hard enough) but many German aircraft were not extensively armoured - the glass nose of the He111 springs to mind.

    I maintain that the F4F-3 wouldn't have been available in sufficient numbers, unless we're speaking hypothetically. I'm also interested where you get 3,303 ft/min for the climb rate as the figure I've seen is 2,303 which is rather less than that of the Hurricane. It's a tough call. Perhaps the F4F-3 does edge it, but not by much.
     
  8. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    Nevertheless consider the bulk of aircraft on both sides were only in the process of having their armouring increased through the BoB period, the Hurricane had only just received self sealing tanks and all fighters were only just starting to receive pilot or vitals armouring. The Blenheim was designed to escort medium bombers (in attack or light bomber configuration as a dual role escort and attack aircraft) so was unusual for its time in terms of armouring, designed to sustain fire other aircraft were considered unlikely to have to worry about.
    The 109E-4 is basically the armament of an E-3 with the armouring of an E-1/B, whilst the Spit didn't change designation for its armour increase but this happened at the same time in practise, so that E-3's and unarmoured Spit/Hurricanes fought the beginning bouts of the BoB for the most part.
    Basically ground attack models were the only ones armoured as such before the BoB. This changed during the course of the conflict, but reflected prewar thinking on all sides. Traditionally speaking and by anecdote the lighter calibres weren't inadequate when enough of them were equipped, but that fact changed by the end of the BoB as aircraft generally had become more heavily armoured during production. That brought more issues of engine power and weight of course.
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    F4F-3
    F4F Wildcat - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    331 mph max speed.
    2,303 ft/min climb.
    4 x .50cal MG

    Hurricane Mk I.
    www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org - British Aviation Resource Center - Fighter Specifications
    318 mph max speed.
    2,520 ft/min climb.
    8 x .303 MG

    Personally I'd prefer the F4F due to superior firepower and being slightly faster. However both aircraft had marginal performance by 1940 standards. Even the much maligned Me-110C is probably overall superior to the F4F and Hurricane.
     
  10. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    In speed yes, but climb, turn, and probably roll are all inferior. Fire power probably goes to the 110 but even that gets iffy after the first 8 seconds or so, depends on how good the rear gunner is at changing the drums on the 20mm cannon.
     
  11. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    This is a hypothetical question so we shall assume 2 things
    1. there were enough F4F3's to supply the RAF and
    2. There were enough .50 caliber bullets in Britain to feed them

    How many of you that say 8 .303 are as effective as 4 .50's have ever held them side by side in your hands? A .303 barely edges out the old 30/30 in ballistics and is around 400 fps slower than a 3006 with the same weight bullet. If you were firing at an automobile with a .303, something as small as an altenator or battery will stop that round, while a .50 would pass through the battery AND the altenator AND on through the engine block. Lets face it guys, the .303 was a stop-gap weapon and a poor one at that. I know, I know, "there were alot of aircraft brought down by .303's during WW2", well there are alot of deer killed at night, under a spotlight with a .22 magnum, doesn't make it a deer caliber though.

    The F4F3 has 2 main advantages that matter over the Hurricane, because for the most part, they were very equal
    1. weapons
    If the Hurricane and Spitfire would have had 4 .50's I believe ALOT more Germans would have not made it back across the channel
    2. range
    With nearly double the range of the Hurricane, groups of F4F3's could have come in behind the German strike force and orbited until the Germans were heading back home short of fuel and attacked them when they essentially couldnt defend themselves. I believe that could have been a slaughter.
     
  12. Markus

    Markus Banned

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    What kind of cal.50 rounds? ... IF that matters? 50´s have five to six times the kinetic energy, so I´m taking a leap of faith here and assume even cal.50 FMJ-rounds are more destructive than cal.303 AP-rounds. IF that is a leap of faith, against poorly armoured A/C cal.50 FMJ was actually more destructive(see: Fire in the Sky by E. M. Bergerud).


    Logistical problem I can accept in exchange for a weapon that does real damage. With regard to firing time. 430 rds/gun translate to 28.7 seconds. The six gun Wildcats had just 16 seconds, so I guess 28.7 is ok.

    The OP did not specify that, but I assume it´s hypothetically for Grumman build just 106 Wildcats in 1940. The info is from "America´s 100,000". 2,303 ft/min looks like the F4F-4´s climb rate.
     
  13. timmo

    timmo Member

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    Another consideration - could you smoke in the Wildcat??

    = Tim
     
  14. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    How about a poll for this?
     
  15. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    Actually funny you should mention I heard about a guy who did. Unfortunately the bomber he was escorting was shot down as he lit up. Dude cried during the interview recording.

    True story, he was on the return leg, quite some distance from the target zone and had the plane trimmed for cruise, thought he was close enough to the airfield to take it easy and light up. By the time he got the plane back into combat condition it was too late, 8 lives lost in the bomber. I really felt for the guy.
     
  16. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #16 Colin1, Mar 10, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2010
    I'm not seeing anything to suggest the F4F was better than the Hurricane at altitude.

    Give me the penetration power of 4 x .50cals over the spraying power of 8 x .303s any day

    The Hurricane would climb faster by some 500ft/min which would make a difference over a comparatively small combat arena like SE England in terms of getting to altitude quickly enough, or not and getting bounced
     
  17. timmo

    timmo Member

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    Performance aside - attrition rate - replacements - mods??

    = Tim
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Battle of Britain - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Aircraft attacking the German bombers should be flying at about 20,000 feet. How did the Hurricane and F4F compare at this altitude?
     
  19. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    #19 vanir, Mar 10, 2010
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2010
    Single speed blower is tuned for max output at 2000m (in the case of the Spit and Hurri). Two speed blowers are tuned for max output at 1000m and 4000m (for example). Ergo the two speed blower has better altitude performance irrespective of maximum comparative bench performance of the engines. I'm not sure the terminology but I guess you'd call it the pressure altitude curves. Maximum level speed figures are not indicative of overall altitude performance obviously.

    Hurri with Merlin 20 would kick butt on the Wildcat, especially given the Hispano option, even though level speeds are again barely affected.

    Just for interest sake the Allison was tuned for 1500m and so was considered to have inadequate altitude performance when compared with single speed Hurris and Spits or the Emil. By the same token the Allison which is in the same class as the Merlin has a much better maximum take off output within tolerances, although Allison division guidelines were conservative at first and designed for a variety of fuel grades. The F-series Allison was cleared for 1650hp under 5000 feet which is right alongside the Merlin 45/50, but the Merlin couldn't manage it at sea level and the Allison couldn't manage it above 5000 feet without some ram effect.
     
  20. Jerry W. Loper

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    IMO, the fact that the Hurricane used the same engine and ammunition as the Spitfire made up for any slight difference in performance.
     
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