Best British single engined radial aircraft in WW2?

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Admiral Beez

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Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
Excluding the Centaurus Tempest, what's the best British radial powered single engined aircraft of WW2?

A few to consider:
I think all things considered, I'd pick the Westland Lysander. There's few better STOL aircraft this versatile. You're not putting twin 20mm cannons on a Fieseler Fi 156 Storch.

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Gloster Gladiator
One of my favourites. Had the Brewster Buffalo not been available I think the only fighter possibly (and only just) available for sending to Malaya and Burma in spring 1941 would have been the Gladiator. Against the Ki-27 it would be tricky. ChatGPT tells us:

Nakajima Ki-27:
  • Max Speed: Approximately 470 km/h (290 mph).
  • Armament: Usually equipped with two 7.7 mm machine guns.
  • Maneuverability: Known for its exceptional agility and maneuverability.
Gloster Gladiator:
  • Max Speed: Approximately 414 km/h (257 mph).
  • Armament: Typically armed with four .303 in (7.7 mm) machine guns.
  • Maneuverability: Decent maneuverability, especially for a biplane, but generally not as agile as some contemporary monoplane designs.
In terms of raw speed, the Ki-27 had an advantage. However, the Gladiator, with its armament and sturdy design, was a resilient aircraft.

Gladiator vs Ki-43, forget it.
 
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I think the Folland Fo.108 engine test bed is an odd aircraft in this category. But at least we can see a Hercules in a single engine configuration.

View attachment 740137
totally useless as a warplane. It was designed to be a test rig for aircraft engine and the windows in sides of the fuselage is where the TWO engine test engineers rode with a battery instruments to take measurements in flight. Very useful for engine development. 12 built, 5 lost in service. Flew with Sabres, Centaurs and Griffon engines.
 
totally useless as a warplane.
True. What do we think of the Bristol 146? Of course it lost to the Spitfire and Hurricane, so it's not top of the pops. There are few Bristol-powered single engined monoplane fighters to compare it to - none are British, but I can think of the Mercury-powered Fokker D.XXI and PZL P.11. Against these, the 146 should reign victorious.

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I like the look for some reason of the Bristol Type 148. The upward bend in the aft fuselage reminds me of the Flycatcher. I wonder why this is done, from a design POV?

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As a British-made, twin-seat, single-engined radial-powered monoplane the 148 looks good. Better than a Skua anyway.

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I think it was too late, and needed an awful lot of modification to get it up to "standard".
Standard here could be a Curtiss Hawk 75 so I don't think the standard is too high?

Problem was that the British did not have a suitable engine and this assumes that the early (1938-40) sleeve valves actually worked.

Plane..............................Bristol 146.........................Hawk 75A-4

Wing area:.................. 220 sq ft ............................236 sq ft
Empty weight.............3,283 lb..............................4,541 lb
Gross weight..............4,600 lb..............................5,709 lb
use full load................1,317 lb.............................1,209 lb
max gross....................?????....................................6,662 lb

Engine power............840hp...................................1000 hp (at altitude)
Top speed...................287mph................................323 mph (?)

I am cheating a bit here as the Hawk 75A-4 showed up in 1940 with a Wright R-1820 engine, which didn't exist in 1938 although the earlier models of the R-1820 did.
The Bristol is about 1000lbs lighter than a Hurricane and about 190hp lower at altitude (somewhere in the 14,000 to 16,000ft range)
The problem is that if the Bristol was truly that light it didn't have much room for growth.
Any engine that makes more than about 40-50 more hp is going to get a lot bigger and heavier. and need more fuel. The Hawk 75 weight is with 105 US gallons.
And once the requirements for fuel tak protection and pilot armor show up then the weights escalate more.

The Bristol 146 needs a new engine and unfortunately (or Fortunately for England) they didn't try to stick the Taurus in it. The Hercules needs a new airframe, sticking a 1700lb engine and associated propeller was not going to work without beefing up the entire airframe.

Sending them off to fight the Japanese might not have gone well. They have more guns but they are down almost 20mph at altitude and that is because they are down almost 100hp. When you are dealing with under 1000hp then 100hp counts for a lot ;)
 
Lethal to who?
No armor
No protection for the fuel tanks.
No guns in the wings? maybe one .303?
top speed of 242 mph at 6,000ft
221mph at sea level and that is without the rockets and rails.
In air combat, no chance, but in the absence of enemy aircraft our rocket armed Miles will be lethal enough. And the British designed combat aircraft just as you described above - your description closely resembles the rocket armed Swordfish, albeit with a gun in the rear. Nevertheless, this must have seemed lethal to any vessel on the receiving end.

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The rocket-armed Miles Master reminded me of the postwar Cessna O-2 Skymaster and this photo shown firing rockets in Vietnam.
 
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