Corsair and Hellcat in Europe

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by GregP, Apr 12, 2013.

  1. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The Chance-Cought (actually Vought-Sikorsky ... all the drawings start with "VS" anyway) F4U Corsair gave the Japanese a nasty surprise. I was a very good fighter and, in its later versions, was simply outstanding by any measure of success of fighter prowess.

    What do you think might have happened if it had been used in the ETO versus the Luftwaffe, combined with the all-time best kill ratio fighter of WWII, the F6F Hellcat? If the two of them had been deployed to Europe when they historically could have been, what might the result be?

    It's OK to speculate the Pacific would not have gone as well without the two deployed in the same numbers as they were in real life, but remember the P-38 was there, too, and was not mach limited versus the Japanese in most cases.

    Grumman's chief test pilot, Corky Meyer, has said in print (Flight Journal) that the Hellcat and Corsair flew side by side when at the same power levels when HE tested it except in the main stage (where it was 5 - 6 mph slower since the Hellcat didn't use ram air to avoid carburetor icing, and the same speed in low or high blower stages), and surmised the difference in airspeed was pitot tube placement on the Corsair since they verified the speed of the Hellcat with rigorous means. He says the Corsair was "optimistic" on airspeed and the Hellcat wasn't. Read the article ... but I can't remember the exact issue description. About 10 years ago or more, maybe 15 years ... can't remember.

    I can't really say since our pilots at the Planes of Fame have never raced the two, but they fly side by side at the same power level when we DO fly them side by side (same rpm and MP). Same engine (basically, different dash number) and same prop in the early versions (same prop part number and diameter). Our Corsair is the oldest one in flying condition (tail number 799) and HAS the same prop as a Hellcat (F6F-3) ... and IT flies the same speed as a Hellcat at the same power levels in the same blower stages ± a few mph. Both gain or lose slightly, and not the same plane every time.

    Corky seems to be right. What do you think?
     
  2. alejandro_

    alejandro_ Member

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    They would have been succesful without a doubt, the USAAF could well demolish the Luftwaffe just by numbers. However, I would not expect a high kill/loss ratio as in the Pacific theather. Bf 109 and Fw 190 were good divers, were well protected, and were competitive in all aspects. In some aspects they were superior.

    I am not so sure. There are many tests from World War II with data on both aircraft, even comparisons, and the Hellcat is slower. An example:

    http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/fw190/ptr-1107.pdf

    Also, I would expect the instruments to be calibrated accordingly if the pitot tube is setup at a different height. Having said that, manufacturers stated that the performance could vary by 10% IIRC, thus there could be some "overlap".
     
  3. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Didn't some F6Fs take on some Luftwaffe a/c? Med and/or off Norway, iirc.
     
  4. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    ...Corasair from the FAA, too. JT404, a british Corsair Mk.II F4U-1A made an emergancy landing in Bodö/ Norway July, 18th, 1944. The pilot became PoW. The whole airplane was captured intact and sent to Rechlin for further investigations and provided the Luftwaffe with an opportunity to examine the F4U.

    Corsair and Hellcat would be aviable ETO when not really needed. The Luftwaffe was adressed in 1943/44 by other assets more effectively. Neither Hellcat nor Corsair would be effective in providing critical high altitude, long range escort as well as the USAAF alternatives P38/ P47 or P51.

    Later on, these A/C are even less effective against the perceived thread of jet propelled aircraft fielded by the GAF.

    The Corsair in it´s various evolutions appears to be competetive and often presents a good match to contemporary Bf-109 or Fw-190 derivates but like other piston A/C is outclassed with the appearence of jet propelled A/C in the late 44 period.

    The Hellcat is not really fast, but competetive climbing on ADI and likely superior in rate of turn. It is not well accelerating in light of the 2000hp engine aviable to it. With a speed about as fast as the contemporary Bf-110G, it´s barely competetive to contemporary Bf-109G and Fw-190A fighters and pretty much outclassed by late Bf-109, Fw-190D or jet A/C.

    I guess the ruggedness would suite them both well but then again, the GAF in the period 43 to 45 made much use out of mine rounds which are substantially more destructive than 20mm HEI of the IJN/IJAAF, precluding a direct extrapolation of pacific experiences.

    They would still be handy in downing various GAF A/C, altough the Hellcat in particular is significantly more stressed in ETO than the PTO engaging the high speed bombers of this theatre (Ju-88S, Ju-188, Me-410, Do-217M, He-177, Ar-234).
     
  5. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    Where they needed in the ETO?
    On a volume mass produced basis perhaps.
    We had the Tempest whose stats compare well to the Corsair.

    Tempest beats F4U on speed - 435mph vs 425mph
    Tempest beats F4U on armament - 4 20mm (=12 .5") vs 6 .5"
    F4U beats Tempest on ceiling - 36900 vs 36500ft
    Tempest beats F4U on rate of climb - 4,700 ft/min vs 3870 ft/min.
    F4U beats Tempest on range - 1005 vs 740 mi
    F4U beats Tempest on toughness - an air cooled engine is more damage resilient than water cooled.

    Cheers
    John
     
  6. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #6 GregP, Apr 12, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
    The Hellcat deployed in 1943. The Tempest deployed in 1944. Whatcha' gonna' do for the year you don't have any Tempests? The thread is about whether the Hellcat / Corsair duo would be successful in Euope as they were in the Pacific, not a comparison with the Tempest.

    It's not waving the American flag ... it's just about the fact that the duo shot the Japanese out of the sky, what might they do in Europe if deployed there? I didn't say replace any home-grown Birtish planes, I said what if they showed up in Europe? Nothing whatsoever to do with the Tempest, Spitfire, or any other existing planes.

    My thought is they'd have been successful and maybe the war in Europe would end a bit sooner and they could be redeployed to the Pacific to do what they did at that time. But the carriers would have faced larger numbers of more aggressive submarines from the Germans and the U-Boat arm was not known for letting ships sail by without trying to do something about it. It might have had an impact if we had lost, say, 5 carriers while deploying the duo to Europe ... carriers don't grow on trees.
     
  7. Readie

    Readie Well-Known Member

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    My post was out of interest Greg, I lost connection before I have completed it.
    Never mind... they were designed primarily to be carrier born fighters, as tough as they come, powerful and well armed. Looking through other American based forums the general consensus is that Corsair was better than the Hellcat.
    Had the Corsair arrived in significant numbers for the ETO then it would have contributed to the LW defeat. Which role? Fighter bomber in a ground assault role seems to be its forte.
    Cheers
    John
     
  8. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    " ... that Corsair was better than the Hellcat. "

    The Corsair was more expensive to manufacture and tougher to fly (off carriers, AAR). Was the Hellcat not dubbed 'TheAce MAKER' ..?

    MM
     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The US duo, in 1943, has a number of advantages, as well as disadvantages, to be deployed in Europe.
    In the ETO, at altitudes from 20-30000 ft, they offer no speed advantage over German fighters (they might easily be in disadvantage on any altitude), and at any altitude the Germans should climb faster.
    The fuel situation is, interesting, to say at least. The F4U historically did not carried drop tanks until late 1943, using the wing tanks instead. 361 USG should give about equal range, on the 1st sight, as the 370 USG found at late P-47Ds; both planes flying at ~25000 ft. That makes some 300 miles max, ie. not some long short range fighter.
    The F6F-3 carried the drop tank from the day one (corrections welcomed), fuel quantity being 250 USG internal + 150 USG external. We might compare that with the late 1943 P-47 situation in ETO (305 + 108 USG). The map I've posted twice on the forum gives 375 miles of combat radius for such P-47, the F6F might not venture so deep in the Continent because of less internal fuel - 350 might be the maximum?

    Deployed in the MTO, they might opt for lower cruising altitudes in order to get better mileage. The Italo-German opposition there should be less capable on aggregate.

    There is another thing to consider - the LW in ETO was fielding not so big number of fighters (300-350? corrections?); an early and wholesale (500 fighters?) introduction of a 300-350 mile fighter might deliver quite a few bloody nose for the LW, before they get smart and relocate the interceptions out of the escorts' radius?
     
  10. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Just a thought, but woulld the Hellcat have been a reasionable long range escrot for the B7's in late 1943 and hold the line before the P51 arrived on the scene. Irecognise that it might not be that happy at altitude but its was probably a lot better than nothing
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The Hellcat's combat radius was 945 statute miles and that is long enough to stand in for the P-51's. I believe the air distance is something like 570 miles. I hadn't considered that, but it might work.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    IMO F4U would be an improvement over every U.S. fighter type in Europe.

    F6F would be an improvement over P-40s widely used in the Med but that's about it. It was not a particularly high performance late war aircraft, especially considering the massive engine.
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Had one hell of a combat record though ...
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    A6M5 and Ki-43 were not high performance by late war standards either. If Japan flew Me-109Gs and Fw-190As I think F6F would have been quickly replaced by F4U.
     
  15. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I think they'd have made a big difference. I don't think the German fighters would have fared any better against them than had the Japanese fighters. And, let's remember, the F4U and the F6F were bombing-fighting aircraft. They weren't just P47s and P51s. We could have sent squadrons of just those deep into Germany in lieu of the RAF and AF bombers to dive-bomb on those same strategic targets and take on the Luftwaffe fighters, at the same time, had we wanted. At any rate, they'd have provided more offensive punch going in with the RAF and AF bombers than just defensive cover. The record in the PTO shows, they took the blows. Had they been deployed in the right numbers in the ETO, they'd have given the Luftwaffe fits, in my honest opinion, trying to keep them off their targets. They were just too good at what they were concepted and designed for, that bombing-fighting double role.
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Gotta' disagree with you on that one Dave, the F6F was a superb fighter, rugged, had a LOT of wing area for great turning ability, long range, and easy to fly in the bargain. They didn't call it the ace maker for nothing.
     
  17. dobbie

    dobbie Member

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    I never understood why they didn't use a 4 bladed prop on the Hellcat in order to take advantage of all that horsepower? I think both the Hellcat and the Corsair could have found a variety of useful roles in the ETO, and certainly not limited to escort. Goodyear built some Corsairs without the folding wings and I believe they performed slightly better-maybe the same could be done with the Hellcat?
    And some of the F4U's did replace the 6-50 cals to 4-20MM if that is an issue. I guess the limiting factor would be superchargers on both of them. My understanding is that the P47 begins to pull away from them at about 25,000 ft........
     
  18. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Yah, the P-47 was one of the best high altitude fighters of the war. It would be tough to find a mass-produced fighter any better. They didn't make enough Ta-152's to make a difference, but they made a lot of P-47's and it hit very hard with eight 50's.
     
  19. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    The FAA used both types in Europe, receiving its first Hellcats under Lend Lease in July 1943 and were first known as the Gannet I with 800 Sqn, seeing service carrying out anti-shipping strikes off the Norwegian coast flying from HMS Emperor. They also covered the Salerno landings in the Med and air attacks against Tirpitz. Most of the FAA's 1,182 Hellcats served in the Pacific Theatre though. The Name 'Hellcat' became standard in 1944.

    On 8 May 1944 Emperor's Hellcats encountered a small number of Fw 190s and Bf 109Gs from JG 5 in Norway, Two Bf 109s and an Fw 190 were claimed. The FAA's Corsairs were the first of the type to see combat, although didn't go into action against the Luftwaffe in Europe. It was cleared for action off British carriers some nine months before the US Navy would do so. despite being used as escorts during Tirpitz raids, although they were primarily used as anti-aircraft suppression.

    Cdr Stanley Orr was an FAA ace and made claims against the Luftwaffe over Norway in 1944, although he became one on Fulmars before he flew Hellcats; here's what he had to say about the Grumman fighter:

    "The Hellcat was without a doubt the best, and most popular, naval fighter of the period. It suffered none of the Corsair's stall and visibility problems, being an easy aircraft to fly and to deck land. It bestowed apon its pilot immense confidence, which was an important thing in those days as you usually had your hands more than full coping with the enemy. Indeed it was such a stable platform to fly that following the Tirpitz raids we recommended that bomb racks be fitted to the aircraft. In no time at all this modification had been carried out, thus allowing us to attack targets on the ground when we weren't required to act as fighter cover for our Barracudas and Avengers."
     
  20. Catch22

    Catch22 Well-Known Member

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    #20 Catch22, Apr 12, 2013
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2013
    I'm not a big data guy, but I don't understand how the claim can be made that the F4U and the F6F had the same speed. The F4U-1 had a top speed of 417 mph (doesn't list an altitude), while the F6F-3 had a top speed of 376 mph at 23,400 ft. Both numbers are from Jane's. Pitot tube placement doesn't explain a difference in speed of 41 mph. And using the Planes of Fame's aircraft isn't exactly accurate either, seeing as it says on their website:

    I don't know the effect of the weight difference on the top speed, but regardless using those two individual aircraft isn't accurate.

    The Hellcat was certainly the safer aircraft to fly, but a better one? I'd say the US Navy choosing the F4U going forward into the post-war years is pretty telling.

    As for the Ace Maker moniker, for sure, as mentioned, it was easier to fly, in particular when it came to taking off and landing, but it was also more widely used, so of course it's going to have more kills/aces. In 3 years, there were only 300 fewer Hellcats made than Corsairs made in 11.

    It's unfortunate renrich is no longer with us, he'd have some great insight into this thread.

    As for the particular subject at hand, it has been suggested in other threads that if the F4U had entered the European war, a version similar to the F4U-4 would likely have been seen sooner as it would have been prioritized, thus making a version that performed better above 20,000 ft.
     
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