Could the Biplane fighter have been improved any further

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by fastmongrel, May 30, 2010.

  1. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    We all know that the Biplane fighter was history after the late 30s with the advent of metal, retractable undercarriage monoplanes like the 109 and Spitfire.

    If we pretend that the monoplane fighter was for some reason a disaster and never got into production and all the major airforces carried on with the development of the Biplane. What sort of performance could have been expected from an ultimate Biplane fighter using the same engines and technology as were available in real life.

    Comparing an advanced Biplane fighter with all the latest aerodynamic refinements a metal monocoque fuselage, metal wings with a minimum of struts and wires (the Henschel Hs 123 seemed to have few or possibly no wires and only 2 large struts between the wings and 2 small ones from the fuselage to the upper wing), a bubble hood, retractable undercarriage and a Merlin 1,500hp V12 to the P51D Mustang. How much slower is the Biplane going to be, I imagine aerobatic performance might be better with the bigger wings and possibly climb might be quite good but where is this imaginary plane really going to struggle.

    I like the idea of the Battle of Britain fought by advanced Biplanes from Bristol and Gloster on one side and Arado and Fiesler on the other:D
     
  2. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    The advantages:
    - shorter airstrips
    - better turnfighter
    - probably more chance of bringing an injured bird down more safely
    - better lift characteristics eg carrier ops
    - improved high-altitude performance

    The disadvantages:
    - the fastest monoplanes at war's end were in the 450 - 500mph bracket, I seriously doubt the fastest biplanes would be anywhere near that even if the secondary wing was purely a lift device ie no armament, fuel etc
    - I'm not sure where this secondary wing would be positioned wrt the cockpit but I'm guessing the pilot's battlespace visibility is going to be significantly compromised
    - I'm guessing shorter range although I daresay this might only be noticeable at escort distances
     
  3. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    To what end? What are you going to get from a biplane that you couldn't get with a monoplane? Manuverability is overated when compared to speed. At least to a point. And that point is way beyond the viabilty of a biplane.

    Yes, it could've been improved. But it wouldn't have mattered. It's like saying the musket could've been improved by making it an automatic, changing this and that, ect. But it's still not as good as the same design as a rifle.
     
  4. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    An interesting question.

    Thing is...the Ultimate Biplane was never built...

    So the question is yes it could have been improved.

    But why bother.

    The Antanov An-2 rules though!
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I always wondered if a delta winged or truly swept back biplane would have offered anything special.
     
  6. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    #6 Colin1, May 31, 2010
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
    TWO much heavier wing sections instead of one for even less gain

    Not really related to your question but here's a stab at rediscovering the advantages of biplane lift from 1943:

    Below: In-flight views of the Hillson FH.40 'slip-wing' Hurricane. Using an old Hurricane I (originally L1884 which was sent out to Canada, re-registered as 321 and returned to the UK) this scheme was intended as a means of providing extra lift for take-off from small airfields. The top wing was then jettisoned in flight. The scheme was abandoned in 1943.
     

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  7. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Below: The Hillson FH.40 Hurricane slip-wing aircraft
     

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  8. Knegel

    Knegel Banned

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    Hi,

    i guess the latest and best Bi-Plane fighter was the I-153, though it had a real draggy engine it was otherwise rather modern(retakeable gear, no wires, only a few struts, a rather good pilot view for a Bi-plane.


    The main problem of Bi-Planes was turbulences between the wings at higher speed, reducing the effectivity of the wings. To overcome this the distance between the wings had to be very big, but this result in several problems to mount the wings in a aerodynamical good way.


    An advantage would be that with same aspectratio and wing area, the wing span would be reduced by about 1/3, this could have a good impact to the roll ratio.
    On the other hand its then rather difficult to create 4 alerons to take advantage of this.

    A disadvantage would be that the lower wings are way smaler and so not as stable as big wings, as such it would be difficult to mount guns and bombs there, without to increase the wingspan to twice the size of a mono wing plane.

    Heavy wingloaded Bi-Planes could have been interesting as carrier fighters or interceptors with nose mounted guns. The smal wing span would have been an advantage and the possibly better roll agility as well.

    Still i think Bi-planes got into a dead end when the speeds got higher than 400km/h and specialy when the wings should carry load.
     
  9. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I didnt say the Biplane should have been updated I am posing a what if. In some paralell world the monoplane has been a failure or never got developed because of say a Washington treaty of the air.

    I want to consider how the Biplane could have been developed if it had been the only fighter available.
     
  10. Knegel

    Knegel Banned

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    #10 Knegel, May 31, 2010
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
    hmmm, but thats a very strange "what if", cause thats like starting a "what if cannons and .50cal guns would have been a failsure" discussion, where all planes only would carry max .30cal´s.

    The step from the Bi-plane to the mono wing plane was same logical like the step from the smal MG´s to the big weapons. To go around this would be like not not creating an engine powered plane when you already have a good working glider.

    In our world, with our physical law, at speeds above lets say 400km/h the discrepancy between Bi-Plane and Mono-Wing plane turn to be so extreme in favour to the latter, its realy not good possible, neighter sencefull to discuss such things.

    Bi-Planes, with their natural slow speed, only was usefull, as long as the speed differences between the planes and the acceleration and max velocity was so extreme smal/slow and additonally no plating was used, that running away nearly never was an option, cause the range of even the early MG´s was good enough to shoot you down. At this time turn performence and climb performence was all and everything. But already at the end of WWII it got clear that planes like the SpadXIII(heavy) and FokkerDIII(monowing) had real advantages.

    Later, at a time when one hard manouver fast had a seperation of many hundret meters as result, turning wasnt that important anymore.
    In Japan much to late they got aware of this and even in England they took a while to realise the advantage of pure speed plus team fight over turn performence.

    And if you meet a faster plane, you want to have a fast plane as well and then, at one point, you cant get around a mono wing plane, specialy when the wing also shal carry the undercarriage and/or guns. Same like you cant get around bigger guns when you face a B17.

    If you look to the history, the fast mono wing bombers was the cause for the need of faster fighters. But for the bombers its the same, you want to get as fast as possible to the target and back, so at one point you had to use a mono wing plane.
     
  11. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    #11 timshatz, May 31, 2010
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
    Ok, let's go with the premiss that monoplanes are banned. Two things would most likely happen.

    1. The power increase would continue and the amount of frontal area that a biplane produces with regards to wing length would decrease. As Knegal notes, speed increase leads to a shorter wing but further apart. Probably a lot less, if any, wire support (ska, I-153). A very good point.

    What you are essentially heading for is the same relative frontage facing the incoming wind as with a monoplane. I doubt you would get it, but the general design would probably head that way. Think of an F4f Wildcat with a shorter length wing but two of them.

    2. Some countries (probably most)) are going to realize they're whipping a dead horse and start to cheat. The Western Countries will probably try developing monoplanes and calling it testing/research. The Nazis will just lie and say they are not doing what they are doing. The Japanese will say it's all unfair and drop out of the treaty then start building them. Which is pretty much what everyone did in the Washington treaty.

    But having put that much work into biplanes, kind of an un-natural extension of their existance, they would doubtless be more of them during WW2. Probably some liason/scouting/support work with some lite ground attack thrown in.

    But, by the time of the war, the Monoplane would've been far ahead of them (assuming this treaty, like the Washing treaty, collapses). So much so that the biplane would've been relagated to a supporting role, much like the BB did during WW2. Suffice to say, by the 1940s, the time of the Battleship and the Biplane had passed.
     
  12. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    Why would they be further apart? IMO, the stagger of the wings would increase, with one wing being further forward so that the pressure envelopes of the two wings didn't overlap. You'd probably have ended up with a lay-out similar to this:
    [​IMG]
     
  13. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    Gumbyk, I like that design - very interesting!
    I wonder what would happen with swept or delata wings in that arrangement?
    Especially if the front one was smaller and had variable pitch - like the Euro fighter etc?
     
  14. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    The problem you would have with delta wings is that they wouldn't be able to over-lap them, and, due to the area of the delta, it would make for a longer aircraft.

    Swept wings would solve that problem, and the way the wings are set up, with the forward wing being set a a slightly lower angle than the rear wing, would solve the stall characteristic problems of swept wings.
    An aircraft with this arrangement, with swept wings would definitely be interesting, however, it would also be less efficient than an aircraft with a single main wing.
     
  15. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    This thread reminded of this picture. How might the biplane have evolved into the jet age? :)

    [​IMG]
     
  16. Hardrada55

    Hardrada55 Member

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    #16 Hardrada55, May 31, 2010
    Last edited: May 31, 2010
    Polikarpov I-195 was a project for an alleged 367mph biplane

    [​IMG]

    The Russian Polikarpov I-190 of 1940 could do 300 mph.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The Italian CR 42B could do 323mph.

    [​IMG]

    In 1937 the French experimented with the Bleriot Spad 710 biplane with a butterfly tail, retractable undercarriage, enclosed cockpit, engine mounted 20mm cannon. It was supposed to fly 280 mph.

    [​IMG]

    Though interesting and impressive in their own rights, I don't think any of the above biplanes were good enough to challenge any contemporary monoplanes though. Anyone remember seeing cover art on an old Analog sci-fi magazine of a jet powered biplane?
     
  17. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    Waynos,
    that may have worked at low speed, but I think that, like the Hurricane, the top wing was dsicarded prior to higher-speed flight.
    Just from eye-balling it, there doesn't appear to be much stagger on those wings.
     
  18. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    I cannot say what the theory behind this photoshop was, so that is possible, or it might just be a jet biplane :)

    There was actually a jet biplane built and flown, the PZL M-15 of 1978.
     
  19. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Gumb, wouldn't the flow of air coming over the front, lower wing, disrupt the airflow over the back, higher wing. It looks like you'd be flying in your own wash with the second wing.
     
  20. gumbyk

    gumbyk Well-Known Member

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    The wash from the wings tends to flow downward, there's no noticeable affect on the rear wing. There's actually about 18 inches of height difference from memory.
     
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