Could the P36 have become America's Zero?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by pinsog, Sep 14, 2013.

  1. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    The P36 had very light wing loading, very good climb rate, and very good turn radius. It's engine was equal to or better than the Zero with more growth potential. What would have kept the P36 from becoming the US version of the Zero or KI43? Give it 2 syncronized Browning 50's and no other armament. Maybe a bit of pilot armor.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Self-sealing fuel tanks?
     
  3. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    I think that USAAF doctrine for its pursuit aircraft had already diverged too far from the supremacy of low wing loading, fast-climbing pure dogfighters exemplified by aircraft like the Zero.
     
  4. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    Understand, I am not avocating replacing the F6F, F4U or P38. What I am suggesting is something to hold the line better than the F4F, P39 and P40. I'm not sure the P40 might have been a step back from what the P36 could have been had it retained it's radial engine and had the radial engine upgraded with some of the same upgrades the F4F recieved.
     
  5. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    How did the P36 compare to other R-1830 fighters?
    P35, P66, F4F, etc?
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Fighter aircraft powered by the massive R2800 engine were in development pipeline during 1939.

    Building lightweight and inexpensive P-36 for sale to friendly nations such as Australia, Netherlands, China, Finland, Belgium etc. might be a good idea. However U.S. Army Air Corps would not settle for anything less then an over priced monstrosity such as P-47. It's the American way. :)
     
  7. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    The R2800 fighters didn't show up in combat until mid-war, I'm talking about something to hold the line until those new, big engine fighters show up. The P36 had impressive turn and climb stats and with upgraded 1820's or 1830's shouldn't it have at least been comparable to the Zero in performance?
     
  8. JtD

    JtD Member

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    The extra speed of the P-40 was a pretty good thing to have when going up against bombers. At altitude, a Ju 88 was about as fast as a P-36. The air war is not just about turn fights with A6M's.

    That said, the P-36C as it was was pretty close in it's characteristics to an A6M2, at least at low altitude. It was used by several nations in WW2, with limited success. But, as speed and firepower were more important than low speed turning, I think the P-40 did better than the P-36 would have done.
     
  9. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    The P-36 could certainly have had significant performance improvements, simply due to increased engine power. I suspect, too, that it could do with a bit of aerodynamic clean-up, especially with regards to its engine installation. It is, of course, more difficult to design a good air-cooled engine installation than that of a water-cooled in-line, but it's certainly possible to design a clean engine with a radial. Compare the zero-lift drag coefficient of the F4U and that of the Bf109. The latter was reportedly about 0.029, or about 30% greater than the Corsair's.
     
  10. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    #10 Rufus123, Sep 14, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
    P-36's got credit for two victories at Pearl. :)

    I thought the Wildcat did hold the line well until better things came along. Not as much of a dog as some people say it is.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Apples and oranges.

    P-36 is an Army land based fighter aircraft. Historically replaced by P-40.
    F4F is a CV based fighter aircraft. Historically replaced by F6F.
    .....USMC land based F4Fs muddy the distinction a bit. However if given a choice (and similar engines) the Jar Heads might prefer P-36 over F4F when operating from Guadalcanal.
     
  12. pinsog

    pinsog Member

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    F4F and P36 have similar top speed, P36 climbs at 3400 fpm, F4F around 2000 fpm. I'd give P36 2 synchronized 50's and remove the rest so F4F would have firepower, P36 would easily out turn F4F and P 36 should easily have altitude performance over F4F. Maybe they could both be deployed and compliment each other. P36 takes on fighters, F4F goes against dive bombers and 2 engined bombers.

    How much weight would self sealing fuel tanks add to P36?
     
  13. pattle

    pattle Member

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    It sounds as though an improved P36 is being suggested in this thread as an aircraft that may have been able to match the Zero at it's own game, if this is the case then maybe it could have done as it wasn't bad plane. I think it was a better plan to build planes like the P40 that instead of trying to beat the Zero at its own game played a different game that the Zero was forced to join in with.
     
  14. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    Not the Zero. By 1942 Zero was a poor performer.
    No point copying that.
    The P-36 was certainly good for its day. But Spitfire was better.
    Maybe a better rationale is that America should build a fighter that can match the Spitfire since it was plenty good.
     
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  15. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Once you start adding heavier/additional firepower, improved armor and self-sealing tanks, your performance declines. To overcome the penalty, modifications would have to be made such as larger engine, aerodynamic modifications and such. This would take time to figure out and implement and now you're into the time-frame where the newer designs were starting to appear.

    One of the reasons why the A6M was successful early on, is because it didn't need self-sealing tanks or armor. This over-confidence cost them dearly when they eventually came head to head with U.S. built aircraft.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Me-109 was also better. That makes no difference as USA was not going to build Spitfires and Me-109s.

    This is essentially a contest between improving the radial engine P-36 and morphing the aircraft into V12 powered P-40.
     
  17. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    #17 The Basket, Sep 14, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2013
    I want an aircraft with armour. And doesnt burst into flames. Or fall apart.

    Just saying copy the best. The Zero was unknown anyway so the P-40 was a Spit/109 copy as the v12 was the speed king. If you want maneuverability then go biplane and put some fixed undercarriage on there too.
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Every P-36 built after fall of 1939 is a P-40 NOT built. They are built in the same factory, by the same workers, using much of the same jigs and fixtures.

    A very early P-40s fuel tanks weighed 171lbs. On a P-40B they went to 253lbs and on the P-40C they went to 420lbs which is about the weight they stayed except for the stripper models that pulled a fuel tank in which case the two reaming tanks weighed about 322lbs. P-40Bs Cs added 93lb of armor and BP glass, later P-40s added more.

    P-36 altitude performance is rather doubtful. It all depends on WHICH R-1930 engine you stick in.

    We have had a lot of threads on this.

    The engine used in the historic P-36s was the -17. 1200hp for take off but only 1050hp at 6500ft. single speed supercharger. The P-36B was experimentally fitted with a -23 engine with a different supercharger gear. While this engine would give 950hp at 14,300 ft take off power was cut to 1100hp. the engines weighed about 1403-1436lbs.

    The two speed -33 engine as used in the P-66 and some early NON-turbo B-24s was good for 1200hp take-off, 1100hp at 6500ft in low gear and 1000hp at 14,300ft in high gear. The engine went about 1480lbs. This was aobut as good as it gets for a single stage R-1830 until rather late in the war.

    The engine used in the F4F was the -76 and had a two stage supercharger that gave 1200hp for take-off, 1100hp at 3500ft, 1050hp at 11,000ft and 1000hp at 19,000ft. this engine weighed 1550lbs without intercoolers and ducts.

    The engine used in the P-36s could be down to about 600 hp at 20,000ft making its climb rate at 20,000ft and above rather suspect.

    As for going for TWO .50 guns and pulling the wing guns? go for it. A single .50 weighs about 70-75lbs installed. three .30 cal guns weigh about 71-72lbs. .50 cal ammo weighs about 30lbs per 100 rounds. .30 cal ammo is about 6lbs per 100. or 200 rounds of. 50 cal ammo is worth 1000 rounds of .30 cal.

    Please note that a P-40B or C had 1040hp at over 13,000ft and had 22% less drag than a P-36.

    Synchronized .50 cal Brownings had a miserable rate of fire,some where between 400 and 500 rpm.
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If so then P-40 was a poor copy. Spitfire and Me-109 were superior in almost every way.
     
  20. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Bf109 and P-36 first flew in May 1935, Spitfire first flew the next year...

    Each aircraft had thier own unique design qualities and it's hard to imagine how a person could come to the conclusion that the P-40 was a copy of the Spitfire and/or Bf109
     
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