Defiant - WI results of Cabinet meeting

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by merlin, Sep 4, 2011.

  1. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    #1 merlin, Sep 4, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2011
    Quote from Glider on the 100 Octane thread:
    "I had the wrong day, it was the 14th May and the comment as reported to the War Cabinet is as follows
    Reference was made to the performance of Defiant aircraft,
    which were 2-man fighters equipped with a power-operated turret.
    They had had a successful day on the 12th May, but on the
    13th May, out of a flight of 6 which had engaged enemy aircraft,
    only one had returned to its base. One was known to have been
    forced to land in Belgium, and probably a second. The other three
    were missing
    For those interested All the War Cabinet papers are available online from the National Archives. They are free and quick to download and the May 1940 file starts with CAB 65/7/1.
    You will find in the NA that the Defiant had a lot of attention and even Downing had some caution. Check out the wording of item 4 in his memo sent in 1939, which gives me the impression that he thought that any success would be a short lived affair."

    Seems that historically little action was taken, despite Dowding's reservations and combat experience. That is - the 'disaster' may have been regarded as a one-off and let's carry on and see what happens - the Defiant turret concept did have its advocates - including Churchill.

    But given Dowding's opinion - seems strange that it wasn't sent up north earlier than OTL, i.e. Defiants would have been successful against the attack from Norway/Denmark. And maybe later stationed at Duxford - tasked with not intercepting attacks - but sweeping up the disorganised damaged retreating aircraft!

    Or they hedged their bets and asked Boulton-Paul for a single-seat version- which is therefore tested before the OTL P.94, and hence two production lines - one single-seat (with forward firing MGs) and the other two-seat.
     
  2. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    professionally retired
    Location:
    High Wycombe, England (home of the Mosquito)
    In all this, don't lose sight of the fact that all predictions were based on German aircraft having to fly from Germany, so the Me109 was discounted, leaving the Defiants to deal only with bombers and the Me110. Once France had fallen, everything changed completely.
    Edgar
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    1939 Britain provided guarantees of military assistance to both France and Poland. That suggests a British army supported by British tactical air power would be committed to ground combat ASAP. Defiants were part of the RAF unit tasked to support the BEF so it's reasonable to assume they would be fighting Me-109s.
     
  4. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 21, 2011
    Messages:
    727
    Likes Received:
    41
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Occupation:
    professionally retired
    Location:
    High Wycombe, England (home of the Mosquito)
    Easy to say, with 20/20 hindsight; unfortunately the hierarchy didn't share the same prognosis. When Dowding demanded armour for his pilots, Sholto-Douglas said that, since the Spitfire was the fastest thing in the air, only an inattentive pilot would allow something to get behind him. If he didn't expect Spitfires to face the Me109, why would he think differently about the Defiant?
    The first Squadron to receive Defiants didn't become operational with them until March, 1940, and the second Squadron didn't receive any aircraft, at all, until April, so it's difficult to see how they could have been used as support to the B.E.F.
    Edgar
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Why do we need hindsight?

    The British Government made diplomatic promises. If Britain is to remain a world leader then the British military must plan to carry those promises out. Even if the RAF think those promises and politicians who made them are idiotic. Otherwise nations such as France and Poland will look elsewhere for allies.
     
  6. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,175
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    We need hindsight because your timelines don't work. The Defiant first flew in 1937 whereas British and French guarantees to Poland were only made on 31 March 1939. Edgar's right, when the requirement for the Defiant was articulated, there were no plans for British forces to become embroiled in yet another conflict on the European continent.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    For every aircraft prototype that is accepted for operational service there are probably 5 more flying prototypes which are rejected. Why was the Defiant accepted for operational service?

    What the RAF might have adopted for mass production ILO the Defiant.
    300px-Westland_whirlwind.jpg
    I suspect the Westland Whirlwind would have performed well providing CAS for the BEF. With adequate funding for development of the airframe and Peregrine engines who knows what this aircraft might have achieved. Probably more then the Defiant.
     
  8. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,175
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    Dave,

    The Whirlwind was built to a different specification. The spec for the Defiant was F9/35 (ie it dated from 1935) and called for a 2-seat fighter equipped with a turret for the gunner. Front runner for the spec was the Hawker Henley but designs were also offered by Armstrong Whitworth, Bristol and Fairey (the latter being a variant of the Battle light bomber). The Defiant won the competition because it best met the specification, and that's why it was accepted for operational service.

    Cheers,
    B-N
     
  9. Mustang nut

    Mustang nut Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    The defiant theory was that the turret would make the fighter more effective, in fact is was initially quite successful until the LW sussed out its shortcommings.

    I think it should have been posted to the north and squadrons used to defend Scotland and N England sent south.
     
  10. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1,919
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Specification F.37/35 in 1935 called for a single-seat day and night fighter armed with four cannon. Six aircraft were submitted in response to the specification, of which three were twin-engined types: the Boulton Paul P.88, the Bristol Type 153A, the Hawker F.37/35 (which was a Hurricane variant), the Supermarine 312 (a Spitfire variant), the Supermarine 313 and the Westland P.9.

    Of interest is the cannon armed Spitfire and Hurricane. F.10/35 was drawn up for the Spitfire prototype.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    What makes you think the Defiant would perform well in that role? I think Norway based Me-110s would eat it for lunch. The only saving grace is that Me-110 day fighters were few in number.
     
  12. Mustang nut

    Mustang nut Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Me 110 couldnt escort very far in land from Norway but since there were very few major raids it hardly matters, as it turned out the defiant was probably a better night fighter than the spit or hurricane so it did find some sort of role.
     
  13. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,175
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    The Defiant's operational record as a day fighter might not have been so bad had the other main unit equipped with the aircraft, 141 Sqn, adopted the tactics developed by 264 Sqn's CO, Sqn Ldr Hunter. Unfortunately, he was shot down and killed and his tactics, which centred on mutual protection, were never fully adopted by all Defiant units.

    The key problem, though, was the specification. The Defiant concept was born in the period when Douhet's bomber theory was all the rage and when the concept of long-range fighter escort had yet to be developed. Like so many 1930s designs, it was overtaken by rapid advances in technology and tactics.
     
  14. Mustang nut

    Mustang nut Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2011
    Messages:
    200
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Another problem with the defiant is you had to train a pilot and a gunner and then train them together.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Boulton Paul Defiant - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Maximum speed: 304 mph
    Introduced December 1939

    No matter what tactics you employ the Defiant is still slower then most contemporary day fighter aircraft. In fact you would have a tough time over taking some bomber aircraft such as the Ju-88 and A-20. I suspect that acceleration, climb and maneuverabiltiy were also poor.
     
  16. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2007
    Messages:
    2,175
    Likes Received:
    227
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Virginia, US of A
    I never said the operational record would have been good, I said it might not have been so bad. The tactics Hunter developed comprised forming a defensive circle with each gunner protecting the area around the aircraft to his immediate rear. The circle would then descend to prevent fighters from attacking the exposed underside of the Defiants. Now, a defensive circle isn't a way to win a dogfight but it can reduce your own losses, hence my comment. However, I agree that by 1939 it was clear that the Defiant's performance did not match that of front-line aircraft then in service...but I refer you back to my other statement that, "Like so many 1930s designs, it was overtaken by rapid advances in technology and tactics." When envisaged, a 300mph fighter with a 2-man crew seemed pretty reasonable. By 1940 it just wasn't good enough.
     
  17. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2009
    Messages:
    1,919
    Likes Received:
    96
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Isn't that what the 110s ended up doing?
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Lots of aircraft employed the defensive circle and not always for the same reason.

    It was common for fighter aircraft to employ a defensive circle when outnumbered. Me-110 day fighters were almost always outnumbered.

    It was tactical suicide for outnumbered escort fighters to throttle back to bomber cruising speed. Circling the bombers is a way to remain near them without cutting fighter aircraft speed.

    F4Fs and P-40s sometimes employed a defensive circle when attacked by better performing A6Ms and Me-109s. Marseille employed a special technique for defeating the P-40 defensive circle which is described in "Luftwaffe Fighter Aces".
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    27 September 1940.
    15 Ju-88s of I/KG77 assigned to bomb a London power station.
    23 Me-110s from three different Zerstorer gruppe provide close escort.
    40 Me-109s from JG27 conduct a fighter sweep ahead of the bomber formation.

    “The bulk of the Me-109s were intercepted and engaged by British patrols after crossing the coast. By the time the bombers reached London they were guarded only by the weak Zerstorer forces.”
    Oberstleutnant Walter Grabmann

    10:10 First contact with RAF fighters from 213 Squadron.
    The Me-110s are flying in two defensive circles around the Ju-88s.

    10:20 to 10:35. Four additional RAF squadrons join the fight.
    1 Squadron RCAF.
    303 Squadron.
    253 Squadron.
    501 Squadron.
    With a total of 5 RAF fighter squadrons vs 23 Me-110s the Luftwaffe escorts are overwhelmed. Me-110s and Ju-88s start to take casualties.

    10:40 Three additional RAF squadrons join the fight.
    602 Squadron.
    65 Squadron.
    66 Squadron.

    Amazingly enough, the Luftwaffe formation made it all the way to London through this RAF fighter horde and then back home without getting wiped out.

    Actual Luftwaffe Aircraft Losses. As usual, the RAF claimed many more kills.
    3 Ju-88 bombers.
    1 Me-109.
    8 Me-110s.
     
  20. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    In the thirties the Air Ministry seemed to got obsessed with power-turrets - both for fighters and bombers.
    There was both an infatuation with the technology, and perhaps a sense that with speeds going upwards - would the pilot be able to cope! It must be remembered that this was coming from people whose experience of air warfare was at 100 mph. Hence, having someone else with the pilot to do the 'fighting' was thought an advantage!
    Whilst a lot was thought of the Hawher Hotspur, the Defiant was chosen, to spec F.9/35, there were similar specs before and another later with 20 mm cannon in a turret!
    It, as a two-seater fighter did follow on after the Hawker Demon - but it had forward firing armament. Moreover it was competitive with other fighters of the day in speed.
    I knew it was a failure in the BoB, but it was interesting to see the info from Glider - therefore why did it still actively participate as per OTL. Hence the question, of what was more plausible - given the evidence they had that its a failured concept.
     
Loading...

Share This Page