Earlier/better/more of Hooked Spitfires/Seafires: benefits, shortcomings?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Despite never being trumpeted as the great carrier-borne fighter, there was some ares where Hooked Spitfire Seafire excelled - good/great RoC, maneuverability, useful speed. Wonder whether the arrival of such aircraft in numbers in, say, early 1942 on the RN carriers would made any difference, despite some fighter's shortcomings (like the short range, temperamental U/C, and other minor ones)? How much a Seafire with 2-stage Merlin, or maybe 1-stage Griffon would've offered? Would it really made a difference vs. Sea Hurricane and/or Martlet; the Fulmar being in the league of it's own (both in pluses and minuses)?
     
  2. pattle

    pattle Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    To deal with Italian and German bombers in the Med during 1941 the Fleet Air Arm certainly needed something faster than the Fulmar , the Sea Hurricane or Seafire would both have been useful but I think the Wildcat would have been the better suited for the job.
     
  3. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    4,184
    Likes Received:
    167
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Hobart Tasmania
    Griffon Seafire instead of Fairey Firefly.

    I think that would be a gain for the FAA.
     
  4. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,811
    Likes Received:
    181
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    i was just reading about the HMS Audacity and its role in convoy escorts from the uk to gibralter. it had martlets ( f4f wildcats ) on it. they brought down several FW-200s.....i never knew wildcats operated in the eto/mto.
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,528
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    The other problems with the Seafire were not minor. It was never designed for carrier operations and did not possess the flying qualities (rate of descent, margin above stall at landing and many more) of purpose built carrier aircraft. The whole airframe was not really strong enough. Accident rates were very high and serviceability very low.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  6. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2012
    Messages:
    706
    Likes Received:
    34
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Get ready for some whup-ass, Steve. I can hear the Spitfire fan club charging over the hill right now...
     
  7. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2010
    Messages:
    509
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Ohh, the early Seafires were a bit marginal, but they still had some advantages ... they could actually fight with 109s.
    Part of the problem (as per Quilll) was the training was poor. The Spitfire was famously easy to handle close to the stall, but it floated ... which is not a good idea for a carrier aircraft.
    And it's visibility was very poor on final approach (so was just about anything though, the Corsair was infamous for that).

    But, and you just have to blame the RN for this, the standard Spit approach on land was to do a curved one. The Seafires did straight in (or Brown's favourite a crabbed approach, he could get away with that being an exceptional pilot, nobody else could) visibility was poor and the plane floated. Perfect recipe for disaster.

    Quill recommended a similar approach for Seafires, after when it was used, landing accidents went down considerably.

    This was compounded by the Britsh, by necessity using escort carriers as 'sort of main' carriers. They were too short and too slow.
    The famous one was Sicily and Italy, using Seafires with an atrocious crash rate. But that was on short escort carriers, with zero wind and 18knts flat out (maybe on a good day).
    Heck, even Wildcats with experienced pilots would have struggled with that environment.

    It wasn't that bad (the later ones, especially Griffon ones, were excellent). If better training and landing procedures had been implemented earlier it would have done much better.
    And it had the performance to hold its own with 109s in the 41/42 early 43 period, which the only real alternative at the time, the Wildcat, couldn't.
    Even the later Hellcat would have struggled against a 109F, and been hammered by 109Gs and 190s.

    The thing was .. what was the alternative at the time?
     
  8. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    The earlier introduction should help out to iron the bugs earlier, too?
     
  9. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    994
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    The Wildcats used were known as Martlets, were they not?
     
  10. pattle

    pattle Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Yes the Royal Navy called them Marlets right up until the end of the war when they started to call them Wildcats. I think Wildcat sounds far better than Marlet, to me it was a bit like calling the P51 Mustang the P51 Dobbin.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  11. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,341
    Likes Received:
    408
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    The RN adopted USN names for its aircraft in mid 44
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    7,995
    Likes Received:
    438
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Was there the clipped-wing Seafire tested; would that reduce the 'floating' during landing?
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,528
    Likes Received:
    947
    Trophy Points:
    113
    #13 stona, Nov 26, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 27, 2013
    The "crabbed" approach was forbidden operationally for all FAA squadrons....period.
    Even flying a curved approach forward visibility was marginal and it was still very easy to lose sight of the deck and/or landing officer completely.
    The float.....float...fence was a property of the aerodynamics of the Seafire quite inappropriate for carrier operations, as was landing very (very) close to the stall and at a low rate of descent due to the fragility of the air frame. It simply couldn't take the punishment of its US contemporaries designed for such operations.
    I mentioned the serious problem of one wing stalling or never establishing proper lift on high incidence short run take offs in another thread.
    The Spitfire was a great, one of the greatest, WW2 aeroplanes. The Seafire was never more than an interim measure. The fact that it was pursued at all is because once in the air it retained many of the properties which made the Spitfire such a formidable fighter.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  14. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    #14 nuuumannn, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
    This was the crux of the matter. It had a terrific rate of climb, which was vitally important in the Pacific against Kamikazes and I remember reading something that the Americans were very impressed by that when the Seafires were used in combined ops with US aircraft.

    On the Martlet. The Martlet I was not the same as an F4F and there was no American equivalent. The FAA placed an order for these as Martlet Is, IIs and IIIs; they were not Lend Lease aircraft. The first LL examples were the Martlet IV and Vs, which, as mentioned above were renamed in January 1944 as Wildcats to maintain continuity with US nomenclature. The Wildcat VI never received the name Martlet in FAA service. This also carried through to the original Martlets on occasion as well, rather than attempting to distinguish between British order aircraft and Lend Lease ones. The Martlet was the first American fighter of the war to shoot down an enemy aircraft; a Ju 88 was shot down on Christmas Day 1940 by a Martlet I based on Orkney.

    On the subject of odd names, the Avenger I (equivalent to the TBF-1) was known as the Tarpon in FAA service until the 1944 name change.
     
  15. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,811
    Likes Received:
    181
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    #15 bobbysocks, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
    everything i am reading still calls it an F4F...modified to different ( approved for export ) specs but still a wildcat.

    British Aircraft--Martlet and Wildcat fighters

    Grumman F4F Martlet (Grumman F4F Wildcat) aircraft profile. Aircraft Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945

    Martlet Mk. I
    As F4F-3, order for France, diverted to
    Royal Navy, fixed wings, 4 wing guns,
    engine upgrade. First 7 with US reg.:
    NX-G1 / NX-G7. 81 delivered, last 10
    lost at sea.
    Produced 1940
    Grumman Bethpage, New York (F)

    http://www.uswarplanes.net/wildcat.html

    this guy didnt think much of the sea hurricane or the seafire

    http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/wildcatfaaba_1.htm
     
  16. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    #16 nuuumannn, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
    Hi Bobbysocks. Don't hold everything you read on the internet as being definitive. The first and third links you provide do not state that the F4F-3 was the same as the Martlet I at any rate. Look at the table provided. The second link is not accurate. As for calling them Martlet or Wildcat? The difference was that one was operated by the Americans and the other by the Royal Navy - the manuals etc the British received were marked 'Martlet'; its about nomenclature. Also, two of the sites you provide links to are American.

    The British Martlet Is were not equivalent to the F4F-3. The Martlet I was fitted with the single row Wright Cyclone and did not have folding wings. The F4F-3 had the twin row P&W Twin Wasp. They were known as the G-36A and were variants intended for the Aeronavale. The Martlett II had more in common with the F4F-3 being equipped with the Twin Wasp and folding wings, but the III returned to fixed wings.
     
  17. pattle

    pattle Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2013
    Messages:
    692
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    #17 pattle, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
    Does all this really matter? a Martlet is just a Wildcat by another name no matter the engine or whether the wings fold.
    The Greek order that finished up in the hands of the FAA in North Africa after the fall of Greece also had non folding wings, I wonder what name the Greeks had for these aircraft?
     
  18. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2010
    Messages:
    3,811
    Likes Received:
    181
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    as i gather it the "G" as in G-33, G-36 was the grumman model for the same airframe with various modifications to the airframe and components...the "F4F-?" was the us military designation for the same airframe with the -suffix representing or corresponding to the various changes in models ( G ). to me it is all a wildcat airframe and part of the wildcat production line....it doesnt matter what engine...whether you have a single stage 2 speed blower on it....whether it has 4 or 6 guns....what bells and whistles you put on or take off. it seem to be a commonly held concept that the marltet was wildcat built to a different spec. I have yet to run across anything that in print or on the web that states to the contrary that it was not an F4F in some sort of configuration and a beast all unto itself. If you have a book or a link please share.
     
  19. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    Bobbysocks, this isn't a matter of whose right or wrong or what you or I wish to call the aeroplane (or airplane). The facts were (not personal preference or choice), the British called the aircraft the Martlet, not F4F, which was a US designation and it wasn't until January 1944 that the name' Wildcat' was officially adopted. These are facts - not in dispute; they happened and no amount of debating on the internet is going to change that. The Martlet I was different to the F4F-3, like I said, that was an American designation - again, a fact, not a personal preference, so you can argue that they are the one and the same and their airframes were from the same lineage and you'd be right, but the facts are the facts and that's the point I'm making. You can't change the past, Bobbysocks, just because of a semantic argument.
     
  20. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    #20 nuuumannn, Nov 27, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 27, 2013
    Look Bobbysocks. your point of what aircraft was what is perfectly valid and I'm not disputing that, but let's look at some differences between what the British called American aircraft and what the Americans called them and naming systems.

    Firstly, a change of powerplant usually designated a difference in numerical designation in many if not most aircraft types; e.g. the difference between the Lancaster Mk.I and III was that the III had a Packard built Merlin, not a Rolls one and a Lancaster Mk.II had Bristol Hercules engines. The difference between a Spitfire LF.IXe and LF.XVIe was the Packard Merlin in the LF.XVIe.

    What about names. The British armed forces rarely used numerical designations, preferring names; there are a few exceptions to this rule, such as the VC.10, for example, but most others had a name. The manufacturer's designation, like the Supermarine Type 300, named Spitfire in service, was less preferable on paperwork than 'Spitfire'. Likewise the Avro 683 - the Lancaster. The Boeing Model 299 B-17 Flying Fortress became the Boeing Fortress in RAF service, although the B-29 became the Washington in British service, not the Superfortress.

    You might know that the names Liberator, Lightning, Dakota, Kittyhawk, Tomahawk amd Mustang all originated from the British (I'm sure there are other examples) The USAAC/F never used the names Kittyhawk or Tomahawk to describe the P-40. The Mustang, built to a British requirement was never called the P-51 in Britain since this is a USAAF designation; and the Mustang I had no American equivalent. The B-34 Lexington was named the PV-1 in US Navy service, but the British used the name Ventura to describe their examples. To confuse, the RNZAF Venturas were referred to as RB-34s but did not use the Lexington name, although the RNZAF also received PV-1s from US Navy stocks and these too, were called Venturas. Look at the names and designations for the T-6, Harvard, SNJ etc, the same aeroplane but each service or branch of service had different designations for the same aeroplane. The Lockheed Hudson, built to a British requirement was known as the A-29 in USAAC/F service, but also the AT-18 trainer specific airframe. Still a Hudson though.

    The bottom line is, although it seems like nit picking, nomenclature does carry some importance in people's minds and one thing I've learned is that you will always come across someone who will correct you on this point, whether on the net or in person or writing articles etc. Its unavoidable and the British are quite particular about names.
     
    • Like Like x 1
Loading...

Share This Page