Earlier/better/more Sea Hurricane: pros cons

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Jan 15, 2016.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    A discussion about one of IMO under-rated carrier fighters. What would FAA gained with what is proposed in the title, and what would be the shortcomings?
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Kind of depends on what modifications are allowed and when.
    Summer of 1940 is about the earliest a viable Sea Hurricane could show up without a major change in procurement and or procedures.
    Getting a Hurricane off a flight deck with a fixed pitch prop and 6lbs of boost seems rather hazardous on a regular basis.
    2 pitch prop as a minimum and 100 oct fuel (12lb boost) seems sort of an operational minimum to me.
    Then you run into the operations problem/s.
    Yes the Hurricane performs much better than the Fulmar but British carriers had rather restricted aircraft capacity. I beleive the Ark Royal was the only high capacity (over 50) aircraft carrier the British had in the first few years of the war.
    The Fulmar carries around double the ammo and has around twice the Endurance of a Hurricane (without drop tanks) so you need more (but not twice the number) of Hurricanes to perform the same number of CAP missions per day. Hurricane has no secondary role as a recon plane or "scout" and Hurricanes trying to escort even Swordfish on a Strike might be a bit lacking in range.

    How soon you could get constant speed props is a question. Getting Merlin XX engines ( or changing history a bit and using Merlin X engines and 2 pitch props) may allow drop tanks to be used from the carrier decks.
    By the Summer of 1941 a much better Sea Hurricane could have been provided than the MK Ib. A Navalized MK II was certainly possible instead of waiting until Dec of 1942.
     
  3. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    My idea is to have Sea Hurricane in service un lieu of either Sea Gladiator and/or the Roc for the starters; yes, I know the engines are different. The Sea Hurricane with Merlin VIII should have no problems taking off from the carrier? Though the speed would be lacking above 10000 ft. The Fulmar I gets purchased as historically.
    By late 1940/early 1941 indeed a much better engine is needed, and there are several options for that - Merlin XX, or 30, even the Mk.XII, or the overboosted Mk.III as used historically.
    With 2 x 45 gal drop tanks, the fuel is some 180 imp gals, vs. Fulmar 215 with a 60 gal DT.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The first 6 Sea Hurricanes came from the second Hawker production block (Hawker at Brooklands and Kingston) and deliveries commenced at the end of September 1940. These would have been Merlin III powered?
    There were supposed to be another 27 Sea Hurricanes produced in the first Gloster produced block, deliveries commenced in November 1939, but 19 of them were converted to Hurricane IIs an re-serialled.
    Therein lies a clue. Hurricane production was needed elsewhere and Sea Hurricanes became very much a secondary consideration in 1939/40 to providing the RAF with its most numerous fighter.
    At this time Hawker could produce just two aircraft per day, Gloster produced three per day. There was simply not the capacity to produce the navalised version at this time.
    Interestingly aircraft, many of which had served in the BoB, from the third Hawker production block, were later converted to Sea Hurricanes, others went to Russia in late 1941.
    It wasn't until the third Gloster production block, delivered between July 1940 and August 1941 that a substantial number of Sea Hurricanes was produced, a total of 139 from a block of 1,700.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    In 1937, the RN/FAA can say 'no, we actually don't want the Roc, since the (Sea) Hurricane will provide twice the firepower and extra 70-100 mph, along with far better rate of climb', so Boulton Paul, for example, produces Sea Hurricanes instead of Roc.
    Similar scenario can be laid down for Hurricane supplanting the Sea Gladiator.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    They could try to say no, but that's not how the system worked. The Air Ministry decided what got built and where rather than the RN or FAA.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I'm fine with that - so the Air Ministry decides that Sea Hurricane is a better thing than Roc and/or Sea Gladiator and things proceed accordingly.
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The name Air Ministry gives a one word clue...POLITICS
     
    • Agree Agree x 2
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I'm off the phone now and on the computer, which is rather easier to use :)

    I agree that in theory the Sea Hurricanes might have been manufactured at Blackburn, though Gloster would likely have increased its Hurricane production to meet existing orders in lieu of the Sea Gladiator. We know that Hurricane production kept up with losses, except for two or three months, throughout 1940, but there was no way of knowing at the time that this could be maintained. The Air Ministry and RAF would have wanted every Hurricane they could get their hands on. It was the backbone of Fighter Command and it was Fighter Command, not the Navy, that was fighting the BoB. Neither was it evident in 1940 that the battle would not be resumed as the weather improved in the spring of 1941.

    Many manufacturers were compelled to sub contract to others as a war time expedient. We nearly had a situation, too awful to contemplate, in which A.V.Roe would have manufactured the Halifax for Handley Page meaning we would have had thousands more of a second rate bomber and none of the best British four engine bomber of the war!

    I think a more fundamental problem is that the naval types you are proposing to cancel in favour of the Sea Hurricane were built to very different specifications. The Roc was built as a turret fighter at a time when everyone thought that these were a terrific idea. It turned out not to be such a great idea, but too late.
    The Sea Gladiator was not really a bad aircraft, it was just surpassed by a new generation of fighters as it came into service. I can see the attraction for operation of small carriers. It's a small aircraft which more or less takes off by itself in a decent breeze :)

    In order to convert production to more Sea Hurricanes a decision would have to have been made before the war. The Navy would have had to have decided that the Roc (for example) didn't meet its requirements (which it did) and entered negotiations with the Ministry before production started. Without the benefit of hindsight it is impossible to see how this might have happened.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The Roc was produced at Boulton Paul, making easier it to cancel and produce (Sea) Hurricanes there.
    Indeed it would require a pre-war decision for en earlier start.

    Glad you think this way :)

    No, the turret fighter was not regarded by everyone as a terrific idea.
    Eg. a cannon-armed fighter, the cannon being between 20-40 mm, was regared as a great idea by everyone.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Whether or not cannon armament was regarded as a good idea, or a practical ,depends on the time period. In the mid 1930s this was not the case for the Air Staff. As Verney wrote in May 1935.

    "As I understand it the view of the Air Staff is that the fighter's opportunities will be so fleeting that nothing but the maximum rate of fire in a minimum time is worth having. "

    This was the prevalent view which led to the 8 gun fighter. Rate of fire won out over weight of fire. It's why the first service Marks of Spitfire and Hurricane were armed with eight rifle calibre machine guns.
    Verney was still interested in the 37mm COW gun at this time with a view to increasing the range of the attack, the idea being that the machine guns would be used once the range had closed sufficiently. This was a dead end.

    Sorley had written.

    "The choice lay between the .303 gun, the .5 inch and the a new 20mm Hispano-Suiza cannon, which was of great attraction to the French and other Continental countries. The .5 inch was newly developed and very heavy and was, in fact, a small cannon, and the Hispano was supersensitive to rigidity of mounting and was difficult to mount in aeroplane wings."

    Dowding wasn't impressed with the 20mm cannon and wasn't keen to have it fitted to his Spitfires. He wrote to Sholto-Douglas in 1938,

    "There has been a lot of talk about the efficiency of the 20mm cannon and I have seen no proof this gun will give decisive results. We ought to have carried out the most careful experiments to prove its value before we adopt it. If this was not done I shall wake up in a year's time and be told I am committed to have 15 squadrons of something with a 20mm cannon; whereas I can tell you now I don't want any and so perhaps save a large sum of money."

    It wasn't until very late 1938/early 1939 that cannon armament was mocked up on a Spitfire. By this time many, by no means all, were starting to believe that it was indeed a good idea. Despite this the first installations were, again in Dowding's words 'unreliable'. It wasn't until late 1940 that a reasonable compromise of mixed armament would prove successful.

    Whilst cannon armament was never off the agenda the impetus to get it fitted to Fighter Command's interceptors only came from combat experience. Earlier the problem had been to lift the cannon armament in a single engine type. The twin Whirlwind was the only high performance fighter to do this in 1940 and everyone was waiting for the single engine, cannon armed, 'Hawker Fighter' to arrive. That became the Typhoon, but well known difficulties delayed its introduction until after a solution to the problem of cannon armed Spitfires (and Hurricanes) had been found.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Under 'everybody' I meant 'other air forces/services' - Germans, French, USAAC, Soviets, Poles (with P.24), Czech, with Japanese Navy catching up with cannon-armed fighter(s).
    I know well why the 8 gun Hurricanes & Spitfires were produced, the 4 gun in any turret won't come close in RoF, or indeed the weight of fire. Especially for bomber-busting applications many air forces/services were geared towards.
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    All with hindsight.
    The principal reason some types were produced in numbers (Battle and Defiant being two of them) was economics. Light Bombers like the Battle were the most numerous bombers in all pre-war production plans (L, War Potential, Harrogate) and only declined with the 1940 Hennessy Plan.
    The Defiant was a relatively cheap way of increasing fighter numbers, it only used one engine for a start. Hurricane production was still relatively slow in 1938 as the war loomed, Spitfire production didn't start until mid 1938 and then competed with the beautiful Walrus and Stranraer flying boats. It is very important not telescope history when looking back
    These aircraft appeared good value for money, until it transpired that they were next to useless in their intended roles.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  14. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    No, not with the hindsight, but rather simple maths.
    One engine to propel the 8 gun battery offers much better bang for buck than one engine to propel 4 gun battery. Two crew memebres needed to be trained to battle the enemy while having the said 'half battery' is a far less worthy thing than just one crew member to be trained to battle the enemy with 'full battery'.
    Add the greater price to purchase a fleet of non-turreted fighters, plus the performance penalty - the hindsight has nothing to do with it.

    Economics of, say, 10000+ HP engine power to carry 15000 lbs (ten Battles, 10 pilots needed, overload condition) vs. same total power to carry 25000 lbs (five Hampdens, 5 pilots needed, overload condition) is non existent.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The economics is about making up the numbers for Fighter Command, not about crew numbers and armament. Any aircraft on Fighter Command's inventory, including the Defiants and Blenheims, made the numbers look good to parliament and its committees which had to be coerced into stumping up the cash for the RAF's expansion.
    Hurricane production was slowly accelerating through 1938 as Spitfire production got underway. The Defiant was expected to get underway only slightly after the Spitfire. In fact this did not happen and deliveries didn't even start until late (November/December?) 1939. I'd have to look up an exact date. On the positive side this meant that not so many were built, only about 1,000, and they did prove useful in other roles.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I'm not trying to lower the numbers for the Fighter Command, but to have more fighter produced, especially Hurricanes, both 'normal' and 'Sea'. If Boulton Paul churns only (Sea) Hurricanes, and none of turret fighter, it is a major gain for the RAF & FAA - 1500 of those vs. 1200 of the 2 types of turret fighters combined?
    The 1000+ Defiants that were built is not 'only' nor 'not so many', in the light of 'we need any Hurricane and Spitfire we can get, as of yesterday'.
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #17 stona, Jan 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
    But the Defiants were intended to be built as a stop gap until others could be built. Nobody thought there was anything wrong with the turret fighter concept until No. 264 Sqn started working them up in early 1940, and even these reservations were ignored. It wasn't until May 1940 when Defiants tangled with Bf 109s that the flaw in the plan became evident. Again you are using hindsight. The Defiant was supposed to intercept unescorted bombers, it actually did this successfully over Dunkirk. Nobody foresaw the presence of the Luftwaffe's single seat fighters escorting its bombers over SE England in the summer of 1940. It's easy for us to see them looking back!

    It's not a simple as just telling BP or whoever to stop producing one type and to start another. During the changeover production will be lost. In 1940 the Air Ministry was not prepared to accept any loss of production. This was the argument used, principally against Harris, to continue the production of the Halifax (and Stirling). Harris was prepared to accept fewer, better, bombers but those over his head were not. The same would have happened in 1940 had, say, Dowding started agitating for more Hurricanes at the expense of other types already in production.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  18. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I never 'introduced' the fall of France in this discussion, with all of it's consequences.
    A 4-gun Defiant, let alone Roc, is a loosing proposal against an 8-gun Hurricane in the bomber destroyer role. It is the maths, not hindsight, even before we start listing other quaities the Hurricane had over the Defiant, let alone before we introduce the Spitfire here.
    Also, I don't know why you invoke 1940 here, I've stated several times that a decision need to be made in 1937 or thereabout to make effect in 1940.
     
  19. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    I have no information myself, but I'd be willing to bet a million dollars there were plenty of officers/officials that were very much against the turret fighter.
     
  20. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    That's a little difficult to justify; the power operated turret was considered by the heads of the RAF as the last word in accurate weapon aiming and defence pre-WW2, hence the Defiant and Roc (although BP didn't want to build the Roc, having submitted their own naval design to have it quashed in favour of the decidedly inferior Blackburn machine. BP's head, J.D.North was not very happy at all about the decision, apparently).

    Regarding how highly favoured turrets were, Ludlow-Hewitt C-in-C Bomber Command, Tedder and Sholto Douglas wanted the DH.98 Mosquito to be built with a power operated tail turret and it was in this form that the go ahead to procure it was made - it was only after Liptrot had agreed to a night fighter variant, to which a spec was written specifically for the Mossie, that an order came through for production - GdeH was pressing on with the unarmed 'concept demonstrator' despite the turret armed aircraft; Freeman stepped in in favour of this. So, tall and short of it was that the power operated turret as a defensive weapon was an advanced concept, so high up in official circles, it was the way to go, and the concept of a turret armed fighter fit in with what was considered advanced at the time- the primary bomber contracts, B.12/36 and P.13/36 specified turrets - that is, until the shooting started.

    Perhaps bringing BP into the mix might make more sense if the firm was allowed to build its own naval fighters; there was a variant of the Defiant proposed as a carrier fighter, the P.85 Sea Defiant without a turret and fitted with forward firing guns. Alec Brew in his book The Defiant File argues that had the P.85 been built instead of the Roc, the FAA would have had an effective single seat fighter that would have meant there was no need for the Fulmar, Sea Gladiator or the Sea Hurricane.

    I see what you are trying to do Tomo; in an ideal world an earlier Sea Hurricane could have been a benefit as the war progressed, certainly in the Mediterranean. The big problem the RN was faced with was a shortage of aircraft of any type - there simply weren't enough Fulmars, Gladiators or Skuas to go round and I doubt that would have changed had the Sea Hurricane entered service earlier. One issue that might have had to have changed was that the Sea Hurricane didn't have a folding wing. This would have been a benefit in the small spaces of British carriers.
     
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