Experimental Wing

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by MikeGazdik, Feb 21, 2014.

  1. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    Something fun; You are tasked at forming an experimental Wing / Group. Your job is to take this group into a mission that it has not yet been assigned to that type of aircraft. What aircraft and what theatre would you decide. The only rules are it has to be aircraft that are being produced, at the time of your choice, to sufficiently supply your group of enough aircraft. You will fly with your group, so your decision will also need to involve a type you would be willing to bet your life on, as well as mission performance. Also describe what you would think the benefit or result of this "test" would be.

    I have several thoughts on this, but one of mine would be: Test a group of F4U Corsairs in the 9th Air Force, late 1943 once the Corsairs were starting to be available. I think the use of the Corsair by the 9th, would have greatly influenced the U.S. Air Corps decisions. Because its abilities were far greater than the P-40, and the P-47, in tactical scenarios, it would have been produced if far greater amounts than it even was. Possibly Goodyear would have been tasked with production of the "Air Corps" Corsair.
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #2 Shortround6, Feb 22, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 22, 2014
    Unfortunately for the Corsair it is late in timing. By Dec 1943 the P-47 are being equipped with wing racks, water injection and paddle blade props. It was not until March of 1944 that the Corsair was used as a dive bomber. Perhaps it could have been used a bit earlier but I think there was little to choose between the two planes in the spring/summer of 1944. And bubble top P-47D-25s with larger fuselage tanks began coming off the lines in April of 1944.

    BTW a fair number of the Goodyear produced Corsairs had "fixed"/nonfolding wings and were issued to the Marine Corp.
     
  3. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I'd pick up the small series of the F4Us that were still with the wing tanks, but also with the drop tank capability, and send them, together with Liberators, to Ploiesti, once there is possibillity to base them in Southern Italy.
    Or, simply use Mosquitoes for that job :D
     
  4. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

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    I have many ideas, bordering suicidal.

    On second thought; commanding a WASP wing, testing the most docile experimental planes, located in California or Florida.
    :D
     
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  5. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The early F4U's (F4U-1, 1A and 1C) had more internal fuel (361 gallons) range than all the P-47B/C/D's Including the P-47D-23 (305 gallons), until the P-47D-25 (362 gallons) arriving in June 1944. The combat radius predicated on being able to return home on internal fuel after engaging in combat for 20 minutes at MP was significantly greater. The P-47D through Jan 1944 could a 200 gallon external tank to the F4U-1's 175 pressurized but the high altitude nature of P-47 escort dictated punching the tanks at about 100 gallons. Thus the F4U-1's maintained a significant range advantage until the F4U-1D crossed over in range capability with much less combat radius due to reduction of internal fuel.

    Range was more important to 12th, 15th and 8th AF Bomber Commands if performance of the fighter was 'close enough' to FW 190 and Bf 109. So in 1943 the Corsair could be going 75 miles farther than the P-47D up to -23 - and about the same as the P-38F.

    Nobody was going to Ploesti with any of the above as target escort. Only the P-38J with the extra 110 gallon fuel cells in leading edge of the wing and P-51B/C/D with internal 85 gallon fuselage tank had the range in 1944.

    The USMC formed its first squadron of F4U-1's in July 1942 so that would mark the earliest conceivable Special Squadron.. For comparison purposes the P-47D-2RE started arriving in ETO in June 1943 but did not have paddle blade, WI or pressurized external belly fuel tank. The only thing the 47D had on it was firepower (except for 4x20mm F4U-1C)and speed above 20000 feet.

    I would have to think about it but believe the F4U-1A and C might be capable of escort to Ploesti in 1943
     
  6. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Tomo - the Internal fuel available to bring you home from a target is THE controlling factor for combat radius. Only the F4U-1, 1A, 1C had enough fuel to go farther than a P-47D until the -25. So the basic Combat radius of the F4U-1 is really close to 400 miles. Won't get you past Brunswick or Kassel but maybe to Ploesti from Foggia. I'll have to look it up.

    This would be a game changer in the ETO and MTO if introduced in 1942.
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Bill, sure thing I'd base the Corsairs with 361 gal of internal fuel from Italy, as soon as its 'heel' is captured. Eg from Bari, Brindisi, Otranto, whenever is a suitable base. Since the fighters would find themselves immediately above Adriatic after take off, the fact that wing fuel is not protected wouldn't mean too much.
    I'd also try to install Lockheed's 300 gal drop tank in lieu of the 175 gal one, for a good measure :)

    Another proposal would be to use the P-51A for that task; the heavier more powerful Merlin Mustangs have had 500 mile radius when flying at 10000 ft, without fuselage tank.
     
  8. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    #8 Aozora, Feb 22, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
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  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Trouble with the Corsairs is that only the 237 gal fuselage tank was "protected". The two 57 gallon wing tanks were only protected by a CO2 vapor dilution system. Relatively minor damage could cause the loss of fuel in a wing tank even if no fire. Early F4Us had one 170-175 gallon drop tank. Later F4Us (like F4U1-D) got rid of the wing tanks and went with two drop tanks. Even figuring ONE wing tank remains undamaged you now have about 10 gallons less gas than the P-47. Combat radius too close to call.
     
  10. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    #10 MikeGazdik, Feb 23, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
    I made a typo in my first post. Late 1942 for introduction, not 1943. The Corsair would have been a huge improvement over the P-40's. I don't know how soon the 9th started using P-47's, other than for sure when they moved up North in preparation for D-Day. I see the Corsairs being used in the air to mud missions, and escorting medium bombers, not so much long range B-24's. I think the Liberators would want to fly at an altitude that the P-47 would be better suited than the F4U.

    I was aware of the Goodyear Corsairs made for the Marines w/out wing folding and the like. That would be the type to use when they became available.
     
  11. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    #11 GrauGeist, Feb 23, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
    Like many aircraft, the Corsair had a period of development, sort of like a learning curve, where the bugs had to be worked out.

    Even though it was introduced into service in mid-42, it still had a little ways to go before it became the beast of legend.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The very layout of Corsairs tanks is why I'd use them for missions originating from Italy, against Ploiesti. Strip of Adriatic they have to fly above, before crossing Albanian/Yugoslav coastline is much wider than the sea dividing UK from Belgium/France. So my Corsairs will be using wing tanks before they are close to landfall, switch to drop tanks and go above Albania, Yugoslavia, Romania, drop their tanks and have about full fuselage tanks when combat is imminent. They can also cruise sower when close to Italy, should give good mileage.
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #13 Shortround6, Feb 23, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 23, 2014
    The Corsair was NOT "introduced" in 1942 unless you mean the first 2-3 squadrons got them for initial training. 178 Corsairs were built in 1942, 55 accepted in Nov and 68 in Dec. VMF-124 is "declared" operational in Dec 1942 in the US but does not go into action until Feb 1943. 2nd Marine squadron goes into combat in March and first Navy squadron gets full compliment of Corsairs (in the US) in March.

    It is 532 miles from Bari Italy to Ploiesti. While the charts say the Corsair can fly around 1000 miles on the 237 gals of fuel that is at 5500ft and 178-180mph. Plane might be using as little as 42gal an hour. with the engine making 570 hp. Cruising at 20,500ft with the engine making 970hp and the fuel consumption goes to 93 gallons an hour. 5 minutes at military power burns 23 gallons of fuel and 15 minutes at max continuous burns 55-60 gals. You actually have 153 gal (give or take) to make it home from Ploiesti. Cruise at minimum fuel consumption at 20,000ft (595hp) is 53 gallons an hour.

    This is like the argument we had about the F6F being able to fly to Berlin. Granted there aren't as many Axis fighters in Balkans but using Navy cruise conditions for flight planning European combat missions is not realistic.

    BTW: My father worked at the Chance-Vought factory building Corsairs for part of WW II and a good friend's father flew with VMF-124 from the Essex:

    vmf-124-1.jpg

    He was the pilot on the right.

    I like the Corsair but lets not pretend it could do things it couldn't.
     
  14. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I've looked at specificatios for the F4U-1D, where it says that endurance is, with 237 gals of internal fuel, and no drop tanks, 2.64 hours on 75% of max speed; altitude On 60% of max speed, it is 3.79 hours. That makes 1.1 hour per every 100 gals on 300 mph, and 1.6 hours at 240 mph. With those remaining 153 gals, it will do 1.65 hours at 300 mph - 495 miles, no reserves allowed for. At 240 mph, it will do 587 miles, no reserves. It should be feasible that it makes 1st 300 miles from Ploiesti back at 300 mph (uses ~90 gals), where we should toss in relief force in, preferably the Spitfire Mk.VIII? I know, I did not mention the relief force in my 1st post here.
    The next ~120 miles on 240 mph (uses ~30 gals), Now we should be already over Adriatic, with 110 miles until Bari, and with ~30 gals of fuel. At 5500 ft, for every gallon, circa 4 miles can be flown. Just makin' it ;)


    My whole grand Corsair manipulation scheme has some important flaws, of course. I did not make any allowances. If the escorts, both on outbound and inbound legs cruise at combat-suited speed, they will overtake their charges, hence hey must make 'essing'. That cuts substantially the radius.
    The 'relay' system would've been necessary, where fighters with ~300 miles of combat radius should be present both in ingress and egress. That not just enables the returning Corsairs to cruise back on better mileage, it enables outgoing Corsairs to retain their drop tanks until those are emptied. Supporting fighters should preferably be Spitfire VIIIs, P-38s and/or P-47 with drop tank. P-51A might be interesting here, too.
    Maybe the following modification of Corsair's fuel system might be under the rules of this thread: install protected tanks in the wings, like it was done on F2G-2 Super Corsair (the one with R-4360 engine). That gave protected 2 x 37.5 gals, plus fuselage tank.

    Now that I've mentioned P-47, how about this: someone pays attention what Gen. Kenney does, and orders the 'Brisbane tanks' for European P-47s. That would make 305+200 gals for the P-47s.
     
  15. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Valid points all... but as we discussed and agreed long ago in the great F6F for ETO" debate, internal fuel is the controlling factor for target combat radius.. The F4U-1 and -1A were in combat when the AF had only the P-47C available with no fuselage exyernal tank capability in the field until Mid July 1943 and that was an unpressurized 200 gallon tank - of which 100 was usable. The 175 in the Corsair was usable.

    Given the fuel system on the Corsair as logically designed and working, it wouldn't take much time to design and supply 250-300 gallon Ferry tank for CL attach. All this in the 1942 timeframe.

    The biggest practical issue is actual supply issues as the USN/USMC had them locked up - but IIRC this was a fantasy test Wing concept and I like this one with the caveats we have discussed.

    Downside - more pilots experiences a "Zero" moment when hit in wing, the F4U-1A might not have any major advantages/disadvantages at 25000 feet against the FW 190A5 or 109G2. Pilot losses would be higher and might force US bombers down to 18,000 feet to balance vulnerability? So, we could forecast losses at a higher level than if Spit VIII or IX Could get the range, but it should have more range than the P-38F/G and H and better performance except for climb.

    I selected the F4U-1/1A and prefer -1C for this 'concept' primarily because Internal fuel issues are harder to solve than external and while the -1 had some issues, IMHO it was a far better ETO choice than the P-47C and early D's, and available (if not assignable) in 1942.

    To Mike's question about 9th AF operational P-47s, the 362nd and 365th went operational about Big Week and the 358th (8th AF traded to 9th for 357FG) on December 20, 1943 - the 358 was traded at end of January, 1944 so short answer - three 9th AF P-47D-11 equipped fighter groups in February 1944.

    Last point Mike. The 8th (and later 12/15th) operated their B-24s separately from B-17s because of speed and altitude performance differences. The B-24 cruise altitudes dropped to 20-22000 feet max and often at 18-20000 feet - so the F4U-1 had a far better performance than P-40 and pretty much the same speed as the P-47C and early D's until WI (-11 production but retrofitted back through the P-47-5) but better overall maneuverability. It was an air superiority fighter that fit nicely in duel role for CAS.
     
  16. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    Oh nice. That cruise altitude puts the B-24 right in the area where the Corsair would be best. Even a better reason for the Corsair to have been given a shot. I knew the B-24's and B-17's flew in their own formations, but thought it was due to cruise speeds alone.

    Another thought is IF something like this had occurred, and the F4U would have been ordered in large amounts by the USAAC, history tells us the Pratt Whitney was up to making enough engines. The only real stump is finding a manufacturer to help produce enough airframes.

    Anybody else have any "Test Wings".
     
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