F-89, F-94, F-86D: Were all three necessary?

Discussion in 'Post-War' started by Conslaw, Feb 16, 2015.

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  1. Conslaw

    Conslaw Member

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    #1 Conslaw, Feb 16, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015
    In this thread I want to focus on the Air Force's first postwar generation of all-weather interceptors: the F-89, F-94 and F-86D. All entered service between 1950 and 1954, had similar performance, and fulfilled the same role, that of an all-weather interceptor. They were all procured in fairly large quantities. Do you have a favorite? why?
     
  2. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    All-weather interceptors were 'evolving' .... one engine or two ...? single-man crew or double ...? And two of the three were extensions of existing airframes. F-94 Starfires served as night fighters during the Korean War ... with a kill or to IIRC.
    As WW2 demonstrated ... the US Military had the luxury of 'options' and used it ... to the benefit of the US economy as well as the Free World. :)
     
  3. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    IIRC the F-89 was supposed to be the "cure all" but it had issues in it's development to include the radar that was to be installed in the aircraft. The F-94C was eventually replaced by the F-89 and F-86D but it stayed in service until 1959.
     
  4. Conslaw

    Conslaw Member

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    I wonder if any of these aircraft would have been successful in intercepting an enemy bomber with the performance of the B-47. Ground control would have to perfectly place the interceptor.
     
  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    And none armed with guns ... just folding fin missiles in swarms IIRC .... the great self-deception had begun
     
  6. Conslaw

    Conslaw Member

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    I imagine pilots were more than a little frustrated when they shot off all of their rockets at once and didn't score a single hit. Perhaps statistically they were more likely to score a hit with rockets than guns, but I'm sure it didn't feel that way in the cockpit. The later F-89s were armed with nuclear air-to-air rockets, part of the whole "tactical" nuke strategy that seemed more likely to cause an all-out nuclear war than to avert one.
     
  7. Token

    Token Active Member

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    I know this is an old post, sorry for digging up history, but I just saw the thread, and it reminded me of the Battle of Palmdale in 1956. this even involved an F-89D firing all of its weapons at a runaway F6F drone...and missing 100%. The drone eventually crashed after running out of fuel.

    T!
     
  8. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    When flying over the arctic, having two engines in a must. Sort of like the P38 flying in the SW Pacific.
     
  9. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    The F-94 did not add anything to the mix. It performed similarly to the F-89 but carried half the weaponry and was probably shorter ranged. The F-86D was a much better performing aircraft in climb and airspeed, however it carried one-fifth the weaponry as the F-89. So, I would pick the F-89 due to better load carrying ability, two pilots, probably better range,and two engines as syscom3 stated. With 34 degree F water below you, you have very limited options if you have to ditch.

    As for catching a B-47,the after-burning F-86D should have little problem being almost a 100 mph faster than the B-47. The other two would struggle. However, both have much higher ceiling and could use that for energy.
     
  10. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    The rocket salvo idea made sense until you realized the poor accuracy of those FFARs (which really hadn't improved much over the German R4M) and might have made a reasonable complement to gun/cannon armament (again as the R4M did), but the all-rocket armament scheme seems pretty flawed and not just in hindsight. (particularly since they weren't that heavily used in combat, so hindsight doesn't give us a ton of obvious operational failures to weight this on ... which is obviously a good thing given how disastrous some interception fails might have been in that early cold war timeframe)

    The CF-100 had the same issue, switching from its .50 cal belly pack to wing-tip rocket pods.


    Even with the reliability issue of the American (and maybe Canadian?) Hispano, the M39 became operational in 1952 and could have served in modular belly packs for all of the aircraft in question, probably in batteries of four. (in the CF-100's case, they might have considered using the 30mm ADEN instead given the Canadians tended to selectively license/purchase both American and British technology, and a Hawker Hunter style 4x ADEN belly pack would have been a potent interceptor armament) The F-86D and F-94 might have compromised with just 2 M39s given their smaller size and nose geometry, plus the F-94 could carry rocket pods in addition to a nose armament while the F-86D might need to compromise between cannon and rocket tray in the belly and/or nose. (for that matter, Canadair Sabers probably could/should have upgraded to a pair of ADEN or M39 cannons in the early 50s)
     
  11. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Wasn't the Klunk evaluated by the USAF as a possible USAF all weather interceptor?
     
  12. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    "... Wasn't the Klunk evaluated by the USAF as a possible USAF all weather interceptor?"
    It was evaluated .... but, IIRC, against the Martin B-51 and both were rejected and the EE Canberra was chosen instead and license-.built by Martin.
    download.jpeg
     
  13. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    While slower than the three listed fighters, the F2H, F9F and F-9 were armed with cannon: Banshee - (4) 20mm Mk16, Panther - (4) 20mm M2, Cougar - (4) 20mm M3

    So the idea of being MG/cannon armed was not lost with the US military at the time.

    Of the three I mentioned here, the F-9 would be comparable to the F-86D, F-89 and F-94 in performance.
     
  14. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    All are USN airplanes. The USN was more progressive when it came to aircraft guns.
     
  15. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Sort of progressive, but also regressive when it came to selecting the Colt Mk.12 over the M.39 revolver cannon. The P-38's M2 installation included a cocking mechanism accessible in-flight for the pilot to clear a stopage (or re-cock for a lightly struck round) while USN fighters using the M2 Hispano just used tons and tons of lubrication wax on the ammunition to make up for the loose tolerances and firing pin/chamber length issues that the US Armory refused to correct with British specifications). That said, adopting electrical priming also would have addressed the misfire issues. (nearly 100% of stoppages were caused by failure to initiate the percussion primer properly, so electrical priming rather than conventional percussion priming would have avoided this problem entirely, which I believe is what happened with the USAF's M24 variant that arrived so late as to offer little advantage in use over the M39 -I think late models of the British Hispano adopted electrical priming as well) The Navy's Mk.12 cannon used electric priming too, but changed other things that led to other reliability problems, apparently worse than the older M3 Hispano, at least in use with Vietnam era jets and the relatively high G-forces involved in maneuvers.

    Wiki lists the M24 as using electric cocking and not priming, but other references (including Tony Willaims' site) point to electric priming. I think it may have been the older M3 that introduced an electric cocking mechanism, facilitating clearing stoppages in remote (wing mounted guns) where the P-38's solution wasn't practical. (and generally easier to implement for the four nose mounted cannons common to Navy Jets as well)

    The USAF seemed to feel the reliability of the M3 Browning was preferable to the lingering issues with the Hispano, but the lack of use of the M39 seems to be more a problem with Rockets (and then guided missiles) being seen as superior next-generation armaments for anti-bomber use in interceptors and then for all-purpose air to air engagements. (the M39 seems to mostly have gone to waste in the USAF, though did get a few notable installations where the later Vulcan was impractical, like the F-5's twin M39s still in use today) The British and French were adopting the lower velocity heavy-hitting 30 mm ADEN and DEFA revolver cannons with similar rate of fire to the M39 around the same time as the USAF had them operationally available, but the M39 was lighter and the USAF preferred the higher velocity. (the M39 was also in production slightly earlier than the 30 mm counterparts, not that it really mattered given the lack of use)

    The M61 Vulcan and M39 share the same 20x102 mm ammunition while all the original M1/2/3/24 Hispano derived guns used the same 20x110 mm cartridge design as the French and British counterparts. OTOH the 20x110 USN of the Mk.12 was a derivative of the 20x102 with an extended case, a more powerful cartridge than the 20x102 or old 20x110 hispano and incompatible with both.

    Incedentally, 2 M39s offered a similar rate of fire to 4 M24 or Mk.V Hispano cannons while offering more compact installation (and potentially higher ammunition capacity) useful for certain cramped nose locations or in belly packs where a quad cannon array would be unsuitable. (the quad hispano belly pack tested on the CF-100 proved problematic for some reason, though that may have been sheer unreliability if it used American produced cannons or licensed derivatived thereof)




    Also, I'm not sure the Cougar was slower than the F-89 and F-94C (ignoring the thicker winged, J33 powered early F-94 variants), especially if you take into account the fuel consumption used for afterburning thrust (the Cougar used water injection at low altitude, but not afterburning). The Cougar and Panther (especially J48 powered Panther) both had much better thrust to weight ratio and acceleration and climb ability too (less so for the F-86D) but the Panther was mach limited by its thicker (12% thickness:chord) straight wing. (the F-89 had a 9% thickness ratio, and F-94C 10% like the CF-100 -though the CF-100 used a simpler, pre-war era unmodified NACA 0010 airfoil rather than the laminar flow ones of the others, not that that made a huge difference given the symmetrical 00xx series had a lot of simialr aerodynamic behavior to laminar flow airfoils and 10% thickness was generally the edge for reasonable transonic performance without significant sweepback). Mach limits also puts a huge hindrance on speed at altitude, so sea level top speeds will be the most comparable. (the Panther was rather like the F-84G in respect to pushing right up against its .81~82 mach limit at sea level, though obviously with massive advantage in thrust to weight over the F-84, and more typical nose-down pitch mach tuck rather than the F-84's unusual violent pitch-up behavior)

    The Orenda 11 powered CF-100s had good thrust to weight ratio and particualrly good climb and acceleration compared to most of the others (Saber aside) in its role at the time, though I believe control forces still made for rather sluggish maneuverability. (not sure if boosted controls ever solved this, but I at least assume having empty wing-tip fuel tanks attached improved roll rate as it did for virtually all tip-tank installations on straight winged aircraft -F9F's fixed tip-tanks included)

    OTOH fitting Orenda 11s (or Avons or Sapphires -or US licensed counterparts) to the F-89 would have made up for quite a lot of its engine bound limitations and avoided the need for afterburning. (A J65 powered Scorpion would have been interesting)
     
  16. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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  17. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Interestingly, the 30 mm Oerlikon 302RK tested on the F-89 was a very powerful weapon. A revolver cannon, slower firing (1200 RPM) than the ADEN, but with a very high muzzle velocity of 1100 m/s for a 300.5g projectile. It certainly should have fit the USAF standards for short time in flight and good ballistics. (at the expensive of recoil and weight -more than twice the ADEN or M39 at 398 lbs, about the same as the late-WWII era high velocity M9 37 mm cannon used on PT boats and tested in the P-63, though the M9 only fired at 150 rpm)

    The 302 RK might have made a good anti-tank weapon ... sort of a precursor to the GAU-8.

    See:
    muzzle velocity | flight guns | rk | 1955 | 0108 | Flight Archive


    Given the weight, 2 of those cannons seems more reasonable on an interceptor rather than 4. (given the power and high RoF, 2 seems reasonable, though four M39s might have been more useful for some interceptions)
     
  18. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    Holy feck ! that is some firepower

    That gun was used as ventral pod in the JA37 Viggen.
     
  19. Zipper730

    Zipper730 Member

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    Turns out that in a thread, there was confusion over my responses to a multitude of members at the same time, as a result I'm going to better identify my responses


    michaelmaltby

    Post #2: 2/16/15

    As far as I know, the F-89 started out as a night-fighter (P-61 replacement) that ended up being used as an all-weather interceptor.

    As for night-fighters, most night-fighters were usually twin-seaters: The F4U, F6F, F7F-1N were exceptions to this and possibly the Defiant. Most night-fighters during WWII were essentially modified aircraft designed for other purposes: The only dedicated night-fighters I can readily think of are the P-61, the He-219, and Ta-154.

    As for twin-engines, it usually had to do with the ability to carry the radar and twin or multi-man crew. They were also usually designed for standing patrols, which required endurance and that shaped the size. The P-61 was also required to carry turrets for some reason, and actually the F-89 was also supposed to have a nose-turret that was removed for one reason or another.

    That was something I didn't know, but it's nice to know that the USAF had an all-weather jet flying around (the USN had the F3D by 1952 at least).

    Post #5: 2/16/15

    I assume you mean we got overconfident in our ability to stop enemy bombers?


    FLYBOYJ

    Post #3: 2/16/15

    I didn't know the radar had problems, though I know they had a variety of issues regarding the wings and fuel tanks.

    No, the F-89 flew first; then the F-94 and F-86D.


    Conslaw

    Post #6: 2/16/15

    I could believe it!

    Well one hit would blow a bomber apart, but the problem is they were kind of scattered out over an area the size of a football field in one blast. A machine gun would fire a stream of projectiles over a much narrower area: Even if the weight of fire didn't blow up the bomber outright, it doesn't matter as it has a substantial refire rate and has enough shells to fire for a certain number of seconds: This would allow you to walk the tracers onto the target and hold it there until the target goes down.

    I was under the impression that by the time these were used, we'd already be in a nuclear war.


    davparlr

    Post #9: 7/17/15

    You kind of hit the nail on the head with the armament.

    That would depend on a number of things, but a B-47 if I recall could fly quite high up (45,000-50,000 feet) and at that altitude still had a a decent amount of lift available for maneuvering (fighters had trouble staying with it).


    Graeme

    Post #16: 4/18/16

    What kind of rocket gun was used in the test?


    kool kitty 89

    Post #17: 5/5/16

    Yeah, becuase each shot did so much damage per hit

    Actually, the R4M might have been better as was better spin-stabilized and had eight fins to hold it steady. The 2.75" FFAR was not properly spin-stabilized early on and used only four-fins to hold it in steady and at least one pilot basically said he was amazed "we hit anything" with them.

    The rocket-pod seems like a good idea, not sure why they didn't go with it.
     
  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    No, the F-89 flew first; then the F-94 and F-86D.

    And that's not what I said

    "The F-94C was eventually replaced by the F-89 and F-86D but it stayed in service until 1959."

    Yes - the F-89 flew first but still replaced the F-94
     
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