Frontline bomber for the RAF in 1939/40: any thoughts?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Mar 1, 2009.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The one of things RAF lacked in 1939/40 was a top-notch frontline/light bomber. Fairey Battle was available, but it was not up for the task when opposed by enemy fighters and/or decent Flak*.

    What would you like to see in that role?


    *I know that at least parity in air superiority was needed for those bombers to be efficient, but Battle itself (and similar stuff in other AFs) was nearing obsolenscence.
     
  2. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    The Battle was eliminated in droves because the RAF failed to gain air superiority over the target. As a light bomber, it was as good as anything else in the RAF at the time - the only other alternatives I can think of were the Blenheim and the Wellesley (which really was obsolete).
     
  3. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    My opinion is that Battle and other planes in RAF's inventory were not up to the task. Many were indeed shot down by fighters, but many were also lost by ground fire (13, 7 and 5 from 10th-12th may 1940 respectively; 35 lost by both AAA and fighters on 14th may).

    My point is: what kind of design would suit the harsh realities of the 1939/40 on the Western front?
     
  4. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I would have used the Skua to replace the Battle. As a dive bomber it wasn't far off the Ju87B and stood a better chance against fighters than the Battle as well as being in production.
     
  5. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I'm not sure how taking losses to flak equates to being 'not up to the task' :?: I am no apologist for the poor state of the UK's armed forces in 1939-40, as you know, but the Battle was not as 'obsolete' as popular history would have us believe. Had you sent Skuas, Dauntlesses, or even Stukas into action against heavily defended targets without proper escort, you would have suffered the same horrendous loss rate - in fact, the Stukas did just a few months later over South East England.

    I will agree with Glider that the Skua would have made a better delivery system, and may have had slightly more chance against fighters, but given the internecine bickering between the Admiralty and the Air Ministry, it would have been nigh on impossible to get the type into service with the RAF.

    What would have lowered the Battle's loss rate significantly was the establishment of local air superiority over the target by fighter sweeps; the provision of adequate close escort; and the effective suppression of enemy air defence assets by fighter-bombers prior to the arrival of the strike package. Tragically for the crews of the light bombers, these tactics were still a year or more in the future for the RAF, and as such the light bombers were sent into a situation in which they could have no real chance of survival.
     
  6. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    How about Hawker Henley, a bit late arrival, maybe.
     
  7. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    In service as a tug, the Henley was restricted to a speed of 220mph due to a high rate of engine failures. So it would have been even less effective than the Battle, I think, and still subject to the same tactical limitations.
     
  8. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    BombTaxi, my point is: what kind of a design would you like to have for the task, not what existing type you would like to see in RAF 1939/40. And I know too that Allies failed many times to provide cover for bombers.

    In order to lead the thread in intended direction, I'll propose the Handley Page Cropped Hampden:
    -the lower part of fuselage deleted, so only 2 crew members: pilot and rear gunner
    -wing span reduced by some 1,5m
    -armor for both crew members (so the threat by Flak is reduced)
    -Boulton Paul rear turret (from Defiant)
     
  9. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]
    The A-20 was in production during the fall of 1939. And they are relatively inexpensive, with a price of $136,813 each. What more could you ask for?
     
  10. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    I disagree (with Bomb Taxi). The Henley, had it been selected for its intended role, would have undergone more thorough development than it actually did. It was powered by the RR Merlin engine and equipped with a Fairey Reed or De Havilland propeller so the problem would hardly have proven insurmountable, however for a mere target tug why bother when a speed limitation will work?

    The Henley, using the Hurricane wing, would also have taken forward firing guns more easily than the Battle and being smaller, lighter, faster and more manouverable would have a better chance of survival. As the Merlin increased in power so the performance of the Henley would have gone up also. However without local air supremacy it would still have been a carve up.

    The Fairey Battle was not inferior to the Ju-87 in any way as an airframe, in some ways it was more modern than the German plane. It handicap was the requirement it was built to and the circumstances of its deployment. I reckon that If the Germans had the Battle and the RAF had the Stuka the outcomes would not have differed in any way. But the Henley would I think have been the better option for the RAF, If only it could have been produced.

    The RAF did have the Douglas Boston, the first used as light bombers were the Boston III and these only became operational in 1941 so they miss the timeline.

    As an ideal design though, as the thread is asking for, I would suggest something akin to this might have worked?

    [​IMG]
     
  11. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Good point Dave, the Boston was a contender in that timeframe, and the RAF had some considerable success with it when they finally took it up.

    Tomo, my main point is that the design of the Battle was not particularly at fault - but the tactics it used in action were. So I would change those tactics before trying to come up with alternate airframes. After all, diverting any production of the Hampden (then considered a 'heavy' bomber), would have detracted from offensive ops against Germany at a time when these ops were needed for both military and morale purposes.
     
  12. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Waynos, missed your post while typing mine :doh: What is that in your pic? Is it the Fairey contender for the Henley spec? :?:
     
  13. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Its a Beaufighter NF.2, two of which were built and tested with Boulton Paul turrets. Like the Boston its a little too late for the timeline but as it was tested and showed the Turret operated fully even at dives of 400mph I thought it would do well for tomo's thread
     
  14. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Just done a bit of research and the last specification issued by the Air Ministry for a single engined light bomber in the Battle mould was B.20/40 and Fairey's design for this was a scaled down version of the Barracuda. Hawker offered an improved Henley called the P.1006 in competition but neither was ordered as the requirement was dropped.
     
  15. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    i think go to hurricane as fighter bomber, and fast development of Beaufort/Beaufighter. Battle and other very light bomber can attack only target w/o defence
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Good point, Dave. French AF used it with good sucess from 1940 onward.

    Same goes for Martin Model 167, quote about it from Wiki (for what is worth):

    The same a/c was named Maryland of course in RAF service.
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Nice shot, Waynos.
    I'd like one of these, with Hercules instead of Merlins, please :)
     
  18. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

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    license production of either the polish PZL-38, the french Br-691/3 or the dutch Fokker G1 would give Britain a better low level ground attack plane in the 1939 timeframe. Given the strong relations to britain and the aviability of it, I would prefer the Br-691 with bristol Taurus engines but Perseus engines instead should work, too.
     

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  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    How about this baby, with British engines, and defensive armament comprising of 4 MG turret? The empty weight of a plain SM-79 was 4 tons less then of of Hampden, or 3 tons less then Maryland...

    [​IMG]
     
  20. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    for true the 79 was heaviest of hamp and maryland, and commonly w/o turret
     
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