Fulmar torpedo bomber?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Hurricane IIc, Nov 6, 2009.

  1. Hurricane IIc

    Hurricane IIc New Member

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    Hello -
    Since the Fairey Fulmar was such a good aircraft overall, only lacking speed, I have always thought it should have been used as a multi-role plane instead of a fighter:
    First, with the dive-bombing equipment from the Skua (I had read that test pilot Eric Brown stated it was stressed for dive-bombing) and it's forward-firing armament I think it could have been very useful in the Mediterranean as an attack plane with the 500 lb SAP bomb.
    Second, with a torpedo, instead of the slow biplane Swordfish which could be used from CVE's instead of fleet carriers. This would give the Royal Navy's fleet carriers more modern monoplane airgroups, along with Hurricanes, or possibly single-seat Boulton-Paul Defiants (P.94) as fighters, all using the same type of engine if that would be advantageous.

    So has anyone calculated if the Fulmar could have carried a torpedo? The Fulmar looks so low to the ground, maybe it just looks that way due to it's length, but I don't have any measurements for ground clearance.

    Thanks very much,
    Hurricane IIc
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Welcome to the forum, Hurricane II.

    1st, let me disagree that Fulmar was such a great aircraft - if a fighter plane lacks speed on a day it enters service, it's hardly a great one.
    Now to the question.
    Even though I've never see a torp under Fulmar's hull, we can draw paralels from another planes of similar shape, size power. The closest I can find is Nakajima 'Kate', with 1000HP, about same wing span (but shorter then Fulmar), but weighting loaded almost as much as Fulmar weighted empty. Since UK torps weighted 750kg, I doubt that it would be possible carrying them successfully until Fulmar received 1300HP Merlin 30 engine.

    The 500, or even 1000lb bomb seems much better choice for me.
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Part of the considerations when thinking about "modifing" existing aircraft are their take-off and landing characteristics.

    The Fulmar had the smallest wing of the 3 planes mentioned here even if the MK II did have the most powerful engine.
    In order to be a successful torpedo bomber the plane has to be able to get off the carrier deck with the torpedo.

    The Fulmar might have had a mininum flying speed 8-12 mph faster than either of the two torpedo bombers mentioned here.
    The Fulmar was also carrying well over 400lbs of guns and ammo. Leave 6 guns and 3000rounds behind and you just might get to carry more bombs:)

    See the Fairey Barracuda for a Merlin powered torpedo bomber. Note the extra power, larger wing and rather extraordinary flap system.

    Most WW II carriers did not have catapaults.
     
  4. Hurricane IIc

    Hurricane IIc New Member

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    Thanks for the comparisons -
    and yes I agree I would have liked to see the Merlin 30 (or even 32 for that matter) to help get a heavily-loaded Fulmar off the deck.
    Thanks again
     
  5. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Yes quite correct Tomo, here we are agreed. :D "Barely adequate" would be a better description.

    I would be happy with a pair of 500's :|
     
  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Fulmar with Merlin 32 (1640 HP) would have far better power-loading then both Firefly* and Barracuda , while already beating them in wing-loading category (= it would be able to carry a torpedo or heavy bomb load). ABS radar, two or four cannons, plus perhaps those retractable flaps. A couple of MGs at back would be nice to have.
    The fictional Fulmar 32 would be available from early 1943. Replacing Swordfish, Albacore. Produced instead of Firefly and Barracuda.

    Then produce a Centurus powered twin seater, to have something powerful before jet age.

    *now that I wrote this, the original Fulmar II had better power-loading then Barracuda II.
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Oops, my bad, Fulmar could've hauled just 2 x 250lb :oops:
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Just maybe it had these lower power and wing loadings because it wasn't carrying torpedo?:rolleyes:

    Try adding 1620lbs (for the weight of the torpedo) to the weight of the Fulmar and running the wing loading and power loading numbers again.

    You might want to check on that "ABS radar, two or four cannons" stuff also. A single 20mm cannon weighs 25-30lbs more than four .303 brownings and while th Fulame carried a rather large amount of .303 ammo, 20mm ammo is not light stuff.

    I an assuming the British had some reason for building those two aircraft rather than just sticking a more powerful engine in the Fulmar.

    As for the Centurus powered twin seater see: Fairey Spearfish - torpedo bomber

    Fairey Spearfish aircraft profile. Aircraft Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945

    Of course if you leave out the rear seater you get : Blackburn firebrand aircraft profile. Aircraft Database of the Fleet Air Arm Archive 1939-1945
     
  9. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Boscombe Down played with a Fulmar Mk II (X8757) in June 1942 in an attempt to arm it with bombs. They discovered that it could only carry one British 250 lb or 500 lb bomb. The American equivalent couldn't be carried as the rear crutches proved to be too long. Based on this, I suspect carrying a torpedo would have been impossible. Adequate clearance from the propeller on release of the bombs in dives were achieved up to 60 degrees and 357 mph.
    (Bit of trivia. It took two men 40 minutes to rearm the four 0.5 in wing guns. Considered far too long, thirteen modifications were recommended. )
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Was that bomb carried under hull?
     
  12. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    As far as I know, yes, under the fuselage. I'm not sure if the Mk II had a similar catapult spool as the Mk I but another thought is that any long weapon such as a torpedo would certainly interfere with this...

    [​IMG]
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thanks, Graeme.
    Perhaps we could agree that, if an requirement for torpedo-carrying capability for 'Fulmar 32'was included, the under-carriage would've received souped-up legs wheels to cater for that. Of course, the stronger U/C would be needed to enable greater weights of the upgraded plane.
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You don't try to fly empty airplanes of off of carrier decks so I would say that your comparison is less than valid.

    Some weight figures.

    Albacore 7250lbs empty, 10,460 max loaded.
    Fulmar 7015lbs empty, 10,200max loaded.
    Barracuda 10818 9800lbs empty 14,080 max loaded.
    Firefly I 9750lbs empty 14,020lbs loaded.

    Please note that the later two planes have a useful load about 1000lbs greater than the Fulmar. you just can't decide to load another 1000lbs into an aircraft and go on your merry way.

    Both later plans used high lift flap systems the Fulmar did not have. Both later planes were stressed to operate at the higher weights.

    Perhaps part of the reason that the Firefly could carry the 4 20mm cannon? Off course if you don't put any ammo in the plane and don't put any fuel in the tanks the Fulmar will continue to have a better power to weight ratio:rolleyes:

    "The purchase politics were a problematic issue for FAA..."

    I have no idea what you are getting at here. Since all three planes were designed and manufactured (initially) by the same company I have no idea what supposed benifit they would have gotten by switching form one to another if they didn't have to.

    Souped up under carriage weighs more and may take up more room in the wing.
     
  15. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    No, your comparison is not valid.

    To get the plane into the air you need a certain minimum speed. THe faster the plane is moving the more lift the wing generates. The heavier the plane is the more lift it needs and for a given wing configuration the faster it needs to be going.
    To get more lift at the same speed you need;
    1. a different airfoil
    2. more wing area
    3. A high lift device that will work at the angle of attack you are using.
    4. a combination of the above.

    Trying to use the empty weight of an airplane to compare take-off or landing requirements is not valid. It is the wing loading/lift characteristics and power loading of the LOADED airplane that determine the take-off characteristics. And the wing loading/lift chacteristics of the plane in landing configuration (bombs gone, what percentage of fuel remaining.etc) that determines landing speed.

    Planes are stressed to a "normal" operating weight. It may or may not be the Max take-off weight depending on the intial specification. If a plane is stressed to,say, 6 "G"s while weighing 10,000lbs, loading another 1500lbs into the plane means the plane should now not exceed 5.2 "G"s, to have the same safety margin as it had originally.
    Now this may be easy to do if all the extra weight is from the torpedo but if the extra weight is from 20mm guns, rear guns, extra fuel for the more powerful engine, heavier landing gear and such, the restrictions on manuever may not be acceptable to the users. Beefing up the structure to restore the "G" loading will result is SOME increase in empty weight which will either require a loss of payload or an even higher wing loading at take-off which means better catapults or more wind over the flight deck.

    Please also note that the latter two planes had a longer range than the Fulmar. this required both more fuel and larger (heavier) fuel tanks.
    You may argue that the extra range was not nececcary but don't try to say that a torpedo carring Fulmar had the SAME capabilities as the the latter two airplanes. Or is this an example of the "politics"of FAA procurement? asking for more capability in a newere airplane?

    a few other points :

    I said"You might want to check on that "ABS radar, two or four cannons" stuff also. A single 20mm cannon weighs 25-30lbs more than four .303 brownings and while th Fulame carried a rather large amount of .303 ammo, 20mm ammo is not light stuff. "

    you replied "If the Firefly could take 4 Hispanos in the air, there is no reason why 'Fulmar 32' wouldn't be able to do the same, moreso since it would have far better power- wing-loading figures. "

    to which I replied "Both later plans used high lift flap systems the Fulmar did not have. Both later planes were stressed to operate at the higher weights.

    Perhaps part of the reason that the Firefly could carry the 4 20mm cannon? Off course if you don't put any ammo in the plane and don't put any fuel in the tanks the Fulmar will continue to have a better power to weight ratio"

    and now you are compaining that I didn't note you said 2-4 to begin with?:rolleyes:
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Yep, says me, unless you have something to condradict it. Can you find any source that says wing loading of an empty plane indicates anything about take off or landing performance?

    As for

    "You've forgot to add
    5. the lighter plane needs less lift, canceling out the 4 points from above text
    And that works just fine for' Fulmar 32', as well as for other designs for more then a century.
    Fulmars did have flaps, perhaps not as efficient as Fairey-Youngman type, but usable anyway."

    Perhaps you failed to note that the Fulmar had a smaller wing. As in 342 sq. ft. trying to support 10,200pounds max loaded weight for a wing loading of 29.8lb/sq.ft. add in a 1680 torpedo and another 39pounds of "extras" like a rack for said torpedo and you have a wing loading exactly that of a Barracuda at max gross weight.

    And guess what, Sticking in the Merlin 32 means you need a 4 blade propeller to get all the performance out of it. Do able but the 4 blade prop does weigh more.

    Fulmars did have flaps, that is true, but not all flaps are really useable for take off or maybe provide only a small margin of imrovement. The Youngman flaps like Fowler flaps not only increase the co-effeicent of lift but increase the wing area.

    Going on to "'don't try to say'??
    Should I take this serious?"

    Yep, take it serious. If the original Fulmar had about 2/3 the range of a Barracuda or Firefly don't try to tell me it is going to have more anymore range than did originally while carring a torpedo. Unless of course you don't count range as a capability.

    "They were better then the planes to be replaced (biplanes Fulmar), but hardly the world beaters."

    Are you talking about politics or policy? They are not the same thing.
    Politics would be about which factorie/designers got contracts for a certain type of plane. Policy would be about what type of plane or the what characteristics a type of plane should have.

    "Okay, 2 cannons are fine for me.
    But, Hurricane managed to receieve 4 cannons instead of 8 MGs, so the thing would be feasible for Fulmar."

    You might want to check out the performance differences between a Hurricane II A (eight MGs), a IIB (twelve MGs) and the IIC with four cannon. Check climb rates in addition to top speeds. Then consider the Hurricane MK I started with the Merlin MK III while the MK IIs had the Merlin XX which had a two speed supercharger. The Merlin 32 was a cropped impellor job that had a single speed and was set up to give max power at fairly low altitude.
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    This took some time, but it was worth it (all data from Wikipedia, so sue me). The plane at the top of a list is 'better' then a plane at bottom.

    Code:
    [B]Wing loading:[/B]
    
    Fulmar II(max t/o, original):                            29,5 lb/ft^2    (28,3 for loaded weight)
    B6N (max):                                                    31 lb/ft^2
    SB2C-3 (improved SB2C, 1944, loaded weight):                      32,6 lb/ft^2
    Barracuda (max take off wing loading):             35 lb/ft^2       (31 lb/ft^2 for loaded weight)
    [B]Fulmar '32' (max  norml t/o weights up 2500lb): 37 lb/ft^2   (35,6 lb/ft^2 loaded weight)[/B]
    Avenger (loaded, not max!):                                                 36,5 lb/ft^2
    F6F-5 (max):                                                  46,2 lb/ft^2   ( 37,7 lb/ft^2 for loaded weight) 
    Firebrand Tf Mk. IV( the improved version, max): 42,5 lb/ft^2  (41 lb/ft^2 for loaded weight)
    Firefly Mk.I (loaded!):                                                           42,7 lb/ft^2 
    F4U-1A (loaded!):                                                                44 lb/ft^2
    Skyraider(max):                                                62,4 b/ft^2    (45 lb/ft^2 for loaded weight)
    
    [B]Power loading:[/B]
    
    F4U-1A (loaded!, 2250 HP):                                                  0,160 hp/lb
    Firebrand Tf Mk. IV (as above):                        0,154 hp/lb   ( 0,160 hp/lb for loaded weight)
    B6N (max):                                                     0,150 hp/lb
    F6F-5 (max):                                                 0,130 hp/lb   ( 0,159 hp/lb for loaded weight)
    SB2C-3 (as above):                                                             0,139 hp/lb 
    [B]Fulmar '32' (max, upgraded as above):             0,129 hp/lb    (0,135 hp/lb for loaded weight)[/B]
    Fulmar II (original, max weight):                       0,127 hp/lb    (0,134 hp/lb for loaded weight)
    Barracuda (max take off power loading):           0,116 hp/lb    (0,130 hp/lb for loaded weight)
    Skyraider(max):                                              0,108 hp/lb    (0,149 for for loaded weight)
    Firefly Mk.I (loaded!):                                                            0,123 hp/lb 
    Avenger (1900 hp, loaded!):                                                  0,106 hp/lb
    
    
    
    I've decided to up the normal and max weight for Fulmar '32' (= Merlin 32 on board, my proposal), taking into account a weight difference between what Firefly could carry under slung (1500lb difference), airframe strenghtening, and a galon or two of fuel. In such a configuration the payload would be increased vs. Firefly for some 400lbs.
    The fighter choice for comparison (F4U F6F) were the ones capable to carry a lot of ordnance to a decent range.

    Since Fulmar '32' is comfortable in the mid of both tables, I'd say the design was very much feasible back in mid WW2.
     
  20. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    #20 freebird, Nov 19, 2009
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2009

    I'm not sure what this is supposed to be, it seems that we are re-inventing the wheel here...
    There was an "Improved Fulmar" - it's called the Firefly. :lol:

    Yes perhaps you COULD re-design the Fulmar into a torpedo plane, but that isn't what the FAA wanted. They already had the Barracuda at the prototype stage, and were negotiating with the US to buy Avenngers. What was needed (in the minds of the FAA) was a 2-seat FB/DB/Recon aircraft, which is what the Firefly project was.

    In my mind a FB/DB would be better than a FB/TB as if your DB was bounced it could jettison and engage the enemy, wheras if a TB was forced to jettison it would be at the disadvantage of being close to sea level where it would have to try to face interceptors.

    Anyways, lets look at the numbers:
    Fulmar 10,200max loaded.
    Firefly 14,020lbs loaded.

    I have the Fulmar I with a single hardpoint, 250 lb max, while the Firefly carries 2,000 lbs

    So a loaded aircraft WITHOUT BOMBS
    Fulmar 9,950 max loaded.
    Firefly 12,020lbs loaded.

    I have the range of the Firefly 1,364 miles, Fulmar 783 miles.
    I'm trying to find out the capacity of these aircraft, I think the Fulmar is the same as the Barracuda, 226 imp. gal internal, while the Firefly is 360? (Shortround do you have this data?)

    So if the Firefly has about 140 gal more fuel capacity thats (140 x 7.5 lb) or about 1,050 lbs more fuel in the Firefly
    (Avgas = 6 lbs/gal US or 7.5 lbs/gal Imperial)

    Subtract that extra weight from the Firefly

    Fulmar 9,950
    Firefly 10,980

    Thus the Firefly vs Fulmar (w/o bombs and similar fuel) is only 1,000 heavier - so where is the extra weight

    1.) The Firefly has 640 rounds of 20mm ammo, so including the heavier weight of the guns the Firefly probably has 200 - 400 lbs heavier for armament.

    2.) Does anyone know the Oxy apparatus in the 2 aircraft? The Fulmar has a ceiling of 16,000 ft so may not need it, but the Firefly goes up to 29,000 ft, so I would think it would?

    3.) I think Shourtround quoted 200 - 300 lbs heaver engine, is that correct?

    4.) The airframe would need substantial modifications, as it's rated 60 mph faster, stressed for dive bombing, and has additional hardpoints.


    I suspect that the empty/loaded weights are Wiki data they may not be accurate, as the Fulmar is listed as 3,200 lbs heavier and the Firefly 4,250 heavier, even though the Firefly's load is about 2,700lbs more than the Fulmar (more fuel bombs)


    In any event, why would the British need to build any Sea Hurricanes, Fireflies Seafires etc, as they were equipping RN carriers with Corsairs in the winter of 41/42!!!!

    Huh? What? :confused:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Formidable_(67)

    I'm sure if Wiki says that the RN had Corsairs at the beginning of '42, it must be true right? :)
     
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