Given the engines available, best FAA strike and fighters 1939-1940?

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
6,394
6,378
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
Given sufficient funding and attention but limited to the engines and tech available to designers in 1937-38 what’s the best we can acheive for FAA strike and single seat fighter aircraft by 1939-40? For example, the Merlin of 1937-38 wasn’t ideally tuned for hauling a heavy naval-spec fighter at low altitude. What of strike, can we do better than the Swordfish or Skua?

By 1938 the USN had introduced the Douglas TBD Devastator and the IJN the Nakajima B5N. Is a similar monoplane torpedo bomber realistic for the FAA? Maybe a Pegasus-powered Albacore, essentially an enclosed canopy Swordfish is the best we can get.
 
Last edited:

Shortround6

Major General
19,778
11,760
Jun 29, 2009
Central Florida Highlands
Given sufficient funding and attention but limited to the engines and tech available to designers in 1937-38 what’s the best we can acheive for FAA strike and single seat fighter aircraft by 1939-40?
A. Steal Merlin X engines from bomber command;
use as is or lock the supercharger drive in low gear.
B. Get RR to build Merlins using a 6.313 - 7.32 supercharger gear (Merlin X used 6.389 in low gear)
At least you have 1000-1080hp for take-off using 87 octane fuel.

By 1938 the USN had introduced the Douglas TBD Devastator and the IJN the Nakajima B5N

If the Merlin is years and several octane ratings away from giving sufficient power, what of the Rolls-Royce Exe for both strike and fighter applications
Decide what you want to do. The Devastator used a 850-900hp engine. That is easily achievable.

If you want 1200hp and up production engines in 1938-39 you are pushing things.
And it you are resorting to 24 cylinder engines to do what 12 cylinder engines could do there is something wrong.

The Exe ran well (?) in limited service, but the Sabre and the Bristol sleeve valves also ran well in prototype form. It was production engines that crapped out in spectacular fashion in early use. The Exe was noted for using unusually large amounts of oil. Easy to solve or not?
 

PFVA63

Airman 1st Class
166
156
Dec 7, 2010
Hi,
My thoughts would be to try and navalize either the Fairey Battle or the P.4/34. Either plane appears to be relatively similar in size to the Devastator and/or Kate and the naval attack mission may not be all that different from the base Battle and P.4/34 requirments.

Pat
 

Shortround6

Major General
19,778
11,760
Jun 29, 2009
Central Florida Highlands
Hi,
My thoughts would be to try and navalize either the Fairey Battle or the P.4/34. Either plane appears to be relatively similar in size to the Devastator and/or Kate and the naval attack mission may not be all that different from the base Battle and P.4/34 requirments.

Pat
Pull the machine guns out of a Fulmar, fit longer tail wheel, figure out where to put the radiator and away you go ;)
image-asset.jpg
 

ThomasP

Tech Sergeant
2,182
3,019
Apr 17, 2017
midwest USA
Possibly the RR Buzzard engine in a more developed version would be a realistic choice for a strike aircraft in 1939-40.

In tests around 1935, the un-supercharged* RR Buzzard was capable of 1060 BHP for TO and 825 BHP at 10,000 ft (using 87 octane).

*I do not think the Buzzard was ever fitted with a supercharger, but I am not sure of this.
 

Shortround6

Major General
19,778
11,760
Jun 29, 2009
Central Florida Highlands
The Buzzard had a supercharger. Boost wasn't very high.
But you need a new engine. It weighed about as much as a Peregrine while having the cylinders of a Griffon.

There is only so much power you could get out of an 1150lb engine without breaking it.
 

ThomasP

Tech Sergeant
2,182
3,019
Apr 17, 2017
midwest USA
Are you sure about the Buzzard having a supercharger? As of yet I have not been able to find any information for a production supercharged Buzzard or anything saying it even had one. The early engines using ~74 octane had to be throttled below ~10,000 ft to prevent blowing up the engine.

However, the output I mentioned for the Buzzard is supposed to be for an un-supercharged model.

PS I did say a more developed version.:)
 
Last edited:

Shortround6

Major General
19,778
11,760
Jun 29, 2009
Central Florida Highlands
Lumsden says supercharged but doesn't give boost level. Photos show a supercharger, much smaller than a type R supercharger.

Supercharger may not have boosted the actual power much but allowed for a few thousand ft more altitude?

Power ratings are bit strange, sometimes given at 2300rpm and sometimes (usually 825hp) at 2,000rpm/

Lumsden says 1540lbs for weight, wiki is wrong.

d79e97cadb32277a815f4401ec505d93--buzzard-kestrel.jpg


Note the side intakes to the carburetor, a lot of color photos of museum engines have the "horns" removed and blanking plates or screens fitted at the actual intakes.
The type R racing engines were developments of Buzzard and once the Merlin made it passed the ramp head era and into the "Speed Spit" era there was no point in going backwards.
Once the Merlin showed it could make 1600-1800hp and higher for hours without breaking then the problem became developing the fuel and supercharger/s to supply the engine with air and fuel.
 

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
6,394
6,378
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
But the Barracuda had a deeper fuselage than the Fulmar that allowed the radiators to be faired into the fuselage better.
Understood. We’re not limited to existing aircraft designs, just to existing British engines and tech of the time. So, we start with an aircraft optimized to carry a torpedo and then sort out the fuselage shape and radiator location. A chin radiator, like the Hawker Henley and later Barracuda might be ideal. There's also the underwing option of the Spitfire. There are very few single-engined, liquid cooled torpedo bombers to guide us. The Germans trialed some Stukas but canceled the project.

What about divebombers? Should the pre-war RN abandon the dual fighter-db role, or make their new torpedo bomber also high angle dive bomber capable; or just stick to torpedoes, level and low angle bombing and single seat fighters?
 
Last edited:

Macandy

Senior Airman
371
268
Aug 6, 2017
The FAA's issue wasn't technical per se, it was politics and doctrine.

The FAA under RAF tutelage in the 30's had developed no doctrine for the use of carriers as primary offensive platforms - so no need for a decent attack bomber.

The doctrine was a pedestrian fighter, just good enough Ito chase away enemy spotter planes, and Torpedo spotter planes to find, and if possible, slow down the enemies battleships so they could be brought to task by the Fleets battleships at with point the torpedo spotters spotted for the heavy guns.

This doctrine saw the laughably bad Swordfish brought into service, hopelessly obsolete before it even entered FAA service - BUT! - IT was a perfect match for the RN's requirement - a slow, long endurance spotting plane that could throw the odd torpedo at a battleship if the opportunity presented.

This was further compounded by the Air Ministry decision that naval aircraft would be designed by Fairey and Blackburn - rather poor and unadventurous designers of poor and unadventurous planes.


Both US and Japanese doctrine saw the carriers being used to strike land targets, so the bombers needed to be able to bomb as well as land bombers, and the fighters ended to be as good, or ideally better, take a bow Jiro Hirokoshi, than its land based adversaries.


And as regards the much maligned Douglas Devastator - its rather forgotten that when supported by fighters as it was supposed to be, it performed well in the first 6 months of the Pacific war. Even the much superior Avenger was very badly mauled in its first outing at Midway.
 

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
6,394
6,378
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
The FAA's issue wasn't technical per se, it was politics and doctrine.
That’s the gist of the thread. Change the doctrine. Now what’s possible?

Uncompetitive aircraft like the Swordfish aren’t a result of interwar RAF control of the FAA. I think the FAA got the aircraft they wanted. Had the FAA of 1937 said we want a monoplane bomber and single seat, monoplane fighter they would have got it. We first need to shake up the doctrine.
 

Macandy

Senior Airman
371
268
Aug 6, 2017
That’s the gist of the thread. Change the doctrine. Now what’s possible?

Uncompetitive aircraft like the Swordfish aren’t a result of interwar RAF control of the FAA. I think the FAA got the aircraft they wanted. Had the FAA of 1937 said we want a monoplane bomber and single seat, monoplane fighter they would have got it. We first need to shake up the doctrine.

Theres the problem though, how do you shake up a doctrine that is carved in stone as Gods Holy Writ?
A perfect example of the deranged British naval view of aircraft interwar? Look at the Blackburn Balckburn, a plane so bad, they named it twice!


The FAA was at the bleeding edge of naval aviation in 1918, and EVERYTHING was cast aside, literally everything. Look at the quartet of planes Herbert Smith, the Royal Navy's former favourite designer, designed for the IJN in the 20's when he set up Mistubishi aircraft, those where what the FAA really needed as its follow on planes in the 20's, but the Admirals didn't. Compare this lot with the contemporary Blackburn Blackburn!



ETS: Herbet Smith while almost unknown now in the UK, is known to every Japanese and highly revered.
 
Last edited:

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
6,394
6,378
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
Theres the problem though, how do you shake up a doctrine that is carved in stone as Gods Holy Writ?

ETS: Herbet Smith while almost unknown now in the UK, is known to every Japanese and highly revered.
There is hope. Before the A5M, D3A and B5N entered service between 1937-1940 the IJN’s aircraft were little better than what the FAA was operating. For example, below is the Nakajima A4N, introduced to IJN service in 1936, little better than the FAA’s Hawker Nimrod that entered service in 1933.

640px-95siki-kansen2.jpg


Here's the IJN's primary torpedo bomber the Yokosuka B4Y, introduced in the same year (1936) the Fairey Swordfish. It must have been a shock to their pilots when the IJN transitioned from the B4Y to the all-metal, retractable undercarriage, 235 mph Nakajima B5N Kate.

640px-96siki-kankou.jpg


We need someone in Britain’s Air Ministry and FAA to see the revolution happening in the IJNAS from 1936 onwards and follow suit.
 
Last edited:

Macandy

Senior Airman
371
268
Aug 6, 2017
There is hope. Before the A5M, D3A and B5N entered service between 1937-1940 the IJN’s aircraft were little better than what the FAA was operating. For example, below is the Nakajima A4N, introduced to IJN service in 1936, little better than the FAA’s Hawker Nimrod that entered service in 1933.

View attachment 693630

We need someone in Britain’s Air Ministry and FAA to see the revolution happening in the IJNAS and follow suit.


Indeed, but the whole culture was utterly toxic to naval aviation.
'I want to be a pilot'
The best pilots went to the RAF, the filtration system sent the also rans to the navy, it was a dead end career that didn't change until the end of the 30's.
Admirals were actively against naval aviation, the Big Gun was THE thing, carriers were explicitly seen as auxiliaries who's sole purpose was to support the Battleships, absolutely zero intellectual thought was ever applied to the use of air power as an offensive weapon. The Navy never got a proper bomber, but got planes explicitly seen as spotting planes, complete with chart tables and binnacle compasses!
It was no good any budding naval pilot asking for nice things - 'you don't need nice fighters, the carrier will never be within range of land based fighters'.
The doctrine that got armoured carriers - 'Oh no! the enemy has send bombers! Quick, strike down all the planes make like a tortoise! No one every gave the slightest intellectual thought to, 'maybe we should send up dozens of fighters and shoot them down'.

Even the French were a generation ahead of the Royal Navy in the 30's, the IJN and the USN? Light years ahead in doctrine, training, equipment and tactics.

And throughout the 20's and 30's, the RN was an observer, both invited and uninvited to the development of US and Japanese carrier aviation - but no one took the slightest care to learn a single lesson, let alone develop its own doctrine.

How far off the pace was the Royal Navy?
A thoroughly excellent read ; Amazon product

Its common belief the USN 'had' to use carriers after Pearl Harbor, nope, it had already developed its tactics to use them as its fleets primary offensive arm.
 

Admiral Beez

1st Lieutenant
6,394
6,378
Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
Indeed, but the whole culture was utterly toxic to naval aviation.
Agreed, and that needs to change. We need a revolutionary figure in the Air Ministry and FAA to see opportunities for improvement. And it's not impossible. For example, look at the Blackburn Skua, the first ever all metal, folding wing, retractable undercarriage divebomber. When it entered service in 1937 the IJN's dive bomber was the Aichi D1A and the USN's the SBC. The USN and IJN wouldn't match the Skua's spec until the SB2C Helldiver and Yokosuka D4Y both entered service in 1942, a year after the Skua retired and five years after its first flight. Even the French beat them to a Skua-like spec with the ultimately terrible, but innovative Loire-Nieuport LN.401 dive bomber.

Now like the LN.401, the Skua DB/fighter was ultimately a flawed design, but it shows that as far back as 1936 or earlier (Spec was 1934) someone in the Air Ministry and FAA saw the potential in an all metal, folding wing, monoplane, retractable undercarriage aircraft. This was leading edge, revolutionary thinking for carrier aircraft at the time. Put that same thinking and specifications into separate torpedo bomber and single seat fighter designs and we have the potential for revolutionary improvement in the FAA.
 
Last edited:

Shortround6

Major General
19,778
11,760
Jun 29, 2009
Central Florida Highlands
There were various factions in the FAA and in most navies of the time, just like in the air forces. They had different ideas as the roles needed, both current and future.
British had this 1921.
et5yiop.jpg


Which looks cool, but it illustrates the actual problems with aircraft design and technology.
A single seat torpedo bomber!!!
The way to the future like the Skyraider...............................................except.
The reason for the 1 man crew was that they didn't have enough engine power to lift the torpedo and a 2nd crewman at the same time.
There was also no machine gun, even fixed and combined with the 105mph top speed (granted with torpedo) it meant it couldn't out run ANYTHING.
There was also no radio (?) which means the ability to be used a dual purpose torpedo/recon-scout plane was rather limited.
Wiki gives a range of 410 miles but another source says "normal range 300 miles".

They built 114 of them not counting prototypes and few extras and saw service until the late 20s and early 30s.
Partially due to low budgets by replace them unless you have something significantly different? an extra 10mph or an extra 50 miles range was not going to change things.
You needed a more powerful engine and you needed better knowledge, This thing landed at 55mph, An Avenger was supposed to land at 70kts with it's torpedo still on board.
During the 1920s most carriers didn't use cross wise arresting gear until the end of decade.
Air staffs could dream of 200mph torpedo bombers attacking in waves of dozens of aircraft. They didn't have the engines, airframes or even the space on the existing carrier decks hold that many planes.
Part of the British problem in the 1930s was that they didn't have carriers capable of holding the aircraft that would make this "No one every gave the slightest intellectual thought to, 'maybe we should send up dozens of fighters and shoot them down'." You want three dozen fighters? you need the Courageous, Furious and Glorious all operating together.
You could put three dozen fighters on a carrier but what was the point? you don't have space for any strike aircraft or even recon aircraft.
The thought may have been there, slow development also hurt the idea. It took around 4 years to build a large carrier, it should NOT have taken 4 years to design and build a monoplane single seat fighter. They were putting out requirements in 1937 (?).
 

Users who are viewing this thread