Hawkers and Vickers/Supermarine

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by pinehilljoe, Aug 15, 2016.

  1. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2016
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Maybe our UK friends can respond. Why did Vicker/Supermarine keep tweeking the Spitfire, and Hawkers allowed Sydney Camm to produce new designs like the Tempest and Typhoon? We all love the Spit but I think Hawkers was right in looking at clean sheets of paper for the next generation fighter.
     
  2. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    4,179
    Likes Received:
    167
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Hobart Tasmania
    Supermarine did submit designs for consideration for the next generation fighter, specifically the twin Merlin types 324 (tractor) and 325 (pusher). They further refined their design as the Type 327 with 6 x 20mm cannon in response to a request for a cannon fighter back up to the Whirlwind.

    In the first case Hawker's Tornado and Typhoon were selected for development over Supermarine's (and several other's) designs. These were supposed to replace the Hurricane and Spitfire in service.

    In the latter case the result was cannon armed Typhoons (eventually) and the Beaufighter.

    The Spitfire was far more advanced than the Hurricane, and a much better basis for improvement.
     
  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    You just need to look at the results historically, really. The Spit fitted with the High Altitude Merlin and then Griffon was a winner from the start and readdressed the balance of capability from the Bf 109F and Fw 190 to the Spitfire again and the Tempest, whilst an excellent fighter, the first Hawker replacements for the Spit and Hurri were not; the Tornado canned because the Vulture engine was discontinued and the Typhoon because it didn't make a good interceptor.
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,761
    Likes Received:
    792
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    It wasn't quite like that. The companies involved could submit designs on paper to the air ministry. The Air Ministry decided which aircraft proposals would go forward to the prototype and/or production stages. Or at least which ones the government would pay for and provide engines and equipment for.
    Constant (or ongoing) evaluation/development was also being done and the Spitfire, with 'tweeks' was able to meet operational needs. The Hurricane was soon obsolete as a fighter and the Typhoon also fell on it's face as a fighter (in part due to the tied shoelaces of it's thick wing, recommended or at least not discouraged by the RAE). Hawker needed new designs to stay in the game of fighter design/construction or become a bomber maker.
     
  5. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Both the Hurricane and Spitfire should have been replaced by fighters powered by the Sabre or Vulture, events overtook the planning. Happily the Spitfire/Merlin could be developed to eventually be a 2000BHP fighter while the Typhoon/Tempest eventually got there as fighter bomber and low level fighter. The aircraft designer has no control over the engine production, rationalisation of engines around the Merlin put paid to a lot of projects.

    In the end though Hawkers with the Hurricane Typhoon and Tempest produced almost the same number of AC as Supermarine and since the Spit Typhoon and Tempest had different strengths and weaknesses it was probably advantageous to have all three in 1944/45 than just one.
     
  6. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    4,179
    Likes Received:
    167
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Hobart Tasmania
    Mainly due to the Hurricane, many of which were produced after it probably should have stopped production.
     
  7. pinehilljoe

    pinehilljoe Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2016
    Messages:
    134
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Over 3000 Hurricanes were sent to the Soviet Union. It was probably expedient to keep it in production. Hawker was tooled to make Hurricanes, just like Bell was tooled to make the P-39 ( more than 4000 to the Soviets) , another plane one could question why production continued as long as it did. Stalin said quantity has a quality all its own.
     
  8. KiwiBiggles

    KiwiBiggles Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Grey Lynn
    At the risk of being provocative, perhaps Hawker were just better than Supermarine at making aeroplanes. A simple list of successful designs post-1935 is instructive:

    Hawker:
    Hurricane
    Typhoon
    Tempest
    Fury/Sea Fury
    Sea Hawk
    Hunter
    Harrier

    Supermarine:
    Spitfire
    Sea Otter

    Pretty sad when you rely on the Sea Otter to double your count of successful designs.

    I guess you could call the Supermarine Attacker and Swift as kind-of successful, but only if you don't compare them to their Hawker equivalents (Sea Hawk, Hunter). Otherwise, the Supermarine roll-call is a pretty-much unbroken list of failures.
     
  9. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    A bit generalised there, Kiwibiggles and in no way does a variety of types give any indication of greater success over a competitor, certainly not in this case. For starters, more Spitfires were built than any other British fighter by a large margin; in fact no other single type of British built aeroplane will ever exceed the total of Spitfire airframes built.

    Let's also go a little into detail; by the time Supermarine produced the Spitfire, it was part of the giant Vickers Armstrongs conglomerate and it is due to that firm's infrastructure that it was able to build the Spitfire in numbers. Supermarine was traditionally known as a supplier of flying boats in small numbers, so building fighters was far outside its usual territory and came about fortuitously from the Schneider Trophy winning combination of Mitchell's airframes and Roll-Royce's engines and until those racing seaplanes, Supermarine aeroplanes were not known for speed or manoeuvrability. You're also forgetting the Walrus in that list; one of the great aircraft of its age.

    Hawker, on the other hand were; the basis of the firm was the former Sopwith Aviation Company at Kingston upon Thames, whose fighters were renown. Hawker continued this tradition until the Hawk; the last Hawker design to be produced, so not really worthy of comparison in terms of fighters. In saying that however, Supermarine design staff produced what is far and away the most successful and most well known British aeroplane; they got something right.
     
    • Informative Informative x 2
  10. KiwiBiggles

    KiwiBiggles Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Grey Lynn
    As I said, I was being a bit provocative. I of course am in awe, like most people, of the Spitfire in general. But it must be acknowledged that Supermarine had a pretty-much unbroken succession of failures after the Spitfire, whereas Hawker made some of the most successful and iconic British aircraft of the post-war period.

    I would contend that under Mitchell and Shenstone, Supermarine were in the lucky position of combining great engineering with cutting-edge aerodynamics, and so were able to design the Spitfire. Without their two great engineers, Supermarine produced pedestrian, dead-end designs.

    ...for some value of great. The Shagbat may be regarded with considerable affection. It would be a bold claim to list it with the greats.
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Bacon Bacon x 1
  11. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    yep, bold indeed; but I do think it is one of the greats, because of the feats it carried out and that it did its job, which was admittedly a mundane one, very well indeed. Aircrew shot down at sea would probably disagree with it not being one of the greats. You don't hear about the Walrus being described in a less than positive light. Maybe I'm offering it too much praise?
     
  12. KiwiBiggles

    KiwiBiggles Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Grey Lynn
    This argument closely parallels one in another thread, regarding the Swordfish. Was the aircraft significant in itself, or just because it carried out a vital role? Although the Walrus gave valiant service throughout the war, there was nothing as far as I am aware that was particularly significant about it in itself.
     
  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2011
    Messages:
    3,743
    Likes Received:
    439
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Aircraft Engineer
    Location:
    Nelson
    You're probably right there Kiwibiggles, but I'm not claiming the Shagbat was a game changer as Parsifal does the Swordfish! :)
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,515
    Likes Received:
    944
    Trophy Points:
    113
    One of the great what ifs is how would Supermarine's bomber to B.12/36 have developed, had the Luftwaffe not intervened?
    It is possible that we would be speaking today of that design in similar terms to which we speak of the Lancaster.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  15. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,231
    Likes Received:
    411
    Trophy Points:
    83
    The Hurricane was a design of itself which drew heavily from the fury bi plane.
    The Typhoon was a design of itself, the Tempest was a Typhoon with thin wings and the fury /sea fury was a lightened or navalised Tempest.

    Supermarine and the nation liked the name Spitfire and so there were 22 marques given the name, the seafire started as a modified spitfire and reflects that in its name, without a Supermarine Spitfire the name Supermarine Seafire is a nonsense.
     
  16. KiwiBiggles

    KiwiBiggles Member

    Joined:
    Aug 3, 2008
    Messages:
    133
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Engineer
    Location:
    Grey Lynn
    The implication that Supermarine produced lots of different designs, and just happened to call them all Spitfire because they liked the name, is far of the mark. Most development of the Spitfire was fairly simple re-engining, from I to II to V to IX to XII without any significant airframe changes. There is an interesting volume in the official British history History of the Second World War, HMSO, on British weapon development (M.M.Postan, D.Hay, J.D.Scott, Design and Development of Weapons (London 1964)). In it they examine Spitfire development in some depth. I don't have the volume in front of me at the moment, but from memory they stated that the initial Spitfire development was about 1,000,000 man-hours, and subsequent development about 100,000 man hours. The aim of their argument was that by starting with a superb initial design, subsequent development became cheap and incremental. All marks of Spitfire until the 21 were essentially the same aircraft, with incremental improvements. I accept that calling the 450-odd marks 21-24 "Spitfire"was probably sentimental. It was a new design; just not a very good one.

    I would suggest that the development of the Tempest from the Typhoon was a far larger undertaking than any Spitfire mark upgrade. I think we are often fooled by the lookalike engine installation of the Tempest V into thinking of it as just a cleanup. Of course it involved a completely new wing, a new fuselage, several new engine installations and probably more.

    I agree that the Seafire is essentially the same as the Spitfire, which is why I didn't list it as a separate design.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,761
    Likes Received:
    792
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    #17 Shortround6, Aug 17, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016

    Or not :)
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    There is a diagram in Tony Buttler's book "British secret projects" that shows how the original swept wing version would hold 29 500lb bombs.
    [​IMG]
    Nine were in the fuselage, 3 in line with the leading edge, 3 abreast mid wing and 3 inline with the trailing edge. Ten were in each wing. 3 in each wing root and 7 more side by side once past the landing gear bay with the 2nd to last inline with the outboard engine and last just outboard of that.
    Great idea for spreading the load out for minimal structural weight of the wing. Lousy idea once Bomber command decides they want bigger than 500lb bombs.

    found it. [​IMG]
     
    • Like Like x 1
    • Informative Informative x 1
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,515
    Likes Received:
    944
    Trophy Points:
    113
    I haven't checked to see what Supermarine proposed, but part of the specification was the ability to carry 7 x 2000lb bombs.

    The Air Ministry was almost obsessed with the 500lb bomb at this time, something reflected in several designs.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,761
    Likes Received:
    792
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    Another Photo;
    [​IMG]
    Note group of men standing next to wing root. In the diagram in the previous post the 3 areas in the leading edge of the wing with large Xs may have been fuel tanks. Granted they seem to have shifted to a more elliptical shaped wing but depending on spars going through fuselage the bomb bay in the fuselage may have been rather restricted in size.
     
  20. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    May 28, 2009
    Messages:
    2,336
    Likes Received:
    403
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Motor Mechanic
    Location:
    Lancashire
    I have always thought the Luftwaffe did the RAF a great service when it bombed the Supermarine factory and destroyed the 316.
     
    • Like Like x 2
    • Funny Funny x 1
Loading...

Share This Page