In-flight refueling in ww2: worth the effort, or why bother?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Nov 12, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Any advocates of the in-flight refueling out there? :)
    Jokes aside, were there, in the ww2, any instances where the in-flight refueling would have been an good/great asset? Maybe to allow the patrol planes to extend their presence over oceans, or to allow the medium bombers to attack targets far away, or to allow heavies to take off with greater bomb load when going against distant targets?
     
  2. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    that is a LOT of planes that you are going to have to refuel...and until after D-day you have a limited area inwhich to conduct it. by the time you are done with the last one it will be time to start all over again.
     
  3. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Maybe it was the missing 'link' for the LW attacks on Tankograd similar?
     
  4. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    I would think a tanker would make a rather nice enticement for any enemy fighters. Unless you have absolute air superiority, it would be a sitting duck. One place it might have been useful is for aircraft flying the hump. But there were occasional fighters there as well. Still safer than western Europe.
     
  5. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It might have been useful to extend the range of some patrol aircraft, they expend a good portion of their fuel getting airborne and climbing to altitude.

    But I just don't see it being practical on mass bombing missions, you'd need masses of aerial refuelers, and there would be a huge potential for midair collisions. And also a intruder magnet.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #6 FLYBOYJ, Nov 12, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2012
    I could see it being used in the Pacific, especially late in the war (B-29 raids).

    To have this happen war planners needed to induced a huge training project and mod program to build tankers - look in the post war years how long it took to develop and perfect air to air refueling.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure the benefits outweigh the problems. Trying to refuel even the first 200 bombers to take off in a 400 bomber raid is going to require a lot of tankers. How many minutes do you actually have?
    Sending the tankers into enemy airspace is a big NO-NO, so about all you are going to do is replace the fuel used in take-off, climb and making up the the formations. A boost yes but not a real game changer as far as range goes.

    See: http://www.zenoswarbirdvideos.com/Images/B-25/B25TOC&LC.pdf

    An early B-25 at 36,000lbs only uses 65 gallons for warm-up, take-off and combat climb to 12,000ft. Replacing that fuel buys you about 35-36 minutes at the slowest practical cruise speed.

    And tanker ops are bit like drop tanks. Even if you are flying over open ocean with no enemy aircraft and no AA guns max range or radius is determined by how far you can fly with fuel on board in case the refueling system breaks. That is the reason the British Black Buck air raids on the Falkland Islands required 7 refuelings on the way to the target and only one on the way back. The plan was that if the bomber ran into a problem and could not refuel it always had enough fuel to divert to a friendly ( or at least neutral) airfield.

    300px-Refuelling.plan.black.buck.svg.png
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    You could take off with minimum fuel and a max bomb load - take on fuel that would put the aircraft at its max gross weight - that's what was done by SAC once they got their wheels turning
     
  9. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

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    As pointed out with the sheer number of airplanes to refuel and the nature of WWII air combat, not practical at all. Aerial refueling only makes sense if you're talking about truly intercontinental operations with long stretches over friendly territory, like those of SAC during the Cold War, or modern strategic airlift. Medium range ops (<1500 miles) beyond design limitations are a problem best solved with external stores.
     
  10. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    Some consideration was given to mid-air refueling of PR Mossies flying over Burma, Siam, Singapore and points east, but in the end they simply upped the fuel capacity of the PR.XVI by producing the PR.34.

    I imagine both sides had an interest in refuelling over the Atlantic; the fact neither did so must speak to the difficulties involved.
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Thanks for the feedback, people.

    Is there any god data to be found about the trials experiments, particularly the non-US ones?
     
  12. cimmex

    cimmex Member

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    Were prop driven planes refuelled during flight ever ?
    cimmex
     
  13. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    #13 fastmongrel, Nov 13, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2012
    Yes Short Empire C flying boats were refueled on non stop trans Atlantic flights. BOAC and the RAF could do it but it wasnt something you would want to do in wartime apparently the refueling took a long time as the fuel was transferred by gravity.

    Aerial refueling - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  14. cimmex

    cimmex Member

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  15. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Aerial refueling of P-47's would have/could have greatly assisted in the escort job.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    1. It would have replaced ONE drop tank. You DO NOT want the tankers flying over France/low countries as part of the bomber stream. How many fighters per tanker? Loose a tanker and how many P-47s don't make it back? Or how many spare tankers?
    2. Arranging the refueling connection is a lot harder on a single Prop driven fighter. It needs to be out on the wing well away from the propeller. Or a retractable boom/mast higher enough to provide good clearance for the prop. Prop hitting the fuel hose is not going to be pretty. It can be done but not a simple as on jets or twin engine planes.
     
  17. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The in-flight refueling implies the side using it has undisputed air supremacy IMO. So the use of that could be restricted to:
    -extend the patrol range of anti-submarine planes
    -provide the opportunity for really long range bomber strikes
    -make the attacks at enemy's transportation (air, sea, railway) feasible
    -provide support for own submarine other naval forces
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    No 1 is OK.
    No 2 is only OK if the long range strikes are over water or over areas ( for a fair part of the distance) of uncontested airspace.
    No 3. is sort of the same. Attacking coastal areas keeps the tankers out of range of the land based air. attacking river or railways deep inland is not so good.
    No.4 is feasible but is it necessary? For example it would have been of greater benefit to the Germans to the Germans than to the Allies in the Battle for the Atlantic because the Allies had much closer bases to the 'action".

    Which allows more planes on station 3 patrol planes and one tanker or 4 patrol planes? Patrol planes then didn't have the hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of dollars of electronics that modern patrol planes have. Cost of a patrol plane and tanker were much closer.
     
  19. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Ah, so perhaps the P-38 is a better in flight refueling candidate.
     
  20. msxyz

    msxyz Member

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    Isn't the... Human factor a bit overlooked in this discussion? One thing is to cover 1000 km on an aircaft with a cruise speed of 900 km/h, another is to cover the same distance at 350-400 km/h, especially if, after having travelled said distance, a pilot is required to mantain full alert because it happens to be in a hostile environment.

    At the typical speeds of ww2 aircrafts, most long range bombers and escort fighters would have benfited more having an extra pair of non-tired eyes onboard rather than larger quantities of fuel!
     
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