Italians with higher hp radials?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by mexchiwa, Dec 21, 2015.

  1. mexchiwa

    mexchiwa New Member

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    Almost all Italian fighters of the early war years were radials, with the license built DBs available later, they became inlines, eg MC 200 to 202, G 50 to G 55. Do you think the Italians would have stuck with radials if they had engines of sufficient power? Could they have used the BMW 801? What if they had an engine in the R-2800 class? What would this mean for their bomber design?
     
  2. Vincenzo

    Vincenzo Active Member

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    the point is there were not on the 30s market radial engines that can give a significant performances up of italian serie 0 fighters
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    There was nothing wrong with Italian design except for the fact that they tended to make thing very complex to build. The very low production totals, especially for the later fighters, would seem to bear this out. The Luftwaffe considered manufacturing some Italian fighters themselves until the man-hours were look at. And that ended the consideration.

    I do not believe the main producers of radials at the time would be willing to sell large numbers of radials Italy in lieu of supplying their own air forces, but will concede that the Re.2000 with 1,200 HP instead of a 986 HP Piaggio might have been slightly better animal. The thing is, when the Piaggio P.XI.R.C.40 came out, it was about as good as any radial around in power and weight.

    Did you have a radial in mind for them to use? We would not have sold many R-2800s and the Germans would not have sold many BMW 801s. By the time they were running well, the war was well and truly underway.

    Maybe you are thinking of a "what if"? Along the lines of what of the Italian aviation engine industry had invented an R-2800-class engine some years before the Americans did? Or maybe have invented a BMW 801-class engine some years ahead of Germany? The Italian economy at the time would not have allowed anything like mass-production and their airframe total was small by comparison with the other powers.

    So, they might have had a few higher-performing airplanes, but would not have had a large number of better airplanes that were both more costly and more complex than the ones they produced in real life. The industrial capacity just wasn't there to make a world class air force before WWII started.

    It's sort if like their capital ships. They were good ships, but few. One or two battleships were MUCH easier to find and take out with airplanes than if they had, say, 20 of them, scattered about the Med. They would have needed a much larger force (ground, naval, and air) to have made a lot of difference in WWII.

    As for their bomber design, more HP would mean fewer engines per plane or, conversely, bigger airplanes with more load capacity. We might have seen more twins and 4-engine planes and fewer triples. I tend to think more medium twins since that's what they concentrated on in real life, but I don't really know. Their only 4-engine bomber wasn't a bad bomber at all, but they only made 36 plus the prototype and some transport versions. Had they had something like an R-2800 to work with, maybe they'd have had 36 slightly better bombers, but it would not have magically turned into a 1,000 bomber air force just from having a better engine available.
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Problem here is that both the Italian engines and fighters were rather light weight.

    Major changes in engines might have required a whole new airframe.

    the Fiat A74 engine is listed in one source as weighing 1257lbs or about 140lbs less than P & W R-1830.

    And around 800-1000lbs less than a BMW 801 and over 1000lbs lighter than even a simple (single stage supercharger) P&W R-2800.
    Adding 1000lbs worth of engine to a small fighter ( 182 sq ft wing and 4300-4400lbs empty?) plus bigger prop and other engine accessories doesn't seem likely.

    The Italians had several larger engines in development/limited production, but these either had problems (unspecified?) or were larger, heavier and ran at lower rpm (over 10% slower) which killed some of the performance increase one might anticipate.

    Italians never seemed to go above 87 octane fuel (Germans may have given very limited amounts of C3 ?) so any engines were limited as to the boost used.
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The bigger radial would be a better fit to the Reggiane or Fiat fighters, those were bigger than eg. Fw 190 - the G.55 evolved into G.56 when big & heavy DB 603A was installed on it.
    But then, a really good outpu of license-produced DB 601s or 605s look like better bet to me.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I have very little doubt that the Italian designers could have come up with some very good designs for fighters using large radial engines. They just wouldn't have been the old MC 200, RE 2000 or Fiat G 50 with old radials taken off and more powerful radials bolted on.
    The MC 200 was modified quite a bit in the fuselage to become the MC 202 and the MC 205 was the ONLY 5 series fighter to retain much commonalty with the early "0" series fighters.
    The RE 2001 having a new wing to replace the one used on the RE 2000 in addition to the engine swap to the DB 601 engine.
    The RE 2005 was a new project and not a re-engined R-2001/2.
    The Fiat G.55 was a new design that ,while it Incorporated much that had been learned form the G 50 (and a one off prototype of a G 50 with DB 601 engine) didn't really use any major parts/sub assemblies from the earlier fighter.

    AS for the Italian radials, information in English is a bit lacking. Alfa Romeo had one 18 cylinder radial, Fiat had two different 18 cylinder radials and Piaggio also had two 18 cylinder radials in the works leading up to the war.
    See:
    Alfa Romeo 135 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    Fiat A.80 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (Please note the light weight for a 45.7 liter engine)
    There was a Fiat A 82 engine with 2mm more bore that weighed another 300lbs that offered more power but is even less known than the A 80.
    Piaggio P.XII - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia ( please note that the "uprated" XXII may have included a 10mm bore job and an additional 7 liters of displacement.)

    The large Italian radials were handicapped by lack of high octane fuel, and low rpm. The last may have due to lack of materials or a result of the low weight of the engines. The Piaggio XXII having almost 10% more displacement than a wright R-3350 and yet about the same weight as a late model Wright R-2600 14 cylinder radial. Strangely, using 87 octane fuel it has a performance similar to the later R-2600s using 100/130 fuel. Perhaps not a bod choice of basic design given the fuel available and manufacturing base/technology. The last in regards to forging heads vs casting them and being able to machine deep fins closely spaced or other means (like the Wright sheet metal fins) of keeping the engines cool.
     
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