January 1936: build your RAF

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Mar 9, 2014.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Similar to the two current topics: what would be the most sensible way to improve RAF's capabilities in the next 10 years? What aircraft types should receive more resources, what engines to support, what not to do, when to start work on jet engines, what armament etc. Would you still maintain the division between BC and FC? What about long range fighters? Cooperation with Canada, Australia, NZ, both in manpower hardware? Changed emphasis on some parts of training process?
    You need to cover hardware needs of the Coastal Command (along with FC and BC), but not the FAA.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If Britain is committed to a huge RAF Bomber Command as happened historically then a complementary long range escort fighter should be at the top of the list.
     
  3. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #3 nuuumannn, Mar 9, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014
    Oooh, this is going to be loaded with hindsight, which means suggestions that could not have been even possible in 1936, much like producing a long range escort will be put forward. No one had long range escort fighters at that time because it was believed that bombers would always get through. Fighters were for defensive purposes. The British way was to arm its bombers with powered gun turrets and were the first to do so, setting a precedent that other countries took their time in doing, despite the crucible of war proving it necessary, but then again, how, in 1936 would defence analysts have known that?

    Before anyone mentions what happened to aircraft like the Battle and Blenheim, let's think for a moment about these aeroplanes at the time. The RAF was equipped with Gloster Gauntlets as its front line fighter; the Battle looked like it was from outer space and remember that it was designed to supercede the Hawker Hart and Audax in the tactical day bomber role, which these aircraft had been performing well in the Middle East and throughout the Empire - not a thought of how the Battle would do against a highly organised force like the German Army in 1940 - again, hindsight that could not have been known in 1936. The Blenheim (or at least the Bristol 142) was the last word in modernity in 1936, faster even than the fighters in RAF service; why would the armed forces have any doubts about its future?

    Think carefully about this one, because a lot changed between 1936 and the outbreak of WW2. Aeroplanes and ideas thought advanced in 1936 were considered obsolescent and outdated in 1939/40. And vice versa, things considered de riguer as a result of combat experience during the war could not necessarily have been anticipated in 1936. You go to war with the army you have, not the one you'd like.
     
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  4. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    #4 Jabberwocky, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
    The RAF never concieved of situation where France would be lost and the war would continue. Escort doctrine was never really considered. RAF fighters were to have been based in France, but primarily as a defensive asset.

    If you do want a long-range escort for the RAF, there are a couple of possibilities.

    1) Spitfire developed with inboard wing tanks, enlarged forward tanks and plumbing for drop tanks from the start. 120-125 Imperial gallons and a Merlin III gives it still air cruising range in excess of 800 miles. Add a 30 gal d/t and its about an extra 160-180 miles cruising range. Combat radius would be about 340-350 miles.

    Major problem is that adding the fuel tanks and plumbing adds about 200-260 lbs in weight, even without filling them. That's a fair penalty for an aircraft with 1030 hp. Balance with the shorter Merlin III may have also been a problem with wing tanks.

    2) Westland Whirlwind is developed slightly earlier and with the revised fuel system/cross feed fuel tanks as well as the nose and fuselage centre tank and plumbing for drop tanks that Petter proposed for the stillborn Mk II.

    Petter's proposals would have added a 25-30 gal nose tank and a 35-45 gal rear fuselage tank. At a minimum, internal fuel goes up 45% to 194 Imp gal. Best case, internal tankage goes to 209 Imp gal, an improvement of 55%.

    Still air cruising range would go from around 570 to 630 miles to about 900-980 miles.

    Adding another 90 gal with 2 x 45 gal Hurricane style 'airship' type drop tanks gets you another 330-360 miles, even with the extra drag.

    Westland Welkin managed to get 400 Imp gal onboard, including a 79 Imp gal fuselage tank.
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Some random questions:
    -would it be good to forget about a turret fighter?
    -how much of the Fairey Battles to build?
    -skip the Taurus, Peregrine and Vulture all together?
    -what about the Centaurus, Sabre, Deerhound, Fairey's engine projects?
    -the best most expedient way to acquire 1500 HP engine? 2000 HP engine?
    -when to start designing the high speed bomber, powered with liquid cooled engines, with about zero defending MGs, that could be produced using non-traditional methods?
    -the high performance twin-engined fighter, with heavy armament?
    -early night fighters?
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Lots of people were thinking about long range escort fighters. Things like the Bell Airacuda and Bf 110, and using twins as escort fighters was a bit of a problem. Even the P-38 wasn't a great dogfighter, Much better than no escort fighter but not really able to mix it up one on one (assuming pilots of equal skill and in pre-war planning you had better make that assumption. Assuming your pilots are better than the enemy pilots can lead to some rude awakenings).

    As Nuuumannn has pointed out, without applying hindsight things aren't going to change much. British were slow in adopting 2 pitch propellers let alone constant speed props. A Merlin III was the best of it's time at altitude. Problem was that was good for only 880hp for take-off, put that together with a fixed pitch prop and take-off was not too great. You need different props or two speed supercharger and/or bigger airfields (or big wings) to take-off with greater weights. ALL 3 happened, eventually. Of course in 1940 the planes got heavier.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    In hindsight? yes, except then you loose one of the first "successful" night fighters, or at least a cheap one (single engine).

    If you don't build 2000 of them what do you build to expand and train the RAF with? The Battle did a lot more to train RAF and commonwealth air forces (both air and ground crews) than it every accomplished in combat. Perhaps more were built than really needed but cutting the number by 1/2 or so just means you need a different crew trainer.

    Possibly but the Peregrine was probably the least costly in terms of effort. It might have made a much better tank engine than the Liberty too :)

    The ONLY one in hindsight to be worth anything was the Centaurus, and until you can make Hercules engines at several hundred a month (sleeve production problem) the Centaurus is a no go. Then throw in whatever individual problems it had.

    In 1938 they knew the Merlin had the potential to be a 1500-1600hp engine if given the right fuel. Best and most expedient are mutually exclusive. "Best" was the Sabre, the most technological "gee-whiz" engine of it's time (barring a few that never made it off the ground). Most expedient was the Vulture, stick two Kestrels on one crankshaft and rev it up higher. We know NOW that both were less than optimum solutions. Perhaps and H-24 Using Kestrel/Peregrine cylinders? trades crankshaft problems for more size/weight and gear train to join cranks?

    "Best 1500hp engine may very well NOT be the best way to a 2000hp engine.

    again rather depends on the engines and propellers. What would be the performance of a Mosquito using Merlin IIIs and fixed pitch 2 bladed props? Merlin X with 2 pitch props? Please remember that the Mosquito was designed for a 1000lb bomb load. Four 250lb bombs. Again, please keep in mind field requirements, Landing and take-off distances and tire pressure requirements ( which govern the size of the wheels/tires for a given weight airplane).

    Rather depends on availability of engines and armament, also please remember that initial estimates for the Beaufighter called for a speed of 370mph (one reason they canceled the Whirlwind) and they missed that one by about 40 mph.

    A real example of needing fore-knowledge, until you actually have some sort of working airborne radar you are designing totally in the dark. How big is it, how heavy, what does it need for operator/s, etc.
    Early "night fighters" without radar are simply day fighters that are easy to fly at night (low landing speed, landing lights/flares, exhausts shielded/placed to help maintain pilots night vision). Success rate is in the 00.0 X % range. Doubling effectiveness might not even get you into the 00.X% range.
     
  8. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The Merlin X was rated, on 100 oct fuel, for 1280 HP for take off as early as 1938. On 87 oct it was 1075 HP. Forgetting the Peregrine Vulture might help to produce more of the Mk.X than historically?
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Assuming you start design in 1938 you may get service aircraft in late 1940 or early 1941. The real Mosquito started design work in Oct 1939 ( after well over a year of alternative design studies) and first operational flight by a photo recon version was in Sept 1941. First operational bomber is delivered in Nov 1941.
    What was RR promising for Power from a late 1940 Merlin (one year in the future) vs what were they promising in 1938? 100 octane was pretty much a given in the fall of 1939 (although how much over 100 octane was not a given) while 100 octane had a rather uncertain timeline in 1938. It was coming but when and in what quantities were being promised in 1938?
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    #10 tomo pauk, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
    Agreed pretty much re. pre-Mossie service date.

    The 1st Merlin XXs were rated also for 1280 HP for take off; they did offer much better hi-alt performance than Merlin X, however. On 87 oct fuel, the Merlin X has almost 300 HP more than Merlin III for take off, yet British have had no problems conceiving a bomber around it.

    added: the Pe-2 was carrying 1320 lbs normal bomb load, 2200 lbs max (short ranges, less fuel carried?). Range (not radius) was 770-870 miles*, it was carrying a 'surplus' (vs. Mossie) of 1 crew member, 4 LMGs and ammo. All of that on M-105 engines, 1100 HP for take off. There should be no reason for an 'unarmed' bomber to exceed this on Merlin X on 87 oct fuel, let alone on 100 oct?

    *Shavrov mentions 1200 km, and over 2100 km for fighter variants? 330 imp gals was carried in 'regular' Pe-2 bombers' wing tanks
     
  11. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    #11 parsifal, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
    One thiing I would do from 1936 is restore the independance of the FAA. That might give the RN a chance to introduce better aircraft and improve the pilot supply situation, and not cost the RAF any more than what they were already putting into the FAA

    The obvious type for development would be the F5/34, and the obvious strike aircraft would be to develop the skua as a better divebomber to work with the Swordfish. I cant see any reall replacement or development for the Swordfish

    One area crying out for improvement is airborne ASW. the development of a proper airborne DC would have helped
     
  12. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Massively increase the RAFVR (RAF Volunteer Reserve) Training scheme. Not just for pilots but also for air and ground crew. For Pilot initial training give private pilots a grant so they can purchase a trainer, to pay off the grant they have to do so many hours training RAFVR recruits.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Ive specified 'no FAA' for this thread, but, what a heck :)

    Swordfish is a given. The replacement should be a monoplane. Something along the lines of the Nakajima Kate, maybe, using the Pegasus? Have the Swordfish tested with improved Pegasus, in case the monoplane proves problematic. By the time the Merlin VIII/X/XX or Hercules are around, design a multi purpose bomber, ie. both for torpedoes and dive bombing. Something along the lines of navalized Fairey Battle. Until that one comes around, keep the Skua on the decks. Don't waste anything on the Roc.
    Instead of Sea Gladiator, better use Gloster's factory for at least same number of Hurricanes to install a hook onto.
     
  14. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    sorry didnt mean to derail the thread. perhaps look at ti in these terms. If the FAA is made independant in 1936, it has a better chance of having a decent park of aircraft in 1940. If it can reasonably enter German airspace with better fighters and attack aircraft, and more importantly, more of them, it can then move around the periphery of German airspace and cause a lot of havoc for the LW, picking off isolated and weak garrisons as the opportunities arise. if the F5/34 is made cmpetitive, it has a range advantage that the hurricane and Spit dont, and can therefore minimise the risk to the carriers in hit and run raids allover the place. the LW will be forced to dissipate its strength to effectively counter this, and this, in turn, leessens the pressure on the RAF at thye critical time.

    Swordfish is a real problem. it is an aircraft that looks very vulnerable, and yet,as an attack aircraft, it has few peers. Every time performance is put in front of mission effectiveness, you downgrade your force capability. Its docile handling characteristics gave it a very valuable capability of being able to take af and land on a carrier deck in rough weather and at night. Im not sure i would want to lose that for an extra 50 or 100mph of speed
     
  15. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #15 nuuumannn, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014
    Tomo, I feel like I've railroaded your thread! I get what you are doing, so for the sake of argument, let's play.

    Turret fighter. this might seem like an easy one considering the fate of the Daffy in the Battle of Britain, but hindsight at play again - how could those who released F.9/35 have known that Germany would invade France and their bombers, which the turret fighter was to destroy would be escorted by single-seat fighters? The gun turret was Britain's piece of modern technology - a silver bullet weapon? Boulton Paul had worked on powered turrets before De Boysson, the Frenchman who designed the turret produced for the Defiant intorduced himself to J.D. North, and other firms were working on turrets also, and their application was seen as a big advance in technology. After equipping bombers with WW1 era Scarff ring gun mountings fitted with a single or two WW1 era Lewis or Vickers K guns, the idea of turrets was a leap in advance. Both B.12/36 and P.13/36, the future bomber specifications released that year both stipulated gun turrets as a necessity for defence. In a fighter, the concentration of firepower a turret offered was considered to be a big advantage, with the flexibility of being able to position the aircraft anywhere around a fleeing bomber and fire at it at will was crucial to the idea and seemed like a good one. The Defiant was also considered as a ground attack aircraft, although quite how that would work, I don't know; bomb shackles were fitted and dropping trials carried out.

    Unarmed bomber; this one was actually considered by more than a few forward thinking individuals. No doubt, with the two bomber specs previously mentioned, the idea to a turret-equipped fast, modern bomber got the juices flowing among the Air Staff - B.12/36 producing a four engined heavy and although the Supermarine bomber was selected for production, only the Stirling actually got built and P.13/36 was for a twin engined fast medium bomber, the Vulture equipped Avro 679, which became the Manchester and the HP.56, which was never built, but was modified with four Merlins and became the Halifax. It was using P.13/36 as a basis that George Volkert of Handley Page, who had been promoted to chief engineer over German born Gustav Lachmann (who designed the Teutonic looking Hampden) produced a paper in May 1937 about a theoretical high-speed unarmed bomber. His idea was not to actually build one, but to shock the Air Staff into considering it, which at a time of peace would have been happy with their released specifications and future plans.

    Many actually did consider it, more so than is often realised and recounted in the story of the Mosquito, but by the time that aircraft was designed, objections arose because no one believed Geoffrey de Havilland's projected figures, almost all thinking they were too optomistic. Also, many didn't like the idea that the Mossie didn't have a turret and was not originally conceived with other jobs in mind - Blackburn had by this time produced its B.28, which was a high speed, fast unarmed bomber reconnaissance platform with the option of being able to fit a turret, which was actually offered a production specification, but was never built, so GdeH tilted his hat toward a night fighter and a separate recon variant, which seemed to delay the canning of his baby, although the insistence of a gun turret, which nearly killed the 'unarmed' bit of the design, railroaded it a bit until Freeman jumped in and stated a turret was a dumb idea, and that the prototype that GdeH was building should be completed as an aerodynamic test bed before the turret equipped version flew. Anyway, all this was far in the future in 1936, but the seeds were being sown for high speed bombers, but again, the turret played a big part and it was the thing for bombers.

    Engines. In 1936, there was no way that anyone could have predicted the Vulture would end up the way it did; P.13/36 was written around it and Volkert changed the HP.56 because of fears there wouldn't be enough of them and bench trials with RR weren't altogether as happy as they should have been, but that wasn't for another year yet, so in 1936, the future of the Vulture looked rosy. On paper it was an attractive proposition, compact, light and powerful. The Peregrine was the same. The Merlin was for its time a big engine and the Griffon or 'R' was considered a bit of an aberation and despite RR going ahead with a test bed, was not seriously considered for production until the navy wanted a big long range recon fighter, which became the Firefly, but again, this wasn't until 1938, so the Peregrine offered compactness and good power-to-weight ratio.

    The FAA does actually fit into the RAF since the FAA was a branch of the RAF in 1936 and had been since 1924, when the "RAF Fleet Air Arm" was officialy formed. With the formation of the RAF in 1918, the RNAS effectively disappeared and RAF crews flew and maintained the aircraft aboard carriers and ships. Might not have been such a bad idea to divorce the two earlier, as Parsifal suggested - and it could (and perhaps should) have been done at any time prior to the outbreak of war.

    The one thing, if I was to offer any development in advance, would be to improve Bomber Command's ability to find its way to its targets. The Germans were the best at this once war broke out and they had devices in production that aided in this during their attack on Poland; Knickebein was used against Warsaw, so this is what Bomber Command should be doing. Unfortunately the bomber staff were reluctant to change things from the way they had been going for years since the end of WW1, but there was light, although pessimistic light at the end of the tunnel, if only fleetingly. Edgar Ludlow Hewitt, who became BC head in 1937 was acutely aware of the problems facing the force and sent off memos describing his pessimistic view of how British bombers would do in light of modern advances, including their inability to find their way to their targets and a lack of long range escorts, but even later toward the outbreak of war, he was not heeded and was considered to be a bit of a stick-in-the-mud, so not long after war was declared, he was ousted from his position, possibly because of his gloomy demeanour. This is of course despite the fact that he was right!

    As for long range escort fighters in 1936, I'll give the Airacuda, but not the Bf 110 - it was designed as a 'destroyer' rather than specifically an escort fighter, but it fit the profile. Both of these seemed like good ideas in 1936, though.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Peregrine was considered a "Merlinized" Kestrel. Basic problem with the Peregrine which was shared by a number of mid 1930s engines was that it wasn't big enough. When work started the engine makers thought they needed to offer a range of engine sizes that didn't change a lot from one step to the next. Airframe makers in the early/mid 30s were just feeling their way to bigger/stronger airframes that could use 1000hp and up engines. In just a few years they wanted bigger engines and passed by the 750-1000hp 'compact' engines that they had been asking for just a few years before. There would continue to be a market for 450-600hp engines but the market for 750-1000hp engines vanished as 1000-1500hp an up engines became available just as the market for 1000-1500hp engines faded away as 2000-3000hp engines became available(helicopter use excepted). P&W post war R-2180 being a case in point.

    The "idea" of long range "fighters", even if not called escorts, was popular with the theorists of the time and as were multi-purpose aircraft. The twin engine multi-place (seat) aircraft was popular in France and France in the early mid 30s had influence in military thinking that would fade considerably by 1940.
     
  17. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Get Mr Whittle and Rolls Royce together and give them whatever resources are needed (anytime in the previous 6 yrs would have been good too) may have jet bombers and fighters by 1943/44
     
  18. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Get Miles aviation to build the new jet planes they were a really forward thinking company. Though it might look like its flying backwards
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    ...at least until I got involved with my business, and that will hit the high gear some time around Easter :)

    I was not pointing out that anyone should consider the quick fall of France. But some math can help us. The Hurricane has twice the firepower of a 4-gun turret fighter. It needs half of crew worth. Hurricane does not need a cooperative target. The turret fighter, with one 1000-1500 engine will hardly be able to be up-gunned with cannons. Unlike the classic fighter, and RAF was enthusiastic about cannons. The turret ads cost, while reducing performance.Turret fighter is lousy in head-on intercept. If the fighter has no appreciable performance advantage vs. bomber, it will be ill able to position the aircraft anywhere around a bomber. It would be also okay from the bombers not to return fire ;)
    The Defiant as an ground attack aircraft will also want the target not to fire back, if it's guns are to be fired in a broadside while the Daffy is flying at steady course, altitude and speed.

    Teutonic looking aircraft? That was a good one :)
    Turret equipped and unarmed bomber should be mutually exclusive things? The idea is to axe the guns gunners, so one can reduce the size of aircraft and devote more engine power, in order to produce more speed. The RAF can remeber that Hart and Battle were, when introduced, faster than it's fighters. Just up the bar.

    Seems that people high up have had no problems, prior the war, believing Camm that Typhoon will beat the 460 mph mark? Was the B.28 really produced, or was not?? The term 'many did not like' points us to about the similar mentality that determined that every bomber must be able to dive bomb. I mean,what the term 'like' has to do with anything in military matters?? Stuff either works or does not, and fast bomber was proven as workable almost decade ago.

    The power-to-weight ratio of engines is more a sale's pitch, than something of a real value. If the engine does not develop a suitable power, it will never propel an 8 gun fighter to 360 mph. Merlin III was capable to do that, Peregrine less so. Merlin was not that a big engine, size was about Hispano V-12 engines, RR Buzzard of DB-600. The Vulture might be considered as abbeartion, not the Buzzard/R/Griffon engines, with clear lineage?

    Yep, the 'divorce' should've happened earlier.

    Re. bolded part: no surprise here, the side that just won the war is rarely persuaded to chage it's way of looking at things. French military was even worse in this regard.

    There won't be any long range fighters produced in 1936 - you have a few years to come up with something :)

    BTW, sorry if my tone is a it harsh, it's the establishments that I don't like :)
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Part of the problem here was you dealing with a lot of unknown problems and the fact that it could take 3 years or more to go from "idea" :idea: to service aircraft. Some "experts" thought fighter pilots could not deal with the closing speeds and maneuvering of 300+mph aircraft. Given only a few hours per year of gunnery training they were probably right. ;)
    Right answer was more training.
    Wrong answer was the turret fighter, which started with the Hawker Demon turret fighter;
    demon_turret_1.jpg

    It is easy to say "up the bar" it is a lot harder to do.

    RAF first line fighters when the Hart was introduced in Feb 1930:

    Siskin_1.jpg
    Siskin introduced in 1923

    bristol+bulldog.jpg
    Bulldog introduced in 1927
    Neither are particularly streamlined aircraft.

    The first line RAF fighter entering squadron service in May 1935
    11691.jpg

    at least they cowled the engine :)

    It was not hard for monoplane bombers with retracting landing gear to outrun fixed gear biplanes. Expecting them to outrun monoplane fighters with retracting landing requires about as much faith (or more) than turret fighters :)

    The fast bomber only worked when it used technology (aerodynamics and engines) that the fighters were not using. The 'cult of maneuverability' often kept 1930s fighters slower and poorer armed than they could have been as pure bomber interceptors.

    Power to weight is only part sales pitch and varies a bit with the aircraft involved. As an example say you have the choice of either a Merlin 45 or a AM-35A engine in the Spring of 1941. Both have similar power at 18-20,000ft but the Merlin is around 400lbs lighter not including radiators and coolant. In a single engine fighter saving over 400lbs of engine wight can make a big difference in the other choices to made ( fuel or armament or wing size or....) while saving 800-900lbs on a 20,000lb bomber may not be quite as big a deal ( but may be 25% or more of bombload?) while on a 50,000lb 4 engine bomber 16-1800lbs is a bit smaller percentage it is still important. This is an extreme case and the difference of 0.04lbs per HP is nowhere near as important.

    British got sucked into the twin engine heavy bomber trap like the Germans did. They just didn't follow the first foot with the second foot and both arms.
     
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