July 1st 1937: your own USAAC/USAAF/USAF?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Mar 17, 2014.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    In order to move a bit from good old Europe: how should the USAF evolved, if you were in charge from July 1st 1937? You say what airframe, engine, armament and electronics get produced, and how much of it. Plausible stuff, of course :)
    You DON'T say what the USN is going to get, but peeking n their plans might save you a month or two of work in some other project.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Sign an agreement with USN which makes the Navy responsible for land based maritime patrol bombers.

    Conduct realistic tests so USAAC can determine bombing accuracy from various altitudes using novice aircrew. These test results modify USAAC operational doctrine for bombing altitude so there's a good chance to actually hit a factory size target.

    Build long range escort fighter to compliment B-17 bomber and provide program with adequate funding so teething problems are fixed in a timely manner.

    Build USAAC equivalent of German Ju-87 dive bomber for CAS. Conduct training exercises with infantry to establish effective operational doctrine.
     
  3. muskeg13

    muskeg13 Member

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    What an opportunity to correct some of the historical misteps. In the '30s, the AAC invested too many resources in a large number of aircraft types of very limited single mission capabilities that were often found to be obsolete by the time they were delivered They also seemed to invest in quanity, rather than quality.

    With hindsight being 20/20, terminate the following programs that failed to deliver expected performance and reinvest the funds elsewhere:
    Douglas B-18 Bolo, Bell Aircuda, Seversky P-35, Northrop A-17, Curtiss A-18, Douglas B-23

    Mothball/phase out the following obsolete aircraft ASAP:
    Martin B-10/B-12, Boeing P-26, Curtiss A-8/A-12, Curtiss P-6, and all with fixed landing gear and all biplanes except for primary trainers

    Accelerate development and procurement of:
    Boeing B-17, Curtiss P-36 (until it can be replaced by the P-40), Lockheed P-38, Douglas DB-7 (A-20) and North American NA-40 (B-25).

    By July 1937, initial deliveries of first production B-18s and B-17s prove the B-17 to be vastly superior to the already obsolete B-18. Likewise, the performance of initial deliveries of the Seversky P-35 prove the Curtiss Hawk 75 to be a much better fighter. Even the Hawk 75's performance could be improved by adapting it to the new Allison V-1710 (XP-37/P-40), which the AAC ordered done in early 1937.

    It would be better to acquire fewer B-17s than to waste funds on the B-18 and the only marginally better B-23. The AAC also needs to remove obsolete aircraft from service that soak up operations and maintenance funds. Rather than continuing field single purpose ground attack aircraft of limited capability, adopt new tactics and develop multipurpose high performance pursuit (fighter) that have the ability to bomb and strafe ground targets.
     
  4. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    this will be an intersting discussion for sure .

    My suggestion. Licence production of the Merlin from an early stage
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    canceling/modifying most of the 1935 and programs will have little practical effect on the war as a whole. America Built 100,000 single engine fighters just of the eight major types during WW II. a few hundred more or less of different types in 1939-40 isn't going to amount to a fa*t in a Hurricane by 1942.

    Pretty much the same with the bombers.

    A lot of those piddly little contracts allowed design teams to gain experience and companies to stay in business or grow and train a core of workers for the later big expansions.
    The Allison was NOT a mature engine in 1939 let alone any earlier. Allison had to take back several hundred engines and re-work them at company expense to meet contract power levels.

    P-36 development was accelerating about as fast as it could. P-36 used the 3rd different engine tried in the airframe, XP-37 tried a turbo Allison. By the Spring of 1939 they had also tried a mechanical 2 stage supercharged engine (predecessor of the one used in the Wildcat) and the non-turbo Allison.

    The older planes served as operational trainers even if not called that in the late 30s. they gave experience to both air and ground crews that simply would not be there if replaced by 1/2 the number of "better' planes. Of course the "better" 1938/39/early 1940 aircraft would also be totally useless for combat in Dec 1941 and later so no, you aren't getting head start for the beginning of the war.


    Lets see;
    Douglas B-18 Bolo, yes they built about 350 but would 175 early B-17s really have added much to US capabilities? 6 more B-17Cs in the Philippines rather than 12 B-18s? a few dozen B-17Cs in the Caribbean flying anti sub patrols instead of the B-18s that were used there?

    Bell Aircuda, no argument , a real turkey but with only 13/14 built it's impact on US defense is non-existent. Did provide training/experience for Bell work force though and helped keep company in business.

    Seversky P-35, Pretty much the same deal, first "production" plane for Seversky/Republic. " By April 1939, the Seversky Aircraft Corporation had lost $550,000, and Seversky was forced out of the company he had founded" and that is WITH the production contract for the P-35. Without it would there have been a Seversky/Republic in 1940 to design the P-47?

    Northrop A-17, failed to deliver expect performance how?

    Curtiss A-18, 13 aircraft built,please remember that it takes about 3 years to go form initial requirement to squadron service. lots of planes became obsolete between the time they were speced and the time the could enter service in the late 30s.

    The Wright Cyclone engine went from 575hp in 1930 to 1100hp in 1938 as one example of "progress", put that together with the 1930 engine only rarely using a reduction gear and all using a fixed pitch prop and 1938 engines all having reduction gears and either controllable pitch props or constant speed props and one can see how planes "speced" in 1934-36 could very well fall short by 1940/41. Gas went from 73 octane to 87 octane with 100 octane coming fast for American planes ( but NOT the 100 octane used by the British). The Wright R-1820 went through 7 major model changes from 1930 to 1942.

    Doesn't seem to matter what country- America,Germany,Britian, Japan-many people seem to think they can dump all the 'intermediate' planes/engines of the mid 1930s that many/most companies cut teeth/learned a lot from and leap into 1941/42 aircraft/engines without any intermediate steps from the aircraft of the late 20s/early 30s.

    The P-26 was the first service US military plane fitted with flaps of any kind, in 1935 ( (and were retro fitted to early examples) . it was more a speed brake/drag producer than anything else. By 1937 The Lockheed 14 was using Fowler flaps and on 10 July 1942 the A-26 prototype flew with both a laminar flow wing and double slotted flaps so airfloils and flaps ( and leading edge devices) were all making big changes in just a few years.

    BTW due to a lack of B-17 orders Boeing had the production capacity to build at least 240 Douglas DB-73, originally for the British but 194 of them were kept by the USAAC. Some of the Boeing built aircraft may have wound up in Russia.

    be careful what you ask for :)
     
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  6. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    #6 gjs238, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
    The "better" 1938/39/early 1940 aircraft would have much greater development potential and would have matured into more competitive combat aircraft in Dec 1941 and later.

    For example, for fighter aircraft, what were the Germans developing/producing during this period and how did that compare to the US contemporaries?
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The "better" 1938/39/early 1940 aircraft as far as US fighters went were the P-38/P-39/P-40 unless you count the P-36.

    For example: "initial order for 80 production examples (Bell Model 13) was issued on August 10, 1939 under Contract AC13383. Serials were 40-2971/3050"

    However " The production of the P-39C began in 1940. The first P-39C (Ser No 40-2971) flew in January of 1941"
    "The Army discovered almost immediately that the P-39C was not combat ready, since it lacked armor and self-sealing tanks. In the event, only twenty Airacobras were actually completed to C-standards--serial numbers 40-2971/2990. On September 14, 1940 the initial order for 80 P-39Cs was amended to provide for self-sealing fuel tanks. The remaining 60 planes of the order ( serial numbers 40-2991/3050) were completed to this standard and were redesignated as P-39Ds."
    "On September 13, 1940, 394 P-39Ds (Model 15) were ordered. The serials were 41-6722/7115. It was the first Airacobra which could be considered even remotely as being combat-ready."
    "The P-39D differed from the P-39C primarily in having a heavier armament. It had four wing-mounted 0.30-inch machine guns............ Bulletproof windshield panels were added, and some armor protection for the pilot was provided. Self-sealing fuel tanks were introduced, which reduced internal fuel capacity from 141.5 Imp. gall. to 100 Imp. gall."
    "There were a great many weaknesses in the Airacobra, apart from the general problem of poor high-altitude performance. Among these were the lack of gun heaters which caused the guns to freeze up and jam at altitudes over 25,000 feet, the lack of hydraulic chargers which made it difficult to charge the guns in the air, and the forward gear box just behind the propeller which had a tendency to throw oil."
    And the British found on theirs defective oxygen systems, lethal concentrations of guns fumes in cockpit after firing the nose guns, numerous electrical failures ( and on a plane were even the prop pitch is controlled by electricity) and main compass knocked out by vibration form the nose guns among others.

    Quotes are from Joe Baughers web site. Building a few hundred more P-39Cs wouldn't have added much to US power in the Spring of 1942.

    First P-36s spent a lot of time grounded too ( wing skin buckling for one thing).

    Building more of the "early" versions of the P-36 through P-40 aircraft (and bomber equivalents) just leaves you with a massive rebuild/overhaul program to bring them up to actual combat standards in late 1941/early 1942.
     
  8. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    I think we misunderstood one another.

    I'm not suggesting build more of the same that were historically available.
    Trading P-35's for P-39's as they historically existed probably would not help the cause of the war much, if at all.
    (Probably more pilots would die in flat spins :( )

    But those very aircraft, with the use of today's hindsight, may have/could have been more competitive at the time of the US entry into the war.
    Or perhaps other more competitive aircraft could have been ready at the time of the US entry into the war.
     
  9. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if an expedited program, from July 1st 1937, could field a R-2800 non-turbocharged fighter for the US Army.
    Something simpler and lighter than the F4U or P-47.
     
  10. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    duplicate post
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    #11 Shortround6, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 18, 2014
    Depends on how much hindsight you use. A 1941 Allison was rather different than a 1939 Allison and while Allison got contracts to build to build a total of 1043 engines in 1939 the factory to build them in didn't exist in the spring of 1939. Allison delivered 48 engines in 1939.

    In 1937 Allison had 322 employees. During the year they got orders for 22 engines ( Double the best from any proceeding year) and delivered 7 engines, they also delivered 474,737 bearings which is what most of the employees were working on.
    in 1939 they grew to 786 employees and when the new buildings were finished in 1940 the number of employees went to 4303 and more than doubled in 1941.

    That is just another example of how far back you have to go to change things even with hindsight. It is not just a question of picking design A or design B. or 'tweaking' Design C. The factories to build the aircraft and engines in many cases did not exist as they would 2 years (or even one year) later.

    For the engines to be "better" it is not a question of just specifying a different size valve or different strength valve spring to rev the engine higher. It often took different metallurgy (different alloys or heat treatment) or different casting/forging techniques to get to the next level of power ( making power is actually easy, getting the engine to last while making the power is the hard part).
    "Better" planes require, in some cases, newer air foils and/or new construction techniques. Corsair was the 2nd or 3rd US plane to employ spot welding to any large extent. The 1st may have been the Chance Vought Kingfisher spotter plane.

    Fuel was changing every couple of years and nobody really knew when or IF the next improvement would come. With hind sight you can tell the engine manufacturers that they will get 100.130 fuel and when they will get it and plan engines accordingly ( no super large displacement engine really needed) but at each fuel level 80, 87, 91, 100 there was a definite limit to the the boost pressure that could be used in a given size and compression ratio cylinder. and that governed choices to be made in future engines ( more cylinders were needed if existing cylinder set ups (V-12 or R-14/R-18 ) could not do the job.
     
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  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    IMO that isn't necessary. National weapons should emphasize what you are good at building. For USA that means air cooled radial engines. Just as German aircraft should mostly use their excellent V12s.

    R1830 and R2800 were excellent engines. R2600 looks good on paper but engine had quality problems. Either fix problems or else cancel the engine in favor of additional R2800s.

    In any case USAAC should mass produce a variant of F4U rather then the inferior P-47. If that means admitting USN contract produced a superior fighter aircraft then so be it. Same thing happens during 1960s when USN F4 Phantom proved superior to USAF fighter aircraft. The Army might as well get used to eating humble pie. :)
     
  13. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    start research and production of the electric gatling gun in 1935 rather than in the 1949. you want to protect your bombers give it one hell of a sting
     
  14. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Au contraire, Dave :)
    The USA can take advantage of someone else actually develop, test and use on wide scale an important piece of hardware. More Merlins early means not just a possibility of a better Mustang in 1942-43, but also insures the USAF in case some of their projects fails,like it was case for some hi-per engines.
    As for the P-47 vs. F4U: P-47 was faster, with bigger punch and more range. The only shortcoming was that it was much delayed. But, the F4U was also much delayed.
     
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  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Siemens had working prototypes during 1918 and one of them was supposedly used in combat. If USAAC are willing to eat a bit more humble pie they could pay for German technical assistance to develop a .50cal Gatling gun. That might cut development time.

    However I don't see it happening. USA was in love with .50cal M2 machinegun to the extent it was still our primary aircraft machinegun into mid 1950s.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Siemens used a different operating principle than the Gatling gun and was technological dead end in 1918, anybody who paid a dime for the Siemens gun after WW I should have been put in a loony bin for the rest of their lives.

    The Americans had trouble with belts feeding at 600-800rounds per minute. Trying to feed .50 cal ammo or bigger at 4-6000rpm wasn't going to happen in WW II. A 1000 round belt will last a 4000rpm gun 15 seconds and 1000 rounds of .50 cal ammo weighs about 300lbs. What is moving the weight of the ammo and at the proper speed?

    You can't sychro a Gatling gun and a 6 barreled Gatling gun could easily weigh twice what an M2 Browning did. The modern GUA-19 is about 14-15 in diameter which makes it a little hard to stick in some WW II wings and even the 2000rpm 3 barrel version needed a 4 hp electric motor. It also takes 0.4 seconds to reach full rate of fire.
     
  17. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    #17 bobbysocks, Mar 18, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2014
    supposedly gatling had a version of his gun that worked off of electric way before 1918. the problem with the belt feeds was why i suggested putting it into R&D early. they could have ironed that out within a few years. it would not fit in the wing and pods are way too draggy. but perhaps in the nose of something like a p38 or some other application. what would a dozen spooky gun ships have been able to do at the right place in time?
     
  18. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    1937 is too early to play much in the way of 'What If' if the intent is to generate a more robust USAAF for 1942. Also you haven't set a funding limit or suggested 'make do' but do it better?

    The key decisions give a crystal ball would have been the 1939-1940 timeframe with a Unified (brilliant) oversight committee to establish a strategic and a tactical doctrine which would allocate (brilliant) decisions and priorities for the Best 1940 fighters and bombers and engines (including R&D on jet engines) as well as licensing agreements for such as Merlins, contemplate joint USN/USA development on promising fighters, give full production arrangements on the P-38, P-51, P-47 and F4U and parcel out R&D for P&W and GE for jet engine development.
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    To solve the problem you need servo motors along the feed way. Motors that are synchronized to each other and move the ammo (belted or un-belted) at the proper speed regardless of flying straight and level or pulling a 5 "G" turn and from sea level to 30,000ft.

    Some US power turrets had servo motor assisted feeds and some ingenuous P-51 armorers used them to help P-51s get over belt feeding problems.

    Not sure you are going to solve the problem of trying to feed ammo at 3-6 times the rate of M-2 gun all that easy.
     
  20. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    to really have an impact i think you would have to have different people in power or in the postion to make decisions. with the same cast of characters and the beliefs and biases they had, i tend to think you would get pretty close to the way it was no matter what you parade before them. the mentality of the bomber is always going to get through with acceptable losses we dont need this that or the other thing ( that they ended up needing ) is going to prevail. so i would probably start with new leadership...people who might listen to LeMay and others like him.
     
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