Need help with WWII aircraft classification

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Easy1, Feb 16, 2012.

  1. Easy1

    Easy1 New Member

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    Hi guys!

    I've been visiting this forum some times over the last years, but now I finally stepped down and made an account as this seem the best place to ask a couple of WWII aviation-related questions. I also made this thread in the technical division of the forum, but I'm moving it here since the technical one seem particularly dead. Moderators are free to delete the other one.

    I'm trying to make a more or less universal aircraft classification system for mainly WWII aircrafts. Its part of something i'm working on for a WWII grand strategy game.

    So, this is what I came up with. Aside from the upper four aircrafts that are only listed according to their primary capacity, all aircrafts are listed after their primary and sencondary capacity. The capacities I picked are range, speed, manuverability and armament/ordnance. I went with ruling out parameters like stability, propulsion, drag, lift, rate of climt, endurance as they seem less relevant (might be wrong here) and to avoid making it too complex and uncomprehensible.

    Aircraft Classification System.jpg

    Now, my question to whoever know more aeronautics than I do (most people here ), does this chart make any sense at all? Is there something you would change? Is the terminology fine? Would you design it in another way? And finaly, if it makes sense, if all majors of WWII (Japan, Italy, France, Germany, US, UK and USSR) were to have aircrafts tyepes only from two categories of capacities, that be one primary capacity and one secondary capacity, which two would best fit the different majors historically? I mean, so they would have a set of aircrafts that best correlates to the historical situation. For example, I picture myself speed as the primary capacity and armament/ordanceas the secondary capacity for Germany. Then Germany will have the aircrafts that best seem to correlate to their historical tactical airfirce.

    I take you now understand this is a doctrine path system to simulate different design trade offs, and henceforth priorities the WWII combatants made when it comes to aircraft research and production.
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure that I would have a category for 'heavy fighter'.. Weight is dictated by fuel storage, powerplant selection and payload considerations. Sacrifices to bring 'heavy' back to average include reducing armor/self sealing tanks, designing to less structural capability, reducing armament. The simple fact is that only the US had fighters that really fit the description until the Do 335 was produced. Even the Me 110 and Ki-45 as twin engine escort fighters, loaded out, weighed the same in early years as a loaded out Mustang.

    Many airframes were adopted to fighter role (Mossy, Me 210/410) but the ones that came off the drawing boards as fighters/interceptors that were 'heavy' (P-47, P-38, P-61, F4U, F6F, F7F, Me 110, Ki-45) either had monster radials or two engines.

    Another challenge that comes to mind is that as models changed, so did the role (P-51A to B, P-47B to P-47D, etc) as fighters had design features added to modify for different roles. The P-47 went from centerline single shackle bomb/fuel tank as a high altitude fighter - to a wet wing, two wing shackle, rocket hard points - to adapt to escort and fighter bomber role. Ditto P-51 to P-51B.. add a different engine, centerline internal fuel tank, increase hardpoint/shackle capability to move from low/medium altitude fighter/recon to high altitude long range escort/fighter bomber
     
  3. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #3 oldcrowcv63, Feb 16, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
    What DD said and I'd add that, in my mind at least, there were initially three basic classes of fighters/tactical aircraft:
    Point Defense interceptors: including as examples the Spit, Hurricane, Me-109, FW-190 whose performance was optimized to be used most effectively as defensive weapons because of their typically short range (although could be used on offense when forward basing allowed) .
    Air Superiority or Air Control Fighters : Examples include virtually any american design, the Japanese A6M Zero, often twin-engined in foreign designs. They typically had much longer range and heavy armament.

    As the war progressed, their missions evolved as DD described above to include:
    Fighter Bombers: Large fuel capacity provided the ability to trade range for payload becoming essentially light bombers that could in a pinch defend themselves. P-47, Hawker Typhoon, P-38 as examples

    There are other cross-overs and mission expansions in these catagoires, for example some of the Air contol fighters became night-fighters with payload and space to carry RADAR.
    With Drop Tanks the Point defense fighters could edge into the air control mission.
    Some attack aircraft or light bombers became reasonably effective long-range fighters and night fighters. DB-7/A-20 Havoc/Boston, Blenheim are examples.

    These are just some thoughts off the top of my head, I am sure other folks on the forum will have different takes on this type of catagorization and may well be both more accurate and of greater use to you.
     
  4. Easy1

    Easy1 New Member

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    #4 Easy1, Feb 29, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
    Thanks for the input and roger that. I mostly included heavy fighters as for their greater speed.

    This is a good point. In the game I'm making this modification for I'm picturing myself a system where some aircraft types can be converted to one an other. But I'm a bit undecided on how to this yet. Maybe all aircrafts with the same secondary capacity should be converted to one an other...

    So would you say the heavy fighter should be replaced by the Air Superiority or Air Control Fighters in the chart?

    Thanks. That vas some valuable information. It seems a lot of aircraft types became increasingly redundant as the war progressed becuase roles could be combined and even more so during the early stages of the cold war. Nowadays it seems one only speaks of three or four main aircraft types.

    I'm still not entirely sure I've picked the right characterics as the basis for my classification. I really wanted to included stability (as it is seen as a trade off to manuverability) but the chart just gets more comprehensive with additional colums and rows than there are aircraft types
     
  5. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #5 oldcrowcv63, Feb 29, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 29, 2012
    That's kind of how I see it, but I am sure there are other views. Hard (but not impossible) to find fighters heavier than the P-47, T-Bolt, P-38 Lightning, or F4U Corsair yet all found significant use as air control fighters but were just as (or even more) effective as Fighter bombers. I am sure there are foreign counterparts to these examples.

    That's a real problem with trying to create an optimized synthetic version of reality (model reality)... reality is always more complex than the parameter space you are able to define, especially when it comes to modeling an engagement! That's really difficult because so much doesn't depend on the technical details of the aircraft you have modeled, like cloud cover or the general weather, pilot training, mechanical problems, who sees who first....
     
  6. Easy1

    Easy1 New Member

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    I didn't think of the air Air Superiority or Air Control Fighter before you mentioned them actually. But it indeed makes sense to have one of them instead.

    The aircraft design process resembles a bit to chaos theory it seems :p. But its Its quite fascinating, the trade offs between the different flight performances are based on the present technological level, so with the slightest technological progress regarding only one of the performances (speed, range etc.) and all aircrafts are suddenly redundant due to the curving of what one might call the equilibrium of flight performances .

    So yeah, its really hard to detect what separates them!
     
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    One of the main attributes of a WWII fighter is rate of climb. If yours is better, you have an advantage against your opponents. I would rate rate of climb as one of the two most importatnt factors. Then other would be maneuverability ... at least for a fighter. Next would be acceleration followed by armament. Then probably ceiling, followed by top speed. Range is only important if there is not enough. If there is enough, range is meaningless. If not, it is numbner one in eliminating the aircraft from the mission.

    So, what aircraft have the range to fly the mission? Eliminate the ones who don't and select the best of what is left considering the mission. So ... range is either number one or meaningless. if it can fly the mission, then all others that can ALSO fly the mission are range-irrelevant ... they have enough range and are candidates for the mission. If not, they are not candidates for the mission.

    Top speed is generally not important unless you are running. If you are not running, top speed is almost meaningless assuming the combat speed is sufficient. If you are running, then dive speed also gets in there as well as top speed at low level (usually about 3/4 of max speed at altitude).

    The message is that the mission requirements make the choice of the "best" fighter for the mission.

    If you must hit something farther away than your longest-range aircraft can fly, you are out of the picture. If you have planes that can fly the mission ... pick the best of the candidates available to you considering the mission and likely situations to be encountered.

    Want to drop a 22,000 pound bomb? Your options are severely limited. Maybe ... the Lancaster or B-29. Ya' think? Don;t HAVE a B-29, maybe ... Lancaster? If the range is SHORT, other aircraft can perform, even the B-17, but it had better be a SHORT mission if you choose the B-17.

    Want to escort a bomber stream from England to Munich and back? Maybe not the Spitfire. I'd choose the P-51 or P-38, depending on timerframe.

    This assumes you have a mission planning group with a clue. If not, you are probably out of luck to start with.

    Stick with mission requirements versus available aircraft for the mission.
     
  8. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #8 oldcrowcv63, Mar 1, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 1, 2012
    IMO, there is a lot of very good and I suspect potentially helpful information to you in GregP's post. The only place I might differ a bit is in the relative importance of ceiling. It seems to me a parameter sharing attributes similar to Greg's description of 'Range.' If you have a point defense interceptor or air control fighter going after bombers that are flying higher than it can climb or it is able to climb in the warning time alotted, there is no intercept. There is no defense. Reading Bartsch's two books (Doomed at the Start and Every day a Nightmare) on the early Pacific war in 1941-42, this appears to have been frequently the case. USAAF FEAF P-40E interceptor aircraft in the PI and in Java attempted to intercept IJN and IJA Bombers but they simply didn't have the ceiling OR the climb rate to reach them, even when given a half hour warning of their approach! As the war progressed, I expect fighters more typically possessed adequate ceilings for what ever missions were assigned so ceiling had a less significant impact.
     
  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Good points oldcrow. If you have enough ceiling to get above the competition, then ceiling is unimportant. If you don't, you might as well descend to your best altitude and try to lure him down becasue you can't reach him. I suppose you could actually say the same about maneuverability. If youa re more maneuverable tgahn your opponent, then that quality isn;t important. Thing is, you can change your range with drop tanks. You can only decrease your seiling as you load it up, and your maneuverability is built-in. Maneuverability includes rate ot roll, rate of turn, instantaneous turn and roll, and the g-available at your current speed. All this is known today, but was "saet of the pants" in WW2.
     
  10. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    4 SURE! and a scary thing to discover, as so many pilots lost "the seat of their pants" found out! :(

    That was a school with one heck of a drop out rate! :shock:
     
  11. Easy1

    Easy1 New Member

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    Thanks Greg and oldcrow. Great info :)

    I'll come up with a new chart and post it soon.

    As stated earlier, the point is to design an industrial doctrine tree for a grand strategy game (you chose what categories of aircraft to produce). The game already has such a system for land doctrines with four different paths of priorities than can be chosen. Those are firepower, mobility focus, defense focus and light infantry focus. As for a similar system regarding aircraft design, do you think it would make sense to say that some countries prioritized given attributes to their aircraft designs as others did not? When it comes to land combat its pretty straight forward, the US prioritized firepower, Germany mobility while Japan prioritized light infantry. But in regards to aircrafts, would saying that the UK for example prioritized maneuverability while Germany prioritized acceleration be kind of valid?

    If the answer is YES, then which of the following aircraft design attributes would you say the following countries prioritized if you only could pick two attributes for each country?

    Attributes

    Rate of climb
    Maneuverability
    Acceleration
    Armament
    Ceiling/range
    Top speed

    Countries

    France
    Germany
    Italy
    Japan
    USA
    USSR
    UK

    The first thing that strikes my mind is that Germany which had more or less a tactical air force may have prioritized acceleration and top speed
     
  12. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #12 oldcrowcv63, Mar 6, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012
    Might work, I'll take a shot at this... provide you a strawman starting point. see below:

    This seems a bit over simplified but I don't know enough to help you here... I think others could better advise you.

    Note: I separated range and ceiling as different and unrelated attributes and added armor as an additional attribute. Also, it might be worthwhile considering an optional development of a naval air arm with attributes defined as above, but should include carrier basing suitability. I am sure there is much room for improvement.
     
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