Post-War Racers?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Dec 22, 2011.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Which planes were the most popular and "best" post-war racers?
    All countries included.
    Which fighters weren't used for post-war racing?
    Does this success, or lack of success, reflect upon their war performance?
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Since the air races were held in the US the early period of air racing used exclusively US planes. From 1946 to 1950. The Planes were available cheap as war surplus and many pilots/teams were operating on a shoe string. Importing aircraft just wasn't an economical proposition. Going fast at near sea level and being able to do a 2-3 G turn were the only real requirements and so show almost no indication of how they would have performed as war planes. For instance Charlie Tucker is supposed to have admitted (after the races were over) that his clipped wing P-63 lost as much ground in the turns due to the high wing loading/low aspect ratio as he gained on the straight away's due to lower drag.

    Try Society of Air Race historian

    For the early races. By the time the races were restarted in the 60s and a few British planes became available, Really cheap surplus planes and parts were becoming a thing of the past ( some 1946 race pilots bought their planes using just some of their mustering out pay). Getting race worthy engines pretty much limited teams to engines that had continued on into the 1950s as either still serving military engines or as commercial engines.
     
  3. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    #3 renrich, Dec 23, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 23, 2011
    Obviously the P51 is the most popular air racer. Right after the war there were a lot of AC tried in air races. P63s, P38s, Corsairs, some twin engined AC. The Corsairs were pretty successful but I believe the last Corsair to race was the "Super Corsair" and it caught on fire and crashed a few years ago. I saw it race in about 1992(?) There was even a Yak in that race but it failed to get started. Bearcats perhaps are the second most popular racer of the warbirds. Almost forgot, the Sea Fury has been raced a lot. I would think it is the most popular non-American AC.
     
  4. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    #4 bobbysocks, Dec 24, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2011
    P-39Qs had a fair following. Jack Woolams was lost in one during a test run prior to the cleveland air race in 1946. Woolam was a colorful character and worth reading about. he once wore a gorilla mask with a derby hat and rubber cigar during a flight to freak out a pilot in a jet....
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    :lol: That's hysterical!

    Wouldn't the F8F Bearcar fall into this discussion as well?
     
  6. Messy1

    Messy1 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if the Bearcat was as readily available as some of the older designs were?
     
  7. Piper106

    Piper106 Member

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    The F8F Bearcat was still on active duty and was not available via surplus sale to civilians for the 1946 to 1949 Cleveland air race period.

    The F8F was available to civilians for the resumption of air racing in 1964.

    Piper106
     
  8. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    #8 gjs238, Dec 27, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 27, 2011
    Would have been interesting to see a Bf-109 of Fw-190 in those races.
    Or Spitfire, Spiteful, Tempest or Typhoon for that matter.
     
  9. chris mcmillin

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    I always thought that a PR34 Mosquito would've been a great airplane to fly in the Bendix cross country race. High altitude, high speed, non-stop. It took about 800 gallons for a Mustang to race the distance non-stop so a lot of work would have to be get the additional fuel load required for a wide open, competitive race.

    Mustangs dominated the post-war Bendix, but the only reason that one won the Thompson was that the front runner F2G's and P-39 "KF-1" dropped out in 1948. However, the Mustang that did win in that race was highly modified with a low altitude Packard 225 from Canadian stocks, with water injection and clipped wings.

    P-39 Cobra II was first in qualifying, and the Thompson race, in 1946 at 408 and 373 respectively. It was the number 3 qualifier in 1947 and placed third at 384 against the F2G's of Cook Cleland's team. It was first qualifier again as "KF-1" qualifying at 418mph and was running first until the 19th lap at laps of up to 413 mph when a vapor lock caused an engine failure and Chuck Brown landed deadstick. Pretty good performance from the little fighter, because it had great big horsepower from late model Allison's over-revving to 2000 plus HP and a small frontal area/wetted area airframe that was lighter than all others. In 1946 and 1948 it lead from the start due to it's super acceleration from the race-horse standing start; even it's landing gear retraction was souped up being rewired from 24 to 36 volts for a 5 second retraction time!

    In 1948 all nations types were allowed and Mosquito's were entered in 1948 and 49. The Bendix featured Jesse Stallings flying a MK25, Don McVickar entered but experienced an engine failure enroute to Long Beach, CA for the start. In 1949 a Spitfire MkXIV low back was entered in the Thompson and was qualified for the alternate for the classic. It did compete in the Sohio I think. Don Bussard bought and entered the MK25 Mossie from Jesse Stallings and raced it again in the Bendix.

    The idea of British ships for me was, of all things, the Typhoon for the Thompson! Just because my Dad likes them. The idea of a guy with a few bucks heading over to England and buying a couple of Spiteful's with low altitude engines (and a couple of spares) and a nicely overhauled Mk 21 or Seafire 46 out of surplus would be really neat. Looking for a little professional help from experts in the field in post-war England, a Rolls expert, DH and Supermarine mechs, and some unofficial support for the effort by affording some space and cover for the ships preparation by say, DH or Vickers or Hawker would've probably been possible. These single engined ships would be crated and shipped over to the US.

    A nicely overhauled surplus PR34 Mossie for the Bendix would be ferried over the North Atlantic. I like PRU Blue for the Mossie.
    Dad's car-door Typhoon (engine and prop from a Tempest Mk6 and wings outer panels shortened a bay or two with the round tips refitted) a nice blue as well. I bet she'd do 400 on the straights.
    I like red and cream (it was the forties) so a nicely executed four-color scheme based on red and cream would be my Spiteful/Spitfire/Seafire team colors. My Spiteful would have a boil-off cooling system for coolant and oil, and enough ADI for the whole of the race at 2500 hp incorporating slightly shortened blades. Figuring a 425 qualifying speed and a 400 mph winning speed after shadowing the F2G of Cook Cleland until the end and racing him wide open the last two laps to the finish.

    Thanks for the fun filled fantasy, guys! Great topic.

    Chris...
     
  10. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #10 GregP, Dec 29, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
    Actually, Jack Woolams was the pilot of the jet. The USA's first jet was the Bell XP-59A Airacomet. I know this becuase we are resotring a Bell YP-59A Airacomet to flight status at this time and have researched it quite extensively. It is CLOSE to flying!

    Anyway, the jets were operating out of Rodgers Dry Lake (now Edwards Air Force Base) and there was a P-38 base at the other end of the lake bed. Naturally, some P-38 pilots saw the jet being tested and reported it. That got back to the jet guys and they needed to do something to preserve secrecy.

    Jack went into Hollywood and bought a gorilla mask, a bolo hat, and two cigars, came back, and went flying. He searched for and found some P-38 pilots. He flew up beside them and waved. Naturally, they repported they had seen an aircaft with no propeller , flown by a gorilla wearing a bolo hat and smoking a cigar.

    The flight surgeon gave them the choice to reporting the event and being declared insane and discarged ot shutting up.

    They shut up.

    So, after that, they saw the jet but didn't report it.

    Altogether a unique bit of experimental flying lore, but true.

    All the members of our team have bolo hats and we have one gorilla mask and a fake wood propeller,. just lijke the original. When we do the "first flight" Steve Hinton will probably not wear the gorilla mask, but he probably will for the tow to the flight line during the next airshow after it flies!
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The most popular post-war racer, by FAR, is the P-51, as stated above.

    Spitfires would have been interesting, but nobody seemed to want to modify one to be a racer. Nor any German aircraft, either. That is understadable because of so few DB engine (or Jumos, take your pick) that the few that were available were kept relatively stock instead of being "hot rodded" for racing. Japanese fighrters were very maneuverable, but were never particularly fast, so they weren't used either.

    Most of the avaiable fighters were of US manufacture (in the USA, anyway), so it seemd only practical to use a US fightger. Of the avaiable aircraft, the P-51 and F8F were the fastest in stock form at LOW LEVEL. The P-47 was fast, but only at high altitude, and it's weight worked against it in the turns of the roughly pear-shaped race course. The Navy fighters, other than the Bearcat, were popular, but not as racers due to them not being particularly fast in stock form. The best starting place to a race winner was a very probably the fastest stock fighter.

    So ... people tried the P-51. F8F, P-39, P-63, Sea Furies, and even some Russian Yaks. The most unusual was probably Clay lacey's Dogglas DC-7 that almost won a race! It didn't have to stop for fuel and was about as fast as a bearcat at low level! ANyway, the supply of foreign (to us) fighters in the USA has always been low, and that explains the P-51's racing popularity ... performance for the buck! Several years after WWII, you could buy one for $250!
     
  12. Oskar the Pilot

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    Well, I don't know much on this subject, but I've read and seen a lot of pictures of P-51s being used in racing.

    Now for a bit of personal opinion: I think they should have used the late ME 262 and possibly the Spitfire 24 or Spiteful. There weren't too many of either, but I can't imagine that they were thinking to use them in later wars...
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #13 FLYBOYJ, Dec 29, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
    Also consider the formulas, sport and jet class as well. Super sport racers are flying at speeds some of the warbirds did just a few years ago at half the horse power!!! There’s been a lot done in those other classes and although we admire and love WW2 fighters going around the pylons, true air race fans should appreciate ALL classes.

    Current Reno course speed record holder, all classes

    [​IMG]
     
  14. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Would be a hoot to see a Do 335 Pfeil in the pack!
     
  15. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Hi FlyboyJ,

    What kind of horsepower do you think they're getting in the Super Sport class?

    I am under the impression they are getting ... maybe ... 600 HP from a Lycoming IO-580 tuned to the max.

    Though a real Reno air race fan, I confess I have not paid a lot of attention to the technical rules of the jet class. I am under the impression they are limited to L-29 / 39 / 59 and the TS-11 somehow. Otherwise someone would show up in an F-86 or Hunter. I'll have to look into it out of interest now.

    Of course, they are also limited by the race course. It isn't practical to go too fast around an 8-mile race course because the g-forces would quickly get out of hand. I KNOW the race course is not circular but, if it were, and if the aircraft were flying at a constant velocity of 510 mph (443 knots), the steady angle of bank required would be 45° at 2.46 g all the way around the course. If we increase that to, say, 580 mph, the angle of steady bank angle becomes 73.7° at 7.40 g all the way around the circle.

    Nobody wants 7.4 g for an 8-lap race, so I think the real speed limiting factor at Reno is the race course length and the g-force the pilots will put up with.
     
  16. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #16 FLYBOYJ, Dec 29, 2011
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2011
    Hi Greg!

    You're right about the HP (1/4 of the unlimiteds) but they are hitting speeds in excess of 400 mph!

    http://www.nemesisnxt.com/kit/index.php

    I guess in qualifying this year a Glasair went 396 mph! You're also correct about the Jet class. In the first years they had a MiG-17 compete and later modified the rules so the more popular and available jets can compete. (L29s and L39s). Weight and size became a factor during the 2007 season when Brad Morehouse was killed. You're right about the course however. If the jets are going to be allowed to go faster, the course will have to be expanded. I worked for Mike Mangold 2008, 09 and 10 and there were times he was pushing close to 6gs from what I remember.

    In recent years the jet class was broken into Gold and Silver so "stock" jets can compete. The L39 became an easy favorite until modified L29s showed up with RR Viper or JT-12 engines. Since then they dominate the class.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Even in the late 40s the jets were in a class of their own. Air Force (or Navy) jets did not compete against the prop planes.
     
  18. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    GregP...thats right...jack was the jet pilot. it was a long time since i first came across that. now you would think ( at least I would) that with canada being in the CW that spits and the like would be a bit more plentiful. the RCAF had to have been equiped with them after the war and once done with them would hussle them off as surplus. and the races werent limited to us citizens...so a canadian racer would have the opportunity to jump in with a brit ac.
     
  19. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

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    pretty sure all the Spits were left in Europe they requipped with the P51 for Canada , I'm almost certain with the few the RCN had for the navy there never was a Canadian based Spit squadron P40's Hurricanes
     
  20. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    REALLY? with 51s? i am surprised...thanks
     
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