Prototypes used in combat.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Rufus123, Oct 12, 2013.

  1. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    I am pretty sure I have read some places where Germany has sent prototype weapons into combat. I have never heard of the USA or British doing this.

    Is my memory flawed or did Germany do this?
     
  2. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Germany did occasionally press prototypes into service, though often not into combat. The Ar240 for example was intended to be a replacement for the Me410 and several of the completed V-types saw service instead as hi-speed photo recon aircraft.
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #3 GregP, Oct 13, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
    Then best example is probably the Ta-152. It was never developed to combat readiness. They deployed about 43 of them and there were NO spare parts. So when something broke, they canabalized to keep the others flying. When the war ended, there were two operational. Hardly a big threat to anything. Yes, it got into combat. But NO, it was not combat ready. It had very good performance when running correctly, but didn't always do so.

    In the end, it made almost no conrtibution to the war effort for Germany, but WAS a very good aircaft that was still in development. After the war it was not proceeded with, so it died the death of an aircaft on the losing side. As a fighter, it deserved better, but never got it. Great plane with unrealized potential.

    The Germans also built some large flying boats, the BV.222 and BV.238. They built 13 BV.222's and 1 BV.238. They were very good aircraft for the mission, but were only prototypes and made almost no contribution to the cause.

    All sides put prototypes into combat at one time or another ... some did OK, some didn't, mostly due to lack of ability to maintain or repair them when damaged. If a prototype, the spare parts were obviously scarce. Prototype engines also had mixed success, as did prototype propellers. The early R-3350's in the B-29 were NOT well liked by either crews or maintenance people. Later, it became a good engine in civil use but, during WWII, it was a bit of a hated engine ... though it WAS effective.

    The coupled engines on the He-177 were also not well liked nor were reliable. They caught fire with startingly regularity. The Italians seemed to LIVE for prototypes. The best Italian fighters were made in very small numbers, almost making them a run of prototypes, too.

    The Japanese Atsuta engine was NEVER reliable. I spoke with a guy who was a good friend of Cook Cleland after the war and he said that Cook was flying a Japanese Ki-61 and had an engine failure. They had 4 new Atsuta V-12's in boxes and Cook disassembled the Atsuta and found that the oil passage from the nose case to the block was not drilled. He checked the 4 new Atsutas and found NONE were drilled. They drilled out the oil galley and never had another failurem but scrapped them when the test flying was done.

    Can't say how true that story was, but the source is very reliable.

    Anyway, everyone used prototypes in some fashion, and many were good planes and engines that never got a chance due to production realities. If a decent plane was being produced and somewhat better prototype was available, the changeover costs probably killed the prototype. The new plane had to be GOOD to take over the job.

    Some made it, some didn't.
     
  4. OldSkeptic

    OldSkeptic Active Member

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    It happened, accidentally, to the British. Quill (Spitfiire test pilot) was testing the brand new prototype Mk IX and went down to a (too lazy to look up the details but it is in his book) fighter base. Where the chief (a famous pilot) took it up, supposedly for 'a spin' ... and then took it on a mission into France.... Quill was having kittens "the most important aircraft in Britain' taken out on a fighter sweep.

    I am sure there were others.
     
  5. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

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    MiG-9 (I-210, or MiG-3 M-82A) and Polikarpov I-185.
     
  6. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    four YP-80A's (2 to England and 2 to Italy) were deployed in January 1945 in Project Extraversion
     
  7. swampyankee

    swampyankee Active Member

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    #7 swampyankee, Oct 13, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 13, 2013
    I don't know about British prototypes, but US ones would be in the US; the US had no need to do so. The Germans were in a rather desperate situation, especially after mid-1944; they had no choice.

    eta: did those 4 YP-80s actually get near enough to German aircraft to actually see them?
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Common practice and not just for aircraft. WWII Germany could not produce enough equipment for all their military units plus allied nations so not much went to waste.
     
  9. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The four P-80's flew patrol missions but never saw a German jet. I cannot recall if they saw or engaged German pistons. There are some nice pics of two of them over Mount Vesuvius.

    The first all-jet combat was in the Korean War and result in a victory for US pilot Lt. Russell Brown. He got a MiG-15. The WWII British jets didn't get much closer to German jets than the US jets did, though not from any lack of desire to do so on the part of the British combat pilots. They were rather keen to have a go at it, but were not allowed to do so.

    I'm not sure how much technology would have fallen into German hands if, say, a Meteor or a Vampire were to be shot down and examined by the Germans. They already had an operational jet or two and probably would not have learned anything they didn't already know except maybe to try a centrifugal compressor. Likewise the P-80's ... they were running British engines made over here and wouild have given away almost nothing to the Germans had they been shot down and examined. But the powers that be dictated it not happen in WWII, and it didn't.

    By the time the P-80's arrived in Europe, we had already reverse-engineered the German V-1, complete with a US-designed pulsejet that was smaller than the German unit but made good thrust, and we were making the Loon here in the USA, so MAYBE the guys who didn't want anything new to fall into German hands knew what they were talking about.

    They probably figured that if THEY could do it quickly, so could the Germans, and they certainly didn't want to hand the Germans anything useful. The Germans already had some potent high-tech weapons of their own. Accidentally handing them something new probably wasn't seen as a good idea by either the British or the Americans.

    In reality, I doubt if the Allies had a clear picture of what things were like in Germany in late 1944 / early 1945, or we wouldn't have worried much about new developments based on captured Allied weapons. If the Germans had wasted any time and effort on it, the war would have ended even sooner than it did.
     
  10. rmark

    rmark New Member

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    I know at least one YF-94 (FA-356) went to Korea with the early production F-94A Starfires during the Korean War.
     
  11. pattern14

    pattern14 Member

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    That's a pretty good summary of how things were. As far as the British keeping the Meteor out of reach of the Germans goes, there are differing ways of looking at that. It is pretty unlikely that the Germans would have learnt too much from the Meteor, as the 262 was clearly the more advanced aircraft, with subsequent German jets in the pipeline better again. They WERE concerned that the allies would have superior jets to the 262 by the end of 1944 ( which was unfounded, but feared ), and getting hold of a Meteor may have made them realise they did not have too much to worry about in that aspect (my opinion only of course). By that stage of the conflict it was academic anyway, nothing short of the A-bomb mounted in a V2 would have helped, and the rest is history.
     
  12. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Pretty well true, pattern14.

    With your forum name, did you fly RC pattern? I did.

    Loved it for several years and then went back to flying RC just for fun. The contests were starting to get less than fun. People would score a particular pilot based on his reputation, not his flying. Politics yet again ina sport where it was supposed to be absent.
     
  13. pattern14

    pattern14 Member

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    Hi GregP; no I didn't fly RC pattern, although I do scratch build R/C WW2 aircraft and fly them with my sons. Don't belong to a club for the very reasons you mention i.e politics and too serious. The pattern 14 tag comes from when I used to work in my fathers' gun shop as a kid. He was a Gun smith and owned a firearms dealership, and I used to clean up all the old war surplus rifles for him so they could be sellable. I came across the ugliest old tank of a .303 sniper rifle amongst the pile, did some reading, and discovered it was the American ( Remington I seem to remember) made Enfield P14. Best shooting army rifle I ever owned, even if it was mother -in-law ugly. Been my favourite ever since, and I shot competitive with it for years. The older club members used to rib me about it, and nick named me Pattern 14, as I never used anything else. One bloke used to joke that he hoped I picked better looking girlfriends than I did rifles. Guess it seemed natural when the internet came around to use it as my avatar. Cheers.
     
  14. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    As it happens, I have a British Enfield No. 4 Mk 2 in, of course, .303 British caliber.

    I got it still wrapped in the original canvas bag and still in the original cosmoline. I can account for all of the approximately 40 or so shots through it to date. The wood is perfect, as is the bluing. Naturally, all numbers match. I even have the cleaning kit in the proper place.

    Though it is a combat rifle and not my favorite "plinker," it is a personal favorite and I'd never part with it, though I might let someone else shoot it if they wanted to do so. Accurate, hard-hitting, and doesn't kick overly hard. All in all, a great rifle with a strong history.

    Thanks to the Brits who made it. Mine was made at ROF Fazakerley.
     
  15. pattern14

    pattern14 Member

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    That's great to hear GregP. I had a number of SMLE rifles over the years, although I have not shot for decades now. My No.4 rifle was made by longbranch in Canada, and had two groove rifling , but still shot well. My favourite hunting rifle for wild boars was the No.5.Mk1 "Jungle carbine", but their main claim to fame was boosting the sale of hearing aides. The noise was ear splitting. As with so many of lifes' interests, circumstances can change your direction at any time, but I look back on my shooting and hunting days very fondly.
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    As do I. I'd still shoot if I didn't live in California. Here it is a real pain.

    Maybe back to Arizona.
     
  17. redcoat

    redcoat Active Member

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    The Luftwaffe had the practice of sending prototypes / early production aircraft to so-called test units (erprobungskommando) to work out faults and devise combat tactics for these aircraft.

    Erprobungskommando - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
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  18. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    A bit out of scope of this topic but two prototype E-8A JointStar radar ground surveillance aircraft were dispatched to support Operation Desert Storm and manned, I believe, by non-military type. They flew 49 combat missions, over 500 combat hours, and were very effective.
     
  19. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

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    I know that at least one of the Jagdpanzer IV prototype A-O saw combat, the French have it as a war memorial in one of their museums.
     
  20. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    If I recall correctly, the P-80's never saw any enemy aircraft period (jet or prop) while on any of there combat air patrols.
     
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