Questions about the VG-33 and Miles M.20

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Clay_Allison, Dec 29, 2008.

  1. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    Just prior to the war there existed a concept that many governments toyed with. A light fighter plane, made of non-strategic materials (plywood) and dragged around the sky by a Rolls Royce Kestrel, Junkers Jumo or HS 12Y, engines too weak to power a modern full size fighter but at one time in plentiful supply. If a fighter plane is the sports car of the air, this concept was the motorcycle.

    The English, caught with their pants down in the BoB were nearly forced to revert to arming advanced trainers (the Miles Master) and toyed with making a plane that went from a blank piece of paper to its first flight in 2 weeks (the Miles M.20).

    The French had three companies try to come up with something and the best of them was the Arsenal VG-33. It was nice looking fighter, evoking images of some of the pretty and fun to fly but pathetically underarmed Italian fighters. Apparently it could have been built in incredible numbers and was to be powered by an Allison had the idea not arrived when Hitler was sitting in a railroad car accepting French surrender.

    My question is, did this idea have any merit?

    Assume for a moment that you are a country starved of fighters that needs them (Australia or Finland for example) and this idea comes to you in time to get the project rolling (1935 for example). Assume you can get the engines (say a license Allison V-1710, Klimov 105 or DB-600 depending on your alliance), you can build the fighters, and you can arm them with at least a pair of good 20mm cannon. Remember that when you replace them with better fighters later in the war, they could continue to be good advanced trainers.

    If you were the head of the war department of X-Country would you approve of such a program, or was this a concept that looks good on paper but only ends in tears?
     
  2. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    Australia got further down this line than any other country as far as I know, the Commonwealth Boomerang has its roots in the T-6 Texan.

    Was it called the Boomerang in the hope that it would always come back, I wonder?

    I would imagine the idea would only really have merit if you had the facilities and pilots to make enough to swamp your enemy, in which case why not devote those facilities to making smaller numbers of much better aircraft? Interesting question though.

    As for what Britain nearly had to do in the BoB, I will leave this thread on topic except to say that many ideas were investigated like armed trainers, just in case, but none of them came close to being used.
     
  3. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    I was aware of the Boomerang but didn't think to mention it, maybe because I just don't like fat stubby Brewster Buffalo-looking fighters.

    Fortunately for the brits, the Hurricane was already suited to mass production so there was no need to produce another cheaper fighter.

    The Soviet Union really got farther than anyone with the concept, further reading has shown me that the MiG-3 was as close to what I'm talking about as anything.
     
  4. Waynos

    Waynos Active Member

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    I didn't know that about the MiG 3. Shows what a good job they made then as I always thought of it as a 'normal' fighter.
     
  5. Eurofighter

    Eurofighter New Member

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    I didn't know that about the MiG-3 either, from what I understand the aircraft did a poor job during the first stages of the war between Nazi Germany and the USSR because it was forced to fight at low altitude where it was found to be inferior against Germans fighters. As far as the question goes seeing my self in the task of building an air force, I think I would be skeptical about the cocept; I think I would rather choose quality instead of quantity. That's my personal opinion.
     
  6. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    I kind of have a design idea for a light fighter that would have had many of the advantages of the A6M without the (same) drawbacks. A 2-ton plywood plane looking like a small He 100 or one of the beautiful late war Italian fighters pulled by a 1200 HP Allison and toting 2*20mm Cannon, 300 rounds each set for 250 meters convergence.

    The expected result would be an aircraft with very high speed and accelleration, good climb due to low weight, but would share with the Zero a total lack of pilot protection. While it should not have the high speed handling issues as the Zero, it would lack the Zero's range, and I fear its roll rate would be very fast and the controls would be overly sensitive rather than losing sensitivity, especially in roll rate. Landing speed might be on the high side as well.

    Basically, it would be a racing and aerobatics plane with guns on and while very dangerous to the enemy, you'd have to be highly agressive and a little crazy to want to fly it into combat. It would be like a lighter, sleeker, prettier MiG-3 with an American engine.
     
  7. merlin

    merlin Member

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    The RAF had the advantage over the French - in that they had aero engines available in the range of 1,000 hp to fit in their fighters. The French were to a large extent limited by the lower powered Hispano-Suiza 860 hp 12y engine. For example the MS 406 was a much better aircraft when the Finns fitted captured Russian engines in it.
    The Arsenal VG-33 wasn't that 'light' - the weight parameters were comparable with the Me109 for example. Whereas the Caudron C.714 was lightweight - with a loaded weight of 3,858 lbs. Moreover, there was development potential in the VG-30 Series, whereas the Poles were glad to be rid of the Caudron's.
     
  8. Clay_Allison

    Clay_Allison Active Member

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    the VG-30 series may have been just more smooth than light. The pictures show a very well streamlined plane like the He-100 that broke the airspeed record in tests and the very pretty late war Italian fighters. Perhaps its' performance was due to good aerodynamics.
     
  9. Macboffin

    Macboffin New Member

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    Since Britain won the Battle of Britain they were obviously not "caught with their pants down". The Miles M20 was not produced in two weeks; you crazy? It took a remarkable 65 days. It was faster and more manouvrable than the famous "Hurricane", although it had a fixed spatted undercarriage, and the same engine, the "Merlin". Hardly "Toying with an idea". There was also a Naval variant with arrestor hook etc. Must remark that "Enthusiasm is no substitute for expertise."
    Myself aerodynamicist for fifty years.
     
  10. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Are you sure an aircraft with 3/4 of a ton of engine, 2 heavy cannons and 600 rounds of ammo is going to weigh 2 tons. Even made out of plywood it is going to come out much heavier, the VG-33 has a weight of 2.6 tons with a lighter Hispano engine and a much lighter weapon load.
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I believe the Miles used a Merlin XX with a two speed supercharger like the Hurricane II?
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It hasn't a prayer of coming out at that weight.
    Power plant (engine, radiators, oil coolers ,propeller cowling etc) is going to come out at around 2500lbs. Pilot 200lbs, guns (without mounts heaters ammo boxes ) 220-250lbs. 600 rounds of Hispano ammo (without belt links) is going to be over 300lbs. this isn't leaving much weight for the airframe let alone fuel/oil.
     
  13. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    The M20 with that thick wing and fixed undercarriage must have dived at about the same speed as a barn not something you want in a fight.
     
  14. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I like the concept. I would also like to direct your attention at the Finnish wooden copy of the Bf 109. It has a name but virtually impossible to remember without a quick google check.

    The Italian Ambrosini fighters with the air cooled inline Isotta Frasschini engines are also interesting. They were intended to get the more powerful 1200 hp Zeta engines.

    But one more thing to remember. Wooden aircraft may be easier to construct for certain countries like Finland. But most countries have enough aluminium and metal industry for their aircraft production. I would think the engine production is the more limiting factor here. That is definitely true for Italy.

    Kris
     
  15. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    That would bey VL Pyoerremyrsky.
     

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  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Real beauty.
     
  17. NZTyphoon

    NZTyphoon Member

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    #17 NZTyphoon, Nov 29, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
    Time for some actual facts: From A Most Secret Place:Boscombe Down 1939-45 by Johnson and Heffernan pages 51-55
    The M.20 used the 1,460 hp Merlin XX "power egg" from the Beaufighter II/Lancaster I
    Wingspan = 34' 7" wing area = 253 sq ft
    Length = 30' 8'
    Max Speed = 345 mph at 20,400 ft range = 1,200 miles at 210 mph
    One prototype AX834 was built and first flew 14 September 1940

    A Mk II DR616 was built to a naval specification N1/41 and was stressed for catapult take-off and arrested landings and was heavier than the first- it was tested at a weight of 7,650 lbs: max speed was 333 mph at 20,400 ft; rate of climb was 2,300 ft/min:
    The eight .303 Brownings had 625 rpg:

    This prototype was tested at Boscombe down to a dive speed of 450 mph with pilots reporting that "Acceleration is remarkable...the aeroplane behaves normally in the dive and recovery is straight forward."

    For a really good site on the Arsenal VG 33 series this is the best that I can find, although it is in French. (( The English translation .)) Here the weight is given as 2,680 kg (5,908 lb) Max speed = 347 mph
     
  18. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Wasn't the power Merlin XX 1280-1300 HP?
     
  19. NZTyphoon

    NZTyphoon Member

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    The power quoted for the Merlin XX is 1,460 hp.
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I think we are back to the Merlin power problem of WHEN the power is quoted;

    The allowable boost was often changed after a particular mark of engine was in service.

    And WHERE or WHAT ALTITUDE.

    Merlin's often were not allowed to use full boost or combat ratings for take-off.
    Or least were not rated that way, what was done in squadron service might be another story.

    Merlin XX were rated at 1280HP/3000rpm/12lbs boost for take-off and 1460hp/3000rpm/14lbs at 6,500ft and 1430hp/3000rpm/16lbs boost at 11,000ft.
    These are 5 minute ratings.

    30 minute ratings (climb) are 1125hp/2850rpm/9lbs at 9,500ft and 1130hp/2850rpm/9lbs at 16750ft.
     
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