Questions for Spitfire buffs

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hello, folks,

    Maybe some kind member could provide some answers to the following questions:
    -During the development of the leading edge tanks, was it deemed that 2 x 12,5 imp gals is sufficient, or maybe there was no enough space for bigger tanks?
    -Was it possible to install/retrofit the leading edge tanks in Spitfires already produced?
    -Did the Spitfire Mk.VIII ever received rear hull tank (even if it's the 29 gal one, as used in some Spit Vs), and, if yes, when?
    -Were the Spitfire's rear hull tanks ever used during combat missions, and, if yes, how often?
     
  2. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    I think I know the answer to whether it was possible to retrofit leading edge tanks. The answer is no the leading edge tank was the D shaped torsion box at the front of the wing it was a sort of leftover from the original design that would have used an evapoative cooling system and it would have contained steam. When using the D box as a fuel tank it had to be properly sealed when manufactured and all piping also fitted at manufacture. I imagine to retrofit the tanks would have meant drilling out lots of rivets to get the leading edge off to seal it and fit pipework. Probably easier to fit a new wing with all the work already done though I dont know if that was ever done. Edgar Brooks would probably know more if he is around.
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    As far as leading edge tanks go they were a tight fit and couldn't have been bigger,the structure of the wing was adapted to fit those that were used. The tanks (initially Mareng "bags") did indeed fit into the front D section but this entire section has ribs passing through it. To fit the tanks forward ribs 6 and 7 were removed and the upper and lower wing skins reinforced. The upper panel of the leading edge was screwed,not riveted,in place and could be removed to gain access to the fuel cell.
    Steve
     
  4. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    1/. That was all the space available; some of the later 20-series had second tank installed.
    2/. No, it wasn't.
    3/. No, it didn't.
    4/. Permanent fuselage fuel tanks were only used in the XVI, for ground attack, or temporary types could be fitted in other Marks (like the IX, heading for Malta from Gibraltar) for ferrying, when they had to have the extra-large ferry tank, under the centre section as well.
    There were plans to fit the XVI-style fuselage fuel tanks into fighters, like the IX XIV, but the C.O., of 11 Group, fought tooth-and-nail, to keep them out, since he said that they degraded their performance, at height, achievable height, and rate of climb, too much. Immediately post-war, use of the tanks was banned.
     
  5. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Many thanks, people, for the detailed answers :)
     
  6. Hop

    Hop Member

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    Permanent rear fuselage tanks were fitted to the IX as well as the XVI. Indeed, it would have been hard not to, as both types were built on the same production line at the same time, the only difference being the engine they were fitted with.

    Post war the Spitfire rear tanks could be used with special permission only. The RAF's Mustangs had their rear tanks removed.
     
  7. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Sounds like the RAF were doctrinally opposed to fuel tanks in a fighter aircraft rear fuselage.
     
  8. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    #8 Edgar Brooks, Aug 26, 2012
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 26, 2012
    No, they weren't, since the XVI's tanks were fitted by 30 M.U., weeks/months after the aircraft had been built. Fitting the tanks involved converting the XVI to "E" wing configuration, as well, since the tanks meant that the compressed-air tanks had to be moved out, into the wings, taking over the no.3 Browning positions. The longer flight times meant that there was a need for more oxygen, so two tanks occupied the no.4 gun compartments, with a third in the rear fuselage. Once the tanks were in, they got in the way of the Sutton harness cables, so a new type of harness had to be fitted. In order to get the extra weight off the ground, metal elevators were needed. In order to carry the under-wing bombs, stronger wheels, and clipped wingtips were needed.
    As for being "doctrinally opposed" to rear fuel tanks, what the RAF was "doctrinally opposed" to was inherently unstable aircraft.
     
  9. Hop

    Hop Member

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    From the Air Ministry's 1946 Spitfire IX/XVI pilot's notes:

    Yes. What was considered an acceptable risk in wartime was not acceptable in peace time.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It might be helpful to see the relevant paragraph in full.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  11. krieghund

    krieghund Member

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    If you don't need guns there are two 66 gal tanks for the leading edge of the wing as in some PR versions
     
  12. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    And all PR Spits had a rear fuselage tank from Type B, a Spit Mk I based version introduced in 1940, onwards.
     
  13. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    No, they didn't; put a fuel tank behind the pilot, in early Spitfires, and there's no room for the vertical cameras. In the type "B" "F" "G" there was a 29-gallon tank under the seat. Other types had the tanks in the wings.
     
  14. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    Re. post. no 10 by Stona: Fuel cooler? I have not heard of such device on other aircraft. Why was it required on Spitfire aircraft?

    What was weight of rear tank installation, anyone knows_
     
  15. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Edgar
    my source to my claim was Price's article on early PR Spitfires in the AI July 1990 which has rough sketches on fuel systems of the early PR Spits on page 51, they show the rear fuselage tank in Types B, C, D, E, F and G, the tanks were also mentioned in the captions of the sketches.

    Juha
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The bolded part is interesting for me - was it ever considered to have such an installation on the combat types? The CoG issues being smaller than for the hull tank of the same volume mounted behind the pilot?
     
  17. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #17 Juha, Sep 3, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 3, 2012
    Hello Tomo
    according to sketches and the proper cutaway drawing of Mk I PR Type F in the AI the extra tank was behind the pilot, not under his seat.

    Juha

    PS, checked from Morgan's and Shacklady's Spitfire "Bible", according to it Type B, C and F had fuel tank under the pilot's seat and Type D behind the pilot. To muddle water more, in the Morgan's Shacklady's book there are specs for Mk IV (Type D) in which there is no mention of the rear fuselage tank and in the specs for Mk VII (Type G) they mentioned 29gal rear fuselage tank.
     
  18. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    Plans are all very well, but practicalities tend to interfere with them; Spitfire manuals dictated that the (temporary) rear tank could only be used in conjunction with the large 90-gallon ferry tank, since the fuel had to be routed to the engine via the ferry tank (there was no direct feed from tank to engine.) For long flights, like those undertaken by the IX, from Gibraltar direct to Malta, the tank came into its own, but was removed on arrival.
    Although some later fighter Marks had fuselage tanks, they were few in number, mainly because the C.O. of 11 Group didn't want them due to their adverse effect on handling. The XVI had them, but needed the "Mk.XII" pointed broad-chord rudder plus metal-covered elevators to cope.
     
  19. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Edgar
    frankly I doubt that because those PR Spits which had the rear fuselage tank or a tank under the pilot's seat needed the extra fuel in their ops not merely for ferrying. Haven't seen the fuel system diagrams of the early PR Spits but IMHO they probably were something like that of FR XIV as shown in Pilot's notes for Spitfire XIV and XIX. In it fuel from the rear fuselage tak was fed directly into the main fuel pipeline through an on-off ****. After all PR Spits were flying different kind of ops than their fighter sisters.

    Juha
     
  20. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    My apologies; I didn't realise that "frankly I doubt that" overrides research. I won't bother you again.
     
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