RAF BoB Fighters OTL ATL v Me-109

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by merlin, Feb 10, 2014.

  1. merlin

    merlin Member

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    In OTL in the BoB the RAF had three single-engine fighters, the Hurricane, the Spitfire Defiant - the less said about the latter as possible.
    Where possible the tactics were for the Spits to take on the 109s, but in practice it didn't always happen that way.
    Any German 109 pilot that was shot down always insisted it was by a Spit - such was the low regard they held the Hurricane!

    So, given that the Spit v 109 was a close call, they both had their advantages, and the Hurricane v 109 whilst the 109 was superior it didn't 'win' all the encounters! How would ATL aircraft cope?

    Gloster f.5/34 - could depend on the engine fitted, but has the best cockpit canopy for all round vision, is said to be easy to fly, slower yes than the 109 but similar to the Hurricane; its problem maybe altitude performance!?

    Boulton-Paul P.94 - plausible to get some in service, said to be almost as fast as the Spit., but would the length impair combat performance!?

    Curtis P-36 - said to have done quite well in France, personally I'm not convinced - BoB combat was at higher altitude than in France.

    Grumman Martlet - again plausible to get some in service, but dubious that this early (export) version could cope e.g. rate of climb!?

    Boulton-Paul P.88a - could've been available, again depends what hp the Hercules engine it has goes up to. A big machine, robust, IMO likely to be a little faster than the Hurricane - and with those cannon once you get hit your down out!!?

    Gloster F.9/37 - again could've been available with earlier PODs, granted it's a 'twin' but Blenheim 1Fs were in 109 range, the Gloster twin was much faster and said to handle well?

    Westland Whirlwind - problems with manufacture and the engine, long take-off, nevertheless maybe some could've been available earlier, it was best at low to medium altitude!?

    Others ?

    I have posted this elsewhere, curious what everyone here thinks.
     
  2. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    If available for the Battle of Britain, I think the Whirlwind would have been great. Better than the Hurricane I in speed and climb at all altitudes, and faster than the Spitfire I below 18,000 feet without either using emergency boost (the Spit had it beat when both pulled the tit, however). Above 18,000 the performance wasn't far behind the Spitfire. The armament and fighting view of the Whirlwind would have also been a decisive advantage.

    The Martlet and Mohawk generally didn't have the speed or altitude performance for the Battle of Britain.
     
  3. Timppa

    Timppa Active Member

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    IMO the OTL planes did better than any of the ATL ones could have done in BoB, especially in their POD versions. Using those would have only caused big LOL from LW and serious PTSD to the RAF pilots. That is my PoV.
    ;)
     
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  4. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    You would make more of a change with making more pilots available and improving their training and sub squadron level tactics. Fighter production was not the bottleneck. Trained pilots were. Especially as enough had to be held back to assault any landings.
     
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  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    As built? Slow, no self sealing tanks or armor, Mercury engine has FTL several thousand feet below Melrin III. Without an major engine change a service version will be 20-30mph slower than a Hurricane.

    gloster_f5-34-2.jpg

    Length has nothing to do with it. Speed was "estimated" not proven and most sources say the "estimated" Speed was with a Merlin XX engine which was available only in small numbers near the end of the BoB.

    French versions were lacking in armor and self sealing tanks, without major engine up grade ( just putting 100 octane in the tanks won't do it) a British Hawk will be slower and poorer climbing, they was a reason they didn't use the ones they had.


    Without figuring out the problems with sleeve valve mass production months earlier this is a non starter. Deliveries of the Hercules engines in the summer of 1940 was a trickle. Also the 1940 versions (or summer of 1940) are the1325-1400hp take-off versions and teh 2 speed versions offer only about 100-120hp more shaft power at altitude than the Merlin for the same or more weight and more drag (and the loss of the exhaust thrust)

    Again, engines are a major sticking point. The engines it made it's speed with gave problems and were taken out. Later Taurus engines gave problems even a t less power and lower altitudes and you still have the sleeve valve production problem.

    Probably the best of the bunch but required a major change of emphasis in programs in the summer/fall of 1939.
     
  6. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Changing the training program would have helped, giving more gunnery training would have helped. Changing the pattern the guns were harmonized for may have helped. Making more incendiary ammunition would have helped.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    True, but holding back pilots to assault an invasion had nothing to do with it. By August 1940 all the Fighter Command squadrons outside 11 and 12 Groups were undermanned and many were barely operational. They certainly weren't being held back against an invasion. That wasn't the RAF's principal job anyway, it was the Royal Navy's. ADGB and then Fighter Command had a defined job to do, protecting Britain's industrial and military infrastructure (not you will note the civilian population) and that's why squadrons were held back in the Midlands and the North.

    As units in 11 Group suffered losses experienced men were stripped from squadrons elsewhere to reinforce them. This system, which obviously weakened the squadrons not bearing the brunt of the battle, was introduced as a temporary expedient by Dowding and was unpopular with, even resented by, the squadrons who tended to lose their most experienced and best men.

    Yes again, the problem was that the shortening of the training program forced on the RAF by its losses didn't allow for much alteration. Pilots went to operational squadrons to finish their training on the job far less trained than was the intention of the original system. Dowding was adamant in 1940 that he didn't want to establish any more OTU's as they would impose an even heavier burden on his already limited resources. He was right to do so.
    What he might have done was convert more trained pilots from other types within Fighter Command to fly the two principle fighters. He might also have attempted to secure other trained pilots from Bomber Command, though how successful this would have been given the personalities and politics involved we'll never know. He did neither and this was, in hindsight, a mistake.
    The only consolation is that however unsatisfactory British pilot training was at this crucial time, the German system was worse.

    Gunnery was poor and a lack of gunnery training and facilities to carry it out was identified in 1940. Another report more than a year later is almost a carbon copy. Nothing was done. I know that you are well aware why the RAF's eight gun fighter weapons were synchronised in the way that they were. It was the result of exhaustive research carried out largely at Martlesham Heath/Orfordness and considered the best option, given the admitted low quality of the average fighter pilot's gunnery skills. Changing the harmonisation could and did help those pilots who could actually hit something. It made no difference to the majority who couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo and therefore probably should have been changed sooner.

    I don't know how much incendiary ammunition was available. The .303 'ball' round supposed to be used by the RAF was not the standard rifle round used by the Army and of which millions were available. The bullet was developed (at Orfordness again) specifically for air to air combat.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  8. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    But Gloster F.5/34 rolled better than Spit and Hurri, especially at higher speeds and was easier to fly than even Hurri.


    According to a Curtiss procure there was an option for 1/4" back armour on Hawk 75A, it seems that at least many of the Hawk 75As which Finns got had that back armour installed and some even had self-sealing wing tanks.

    Juha
     
  9. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I am not saying it wasn't possible but when you stick that stuff in the performance (especially climb and altitude) will go down. British were sending the Hawks to India and other places away from Western Europe in the summer/fall of 1940.

    You also have 3-4 different engines being used in the Hawks along with different armament layouts so getting really good performance figures is a bit hard. You also have the P&W engines rated at 2550 rpm on a P-36 (American) for "flight" but allowed to run at 2700 rpm for take-off so we are not sure what rpm was used to hit which performance numbers. ( It seems at 2550rpm the P-36A could NOT break 300mph?)
     
  10. Lefa

    Lefa Member

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    Finnish Forces - Finnish Curtiss P-36 Hawk

    Finland used 87 octane fuel, so the factory performance levels were not achieved.

    The plane had slower and climbed worse than the Brewster.

    Against old Russian planes it perform well, but I do not think that it possible against Bf 109 E model.
     
  11. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    As JoeB wrote earlier: “In the Battle of France period, as given case by case in "Battle of France Then and Now" by Cornwell:
    Spitfires downed 24 Bf109E's for 32 Spitfires shot down by Bf109E's, .75:1
    Hurricane: 74:151, .49:1
    Hawk 75: 23:38, .61:1
    D.520: 14:30, .47:1.”

    see:http://www.ww2aircraft.net/forum/aviation/dewoitone-d-520-vs-spitfire-bf-109-a-24052-2.html

    So during the BoF Hawk-75As did better than Hurris against 109Es but worse than Spits. The BoB was different than the BoF, a pure air war versus a massive ground attack with powerful air support but Hawk wasn't helpless against 109Es.

    Juha
     
  12. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    According to British tests Cyclone-engine Mohawk IV (H-75A-4) was capable to 486km/h at 4 300m and had the service ceiling of 10 300m, max roc at 2 870kg was 13.2m/s. Probably the most common subtype in GB because it was the subtype in production for France when France surrendered, the orders of earlier versions were all already fulfilled.

    Juha
     
  13. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    A really important factor that is not brought in here is pilot training.

    Pre-war, French fighter pilots had an average of 500 to 600 hours of training and upwards of 750 hours flight time.
    British pilots had an average of under 300 hours training, with new pilots receiving less than 200 hours, including just 20 to 40 hours on operational types.
    German pilots on average had around 210 to 300 training and about an average 450 hours flight time, most of which would have been on operational types.

    As pilot training waxes and wanes, so does comparative battle performance.
     
  14. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    What the heck is OTL and ATL?

    Doesn't compute.
     
  15. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Hello Jabberwocky
    still Hawk-75As did better than D-520s against 109Es and clearly better than Blochs and MS 406s, to which the rate was appr. .3:1.

    Juha
     
  16. merlin

    merlin Member

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    OTL is the abbreviation for 'original time line' ATL therefore stands for alternative (or alternate -as those from the US tend to use) time line.
     
  17. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    How's about a Bf109 made under licence by...say Vickers. ..with a Merlin?

    How delicious!

    First 109 was Rolls Royce!
     
  18. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Without getting into strategy and tactics, which, in effect defined the outcome on both sides, a few things about Merlin's aircraft choices. I think the British had what it needed in place to affect defeat of the Luftwaffe. Both the Spitfire and Hurricane were excellent aircraft and were able to match the German fighters. Choosing any of these types over either the Spit or Hurri would have been foolhardy.

    The Gloster was a non starter performance and armament wise; Gloster received a large order to build Hurricanes prior to the outbreak of the war; if they concentrated on their own fighter, there would have been less Hurricanes.

    The BP P.94 was a paper project only and was designed as a stop gap for if Spit or Hurri production didn't meet expectations. Its big advantage was that it had commonality with the Defiant, which meant the jigs were already in place to build it. Its performance, whilst not being up to Spitfire/Bf 109 standard would most likely have been better than the Hurricane, bearing in mind the structural strength of the airframe required to mount the turret would have been absent. Since neither Spit nor Hurri production was threatened, it wasn't necessary.

    There was no way the P-36 was going to be ready in time for the BoB. The first French examples arrived in the UK in August 1940, but it took many months before they were made serviceable for RAF/SAAF squadron service, not until the very end of the year.

    The Martlett order for the FAA was also too late; as the Martlett I its performance and armament was not up to the same standard as the Spitfire or Bf 109.

    The BP P.88 was cancelled in 1937. Had it been continued with it was not going to be ready by 1940 in numbers because of its powerplant, either Hercules or Vulture variant. Possible Merlin engined variant, then which aircraft would miss out on Merlins?

    The Gloster twin - what could it bring to the table? Better performance than the Blenheim that was already in production in numbers, most probably, but again, what is Gloster not producing if it puts this into production - Hurricanes? The Reaper, which was based on the Gloster twin was a more advanced and more capable aircraft, but there was no way it would have been ready in time for the BoB.

    The Whirlwind; just not ready in time. The Air Ministry were also, perhaps unfairly regarding it as obsolescent in late 1940, but in reality, the RAF needed single-seat fighters.

    Let's also not forget the RAF's fourth single engined fighter, the Gladiator! :)

    Merlin, based on your comment on the Defiant, I suspect you have little to say about it. The fact was that it was not being used in the role for which it was designed. Its failure was also down to tactics. It could have played a different part in the BoB had it been employed in the role for which it was designed - as a bomber destroyer and it was based in 13 Group in the north and Scotland, where LW bombers did not have single-seat fighter escort. This would also make RAF single-seat fighters based in the north available down south. The other problem with the Defiant was not just its low speed, but also its numbers, there weren't that many of them; only two squadrons, of which only one was active in more than one day's combat. As a nightfighter the Defiant performed admirably and became the RAF's night fighter of choice until the Beaufighters and Mossies entered service in suitable numbers in 1942.
     
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  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The Whirlwind was an attempt at a cannon armed fighter, something that the RAF realised that it needed well before the BoB. It's development was fraught with difficulties and Dowding seems to have disliked it personally. It would have been, as above, too late for the BoB even had the original production schedule been achieved.
    The problems of developing a cannon armed fighter (not bolting cannons on to Spitfires and Hurricanes) are illustrated by the introduction of the first successful aircraft designed as such, the Hawker Typhoon, in mid 1941.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  20. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    I think the Beaufighter has that distinction
     
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