...searching for the best USAAF interceptor...

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Tech Sergeant
Mar 2, 2005
Berlin (Kreuzberg)
Actually, the USAAF had little use for an hi alt interceptor, but assume because of some strange reasons the USAAF would need a hi alt interceptor by mid 1943 t deal with heavy bombers. Which would You choose for this role?

Thinner wing section, about 10-12% chord thickness. No wing fuel tanks. 2xMerlin 61 with 5 blade paddle props. Armament 4xHispano Mk V in the nose with 150/200rpg. Might be able to fit a single 57mm Molins gun into the nose, definitely a 40mm S but with some HE shells.
If they would of gotten the bugs worked out of it....

mosquitoman said:
They got used as nightfighters, so why not if it just needed to take down bombers. Put enough guns in the nose et voila. Or of course you could use a Black Widow

And they didnt have much success at all. It was designed as a low level attack bomber, not a high altitude fighter.
The A20 is close to the last thing I expected to see on this thread: worse top speed, worse time to altitude figures, large target size...

Was the P-38W avaible in mid 43?
What do you think of a revised P-39 with superturbochargers for hi alt performance?
P-38. We're talking about mid 1943. For bombers, it's armament would also have been better than any six .50 wing mounted arrangement.

Later in the war, I would add the P47M. Its turbo-supercharger maintained 2,800hp all the way up to 32,000ft and she could do 472mph (there were reports of mechanics in the field getting about 490mph through tweaking). Also, she had eight .50's.

The F4U-5, I believe, was the first post war production variant of the Corsair.
syscom3 said:
The P38 of course. Thats what it was designed for in the first place.

In 1945, I bet the F4U-5 would have been even better.

The F7F would be hard to beat in 45. The F8F at the end of the war would be slightly better since it was a designed intercepter.
davparlr said:
The F7F would be hard to beat in 45. The F8F at the end of the war would be slightly better since it was a designed intercepter.

I thought the F7F had problems of various degree's that really werent solved untill '46.

F8F? Hmmm, have to think of that. I know it had some range issues.
How was the Bearcat at 30,000ft. and higher altitudes? I thought she wasn't designed for high performance up there (oxygen poor environment).

For instance, the P-51 was a better dogfighter than the P-47D in 1944. That was the case until you got to 25,000ft where the P-47 could pretty well match the P-51. By the time you were at 30,000ft. the Thunderbolt could wax the Mustang.
P-38 for two reasons:

1. Rate of climb.

The P-38 was the hardest climbing US fighter of the war. It could get to 25,000 feet while the P-40, P-39, P-47 and P-51A were still lagging far below.

2. Armament.

Heavy, nose mounted and with a large revior of ammunition. .50 cal would light up fuel tanks and punch through armour. The 20mm would do the same and then add 10g of HE to the mix.

The P-38G was the standard for early 1943, capable of about 400 mph at 25,000 feet and able to get there in about 7 min 40 seconds. The H was introduced into service around May 1943 and was just a smidge faster, clocked at about 405 mph at 25,000 feet. The J was introduced late in the year (September) with the redesigned 'beard' nacels, and was significantly faster, clocking about 422 mph at 25,000 feet and could get there in just a smidge over 7 minutes.
One thing to put less importance to are range issues for interceptions. No long range fighter sweeps or escorts, pure interceptions. Another issue I have with the P-38 is vulnarability. It seems to me that the combination of large target size and the liquid cooled engines can take less battledamage but I might be wrong here.
It undoubtly is the most stable gunplatform the USAAF had and it´s excelled everything in the climb figure...
Best USAAF interceptor in mid 1943? Spitfire VIII, hands down. (you didn't specify it had to be US made).

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