Should Grumman have built a fighter for the US Army?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Jul 10, 2012.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    It seems Grumman sure could crank out quantities of capable performers for the US Navy.
    Perhaps they could have improved on what the US Army ended up with?
     
  2. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    They tried to...

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    [​IMG]
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Certain manufactures tended to co-operate better with one service or the other. Perhaps because of personalities or perhaps after a number of years of working together a manufacturer "knew" what the customer wanted/needed without every single detail being spelled out.

    The F4F was Grumman's 4th or 5th design for the US Navy. Depends if you count the F2F and F3F as separate or not. However Grumman, like most other manufacturers, struggled to meet the demands of WW II production. Grumman had made something like 400-500 planes from 1931 to 1939. Many Grumman designs were built in other factories in order to meet demand. Even the Columbia Aircraft Corp built 330 of the J2F Duck from 1941 on to help free up Grumman.
    The US Aircraft companies were starved for orders in the mid to late 30s. The US got into the rearmament game later than most of the other major countries in WW II. Even the overseas orders don't start to show up until 1938-39 and that is because England and France had already maxed out their own aircraft industries. Yes the were building new factories of their own but they wanted planes delivered before those factories would be ready. These orders did help finance expansion of US factories but it takes months if not a year or two to build a sizable expansion ( or second plant) equip it and train the workers to use it.
    This also applies to design staff. The Pre war staffs were small and could only work on a few projects at a time. They often doubled up and helped design production tooling as well as the aircraft themselves. As the plants and staff grew the design staff could concentrate on aircraft and the production engineers could concentrate on the tooling, jigs and fixtures.
    The Crew at Grumman probably had enough to do in the early part of the war getting the F4F, Avenger and F6F going without trying to do too much more (see F5F/P-50) and by the time they had any "free" capability it was too late. since it takes 2-3 years (with every thing going well) to go from paper to service use anything Grumman tried to do for the Army after 1942 probably wouldn't have made the war. See development of the F7F.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That depends on how you define "capable".

    I would much rather have a P-40 then a F4F for operation from land based airfields during 1942. I would much rather have a P-38 then a F6F during mid 1943.
     
  5. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #5 oldcrowcv63, Jul 10, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
    Which P-40 and which F4F? I think the P-40E had a similarly slow climb but a max ceiling a few thousand feet below that of the F4F-3 or -4. The F4F-4 despite its relatively anemic performance did quite well flying from land bases (for example Rich Leonard's dad's VF-11) in the PTO.

    Considering the amount of water, the P-38 is a good mount in the PTO, double engine reliability and good range. But the F6F is no slouch either.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Jan to June 1942.
    P-40E.
    F4F-3.

    July to December 1942.
    P-40F.
    F4F-4.
     
  7. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #7 oldcrowcv63, Jul 11, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2012
    OK:
    The P-40E had, at its optimum altitude, about a 20+ mph speed advantage over the F4F-3. Based on the publshed performance at its operational gross weight for each type (~8,100 # for the P-40E and about ~7,300 # for the F4F-3).
    Well, up to about 10,000 feet the F4F-3 appears to be neck and neck with the P-40E with a slight advantage to the Curtiss. After that the F4F-3 pulls steadily away until it achieves about a 5,000 ft altitude advantage over the P-40E.

    I'll check tomorrow for the F4F-4, but I expect it will show the P-40F to have an even greater speed advantage approaching 40-50 mph?) and to climb substantially faster at all altitudes but with the margin somewhat declining as the two ascend to a roughly common altitude. That's my guess. The F4F-4 was not a performance improvement over the F4F-3. While the P-40F was a better performer than the P-40E.

    It seems to me the P-40B was more like the F4F-3 and the P-40E was comparable to the F4F-4. It's just the time frames for the development progression of these aircraft were not exacttly coincident, Also, the USAAF was free to improve the P-40E while the USN suffered immediate manufacturing and operational related problems that made a ready fix to the F4F-4 more challenging and ultimately never fully surmountable. I mean the F4F-4 performance decline could be mitigated but not surpassed in the near term.
     
  8. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The F4F3 had a much better climb rate than the P40F and was a better high altitude fighter. They were both outstanding ground looping fighters in field landings. Based on the record in the Pacific, the various Wildcats were more successful against Japanese opposition than the P40s. Also in the PTO, the Hellcat, based on the record was a more successful fighter than the P38.
     
  9. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #9 oldcrowcv63, Jul 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
    I have to admit I am surprised, not at the comparison of the P-40F to the F4F-3 or -4, but between P-40E and F. I expected to see improvements across the board, but it looks like the only improvement to the P-40's performance was above about 20,000 ft. Evidently, despite the increase in weight, the Merlin's performance fell off more slowly than did the Allison's. It looks like the F's overall performance (except speed) was probably closer to the F4F-4's performance than I anticipated.

    So, it looks, speaking generally, like the F4F was a better interceptor than the P-40 and at least as good (if not better) a fighter, despite the speed differential.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Let's look at it another way.

    What would the U.S. Army gain by purchasing F4Fs ILO P-40s? What would the U.S. Army gain by purchasing F6Fs ILO P-38s?
     
  11. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #11 oldcrowcv63, Jul 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
    I guess it depends on when they obtain the alternate fighters. If the F4F-3's replace the P-40s in 1941 forward, I anticpate the results become pretty interesting. Of course we are assuming Grumman can output F4Fs as fast as Curtiss for both the RAF and the USAAC. That seems unlikely, so you end up with a weakened USN and few fighters in the PI?

    F6F vs P-38s. That seems like a wash, but perhaps I am missing something. I assume an expertly flown F6F with tanks could have intercepted Isoroku too? Not sure about that, have to check or maybe someone else knows.
     
  12. NiceShotAustin

    NiceShotAustin New Member

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    On the contrary, the P-38 scored more Japanese kills than any other aircraft. Given the sheer amount of carrier based battles that occurred, thats a pretty impressive feat for a land based fighter. Me personally? I'd rather be caught in a Lightning than a Hellcat. The twin engines, nose mounted weapons, and the great acceleration and climb-rate could do a number on the Japanese aircraft
     
  13. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    NOT TRUE

    From an old post via R. Leonard;

    Pacific Theater (includes Aleutians, Central Pacific, South Pacific and Southwest Pacific operating areas):

    F6F = 5,221
    F4U/FG = 2,155
    P-38 = 1,700
    F4F/FM-1/FM-2 = 1,408
    P-47 = 697
    P-40 = 661
    P-51/A-36/F-6 = 297
    P-39/P-400 = 288
    P-61 = 64
    PV = 20
    F2A = 10
    P-36 = 3
    P-70 = 2
    P-26 = 2
    P-35 = 1
     
  14. NiceShotAustin

    NiceShotAustin New Member

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    Weird, that's always what I've heard. Not the first time I've been wrong though!
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I don't see that as an issue.

    The U.S. Army wanted P-47 fighter aircraft and B-24 bombers produced in large numbers so they paid for construction of new aircraft factories. If the U.S. Army wants Grumman fighter aircraft they will pay for construction of a new Gruman fighter aircraft plant.
     
  16. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #16 oldcrowcv63, Jul 13, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2012
    But if we are talking pre-war (F4F-3) circumstances, it seems to me that's going to be a more difficult and time consuming process to get done and you want that Grumman-type assembly line rollng before early 1942 for it to have a meaningful impact (even earlier to make a bigger difference but that's before full war mobilization). The meetings to convert GM to FM-1 production occurred in early 1942 and the first FM-1 (assembled from Grumman supplied parts) first flew 9/1/42. By 12/31/42, only 21 FM-1's had been delivered. It seems to me if GM couldn't do it faster nobody could. During that period, Grumman's assembly line was committed to F4F-4s and TBF production while tooling up for F6F runs.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That's a late production contract. If the U.S. Army gives Grumman fighter aircraft priority similiar to Chrysler built tanks they will be building aircraft before the end of 1941.

    15 August 1940.
    Chrysler receives contract to built Detroit Tank Arsenal.

    9 September 1940.
    Construction of Detroit Tank Arsenal begins.

    10 July 1941.
    First mass production (i.e. not prototype) tank completed.

    15 Aug 1941.
    Plant expansion contract. New goal of 150 tanks per month.

    15 Sep 1941.
    Plant expansion contract. New goal of 750 tanks per month.

    1 Dec 1941.
    Tank number 500 completed.

    10 July 1942.
    3,100 tanks produced to date. 1 year after production began.
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It could take 2-3 years from breaking ground to hitting full production in an aircraft factory.

    As for Mr. Benders example of the B-24 and Willow run. The factory was sketched in Jan 1940. in 1942 in produced 557,000lbs of airframe (none in 1941) , in 1943 it produced 29,951,000lbs of airframe and in 1944 it did 92,568,000lbs of airframe.

    For an EXISTING Factory it usually took 8-9 months to go from the 5th production single engine plane to the 500th but only another 4-6 months to get to the 1000th, There were a few exceptions, like the P-40 which took less time but then they were using the P-36 production lines. Grumman managed to not only design the F6F quickly but produce it quickly, but then they had the "luxury" of farming out the J2, F4F, and TBD production to other plants and using the by now well equipped home factory and trained work force to make the F6F.
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Tanks are not airplanes.

    The Grumman available in the Summer of 1940 is the F4F-3, any changes to the plane would slow production, perhaps only by a few weeks but you do have to fix the model to be produced and avoid changes if you want american style mass production.

    You also need engines. P&W can't build enough two stage R-1830 engines which leads to a Number of F4F-3A Wildcats with single stage R-1830s that had rather inferior altitude performance. Now you just need to build an ADDITIONAL engine plant to supply the engines for this ADDITIONAL aircraft factory. And of course the steel girders, cement and other construction material will be immediately available with no problems, right? Not to mention the thousands of machine tools and other equipment.

    Maybe you can just have the Detroit tank arsenal build the F4Fs, it only means 3,100 fewer tanks available in the summer of 1942.
     
  20. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Not only that but aside from the floor space for assembly, you need room for machine shops, assebly back shops, heat treating ovens, chemical processing tanks and painting.
     
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