Some What-Ifs for the First Generation Jets

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davparlr, Nov 23, 2010.

  1. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    Sorry for the long intro but I thought the data would be useful

    I have some questions and what-ifs about the first generation jets. Here’s some data, in order of date of first flight

    He-280V-1
    First Flight 4/41
    Empty Weight 7093
    Full Weight 9415
    Max Speed 510
    Total Thrust 2640
    Thrust to Weight .37

    E.28/39
    First Flight 5/41
    Empty Weight 2886
    Full Weight 3748
    Max Speed 338
    Total Thrust 860
    Thrust to Weight .29

    Me-262V-3
    First Flight 7/42
    Empty Weight 8366
    Full Weight 14272
    Max Speed 540 (at 3960 lb thrust so this aircraft was probably slower)
    Total Thrust 3700
    Thrust to Weight .44

    XP-59A
    First Flight 10/42
    Empty Weight-lbs 7320
    Full Weight-lbs 12562
    Max Speed-mph 404
    Total Thrust-lbs 2800
    Thrust to Weight-empty .38

    Meteor F.1
    First Flight 3/43
    Empty Weight 8140
    Full Weight 13800
    Max Speed 417
    Total Thrust 3400
    Thrust to Weight .41


    Vampire DH-100
    First Flight 9/43
    Empty Weight 6380
    Full Weight 8587
    Max Speed 540 (F.1 at 3100 lb thrust)
    Total Thrust 2700
    Thrust to Weight .42

    XP-80
    First Flight 1/44
    Empty Weight 6280
    Full Weight 8916
    Max Speed 502
    Total Thrust 2460
    Thrust to Weight .39

    P-59A
    First Flight 10/44
    Empty Weight 7950
    Full Weight 10822
    Max Speed 413
    Total Thrust 4000
    Thrust to Weight .5

    XFD-1
    First Flight 1/45
    Empty Weight 6156
    Full Weight 8626
    Max Speed 487
    Total Thrust 3200
    Thrust to Weight .5

    XP-84
    First Flight 2/46
    Empty Weight 9080
    Full Weight 13400
    Max Speed 592
    Total Thrust 3750
    Thrust to Weight .41


    The first question has to do with the P-59? If we look at the basic stats, it seems as if it should have been more successful and, a good performer. The XP-59A, with slightly more thrust than the He-280, and equivalent thrust to weight ratio, was over a 100 mph slower. Similarly, the P-59A, with the same thrust has the Me-262, was almost 130 mph slower. It appears to me that there was no good reason the P-59 was such a dog. It’s got to be poor aerodynamic design. The wing root mounted engines should have been a more efficient design than the Meteor and the two German jets. I am sure that if they had been flared into the fuselage ala P-80 or FH-1, they would have improved efficiency significantly. But those wings! What were they thinking about? They are huge, larger than the P-47N, twice as large as the He-280 and 147 sqft larger than the YP-80, and most likely not a low drag airfoil. Of course I don’t know what the AAF specified. I think Arnold made a mistake when he selected Bell to handle the first jet aircraft, especially since the P-39 was an underperformer. It looks like the P-59 was rushed into manufacture so fast, basic aero analysis, like inlet/engine mounting design, was not performed, and Bell seemed to have poor understanding. I think other companies would have done a better job, certainly Lockheed (who already had jet aircraft and jet engine design experience, L-133, L-1000), North American (the P-51 was already being delivered by that time), and Republic, all of which had experience in successful high performance designs, even at this early time.

    What ifs.

    1. What was wrong with the P-59A and, if Arnold had given the job of developing the first American jet fighter to North American, Lockheed, or Republic (which was also located near GE), could America actually have fielded a capable jet fighter in the fall of ’44.

    2. If Germany had the will, would/could they have had the He 280 operational in the Fall of ‘43, and, if so, how would the Allies reacted to its appearance on the battlefield and what would have been the impact on the war?
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Sure. But the same could be said for the superior Me-262 with Jumo004A engines. Germany would need to allocate enough nickel and chromium for production of the jet engines, at the expense of some other wartime project.
     
  3. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    So, the BMW/Jumo engines would not have been available earlier even though the He-280 flew over a year before the Me-262. In your opinion, when would the Germans been able to field a jet fighter if that was the goal of the Germans to do so?
     
  4. Matt308

    Matt308 Glock Perfection
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    ...and swept wings.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Airframes aren't the issue. Put a somewhat reliable jet engine into mass production and German aircraft designers will make an airframe that works.

    The Jumo004A engine entered limited production during January 1942. I think it could have been in mass production by January 1943 if enough nickel and chromium were made available for the program.
     
  6. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    Doing a little research, which may not be fully accurate, it appears that the German jet engine was not really ready until about the same time as the British engines. However, assuming that top priority was put on the jet, including materials and engineering effort, and the Germans did indeed field a jet fighter in the Summer of '43, how would things change?

    In July, '43, the Germans had three aircraft flying, the He-280, Me-262 and the Ar-234. The Allies jet aircraft efforts also consisted of three flying aircraft, the Gloster E.28/39, P-59A, and the Meteor. None of the Allied airframes were capable of countering the German aircraft even with upgraded engines. Engine progress appears approximately equal. The Germans had two flyable engines, both in the 2000 lb thrust range, the Jumo 004, with a thrust to weight of 1.25 and the BMW 003, with a thrust to weight of 1.42. The Allies had three flyable engines, two in the 16-1700 lb thrust range, the RR W.2B/110 with a thrust to weight of 1.68, and the GE J-31 with a thrust to weight of 1.94, and one in the 2400 lb thrust range, the RR Goblin with a thrust to weight of 1.59. In addition the RR Derwent, in the 2000 range class with a thrust to weight of 2.05, was being bench tested.

    While the German engines were further along in development, Allied development was not far behind. In my opinion, axial flow engines were more difficult to build, needed higher technology and were less rugged than centrifugal flow engines. It is interesting to note that all of the 1943 Allied engines had better thrust to weight ratios than the German engines.

    German jet fighters appear in the air in July, 1943. What direction would the allies have taken and what effect would it be to the execution of the war?

    And nobody has any comments on why the P-59A, and the Meteor, was such a dog? And would another subcontractor perform much better than Bell?
     
  7. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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  8. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Although the XP-59A was primarily viewed as a test-bed for jet engines, the USAAF also viewed it as a potential combat aircraft, and it was to carry a nose-mounted armament of two 37-mm cannon with 44 rpg.

    More on the XP-59A,
    Bell P-59 Airacomet
     
  9. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    I think that is a very clear indication that Lockheed had been thinking about jet propulsion and advanced aerodynamics. I am not sure Bell had any concepts on this. If Arnold had given the engines and tasks to Lockheed....

    There is no doubt that the AAF intended the P-59A to be an effective fighter but it turned out to be a dog. Even with 1600 lbs more thrust than the XP-80 it was 90 mph slower.
     
  10. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    #10 Gixxerman, Nov 29, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
    Whilst the Germans got their axial jets into the air first it should not be forgotten that the British had axial jets coming too.

    The MetroVick F2/4 (which went on to become the F9 more well know Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire jet engine) was also there ready to be given substantial development support effort.

    Compared to the Jumo 004a/b and the BMW 003 the Metrovick F2/4 was a jet which started off giving far more power; 3200lbs of thrust and which ended up in the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 at 3850lbs of thrust (and ultimately developed to 4000lb thrust) with a power to weight ratio better than 2:1 (in British lbs).

    This engine was also developed into the F3 which was the world's 1st turbofan (with a large drop in fuel consumption).

    Metropolitan-Vickers F.2 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    It is my view that whichever way you look at it, German aeronautical jet engine science - with the exception of the German accidental discoveries on swept wings, originally a mere centre of gravity alteration on the Me262......and surely therefore just as likely to be 'discovered' by any number of allied aero-engineers - was being matched (if not exceeded) by allied expertise.
    Each side had genuine 'state of the art' tech.

    Almost everything the Germans did was matched by moves the allies also made, the difference being that the allies were capable of a constant vast output of proven if conventional arms and therefore did not need to push the technical limits so much.
    Especially as the war by 1944 was going so well for them.
    The allies chose to concentrate on huge production of very capable, if sometimes less than the absolute pinnacle of the weapons genre, arms.
    They did not need to change this tactic significantly, but undoubtedly could have if required.

    But I think it's pretty clear that had the need arisen (with something like an early Me262 or He280 entering service) then they could have fielded machines just as capable.
    In fact with designs like the Meteor or a more conventional design pursued like the Lockheed Shooting Star (which benefited from much of the aborted Lockheed L133 work study FLYBOYJ has already mentioned) would perhaps have benefited by being less radical in some ways?

    It all comes back to 'the bomb' being the only serious 'game changer', something the allies could not really know until the very end.
    As 1944 began some might say the war was well truly lost, and that certainly appears so, but I think it is a wonderful example of 20/20 hindsight, certainly German was in an apparantly still very strong position.
     
  11. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    Same old same old. Sure the allies chose their first two operative jet fighters to be dogs, it was all part of some big plan :lol:

    The jet engine debate will go on forever, there was not much advantage by either side technology wise.

    Airframe wise, Germany had the better jet airframes actually flying. Plain and simple. The Me 262 is much more than just its wings. It's overall better than the Meteor and likely the P-59 though I have little knowledge about the latter (just going by figures). The only lackluster were the nacelles, deliberatly chosen so for maintenance purposes.

    You can twist and bend it all you want, the allies have no contender until the P-80 arrives.

    And about using established technology vs new: sure things would've changed if the Me 262 had been a real threat and had been available earlier. But it's also a very good example to show you can't just speed up development at will. They sure tried and it didn't really work. Same would apply for any countermeasure.
     
  12. Gixxerman

    Gixxerman Member

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    Yes riacrato but surely the main point here is that you saw Germany at the wars end trying to force the pace of change due to sheer necessity facing complete defeat, we never did with the allies because they never really had to.

    As for the Me262 being superior?
    Well I'd largely agree with that but compared to what, say, the Meteor was just about to become (they had the F3 by wars end and the F4 was just months after) there's not a lot in it
    (the Meteor was faster - 585mph at sea level - could carry fuel weapons loads more easily underwing).
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    It would be fair to state in what time (era) F3 was faster more capable (assuming that was one going 582 mph at S/L), and then compare it with era Me-262 was fastest on the world.
     
  14. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    #14 riacrato, Nov 29, 2010
    Last edited: Nov 29, 2010
    The F.3 couldn't go that fast so I guess F.4 is meant. That one went operational in 1946 and had 15.6 kN engines (as compared to the 8.7 kN Jumo 004 B). So yeah, it went that fast... by pure thrust, the airframe was still a lackluster and it still had most of the problems the F.3 had.

    Even if you accelerate Derwent 5 / Meteor F.4 production to "wartime needs" I doubt you'd have any number available before very late in 1945. Arguably you are then on par with Me 262, or maybe ahead... of the still unchanged Me 262 A-1a. Had there been any allied fighter close to its performance there had been many ways to improve that performance, some of which were already tested (low-drag canopy, v-tail, swept wings, additional rocket engine, 2-spool-Jumos...). But there wasn't and as such production was given absolute priority over introduction of new types and understandably so.

    And not to even mention, by the time the F.4 hits production, Vampire development and even limited production/deployment is underway, essentially making the Meteor obsolete as a fighter.
     
  15. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    Good discussion. I wanted to dig more into the overall impact of jets since this was a technological breakthrough into the future, which this discussion has done.

    Based on my rudimentary review of jet engine development, I would agree that by 1943, German and Britain were very close in jet engine technology. However, I do think that the Germans were at least a year ahead of the Allies in jet engine and airframe integration. Neither the P-59 nor the Meteor was aerodynamically capable of matching the Me-262 for several years (never for the P-59). Both the P-80 and Vampire appear to have the aerodynamic efficiency but accelerating these designs would be limited. I think the P-80 may have been accelerated by six months and the Vampire nine months, basically operation at the end of ‘44. This still would have allowed the German jet to affect two critical operations, day time bombing and D-Day. What would have been the impact of this situation?

    I don’t disagree with any of this except I think the Vampire had potential also.
     
  16. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Germany is going to need thousands of Me 262 and Arado 234 jets to make a difference. Can Germany make that many engines, I always understood the main problem with German jet engine production was the lack of rare metals to make the vital high temperature alloys for the engines.
     
  17. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    There was some 8000 Jumo 004 engines produced.
     
  18. riacrato

    riacrato Member

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    Given different priorities they could've produced the A-version, which would've been available probably half a year earlier and delivered a good 1kN more thrust and was around 100 kg heavier (going from memory). However it would not have made a difference in the big picture.
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Two main jets were using 2 engines per plane, rendering the replacement (on 1:1 basis) of current types impossible. A simple ( 'pre-Sabre') type would've made that possible, yet bot He-162 Ta-183 were too late. Ta-183 never flew anyway.
     
  20. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    Towards the end of '43, the Luftwaffe had almost removed the AAF from the sky over Germany. Advent of the P-51B was a game changer for daylight bombing. How many Me-262s would have been required to eliminate the daylight bombing given the fact that P-51s would be increasing? I am not sure of what AAF loses were considered unsustainable, maybe 10%? Could Germany have fielded this amount of fighters by the end of '43?
     
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