Spitfire Compared to Hurricane in the BoB

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That will depend on where they hit. On a skin next to a frame, almost certainly as the skin will deform more than in the centre of a structural panel where the skin can deflect (oil can). In most, if not all, cases the structural damage will be minor.
Agree, so I somewhat question the validity of that test unless those deflections were able to be identified.
 
Here we go again. British aircraft were fragile and were written off as soon as they were hit by a bullet while American aircraft could be patched up with chewing gum and just kept flying.

I'm afraid the comparisons are entirely bogus. The only occasion I've heard of where an aircraft was rebuilt from wrecks was a P-39 in Guadalcanal....and that was because of necessity and the extreme forward nature of that operating base. Citing one unique instance does not prove anything....and if there's more than one, I'd love to hear more. Bottom line, though, is that if your field maintenance crews are having to resurrect airframes from wrecks, then your logistics and rear echelon maintenance is broken.

In contrast, the RAF's maintenance infrastructure including Maintenance Units all over the globe that were capable of entire airframe rebuilds. The MUs were even known to modify in-service types for roles not envisaged, (e.g. Wirraway dive bomber in Singapore, adding an arrestor hook to a Buffalo in North Africa, adding a drogue towing fitment to a Buffalo in India etc etc). The MU could entirely dismantle and erect all the aircraft types for which it was responsible, and it had test pilots to check the aircraft after rebuild/modification

If a Merlin engine needed to be dismantled beyond the abilities of the station maintenance staff, it would simply be removed from the aircraft and a new one fitted. That was the fastest way to get the aircraft back to the squadron. The old engine would be sent to the MU for whatever depot-level repair was needed. Trying to do depot-level maintenance at an operational airfield is a recipe for disaster and likely sucks up more maintenance staff that could/should be working on other airframes.
 
Actually VT-8 built a "new" TBF out of wrecked parts on Guadalcanal ("A Dawn Like Thunder") and and the 9th PRS in Bengal Province, India built a "hot rod" F-4 out of a shot up F-4 and two P-38J's that had been run over by a C-46 (Air Classics article "Duncan's Hot Rod").

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There is no shortage of anecdotal evendence of the RAAF making one aircraft out of multiple damaged aircraft, the best being many fuselages at one RMU base with one serial on one side and a second on the other side. Unfortunately there is no unit history and no records in the Aus Archives on that unit and the history cards for the individual aircraft say that the serials were never in the same place at any time.

Relevant to that is the accuracy of WWw RAAF records. Note these extracts from the 22 RSU CO - a career RAAF Engineering officer.

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Here we go again. British aircraft were fragile and were written off as soon as they were hit by a bullet while American aircraft could be patched up with chewing gum and just kept flying.

I have worked on a lot of WW2 aircraft and it is absolutely ludicrous to claim that any single country "only" had fragile aircraft. Yes the Spitfire and A6M had many thin skins but the rear fuselage on the P-39 was even lighter. The D section wing spars on the Spitfire include the leading edge that is 128 thou thick (1/8+ inch 3.4mm) but the fuselage skins were definitely known to buckle if the aircraft was flown outside its design limits. Likewise if a P-39 went bush the wing leading edges and tail would be destroyed but the wing and tail were bolt on parts. The forward fuselage is quite rugged The P-40, 47 and 51 were much more solidly built than the other aircraft I mentioned but their design depended on relatively heavy skins and lighter structure than those with generally thinner skins yet none of those had wing leading edges even half the thickness of the Spitfire.

As always - with aircraft design everything is a tradeoff.

The fact that all those aircraft were fully operational and continued for many years says that none of them was fragile.

Both the Brits and US tended to make aircraft that were built in easy to replace sections. The Japanese less so and I cannot comment of German aircraft from experience. They look like many parts are interchangeable but if the joints were hand fitted then interchangeability is zero. I know the Japanese aircraft parts are interchangeable and would be massively shocked if the German ones were not.
 
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Actually VT-8 built a "new" TBF out of wrecked parts on Guadalcanal ("A Dawn Like Thunder") and and the 9th PRS in Bengal Province, India built a "hot rod" F-4 out of a shot up F-4 and two P-38J's that had been run over by a C-46 (Air Classics article "Duncan's Hot Rod").

View attachment 682283View attachment 682284

So we have a grand total of 3 airframes (one each P-39, F-4 and TBD) being built from wrecked airframes by US personnel and somehow that's supposed to prove that US aircraft were more maintainable than British aircraft? Hardly compelling evidence.
 
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Unlike the V-1710, you could not take the rear accessory case off the Merlin, nor the gearbox, and early Merlins before the introduction of the V-1650 did not even have separate cylinder heads.

The very early Merlins had separate cylinder heads - the "ramp heads". These had issues with performance, so the Merlin was redesigned with Kestrel style heads - the head was in unit with the cylinder bank.

The Kestrel style cylinders/heads also had issues with sealing, so the Merlin was redesigned with separate heads.

Packard used the separate heads from the beginning of production because it made little sense to start with the older style and change over after a few months.

British factories changed over later, because interrupting production could be a problem. Separate cylinder Merlins began at the time they changed over to producing the Merlin 61.
 
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Hardly a thorough review, either.

Well, you're the one making the claim so I'll leave it up to you to back it up with data.


By the way, here is the first radar equipped P-38, built in the field.

View attachment 682389

Adapting an aircraft to a new role has nothing to do with sustainment and everything to do with innovation driven by operational need (typically because "the system" isn't providing capabilities that are needed).

I'd also like to know what "in the field" actually means from the USAAF perspective. USAAF squadrons were larger than their RAF equivalents, with typically 25%-33% more aircraft. I'm struggling to find comparative sizes of the maintenance contingents, although logically the USAAF squadron would at least have proportionately more maintenance staff. There were differences between how the RAF and USAAF divided up maintenance echelons, thus tasks that may have devolved to the MU in the RAF may have been retained at the base level in the USAAF. However, that doesn't mean that the MU was any less "in the field" than the operational squadron.

Here's a pic of cannibalization in progress in North Africa. Hardly factory conditions and yet the maintenance crews are getting the job done "in the field."

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Brought to mind by the top photo.
RR and the maintenance units had worked out a "fix" for Merlins that had suffered a ground strike.
Depending on the extent of the damage to the reduction gear case there was a way to weld the cracked/broken part of the case that was part of the crankcase. This was then reinforced by a strut angled from the top rear of the case down the crankcase on an angle.

With the tens of of thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of aircraft used by the Allies of the years of the war and huge variety of mechanic/maintainers operating in different conditions you are going to run across all kinds of stories. These are more a testament to the inventiveness and determination of the men involved than an indication of the "quality" of the original aircraft or engines.
Unless such repairs were done in different locations with different personnel and with some indications of how much time was spent they really don't prove much more than the above.
Dedicated, determined men can fix things that many people would consider junk. But if you have nothing to replace it with?
 
So we have a grand total of 3 airframes (one each P-39, F-4 and TBD) being built from wrecked airframes by US personnel and somehow that's supposed to prove that US aircraft were more maintainable than British aircraft? Hardly compelling evidence.

Maintainability comes down to the designer - NOT the country in general tho there appear to be some caveats on that.

Look at the engine installations on the P-40, P-51 and Spitfire
  • P-40 - remove 3 cowls and 90% of the engine and cooling system is accessible. Remove one more cowl (4 bolts, carb and filter connections) and 100% is accessible.
  • Spitfire - remove all the cowls and far less of the engine is accessible because of the cowl frames that get in the way
  • P-51 - remove all the cowls and now even less of the engine is accessible because there are far more far wider cowl frames to get in the way plus the induction trunk.

Look at the radio installations on the same aircraft - they used exactly the same radios, Brit designed.
  • P-40 and P-51- large access door, easy access
  • Spitfire - access door that is the bare minimum size to get the box through. Remove the pilot seat for some access.

Guns
  • P-40 and P-51 - lots of access
  • Spitfire - read what that armourer wrote above - cramped and lockwire in the wrong places

Landing gear. Remember that the P-40 is a derivative of the P-36 with many parts and systems in common.
  • P-36, P-40 - all hydraulic.
  • P-51 - hydraulic with some pushrods
  • Spitfire - hydraulic with bike chain and cables and rotating spring loaded cams.

Instruments and electrical (this may be a RAF requirement or a designer decision, I do not know). Remember that the P-40 is a derivative of the P-36 with many parts and systems in common.
  • P-36, P-39, P-40, P-51, etc, etc, - complete panel removable with four connections and no loose nuts (though up to 4 screws in those connections - usually one or two). Switches on subpanels mounted on fold down doors
  • Spitfire and Hurricane - Large single panel held on to structure with many screws and loose nuts - holds all the instruments except the "basic six" and all the switches. Access is by removing the fuel tank cover. The basic six instrument panel held on by usually three nuts and comes free like the US panels.
I could go on but you should be able to see from that the maintainability is mainly a designer problem. Some things like hydraulic fittings and electrical wiring are national requirements and on those the US is far superior to the UK and on wiring each has distinct advantages in different ways.

Which do I personally prefer to work on - American by a very large margin.

As Shortround said Dedicated, determined men can fix things that many people would consider junk. That is the reason that so many warbirds survive and why so many are closer to replicas than rebuilds.
 
I could go on but you should be able to see from that the maintainability is mainly a designer problem. Some things like hydraulic fittings and electrical wiring are national requirements and on those the US is far superior to the UK and on wiring each has distinct advantages in different ways.

Which do I personally prefer to work on - American by a very large margin.

Agree 100% I've only worked on a few British aircraft but came to the same conclusion.

Now East Block stuff - some things I found really easy and simplistic, other things I found archaic and miserable.
 
Agree. MiG15 really easy to work on. F-86 far from. Wing on MiG three bolts. Wing on Sabre what feels like a million small bolts in bathtub fittings that are a pain in the but to fit and tension. Gun bays on MiG drop free to work on, Sabre working with access from one side only. MiG radios just modified ww2 TR5096/SCR522 for coms and Bendix MN26 for nav.
 
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Agree. MiG15 really easy to work on. F-86 far from. Wing on MiG three bolts. Wing on Sabre what feels like a million small bolts in bathtub fittings that are a pain in the but to fit and tension. Gun bays on MiG drop free to work on, Sabre working with access from one side only. MiG radios just modified ww2 TR5096/SCR522 for coms and Bendix MN26 for nav.
MiG-15 and L29/ 39, never liked changing brakes The F-86s I worked on always had some kind of hydraulic leak
 
I think it was Bill Gunston that said you could just about build a Hurricane in your garage, using a hacksaw, vice, files, and other hand tools. But as you describe that does not mean they were easy to duplicate, as these illustrations from the Hurricane Maintenance Manual reveal.View attachment 682277View attachment 682278
Hi
The book 'Airframe Construction and Repair' by John T Henshaw, Pitman 1943, has information on repairing tubes:
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Also 'quick' release fasteners for access panels were common, these are from my own technical training notes from the early 1970s, but on the whole in use by WW2:
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The Amal, for instance, was used on the Hawker Typhoon and other Hawker aircraft, the Fairey was used on the Spitfire, but also they were used on interwar aircraft.

Mike
 
Attached is a page from Dr Alfred Price's book "Spitfire Into Combat" that has great relevance here. By the way, this is quite an interesting book that probably should have been titled, "Interesting stuff about the Spitfire that got left out of every other book." For one thing, he does an excellent job of explaining the drop tank situation.

This brand new Spitfire had a service life of about a half hour. It went into combat so soon after delivery that they had not had time to paint the squadron codes on. Hit by what I presume were 20MM shells, the damage was so bad that it never flew again.

It's easy to be able to say that the could have zipped the rear fuselage and replaced it with another from a wreck, but since there were two factories building new Spits probably less than 100 miles away it would have been pretty pointless to do so.

It is pure speculation as to whether a Hurricane could have survived such damage in repairable condition or even been able to bring its pilot home safely, but it seems likely to me that the Hurri very well could have fared rather better.

And if it had been a P-40 they'd probably just have put duct tape over the holes and told the bum flying it to quit bellyaching and get back up there.
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Attached is a page from Dr Alfred Price's book "Spitfire Into Combat" that has great relevance here. By the way, this is quite an interesting book that probably should have been titled, "Interesting stuff about the Spitfire that got left out of every other book." For one thing, he does an excellent job of explaining the drop tank situation.

This brand new Spitfire had a service life of about a half hour. It went into combat so soon after delivery that they had not had time to paint the squadron codes on. Hit by what I presume were 20MM shells, the damage was so bad that it never flew again.

It's easy to be able to say that the could have zipped the rear fuselage and replaced it with another from a wreck, but since there were two factories building new Spits probably less than 100 miles away it would have been pretty pointless to do so.

It is pure speculation as to whether a Hurricane could have survived such damage in repairable condition or even been able to bring its pilot home safely, but it seems likely to me that the Hurri very well could have fared rather better.

And if it had been a P-40 they'd probably just have put duct tape over the holes and told the bum flying it to quit bellyaching and get back up there.View attachment 682440View attachment 682441
Lots of skin wrinkling along the spine in the first shot.
 
This brand new Spitfire had a service life of about a half hour. It went into combat so soon after delivery that they had not had time to paint the squadron codes on. Hit by what I presume were 20MM shells, the damage was so bad that it never flew again.

It's easy to be able to say that the could have zipped the rear fuselage and replaced it with another from a wreck, but since there were two factories building new Spits probably less than 100 miles away it would have been pretty pointless to do so.

It is pure speculation as to whether a Hurricane could have survived such damage in repairable condition or even been able to bring its pilot home safely, but it seems likely to me that the Hurri very well could have fared rather better.

And if it had been a P-40 they'd probably just have put duct tape over the holes and told the bum flying it to quit bellyaching and get back up there.
If major load carrying components of the fuselage assembly are damaged and the assembly needs to go in a jig, it might be more economical to scrap the aircraft but without a detailed hidden damage inspection, your assessment is a very wild guess to say the least. To say a P-40 "would have" faired better is even a wilder guess!

I think you need one of these when you make assessments like this...

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Duct tape? Now I think you're really getting carried away! :rolleyes:
 
Lots of skin wrinkling along the spine in the first shot.
That's what wrote it off, the pilot landed it heavily but survived, the armour protected him except for his feet because it didn't go that low down, that Spit would have been parked outside a maintenance hanger and stripped.
 

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