Spitfire/Seafire as torpedo bombers?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Nov 15, 2013.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I'm not sure that torpedo was ever carried by a Spitfire/Seafire. Can anybody post something about that? If it was not possible on as-is planes, what feasible/plausible modifications would've enabled that to happen?
     
  2. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    Never even tried as far as I am aware, the RN had far more appropriate aircraft for that job!
     
  3. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    The Blackburn Firebrand was the plan, I think.
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Not really. The Firebrand was designed as a single-seat fighter in 1940, but ended up entering service as a torpedo carrier in 1945.

    The question would be why would you equip a Seafire to carry a torpedo? Like Kryten stated, the FAA had a range of aircraft that could do the job well enough without turning (as someone said once about turning the Spitfire into a night fighter, if I recall) "a silk purse into a sow's ear"?
     
  5. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    Sounds like a great idea. And it would free up a bunch of Fairey Swordfish, which could then be used as short range interceptors.
     
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  6. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    :)

    BTW, how many Spitfires RN had; RAF's Swordfishes? ;)
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    This goes back to doctrine again.

    The famous (or infamous) Inskip report said.

    "The Navy could never be required to maintain air strength sufficient to cope with a concentrated attack upon it......by a large air force of great power. When the hostile air force, or any considerable detachment from it, is encountered, it must be by the RAF."

    The nuts and bolts of how this was to be done were overlooked! The Royal Navy did not understand the aerial threat and preferred Churchill's maxim: "Air Force versus Air Force, Navy versus Navy".

    Churchill wrote.

    "Naval aircraft should be confined to three main duties.
    i) air reconnaissance over the open spaces of the ocean.
    ii) spotting for Naval gunfire
    iii)launching torpedo attacks on the enemy."

    The Navy did not see the need for Naval interceptor fighters. The space on their carriers decks would be filled with strike aircraft with which to cripple the enemy's battle fleet. They might take one or two interceptors as a means of shooting down enemy reconnaissance aircraft.
    The Royal Navy's faith in its ability to defend against air attack with gunnery was even more optimistic than its faith in its ability to hit the enemy's warships.

    It was only after the attacks on Illustrious in the Mediterranean and Formidable in the Aegean, both of whose decks were full of Swordfish and Albacores, that it started to dawn on their Lordships that the Navy might have to provide its own aerial protection.

    It was this that led to the development of Naval interceptors, including ultimately the Seafire. The purpose of these aircraft was fleet defence, a role which by the 1950s when my own father was flying with 801 Squadron had evolved into the primary role of the FAA. Fleet defence could be achieved by various means, including striking at enemy shipping and airfields, but for the Seafires it was the last but one line of defence. The last line was Naval gunnery, something in which the aviators had little confidence.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  8. pattle

    pattle Member

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    Wouldn't the Seafires landing gear be too short?
     
  9. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Probably zero. Two different Services and sometimes very unhelpful rivalry between them. The RAF suffered from what at the time was called "junior Service syndrome" in its dealings with the Army. It is not hard to imagine how much worse this might be when dealing with the Senior Service.

    Most Royal Navy officers of the 1930s and 1940s simply did not understand, or want to understand, the problems and opportunities offered by Naval aviation. Many saw Naval aircraft as a really good pair of binoculars :)

    Cheers
    Steve
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    #10 tomo pauk, Nov 15, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
    Very possible it would. An expedient like one the Fw-190 done might've helped (for bot Supermarines, of course), the longer tailwheel strut(s):

    5y6fev.jpg

    Here is the Italian torpedo-fighter, the Fiat G.55 Silurante. It was also using a longer tailwheel strut, of a tad more elegant shape than Fw. The radiator was split, so the torp could be mounted:

    [​IMG]

    http://www.blackbirdmodels.co.uk/ekmps/shops/blackbirdmodel/images/fiat-g.55s-torpedo-fighter-conversion-32--1002-p.gif

    added: Re.2002 with torpedo (seems dragging on the grass, though):

    http://italianaircraftofwwii.devhub.com/img/upload/rgerge6555.jpg
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    You'd have fun landing and taking off a carrier in a Seafire modified like that, even if it was practical. The Fw 190 was never intended for carrier operations and could take as long a take off run as it needed. It didn't need an arrestor hook either.
    According to Mike Crosley (who should know)The Seafire already had problems with lift on minimum take off runs. If the aeroplane was pulled off at maximum incidence, with both wings near stalling incidence, the slightest dissimilarity in airflow would upset the balance of lift between the two wings. The inboard section of starboard wing would start to stall first as it was subjected to greater slip stream incidence, causing it to drop and fully stall. Sometimes in an effort to wrench the aircraft off the deck, the starboard wing failed to establish proper air flow at all, so it didn't lift at all. As soon as the wheels left the deck the aircraft spun to the right into the sea directly in the path of the carrier! This problem was only overcome with the contra rotating propellers on the Seafire 47.
    Jacking up the tail is certainly not going to help!
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    #12 tomo pauk, Nov 15, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
    Thanks, Steve.
    Sure enough, a fully laden Seafire would've needed a full carrier deck length for a safe take off. Do you know what particular Seafire version Mike Crosley was describing there? The smaller carriers (Unicorn, light or escort carriers) would present more problems than fleet carriers?
    BTW, this:
    Jacking up the tail should prevent the airplane take off at maximum incidence?
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I think that it would prevent it taking off, with a limited run as on a carrier.

    He was referring to the Seafire XV. The problem existed on the Seafire III but due to it's light weight and rapid acceleration (it only needed 180-200 feet of deck) was not significant. The Seafire XV was worse because it was much heavier (nearly a ton and a half) and therefore needed to be going much faster to "unstick". It also had longer stroke oleos meaning that the three point take off occurred at a higher angle of incidence and nearer the stall.

    If the carrier deck was several hundred feet longer then the longer tail wheel strut(s) would actually help with this.

    That's just taking off. I don't think many modern readers have any idea just how difficult it was to get an aircraft like the Seafire (which was not designed for carrier operations, but adapted to them) down on the deck.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  14. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Hopefully it would be able to take off, even the smallish Unicorn was 640 ft long. The torpedo-less Seafire TB is still as good/bad plane to land as another Seafire.
    Seafire XV was basically the 'British Bearcat' - good/great performance, but too late for ww2.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The way the aircraft carriers operated the entire deck length was not available for a take off run. This was the problem on some Malta convoys. Because the aircraft could not all be stored on the hangar deck (even if they would fit) they were on the flight deck, taking up space and reducing the take off run available.
    The reason aircraft were brought to Gibraltar on one of the old small carriers like Argus (her flight deck was only 549' long) and then mostly transferred to Illustrious or Ark Royal was to fly off larger numbers.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Roger that - the fighters would usually (always?) took off 1st, to clear the way to the heavily laden 'attack' airplanes, like Avenger, 'Val' or Barracuda.
    The Spitfire Vs were able to take off with 170 gal in slipper tank + 29 gals in rear fuselage tank (but with almost no guns/ammo?) from fleet carriers, IIRC?
     
  17. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    #17 nuuumannn, Nov 15, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2013
    The RAF did actually operate Swordfishes. 119 Sqn Coastal Command used Swordfish as submarine hunters equipped with radar. Let's also not forget that before the Fleet Air Arm came under Royal Navy control in 1939 it was a branch of the RAF. The RN's air arm, the Royal Naval Air Service disappeared with the creation of the RAF on 1st April 1918.

    This is how the FAA ended up with the Skua, then the Fulmar as its front line 'fighters' in the early years of the war (not to forget its small number of Sea Gladiators) and because the Admiralty realised it actually needed a single-seat interceptor based on war experience is how the Blackburn Firebrand came into being. That it eventually became a torpedo fighter is down to its manufacturers, who then spent the rest of the war getting it to work properly! Although they did built the impressive Firecrest as well. (segue back to the subject of this thread...)
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I will bite;

    WHY

    Even if you can the thing off the deck with the torpedo, where are you going to go with it?

    You are back to the Spitfires fuel capacity of under 90 imp gallons. How much fuel are going to burn lugging a torpedo? how far can you fly and still get back to the carrier?

    One can imagine the FW 190 torpedo fighter attacking ships in the Channel. Normal German torpedo bombers might have tough time surviving over the channel after 1942.

    What are torpedo Spits going to attack that cannot be attacked by other aircraft? Beaufighters in the Channel, North Sea, Norway Med? Avengers and Barracudas from the carriers.
     
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  19. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The Seafire's of 24 Wing on Indefatigable certainly used the 90 gallon slipper tank operationally, a use for which it was never intended. Obviously they couldn't have carried a torpedo thus equipped :)

    The immediate post war version of the Seafire 47 could reach 10,000 feet in two and a half minutes from a standing start, which just emphasises that the Seafire was an interceptor intended for fleet defence and not really a strike aircraft, despite being pressed into this role.

    The maximum available take off run could be a significant proportion of the deck length. The RN's Avenger (US Archer) class carriers like Biter,Dasher and the eponymous Avenger used in operation Torch stowed six aircraft on deck and had a maximum take off run of 450 feet. Not bad for an overall length of 492 feet.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  20. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    :)

    You can install the 29 imp gal rear fuselage tank, that will be emptied some time before you enter target area. The Spitfire is tasked to get in, drop the torp, and head home, not to stay and fight for 20 miutes.

    The British torp bombers have also endured some hard time during daylight operations in 1941-42, too. The Spitfire carrying a torpedo will cruise faster than any of those will max out clean, and represent a smaller target for ship's AAA.
    It can be argued, though, that attacks performed by Swordfishes against Italians and the Bismarck have much reduced the need for the torpedo bombers in British service. At least in waters around Europe.

    The Spit V, on, for take off, lame 1185 HP was taking off with almost 200 imp gals of fuel aboard (with reduced guns ammo, I admit, but with more oil) from CVs to reinforce Malta.

    I've already said that post-war Seafires were 'British Bearcats'. The torp-carrying Spit/Seafire is what I'm looking to envision :)

    Thanks again.
     
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