Supermarine 224 production a help or a hindrance

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by fastmongrel, Apr 8, 2015.

  1. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Would Supermarine getting a production contract for the Type 224 (most likely with a Kestrel engine and radiator) be a help or hindrance to Supermarine getting the Spitfire MkI into production.

    I was wondering because before the Spit Supermarines were a Flying Boat and Seaplane maker and had only ever had orders to build in the tens and I would imagine they werent built on anything we would call a production line. The 224 was a Monocoque acording to wiki Supermarine Type 224 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia and I am assuming of a similar type fuselage to the Spit.

    Would an order for say 200 Type 224s starting in mid 1935 which is similar to what happened in real life with the Gloster Gladiator help in setting up the factory or would the design and development work needed to get the 224 to a service state (new engine, radiator, canopy and all the other things needed by an Air Force) take men away from the Spit slowing its development. Not discussing wether the 224 should have been ordered because frankly the Gladiator was a far better aircraft but wether the Air Ministry might have thought that Supermarines or Vickers needed to get into mass manufacturing.

    I am sort of hoping this would have lead to a Castle Bromwich type factory getting into commision earlier than was the case.

    224.jpg
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    All work on the one and only Type 224, K2890, stopped officially on 9th January 1935. It was used in development of the Type 300. It did finally go to RAE on 24th July 1935. On 2nd December 1935 a report was sent to Verney at the Ministry stating baldly "Her [K2890] performance is not such to be of interest in face of up to date performances.". That was that, there was no further interest. An order anytime in 1935 was therefore out of the question, the aeroplane hadn't even been accepted at the RAE, and remained so in 1936 after the damning assessment. Remember that K5054 was being built through 1935, the timeline just doesn't favour the other aeroplane, it never had a chance.


    The Kestrel never seems to have been suggested as a replacement for the Goshawk. The Air Ministry asked Supermarine for a Napier Dagger version, but the company declined and the Ministry didn't really want it, Verney told MacLean as much through those unofficial back channels.
    The real 'what if' would have been a PV 12 powered version. The possibility that a Type 224 might have been powered by the PV 12 is tantalisingly raised in a Supermarine report of October 1934. In the end a different aeroplane was designed around the PV 12/Merlin, and we all know how that turned out.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  3. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Stona I knew development stopped by Jan 35 in fact I think Mitchell had given up on it a lot earlier. My thinking wasnt to particulary get the 224 into service but to kickstart Supermarine to try and avoid the production problems encountered with the Spit and have Vickers Supermarines end up with a bigger pool of workers used to Monocoque production.

    I am now thinking maybe a contract to build something else with a similar construction method I can only off the top of my head think of the Fairey Battle.
     
  4. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    #4 Koopernic, Apr 8, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
    I suppose it would depend on the work Supermarine had. Did it have enough work to keeps its skilled workforce employed? On the other had it could also become a distraction, especially for the drawing office.
     
  5. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    It would have been a big help for someone to look at a map and see that Supermarine could hardly be placed in a better position for a surprise raid.
     
  6. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    A sea plane company would tend to be near the coast. I suppose it could have been placed on the other coast, the one not close to Europe, but perhaps there was less of the kind of people and industry there to support an enterprise such as super marine.
     
  7. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    #7 pbehn, Apr 8, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2015
    Thanks for the reply Koopernic. A world war was obviously coming, the 224 and the Spitfire were not sea planes I consider it a great oversight that the facilities of Supermarine were not moved and or dispersed, their factory and offices were easily picked out and attacked. The production should have been set up/dispersed to Wales Scotland English Midlands or North East West.

    I had a great surprise on a sightseeing boat trip to lake Windermere to find that the ramp is still there where Sunderland flying boats were assembled, Shorts is was based in Northern Ireland, over the Irish Sea, I presume the attraction of a lake won over an industrial complex just because you can take off and land most of the time.. There is no heavy industry there now and certainly none in the 1940s in a war all is possible.

    Flying Boat Builders From Lost Wartime Village Tell Their Stories | Culture24
     
  8. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    How about a Buzzard powered version? Bulkier but lighter than the Dagger, at least excluding radiator weight (and radiator and header tank placement could at least be easier to manage CoG changes compared to the Goshawk).

    I do wonder why the Buzzard was never employed on a fighter, even in prototype form, unless its development and limited production run had been discontinued before large enough fighters were even being considered. (Kawasaki resorted to using the even bulkier Ha-9 on the Ki-28 prototype)
     
  9. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    if you can move the drawing office as well the Super marine B.12/36 is likely introduced into production. (the drawings were bombed and lost) and you likely have unscored daylight RAF missions due to its high performance.
    Bomber   copy.jpg bomber bombs.jpg
     
  10. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    Since the Type 224 is a bit of a dead end (not only was K5054 nearing completion in 1935, but more significantly in May that year the Bf 109 first flew), the only thing that would really get Supermarine to improve its production facilities would have been an order for numbers of Spitfires like the one placed for Hurricanes; at that time the largest single order for a British military aeroplane. This would have required an increase in floor space and workforce beyond what Supermarine was capable of at Woolston. The thing about moving the factory floor for fear of it being bombed is one loaded with hindsight, since at the time, no one foresaw that German bombers were going to be flying from France. RAF planning was focussed around bombers flying from Germany - these would have been unescorted and this was definitely factored into Air Ministry thinking (see F.9/35, which produced the Defiant for starters), so there probably wasn't an immediate requirement for Supermarine to move from Woolston, although we can plainly see why they should have.

    Expansion of the floor space and production facilities should have been increased with the issuing of B.12/36 - since the Short design was the winner, if the Supermarine bomber had greater priority it might have warranted such a move. Once the war had started, the bomber was discontinued because of priority on Spitfire development as much as attacks against the factory that destroyed the prototype and the drawings, so had this been anticipated beforehand, perhaps the desire for more floor space might have arisen sooner.
     
  11. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    Somebody already had; you seem to be forgetting that plans were under way, before the war, for the Castle Bromwich plant to start production, and it was only a combination of poor management and militant union members which held things up. Once Beaverbrook prised the factory out of Nuffield's dead grip, and told the workforce it was a case of build Spitfires, or go down the mines, things started to move.
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    B527113/36 was placed in July 1936 and was for 310 aircraft. It was as many (actually it turned out to be more) than Supermarine could manage.

    The relationships between British aircraft manufacturers and the Air Ministry were complicated. Everyone knew everyone and the 'old boys'' network was a powerful factor. The question of who would pay for any expansion of the Southampton area facilities of Supermarine would have been foremost in the minds of the Vickers board. On the Ministry side, the bean counters would be well aware of the £2,000,000 pounds they had put in to Castle Bromwich, a figure which would more than double before a single aeroplane rolled out of the doors. We are talking about the mid 1930s when government budgets, including defence, were under severe restraints.
    The government/Air Ministry wasn't about to throw a large purse of money at Vickers Supermarine in 1935/6 and the company was not going to make a massive private investment on the assumption that there would be a war in three years time.

    As 'nuuumann' has noted, once again some are posting with the benefit of hindsight.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Part of the trouble with this premise is the comparison to Gloster. Gloster was coming off a run of 204 Gauntlet MK IIs and already had a factory and work force in place. Even if smaller than it would later become. The First Gladiators were going into service earlier than the Hurricane.
    Building 200 obsolete when built fighters justto try to expand Supermarine's plant and work force (and the British were building way too many obsolete when built aircraft) seems like a waste of time and money.
     
  14. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    #14 Edgar Brooks, Apr 9, 2015
    Last edited: Apr 9, 2015
    Very much so; until late 1939 the Spitfire seems to have been largely unwanted, probably because it was felt that the Hurricane could cope with the only aircraft likely to arrive here from Germany. As the 224's performance was below that of the Hurricane, it would never have been put into production.
    It must be remembered that the fall of France was never contemplated pre-war, so talk of sudden attacks on Southampton is 20;20 hindsight coming into action.
    In June 1939 the authorities wanted Supermarine to go onto a single work shift, since they were producing 48 Spitfires a month, which meant the orders would run out before production could be switched to Beaufighters at the end of 1940, so they wanted them to slow down to 30 per month.
    It was January 1940 before events in Europe caused a change of emphasis, and Supermarine were given an order for more Spitfires, with Griffon-powered variants to follow as quickly as possible. The Beaufighter was quietly forgotten.
     
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  15. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    It might have been worse if Gloster was not instructed to build Hurricanes under licence - even more obsolete biplane fighters.

    I read that the firm was intended to build Wellingtons, but this was changed to Hurricanes, against the wishes of C-in-C Bomber Command.
     
  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Wasn't the first Castle Bromwich order placed in early 1939? It was a large order (1,000?) too. It would be a year before it started to be built but it rather undermines the notion that the Spitfire was largely unwanted until late 1939.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
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  17. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    Perhaps I should have said that they didn't want any more from Supermarine; there was an attempt to change the Castle Bromwich order to 600 Spitfires and 400 Whirlwinds, but Nuffield would have none of it, which was another nail in the Whirlwind coffin, and probably led the way to the famous Beaverbrook/Nuffield confrontation. Trying to shift a peer of the realm is never easy, so it probably needed another to do it.
     
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  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Indeed they didn't, thanks for clarifying.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  19. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    As Sir Arthur Harris wrote;

    'Not for nothing was it said in the fighting services that had they only the King's Enemies to deal with—how easy that would be.'
     
  20. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Or perhaps it would have led to greater interest in Gloster's monoplane fighter development (F.5/34 and F.9/37).
     
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