The P-36 a Zero Killer??? (P-36 Hawk/Hawk 75)

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Apr 24, 2014.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Inspired by the thread The P-39 a Zero Killer???, I'm wondering if the P-36/Hawk 75, with a 2-stage supercharged engine like the F4F, would have performed better for the Army and Marine units in the PTO - Midway and Guadalcanal periods?

    In the P-39 thread it was discussed how poorly the P-400's and P-39's performed at altitude and how valuable the 2-stage F4F's were.
    Even the P-40 entered the discussion.

    While an older design, might 2-stage P-36's have provided the altitude performance lacking in the other Army fighters?
     
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  2. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    P-36s did ok for the Brits operating over Burma from bases in India. The Dutch also used some in the East Indies in early '42 but I don't have specifics on how well they fared compared to the Brewsters and CW-21Bs that the ML-KNIL also operated.
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Vs the P-40 you trade performance at altitude ( 15,000 ft and above with any real difference coming in at something over 20,000ft) for performance at lower altitudes. The radial engine version without a super low drag cowling like the Fw 190 is going to have 15-22% more drag (It was 22% when comparing the XP-40 in final configuration to a P-36A) than the Allison powered version.

    Just figure at what point you have more than 15-20% power than the Allison engine.

    Please remember that the P-36 and Hawk 75 aircraft did NOT have the self sealing tanks, armor and beefed up wing structure of the P-40 let alone the weight of armament.

    P&W did figure out how to efficiently cowl a 2 stage R-1830 engine and stick it in a P-40 airframe but it was not flying until the late summer/fall of 1942 in prototype form which means it is 6-9 months form service use which is way too late.
     
  4. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Good info.

    Too bad. If added, might still outperform naval F4F?

    Maybe this is one of the things that weighed down the P-40?

    Interesting. Perhaps the altitude issue was the driver?
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The proposed Hawk might out perform the Wildcat but by what margin?
    a few mph or 20-30mph?
    100fpm in climb or 300-400fpm in climb?
    And what do you give up?
    American P-36s were grounded for a time until the wing structure (heavier skinning?) could be beefed up due to wing skin buckling in flight. And that is at P-36 weights. Add several hundred pounds of armor, several hundred pounds of self sealing tanks, several hundred pounds of guns and ammo and then perform a few 6-7 G turns of dive pull-outs and see how strong you want the wings to be?

    the weight of the .30 cal guns in the wings of a P-40 B/C were 94.4lbs so switching the cowl guns for .30 cals gives you a gun weight of 141.6 lbs and an ammo weight of 191.1lbs (at 500rpg) for a total of 332.7lbs. The gun weight of P-40 with four .50s is
    313.7lb which leaves you with 19lbs for ammo :)
    .50 cal ammo weighs about 30lbs per hundred so even 200 rpg for four guns weighs 240lbs.

    The P-40 Airframe that was bailed to P&W for experimental engine work was one of the first P-40 airframes ( no letter) and had no armor, self sealing tanks or guns. P&W had the airframe for over a year and half before the final tests were run.
    P&W also had trouble building enough two stage engines in 1941 which is why one batch of Wildcats (the F4F-3A) got single stage supercharged engines. I don't know when the supply situation improved.

    BTW both a Hawk 75 and a Seversky fighter with an early 1939 version of the two stage engine were test flown in the 1939 fighter trials that saw the P-40 selected as the winner.
     
  6. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #6 oldcrowcv63, Apr 24, 2014
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2014
    having reread Bill Bartsch's Every Day a Nightmare a few months ago, I was startled to see that, according to at least one of the the P-40E pilots of the 17th PPS, in the absence of Hawker Hurricanes. the only aircraft that could begin to contemplate an intercept of the IJN raiders was the B-339 Buffalo with it's Wright single stage, two speed supercharger. Of course, that aircraft apparently had other performance, tactics, maintenance, numbers or pilot-training related problems that made it ineffectual in any role. The P-40E's pilots of the 17th muddled through that phase of the war and when folded into the 49th FG defending Darwin, began to achieve some significant success that had previously eluded them over Java and the PI.

    Bottom line, perhaps a P-36 in sufficient numbers might have made a difference without the 2 stage SC, if in sufficient numbers? The Dutch pilots apparently liked the P-36 very much from what I've read in Bartsch and looked forward to receiving P-40Es I suppose with an assumption that they were better performing?
     
  7. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Didn't the 1st AVG have the same problem, using P-43's for that role?
     
  8. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I wouldn't have bolded the description of the Wright's supercharger. The Buffalo was good at higher altitudes when it was not weighted down with armor and all possible fuel (up to 240 gals!!); the fuel tanks were not protected, and there was no easy way to protect them anyway. In case USAF wants a fighter without protection, they can strip down the P-40 and they have themselves a performer. The Cyclone in any gear was still making less power than V-1710, while making far less exhaust thrust, too.
     
  9. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry Tomo but your statements about unprotected fuel tanks in the Buffalo are not correct. The RAF Buffalos did have protection, both armour plate and externally-applied "faux" self-sealing capability. I'm not saying the solutions were great compared to proper self-sealing solutions but they represented a considerable improvement on unprotected tanks.
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    No problems at all :) Id actually appreciate more details about the mods tried on the RAF Buffaloes.
    Going by the AHT, the Finnish Buffaloes have had no protection for tanks, 2 x 80 US gals. They were lightest ones, and were the most acclaimed in service. The USN and other export versions were heavier. The F2A-2 and -3 introduced three additional, leak-proof fuel cells; the 2 x 80 gal tanks remained unprotected. The weight soared, the performance went in opposite direction.
     
  11. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    AFAIK, the 240 gallon fuel load out as strictly in the USN F2A-3. The story, as explained to me, as to, "Why so much fuel?" It was supposed to be for use in making very long range RADAR directed intercepts.
     
  12. BobR

    BobR Member

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    From what I have read, very recently again, the P-36s greatest shortcoming was its lack of firepower.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    You don't need a two stage supercharger for operations below 20,000 feet (i.e. where most aerial combat took place). A good single stage system such as that employed on most DB601/DB605 engines will work just fine.

    However there's a fundamental problem with your topic. A6M was CV based. P-36 was land based. IJA Ki-27 and follow on Ki-43 will be your primary opponents.
     
  14. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    RE: The thread title:
    This is a play on the thread The P-39 a Zero Killer???, so I ran with that title.

    RE: 2-stage:
    So much has been written of the poor altitude performance of the P-400's and P-39's in the Guadalcanal campaign and how the F4F's, in short supply, were used for those tasks.
    I seem to remember reading the 1st AVG had the same issues with the P-40.
    Hence the query about P-36's powered with the same 2-stage engine as the F4F.
     
  15. varsity07840

    varsity07840 Member

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    Firepower is meaningless when you can't lose the guy on your tail. Read Lew Sander's report of his combat with Zeros on Dec. 7th.

    Duane
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    While a lot of aerial combat did take place below 20,000ft it is a fact that the Japanese often came in at altitudes over 20,000ft in many of these early campaigns and many complaints about poor altitude performance were made by the pilots and commanders involved. Fighters were often several thousand feet above the bombers they were escorting so they could use the altitude advantage to "boom and zoom" the defending fighters. something the defenders got tired of in hurry, even if the fights often descended to lower altitudes.
    If fighters are climbing to reach the bombers they will most likely be at climb speed or close to it and not at level speed or even max cruise on the level. They will be around 100mph slower and it takes time to accelerate to near top speed even if the plane levels off and stops climbing. With the planes diving from above they have more speed in hand than even max level speed and can afford to burn off a bit in a turn.

    The "single stage system such as that employed on most DB601/DB605 engines" worked just fine in part because the 109 was so small and light. Take the DB 601 out of a 6,000-6,400lb 109 and stick it in a 8300lb P-40E and see how well it performs at altitude.

    The A6M was often land based. The ones that attacked the Philippines were land based, the ones that attacked Northern Australia were land based (most of the time?) and the ones over Guadalcanal were land based.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Firepower also depends on the target. P-36A and Hawk 75s varied a bit but the majority of the Hawk 75s to see service after the fall of France had 6 rifle caliber MGs compared to the BoB Spitfire and Hurricane's 8. But in Asia the Japanese planes didn't have the self sealing tanks and armor the Germans had. The Ki 27 had two 7.7mm guns and the Ki 43 had (for the most part) one 12.7 and one 7.7mm Mgs ( early 1942 saw some of them with two 7.7mm guns) and early Zeros were down to a pair of 7.7mm guns after the first 7-8 seconds of firing time.

    Granted six .30 cal guns is nowhere near the firepower of six .50 cal guns but having 3-4 times the firepower of some of the Japanese aircraft ( the American and British .30 cal and .303 guns fired faster than the Japanese 7.7 gun) means that "lack of firepower" really isn't a good excuse. Given the weight/performance problems of some of the American aircraft perhaps less firepower and more performance may have been a better solution.
     
  18. HBPencil

    HBPencil Member

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    That reminds me of something I read in vol 2 of the Bloody Shambles trilogy. According to Shores the RAF in Burma performed a series of mock dogfights between a Hurricane II and a Buffalo and found that the Buffalo was better above 20,000ft.
     
  19. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Would you be so kind to describe in what condition were the Hurri II and Buffalo, like armament installed, fuel, ammo, protection?
     
  20. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I have no problem believing the Buffalo could be well flown and might have been a good maneuvering aircraft.

    The vast majority did NOT do well. The few ... the Finns ... did. Pilot training has a VERY high percentage of how an aircraft does in a fight.

    So ... did the Brits put Lieutenants and Captains in the Hurricanes and fresh recruits in the Buffalos, or what? The devil is in the details here ... the results depend almost entirely on the scenario, the pilots, and the load out of the aircraft involved. If the sides were about equal. I might take notice.

    Otherwise the Hurricane is the MUCH better performing aircraft in actual war, given the relative records of the two protagonists.
     
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