USA too much variety?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Rufus123, Sep 29, 2013.

  1. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    #1 Rufus123, Sep 29, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2013
    I have read a couple of times out here that some thought the USA tried to make too many types and could have produced more if they had not. This does not seem right.

    Now I am getting that Pilots were the bottleneck?

    If more planes can be produced faster than pilots does it not make sense to go down multiple paths to see where it leads and find out how it actually works in the field and to continue to develop new types to see if they can replace what is in the field?

    If Pilots are the bottleneck trying so many different things would not reduce men in the air.
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The US built over 100,000 single seat fighters of the main 8 types. How many more would they need?

    Production of other types of aircraft also far exceeded the production of their opponents.

    Any shortage of aircraft in the early part of the war was due to the factories still being built and workers still being hired and trained.

    You do have a point about pilots and crew ( both air and ground) but the idea that the US had production bottle necks due to too many types doesn't stand up to even a quick look.
     
  3. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    I was questioning the argument that the USA pursued too many types. I am of the mind that pursuing the different types during the war was a positive thing.

    I have seen some say the USA made too many types and after seeming more about crews I was trying to question the validity.
     
  4. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
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    Substitute "USA" with "Luftwaffe" in the beginning post and you will be on the right track!
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It can be a positive thing depending on the size of the industry. The Japanese may have pursued too many types, in contrast, due to a much smaller industry. Too few designers and engineers to support a large diversified program.

    The numbers of programs that can be supported depend on the numbers of engineers/designers available and the ability of the tool and die industry to supply the needed tools, jigs, fixtures and stamping dies.
     
  6. pattle

    pattle Member

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    I think the Americans may have wasted resources on what turned out to be cancelled projects, but I say this with hindsight.
     
  7. Rufus123

    Rufus123 Member

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    But didn't all of those cancelled projects lead to other things that were worthwhile? I would think something was learned during all the things done along the way.

    A question rather than a statement.
     
  8. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    In the years leading up to, and through WWII, aviation theory was still a learning curve. WWII started with biplanes and ended with jets, the technology was advancing so rapidly.

    In today's world, we have the avantage of computer assisted design and the benefit of lessons learned from those early days. Back in the 1930's and 1940's, they had to work through theory with hands-on and to the most successful design went the contract (in most cases, but there were several exceptions that still leave people wondering).

    The Luftwaffe, the Italians, the RAF, the Soviets and the Japanese were no different than the U.S. in searching for the next "big breakthrough" in airframe design.
     
  9. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I was going to substitute RAF. The number of planes we developed and even put into service which were ot continued wth was huge. Personally I thought the USAAF basically got it right.
     
  10. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

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    I think not having a Spitfire/Bf 109 performance type in the 1930s was an error for the Americans.

    American designs only matched until around 1943.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    How do you figure that?

    During 1939 the Ju-88 program amounted to over 50% of the entire German airframe workforce. Me-109 was their only mass produced fighter aircraft. For all practical purposes Germany bet their air war on only two aircraft types.
     
  12. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Arado, Bucker, Seibel, Fokke-Wulf, Blohm und Voss, Heinkel, Dornier, Gotha, Henschel, Flettner...all of these and more, were producing aircraft of thier own designs and/or manufacturing other's under license...

    So where do you draw the conclusion that Junkers and Messerschmitt were the only aircraft being built?
     
  13. s1chris

    s1chris Member

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    I would imagine that tooling and equipment and there adaptability at the manufacturing sites would have dictated to a degree why so many different types of a particular role aircraft were produced.

    Also variety equals adaptability. The good old saying "don't put all of your eggs in one basket" springs to mind.

    Cheers Chris
     
  14. pattle

    pattle Member

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    Without running through a list of cancelled American aircraft I couldn't say with confidence, but I think not because the cancelled types produced little fresh technology. I don't know how much of Jack Northrop's flying wing technology came to any use after the war.
    I think there was a tendency with both the British and Americans to not put all there eggs in one basket, by this I mean they had designs on the drawing board which sometimes weren't needed because either existing aircraft had taken the roles these aircraft were designed for or the role had disappeared.
     
  15. Reegor

    Reegor Member

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    The B-32 was an expensive example of a cancelled aircraft project. It was intended as an alternative to the B-29 (parallel development tracks to reduce risk), but a) the B-29 proved plenty adequate, once the engines were fixed, and b) the war ended. According to Wikipedia, only 118 were built.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-32_Dominator

    There were apparently many other similar examples. The movie about Howard Hughes, The Aviator, has some plot lines about one or two of them.
     
  16. snelson

    snelson New Member

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    i've always wondered how many times did US ground crews get crates full of P51 parts when they needed P40 parts? or needed mechanics to work of P47's when all they could find were P38 mechanics.

    in germany for the most part you had 2 main fighters it would seem that they would have an easier supply logistics.
     
  17. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    #17 Aozora, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
    Which doesn't mean a whole lot in the context of this discussion because this circumstance changed radically after the war started.

    Also, if indeed over 50% of the workforce executed the Ju 88 program and built 83 Ju 88s in 1939, this must mean that there was something radically wrong with the Ju 88 (far too complex?), or with Junkers, or the German airframe workforce. http://www.geocities.ws/hjunkers/ju_g60pl.htm#g88pl
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The aircraft industries in all combatant countries were businesses. All the governments struggled to a greater or lesser extent to impose control over those businesses. The individual businesses that composed the aircraft industries were not in it specifically to win the war (though they would all have seen this as desirable on economic grounds) they were in it to win contracts and make money for their shareholders.
    Wartime government contracts were a bonanza for these industries and gave them the opportunity to squander eye watering amounts of public, i.e. taxpayers money. I believe Howard Hughes gave a figure of many billions of dollars which he believed had been wasted by various US aviation companies on unsuccessful and incompleted projects throughout the war.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  19. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    That is a bit harsh.
    A lot of money was wasted but a lot of those companies were gambling with their own money too. Curtiss is supposed to have lost over 14,000 dollars building two XP-46 aircraft because the armed prototype failed miserably to meet contract speeds. They were certainly paid over 14,000 less than what the contract called for if the plane had met the performance specs. Wither there was a 14,000 dollar cushion in the contract I don't know.

    The companies could NOT build whatever they wanted and just bill the government. EVERY project had to be approved and contracted for, usually, but not always, in competition with other companies. For instance there were 4 big bomber projects that made it as far as getting type numbers. The Boeing B-29, the Lockheed XB-30 (preliminary work helped the Constellation), The Douglas XB-31 and the Consolidated XB-32. On June 27, 1940, the Army issued contracts for preliminary engineering data. After reviewing the data and work already done ( the work on the XB-29 being further along) the XB-30 and XB-31 were cut.

    I have no idea how many "paper studies" various firms did or how much work went into them before firm proposals were made to the government but the P-38 was looked at in at least 6 different configurations including engines in the fuselage driving props on the wing through extension shafts and gear boxes. The government did not pay for such work. Once the government had "paid" for an engineering study they were free to share the data with other companies.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #20 stona, Sep 30, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2013
    A bit harsh, but fair. The various companies pitched for contracts knowing full well that this gave them access to public funds. Some companies had made investments of their own money in order to procure these contracts. That was a risk, but the capital involved pales into insignificance against the potential profits from a lucrative government contract.
    I'm not so familiar with the US but in the UK no major player in the aviation industry over extended itself between 1935 and 1945 in an effort to win those contracts. Several did very well indeed, thank you very much, as a result of them. The plethora of companies which existed in 1945, before the inevitable rationalisation of the post war years is testament to that.
    Even a company that failed to fulfil earlier promise with its own types during the war was assured of handsome contracts, sub-contacting other work. Fairey Aviation building Halifaxes and I think Beaufighters (haven't checked) springs to mind.
    I have a slightly cynical view of this, but it counter balances the far more unrealistic "myth" of WWII British industry, as propagated by the BBC and lately Channel 4, where everyone was in it for the good of the Empire, nobody ever went on strike, and all the happy workers turned up to work a 12 hour shift for their philanthropic bosses ten minutes early every day :)
    I've been involved in recording a bit of so called "living history" and that is not the first hand story I've been told.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
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