was the defiant was used for the catapult launched interceptor role?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by RAGMAN, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. RAGMAN

    RAGMAN Member

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    i always wondered why the defiant was not used for the catapult launched interceptor on the atlantic ? the hurricane was a more valuable fighter then the defiant. mind you that is 2 people going into the ocean instead of 1 in the hurricane .....:?:
     
  2. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    I think you might be on the right track, but by the time Hurricats were in use, the Defiant was equipping night fighter squadrons. In this role it was a more valueable asset; thirteen RAF squadrons used or paritally equipped with the Defiant as a night fighter. Besides, the Royal Navy only used Daffys as target tugs. There were plans to develop the type as a carrier based fighter however; if you look around this forum there's plenty of reference to Defiants here.
     
  3. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    I recall Hurricats were all worn out disposable aircraft that would have been retired anyway?
     
  4. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    There's a question of whether the catapults on merchant vessels could handle the Defiant which is a much heavier aircraft than the Hurricane. Given that there are pics of Fulmars on catapults, I'm guessing it was feasible but I don't know for sure. Also bear in mind a Defiant has a crew of 2 which may reduce reaction time for the entire capability as the gunner scrambles into his cockpit. The gun turret is just another thing to go wrong and if it does, the aircraft is just a useless deadweight on the ship. Both crew would also have to be rescued after operations (and I really don't fancy the gunner's chances in a ditching situation...or in a bail out for that matter) which further increases risk to the ship(s) picking them up, or they are abandoned to their fate and the RAF loses 2 trained aircrew instead of just one.
     
  5. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    The Aircraft carrier HMS ARGUS dazzle painted, c.1918. She was converted from an ocean liner that was under construction when the First World War began. Kept in reserve for training for most of the Second World War she was pressed into service for flying off aircraft to Malta and the Torch landings when the Navy were short of carriers.
    [​IMG]


    The hangar on board HMS ARGUS, with the base of the lift in the foreground, and a line of Hawker Sea Hurricanes, with several mechanics working on them, running to the back of the hangar.
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    A Hawker Hurricane which landed too fast and caught in the safety nets by one wheel aboard HMS ARGUS off Lamlash. Working parties are using a ‘block and tackle’ to recover the aircraft.
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    A Supermarine Seafire takes off in bright sun from the flight deck of HMS ILLUSTRIOUS during trials of the aircraft from the carrier on the Clyde. The pilots were very impressed with the short runs needed to take off.
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    A Supermarine Seafire nosed over on the flight deck of HMS SMITER after a landing accident, 1944.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Why risk two people, when one will do?
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Also, the CAM ships were a 'stop-gap' measure, until such time as 'proper' air cover could be provided.
    The main adversaries were FW-200, He111 and Ju88; using a Hurricane which was 'war weary' (literally use once, and throw away!) was more effective, being a 'true' fighter, than using an aircraft such as the Defiant (or even Blackburn Roc), where the method of attack would have involved virtually formating on the enemy aircraft (which would of course fly straight and level, without shooting back!), whilst the gunner brought his turret guns to bear and calmly raked the bomber from stem to stern.
    So, the choices were, use a war weary Hurricane, with 8 guns and reasonable performance, which had a chance of doing what it was designed for, with only one crew who could have at least a 50% chance of survival after bailing out, or use an aircraft with mediocre performance, only four guns, in a turret, which required precise flying and gunnery skills, and where the likely hood of two crew surviving was minimal.
     
  8. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    No idea but there were two in the Fulmar which was used
     
  9. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    I'd need to check, but I believe the Fulmar was used very sparsely (if at all ) on operational cat launches where ditching/bail out was required, and then the intention was pilot only. As far as I can remember, most, if not all, operational launches, with two crew, involved the aircraft recovering to Northern Ireland.
     
  10. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    The Fulmar didn't require a crew of 2. It could be flown, and fought, by just the pilot. The Defiant, however, had no forward-firing guns and so the gunner was critical to use the aircraft in combat.
     
  11. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    I still think the most likely answer was that the Royal Navy never operated the Defiant as a fighter, so wasn't gonna happen.

    Interesting photos StuG3 - out of interest's sake, here's a pic worth comparing with the hangar scene, this time C.1918.

    [​IMG]

    Aircraft are l to r Sopwith 2F1 Camels, Short 184, Sopwith T.1 Cuckoo. Argus was designated a torpedo carrier at the time this image was taken; her primary weapon was the T.1 torpedoplane; the very first aircraft carrier based torpedo bomber. These were embarked aboard from 185 Sqn, RAF.

    Slight thread drift, but interesting photos of the carrier...
     
  12. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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  13. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    FAA Blackburn Roc as a catapult interceptor? You gotta be kidding me! :)
     
  14. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    No, it hardly made it onto a carrier as it was. According to wiki Rocs had exactly one confirmed kill in combat.
     
  15. buffnut453

    buffnut453 Well-Known Member

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    #15 buffnut453, Jan 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013
    Nope, wasn't a confirmed kill...it was at best a "probable" and most likely a "damaged". The Roc in question was an AACU aircraft flown by a pilot in the RAF and he engaged a German He59...inconclusively.
     
  16. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    An airman watches as Algerian dock workers roll barrels of oil along the quayside at Algiers. Behind them is a Hawker Sea Hurricane Mark I, W9182, of the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit mounted on the fo’c'sle catapult of a Catapult Armed Merchantman (CAM ship).
    [​IMG]
     
  17. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    Hawker Sea Hurricane being catapulted from the catapult armed merchant (CAM) ship at Greenock. Note the long flame from the rocket assistors.
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    The pilot and flight mechanic of the Merchant Ship Fighter Unit, practice a 'scramble' to Hawker Sea Hurricane Mark I, V6733, on the steam-catapult of Catapult Armed Merchantman (CAM ship) SS EMPIRE DARWIN in the Mediterranean, while heading for North Africa in a convoy.
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    HMS EMPIRE LAWRENCE, circa 1941, at anchor, with aircraft on catapult.
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  18. beitou

    beitou Member

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    Very brave men those pilots who launched from a CAM.
     
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