Were any aircraft similar to the British Firefly?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by freebird, Feb 18, 2008.

  1. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Did the US, Japan, Germany or Italy have any aircraft similar to the Firefly?

    I'm trying to think of something that could be adapted for use on a light carrier.

    {according to my reference}
    The Firefly could be used as a Fighter/Bomber/Recon aircraft, it had a 1,360 mile range, 320 mph, 2 crew, up to 2,000 lbs of bombs.

    I would think the FB/Recon would have to have a second crewmember to operate the radar/RDF and as observer, and a range of at least 800 miles or so.

    Could a Me 110 be adapted for use on a carrier?
     
  2. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Freebird,

    >Did the US, Japan, Germany or Italy have any aircraft similar to the Firefly?

    I think the Douglas AD could be considered a similar aircraft, though it didn't see service in WW2.

    >Could a Me 110 be adapted for use on a carrier?

    Probably - the generally similar Me 109 could be, too.

    However, twin-engined aircraft were not favoured for carrier operations because single-engined landings (and especially wave-off's) were considered rather dangerous.

    If I remember correctly, the plan to use the Mosquito as a carrier aircraft was shelved because of this. However, there were the De Havilland Hornet and the Grumman F8F that showed that not every twin was unsuitable ...

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  3. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    The Mosquito was the first twin-engined aircraft to land on an aircraft carrier, the HMS Indefatigable on March 25 1944 by Lt. Eric Brown...

    [​IMG]

    It was eventually developed into the carrier capable Sea Mosquito TR MK 33, but as you stated it never served on a carrier. Ray Williams in his book, FLY NAVY, states;
    "Although the aircraft had been cleared for carrier operation, there is no record of No.811 Squadrons Sea Mosquitos ever going to sea".
    Not a lot of reasons are given, but as you say, it was considered a very large aircraft and required RATO if it was to take off at maximum weight. Speed was limited to 300kts with a full bomb load and external stores. There was a tendency to 'swing' on take off, but this was later cured with a lockable tail wheel. The end of the Pacific War is also given as another reason, as this also ended it's intended requirement.
     
  4. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    The question I have is there any reason that twin engine aircraft would be unsuitable on carriers, other than the heavy takeoff weight? The British had less need of this because they had the excellent Firefly, {and earlier the average Fulmar} besides all the British twin's were over 20,000 lbs. except the Blenheim IIRC. The reason I was thinking of twin-engines is that I was thinking of a FB/Recon with a decent range, the only one that came to mind is the Me 110. It's take-off weight is actually less than that of a Firefly.

    For the Japanese they don't really have a similar aircraft either {FB/Recon} I was wondering if they could adapt something like the Ki-51 or Ki-45 for this role?
     
  5. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The Grumman twin was the F7F not F8F. I can't imagine why the USN would want any AC like the Firefly. It could not carry as big a bomb load as the Corsair or Hellcat and it was too slow and unmaneuverable to be a fighter. The F4U1P was used for photo reconnaissance in WW2. Much safer for that job than a Firefly. One reason the USN in WW2 would not use twins was they took up too much room.
     
  6. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Freebird,

    >The question I have is there any reason that twin engine aircraft would be unsuitable on carriers, other than the heavy takeoff weight?

    Single-engine handling.

    The Pilot's Notes for the Mosquito indicate that loaded to 17000 lbs, the single-engine safety speed was 178 mph (though it will climb on one engine at 155 - 161 mph if clean). Going around in a Mosquito on one engine is not possible with flaps set to more than 15°.

    The F7F-3N for comparison had a stall speed "without fuel" of 86 mph - just to give a point of reference for the desired landing speed, which would be somewhat above the stall speed. (In carrier operations, probably by less than the 30% commonly used for land-based aircraft.)

    The Me 110 according to a brief British manual for the type had a normal approach speed of 160 km/h (99 mph), so if the convention of approach speed being 30% higher than stall speed is followed, its stall speed probably was roughly 76 mph. Single-engined, it couldn't use full flaps and full power at the same time, but said brief manual points out that 25 degrees flaps were recommended, and though it's not explicitely stated, this invites the conclusion that it could use a good amount of power on the remaining engine in that configuration ... perhaps enough for a go-around.

    The question of single-engined handling was important because as a rule of thumb, a twin-engined aircraft suffers an engine failure twice as frequently as a single-engined one. If you can't land a type on a carrier reliably on a single engine, it means you're going to lose aircraft that are twice as expensive as single-engined ones at twice the rate ... just a rough approximation, but it shows the motivation to choose a single-engined design over a twin.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  7. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Renrich,

    >The Grumman twin was the F7F not F8F.

    Roger that! And I was making that embarrassing mistake consistently :(

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  8. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    Twin engine Douglas T2D's convertible wheel/float torpedo bombers conducted landing trials aboard USS Langley in 1927.

    The F7F was a marginal carrier plane, not necessarily simply because it was twin engined, but it was never deployed operationally on carriers. It did conduct carrier trials (later) in 1944, as did a North American PBJ Mitchell. But in either case besides any limitation in carrier landing characteristic, there was just no compelling need for twins in normal carrier ops: it generally just meant fewer planes, with no big advantage to offset that.

    That changed (for twins as in relatively big planes with wing mounted engines, not counting twin jet fighters w/ fuselage mounted engines) with the development of nuclear weapons which regular size carrier planes couldn't carry at first, and which twins could carry farther anyway. Even if a few twins carrying nukes could successfully penetrate enemy air space at long range, that was an important advantage. That was the mission of the first operational USN carrier (big) twin, the North American AJ, and the Douglas A3D was conceived for that same mission though carried out many other missions in its actual career.

    Joe
     
  9. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    The B-25 my reference says is 20,000 lbs not fully loaded. THe B-25 could tak-off from a carrier. But, the firefly was a single engine aircraft.

    Maybe a Ki-46. That has 2 crew looks somewhat similar.
     

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  10. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    You already answered your own question.

    Because the primary mission for your CVL would be to scout for your cruisers. The Firefly would be a much better Search/Recon aircraft than the Hellcat, with a very limited # of aircraft the longer range and the second crewmember makes it more likely to find the "needle in a haystack". In WWII, even with advance knowlege of the Japanese plans, there were still problems with finding the enemy fleet. Look how many aircraft got lost on the strike mission at Midway. For hunting raiders across 1,000's 1,000's of miles of ocean you would need good search aircraft, and a single pilot can't fly, observe operate the radar as well as with a second crew.

    As for fighter capability, the Firefly was a fighter-bomber, and it would be used against enemy bombers, not against fighters. The Corsair was certainly an excellent aircraft, although it was only 1944 was it not? What was the bomb load capability of the Hellcat in 1943?
     
  11. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I don't understand your statement that the mission of the CVL is to scout for the cruisers. A CVL was a light aircraft carrier usually built on the hull of a cruiser. (USS Independence) It had the speed to keep up with the fast carrier force and they were fast to build. If you are talking about the float planes carried by BBs, CAs and CLs those originally were intended as scouts but evolved into spotters for gunfire and eventually were left off. My reference for Firefly gives the range of around 1000 miles. All the Navy fighters in WW2 exceeded that and one, the F4F7, of which 21 were built, carried 685 gallons of internal fuel. I think it was more range limited by oil consumption or pilot fatigue than by fuel. The Corsair's first combat was on Valentine's day, 1943 but it did not see extensive carrier duty until 1944. Another reason a Firefly would not be looked on fondly by the USN was that it had a liquid cooled engine which the USN had pretty much banned in the !930s. By late 1944 the USN had moved more and more to the fighter bomber with the dive bomber and torpedo plane having smaller contingents on carriers. The reason for this was they needed more fighters to counter the kamikaze and the Hellcats and Corsairs could drop bombs and kill bombers, torpedo planes and kamikazes all in one package.
     
  12. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    OK ok ok, How bout the DINAH! Hahahaa trying to get my point across. :)
     
  13. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    I was thinking that what a cruiser squadron really needed was a CVL with scout/recon aircraft to search for the raider{s}. The 9 cruisers sent to hunt down the Admiral Scheer in 1940 were unable to find the raider, they also had trouble using their floatplanes because of the heavy seas in the S. Atlantic

    I have a range for the Firefly as 1,364 miles, the Hellcat as 1,089 and the Corsair as 1,014.

    Yes and that make sense too, because of the high intensity operations in the Coral Sea/Central Pacific, where a carrier might on any day could reasonably expect an air attack of dozens if not 100's of enemy aircraft.

    The raiding or hunting CVL would not expect air attack very often, if so it might be 10 - 15 long range bombers. Thats why a FB/Recon aircraft would work, as there would very rarely expect enemy fighters to be present, if there were it would be perhaps 6 - 12 from an enemy CVL.

    If your CVL was hunting a single Pocket Battleship for example, the CVL's TB's might handle the job. If however the Germans had launched the raid as planned in the Spring of 1941 it would include Gneisenau, Lutzow Prince Eugen. As events turned out, Gneisenau was bombed by the RAF Lutzow was also unavailable, so it was Bismarck Pr. Eugen that sortied later in May.

    If the Battlecruiser, Pocket BB CA had sortied, a squadron of TB/DB's would probably not be able to do the job, {and take heavy losses doing so} so if your "hunting squadron" was a Battlecruiser, a few CA's a few CL's then the job for your CVL would be to find the raiders, and perhaps assist in the battle.

    I think if this situation involved the US, it would be in early 1942, where a few Japanese cruisers are sinking shipping around Samoa/Tahiti. The USN can't spare a full size CV, so they send a CVL + a few CA's CL's to hunt down the raiders.
     
  14. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

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    Wait, when you mean similar do you mean bomb load, and such or like airframe if that's similar?
     
  15. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    I mean similar in role performance.

    A twin-seat aircraft, with second crew as observer/Radar operator
    Multi-role, as in: Fighter-Bomber Recon
    1,000+ mile range
    1,000+ lb. bomb load
    300+ mph speed

    I was thinking perhaps a Ki-45
     
  16. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the correction Joe. Should be the "first BRITISH twin..."
     
  17. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Do heavier planes usually require a higher take off speed, or does it depend on wing-loading? Do twins require a higher take-off speed? I was wondering because the Germans Japanese had lighter twin-engine A/C, like the Me 110 or Ki-45. Much lighter in fact than a Hellcat or Avenger.
     
  18. Graeme

    Graeme Well-Known Member

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    All good questions, which I'm unable to answer freebird! But I'm sure the enlightened aeronautical engineers on the forum can assist you.

    The Sea Mosquito? As mentioned, too big for British carriers, even with folded wings? Too slow, especially when jet engined navy aircraft weren't far away. The requirement was for a shipboard strike aircraft required in the North Atlantic and Pacific where "alternative land fields were not available". The ending of the Pacific war took away much of the need.

    [​IMG]

    But then again not everything I read is accurate!

    [​IMG]

    Have you considered the Nakajima Saiun? Multi-place, very fast (378mph), nearly 2,000mile range, carrier capable and one version was armed with cannon. Who knows, a little tweaking here and there and you'd have the 'perfect' fighter reconnaissance carrier aircraft! (Just a thought)

    [​IMG]
     
  19. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    The F4U1 had internal fuel capacity of 361 gallons which gave it a "yardstick" range of 1500-1600 miles. With one external tank that range was substantially increased. The mission you are envisioning for CVLs is much like the mission of the hunter-killer groups of U-boats except those were CVEs. By the time CVLs became available, the threat from German surface raiders was greatly diminished. In the 1939-41 time frame the British did have some groups hunting German raiders that contained CVs. I have a tape of the movie, "Pursuit of the Graf Spee," and it is most enjoyable. I have several books describing that action and the film makers stayed very close to the actual details of the battle. One of the cruisers used in the film was the New Delhi, an Indian Navy vessel which was launched as HMS Achilles in the 30s and was actually in the battle. Achilles was a Leander class CL and was on loan to the Kiwis during the war. It is a thrill to watch the film and realise that the ship playing the role of RNZN Achilles actually is that ship. During the movie Admiral Harwood the TF commander calls a captains conference at sea. Very Nelsonesque! They assemble aboard the flagship, HMS Ajax and the admiral asks the captain of Achilles how his New Zealanders are doing. The captain says, "Just fine, 500 individualists." Very apropos I think. After they discuss tactics for engaging a pocket battleship they break open the gin.
     
  20. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Great idea Graeme! Thanks. I think that would fill the role for the Japanese. 378 mph? I'm jealous, the Brits are having to make do with the poor 'ol Fulmar. :)
    My Dad's boat was named fulmar BTW.

    Interesting. Its a shame they waited so long to put the Corsair on a carrier, much like the delays for the SeaFire, there were too many who said "won't work"

    Perhaps the first "CVL" was the Hermes, 25-26 knots speed, 20 - 24 aircraft. {Or the Hosho, designed with British help} A little slow compared to the later "Independance" or "Colossus", but much better than the 18 - 20 knot CVE's. It would have been much more productive for the British in 1940 to re-fit the "Hawkins" class cruiser "Vindictive" as a CVL, the ship had been an early CVL, then re-converted to a cruiser in the 20's, then dis-armed in the 30's to comply with treaty. The British yards were busy building CL's {Dido Colony class}, I would much prefer to cancel or delay a couple of Dido class in 1940 and use the space to convert a couple of the Hawkins class to CVL's, the air support would also probably result in a few less cruisers sunk by aircraft. {see my siggy!}

    The problem with using CV's is that they didn't have any to spare, from summer '40 - Nov '41 they never had more than 4 available, 1 was based in Alexandria, 1 at Gibraltar, 1 at Scapa and the 4th would cover N. Atlantic convoys (if available). There are basically 2 CVE's {Argus Eagle} which would be best used as convoy ASW support off the coast of Africa in the Mid Atlantic. That only leaves the "Hermes" as CVL. Of course if the danger from raiders diminishes, the CVL's could easily be switched to ASW duties, by reducing fighters and introducing some Swordfish as ASW.

    Perhaps the best quote was From Admiral Sir Andrew Cunningham, when he was informed that he was to be given a knighthood, he replied "I'd rather have another carrier instead"
     
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