Westland Whirlwind vs Fw-187 vs P-38

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Aug 29, 2010.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    A comparison between the U.S. P-38 and two foreign competitors that could have been placed into mass production. These are single seat day fighters powered by two engines.

    All three aircraft get state of the art engines.
    P-38. 2 x Allison V-1710.
    Whirlwind. 2 x RR Merlin Merlin. Same engines as a Spitfire produced at that time.
    Fw-187. 2 x DB601 / DB605. Same engines as a Me-109 produced at that time.

    Aircraft Empty Weight.
    P-38E. 12,700 lbs.
    Whirlwind. 8,310 lbs.
    Fw-187 A0 (i.e. pre-production model). 8,157 lbs.

    Weapons.
    P-38E. 1 x 20mm cannon. 2 x .50cal MG. 2 x .30cal MG.
    Whirlwind. 4 x 20mm cannon.
    Fw-187. 2 x 20mm cannon. 4 x 7.92mm MG.

    Personally I think the Whirlwind and Fw-187 are nicely matched. The P-38E is overweight and under armed by comparison. But we cannot say for certain as neither the Whirlwind nor the Fw-187 were allowed to mature as single seat fighter aircraft.
     
  2. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    slight error mate, the Whirlwind didn't use the RR Merlin it used the RR Peregrine, which was what caused it's demise really!
    Mike.
     
  3. rank amateur

    rank amateur Member

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    Imaging someone at Westland actually putting up 2 Merlin X on the Whirlwind. (ok, I know it would have cost a lot or rearranging) but I think Westland would have had a real hot bird on their hand able to tackle anything they would put up against it. Another great what if..
     
  4. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    Not really
    the Whirlwind wasn't just built with the Peregrines in mind, it was physically tailored to the Peregrines; changes to the powerplant would have resulted in considerable changes elsewhere to accommodate the new weight/size/CoG/fuel demand/you name it.

    Westland had a crack at a Merlin-powered bird, it was called the Welkin but it had one or two problems of its own and the advent of the Spitfire HF VII put paid to any requirement for it.
     
  5. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    It is difficult to compare these aircraft in that the Whirlwind and Fw-187 did not have the engines quoted.

    The P-38 was definitely heavier but would most likely be superior at high altitude because of its turbos.

    The other two with the quoted engines should perform better at low altitude but there are still too many unknowns.
     
  6. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    double entry
     
  7. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #7 drgondog, Aug 29, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
    No telling how much of the airframe has to be modified (rudder, aft structure, cg, etc) by boosting the weight and torque on the Fw 187 and Whirlwind
     
  8. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    I think the agility of the FW 187 Falke with 2 x1200 or 1300 hp engines would be unbeatable. Now given its narrow fuselage the capability to carry a heavy armament like the Lightning or Wirldwind is doubtful.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Colin1

    Colin1 Active Member

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    I wouldn't have described the Whirlwind's fuselage as wide, structurally, it had nothing going spare and managed a 4 x 20mm punch
     
  10. tail end charlie

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    I think the DH Hornet was what the whirlwind wanted to be
     
  11. CharlesBronson

    CharlesBronson Well-Known Member

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    Yeap, but the Whirldwind had the guns in the front , that needed a longer nose than the Falke. If the Fw-187 wanted to emplace 4 x MG 151/20 or even the shorter MG-FF it would need an enlenghted fuselage. I dont think this a serious trouble, I just pointing out that the original configuration of the german fighter wasnt ideal.
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so. The Hornet was over twice as heavy. A light bomber / attack aircraft rather then a long range fighter.


    Focke-Wulf Fw 187 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
    The Fw-187 was originally designed for DB600 engines. So the DB601 engine is a no brainer.

    The Whirlwind is a different story as it was designed for the relatively small Peregrine engine. But I think Westland would manage it somehow if/when the DB601 powered Fw-187 shows up. It can't be any worse then trying to squeeze a RR Griffon engine in a Spitfire. If necessary the Whirlwind can delete two of the 20mm cannon (and ammunition) to compensate for additional engine weight. That still leaves plenty of firepower.
     
  13. skeeter

    skeeter Member

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    I think the P-38 could have had Merlins but the political considerations and contracts of the time pointed toward the Allison engines being installed with their turbo superchargers into the famous twin boomed P-38. I have never investigated whether that is the case or not, but as we all know, the Allison engine was pretty much a weak sister to the Merlin design which, in America, was built under license by Packward. Owing to the historical nature of the P-38, and the success at which it was fought throughout World War 2 and in both major war time theatres, Europe and Asia, I do not like to see the Lightning short changed by "what if" scenarios. With the Lightning, it is not what if. It is what it did, which is kick butt.
     
  14. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    #14 FLYBOYJ, Aug 29, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
    If you look into the archives this has been discussed in detail over the years. Personally I don't think Merlins would have made a big difference in the P-38. I believe Warren Bodie claimed there was an engineering study to put Merlins on the P-38 but any documented proof of this is either dust in the wind or this whole story is a myth. In the early 1980s I has access to the Lockheed library in Burbank and spent hours trying to verify this, although many of the old timers still around back then said the Merlin powered P-38 was always a top rumor.

    This is what "should have" been done with the P-38 in lieu of the Merlin. As we're discussing comparisons with the FW 197 and the Whirlwind, this was superior to both of them.

    Whatever Happened To The P-38K ?
     
  15. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Spec F.12/43 > Long-range fighter for the Far East - written for de Havilland Hornet

    Variants

    Hornet F 1
    Fighter version, 60 built.
    Hornet PR 2
    Photo-reconnaissance version, five built.
    Hornet F 3
    Fighter version, 132 built.
    Hornet FR 4
    Fighter-reconnaissance version, 12 built.
    Sea Hornet F 20
    A navalised version for service on British aircraft carriers, 79 built.
    Sea Hornet NF 21
    Fleet Air Arm night fighter powered by Merlin 133/134 engines, 72 built.
    Sea Hornet PR 22
    Photo-reconnaissance version, 23 built.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Historically RAF Bomber Command conducted daytime bombing through December 1939 and then switched to night bombing to avoid being shot to pieces by German fighter aircraft. This kept bomber losses down until the Luftwaffe developed an effective night fighter force but also rendered RAF Bomber Command ineffective for the next several years. During the early war period the average RAF bomber crew couldn't find a factory at night, much less hit it.

    But what if RAF heavy bombers of 1939 to 1942 were escorted by sizable numbers of Whirlwind fighter aircraft? With drop tanks the Whirlwind can probably escort as far as the Ruhr. The bombers might hit something of military value if bombing during the daytime.
     
  17. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    A Hornet F1 empty weighed 12,400 pounds a Whirlwind empty weighed 8,400 pounds. The Hornet had bigger heavier engines and extras like pressurised cockpit and power controls, so the bare airframes probably werent too far apart even though the Hornet was a lot bigger.

    Capt Eric Brown loved the Sea Hornet version and considered it to be an outstanding fighter "in my book the Sea Hornet ranks second to none for harmony of control, performance characteristics and, perhaps most important, in inspiring confidence in its pilot. For sheer exhilarating flying enjoyment, no aircraft has ever made a deeper impression on me than did this outstanding filly from the de Havilland stable."

    My late father worked on Hornet F3s during the Malayan emergency and he said though officially the Hornet was limited to 2 x 1,000 pound bombs or 16 X 3" rockets or drop tanks. Unofficially they used to load bombs, rockets and drop tanks on it like hanging christmas tree decorations. The aircraft had enough power to lift at least 3,000 pounds off a hot tropical runway.
     
  18. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    #18 norab, Aug 30, 2010
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2010
    A correction here that everyone seems to have missed. the P-38 mounted a 20mm cannon and 4 x .50 calibers, not a 20mm 2 x.50's and 2 x .30's, that is a significant difference in firepower

    The only time this differed was with the small pre-production run of YP-38's
    and the 37mm is much more powerful than a 20mm
     
  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    306 gallons. P-38 through H model.
    290 gallons (1,100 liters). Fw-187 A0.
    134 gallons. Whirlwind.

    Looks like the Whirlwind is a poor third place in combat radius. Perhaps that explains why RAF Bomber Command didn't use it as an escort fighter.

    The lightweight Fw-187 probably had a greater combat radius then the P-38. An ideal bomber escort.
     
  20. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    For FlyboyJ:

    How true it is I don't know but in the book "Vee's for Victory" the author describes 2 if not 3 different P-38/Merlin proposals. In no case does it make any real difference to performance (except in some cases the Merlin versions had shorter estimated range). These are all paper studies.
    How much difference it would have made to maintenance or service issues I don't know.
    For the early part of the war the P-38 was the ONLY premier US fighter and was in chronic short supply in all theaters. Delays in production would have seriously hampered US efforts at the time.

    For others:
    I like both the Whirlwind and the FW 187 but people tend to forget the Whirlwind was a very small airplane for a twin, a 250 SQ ft wing. smaller than a Hurricane in area and only 5 ft more span. the two planes were either the same length or within inches of each other. I don't think anybody really believes you could make a Hurricane with TWO Merlins:lol:
    A MK II was schemed with belt feed guns and a fuselage tank. If given 2 speed (NOT two-stage) engines and a more revised fuel system with drop tanks ( a center line station in addition to the wing bomb racks?) it might have a made a useful addition to the the 1942-43 period.
    The FW 187 is a bit more of a problem. It has a bigger wing than the P-38 so it can easily carry the DB engines it was designed for. However the performance numbers for the prototype may very well be for an unarmed version and the low drag surface evaporative cooling system was a no-go for a service aircraft. Another question would be the increase fuel capacity needed for the bigger engines . Granted the service DB 601 engines had more power than the DB 600 engines used in the prototype. The next problem is armament. Until the MG 151 becomes available the Germans were stuck with the MG FF cannon and it's drums. Second crewman might be needed to change drums as much as for any other reason on an early version. Not a real problem for an interceptor if you eliminate the second crewman but trying to use it as an escort fighter with a combat duration limited by ammo supply instead of fuel is a problem. It's non-adaptability to the night fighter role makes it's adaptation in place of the ME 110 a problem down the road as does it's perhaps slightly less suitability for the fast bomber role. While it might have the power to lift a pair of 1100lb bombs it's smaller wing might mean a longer take off run. Same could be said of the P-38 but the US and British seemed to have plenty of long runways for other aircraft that the P-38s could use.
     
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