What if Doolitle have thought of RATO...?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Jgonzalez, Dec 19, 2008.

  1. Jgonzalez

    Jgonzalez Member

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    Hello guys, first time in here...

    Maybe this is a stupid idea... last night with some friends talkin about WW2 history the Doolitle B-25's came into the conversation. Basicly the question was: Could there have been a better way to perform that particular mission using those same ACs? I thought it could have been better. What if instead of trying to loose weight by taking off weapons, fuel and other stuff vital to combat missions, the Mitchell would have been retrofited with RATO packs for STOL. This system was succesfuly used by the germans and the US was no stranger to that technology. With RATO under the wings it would have been unnecesary to scrap the B-25 down to their basic frame and could have carried guns and enough fuel to reach China safely. Someone said what about the wooden deck of the carrier. I thought that some provitional steel plates over the deck wouldn't have been that difficult or expensive.

    What do you guys think?
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Interesting idea.

    But, could the B25 airframe handle the stress's? What about the exhaust blowback damaging the aircraft behind it?
     
  3. HoHun

    HoHun Active Member

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    Hi Syscom,

    >Interesting idea.

    >But, could the B25 airframe handle the stress's? What about the exhaust blowback damaging the aircraft behind it?

    I agree, the idea is so good that I'd imagine Doolittle must have given it some thought himself. The technology definitely was there before WW2, as for example Heinkel had used it to get his long-range He 116 mailplane off the ground for a record flight.

    Perhaps the reason it was not used for the Doolittle raid is that there were no tried and reliable RATO units available to the US at the time?

    I think the stress would be no problem, at least not if the B-25 was prepared for it beforehand, as rockets tend to give a constant thrust (when everything goes right).

    Good point about blowback, and maybe even FOD if you're unlucky. However, the danger might be reduced if the RATO units are ignited after the take-off roll has already begun, putting some distance between the aircraft just taking off and the next in the line. From what I read about the Me 262 RATO units, this was standard practice simply for efficiency reasons: the constant thrust of the rockets equates to a higher power gain at higher speeds, so to make the best of the limited rocket burn time, they were only ignited after a certain speed was reached.

    I believe RATO units would be angled outward a bit to avoid yawing moments if one side fails to fire, and this angle would have the added benefit of furher reducing the danger to the following aircraft.

    Regards,

    Henning (HoHun)
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Wooden flight deck+rocket exhaust= "Fire, Fire, Fire. Fire on the Flight Deck. Away damage control teams".
     
  5. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Part of the weight saving efforts were to also extend the range of the airplanes. They carried additional fuel in about every available space. It wasn't just about takeoff weight.
     
  6. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Aside the potntial damage to the decks, it could of worked but I don't think the out come would of been much different. They would of saved fuel on the take off and climb out with RATO but in reality I think it would of bought them another 20 mnutes or so if you calculted the fuel burn on a B-25 at Vx.
     
  7. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    From what I understand, had the USAAF trusted Chenault with the AVG, and informed him of the mission, he could have helped. I remember reading that Chenault stated he could have provided relief escort and possibly arrainged some underground aid through the Chinese populace.
     
  8. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    Another though, would it have been possible to catapult launch the B-25?

    Stress on the airframe would obviously be an issue, as would the limitations of the catapults. (given the large weight of the B-25)

    The USS Hornet had two flight deck hydraulic catapults.


    Also, I think the best arrangement would be stripped of weapons and non-esential armor and a crew of two, with full (or at least liberal) internal fuel load.
    The armament would really be of limited use aganst fighters while the rduction of weight and drag would substancially improve performance in top speed, maximum cruise speed, range, climb, and maneuverability. (though the latter is relatively unimportant aganst Japanese fighters)
     
  9. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Pretty much what they did. The tail guns were removed and replaced with broom sticks painted black. The fuel load was full, with additional fuel tanks in the crawl space above the bomb bay, in the tail and one other one, in addition to several Jerry cans in the back. Anything not essential for the mission was essentially stripped from the airplanes.

    The Norden bombsight was removed and replaced with a simple metal sight that basically resembles a peep sight. The purpose was two-fold, save weight and keep the Norden out of the hands of the Japanese. Plus the Norden was not real accurate at the altitudes they flew for the mission.
     
  10. Marcel

    Marcel Well-Known Member

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    I guess using the catapults would have taken too long
     
  11. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    The catapults on carriers at that time would surely not have been powerful enough to catapult a plane as big as a B-25, it had to fly off with high wind over the deck.

    Much larger P2V-3C Neptunes later took off from carriers using JATO; they would have conducted nuclear strikes and then landed ashore or ditched; a similar concept to Doolittle Raid in that landing back aboard was not planned.

    In DR case though I think the close packing of the planes on the flight deck plus the fire hazard both already mentioned, both would have made rocket assist impractical. And it wasn't really necessary as far as the planners knew. The possiblity of recovering any of the planes was ruined by three things:
    -early launch when the TF ran into small Japanese surface picket ships which radioed their sighting
    -bad weather in the landing areas in China, plus the planes arrived in darkness v daylight per the original plan
    -mistakes in coordination. Stilwell (the overal US commander in China theater) *was* instructed to prepare particular fields in relatively eastern areas of China still under Chinese control, with flares or firepots to guide planes in, and fuel and lube oil so they could fly on to safer bases further into the Chinese interior. But he wasn't told exactly why for security reasons, there was a mix up on dates related to the International Date Line, plus the early arrival because of early launch

    A little more fuel available at the end of the flight wouldn't have helped much in the actual situation. And, the total effect of the raid wouldn't have really been that much different if the planes had landed safely, though of course important to the personnel killed in the bailout/crashlandings or captured or killed by the Japanese. The Japanese had to assume similar further raids might happen, thus their reaction diverting resources to homeland air defense, land operations in China, and influencing the Midway decision.

    Joe
     
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