What if the Allies only had one fighter during the war?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by smotalchaos, Feb 3, 2009.

  1. smotalchaos

    smotalchaos New Member

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    Which one would it be? The P51? Hellcat? Corsair? Spitfire? Lets forget the fact that the P51 was not carrier based...im sure it would of been able to handle the japanese fighters if it was the only fighter we had. What about the Hellcat or Corsair as the only fighter in Europe? How would they have done in the battle of britian? Or escorting bombers to Germany?
     
  2. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The four for the US would narrow down to F6F, Mustang, F4U and possibly the P-38. All could be carrier modified with most difficulty to P-38.

    The range for the F4U would be good enough in 1943 to do a better job than the P-47. I think the F4U might have to go through more forced changes to compete in ETO than the 51 would in carrier ops but both would be my choice to pick from.

    The F4U needs the turbosupercharged R-2800 (-18 or above plus the ducting), the 51 needs folding wings and arresting gear but not the fuse tank for carrier ops.
     
  3. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    I think the only other US fighter with long range (in the early stages of the war) was the P-38 Lightning. It was fast and manuverable. It didn't have the best high altitude performance but it still wasn't a turkey at high altitudes. It's combat radius was 1,300 mi.

    Later on in the war, the P-47N was a very capable fighter and could do all kinds of missions as well. It was a long range P-47 as well. The P-47M had even better speed but was limited by it's fuel capacity.

    The P-39 actually had a longer range the F4U or F6f, so in that sense it was the better fighter if you only had to pick one. But I think the P-38 was much better at tactical missions.


    P-39: 1,098 mi
    F4U: 1,005 mi
    F6F: 945 mi
     
  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    The P-47 would have a tougher time during carrier take off with full load. The Mustang would still have long range even with Allison - and it would have been no problem to put in a 50 gal fuse tank for the P-51A.

    The P-38 would have been a bitch to modify for arresting gear and folding wings for carrier ops - and the fighters didn't need more range for carrier ops than its bombers!

    The 38 issues weren't quite localized to high altitudes - but cold high altitudes and compressibility issues when following evading fighters in a dive.
     
  5. smotalchaos

    smotalchaos New Member

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    how would the navy planes (F4U, F6F), fare against the german fighters?
     
  6. Soundbreaker Welch?

    Soundbreaker Welch? Active Member

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    Early variants of the P-38 did have issues. It wasn't untill the J and L models came along that most of them were solved, and by then the P-51A was flying missions.

    I agree that a pilot would have a hard time flying a P-47 off a short carrier deck, probably would be quite a few accidents. It did have good firepower, so if you were wanting to strafe ships or subs it wouldn't have a problem.

    If you leave out those two, all you have beside the P-51A is the P-39, which had barely enough range to get to Berlin and back.

    The "Iron Dog" as they called it. But the Russians used it to good effect, perhaps the Americans didn't try hard enough.


    Edit: Oddly enough I found another tubby fighter with sufficent range: The Brewster Buffalo! It could fly 1,686 miles! A tremendous range compared to some of our other US fighters, even a little better than the P-51 Mustang, which could go 1,650 mi with drop tanks.

    Imagine a Buffalo flying with the B-17's and B-24's to Berlin and back!
     
  7. HellToupee

    HellToupee Banned

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    Thats if the b17s didn't outrun it :p.

    Issue is tho over the first half of the war performance has a much greater importance than range as there was no daylight bombing campaign and airsuperiorty had to be first gained over the channel and France.

    So i would vote the spitty.
     
  8. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I'm with HT on the Spitfire. It was proven as a carrier plane, it proved easy to upgrade in terms of armament and powerplant, and it kept pace with the development of it's opponents throughout the war. Too many what-ifs with the American fighters for my liking, especially whether P-51/47/38 could operate off carriers.

    One weakness of the Spit is, admittedly, short range, even with tanks. This would mean less daylight bombing into Europe, but you still have the night campaign to keep the pressure on.
     
  9. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    If we only had 1, it would have to be an aircraft we had before the onset of war. There is one fighter to choose from, the P-40 Warhawk. Even the Navy (as I just learned on this forum) looked at the Warhawk. Converting it to carrier specs would be no harder than any other single we had then except for the F4F.

    Maybe the Air Corp would have turbocharged it for the ETO, or maybe the Merlin would have went into the Warhawk. Range would have been the only issue to deal with, which a wing redesign (internally) could have accomplished.
     
  10. Fokker D21

    Fokker D21 Member

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    I don't think the F6F would do very well against German fighters.

    The best top speed I could find is 390 mph (most tests show 375 to 380 mph), and the best initial climb rate is 3650 feet per minute (both at 5 minute military power and 11506 lb gross weight).
    At combat rating (30 minute setting) a Bf 109 G-1 does 410 mph and 4100 feet per minute.

    The F6F best strength against Zero's was diving speed. Both Fw 190 and Me 109 can dive a lot better than the Zero and there initial high acceleration in a dive compensates for the higher dive speed of the F6F.
     
  11. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I would choose a Spitfire but it is a tough choice. I would want something capable of carrying ordanance also. Maybe a P-51, hard to say.
     
  12. Fokker D21

    Fokker D21 Member

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    You want to use a P40 for the USAAF and US Navy right up to the end of the war? A P-40 with two stage Merlin would problaby have a top speed of no more than 410 mph because of more drag relative to the P-51. I don't think range would be the only issue. Upgradability would be hard with regard to trying to reach speeds in excess of 422 mph (P-40 Q).
     
  13. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

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    Totally agree; and it could have been carrier-capable, it just would've required some modifications. However, it would've had to have been either the J or L with the dive flaps; the earlier models were simply too problematic. And, yes, down low with combat flaps, at low-to-medium speeds, it could out-turn the single-engine German fighters.
     
  14. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    1) I wouldn't want to use the P-40 for the entire war, but the question was if we only used one aircraft.

    2) The P-38 is better for sure, ( possibly the best! ) I just don't know how a carrier converted Lightning would have worked out.

    3) I just noticed the question said "Allies" not American. I think it would be tough to argue against the Spitfire. The only thing it ever lacked was range. Plus, not sure of the validity, but I do remember reading that there was pressure by some for the U.S. to produce the Spitfire under license.
     
  15. claidemore

    claidemore Member

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    There were P40's with Merlins, and though they had better high alt performance than the Allison engined ones, it was not as dramatic an increase as was achieved in the Mustang. A Merlin engined P38 would have been interesting, too bad they weren't allowed to pursue that idea. (and now I am going to have to read the thread about Merlins in the P39).

    A Spitfire IX or XIV with rear fuselage tank had about a 600 mile range (internal fuel). Add a single belly mounted 70 gallon drop tank and you get 1000-1100 mile range. The only real conversion they had to do was get wing mounted tanks to work properly (they had problems with jettisoning wing tanks) and they would have had 'nearly' the same range as a Mustang. (Change the radiator design and it would come even closer to Mustang range capability.)

    Since the Mustang would have required more changes to get it carrier capable, I'd give first choice to the Spitfire, 2nd to the Mustang. Either plane would have been quite capable of doing the job.
     
  16. HellToupee

    HellToupee Banned

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    Wing mounted tanks wernt really essential, they could just have used larger belly tanks like the 170gal ferry tank. Size between the 90gal and 170gal tank could have been introduced.

    VIII with rear fuselage tank would have had the best range, would have given it up to 190gals internal fuel.
     
  17. LWulf

    LWulf New Member

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    La(GG) series.
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The aircraft needs to be in service by 1939. Otherwise Germany will win the Battle of Britain by default. I vote for the Spitfire. It was operational in 1938.

    Contenders.
    Hurricane. Operational Dec 1937. Inferior to Spitfire.
    D.520. Operational 1940. Too late.
    Yak1. Operational 1941. Too late.
    P-40. Operational late 1939. Too late. Inferior to Spitfire.
    P-36. Operational 1938. Inexpensive. Performance inferior to Spitfire.
    P-38. Operational 1941 (Barely. Lots of bugs.). Too late.
     
  19. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Right, lets re-cap a few things.

    The Allies, including the UK, Commonwealth, France, Free French, Canada, Italy post-1943 etc, can only have one fighter for the entire war. By my estimation, the following factors need to be considered:

    1. The aircraft must be in squadron service by Sept 3rd 1939

    2. It must still be in squadron service on August 15th 1945

    3. It needs to be capable of carrier ops.

    4. It needs to be capable of receiving upgrades to engine and armament.

    Most American fighters proposed so far fail to fit the bill because they did not enter service until after the war started e.g

    P-38 - first flew September 1941, first saw service September 1942

    P-39 - first flew April 1938, first delivery Feb 1941.

    P-40 - first flew?, first in combat June 1941

    P-51 - first flight 26th October 1940, first combat 10th May 1942

    P-47 - first flight 6th May 1942, deliveries January 1943

    F6F - first flight June/July 1942, operational readiness Feb 1943

    So choosing any of these would mean the RAF fighting the BoB with no fighters!!!! Apart from the F6F, they are all what if's for carrier ops as well.

    On the other hand, the Spitfire was in full squadron service when the war broke out, and we know for a historical fact that it was fully capable of carrier ops. So it would seem that the Spit is the logical choice.
     
  20. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    Dave, missed your post in researching mine and being called away from the PC, sorry!
     
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