What WWII aircraft could fulfill uselful modern military rolls?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Oreo, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. Oreo

    Oreo Member

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    #1 Oreo, Jul 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
    I've often wondered, whether any of the WWII aircraft could be used today, as opposed to modern designs. I am wondering if, just hypothetically, now, any air force of the world might be justified in requesting a certain WWII type to be manufactured again for their uses. (I recognize this would not be possible in many cases, without a total redesign, since the factory jigs, and even the design drawings of many types are no longer with us).

    But if you made a few assumptions:

    1. Assume that the money is there to make it happen.
    2. Assume that the aircraft could be designed again or the original documentation exists for it.
    3. Assume that modern avionics, armor, and weaponry may be used
    4. Assume that modern production techniques, materials, tooling, and so on, may be used
    5. Assume that modest airframe modifications could be made to fit an aircraft to its new role
    6. Allowances could be made for a more modern or reliable engine type to be used if necessary, especially for multi-engine types.

    Then what types could perform modern rolls, and more to the point, could they do it economically compared to existing types, if the initial design and manufacturing issues were reasonably solved?
     
  2. Oreo

    Oreo Member

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    Wondering, for one thing, how the use of modern cast aluminum alloys, plastics, composite materials, and carbon fiber, for instance, could improve some of the weight and production issues, making the modified designs even better than they originally were.
     
  3. Tante Ju

    Tante Ju Banned

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    Il-10 for COIN operations...
     
  4. nuuumannn

    nuuumannn Well-Known Member

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    P-51 as the Piper Enforcer!
     
  5. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    A small point but it's roles not rolls
     
  6. renrich

    renrich Active Member

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    I was going to say that almost any WW2 AC could perform aileron rolls. Perhaps one WW2 AC which could still be useful would be the C47. Cargo, gunship.
     
  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I believe the T-33 (trainer version of the P-80) is still in use today.
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    No modern airforce would really want to operate a taildragger.

    "Cast aluminum alloys" have not changed much since WW2. Alloying, casting and heat treating techniques have gotten way better as well as ensuring metallurgical purity but in the end if you have a 2024 aluminum casting, there's little difference from what might produced during WW2.

    Composites - whole different story. Equal or greater strength, lighter but harder to repair.
     
  9. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The h8k emily would be useful as an asw platform, but would need a complete refit of internal systems.
    Fiesler Storch would be useful though choppers are moreso
     
  10. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    #10 JoeB, Jul 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
    1. If you look at the actual roles and opposition to tactical a/c, and UAV's, in recent wars like Iraq and Afghanistan, there are many missions WWII a/c could perform if they had to. For example WWII fighters or light bombers could competently perform strike/CAS missions, if fitted with key equipment like targetting pods, datalinks, PGM's and so forth, and there's no absolute reason why they couldn't be so fitted. Big WWII fighters were roughly similar in size to single turboprop trainer type a/c sometimes used in those roles, or to UAV's, and a/c like the A-26 would be more equivalent in payload to the larger modern fighters, as rebuilt B-26K/A-26A's were over Laos alongside jets in the 60's.

    2. But here I'd say no way, first and foremost because piston engines require a whole separate logistics train to provide avgas instead of the uniform distillate types now used in both a/c turbines and ground vehicle diesels (and tank turbines). And piston engines are more maintenance intensive, less reliable and less available, and their maintenance requires specific skills again which aren't in common with turbine support and would have to be reconstituted.

    You could have turbine versions of various WWII a/c, as have been built or converted in the past; Turbodak C-47's for example. But none of the concepts for building *all new* versions of WWII types have been built in quantity, that I can recall. In programs of the 60's like B-26K mentioned, or Cavalier Mustang (which served in some Latin American AF's) the a/c produced were nominally new, had new 1960's FY USAF serial numbers, but the economics of the program were based on reusing lots of components from WWII produced planes. When it's really build from scratch, it doesn't seem to make sense to adapt WWII designs to turboprops, materials and avionics advances, etc rather than just design a new plane optimized to use those technologies most effectively.

    And needless to say, there are plenty of missions, though rare in recent COIN type wars, which WWII a/c couldn't perform (air superiority, penetrating highly capable air defenses, etc).

    Joe
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Most WW II aircraft were easily exceeded in capability by planes only 5-15 years newer.

    Fiesler Storch vs Helio Courier?

    DC-3 vs DHC-4 Caribou

    H8K Emily vs ???

    P5M, P6M jet, Shin Meiva PS-1, Convair R3Y Tradewind in original patrol bomber configuration?

    Could some of these old planes perform a modern mission?
    Yes

    Could they do it better than even a 1950s-60s aircraft?
    No.
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Its a bit like old cars really. A 1940s car versus a 2000s car. Both do the same thing. Which does it better? Better includes cheaper. building a 1940 car would be more expensive than a modern design...heavier, unneccessary curves, expensive trim, etc
     
  13. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #13 tyrodtom, Jul 22, 2012
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2012
    A lot of people might like the look of old cars, butmost people today would have a hard time even driving a 1940 car of any make, no power steering, weak brakes,manual gears, not much power, etc.

    But I don't think they would be as expensive as a modern car if you could produce them in mass production. But not enough people would buy them to support mass production.
    Very little of the final cost of a modern car is in the actual structure and drive train, the big dollars are in the very extensive and expensive electrics and electronics and safety systems and accessories.

    But no 40's automobile could meet minimum crash standards.
     
  14. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    Il-10 or AD-1 (first flew March 1945) or similar design would probably be useful for COIN operations, as Tante Ju noted, particularly in the current 'low intensity engagement' environment in Iraq, Afghanistan and parts of Africa.

    Aluminium-lithium alloys and GRPs would be useful in cutting airframe weight, although on a small aircraft, there isn't actually that much benefit, as you still need a minimum skin thickness, regardless of material. CFRPs would be useful in select areas as well. I'd say you could probably cut airframe weight by 15-20% with modern materials.

    Modern avionics, communications suite and an all-glass cockpit would also probably save some weight. US standard WW2 radio equipment in 1944 weighed 99 lbs.

    The biggest weight benefit I could see is in the powerplant. The AM-42 on an IL-10 weighed 1000 kg and gave 1800 hp. The R-3350 on the AD-1 gave 2700 hp and weighed 1250 kg. In comparison, a modern turboprop like a PW100 weighs less than 485 kg fully installed and offers a little over 2500 (mechanical) shaft horsepower.

    There are a massive amount of options for armament. Guided and unguided bombs, guided/unguided rockets and missiles. If its for COIN, then something like a GSh-30K could also be fitted: 30 mm caliber, 105 kg and 3000 rpm.
     
  15. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    How would that modern turbo-prop compare fuel consumption wise to a WW2 piston engine of equal hp?
     
  16. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I'd rather have a turboprop Skyraider with modern aviaonics than, say, a Super Tucano. It carries more, flies faster, loiters longer, hits harder and, with modern avionics, has almost not downside exceot being a conventional gear aircraft, which is an advantage at forward airfields.
     
  17. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Aluminium-lithium alloys are still being developed and although lighter are not as readily as producible as more traditional aluminum alloys (2024).
     
  18. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    Yes - as stated, a modern airforce will not buy a tail dragger.
     
  19. Oreo

    Oreo Member

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    Ok, sorry I didn't get back sooner. I think everyone has made some fairly valid points. Naturally, if it were reasonable to still use the types, they would still be in service and production.

    About the rolls and roles-- uh, yes, sorry, lol. I know better than that. Just typing faster than thinking, or vice versa.

    One question I do have is, how do modern turbo-prop engines stand up to combat damage, compared to piston engines? I am going to guess off-hand they are fairly vulnerable but also relatively easy and cheap to fix if they manage to get back to their base. Then again, I don't have any first-hand knowledge. I only refueled aircraft for three months, and rode on a few, so that's why I'm asking these questions. And somebody did ask about the fuel efficiency, are the turbo-props more fuel efficient than the pistons?
     
  20. CobberKane

    CobberKane Banned

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    Seems to me most posts are considering aircraft with a combat role, where obsolescence would be rapid and irreversible. In support and logistics an aircraft’s useful lifespan would be much longer. Someone beat me to the Feisler Storch so I’ll go with the Douglas DC-3, with the observation that thousands of the things are still in civilian use today.
     
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