WW2 Aircraft more successful in secondary role

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wuzak, Jul 14, 2016.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Just wondered which of the aircraft, which went into production, that were more successful at a secondary role than they were at their originally designed for role.

    An example would be the Typhoon.
    It did have some success as a fighter but failed to replace the Spitfire as the main fighter for the RAF, its original goal.

    It did have a successful secondary career as a ground support aircraft.
     
  2. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Bf 110 - not a great success as a day fighter, but a very useful night fighter.
     
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  3. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    Battle?
    Beaufighter - unsure, anyone know exactly what they had planned for the Beaufighter prewar?
    Defiant
    Lysander?
    Whirlwind
     
  4. muskeg13

    muskeg13 Member

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    The FW 200 Condor was designed and entered service as a civilian airliner, but was pressed into use as a long range maritime patrol aircraft and commerce raider.
     
  5. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    #5 Thorlifter, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    Ju-88

    Terrific multi role plane. Initial role was a medium bomber but probably best at being a night fighter.
     
  6. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    The Battle was a light bomber and the Defiant was a turret fighter. What were the secondary roles they successful doing? Target tug?

    Whirlwind's secondary role being "Whirlybomber"?

    Pre-war the Beaufighter was intended to be a backup for the Whirlwind - ie a cannon fighter. It didn't really do that task, but did a few others, including night-fighter and torpedo bomber.
     
  7. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    The P-51 was supposed to be a replacement for the P-40 and wound up being able to stay aloft so long it became the premier escort fighter, not a role originally intended. I agree with the Fw 200 Condor, not designed to be military at all. Actually, neither was the He 111, as originally announced, and it served as a Luftwaffe medium bomber for the entire war.

    Surely the most adaptable planes were, in no particular order, the Mosquito and the Ju 88. The SBD Dauntless gained fame as a dive bomber, but was an effective fighter when nothing else was available ... probably because nobody had ever trained to fight it as a fighter. The role was totally unexpected, even by the pilots.
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    P-47. Successful in it's primary fighter role, unlike the Typhoon, but also outstanding as a fighter bomber.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  9. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    Battle entered service as a bomber and found better success in training roles.
    Defiant entered service as a day fighter but found better success as a night fighter.
    Whirlwind entered service (somewhat) as an interceptor but found better success as a fighter-bomber.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #10 stona, Jul 14, 2016
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2016
    Not factually wrong about the Whirlwind, but so few were built, and even fewer operated, making it debatable whether it was a success at all in any meaningful way.

    Total production just over 100 and less than 70 converted to 'Whirlibombers'. Others discussed were produced in thousands or tens of thousands!

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  11. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

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    Hey Greg, IIRC the HE-111 was publicly announced as a civilian transport, but all along was being designed for the Luftwaffe. Am I correct with this?
     
  12. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    As a venture I'd say no, it wasn't an overall success. But as an aircraft the men who operated it would certainly say it was a success.
     
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  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It was never intended as an civilian transport. It first appears in Goering's second production plan, the so called 'Rhineland Programme' proposed for the period from 1st January 1934 through 30th September 1935.
    This was the first serious production programme, the only earlier one (which did not include the He 111) was issued hastily by Goering on assuming control of aviation in 1933, predating the He 111.
    None of the aircraft appearing in the Rhineland Programme were intended for civilian use, they are quite explicitly military aircraft. Just 115 of the proposed 4021 aircraft were earmarked for Lufthansa and that did not include the 9 proposed He 111s.

    By 1934 everyone knew Germany was rearming and building an air force. The pretence that any military type was really intended for a civil role was already redundant, though it was maintained to some extent by the Germans as into 1935/36. The fact that the early He 111 prototypes were given civil registrations is not unusual or sinister, though it did allow rather ridiculous claims about high speed airliners, with just 10 seats, 4 crammed into the bomb bay, as operated by Lufthansa.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  14. Peter Gunn

    Peter Gunn Active Member

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    I'll give the nod to the B-25 Mitchell, designed as a medium bomber, "It became the most heavily armed airplane in the world, was used for high- and low-level bombing, strafing, photoreconnaissance, submarine patrol, and even as a fighter" - from the Boeing website.

    Later on I'd give the F-86 a glance, designed as a day fighter it became an all weather interceptor (let's not talk about the rocket armament though), recon bird and fighter bomber.
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Battle was supposed to be a light strategic bomber. (range around 1000 miles and bomb aimer in the belly). Most wound up as trainers.
    Beaufighter. With an estimated speed of 370mmph it was seen at the very least as a bomber interceptor. (who needs 360mph Whirlwinds when you have 370mph Beaufighters :rolleyes:. A bit like the over 400mph Typhoon, Reality slapped them in the face like a wet fish. The Beaufigher did an awful lot of good work, just not what was intended.
    Defiant went from day fighter to Nightfighter/trainer/target tug.
    Lysander: a pet peeve of mine :). Went from Gods answer to the Army's prayers (every division needed at least one squadron and preferably more) to "what do we do with them". in weeks. Air-sea rescue, training and target towing. The number of agent droppers actually used makes Whirlwind use look large scale.

    Whirlwind went from general purpose fighter to less vulnerable bait than Blenheims in the whole "Lean Forward into Europe/operation circus" Campaign. After a while they were given bomb racks when Hurricane production was so spoken for by overseas commitments (and aid to Russia) that it looked like the RAF would have to drop from two fighter bomber squadrons in England to one.
    Reason/s only 70 got bomb racks is that only two squadrons were using them and any planes lost in the first year or so of operations never got them and the racks may have only been fitted as replacement aircraft were drawn from store and issued to the squadrons. Last planes in store not fitted?
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It is not quite as ridiculous as it appears. The bulk of the worlds high speed airliners holding 14 passengers or less at the time.
    The Lockheed 10
    [​IMG]
    Fit 10 passengers in a cabin 15 ft long and 56in wide and 60in tall. Note man standing by the door.

    And Boeing 247 had steps over the main spar in the cabin.
    [​IMG]
     
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  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It wasn't just a matter of bolting a Mk III Universal Carrier onto the Whirlwind. A Westland designed tubular structure was fitted inside each wing and then the standard 'government supplied' bomb selection and fusing switches and circuitry was fitted. This was not a job for the squadrons but was carried out at a Maintenance Unit. No. 263 Squadron was converted first, in August 1942, at 25 M.U. (Colerne) and it took between 20 and 30 man hours per aircraft, principally because the outer wings had to be removed to install the reinforcing structure. No. 137 Squadron was converted the following month.

    The Whirlwind was not a great fighter bomber. The bombs severely impacted performance reducing speed (one of the Whirlwind's strengths) to just 318 mph at 15,000 feet and ceiling to 27,500 feet. With just the port bomb carried the aircraft had some serious handling problems. The advice was always to drop the bombs together and if that was impossible, to drop the port bomb first.

    I can't see the Whirlwind as a successful aircraft in either of the proposed roles, it just wasn't that good at anything. Just going fast at low level, by the standard of 1940, and lifting four 20mm cannons, is not good enough.

    It is also important to note that the Whirlwind was being converted to carry bombs only a matter of months before the same decision was taken, in January 1943, for the much more capable Typhoon.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    SR6...I was referring to the propaganda around the aircraft's speed, as the world's fastest airliner, which was substantially exaggerated by the German media.
    Nonetheless, I wouldn't fancy being one of the passengers in the 'smoking cabin' of an He 111 :)
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  19. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

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    Vickers Warwick? Though I am not sure it was ever actually USED as a bomber before it was used as a lifeboat dropper.
     
  20. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    My vote goes to the Mosquito, designed as a light bomber, it was good enough as a night fighter and recon aircraft for the USA to want it.
    It also downed V1s and was a great heavy fighter/maritime stike aircraft.
     
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