WW2 without V-1710: options for the Allies?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The never much liked (in some 'camps') Allison V-1710 powered many US-built fighters, flying in all the war theaters, especially until sufficient number of the Thunderbolts and Merlin Mustangs were in service. So let's say, for the sake of discussion, that somehow people at Allison really messed up their machine, so the USAF Allies must acquire it's fighters without it. What would be the best alternatives, ie. historical engines set-ups, for the USA/USAF in order to produce/purchase it's fighters both in quality and quantity, until the P-47C and P-51B arrive to the scene.

    I'd kindly ask the Mods to please leave the thread in the 'Aviation' sub-forum.
     
  2. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #2 GregP, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
    The early Allisons up through the mid models were mostly 1,000 - 1,200 HP. If the Allison wasn't an option, we'd be left with the radials or alternative engines. The Wright R-1820 and Pratt R-1830 come to mind immediately.

    Likely as not the fighters so-powered would climb slightly better and be slightly slower, but they'd do just fine. The P-51 may never have been born, but the P-40 had radial-powered predecessors. Either Chrysler or Lycoming (or SOMEONE) would have had to come up with an alternate engine or the P-38 and P-39 likely would not have wound up looking much like they did in real life.
     
  3. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    Dare I say License built Merlin?
     
  4. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #4 GregP, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
    I don't believe anyone thought of that until both sides wanted to try a Merlin in the P-51. If the P-51 had not come along, I'm not sure anyone would have pursued the license agreement.

    Maybe, but maybe not, too.

    The USA would not have considered a foreign engine for newly-designed US fighters at the time. It wasn't in the political cards. The only reason it was acceptable for the P-51 is the plane was designed to a British request to start with. If it had come from the USAAF, there very probably would never have been a Merlin engined P-51.

    Things back then weren't like they are today, and USAAF / USN planes were all-American items with not a single foreign-produced component.

    Of course, we weren't alone there. You didn't see any foreign parts on Spitfires, Hurricanes, Bf 109's Fw 19's, or A6M's either, did you? The only reason the British used some US-made engines and aircraft / components was the necessity dictated by war. Otherwise, fighters were symbols of national pride. May seem strange, but that's the way is was for many centuries, not just during WWI and WWII.

    The only reason the Japanese bought some capital ships between WWI and WWII from the UK is they hadn't the skills or equipment yet to build their own. By the time WWII came around, they WERE building their own, including big guns.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I second the motion.

    The best engine solution was staring U.S. Army Air Corps in the face. Just need to be smart enough to recognize it.
     
  6. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    In hindsight I'd say you guys were right.

    But without the P-51 issue, it probably never WOULD have. The system and the various military services just didn't work like today in 1941.
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Licence agreement had nothing to do with the Mustang. The first 3000 (or so) US engines ( out of a total of 9000 engins) were the Merlin XX equivalent and were contracted for in the summer of 1940. Before the 2 stage engine was really viable. Approximately 2250 P-40s were built with Merlin engines.

    I think it depends on when Allison stuffs it up in this scenario. Late 38/early 39? Only prototypes of the P-38-39-40 built so it is easy to build radial engine fighters? Late 39/early 40? P-39 is toast but P-40s can be built as P-36s with better engines. P-38s with turbo R-1830s? Start talking with Rolls-Royce sooner?
     
  8. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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  9. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    The Packard licence agreement was made to supply the British with Merlins. Part of the deal was that a proportion (1/3?) of production go to the US.
     
  10. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Maybe someone would have lit a fire under Continental to get the IV-1430 to production and in airframes.
     
  11. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The Ford GAA engine was developed FROM a Ford V-12 aircraft engine that Ford spent over a year working on AFTER they had the blueprints for the Merlin in their hands for several weeks and a sample engine. The Ford does have a number of differences from the Merlin but Ford was essentially starting from scratch in the late summer of 1940 in designing this engine so it would be available when even if everything went right?
    Fastest "new" engine program in the US was 2 1/4 years for the Wright R-2600 from start of design to 5th engine accepted. Granted that was peace time. It took Packard 1 1/4 years to turn out their 5th Merlin. Most other new engine "radial programs went about 3 years. Allison took 10 years ( not quite accurate) but that was because of a lack of funding.
     
  12. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Shortround, you and I both know those engines were never slated for front-line USAAF or USN aircraft. They were for the British. If it weren't for the P-51, I doubt the Merlin would have seen the inside of ANY US fighter.

    If you doubt that, name me any mass-produced US fighter with a Merlin.

    There were none before the P-51B/C that first flew in Nov 1942, a few P-40 F's and L's (2,280 of them ... 15 - 16% of the total, didn't come into service until 1943, well after the P-51B/C had proven the merit of the change), and maybe 1 or 2 in Curtiss XP-60 prototypes. Otherwise, no Merlins for the USAAF. If it weren't for the success with the P-51B, we might never have seen a P-40F or L or, in fact, any Merlins for the USAAF / USN.

    We might HAVE, certainly ... especially if the Allison were a non-starter, but the political reality of the time says otherwise to me.
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    That might have been the best thing that could have happened to the German Air Force. :)

    The Few airframes that saw it wished they didn't. The few samples that were deemed "air worthy" never came close to making rated power. A rash of accidents plagued the prototypes that tried to fly with it.

    Please note that the Wiki article seems a bit biased and has a number of mistakes/inaccuracies.
     
  14. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    You may know it but the rest of the world doesn't seem to. The Original contract called for 9000 Merlin engines, equivelent to the MK XX. 1/3 of the production was to go to the US. Now maybe the P-40 wasn't a first line aircraft. But it freed up Allisons for P-38s and P-39s.

    well, you answered yourself with the P-40 unless you consider over 2,000 planes NOT mass produced. We certainly built other models of fighters in smaller quantities with certain engine models.

    You may want to check your sources. First prototype P-40F was the 2nd P-40D airframe and first flew in June of 1941. Production examples started being delivered in Jan of 1942, Production of the "F" was All done by the start of 1943. P-40Fs flying with the 57th fighter group claim their 20th Victory in Nov 1942 but I guess the US has to wait until the P-51B/C flies the same month to "prove the merit of the change" after almost 1300 (?) Merlin powered P-40s had been built.
     
  15. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Any US fighter except for the P-40.

    The deal for US production of the Merlin, made prior to the XP-51 flying, possibly before its inception, was that 1/3 of Packard production would go to US aircraft manufacturers. If they weren't to be used for "front line" aircraft, then what were they for?

    Certainly the Merlin supply side of the contract was used as a stick against Allison - to lift production and lift performance.

    And if the Allison was experiencing serious difficulties, the Merlin P-38 may have happened.
     
  16. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Fair point.

    I wonder if it could have been worked out better and more quickly had the Allison resources been used to help the program.

    Not that the program lacked resources.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    All three liquid cooled engine programs in the US lacked resources. There was no long term funding. The Army contracted for and paid for incremental steps. Like one engine ( if they were lucky) to pass a certain benchmark like a 1000hp test at X number of hours. Some contracts overlaped and some didn't. If an engine blew up or broke during the test the Army didn't pay. The company was responsible for repairing/replacing the test engine at their own expense if they wanted to continue and get paid.

    Continental and Lycoming were actually in worse shape. While they were major engine manufacturers in their own right ( of car, bus, truck, marine and industrial engines) their Army contracts left them as little more than experimental shops building army designs. Lycoming was a bit better in that several Continental employees, disgusted with how things were going at Continental, jumped ship and went to Lycoming where Lycoming coughed up about 1/2 million of their own money to work on their version of the Army engine. Continental spent little, if any, of their own money and despite running a single cylinder test engine in 1932 a full 12 cylinder version wasn't assembled until 1939. The Army kept paying for one or two cylinder test engines to "prove" the concept and many of the design features were dictated by the army. It was some of these features that hurt the engine/s.

    BTW, The Army owed Allison over 900,000 dollars in back payments by the Spring of 1939. Without GM backing Allison would have been out of business despite the money they were making from the their bearing division.
     
  18. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Maybe the US could have liberated a few Liberties from storage?? Plus the Brits wouldn't have had as many tank engines, so (hopefully) fewer Crusader "Cruiser" tanks...:D.

    Seriously, chances are had the V-1710 failed there might have been more pressure to develop fighters using the best available radial engines, before turning to the Merlin - after all, the navy wasn't interested in liquid cooled engines, and, by the look of things, the Army seemed a little so-so about liquid cooled engine development; thus, funding engines common to both the Army and Navy might have become a preferred option, especially with tight pre-war budgets.
     
  19. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, Wuzak, I consider 2,200 P-40's to be a drop in the bucket compared with the rest of the US fighters produced for WWII. Plus or minus that many would have made ZERO difference to the USAAF. And, as you said, the P-40 wasn't exactly a front-line plane anyway.

    No, without the P-51, the Merlin would have been essentially a non-starter for US production of fighters.

    We'd have gone all-radial or would have developed an alternative engine.
     
  20. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

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    #20 oldcrowcv63, Aug 23, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 23, 2013
    Maybe there would be a move to develop a Lycoming or license-built RR, BMW or DB V-12 modification of the P-36 that resulted in license production of a foreign engine? Weren't the initial Bf-109s powered by RR engines? So once the idea of a P-36 with a liquid cooled engine is floated, the provider becomes who ever is building a possible engine, no?

    Alternatively, the army would have a variety of radial development options although it might have resulted in an odd mix of a/c operational on December 7, 1941. The US army could have subjected to further development and ultimately bought more upgraded P-36s and P-43s and perhaps land based F4F-3s or P-66s by December 7th, 1941 with perhaps a strictly land-based USAAF F4U variant in the wings or instead of the P38 perhaps the USAAF might push development of the Grumman XP-50 (first flight 2/18/41). I would expect the state of the US a/c industry would have inspired the BPC to go around to a number of manufactures asking them to produce something, anything but what they were currently building for the USAAF and the P-51B would have been born earlier or maybe USA built Hurricanes or Spitfires or lots and lots of Boulton Paul Defiants. Or best of all, the army might have obtained thousands of Bell FM-1s aerocudas.

    For all its faults, I don't think the world is necessarily better off without the Allison.
     
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