I can't remember if its been mentioned or not but was the Supermarine Type 318 bomber saved or not?
At one time during the 1941 fighter sweeps Fighter Command came to Dr RV Jones (Air Intelligence) asking him to investigate German Radars ability to detect bombs in aircraft. Their reasoning - Luftwaffe fighters would not intercept pure fighter sweeps but would intercept when bombers were included in the sweep.As long as they don't repeat the useless and counter productive fighter sweeps over France.
Spitfire fighters achieved similar distances to the Berlin mission during the War but only on ferry sorties. Mk Vs were flown from Gibraltar to Malta, a distance of 1,100 miles, ie equal to the England-Berlin round trip. A total of 284 gallons was carried: 85 gallons in the standard fuselage tanks, a 29-gallon rear fuselage tank plus a 170-gallon drop tank. The route was first flown in October 42 and the aircraft landed after 5¼ hours (210 mph ground speed, there was a slight tail wind) with 40 gallons remaining. The drop tank was not jettisoned and the average consumption was 4.51 ground miles per gallon, ie a maximum range of 1,278 miles in those conditions. A&AEE estimated the range of the Mk V with both the 29-gallon and ferry tank to be 1,624 miles assuming tank jettison (5.72 ampg); the range gain of 27% emphasises the drag of the big slipper tank. Achieving escort fighter range with the Spitfire was clearly possible but the bulky 170-gallon tank was not the answer.
As an aside, in their comprehensive tome Spitfire, The History, Morgan and Shacklady include a diagram of Mk V Spitfire range as an escort with the 90-gallon slipper tank. A 540 mile radius of action is claimed at a 240 mph cruise with 15 minutes allowed for take-off and climb plus 15 minutes at maximum power (ie combat). Starting from south-east England, such a radius takes in not only Berlin but also Prague and Milan. Maximum range with the 90-gallon external tank and 85 gallons of internal fuel is generally quoted as 1,135 miles with no allowance stated for combat and so forth. No Spitfire flew deep escort missions and this makes the claim for the Mk V having Berlin capability somewhat questionable.
Jeffrey Quill said:Long range escort was the role in which the Merlin Mustang was particularly excellent because of the large load of fuel it was able to carry. True, the Spitfire Mk VIII, in service in 1943, was carrying additional fuel in its wing roots and also in jettosonabale tanks under the fuselage, but it was serving overseas and the problem of accommodating larger loads of fuel in the Spitfire at home was acute. The only available space was in the fuselage behind the pilot, but a tank of significant size there would have a major effect on the centre of gravity.
However, it seemed to both Joe Smith and myself that, for the purpose of escorting bomber formations in daylight, a degree of longitudinal stability in the early stages of a sortie would be acceptable. Therefore the fuel in the rear fuel tank could be used for take off and climb and during the early stages of the sortie, the main tanks and wing tanks remaining full. In this case the centre of gravity would be moving forward to an acceptable position by the time the aircraft reached hostile airspace. It was decided therefore to embody a rear fuselage tank in a derivative of the Mk XIV shortly due to come into production, the Mk XVIII.
In the meantime a 75-gallon tank was fitted in the fuselage of a Mk IX behind the pilot and we also fitted a bob-weight in the elevator circuit, so what with this and the large horn-balance on the elevator we hoped for the best. However the best and most expedient way to test this aeroplane was to fly it a good long way and see how everything worked. So I took off from High Post on Salisbury Plain with all tanks full, carrying a 45-gallon drop tank in addition, and set off at economical cruising boost and RPM in the general direction of Scotland. The weather was unsettled, so I decided to fly at low altitude which was not, of course, a favourable height for optimum air miles per gallon: but I thought that if I could fly a distance equivalent to John o' Groats and back non-stop at that rather unfavourable height, keeping to the east of the Pennines and the Grampians, it would be a useful demonstration.
The aeroplane was unstable to start with, but as soon as I had used up the rear fuselage fuel the handling was back to normal and I settled down to a long and enjoyable flight over a great variety of countryside from Salisbury Plan to the Moray Firth and back again, all below 1,000ft. In distance, and not taking into account the various diversions for weather and terrain, it was the equivalent to flying from East Anglia to Berlin and back. It took five hours.
This flight demonstrated, if nothing else, that there was no fundamental reason why the Spitfire should not be turned into a long-range escort fighter provided that certain problems could be solved.
A demonstration of this basic fact was also given by the Americans. They had two Mk IX Spitfires at Wright Field and by local modification they added two Mustang overload fuel tanks under the wings and some additional fuel inside the wings. They flew them across the Atlantic by the Northern Route – via Greenland and Iceland – and eventually they were thoroughly examined by the Supermarine design department. Unfortunately some of the structural modifications carried out were detrimental to the strength of the aircraft and so could not be considered for production.
Tad ambitious, don’t you think? Maybe April 1945?if Mustang pilots could do it, so could Spitfire pilots. As far as I am concerned Portals opposition was formed by nothing more than his own ego and Trenchardian viewpoint that fighters were a waste of time, only bombers mattered. Yes I do not like the man and along with Lord Chernwell and Bomber Harris I think they completely screwed the RAF in WW2. If more resources had been given to fighter bombers, Mosquitoes bombers and to air transport (two British Airborne Divisions in a single lift) in IMVHO the allies could have been knocking on the door of Berlin by April 1940.
Tad ambitious, don’t you think? Maybe April 1945?
The Vickers Valetta is probably possible in April 1940.my bad April 1945 was what i meant to type.