Yeah I think British FAA development is very often wrongly mocked. With people comparing aircraft to types introduced years later, ignoring the realities the RN was operating under and its initial limitations placed upon it thanks to the fact that the RAF actually controlled the FAA for a long time. That being said while the Fulmar is impressive in terms of what it managed the thing was still built under a misguided concept and compromised in performing its role.

Just a slight correction. That should be 450 km/h or 242 knots or 280 mph. My chief complaint about Western aircraft carrier borne fighters was that the aviation engineers, as well as the air services, did not take account of what was needed to make a competitive naval fighter if and when land-based fighters and bombers were to be fought.

In the case of the Fulmar, the Merlin-60 at 940 kWatts or 1,290 HP was better than a Pratt R-1830 at output though 200 kg heavier. That required the RR to be front-nosed onto a Fulmar that was about 750 kgs lighter than it was and about half the guns and was shy 1 crew member.

What the British called long-ranged was a joke to both the USN and the IJN.

Sadly the Fairey Firefly, the Fulmar's successor, with a powerful 1,700 kW RR Griffon engine, which should have been contemporary with the Hellcat, showed the same climb, turn and service ceiling limitations relative to the Hellcat as the Fulmar did to the Wildcat. In the British plane's favor, it could carry a formidable bombload. About 2,000 lbs of bombs on the wings.

BTW, did you know the Hellcat could drop a Mark 13 torpedo or 4000 lbs of bombs? That is ridiculous. It is almost a strike fighter.
 
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I did not (makes note to add it to TL when I get to WWII) was it the only USN and to have that capability? At least as far as single engined carrier types not torpedo bombers were concerned.
I suspect that any sufficiently powerful fighter with the watts through props could drop a torpedo, provided the fighter could sling and carry the load on a centerline hardpoint without impeding flight characteristics. It just required the end-user to make the necessary modifications to make it work.
 
Although the flight performance limits were similar, I think the Fulmar was more of a scout-fighter. It could have benefitted from a 1500 kW engine which might have boosted cruise speed to 450 km/h or 242 knots or 250 mph. It was never going to get into Seafire, Sea Hurricane, or Wildcat territory. You know how I loathe the Wildcat performance parameters compared to the A6M Zero of the era? The Fulmar had to use the same robustness and pilot skills and zoom and boom tactics to have a chance against the Japanese fighter. The problem is that the Wildcat had a 13,000 meter service ceiling, while the Fulmar had an 8,000 meter ceiling plus the Fulmar climbed very slowly. A Zero pilot could dominate it at will.
I think you're being a little unfair to both the Wildcat and the Sea Hurricane as the Zero was one aircraft generation more advanced than them.
 
I would argue that the japanese navys B7A was the best "combination aircraft" of the war: As a dive-, torpedo-bomber with the performance of a fighter. Only major disadvantages would be the tiny number build and the rather weak armament.
 
Sadly the Fairey Firefly, the Fulmar's successor, with a powerful 1,700 kW RR Griffon engine, which should have been contemporary with the Hellcat, showed the same climb, turn and service ceiling limitations relative to the Hellcat as the Fulmar did to the Wildcat. In the British plane's favor, it could carry a formidable bombload. About 2,000 lbs of bombs on the wings.
One of my favorite "what if's" is a single-seater Firefly...
 
One of my favorite "what if's" is a single-seater Firefly...
That could indeed have been an excellent fighter but even so the firefly was a pretty good fighter-bomber. The fleet air arms insistance on the second crewmember hampered a number of their planes.
 
I would argue that the japanese navys B7A was the best "combination aircraft" of the war: As a dive-, torpedo-bomber with the performance of a fighter. Only major disadvantages would be the tiny number build and the rather weak armament.
There are several characteristics for which to look in Japanese aircraft.

a. the type and reliably of the engine selected.
b. load-out. (This means crew and payload.)
c. range.
d. climb rate.
e. wing-loading (this gives an idea about corner turn and g-load limits)
f. Service ceiling.
g. overall size.

From wiki: the B7A2

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 11.49 m (37 ft 8 in)
  • Wingspan: 14.4 m (47 ft 3 in)
  • Height: 4.075 m (13 ft 4 in)
  • Wing area: 35.4 m2 (381 sq ft)
  • Empty weight: 3,810 kg (8,400 lb)
  • Gross weight: 5,625 kg (12,401 lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 6,500 kg (14,330 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Nakajima NK9C Homare 12 18-cylinder air-cooled radial piston engine, 1,361 kW (1,825 hp) for take-off 1,245 kW (1,670 hp) at 2,400 m (7,874 ft)1,163 kW (1,560 hp) at 6,550 m (21,490 ft)
  • Propellers: 4-bladed constant-speed propeller, 3.5 m (11 ft 6 in) diameter
Performance
  • Maximum speed: 567 km/h (352 mph, 306 kn) at 6,550 m (21,490 ft)
  • Range: 1,852 km (1,151 mi, 1,000 nmi)
  • Ferry range: 3,037 km (1,887 mi, 1,640 nmi)
  • Service ceiling: 11,250 m (36,910 ft)
  • Rate of climb: 9.6 m/s (1,890 ft/min)
  • Time to altitude: 4,000 m (13,123 ft) in 6 minutes 55 seconds
  • Wing loading: 158.9 kg/m2 (32.5 lb/sq ft)
  • Power/mass: 0.242 kW/kg (0.147 hp/lb)
Armament
Lets Look at the Firefly by comparison? From Wiki:

Specifications (Mk.4 / Mk.5 / Mk.6)[edit]​


3-view drawing of Fairey Firefly Mk.I
Data from Fairey Aircraft since 1915 and Jane's All the World's Aircraft 1949–50.[29][30]

General characteristics
  • Crew: 2
  • Length: 37 ft 11 in (11.56 m)
  • Wingspan: 41 ft 2 in (12.55 m)
  • Width: 13 ft 6 in (4.11 m) wings folded
  • Height: 14 ft 4 in (4.37 m) including prop disc
  • Wing area: 330 sq ft (31 m2)
  • Empty weight: 9,674 lb (4,388 kg)
  • Gross weight: 12,727 lb (5,773 kg) stripped for fighter mission
13,479 lb (6,114 kg) normal
  • Max takeoff weight: 15,615 lb (7,083 kg) with two drop-tanks
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Griffon 74 V-12 liquid-cooled piston engine, 2,300 hp (1,700 kW) for take-off
  • Propellers: 4-bladed Rotol constant-speed propeller
Performance
  • Maximum speed: 367–386 mph (591–621 km/h, 319–335 kn) at 14,000 ft (4,267 m)
330 mph (287 kn; 531 km/h) at sea level
  • Cruise speed: 209 mph (336 km/h, 182 kn)
  • Range: 760 mi (1,220 km, 660 nmi) on internal fuel at 209 mph (182 kn; 336 km/h)
  • Ferry range: 1,335 mi (2,148 km, 1,160 nmi) with 2 90 imp gal (110 US gal; 410 l) drop-tanks at 209 mph (182 kn; 336 km/h)
  • Service ceiling: 31,900 ft (9,700 m)
  • Time to altitude:
  • 5,000 ft (1,524 m) in 3 minutes 36 seconds
  • 10,000 ft (3,048 m) in 7 minutes 9 seconds
  • 20,000 ft (6,096 m) in 10 minutes 30 seconds
  • Wing loading: 43 lb/sq ft (210 kg/m2)
  • Power/mass: 0.164 hp/lb (0.270 kW/kg)
Armament
  • Guns: 4 × 20 mm (0.787 in) Hispano Mk.V cannon
  • Rockets: maximum 16x RP-3 60 lb (27.2 kg) rockets on 8 × zero-length launchers
  • Bombs: maximum 2x 1,000 lb (454 kg) on underwing pylons


Interpretation of data. on the B7A

a. the type and reliably of the engine selected.

The Nakajima NK9C Homare 12 was like the Curtiss Twin Cyclone, a thorough mediocrity of a radial which spot oil, threw rods at you and was a nightmare to repair in the field or aboard ship. It was no Bristol or Pratt for reliability.

b. load-out. (This means crew, fuel and payload.)

Combining the terms and doing a little dry to wet math we get burden aloft mission average of about 2,200 kgs. Special note is that it can shackle and carry an external torpedo. The torpedo carried is restricted to about 880 kgs.

The 2 man crew puts it into the same category and limitation as the Fairey Firefly which the Aichi so closely resembles. It's loadout compares about the same
c. range.

Book given is 1,852 kilometers, but as usual with the rule of thirds it is actually 610 kilometers, which is excellent and typically Japanese.

d. climb rate.

The book value is usually the "clean value". This is given as 9.6 m/s mean, Mediocre by Allied standards and terrible by Japanese standards, even for an attack plane, which "Grace" clearly is. She is no fighter by the Japanese definition of the term.

e. wing-loading (This gives an idea about corner turn and g-load limits)

The math here is dicey because the math had to take barrel and wing-plan, overall dry weight factor tail control, "guess" at tear limits and one still could be off by 20%. The best guess I have is 5 g and the corner radius at cruise (roughly 450 km/h) is about 500 meters which is outrageously awful by Hellcat or Corsair standards.

f. Service ceiling.

The 11,000 meters is unburdened. This is good for an attack plane intended to be a dive bomber and torpedo plane. It is even good for a "fighter" if it does not have to compete with Corsairs or Hellcats.

g. overall size.

For a Japanese naval shipborne plane it is huge. The load limit and elevator limit for an IJN aircraft carrier was about 4,400 kgs. This plane will not even fit a Shōkaku.

One of my favorite "what if's" is a single-seater Firefly...

The loss of the GIB may not be sufficient to make up for the other deficiencies in the original derived design. However it will make the bird able to carry about 300 kgs of added fuel and ordnance.
 
The loss of the GIB may not be sufficient to make up for the other deficiencies in the original derived design. However it will make the bird able to carry about 300 kgs of added fuel and ordnance.
In the Firefly, removing the GIB would also mean shortening the airframe; that would mean another significant cut in weight.
 
@McPherson
I would agree with most of your points (especially with regards to size and the engine) but the source I used (Thomas Newdick, Japanese Aircraft of World War 2), at least gives a planned agility roughly on par with japanese fighters. I dont know what it actually accieved but your math seems to suggest values much less than I would expect from that.
 
In the Firefly, removing the GIB would also mean shortening the airframe; that would mean another significant cut in weight.
Shortening the barrel means three things:

1. One has to modify the wing placement of the main spar and redesign the entire fuselage to accommodate and/or one has to ballast the tail.
2. One has to completely redesign the tail control with the horizontal and vertical stabilizers to compensate for lost cylinder lift and "sail area" due to the loss of "wetted fuselage" area in the slipstream.
3. One has to redistribute the longerons and stringers in the barrel and rework volume aft for components and storables to make sure the cross-sectional loading for the live load on the main wing spar (It is a BRIDGE LOAD suspended from a single point that acts like a seesaw and plucked string simultaneously.) does not banjo the plane and introduce an unwelcome vibration or torque load harmonic that will tear the plane apart in flight.

Look at what Curtiss did with the Hawk series and one understands why a "new plane" (Hellcat instead of Wildcat) is simpler than pouring a new engine (Firefly) into an old design (Fulmar) and easier for a good design team to execute.
 
@McPherson
I would agree with most of your points (especially with regards to size and the engine) but the source I used (Thomas Newdick, Japanese Aircraft of World War 2), at least gives a planned agility roughly on par with japanese fighters. I dont know what it actually accieved but your math seems to suggest values much less than I would expect from that.
If you will note, I did give myself a fudge factor of 20% and I noted "burdened" which is the condition I expect for this type of plane, since it was specifically designed with a bomb bay and was described as a torpedo-dive bomber. It is more like a Douglas BTD than anything else out there.
 
Although the flight performance limits were similar, I think the Fulmar was more of a scout-fighter. It could have benefitted from a 1500 kW engine which might have boosted cruise speed to 450 km/h or 242 knots or 250 mph. It was never going to get into Seafire, Sea Hurricane, or Wildcat territory. You know how I loathe the Wildcat performance parameters compared to the A6M Zero of the era? The Fulmar had to use the same robustness and pilot skills and zoom and boom tactics to have a chance against the Japanese fighter. The problem is that the Wildcat had a 13,000 meter service ceiling, while the Fulmar had an 8,000 meter ceiling plus the Fulmar climbed very slowly. A Zero pilot could dominate it at will.
Considering that the Martlet / Wildcat was the Fulmars replacement - I would hope its performance was better
 
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On 17 of February, 1944, Operation Hailstone was launch, a massive USN air and surface attack against on Truk Lagoon. F6F Hellcats fought against A6M Zeros while SBD Dauntless (and one SB2C Helldiver squadron) and TBF/M Avengers drop bombs on enemy vessels and airfields. One flight of Dauntless from USS Monterey was suddenly attacked by a floatplane that came from above, that managed to shoot down one Dauntless and damaged a second one. When it tried to do a second pass (this time against TBF Avengers of VC-832*, from USS Shiloh**), it was itself shoot down by the rear gunners of the torpedo bombers, but not before forcing one of the aircrafts to abandon formation due to battle damage. In both scenes, they reported an unusual sight in the floatplane: Iron Crosses in the upper wing and a swastika in the tail!

It was the end of the war in Europe (and with some papers found in Japan in 1946) that it was confirmed that there was one German "auxiliary cruisers" present in the lagoon! It was one of the two "missing" cruisers that the Allies failed to take account by 1944 (Hansa and Thor***). The reason of not leaving Asia was due to the Allied better control of the seas and better convoy systems. Hansa was the one present Truk, while Thor was later converted in a Q ship-style, as a kind of escort/transport hybrid. It survived until late 1945, as after Germany surrender, the ship was renamed Iwami, and reconverted back into the auxiliary cruiser. But on their first voyage as Iwami, it ran into a storm (to also hide from allied recon aircraft). When leaving the storm, they were almost face to face with a battleship Task Force on their way to bombard Nobeoka...

*As USS Robin (HMS Victorious) returned to the Atlantic, Churchill actually wanted to keep a force to fight against the IJN (as its forces had almost none against it). The end result was VC-832, a composite squadron of both fighters and torpedo boats, with british personnel on their controls.

**As part of the previous ORANGE war mobilization plans, three large passengers’ liners were to be converted into a light carrier. However, only one carrier was converted (the SS President Hoover) was converted, as troopships were more needed. It was an actually an improvement over the Independence-class light carrier, as it better than the previous carrier apart of speed and armor. It could carry 60~ aircrafts over the 34~ of the Independence-class. Due to the priority over escorts, fleet carriers and others military ships, the now renamed USS Shiloh only entered in service in mid-1943.

***Altmark/Uckermark was captured prior to take refugee in Norway, and taken in service into the RN. Ironically, it was selected as one of the tankers for the British Pacific Fleet.
 
I found this and though I have no idea about how it could happen it does appeal. Perhaps an Irish Volunteer squadron with the Luftwaffe?

View attachment 667719
Perhaps the post war Irish government decides it needs to build up its domestic arms industry, getting the plans for the 262 just after WWII and putting it into production locally? Maybe they also make some other late war German kit like the Panther.
 
Perhaps the post war Irish government decides it needs to build up its domestic arms industry, getting the plans for the 262 just after WWII and putting it into production locally? Maybe they also make some other late war German kit like the Panther.
...
Short of a Paddywank ASB intervening it's impossible, DOD and Finance would never allow any government get such ambitions.
 
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