F5F or F4F. Did the U.S. Navy make the right choice?

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Draconis, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    I'm not generally a naysayer, but let's gedankenexperiment (thought extrapolate) out what the finished result for a naval fighter dive bomber will be?

    General characteristics

    • Crew: One
    • Length: 21 ft 8 in (6.60 m)
    • Wingspan: 28 ft (8.5 m) [8]
    • Height: 9 ft 4.5 in (2.858 m)
    • Wing area: 329 sq ft (30.6 m2)
    • Empty weight: 2,880 lb (1,306 kg)
    • Gross weight: 4,100 lb (1,860 kg)
    • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 700 hp (520 kW)
    • Propellers: 3-bladed
    Performance

    • Maximum speed: 261 mph (420 km/h, 227 kn) at 13,100 ft (4,000 m) unarmed
    • Cruise speed: 205 mph (330 km/h, 178 kn)
    • Stall speed: 72 mph (116 km/h, 63 kn) clean, and 58 mph (93 km/h; 50 kn) with flaps and slats down
    • Range: 985 mi (1,585 km, 856 nmi)
    • Service ceiling: 27,700 ft (8,400 m) RCAF figures[9]
    • Rate of climb: 2,800 ft/min (14 m/s) at sea level, unarmed, RCAF figures[10]
    Armament

    • Guns: 2 × 0.50 in (13 mm) machine guns
    • Bombs: 2 x 116 lb (53 kg) bombs under wings
    Now if we look at the choice of engine, and the bubble canopy to upper wing airflow problems, we see a couple of things. First that is one Godfrey Daniels poor horsepower to weight ratioed engine (about 70%). Second that bubble canopy splits air flow right at the trail route of the upper wing merge into the barrel which means tremendous vibration stress and a possible mechanical fail hazard to the aircraft and a mission critical fail (loss of pilot/aircraft) in normal flight.

    And we see no guns or bombs lofted. Presuming that the Canadian fighter would use American sourced armament we can very roughly add in the added weight and drop in performance as so...

    General characteristics


    • Crew: One
    • Length: 21 ft 8 in (6.60 m)
    • Wingspan: 28 ft (8.5 m) [8]
    • Height: 9 ft 4.5 in (2.858 m)
    • Wing area: 329 sq ft (30.6 m2)
    • Empty weight: 3,000 lb (1,485 kg)
    • Gross weight: 4,400 lb (2,000 kg)
    • Powerplant: 1 × Pratt & Whitney R-1535-72 9-cylinder air-cooled radial engine, 700 hp (520 kW)
    • Propellers: 3-bladed


    Performance


    • Maximum speed: 255 mph (402.3 km/h, 217 kn) at 12,000 ft (3,657.6 m) unarmed
    • Cruise speed: 167 mph (268 km/h, 145 kn)
    • Stall speed: 72 mph (116 km/h, 63 kn) clean, and 58 mph (93 km/h; 50 kn) with flaps and slats down
    • Range: 750 mi (1,207 km, 651 nmi)
    • Service ceiling: 25,000 ft (7,620 m) RCAF figures[9]
    • Rate of climb: 2,300 ft/min (11.6 m/s) at sea level, armed, RCAF (McP. estimated)


    Armament


    • Guns: 2 × 0.50 in (13 mm) machine guns
    • Bombs: 2 x 116 lb (53 kg) bombs under wings

    As you can see; there is a dramatic fall-off.

    Does that make the FDB1 a "bad" aircraft? No, by no means. I regard it as very useful aircraft and once the bubble canopy is smoother fared forward into the upper wing root, and more watts are coaxed out of the Twin Wasp Jr. (say a R-1535-94 - 825 hp (615 kW) then a lot of that performance fall off can be restored.

    I think that barrel is too tight for a Taurus.

    McP.
     
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  2. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Oct 18, 2009
    It was just a suggestion as I think the Canadians would prefer to build their own design rather than pay Grumman a licence fee. As I've said earlier I think that up engining a Gladiator with a 930hp Bristol Perseus would be the best option for an anti Condor fighter in 1939 - 40 for use on early MAC's or Escort carriers. It also has the advantage that the RAF doesn't want them or the Perseus so won't fight it.
     
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  3. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Since we discuss Canadian options (and the RCN will be at least 40% of the Battle of the Atlantic)

    Vancouver... Maybe...

    Can you do it, Canada? Can you build a MAC?

    Yes we can!
     
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  4. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Oct 18, 2009
    If you can build a merchant ship of sufficient size then you can put a flight deck on it.
     
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  5. Gunner's_Quadrant Lord High Commander of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick

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    Not completely. The Sangamon's retained a significant portion of their fuel carrying capacity, I can't access my Friedman (US Aircraft Carriers) at the moment but I think it was about 2/3 to 3/4 of the original capacity. The Sangamon's were able to refuel the ships in their Task Group thereby free up a dedicated oiler for other duties. So not a total loss.
    The USN's biggest shortfall early in the war was fleet oilers, the lack of them really limited USN operations in the Pacific during 1942. But the Sangamon's ability to carry aircraft and fuel oil simultaneously was a good trade-off.
     
  6. Draconis Emperor of the North Pole.

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    You betcha. Canada could have been building MAC ships in 1940 if the concept had been approved at the time.

    [​IMG]
     
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  7. yulzari Well-Known Member

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    Reining in the enthusiasts for better aeroplanes and widespread MACs.

    A MAC ship must be able to load and unload without cranes i.e. must be able to do so via suction pipes. This means assorted tankers and grain carriers. These are high priority items which one would not want out of service for conversion for too long. They are in limited supply. Most merchant ships have open topped holds loaded and unloaded by cranes directly over the ship. So there is a limited supply of ships.

    Secondly the role is not to act as a naval carrier.

    They are solely for the defence of a convoy from submarines and long range bombers. This can only be regularly done by driving away the threat or deterring it from an effective approach. This has to be always available except in such poor weather that the enemy is also hampered. It is therefore more vital that the aeroplanes used are able to operate in bad conditions without damage than their actual performance in the air. A Gladiator or Swordfish in the air is better than a high performance Wonder Whizzer stuck on the deck or fallen overboard yesterday on landing.

    The role is too specialised to merit a special type with a separate factory (which could be churning out generally useful aeroplanes) and all the spares, support, training etc. just for it. The most flexible solution is types which are in service already for which you already have everything you need including aircrew trained on the type. The Swordfish is ideal for the task and is the period ASW helicopter equivalent. The Gladiator can be tweaked with Blenheim Mercuries and variable pitch propellor and 6x .303" as Maltese experience shows us IOTL and the fuel can be 100 octane and the boost limit slightly increased if it is only launched upon sighting a bomber rather than maintaining cover.i.e. it is used for only limited hours and maximum boost for a few minutes of climb. All within existing kit. Hurricanes will fall off these short decks too easily.

    It will not happen, except as a pre planned programme, until war is declared and a POD is to have this happen onto known ships as they dock in the UK, possibly Canada. Then they will be available from, say, mid 1940 onwards. Perhaps the impetus can come from the airship escort experience of WW1 but in a form that can be oceanic and not just coastal. Before anyone suggests it airships small enough to be merchant ship based will not work in the North Atlantic.

    It is a good thing to sink a submarine or down a bomber but the true success comes with safely docked merchant ships. You are looking for mission kills. Actual kills are fortuitous and no aspect of the reliable service should be compromised just to get an actual kill.
     
  8. eltf177 Well-Known Member

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    May 10, 2007
    Agreed, driving off subs and Kondor's is enough. Killing them is better but if they can't inflict losses then you're ahead of the game, getting the convoy through is far more important...
     
  9. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Yup.

    The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

    [​IMG]

    More punished...

    [​IMG]

    US Army Kellett Autogyro; pre-WW II of course.

    And the not-so-stupid...

    upload_2019-9-9_9-24-48.png

    [​IMG]



    The next time someone says a ROOSEVELT did not know what the HELLO he was doing...

    [​IMG]

    :mad:

    Remind them of that.(^^^)
     
  10. yulzari Well-Known Member

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    Hmm. A Swordfish could lift a 1500 lb load off the deck. What could a period autogyro lift? How might t engage a Condor?

    The autogyro concept might have some traction in the ASW role perhaps. Even allowing use off smaller vessels than the OTL MACs. Turbulence will not let them work off a non decked vessel though. STOL yes but hover, no. Hence helicopters.
     
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  11. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    In most conditions an Autogyro can hover over the landing pad of a moving ship and jump into the air on take off from one.
     
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  12. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Specifications (Ka-1)

    Data from Japanese Aircraft of the Pacific War

    [​IMG]

    Japanese Ka-1
    The limit is rotor lift and main engine wind over rotor disk pressure differential generated. An autogyro is therefore of course about 40% as lift efficient as a true helicopter.
     
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  13. Draconis Emperor of the North Pole.

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    @McPherson Could you expand a little bit more on FDR's decisions regarding the Independence class CVLs and the Sangamon class CVEs. It's an interesting subject but I'm not sure what exactly you're stating.
     
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  14. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    He told his admirals and War Production Board civilians, who strongly objected to the projected loss of cruisers and tankers in "their" plans, to get with the !@# !@#$ program and build what he wanted from them, NOW, and shut up about it. Turns out he was right in the war, and they were wrong. The Sangamons underway still could replenish/refuel cruisers and destroyers, while the Independence class fast light carriers arrived a year earlier as flattops, so Nimitz could start the central Pacific drive that year sooner, than if he had to wait for the additional Essexes which are still sliding down wet off the weighs in 1944 and 1945.

    Sometimes the 'bird in hand' is what is needed.

    McP.
     
  15. Draconis Emperor of the North Pole.

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    You're not kidding. Here are the two examples of very unique aircraft carriers that were just big enough. Of course they wouldn't have been able to handle the North Atlantic seas or get through the locks to reach the Atlantic anyway.

    The USS Wolverine and her furry sister the USS Sable. "The corn belt Navy."
    [​IMG]

    The USS Sable. Both ships were paddle-wheelers used for training operations on Lake Michigan.
    [​IMG]
     
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  16. Driftless Geezer

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    Lots of trainee naval pilots flew off those ships. Being trainees, there were several planes and pilots that took a bath in the chilly waters of Lake Michigan. They've recovered a few planes over the years.
     
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  17. Athelstane Anglo-Saxon Troublemaker

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    Having FDR squarely behind him sure didn't hurt.

    For a while there, the Independence CVL's constituted almost half of PACFLT's fast carrier group's striking power. Might have been the USN's best impromptu procurement decision of the war. They were just good enough to get the job done.
     
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  18. marathag Well-Known Member with a target on his back

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    Double Wrong, as those ships were were operated by their Army, not Navy
     
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  19. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Ah the Imperial Japanese Army. The only Army in WWII that had its own Aircraft Carriers and Submarines. A precedent followed later by the Peoples Liberation Army (Navy).
     
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  20. McPherson McPherson; a guy who needs a shave.

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    Keep a watch on those guys... (see below):

    I actually know that, @marathag, hence the "not so stupid"; since the IJN completely boloed the Japanese ASW campaign, necessitating the IJA to apply some common sense to the problem.
     
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