'Minimum' fighter A/C for 1937-45?

The idea is similar to the 'light fighter' - a fighter aircraft that can be had in short term, without breaking the bank, that does not use spanking new engines the 1st line aircraft depend upon
(number of countries that can get a Merlin or DB 601 in 1939 in any numbers is about one-two for each engine, but Kestrel, Mercury or Jumo 210 were far easier to get to anyone).
Decent firepower, but nothing heavy, say 4 LMGs or 2 HMGs early on, and later a bit more powerful weapon suite.
Resulting fighter is not all-singing all-dancing, but that can improve numbers game for big airforces, while probably being the only type of fighters available for other countries - be it as something they buy abroad, or something they make at home.
 

Driftless

Donor
Of the historic modest ability fighters at the early end of the OP spectrum, I'll split a vote for the Fokker D.XXI and the Curtis-Wright CW-21B Demon. Both were designed to be comparatively simple to operate and repair, with limited technology. Both demonstrated some virtues, but got overwhelmed by larger and more sophisticated opposing air forces. The Demon airframe was also adapted to trainer/recon/light bomber forms.

From what I gather, both aircraft were probably at their practical limit of development by 1940-41, so you'd need to have other craft coming down the pipeline.
 
My standard answer to this question is a fighter variant of the Miles Kestrel with a Hispano Suiza 12Y engine. For this thread I'd say give it 2 x .303's in the wings and a 20mm motor cannon over the engine.

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That was the basic premisse of the Polikarpov I-16. Bolting the smallest possible airframe to an easily produced decently powerful engine
The issue is that in the 30/40s all frightens were cheap, meaning the real cost of air combat was trained pilots. The cost of a good fighter pilot was probably higher than the cost of the aircraft he flew, and therefore the Air Force using inferior fighters would pay the price in replacement pilots when those fighters were shot down.
And cost could be reduced by modern production process. The 1940 Bf-109E, having been designed for mass production, was probably cheaper than the lighteweigh Caudron fighters the French issued to Polish pilots, while issuing D-520s to their own pilots.
 
If the issue is not just cost, but a "limited tech" fighter that can be built locally, the Swedish FFVS J-22 is probably the best that could be done by countries with limited aircraft industries in the period and no access to top of the line V12 engines.
 
The French tried going down this route and it was a dismal failure.
If you are going to use anything less than the most powerful engine available the your fighter will be outclassed by one that does.
For Britain the F5/34 Mercuary engined fighter would have filled the role and would in 1937/38 made a much better colonial fighter than the Gladiator.
The Miles Master Fighter as already mentioned would have bean a reasonable second line or emergency fighter especially if it had been based as suggested in post 3 on the original Kestral version. Though I am not sure how the wooden airframe would have taken to the recoil stresses of a 20mm cannon even if it was mounted on the engine and of course weight is the enemy of performance.
 
For the RAF, 1937: fuselage and engine of what the Gladiator was going to get, wing of a monoplane of modest span and area, with retractable U/C (can do the Mark 1 with fixed U/C) . Talk 160-170 sq ft wing for lower drag & better speed.
Four LMGs, later 6 (once better props are widely available, and 100 oct fuel can be spared). We should be getting 300-310 mph with retractable U/C, and probably around 290 mph with fixed U/C, ie. about same as the Fokker D.XXI.
Used: instead of Gladiators in the N.Africa, later shipped to Malaya.
We cancel: Gladiator as-is.
 
If you are going to use anything less than the most powerful engine available the your fighter will be outclassed by one that does.
The metric is not most powerful, but what gives the best thrust to weight while carrying enough weapons, far enough, to do the planned task.

Does a huge engine help achieve that?
Yes.
But you can go smaller, if you decide not as much range, or lower armament, the planned task may still be achievable
 
Though I am not sure how the wooden airframe would have taken to the recoil stresses of a 20mm cannon even if it was mounted on the engine and of course weight is the enemy of performance.
The wooden Mosquito handled the recoil of 4 20mm well enough. In its Tsetse version it could even handle the recoil from a 57mm Molins gun.
 
Just thinking, but ALL the Italian first generation Monoplane Fighters fall into this category. Built of mostly non strategic materials, a sub 900hp radial engine and no more than two MG's.
 

Driftless

Donor
My standard answer to this question is a fighter variant of the Miles Kestrel with a Hispano Suiza 12Y engine. For this thread I'd say give it 2 x .303's in the wings and a 20mm motor cannon over the engine.

View attachment 647469
How about an alternative Miles M.20 (with less rushed development) as the follow-on? Merlin-engined to be sure, but a comparatively simplifyed structure. Just give it retractable LG.
 
The idea is similar to the 'light fighter' - a fighter aircraft that can be had in short term, without breaking the bank, that does not use spanking new engines the 1st line aircraft depend upon
(number of countries that can get a Merlin or DB 601 in 1939 in any numbers is about one-two for each engine, but Kestrel, Mercury or Jumo 210 were far easier to get to anyone).
Decent firepower, but nothing heavy, say 4 LMGs or 2 HMGs early on, and later a bit more powerful weapon suite.
Resulting fighter is not all-singing all-dancing, but that can improve numbers game for big airforces, while probably being the only type of fighters available for other countries - be it as something they buy abroad, or something they make at home.

Whats the threat?

If you have access to twin wasp/mercury or similar you can produce a decentish aircraft. Airframe design does not seem to be a major issue. The big issue is whether the local metal industries can make the stuff and whether the country can afford to put a large amount of its industrial resources into producing a very expensive second rate aircraft. Which may not be a good plan if your enemy uses its resources to make tanks and its cash to buy P40s or similar

If you have no choice and have access to the skills and have lots of mates willing to let you cut corners on patent and licensing and suchlike but are unable to import you are Sweden and can get around things. If You are say Brazil or Mexico its easier to declare war on Germany and get free P47s.
 
No one really experimented with a minimum fighter and superior radar detection historically. If a minimum fighter always operates defensively with an altitude advantage you can forgive it a lot.

To be honest in 1940/1941 a fighter so much additional bells and whistles start getting added to fighters that the smaller engined aircraft can't compete anymore.

Everyone starts to put variable pitch propellors, extra machine guns or cannons, bits of armour, self sealing fuel tanks etc.

The weaker engines start to fall off a cliff. Especially something like the Kestrel whose development cycle is finished.
 
Whats the threat?

If you have access to twin wasp/mercury or similar you can produce a decentish aircraft. Airframe design does not seem to be a major issue. The big issue is whether the local metal industries can make the stuff and whether the country can afford to put a large amount of its industrial resources into producing a very expensive second rate aircraft. Which may not be a good plan if your enemy uses its resources to make tanks and its cash to buy P40s or similar

If you have no choice and have access to the skills and have lots of mates willing to let you cut corners on patent and licensing and suchlike but are unable to import you are Sweden and can get around things. If You are say Brazil or Mexico its easier to declare war on Germany and get free P47s.
This is why I usually opt for a Kestrel Fighter variant. I assume it would be aimed at Scandinavian counties with their amble supplies of timber. It would be well able to handle their needs.
 

Driftless

Donor
If in the late '30's the British are building Spits and Hurricanes as fast as they can for the defence of the home island and northern Europe, in hindsight might they have gone with a better "Plan B" than the Gladiator directly intended for use in secondary areas (Africa, India, Malaya, Caribbean, etc.)? In 1937-38, the threat from Italy and Japan would certainly be considered, but other constraints pushed them to a secondary worry. That's where wooden framed craft from manufacturers like Miles may have a useful role.

Similarly, the US supplied the Philippine AF with P-26 Peashooters and P-35's - both past their sell-by date. What's a better alternative for them? The later model of the P-35? (the AP-7A - a bit better than earlier models). Or the CW-21 Demons? Or something else? Get them some better planes and disperse them to alternate airfields in October/November 1941.
 
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Whats the threat?
A bigger neighbor with un-democratic and expressionistic government. Or perhaps someone that will not look favorably to the attempts to loose some territory we want to annex.

If you have access to twin wasp/mercury or similar you can produce a decentish aircraft. Airframe design does not seem to be a major issue.

(Fighter) Airframe design was beyond the curve in many countries, and in a lot of companies in countries that were on forefront of aero business. Poland - P.11 was okay for mid-1930s, while P-24 was obsolete both from wing, engine and undercarriage point of view. Yugoslavia: IK-2 was obsolete on arrival, it took them forever to came out with IK-3. France - D.500 and 510 went obsolete quickly, D.520 and de-bugged MB.150 series were too late, the MS.406 looked right but was hopeless in service. MB.150 series was also under-performers in 1940. Czechoslovakia and Italy - too long in love with biplanes, the engine installation on G.50 and MC.200 looked like a generation older than what Ki-27 had. UK - in the era of Hurricane why bother with yet another biplane fighter (Gladiator)? Japan - Ki-43 was probably 3-4 years lagging behind comparable European fighters.

The big issue is whether the local metal industries can make the stuff and whether the country can afford to put a large amount of its industrial resources into producing a very expensive second rate aircraft. Which may not be a good plan if your enemy uses its resources to make tanks and its cash to buy P40s or similar

Different countries will have different industries and different plans. Poland and Czechoslovakia were in a good shape to make affordable fighters that still perform well in second half of 1930s with engines they had in production, however the fighter airframes were obsolete, and new airfrmes were too late. Similar was the case for Italy, temporary saving grace was that Germany kicked France and UK from European ground war by mid-1940. Japan was making no fighters of note in the 1930s, even if the Ki-27 was a decent fighter for the engines it used and while having a fixed U/C. UK needed to cover a lot of their overseas territories, in practice it meant that they were using biplanes in 1940 and 1941 in Med. People often mention the Miles fighter designs - Miles company was favoring wings of thickness-to-chord ratio of 20-22% (!) at root, including the M.20, that made Hurricnae's wing a thin wing.
France was a country that was making expensive second rate aircraft, including the MS.406 and 'flying house' bombers.
 
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For the RAF, 1937: fuselage and engine of what the Gladiator was going to get, wing of a monoplane of modest span and area, with retractable U/C (can do the Mark 1 with fixed U/C) . Talk 160-170 sq ft wing for lower drag & better speed.
Four LMGs, later 6 (once better props are widely available, and 100 oct fuel can be spared). We should be getting 300-310 mph with retractable U/C, and probably around 290 mph with fixed U/C, ie. about same as the Fokker D.XXI.
Used: instead of Gladiators in the N.Africa, later shipped to Malaya.
We cancel: Gladiator as-is.
If in the late '30's the British are building Spits and Hurricanes as fast as they can for the defence of the home island and northern Europe, in hindsight might they have gone with a better "Plan B" than the Gladiator directly intended for use in secondary areas (Africa, India, Malaya, Caribbean, etc.)? In 1937-38, the threat from Italy and Japan would certainly be considered, but other constraints pushed them to a secondary worry. That's where wooden framed craft from manufacturers like Miles may have a useful role.
But why not just build more Hurricanes and use the merlins from Battles etc for them? Then put the second rate engines in a twin engine light bombers to replace the Battle?
 
But why not just build more Hurricanes and use the merlins from Battles etc for them? Then put the second rate engines in a twin engine light bombers to replace the Battle?
A late generation Kestrel Powered 4/5ths sized Mosquito perhaps?
 
A late generation Kestrel Powered 4/5ths sized Mosquito perhaps?
More likely simply more Bristol Blenheim's don't you think to replace Battles, was GB actually that short of aluminium that she could not simply buy pre-war anyway?
 
More likely simply more Bristol Blenheim's don't you think to replace Battles, was GB actually that short of aluminium that she could not simply buy pre-war anyway?
The RAF didn't like having only one type for a particular role so would want a partner for the Blenheim.
 
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