More Twin Boom Aircraft Like the P-38

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Hannibal.Caesar, May 16, 2008.

  1. Hannibal.Caesar Well-Known Member

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    The P-38 Lightning was debatably one of the stranger front-line aircraft of WWII, with its twin boom construction and double engines. However, the P-38 ended up being quite successful during the war, especially in the Pacific Theater.

    WI the twin boom configuration for fighter aircraft, as well as other hallmarks of the P-38, became more popular in aircraft manufacturing? Would we see an evolution of fast, heavily armed fighter aircraft that aren't super maneuverable?

    Also, AFAIK engines for fighter planes improved so much during WWII the two-engine configuration of the P-38 wasn't needed anymore by the end to provide speed and high-altitude ability. Would we have to hold back engine development somehow?
     
  2. Redbeard Banned

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    Could be this design, developed as a dedicated tank buster carrying two 30mm automatic AT guns, but would be handy vs. a heavy bomber too.

    Having the guns on centreline give a coinciding hitpoint at all distances for both guns (compared to wing mounts), and relatively much of the aircrafts mass being concentrated close on the centre of gravity would point to quick reactions to controls.

    The vitals (crew, engine, fuel, armament) can also be excellently protected with armour, making the plane virtually immune to anti-aircraft fire from below.

    But anyway the specifications asking for a plane built around the twin 30mm AAT gun make a pusher and twin boom obvious.

    The shown plane is a tank buster version, but a faster interceptor version with less armour but turbocharger and rounded wingtips (better at altitude) is offered too.

    Regards

    Steffen Redbeard

    JB II JPEG.JPG
     
  3. merlin Well-Known Member

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    Fokker liked them first with the G.1 and then with the D.XXIII. The former with similar engines was much better than the Blenheim 1F, while the later was a for-runner of the Do 335 in its twin-engined configuration.

    The RAF, for some reason, seem to have an aversion to twin-boom aircraft (until the Vampire), despite several designs put forward - especially for ground attack.

    For the Germans there was of course the Fw-189
     
  4. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    One big problem with any twin engine single seat fighter, regardless of performance, is perceived cost per unit manufactured. Why use two engines to power a fighter when you can get equal performance and more manueverability with a smaller airframe and only one engine. This is a major reason the P-38 was basically unique in WW2, even not considering its rare twin boom layout. Not counting the early jets and the even more unique Do-335, the only other twin engined single seat fighter to be operationally employed was the Westland Whirlwind, and it was a very minor type. Focke Wulf's excellent single seat Fw-187 was only considered for series production when another cockpit for a totally unnecessary navigator was added - and even then it was eventually abandoned.

    However, the twin-boom layout was really not that rare in WW2. It was adopted by the Fw-189 observation plane as well as a ground attack derivative. The Dutch fielded a multi seat twin boom heavy fighter by Fokker (I think) not unlike the P-38 in basic concept, and developed a nother prototype twin boom fighter with push-pull engines in the central fuselage/nacelle. The Soviets also had a similar design. Sweden fielded the Saab J-21 with twin booms and a pusher engine in the central nacelle and the Japanese developed a prototype heavy fighter with a similar layout. Of course the USA use the basic P-38 layout on another of other designs, including the P-61 which as also operational.

    Back to the original question, it seems to me that single seat, single engine fighters would always be more prevalent unless the war situation reached a point where campaigns were waged over much longer ranges. Hypotherically, if Britain fell and the US was forced to wage an air war against German dominated Europe from much more distant bases such as Iceland, North Africa, or the Azores, twin engine twin seat escort fighters (such as twin fuselage P-82) might come to dominate, because of the need to reduce pilot fatigue.

    Speaking of odd designs, I've always wondered why more nations didn't experiment with the simple expedient of "twinning" standard planes to produce longer ranged or more powerful models. It worked very will with the P-82 and He-111Z, and probably would have worked well with the Bf109Z as well.
     
  5. merlin Well-Known Member

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    I wonder what a 'twin' Fairey Battle would have looked like!?
     
  6. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    Like two battles stuck together but it still would have sucked:)
     
  7. Wanderlust I practically AM the military.

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    How about a twin Boulton-Paul Defiant? :)
     
  8. tallwingedgoat Well-Known Member

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    These are my favorite what ifs. However after studying the P-82 design I came to the conclusion that it required so many changes from the P-51 that they might as well design a new plane from the ground up for a little more money. The wing, tail, landing gear, control system, weapons layout, practically everything had been redesigned. The twin concept is appealing mostly due to the promise of using preexisting tooling and parts. This didn't pan out. It would have made some sense for a nation with limited resources, but not to major powers.

    If you look at what you get it's a plane with 180% the weight with 200% the power but not much increase in lift surface and a lot more drag. So what you get is something more expensive, with a slightly better climb, reduced agility, no improvement in speed. The only real advantage is range and payload. The advantages could be achieved by a new twin engine single fuselage design which would be superior in every way.
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  9. DuQuense Commisioned Officer CSN

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  10. Alexius Airship Janissary General

    There have been a lot of twin-boom fighters, both twin-engined, and single-engined, including some jets- the De Havilland Vampire, Venom, Sea Venom and Sea Vixen. The last was perhaps the most interesting- it was a twin-engined swept-wing two-seat all-weather fighter, armed with air-to-air missiles. The last Sea Vixens left service in 1972 after 13 years, and were converted into drones which were capable of breaking the sound barrier in level flight- so a supersonic twin-boom jet is possible!
     
  11. Theodoric Bloomberg 2020

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    Don't forget the Fokker G.I , the replacement Dutch main fighter of WW2. Only 25 were in service, but still, it fits the time and description. It would require a substantial Dutchwank to make them prominent in any way though.
     
  12. tallwingedgoat Well-Known Member

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    The Fokker G1 was a bomber not a fighter.
     
  13. hinotoin Banned

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    Well for one thing we might see more of a one sided dogfight against the Japanese aircract in the Pacific theatre and see the aircraft hold their own instead of being shot down all the time. Speed and manoeuvrability are the key. Hopefully the P-18 twin lookalike planes can handle the stress of being put thrrough the mill.
     
  14. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    Who's being shot down? If you are talking about Allied, specifically American aircraft, I believe you will find that, with the exception of a few transitional designs that were obsolecent at the start of the war (e.g. F2A Buffalo, Gloster Gladiator) that the A6M comes out on the wrong side of the kill ratio.

    Speed an manueverability are good, having a plane that will take you home after killing the other guy is better. If manueverability and speed alone were the key, the Zero would have ruled the sky. They weren't so it didn't.

    P-18?
     
    Last edited: May 16, 2008
  15. CalBear Your Ursus arctos californicus Moderator Moderator Donor

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    The "problem" that the P-38 had was it had never been designed as a dogfighter. It was, in a departure for American designs, a true interceptor, purpose built to do high altitude inteception of enemy bombers. That sort of requirement calls for speed, climbing ability, and a heavy punch. That it was actually, unlike the Bf-110/Me-210/410 & Beaufighter, all of which had the same general mission, able to mix it up with smaller single engined fighters is a fairly remarkable achievement.

    To the main question: The P-38 suffered well into 1944 from "tail flutter" caused by areo buffeting at Mach .7 or so, a speed it easily reached in dives. This was eventually corrected by the addition of dive flaps that altered the airflow in steep, high speed, dives. This alone was enough to prevent a mass of additional twin boom designs (although the P-61, and later, very successful, de Havilland Vampire jet fighter made use of the twin boom concept).
     
  16. The Dean No Pain No Pain

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    As Calbear has pointed out the P-38 did what it was designed for and went on to go beyond that brief. Much the same way that the Mosquito designed as a bomber went on to become a multi role aircraft.

    Whilst not being true twin boom machines the F-15 & 18 both have the twin rudders a twin boom machine has.

    I sketched out a development of the Fokker designs of the G1 and D XXIII for Hendryk. In Superpower Empire China Fokker's were made under license and the Chinese designers come up with a machine I sketched out here.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    Then Redbeard was kind enough to make a nice line drawing of it for me.

    [​IMG]

    Which eventually became the blueprint for the Fouke-60 in Hendryk'.s time-line.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  17. tallwingedgoat Well-Known Member

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    Nice, it would be a good candidate for a jet conversion ala SAAB J21.

    You know instead of a twin engine, I've always thought it would be really cool to have a single V-16 or V-20 engine. This would not be possible in a conventional engine forward layout, but doable in this planeform. The advantage is lower drag, but also you could rather easily develop a V-12, V-16, V-20 family using the same engine architecture.
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2008
  18. merlin Well-Known Member

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    The designation of the Fokker G.1 was Three- (two-) seat Heavy Fighter and Close-support Aircraft. Armament: Eight forward & one rear 7.9mm machine guns, plus 880-lb bomb load or two 23 mm Madsen cannon, two forward & one rear 7.9 mm machine guns.
    Hardly, the armament of a bomber. Plus the equiped the 3rd & 4th (Dutch) Fighter Groups of the 1st Air regiment. Those that survived and could be completed at the factory were taken over by the Luftwaffe and used as fighter-trainers!
     
  19. The Dean No Pain No Pain

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    Funnily enough the Chinese do exactly that conversion on the Fouke-60 on Hendryk's time-line.

    Having a single large engine of over 12 cylinders was tried by the Italians in the Macchi M.C. 72 and they ran into all sorts of cooling problems. Having said that it would not have been an insolvable problem if they had persisted.
     
  20. Hendryk Banned

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    The Dean, glad to see you around! :)

    Yup, in fact I'm soon going to get to that in Version 3.0, when I get over writer's block, that is.

    Indeed.