RN Fulmar alternative.

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Peg Leg Pom, Sep 13, 2019 at 6:45 PM.

  1. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Let's suppose for a moment that instead of ordering what became the Fairey Fulmar as its Skua replacement the FAA instead opts for a navalised Hawker Henley. Obviously it will need catapult points, a tail hook and folding wings which will affect its performance but I would still expect it to be similar to the target tug version used by the RAF. Not being obsessed with strategic bombing I would expect the FAA to want dive brakes, a bomb crutch and a proper dive bombing sight as well as the needed eight machine guns. It would need to be subcontracted out but Fairey's facilities are available for that. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_Henley

    [​IMG]
     
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  2. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    I suspect that by the time it has 8 guns on it and all the equipment a Fulmar carried in service that its performance would be similar

    However what has always attracted me to the 'Sea Henley' is that it shared many components with the Hurricane along with its construction methods

    The Fulmar was 150% more man hour intensive to build than a Spitfire which was significantly more man hours intensive to build than the Hurricane so the Henley would be cheaper to build than a Fulmar.

    It is also smaller than the Fulmar (by a staggering 3.5 feet!)
     
  3. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    The Fulmar was a navalised Fairey P.4/34.

    According to Wikipaedia the Fairey P.4/34 had a top speed of 283mph with a Merlin engine producing 1,030hp. It's empty weight was 6,405lb and its loaded weight was 8,787lb.

    According to the Putnams British Naval Aircraft Since 1912 the Fulmar had a top speed of 246mph with a Merlin engine producing 1,035hp. In spite of the extra 5 horsepower it was considerably slower at 246mph. This could have been because it was considerably heavier than the Fairey P.4/34. It's empty weight was 7,560lb and its loaded weight was 10,700lb.

    The Hawker P.4/34, later known as the Henley was built to the same specification as the Fairey P.4/34 (i.e. Spec. P.4/34) which was developed into the Fairey Fulmar (to Spec. O.8/38).

    According to Putmans Aircraft of the Royal Air Force Since 1918 the Henley Mk I had a top speed of 272mph (11mph slower than the Fairey P.4/34) with a Merlin engine producing 1,030hp. Its weights were similar at 6,010lb empty and 8,480lb loaded.

    To summarise the Fulmar was 37mph slower than the Fairey P.4/34 from which it was developed because of the increases in weight. Therefore, I'd expect a similar reduction in speed if the Hawker P.4/34 was navalised, that is from 272mph to about 235mph, which is 11mph slower than the Fulmar. Also we don't know if folding wings could be incorporated into a navalised Henley, but we do know that the wings on a Fulmar did fold. Therefore, as well as having the inferior performance to the Fulmar a navalaised Hawker P.4/34 might take up more deck space.

    The Hawker Henley was built by Gloster instead of Hawker. Had it built 800 navalised Henleys IOTL instead of the 800 Fulmars built IOTL it would have had to reduce the number of Hurricanes that it built IOTL from 2,750 to 1,950. That might mean fewer Sea Hurricanes for the FAA.

    If Fairey doesn't have to build 800 Fulmars it can complete its contracts for Swordfish and Albacores sooner, which might allow the FAA to deploy more of them 1940-41. Completing the Swordfish and Albacore contracts sooner would allow the Barracuda and Firefly to be put into production sooner. However, they might not be ready to be put into production any earlier than OTL. E.g. the Griffon engine might not be available any earlier for the Fairey Firefly.

    So to conclude a navalised Hawker P.4/34 (Sea Henley) would have been no better than the navalised Fairey P.4/34 (Fulmar). If anything it would have been worse.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2019 at 9:15 PM
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  4. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    Ninjad by 4 minutes.
     
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  5. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    It was worth waiting for
     
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  6. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    That might not mean much in practice. The Fairey P.4/34 was larger than the Henley, but it was still faster.

    Interestingly the Henley Mk I and Fulmar had exactly the same wing area, 342sq ft.
     
  7. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    That top speed is when it was towing a target drogue, I've seen it quoted at 290mph clean.
     
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  8. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    It was intended to be tongue in cheek (like a joke but much much smaller) - I could not really find much between the planes on paper (but you did - those extra 4 minutes were well spent)

    For me I would far rather an earlier folding wing Sea Hurricane and Swordfish air groups with Apple Cores replacing the string bags asap - which as you pointed out is actually made less likely with the Sea Henley buggering up production lines.
     
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  9. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    I think that the main problem with the Fulmar was timing.

    The first Fairey P.4/34 flew in January 1937 and the first Fulmar flew in January 1940. Had the specification for the Fulmar been issued 2 years earlier I don't see any practical difficulties in having a prototype Fulmar flying in January 1938. If "off the drawing board" contracts were placed in 1936 I don't see why 190 Fulmars couldn't be built by Blackburn instead of the Skua and 136 Fulmars couldn't be built by Boulton Paul instead of the Roc.
     
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  10. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    I think that the "Land Henley" buggered up the OTL production lines.

    I think that Gloster should have built 200 Hurricanes instead of the Henley (which I have said many times). Furthermore, Gloster could have built Hurricanes instead of most of the 746 Gladiators of OTL and that would have included 98 Sea Hurricanes instead of the 98 Sea Gladiators of OTL (which I have also said many times).
     
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  11. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    Which is 7mph faster than the Fairey P.4/34.

    Unfortunately, that only makes the Sea Henley 7mph faster than the Fulmar, but still an improvement of my estimate of 11mph slower.
     
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  12. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    It probably gets a fully navalized Sea Hurricane in service soon after the Battle of Britain ends though.
     
  13. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    I'm not sure that the Hurricane could be fully navalised. Does anyone know of OTL proposals for Hurricanes with folding wings? Also if Hawker's designers are working on navalising the Henley they might have the resources to design a navalised Sea Hurricane in time to get it into service soon after the Battle of Britain ends.

    Furthermore, if it was possible there might be fewer "Land Hurricanes" for Fighter Command, Malta and Egypt in from September 1940 to the end of 1941.

    All the OTL Sea Hurricanes were conversions of ex-RAF machines and no Sea Hurricanes were built as such. Some of them were converted back to land-fighter standard as Hurricane IICs.

    Finally, it looks as if the Sea Hurricane without folding wings entered service not that long after the end of the Battle of Britain IOTL. According to the Putnams the Sea Hurricane entered service with No. 880 Squadron at Arbroath in January 1941 and embarked on Furious in July 1941.
     
  14. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Sydney Camm designed a set of folding wings for the Sea Hurricane but they were never used. Probably because, as you said all Sea Hurricanes were converted RAF cast offs.
     
  15. jsb Well-Known Member

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    Should be easy to make the out wing fold?
    [​IMG][​IMG]
     
  16. Peg Leg Pom Well-Known Member

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    Hinge at the top, very strong catch at the bottom and a fabric skin patch at the fold line. Job done. (Vastly over simplified)
     
  17. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    I've done a crude calculation using the line drawing of the Sea Hurricane Mk IC in British Naval Aircraft Since 1912.

    The best place for the wings to fold seems to at the place illustrated in @jsb's photographs. This is inside the propeller disc.

    That would reduce the width of a Sea Hurricane Mk IC from exactly 40ft to 12ft 6in.

    However, each of the outer wing panels was 15 feet long. Therefore, they would have to fold backwards, instead of upwards, or they would be too tall to fit inside the hangars of the Royal Navy's aircraft carriers.

    The extra weight of the folding mechanism will probably degrade the performance of the Sea Hurricane. However, it will still be faster than the Fulmar, Roc, Skua, Sea Gladiator and the Martlet Mks I and II.

    I did the same crude calculation on the line drawing of the Fulmar Mk II. That produced a folded wingspan of just under 16ft. I can't remember where I read it, but I think 16 feet was the folded wingspan of the Fulmar.

    I think the best POD is around 1936.
    • Order 600 Hurricanes from Hawker in 1936 as OTL
    • Order 400 Hurricanes from Gloster in 1936 instead of 400 Henleys (sources differ as to whether it was 350 to 400) and don't reduce it to 200.
    • Order 389 Hurricanes from Avro in 1936 instead of 389 Hotspurs and don't cancel it in favour of the Defiant.
    • Order 378 Hurricanes from Gloster in 1937-38 instead of the last 378 Gladiators ordered by the Air Ministry. The first 225 were ordered in 1935 and I think it won't be possible to build Hurricanes instead of them. Unfortunately most of the 165 Gladiators built to direct export contracts IOTL can't be built as Hurricanes ITTL. However, the last 6 Norwegian Gladiators and the 15 Portuguese Gladiators were diverted from the last Air Ministry contract so they could be built as Hurricanes ITTL.
    • The first Sea Gladiators were ordered in June 1938 and were diverted from an Air Ministry contract for 300 Gladiator Mk IIs. All other things being equal ITTL 98 Sea Hurricanes would be ordered in June 1938 and be diverted from a contract for 300 Hurricanes ordered from Gloster. I think that this is not enough time for the Sea Hurricanes built instead of the Sea Gladiator to be completed with folding wings. However, it might be possible to complete Sea Hurricanes built to follow up contracts folding wings.
    • Specification O.8/38 for the navalised Fairey P.4/37 was issued on 24th April 1938 IOTL. ITTL it will be necessary to bring it forward one or two years.
    • This is to allow for 190 Fulmars to be ordered from Blackburn in July 1936 instead of the 190 Skuas ordered IOTL and for 136 Fulmars to be ordered from Boulton Paul in April 1937 instead of the Roc.
    However, this would make it an alternative Sea Gladiator timeline and not an alternative Fulmar timeline.

    If you want the latter what you really need to do is not stop the development of what became the RR Griffon so that Fairey can put an equivalent of the Firefly Mk I into service in the middle of 1940 instead of the Fulmar.

    AIUI development of what became the Griffon was begun at the same time as the Merlin. However, its development programme had to be suspended at least once so that RR could concentrate on the Merlin. A possible POD is that Rolls Royce stops development of the Peregrine and Vulture so that it can concentrate on the Griffon. Perhaps the POD for that could be that the Air Ministry decides to give the Manchester, Warwick and the predecessor to the Halifax two Griffons instead of 2 Vultures.
     
  18. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    I remembered that I had a copy of Putnams the British Bomber Since 1914 by Peter Lewis.

    Its appendix gives the details the Fairey P.4/34 as:
    1 x 1,030hp Merlin II
    284mph maximum speed, but not the height
    6,405lb empty weight
    8,707lb loaded weight
    47ft 4 1/2in span
    40ft length​

    In the prototype column it says K5099, but on page 297-298 it says that K5099 had a Merlin I producing 1,030hp and it was the second prototype K7555 that had the Merlin II which also produced 1,030hp. It also says that K7555 had Fairey-Youngman flaps and this was the aircraft with a top speed of 284mph. It also says that the design was stressed to act as a dive bomber and that it carried its 500lb bomb load on external racks.

    It gives the following details for K5115 the first Hawker Henley prototype K5115.
    1 x 1,030 Merlin I
    47ft 10 1/2in span
    36 1/2 in length​

    Frustratingly, the maximum speed, empty weight and loaded weight columns are blank. On page 298 it does say that it's bomb load of 500hp was stowed internally inside the fuselage and that was a factor in the final choice of the wing location.
     
  19. Cryhavoc101 Well-Known Member

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    I have been trying to find diagrams / drawings of the proposed Hurricane folding wing design as this would be very similar to the design used on any Sea Henley but my google fu is weak

    Has anyone seen a proposed folding wing for the Hurricane?
     
  20. NOMISYRRUC Rostrum Camera Ken Morse

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    The best website for Hurricane projects that I know of is this one.
    http://www.k5083.mistral.co.uk/PROJECTS.HTM

    Unfortunately, it doesn't mention a Hurricane with folding wings.

    My guess of what the folded wingspan of a Sea Henley would be is 17ft 2in. That is the line drawing of the Henley Mk III from Aircraft of the Royal Air Force since 1918.
     
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