WI Panic Fighter 1938?

I'd also be looking at water-methanol injection.

I would be putting serious work into nitrous oxide injection, too.

If it wasn't too far beyond the tech, I'd be looking at steam-forming wood fueslage halves, fitting tip fences (as winglets), & examining low-friction coatings (like graphite & Teflon) for engine & other internals, & hypereutectic pistons, to reduce friction losses.
 
Tante Ju?
yuk.

Douglas was selling the DC-2 to anyone with Dollars and a brain in their head.

Then it's not far to get to the B-18/B-23
It's got a proven combat record, is easily converted, is likely already in service with your national airline (if you're a European nation) and is a simple machine to maintain.
 
It's got a proven combat record,
In being very vulnerable.
In Spain.
Against biplanes.

Like I said, terrible.

DC-2 was 50mph faster, 500 mile longer ranged, flew 5000ft higher, and more comfortable to fly in

Both the Japanese and Soviet picked up the DC-2 license for production, plus many other countries
from the wiki
Civil operators
Australia



Brazil



Republic of China


  • CNAC, jointly owned and operated with Pan American Airlines

Colombia



Czechoslovakia


  • ČLS (Československá Letecká Společnost, Czechoslovak Air Transport Company) ♠

Dutch East Indies


  • KNILM (Royal Netherlands Indian Airways) ♠

Finland



Honduras



Germany



Kingdom of Italy



Japan



Manchukuo



Mexico



Netherlands


  • KLM ♠ ordered 18 aircraft.

Poland



Spanish Republic


Switzerland


 
If it wasn't too far beyond the tech, I'd be looking at steam-forming wood fueslage halves, fitting tip fences (as winglets), & examining low-friction coatings (like graphite & Teflon) for engine & other internals, & hypereutectic pistons, to reduce friction losses.
Fairchild was doing the resin&plywood Duramold process in 1937
Howard Hughes later used the rights to make the Hercules/Spruce Goose.

Tip plates/winglets are an easy add.
Rather than improving piston engines, get turboprops going.
Even if the turbine section only lasts 20 hours, they take less resources and are easier and faster to build, if you have access tohigh temp stainless steel alloys
 
Fokker D.XXI with a Rolls-Royce engine upgrade could be a winner, the proposed Merlin upgrade (a.k.a. Project 151) would be outside the timeframe but others are possible.
 
Certainly if the national airline operated DC-2s, it would be logical for the air force to buy interceptors powered by R-1820 radials. Give the overhaul contract to the national airline. Supply officers would love only having to deal with a single model of radial engine in the 750 to 1,000 horsepower range.
I can even envision a B-18 Digby variant for coastal patrol.
 
Certainly if the national airline operated DC-2s, it would be logical for the air force to buy interceptors powered by R-1820 radials. Give the overhaul contract to the national airline. Supply officers would love only having to deal with a single model of radial engine in the 750 to 1,000 horsepower range.
I can even envision a B-18 Digby variant for coastal patrol.
That brings us back to my earlier post, of going with the Curtiss Wright CW-19, (shown in 1937 ground attack version)

and its later single seat fighter version with the more powerful R-1820, the CW-21 Demon
 
Some panicking fighters:
- monoplane derivative of the Hawker Fury: 745 HP Kestrel, wing 'plugs' for the remaining lower wing (will house another pair or two of LMGs), diagonal strut to make the lower wing not falling off. Fully enclosed cockpit. Probably a 170-180 sq ft wing and uprated Kestrel will make it go no worse than the Ki-27 or MB.2. Applicable to Yugoslavia, they were making Furies under licence, but probably also for other countries friendly to the UK.
- same recipe, but with Gladiator. More power by the Mercury than by the Kestrel, lower weight as installed, but also a higher drag than Kestrel, so probably the same speed, but a bit better climb than a 'MonoFury'. Hopefully no worse than Ki-27. Again applicable to the countries that were usually buying aircraft from the UK.
- PZL P.11 with slightly inverted gull wing a-la F4U, and a better Mercury (VIII with 840 HP instead of the old one with 640 HP) with a new-tech cowling; closed cockpit. All of this and lack of wing struts is bound to improve speed & climb. Cantilever fixed U/C, 4-6 LMGs. Applicable to Poland, Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia and probably a few other countries.
- Fiat CR.32 and/or CR.42 in monoplane form, hopefully with I-F Asso IX engine.
 
PZL P.11 with slightly inverted gull wing a-la F4U, and a better Mercury (VIII with 840 HP instead of the old one with 640 HP) with a new-tech cowling; closed cockpit. All of this and lack of wing struts is bound to improve speed & climb. Cantilever fixed U/C, 4-6 LMGs. Applicable to Poland, Greece, Romania, Yugoslavia and probably a few other countries.
In other words you turn the PZL 24 from Poland into the I.A.R. 80 from Romania.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PZL_P.24




https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IAR_80
 
I.A.R. 80 is the most capable looking of the panic fighters mentioned so far. .... sort of like a light-weight version of the Chance-Vought F4U Corsair. I.A.R.s certainly killed their share of USAAF B-24 bombers and P-38 fighters.
Its licence-built, Gnome-Rhone, twin-row, radial engine was only 4 inches smaller in diameter than the R-1820 specified by the OP.
Also consider that Hispano-Suiza built R-1820s under license.

Roumania tried to up-engine an I.A.R. with the same BMW 801 radial engine, but none could be spared from FW-190 production.
 
IAR 80B

Designed off the PZL 24, drop in a Hispano-suiza 12Y cranking out 1000hp, and letting you make the nose more aerodynamic, FN machine guns, and swapping out Oerlikon FF cannons instead of eventual MG 151/20's is totally do-able in 1938.


340mph in 1938 would be a hell of a fighter.

And if we can apply modern aerodynamics we could probably coax it up to 370 without too much trouble.
 
I am surprised nobody appears to have suggested the Brewster F2A yet. First prototype flew in early 1938. The B239 export variant sold to Finland was basically a F2A-1 with some parts stripped off and powered by a 950 hp Wright R-1820-G5 engine - it thus fits the requirement in the OP. As we know, the Brewster proved very capable in Finnish use. In comparison to some planes suggested here (like the Caudron C.714 which the FAF found practically unusable) it would have made a very decent fighter in late 1938 - early 1939.
 
Well a version of the F2A can be made from locally available materials by a small scale aviation industry but I'm not sure it's worth it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VL_Humu

Looking at Finnish-built fighters, I think you should rather look at the VL Myrsky, which was decent for a an actual wartime panic fighter IOTL, and would have been a better plane if it was made prewar with access to proper materials instead of having to use ersatz stuff. The Humu suffered from the same problem: the desperate wartime conditions in terms of building materials. Thus, if the Finns made a straight-out Brewster copy in early 1939, out of locally-available materials, it would have been better than the Humu.

The OP, BTW, does not specify "locally available materials", but rather "buying critical components overseas" and using "off-the-shelf components and materials available in 1938". Given that the Finnish State Aircraft Factory license-built Fokker D.XXIs since 1937 and Bristol Blenheims since 1938, it could have also licence-built F2A-1s.
 
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To be honest if I was looking at building a Finnish fighter in the run up to WWII I'd put a retractable under cart on the Fokker DXXI paired with the most powerful compatible engine I could import or licence.
 
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