WI Panic Fighter 1938?

If your smallish nation is in the market for an panic night fighter there's always this, though to be honest I'd ditch the useless draggy top turret and put the guns in either the wings or the nose rather than block the bomb bay. The Blenheim was widely exported and licenced so getting hold of them shouldn't be difficult.

 
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Fairchild was doing the resin&plywood Duramold process in 1937
I had a vague recollection of that, but not when (& I'd attached it to Northrop...:oops: )
get turboprops going
That strikes me as beyond the OP's limit. (Okay, so are graphite coatings & hypereutectic pistons. So I don't suffer hobgoblins.:openedeyewink: )

If you're prepared to peel the upper wing off & fit, what, an R1820, what about the F3F? (You can get around the Neutrality Act, if you must, by buying them from Canada...)
 
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So we're in 1938. Buy this as an airliner...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_314_Clipper

...or ideally this...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sikorsky_S-45

to get this engine...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_R-2600_Twin_Cyclone

...or ideally this engine...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wright_R-3350_Duplex-Cyclone

And if so, here is the fighter...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_F4F_Wildcat (pre-engine upgrade)

...or ideally this possible fighter...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_Sea_Fury

(or https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-1_Skyraider)

and here's the light bomber/transport...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_A-20_Havoc

...or ideally this is your light bomber/transport...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechcraft_XA-38_Grizzly

and here's a possible heavy bomber...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_XB-19

...or ideally here's a possible heavy bomber.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_XPBB_Sea_Ranger
 
RAF Panic fighter in 1937/, IMVHO two options, Miles Kestrel with RR Kestrel Engine (see PAM time line) or open another couple of lines in shadow factories building Hawker Hurricanes but fit them with Alvis Pelides engines. this has two advantages, one, if a factory building Merlin Hurricanes is destroyed then Merlin Hurricanes can be built at this shadow factory with very little production time lost or, two, if Merlin production is hit then radial Hurricanes can be built in their place. As contingency planning, have work done prewar to adapt the Radial Hurricane to other suitable radials that could be begged, borrowed or even stolen if necessary.
 
Single-row radials were specified by the OP.

RAF Panic fighter in 1937/, IMVHO two options, Miles Kestrel with RR Kestrel Engine (see PAM time line) or open another couple of lines in shadow factories building Hawker Hurricanes but fit them with Alvis Pelides engines. this has two advantages, one, if a factory building Merlin Hurricanes is destroyed then Merlin Hurricanes can be built at this shadow factory with very little production time lost or, two, if Merlin production is hit then radial Hurricanes can be built in their place. As contingency planning, have work done prewar to adapt the Radial Hurricane to other suitable radials that could be begged, borrowed or even stolen if necessary.
Miles Kestrel indeed makes a lot of sense.

As for the engines: by late 1939, RR was series producing Merlins in two factories: Crewe and Derby. In same time, there is a single factory that (barely) makes enough of Hercules engines for the war-winning Saro Lerwick.
By early 1940, Ford makes Merlin in the UK, and by late 1940 Merlins are produced in Glasgow. Makes 4 production sources to Merlin, still just one for Hercules.

Let's reiterate: Merlin II and III were best aircraft engines for fighters when introduced (in the world, that is), while also suitable for bombers.

Alvis Pelides is a heavier alternative to the Mercury, not in production contrary to the Mercury, it makes less power at 15000 ft than Kestrel, Mercury or better versions of Pegasus.

And, as above - neither Merlin, nor Hercules, nor Pelides qualify by the OP here.
 
Stick a later development perseus engine on the 'almost there' vickers venom, Get the Air ministry or a newspaper magnate to develop a small series? Could do the same with the Bristol 148...
 
Single-row radials were specified by the OP.
Specifically, "Engine choices are limited because RR refuses to sell the new Merlin engine. American politics prevent Allison from selling you any engines and German factories will only sell you 'last week’s fashion.' This limits you to inline or single-row radial engines producing less than 1,000 horsepower."

I take that to mean the reason the choices are limited is because they don't want to sell the engines. Solution: buy an airliner already equipped with better engines that can be back-engineered. Bonus: if this theoretical Speedbumpforpanzerstan has rivers large enough to accomodate barges and war is imminent, Boeing Clippers and S-45s are reasonable.
 
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Dave Shoup

Banned
WI - during the late 1930s - you are tasked with designing an interceptor to protect your small country.
You represent a second or third world Air Force - and you know that war is coming. ... Since your country does not have a huge armaments industry, you are forced to buy critical components (engines, radios and armament) overseas. Awkward politics further limit arms purchases to second-string or “last week’s fashion.”
How about the Polikarpov I-17? Soviets are presumably open to handing over the design, the three prototypes, and whatever else you need for hard currency, and it definitely fits the "second string" criteria.
 

trurle

Banned
How about the Polikarpov I-17? Soviets are presumably open to handing over the design, the three prototypes, and whatever else you need for hard currency, and it definitely fits the "second string" criteria.
I-17 was engined with license-produced
HS12Ybrs
(Soviet designation M-100 was down-graded to 750HP from 850HP of original Hispano-Suiza engine)
Also, I-17 was still not used Meredith effect for radiator, and flaps+chassis were rather primitive, resulting in mediocre performance and ground handling problems which eventually killed the project.
It is actually quite resemble in performance contemporary (and also cancelled) Curtiss P-37, but with less engine power and correspondingly flimsier structure which was difficult to adapt for more powerful engines.
Translation of Soviet report on I-17 from 5 November 1936:

Slated for cancellation due following flaws: narrow cabin, faulty landing gear, motor overheat, performance inferior to I-16 Type 25
 
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Dave Shoup

Banned
I-17 was engined with license-produced
HS12Ybrs
(Soviet designation M-100 was down-graded to 750HP from 850HP of original Hispano-Suiza engine)
Also, I-17 was still not used Meredith effect for radiator, and flaps+chassis were rather primitive, resulting in mediocre performance and ground handling problems which eventually killed the project.
It is actually quite resemble in performance contemporary (and also cancelled) Curtiss P-37, but with less engine power.
Translation of Soviet report on I-17 from 5 November 1936:

Slated for cancellation due following flaws: narrow cabin, faulty landing gear, motor overheat, performance interior to I-16 Type 25
Perfect candidate for a sale then, right?
 

trurle

Banned
Perfect candidate for a sale then, right?
Well, easy to purchase from Soviets, but meaningful only if you can eventually fix all the problems of I-17 listed above, which was likely impossible. For start, I-17 had canvas-skinned fuselage on tubular frame which was probably the root cause of non-ergonomic (too narrow) cabin..

For comparison, P-36/P-37/P-40 had used much more volume-effective stressed metal skin construction in fuselage and wings (although the control surfaces were still canvas skinned).
 
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Dave Shoup

Banned
Well, easy to purchase from Soviets, but meaningful only if you can eventually fix all the problems of I-17 listed above, which was likely impossible. For start, I-17 had canvas-skinned fuselage on tubular frame which was probably the root cause of non-ergonomic (too narrow) cabin..

For comparison, P-36/P-37/P-40 had used much more volume-effective stressed metal skin construction in fuselage and wings (although the control surfaces were still canvas skinned).
The OP laid out a purchaser that read as having very limited resources, so the I-17 would be a useful enough design, that was flying and actual hardware, with - presumably - some room for improvement, as opposed to some of the more speculative candidates above. Not a perfect solution, but as witness the choices that the smaller powers made in 1938 and afterwards in terms of trying to develop designs they could produce, there was not a perfect solution.
 
I'm sure that with the right incentives the USSR would be willing to sell or licence late models of the Polikarpov I 16. (I wonder how the US would react to Mexico or Cuba buying a modern air force from the Soviets in 1938, possibly with Soviet advisors)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polikarpov_I-16
I-16 ticks all the boxes. Plus, 9 cyl radials of 800-1000 HP power were in wide production and use in many countries by late 1930s.

Specifically, "Engine choices are limited because RR refuses to sell the new Merlin engine. American politics prevent Allison from selling you any engines and German factories will only sell you 'last week’s fashion.' This limits you to inline or single-row radial engines producing less than 1,000 horsepower."

I take that to mean the reason the choices are limited is because they don't want to sell the engines. Solution: buy an airliner already equipped with better engines that can be back-engineered. Bonus: if this theoretical Speedbumpforpanzerstan has rivers large enough to accomodate barges and war is imminent, Boeing Clippers and S-45s are reasonable.
I'm afraid that US practice was that engines were purchased separately. Granted, we can whip up several scenarios for 2-row engines for our panic fighters, but, when OP specifically says that 'this limits you to ... or single-row radial', I take it as 'no 2-row radials allowed'. The 1500 HP power figure is als way above what OP required.

OTOH, let's say our cunning plan works out, and we've bought 2 hundreds of 1500 HP R-2600s. The early R-2600 of 1500 and 1600 HP were using supercharger gearing for low altitude (7.4:1 for 1500 HP, or 7:1 for 1600 HP - all take-off figures), rated altitude being 5000 ft (1200 HP max continuous, no military power rating yet). Great for flying boats and transports, but it will not cut it for fighters who are supposed to fly well above 15000 ft by mid-1930s. At 15000 ft, the R-2600-1, or -2, or GR-2600A2 will make how much, 850-900 HP? Bristol Mercury of late 1930s (as installed in Blenheim, for example) gives ~800 HP there, at half the weight and smaller frontal area, and one does not need to pull any tricks to buy it.
Sticking the R-2600 on a fighter requires also bigger fuel tank for a thirstier engine, say 130 gals vs. 80 for the Mercury-powered fighter? Bigger oil tank with bigger oil cooler; also bigger prop and stronger (= heavier) engine support. Constant-speed prop is a must, otherwice all that power at low alt cannot be used up. So we end up with a fighter that is of size & weight of a Hurricane I (best case), but slower than it, climbing much slower once past 10000 ft, with a price tag perhaps 70-80 % greater than it would be the case with a fighter that uses an off-the-shelf 1-row radial.
The R-2600 cannot use 87 oct fuel, needs 95 oct at least (91 oct for 1500 HP version).

There is no wonder that US fighter designs from late 1930s featured mostly V-1710s or R-1830s while on drawing board.
 
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