WI: USAAF adopts F4U Corsair or F6F Hellcat for long range bomber escort missions?

That was no accident. The RN developed the curved approach after adopting the Seafire to sea board use. Both those things you name though, cured the bounce, thank 'ee.
Neither of those were adopted to 'cure the bounce'. The wings were clipped so they could fit in the tighter hanger decks of the RN carriers. The curved approach was just the happy accident of an already adopted procedure being ideal for the Corsair.
 
F4U probably isn't going to work without major modifications just based on range (combat range is just over 500km). F6F-5 is closer to 1500km combat range but will be introduced close to or after the P-51D. F6F-3s are operational in February 1943 but lacks the war emergency power and is slower than its successor, plus they have those little windows behind the cockpit in early versions that get taken out shortly after introduction.
Any math to back up the notion that 'combat range' of F4U was 1/3rd of the F6F-3? What is 'combat range' actually?
 
Here's a pdf of head to head tests of the F4U-1 vs the P-51, P-47C, and P-38G.

The F4U topped out at 388mph at a hair under 25,000ft, but the P-47 was faster beginning at 22000ft.
the P-47 had equal or better climb speeds at 10,000ft or higher. The P-51 was faster beginning at 9500ft.
the Corsair did have better turn radius then either aircraft due to its lower stall speed, but at high speeds stick forces were too heavy.

The Army also noted the Corsair required more maintenance time then other aircraft and had numerous mechanical and maintenance access issues.


eta- the design specs for the Corsair call for it's maximum range to be achieved at 5500ft alt and at 190mph. The F6F max range was at 12,000ft and at 200mph. At 25,000ft and 300mph as called for by the Army, neither of these planes will get their maximum range. At 28,000ft the F6F can only do 365mph.
 
Last edited:
Any math to back up the notion that 'combat range' of F4U was 1/3rd of the F6F-3? What is 'combat range' actually?
http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/f4u/f4u-4-detail-specification.pdf (page 6)

Ferry range is how far the aircraft flies before it runs out of fuel - there is no expected action in between.
Combat range is how far can an aircraft fly out, reasonably engage an enemy, and still have the fuel to return home. Often somewhere in the ballpark of 40% of ferry range.
 
http://www.wwiiaircraftperformance.org/f4u/f4u-4-detail-specification.pdf (page 6)

Ferry range is how far the aircraft flies before it runs out of fuel - there is no expected action in between.
Combat range is how far can an aircraft fly out, reasonably engage an enemy, and still have the fuel to return home. Often somewhere in the ballpark of 40% of ferry range.
IIRC the term was 'combat radius' - fly out, drop any drop tanks you still have, engage the enemy aircraft, return to base, plus some reserve fuel alloted.
Combat radius of F6F-3 was 335 miles for a F6F-3 with 250 + 150 US gals of fuel (column 4, pg. 1).
 
Neither of those were adopted to 'cure the bounce'. The wings were clipped so they could fit in the tighter hanger decks of the RN carriers. The curved approach was just the happy accident of an already adopted procedure being ideal for the Corsair.
By your own admission, both helped cure the bounce.
 
By your own admission, both helped cure the bounce.
The clipped wings helped cure the 'float along the deck' that the F4U suffered. The 'bounce' was primarily solved by changing the charachteristics of the oleo legs of the landing gear and replacing the pneumatic tail wheel with a solid one. The curved approach improved the view of the deck as did the 'blown' canopy. In summary the concerns with carrier operation were addressed with a variety of 'fixes' discovered and developed by all the users. VF-17 became carrier qualified with early F4Us and assigned to the Bunker Hill. They were detached from Bunker Hill after it arrived in Pearl Harbor because Pacific Fleet had decided that it did not want to support two different fighters on fleet carriers.
 
The clipped wings helped cure the 'float along the deck' that the F4U suffered. The 'bounce' was primarily solved by changing the charachteristics of the oleo legs of the landing gear and replacing the pneumatic tail wheel with a solid one. The curved approach improved the view of the deck as did the 'blown' canopy. In summary the concerns with carrier operation were addressed with a variety of 'fixes' discovered and developed by all the users. VF-17 became carrier qualified with early F4Us and assigned to the Bunker Hill. They were detached from Bunker Hill after it arrived in Pearl Harbor because Pacific Fleet had decided that it did not want to support two different fighters on fleet carriers.
That is a different issue and one concerned with logistics, rather than performance. The bounce was always the reason given why the Corsair was removed from US Navy carriers until late in the war. The Royal Navy didn't care that the plane bounced. They just landed it on the carrier.
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
When considering range it is also worth noting that a purely land based F6F or F4U would be several hundred pounds lighter than a deck qualified aircraft (all the bits and pieces needed for a CATOBAR aircraft, plus the hardware for folding the wings, can be removed for dedicated land based aircraft). The Seafire was, depending on model, between 400 and 900+ pounds lighter than its land-based Spitfire sibling.
 
That is a different issue and one concerned with logistics, rather than performance. The bounce was always the reason given why the Corsair was removed from US Navy carriers until late in the war. The Royal Navy didn't care that the plane bounced. They just landed it on the carrier.
I haven't completely dug through this but remembered seeing something I read years ago ( I think in the Navy Operational Archives when I was working a paper years ago. ) I recently saw a reference to it mentioned on the F4U Wiki page -
" ... Chief of Naval Operations wanted to equip four air groups with Corsairs by the end of 1943. The Commander, Air Forces, Pacific had a different opinion, stating that "In order to simplify spares problems and also to insure flexibility in carrier operations present practice in the Pacific is to assign all Corsairs to Marines and to equip FightRons [fighter squadrons] on medium and light carriers with Hellcats." - Bell, Dana. F4U-1 Corsair, Vol. 1, Aircraft Pictorial, No. 7. Tucson: Classic Warships Publishing, 2014. ISBN 978-0-9857149-7-0.

There were concerns about the landing characteristics and deck handling but the final argument was by the staff supporting the deployed units. Simplifying the support chain can be important.
 
Last edited:
When considering range it is also worth noting that a purely land based F6F or F4U would be several hundred pounds lighter than a deck qualified aircraft (all the bits and pieces needed for a CATOBAR aircraft, plus the hardware for folding the wings, can be removed for dedicated land based aircraft). The Seafire was, depending on model, between 400 and 900+ pounds lighter than its land-based Spitfire sibling.
If that's enough to make their performance better than the P-47 or other land-based aircraft, then it might result in a view in the US that naval aircraft are better than land-based ones. You might see a new paradigm formed and mandated where the Navy is in charge of all aircraft development, and the USAAF/USAF only use land-based versions of those instead of specifying and developing their own inferior aircraft.
 

CalBear

Moderator
Donor
If that's enough to make their performance better than the P-47 or other land-based aircraft, then it might result in a view in the US that naval aircraft are better than land-based ones. You might see a new paradigm formed and mandated where the Navy is in charge of all aircraft development, and the USAAF/USAF only use land-based versions of those instead of specifying and developing their own inferior aircraft.
Very unlikely. The F4U and F6F were very much like the P-47, extremely rugged airframes that, quite by accident, turned out to be just about perfect fighter bombers for the era, to the point that both services effectively abandoned dedicated "attack" single engine designs (by mid 1944 the USN was actively retiring SB2C divebombers and converting those squadrons over to F6F, and more rarely F4U, squadrons). The rugged design of the R-2800 and the rest of the airframe allowed the various aircraft to take huge damage and keep flying, making them ideal for the CAS role, something the various liquid cooled fighters couldn't hope to match.

The weight difference would do very little, if anything, as far as performance at typical ETO fighter intercept altitudes of 25K and higher. It would have a measurable impact on range. None of the designs had a prayer of equally the remarkable overall capabilities of the P-51, even the very late war P-47N, while having greatly increased range of up to 2,000 miles in combat trim, was nowhere near as nimble a fighter as the Mustang,

It is, however, worth remembering that the mainstay of the U.S. throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the F4 Phantom, was, in fact, a "Navy" design. However, in general the mission needs of the Navy and USAF as quite different, something probably best demonstrated by the huge difference in both design philosophy and operational performance between the F-14 and F-15. Today, of course, you have the compromise of the skies F-35 variants (great plan that, design a monstrosity of an aircraft that fails to really fulfill either the Navy or Air Force's operational needs for tactical deep strike, and gives the USMC a stealth design with all the limitations of the type, to perform close air support, the least stealthy mission an aircraft can perform).
 
Very unlikely. The F4U and F6F were very much like the P-47, extremely rugged airframes that, quite by accident, turned out to be just about perfect fighter bombers for the era, to the point that both services effectively abandoned dedicated "attack" single engine designs (by mid 1944 the USN was actively retiring SB2C divebombers and converting those squadrons over to F6F, and more rarely F4U, squadrons). The rugged design of the R-2800 and the rest of the airframe allowed the various aircraft to take huge damage and keep flying, making them ideal for the CAS role, something the various liquid cooled fighters couldn't hope to match.

The weight difference would do very little, if anything, as far as performance at typical ETO fighter intercept altitudes of 25K and higher. It would have a measurable impact on range. None of the designs had a prayer of equally the remarkable overall capabilities of the P-51, even the very late war P-47N, while having greatly increased range of up to 2,000 miles in combat trim, was nowhere near as nimble a fighter as the Mustang,

It is, however, worth remembering that the mainstay of the U.S. throughout the 1960s and early 1970s, the F4 Phantom, was, in fact, a "Navy" design. However, in general the mission needs of the Navy and USAF as quite different, something probably best demonstrated by the huge difference in both design philosophy and operational performance between the F-14 and F-15. Today, of course, you have the compromise of the skies F-35 variants (great plan that, design a monstrosity of an aircraft that fails to really fulfill either the Navy or Air Force's operational needs for tactical deep strike, and gives the USMC a stealth design with all the limitations of the type, to perform close air support, the least stealthy mission an aircraft can perform).
Both designs were also modified considerably as time went on to yield aircraft that in some cases departed notably from those initially built. The F6F-5 had something like 600HP over the initial prototype and the later versions of F4U had something like 400+ HP over the earlier upgunned production versions in the first run. Both also benefitted from the study of the A6M during the early part of the war.
 
Today, of course, you have the compromise of the skies F-35 variants (great plan that, design a monstrosity of an aircraft that fails to really fulfill either the Navy or Air Force's operational needs for tactical deep strike, and gives the USMC a stealth design with all the limitations of the type, to perform close air support, the least stealthy mission an aircraft can perform).
*sighs/facepalm* Sometimes i wonder what goes on in the heads of our military when it comes to things like this.
 
*sighs/facepalm* Sometimes i wonder what goes on in the heads of our military when it comes to things like this.
It's the not the military. It's the civilian "leadership" and Congress. The F-35 is what you get when Congress demands a joint aircraft to "lower costs."
 
Top