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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Military/History Related Hobbies > Alternate Timelines

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Alternate Timelines The plausible "what if's" of military history.

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  #1  
Old 15 Sep 17, 11:32
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America adopts the Spitfire

In early 1940 a suggestion was made by Britain that the P40 could be replaced by the Spitfire for medium and high level interceptor duties. Britain would buy the then surplus P40s for low level and ground attack work. The initial Spitfires would be made in Britain whilst the US built new factories for their manufacture in the USA. The idea came up against a very firm Not Invented Here response.

But if the US had manufactured Spitfires what difference would it have made to things? What effect would it have had on the development of the P51? Would having Spitfires at Pearl Harbour have made much difference? Would it have dented early Japanese successes in the air over the Philippines?
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  #2  
Old 15 Sep 17, 14:36
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The Spitfire was adopted on a limited basis by the USAAF. The 31st and 52nd Fighter Groups were equipped with variously Mk V to XI variants, converting from the P-39. The 31st operated at Dieppe. After that both groups went to the MTO where they performed well, but were found to lack the necessary range for offensive operations.

The 4th FG, converted from Eagle squadron pilots (ie., American pilots flying in the RAF) and used Spitfires up through 1943 when they converted to the P-47.

By the beginning of 1944, the 31st and 52nd started to convert to the P-51.

The other use was the USAAF used PR Spitfires in the ETO right up to the end of the war.

Had the US chosen the Spitfire for manufacture, the USAAF in almost every theater they operated in would have found themselves with a plane that was offensively useless. The clamor would have been for longer ranged fighters and complaints would have been "All we seem to be doing is intercepting enemy raids on our airfields..." while the bomber crews would have complained about never having escorts.

Spitfires at Pearl would have made zero difference. The few USAAC fighters to get airborne did well shooting down like a dozen Japanese planes. I don't think the Spitfire would have made any difference there.
In the PI, same thing. The problem was the USAAC pilots there generally weren't high hour or well trained in the proper tactics to deal with the Japanese. Surprise and inept handing of operations (in part due to MacArthur's CoS Sutherland) meant the majority of the aircraft were destroyed on the ground.

The USAAF preferred the P-40 because it had a longer range (about double) that of the Spitfire. In the MTO where altitude was more important to aerial combat the US sent Merlin engine P-40F and L models for use fixing that problem, even if the P-40 didn't perform any better otherwise.

While the USAAF didn't particularly like the P-39 due to its short range and poor performance at altitude, it's obvious they weren't adverse to replacing it with the Spitfire where you got much better performance and no appreciable loss of range.
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Old 15 Sep 17, 15:39
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You could re read my post and consider the word interceptor
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  #4  
Old 15 Sep 17, 17:48
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Didn't some U.S.A.A.F. fighter squadrons operate the Spitfire?
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  #5  
Old 15 Sep 17, 18:22
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The USAAF, and later USAF never was keen on interceptors. As an aircraft type, they were pretty much limited to local defense, something the US has never really needed given they've fought their wars on somebody else's dirt.
Probably the best example of an interceptor in US service would be the F-104. It was short-lived in US service but found a home in many other nation's air forces where there was a need for a plane that had high performance but limited range.
The British EE Lightning was the same way.
The Spitfire was no different. In the Pacific the RAAF operated a few but the type generally languished unused due to its short range. The P-39 was complained about in the same way. Pilots in squadrons using it often said they could rarely get into the fight the way their P-40 and P-38 sister squadrons could leaving them short on kills.
The Spitfire was simply the wrong plane for the USAAF.


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Originally Posted by Merkava188 View Post
Didn't some U.S.A.A.F. fighter squadrons operate the Spitfire?
I gave a list.
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  #6  
Old 15 Sep 17, 18:22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
The Spitfire was adopted on a limited basis by the USAAF. The 31st and 52nd Fighter Groups were equipped with variously Mk V to XI variants, converting from the P-39. The 31st operated at Dieppe. After that both groups went to the MTO where they performed well, but were found to lack the necessary range for offensive operations.

The 4th FG, converted from Eagle squadron pilots (ie., American pilots flying in the RAF) and used Spitfires up through 1943 when they converted to the P-47.

By the beginning of 1944, the 31st and 52nd started to convert to the P-51.

The other use was the USAAF used PR Spitfires in the ETO right up to the end of the war.

Had the US chosen the Spitfire for manufacture, the USAAF in almost every theater they operated in would have found themselves with a plane that was offensively useless. The clamor would have been for longer ranged fighters and complaints would have been "All we seem to be doing is intercepting enemy raids on our airfields..." while the bomber crews would have complained about never having escorts.

Spitfires at Pearl would have made zero difference. The few USAAC fighters to get airborne did well shooting down like a dozen Japanese planes. I don't think the Spitfire would have made any difference there.
In the PI, same thing. The problem was the USAAC pilots there generally weren't high hour or well trained in the proper tactics to deal with the Japanese. Surprise and inept handing of operations (in part due to MacArthur's CoS Sutherland) meant the majority of the aircraft were destroyed on the ground.

The USAAF preferred the P-40 because it had a longer range (about double) that of the Spitfire. In the MTO where altitude was more important to aerial combat the US sent Merlin engine P-40F and L models for use fixing that problem, even if the P-40 didn't perform any better otherwise.

While the USAAF didn't particularly like the P-39 due to its short range and poor performance at altitude, it's obvious they weren't adverse to replacing it with the Spitfire where you got much better performance and no appreciable loss of range.
Not forgetting:

http://spitfiresite.com/2010/04/spit...e-us-navy.html

Paul
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Old 15 Sep 17, 18:25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Merkava188 View Post
Didn't some U.S.A.A.F. fighter squadrons operate the Spitfire?
http://spitfiresite.com/2010/04/uncl...spitfires.html

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Old 15 Sep 17, 19:53
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The Americans were hired to create a version of the Merlin engine. It replaced the Allison engine in the first Mustangs. I don't see American aviation rolling over to produce American Spitfires. I remember reading Bob Crisp's book "Brazen Chariots" where the mechanics were thrilled to get M-3 Stuarts because they barely leaked oil and were easier to maintain.

If the best feature of the Spitfire was the Merlin, then it would follow that using the Merlin on American Fighters was the best use of British technology. Another issue is the Spitfire was hand crafted. It did not lend itself to high volume production.

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Old 15 Sep 17, 21:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
The Americans were hired to create a version of the Merlin engine. It replaced the Allison engine in the first Mustangs. I don't see American aviation rolling over to produce American Spitfires. I remember reading Bob Crisp's book "Brazen Chariots" where the mechanics were thrilled to get M-3 Stuarts because they barely leaked oil and were easier to maintain.

If the best feature of the Spitfire was the Merlin, then it would follow that using the Merlin on American Fighters was the best use of British technology. Another issue is the Spitfire was hand crafted. It did not lend itself to high volume production.

Pruitt
Throw in that the Spitfire was built to lighter standards and ones that differed from US practice. The P-51F and G are good examples of this. These were built to British manufacturing standards as test beds.

http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_fighters/p51_12.html
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Old 15 Sep 17, 22:14
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Interesting quote..

"Once you have flown a Spitfire, it spoils you for all other fighters. Every other aircraft seems imperfect in one way or another"- Lt. Col. William R. Dunn USAAF.

Dunn (1916–1995) was the first American ace of World War II.
Joining the Canadian Army at the outbreak of war in September 1939, he was an infantryman until he transferred to the Royal Air Force in late 1940. After service in an RAF Eagle Squadron, he joined the United States Army Air Force in 1943.



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Old 16 Sep 17, 00:46
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There were also many US flying with the RAF until the end of the war, both as USAAF airmen and in the uniform of the RCAF/RAF.

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Old 16 Sep 17, 02:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
I find it interesting that the two fighter groups complained they liked the Spitfire better but yet, went on to escort raids to Ploesti, something they couldn't have done in their Spitfires but could in the P-51.
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Old 16 Sep 17, 04:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
I find it interesting that the two fighter groups complained they liked the Spitfire better but yet, went on to escort raids to Ploesti, something they couldn't have done in their Spitfires but could in the P-51.
The 'plain' facts of the matter was that the P51D had no peers when it came to range and loiter time and being a good fighter, but the Spitfire had no peers when it came to the pure fighter. It isn't for nothing that all those allied pilots from wherever they came from and flew the Spitfire, loved it "a fighter-pilot's dream"

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Old 16 Sep 17, 06:48
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The 'Spitfire Legend' is far greater than the aircraft itself.

From the adulation the Spitfire receives one might expect a more capable aircraft. The fact is the Spitfire was nothing special when compared to its peers. It was lavished with admiration from the population of UK because it was their only show in town in the first half of the war.

It's funny how its reputation was born out of the Battle of Britain even though it's older stablemate, the Hurricane, did the majority of the fighting.

It's got a cool name and a wing shape that makes it easily recognisable to the average Joe.
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Old 16 Sep 17, 13:19
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The Spitfire was the right plane in 1940 for Britain's defense and the BoB. It was the wrong plane once the war became one of offense for the Allies and the air war had to be taken to the enemy. It became just like the Me 109 in the BoB, not enough range for the job at hand. It was particularly handicapped in that way in theaters like the Pacific and CBI.
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