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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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  #31  
Old 17 Sep 17, 22:55
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pruitt View Post
..A mystery to many Americans is why the British did not go to the Browning 50 Caliber...
As T.A.Gardner mentioned, the Brits liked the 50-cal (12.7mm) enough to mix it in with the 20mm cannons on some Spits, but the disadvantage of the 50-cal slug was that it was non-exploding, and although it could punch holes clean through enemy aircraft well enough, cannons fired an explosive shell that ripped them apart.
For example a 50 slug through a self-sealing fuel tank wouldn't do much harm, but a cannon shell would shred it and ignite it.
Also, the cannons explosive shells could mess up ground targets (and even ships) real bad..
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  #32  
Old 18 Sep 17, 07:15
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If the Spit's main drawback was limited range then why was nothing ever done about it?
Surely it wasn't beyond the capabilities of its airframe to have a fuel tank fitted below and behind the pilot which would be used first just as with the P51.
We know that effective drop tanks were used by them after 41 so were there never experiments with integral fuselage tanks?
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  #33  
Old 18 Sep 17, 07:43
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flash View Post
If the Spit's main drawback was limited range then why was nothing ever done about it?
Surely it wasn't beyond the capabilities of its airframe to have a fuel tank fitted below and behind the pilot which would be used first just as with the P51.
We know that effective drop tanks were used by them after 41 so were there never experiments with integral fuselage tanks?
There were attempts to increase the internal fuel capacity of the Spitfire but only so much could be done without drastically affecting the aircraft's centre of gravity.
Some good points and links on this here:

https://forum.keypublishing.com/show...g-range-escort
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  #34  
Old 18 Sep 17, 11:46
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Of course they did, ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Poor Old Spike View Post
In every book I've read, fighter pilots LURVED the Spit to bits because of it's hyper sensitivity on the controls which was the prime requisite for any fighter.
Its only drawback was that it didn't have the range to escort bombers deep into Germany, whereas the US fighters did.
(I keep meaning to research why the Brits didn't simply fit longrange tanks to the Spit, anybody know?)
... officially the Spitfire's range was increased by increments, which included internal (forward, wing and fuselage) tanks, as well as belly and/or wing tanks, depending on the period and Mks.; belly slip/ferry tanks had been provided early on. Then there were the unofficial mods.

The problem re: Spitfire range went back to Sir Charles Portal, RAF CoS. When early RAF daylight raids suffered abysmal losses, they bought into night bombing big time. Portal never really wanted long range fighters, he believed that an escort fighter with bomber range, could never perform to the same standards as the short ranged interceptor, and it was superfluous at night anyway. Portal crossed swords with Hap Arnold when he felt the latter had reneged on the "Arnold-Portal Agreement"; the renegotiated "Arnold-Portal-Towerson Agreement" reduced the agreed number of Lend Lease aircraft going to the RAF. Then Hap Arnold felt that the RAF wasn't living up to what had been agreed with Operation Pointblank i.e. the Combined Bomber Offensive vs. the Luftwaffe. There's a whack of correspondence in the archives between Arnold & Portal in this regard, the salient points even made it into the official history of "The Strategic Air Offensive".

In brief, Arnold was incensed that his bombers were carrying the weight of Pointblank with limited escort, while "thousands" of RAF fighters i.e. Spitfires remained inactive in the UK. Portal's opinion of the USAAF bombing by day without escort had been pessimistic from the start, with cause, and he remained an obstacle, as his prediction was coming true. Arnold compared the Spitfire's range to that of the P-47, Spitfires could've been ranging over the Luftwaffe airfields during the Schweinfurt–Regensburg raid while his bombers attacked, etc. Then, if their range was too short, what was being done to improve it? Arnold would do it on his own. The RAF had sent British aircraft types and adaptions, including Spitfires, to the US since 1941 for USAAF perusal, he urged US technicians to work on the range issue from their end. Arnold's tour-de-force in the argument came when when he wrote Portal, telling him, “The Spitfires you sent me by ship have landed at London after crossing the Atlantic under their own steam.”

Hap Arnold would record in his diary:
"... we accept the RAF estimate blindly. Should we? What have RAF done to defeat GAF since Battle of Britain? Have they tried to increase range of their fighters? Did they give us any encouragement when we said that we were going to force the GAF to fight us and we were going to defeat and destroy them? Did they keep the belly tanks on the P-51s we gave them? No. Have they used any to penetrate into the heart of Germany? No. Could they put additional gas in their Spitfires? No. We did and raised the range to 1,300 miles. It took us but 2 months, and yet they tell the world the strength of the GAF and we accept their figures."

The official history states: "The problem of a long range fighter is not, however as we have already noticed, simply a question of range. To be able to get there is one thing and to be able to fight when there is another."

That said, RAF Bomber Command quietly returned to daylight bombing over Germany with heavy bombers on 27 August when 216 Halifax bombers from 4 Group, with 27 Mosquitoes and Lancasters from Pathfinder Force, attacked the Rheinpreussen synthetic oil refinery in the Ruhr at Meerbeck, near Homberg i.e. in Germany. This was the first daylight attack on Germany since August 1941 and it was escorted by 16 Squadrons of Spitfire IXs, from 10, 11, & 12 Groups of Fighter Command; it was unopposed, and suffered no losses.

While Fighter Command did employ wing/belly tanks on its Spitfires and Mustangs assigned to bomber escort, unlike the USAAF they remained concerned about performance when combat was in the offing. They preferred to forgo carrying extra fuel, choosing to base escorts on the continent. Once the fields near Ursel, Belgium became available, Fighter Command Spitfires could range 100 miles East of the Ruhr

Going back to the OP, yes the USAAF could have made do with US built Spitfires.
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Last edited by Marmat; 18 Sep 17 at 12:00.. Reason: clarification
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  #35  
Old 18 Sep 17, 14:02
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poor Old Spike View Post
For example a 50 slug through a self-sealing fuel tank wouldn't do much harm, ...
The US developed the armor-piercing incendiary round for the 50 that that did great damage to airplanes.
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  #36  
Old 18 Sep 17, 14:31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmat View Post
... officially the Spitfire's range was increased by increments, which included internal (forward, wing and fuselage) tanks, as well as belly and/or wing tanks, depending on the period and Mks.; belly slip/ferry tanks had been provided early on. Then there were the unofficial mods.

The problem re: Spitfire range went back to Sir Charles Portal, RAF CoS. When early RAF daylight raids suffered abysmal losses, they bought into night bombing big time. Portal never really wanted long range fighters, he believed that an escort fighter with bomber range, could never perform to the same standards as the short ranged interceptor, and it was superfluous at night anyway. Portal crossed swords with Hap Arnold when he felt the latter had reneged on the "Arnold-Portal Agreement"; the renegotiated "Arnold-Portal-Towerson Agreement" reduced the agreed number of Lend Lease aircraft going to the RAF. Then Hap Arnold felt that the RAF wasn't living up to what had been agreed with Operation Pointblank i.e. the Combined Bomber Offensive vs. the Luftwaffe. There's a whack of correspondence in the archives between Arnold & Portal in this regard, the salient points even made it into the official history of "The Strategic Air Offensive".

In brief, Arnold was incensed that his bombers were carrying the weight of Pointblank with limited escort, while "thousands" of RAF fighters i.e. Spitfires remained inactive in the UK. Portal's opinion of the USAAF bombing by day without escort had been pessimistic from the start, with cause, and he remained an obstacle, as his prediction was coming true. Arnold compared the Spitfire's range to that of the P-47, Spitfires could've been ranging over the Luftwaffe airfields during the Schweinfurt–Regensburg raid while his bombers attacked, etc. Then, if their range was too short, what was being done to improve it? Arnold would do it on his own. The RAF had sent British aircraft types and adaptions, including Spitfires, to the US since 1941 for USAAF perusal, he urged US technicians to work on the range issue from their end. Arnold's tour-de-force in the argument came when when he wrote Portal, telling him, “The Spitfires you sent me by ship have landed at London after crossing the Atlantic under their own steam.”

Hap Arnold would record in his diary:
"... we accept the RAF estimate blindly. Should we? What have RAF done to defeat GAF since Battle of Britain? Have they tried to increase range of their fighters? Did they give us any encouragement when we said that we were going to force the GAF to fight us and we were going to defeat and destroy them? Did they keep the belly tanks on the P-51s we gave them? No. Have they used any to penetrate into the heart of Germany? No. Could they put additional gas in their Spitfires? No. We did and raised the range to 1,300 miles. It took us but 2 months, and yet they tell the world the strength of the GAF and we accept their figures."

The official history states: "The problem of a long range fighter is not, however as we have already noticed, simply a question of range. To be able to get there is one thing and to be able to fight when there is another."

That said, RAF Bomber Command quietly returned to daylight bombing over Germany with heavy bombers on 27 August when 216 Halifax bombers from 4 Group, with 27 Mosquitoes and Lancasters from Pathfinder Force, attacked the Rheinpreussen synthetic oil refinery in the Ruhr at Meerbeck, near Homberg i.e. in Germany. This was the first daylight attack on Germany since August 1941 and it was escorted by 16 Squadrons of Spitfire IXs, from 10, 11, & 12 Groups of Fighter Command; it was unopposed, and suffered no losses.

While Fighter Command did employ wing/belly tanks on its Spitfires and Mustangs assigned to bomber escort, unlike the USAAF they remained concerned about performance when combat was in the offing. They preferred to forgo carrying extra fuel, choosing to base escorts on the continent. Once the fields near Ursel, Belgium became available, Fighter Command Spitfires could range 100 miles East of the Ruhr

Going back to the OP, yes the USAAF could have made do with US built Spitfires.
This ignores the 80%+ of the rest of the planet where US aircraft had to operate. It wasn't just a matter of building planes for escorting bombers in Europe. It was a matter of building planes that could operate in a number of theaters and conditions, often vastly different from requirements in Europe.

In the Pacific and Southwest Pacific theaters the Spitfire was nearly worthless as an aircraft.

In Alaska, the Spitfire would have been a difficult plane to use because of the landing gear, as well as its short range.

So, no, the USAAF couldn't have made do, other than in a negative sense, with US built Spitfires.
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  #37  
Old 18 Sep 17, 15:57
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Er, ...

Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
This ignores the 80%+ of the rest of the planet where US aircraft had to operate. It wasn't just a matter of building planes for escorting bombers in Europe. It was a matter of building planes that could operate in a number of theaters and conditions, often vastly different from requirements in Europe.

In the Pacific and Southwest Pacific theaters the Spitfire was nearly worthless as an aircraft.

In Alaska, the Spitfire would have been a difficult plane to use because of the landing gear, as well as its short range.

So, no, the USAAF couldn't have made do, other than in a negative sense, with US built Spitfires.
... this is a "what-if"? The Spitfire was NEVER nearly worthless as an aircraft, in the period specified, it was battle proven, superior to the German fighters, and was acknowledged as such at the time by the USAAF, and was better than anything being produced in the US, by years. The Purchasing Commission had already determined that only light and dive bombers, recon types and trainers were deemed acceptable, and already on order; fighters and heavy bombers? forget'em, technically inferior, armament alone was deemed 8 years behind.

Ultimately, the ingenuity shown by those USAAF engineers in 1943 historically would've worked even further wonders if given the aircraft in the period specified. That's point I'm making, you're welcome to your real time, real world opinion, but you really can't say otherwise in this context.


Case in point, what makes you think that Spitfires couldn't handle Alaska? They did fine in Canada:



With a head start, where there's a will, there's a way.
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  #38  
Old 18 Sep 17, 16:38
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flash View Post
If the Spit's main drawback was limited range then why was nothing ever done about it?
Surely it wasn't beyond the capabilities of its airframe to have a fuel tank fitted below and behind the pilot which would be used first just as with the P51.
We know that effective drop tanks were used by them after 41 so were there never experiments with integral fuselage tanks?
Read my previous post

http://www.armchairgeneral.com/forum...2&postcount=26

Something was done about it, and it worked. While Spitfires never had the range of a Mustang, they did fly patrols from Wessex to Switzerland, looking to cause trouble.
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  #39  
Old 18 Sep 17, 17:27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marmat View Post
... this is a "what-if"? The Spitfire was NEVER nearly worthless as an aircraft, in the period specified, it was battle proven, superior to the German fighters, and was acknowledged as such at the time by the USAAF, and was better than anything being produced in the US, by years. The Purchasing Commission had already determined that only light and dive bombers, recon types and trainers were deemed acceptable, and already on order; fighters and heavy bombers? forget'em, technically inferior, armament alone was deemed 8 years behind.

Ultimately, the ingenuity shown by those USAAF engineers in 1943 historically would've worked even further wonders if given the aircraft in the period specified. That's point I'm making, you're welcome to your real time, real world opinion, but you really can't say otherwise in this context.

Case in point, what makes you think that Spitfires couldn't handle Alaska? They did fine in Canada:



With a head start, where there's a will, there's a way.
The Spitfire worked well during the very environmentally trying Burma campaign too (as forgotten as the land army was)

Let's also not forget that the Spitfire stayed a top and later, supreme piston engined fighter of the war. Early 109's and 190's either matched or bettered the Spitfire to the Mk. V series, but from the Mk IX (and intrim Mk VIII) soon tipped the ballance. and when the MK XIV came into service, it was curtains for Jerry piston fighters.

Paul
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  #40  
Old 18 Sep 17, 18:28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dibble201Bty View Post
The Spitfire worked well during the very environmentally trying Burma campaign too (as forgotten as the land army was)

Let's also not forget that the Spitfire stayed a top and later, supreme piston engined fighter of the war. Early 109's and 190's either matched or bettered the Spitfire to the Mk. V series, but from the Mk IX (and intrim Mk VIII) soon tipped the ballance. and when the MK XIV came into service, it was curtains for Jerry piston fighters.

Paul
The Butcher Bird did something no Allied fighter did, and that was gain air supremacy against British BoB veterans in their latest fighters. This was for about a year, and in WW2 an exceptional accomplishment, unfortunately by the wrong side.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by McMax View Post
The US developed the armor-piercing incendiary round for the 50 that that did great damage to airplanes.
They did, and it was an enormous pity that RAF Bomber Command aircraft turrets were not equipped with .50 cal rather than the increasingly ineffective 0.303.
(I see Pruitt's posting #27-plus Poor Old Spike also mentions this point,although rather off-topic).
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  #42  
Old 19 Sep 17, 00:07
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BELGRAVE View Post
They did, and it was an enormous pity that RAF Bomber Command aircraft turrets were not equipped with .50 cal rather than the increasingly ineffective 0.303.
(I see Pruitt's posting #27-plus Poor Old Spike also mentions this point,although rather off-topic).
They could have, but I suspect the "Not Invented Here" syndrome goes both directions. The Boulton-Paul D Turret had 2 x .50 Brownings in it...
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Old 19 Sep 17, 00:39
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Supposedly the British Bombers were supposed to work at night so they did not need heavy long range defense. They would also not need a Belly Turret. The Sunderland Flying Boat did have some 20mm armament, maybe you could call it the exception? Not all US Navy Attack Bombers had large caliber defense weapons. The SBD did okay with two 30 caliber MG's in the back and two .50 calibers in the nose. The Avenger and Helldiver did have bigger weaponry.

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  #44  
Old 19 Sep 17, 00:47
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
They could have, but I suspect the "Not Invented Here" syndrome goes both directions. The Boulton-Paul D Turret had 2 x .50 Brownings in it...
I am not a specialist , but aren't these 2 machine guns ,standard 303 Brownings ?
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  #45  
Old 19 Sep 17, 01:04
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sebfrench76 View Post
I am not a specialist , but aren't these 2 machine guns ,standard 303 Brownings ?
No, those are .50 Brownings.

Here's some other ones with .50 Browning MG's



Here's a manual drawing that points out they're .50's

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