+ Reply to Thread
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2
Results 11 to 12 of 12

Thread: OT Spitfire

Click here to increase the font size Click here to reduce the font size
  1. #11
    Really Senior Member GeeRam's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2017
    Last On
    Today @ 03:22 AM
    Location
    Berkshire, UK
    Posts
    400
    Local Date
    07-08-2020
    Local Time
    09:04 AM
    There were many within RAF Fighter Command that were very anti-cannon……a certain bloke called Bader for one, largely because of the problems the RAF had seen with them during trials and combat testing.

    Despite the nose installation on the Whirlwind, the early Hispano’s were still prone to the same reliability issue and were also drum mag feed, with only 60 rds per gun, which was hardly adequate. This wasn’t a problem in the Beaufighter of course because the cannon were mounted under the floor and the 2nd crew member could change the drum mags on the cannons, as they did for the early nightfighter versions. The decision to not build any more Whirlwinds was taken before they solved the Hispano cannon problems.

    I don’t think there was this Supermarine fan worship that you seem to think at the time, it was Hurricanes we needed during 1940, less so Spits. The Hurricane was easier to repair and service with the skills in the RAF ground crews at the time, and consumed less critical materials to build. The Spitfire (and the Whirlwind with its alloy construction and magnesium rear fuselage skins) were very new tech, so both had opponents in the Ministry at the time for those reasons, when our backs were to the wall in terms of production.

    Range, speed and altitude are all preferable for PR work, and while without cannons fitted the Whirlwind would have had needed range, (drop tanks were not developed) its big problem again, was the Peregrine engines, which struggled at altitude…..where performance tailed off a lot once above 20,000 ft and it just couldn’t get above 30,000. This is why once the BofB was over the 2 x Whirlwind squadrons were employed successfully in the low level cross channel fighter sweeps once the RAF went over to the offensive. Good low level performance with the punch from the cannons put them in their ideal environment. As such, if they had built more, it probably could have had a successful and useful combat life in North Africa and the Med theatres? We’ll never know.

    The Whirlwind entered service just as the BoB started, so sending them to Scotland was a sensible decision to allow the personal to work up to operational status. The other issue that Whirlwind had, was it had quite a high landing speed for the day (a trait seen on most of Petter’s designs) so it was operationally limited in terms of the airfields it could operate from at the time, again an issue during the height of the Battle when the Luftwaffe were bombing the crap out of our airfields and fighters were being dispersed to satellite airfields around the south-east.

    It was a great advanced design for its time (Teddy Petter went on to design the EE Canberra and EE Lightning post war) it was just let down by the choice of engine, and which at that point in time, couldn’t have the resources it needed to iron out the problems or develop it further, as it was already an out of date engine design in 1939, and why would you do that when we needed all the Merlins we could get for single seat defense fighters.

    You seem to think there was some sort of conspiracy against the Whirlwind, rather than it was just the right aircraft with the wrong engines at the wrong time. As I said, had it entered service a year earlier in 1939…..things might have been a lot different.

    What is a shame is that there are none left……one was sent over to the USAicon for evaluation, after they were withdrawn from frontline service, but was scrapped in Florida just before the war ended, and even worse, Westlands kept one flying as a company hack and comms aircraft for its test pilots before it too was scrapped without thought in 1947

  2. # ADS
    Friends and Sponsors
    Join Date
    October 2006
    Location
    Milsurps.Com
    Posts
    All Threads
     

  3. #12
    Advisory Panel Surpmil's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Last On
    @
    Location
    West side
    Posts
    3,253
    Local Date
    07-08-2020
    Local Time
    01:04 AM
    There were many within RAF Fighter Command that were very anti-cannon……a certain bloke called Bader for one, largely because of the problems the RAF had seen with them during trials and combat testing.

    Inevitable teething and adaption issues I suppose. Was Bader anti-cannon because he felt that in an emergency like the Battle of Britainicon reliability was everything, or because he felt machine guns were more effective/effective enough?

    Despite the nose installation on the Whirlwind, the early Hispano’s were still prone to the same reliability issue and were also drum mag feed, with only 60 rds per gun, which was hardly adequate. This wasn’t a problem in the Beaufighter of course because the cannon were mounted under the floor and the 2nd crew member could change the drum mags on the cannons, as they did for the early nightfighter versions. The decision to not build any more Whirlwinds was taken before they solved the Hispano cannon problems.

    As above; these were presumably temporary problems? The guns continued to be used as long as the aircraft did?

    I don’t think there was this Supermarine fan worship that you seem to think at the time, it was Hurricanes we needed during 1940, less so Spits. The Hurricane was easier to repair and service with the skills in the RAF ground crews at the time, and consumed less critical materials to build. The Spitfire (and the Whirlwind with its alloy construction and magnesium rear fuselage skins) were very new tech, so both had opponents in the Ministry at the time for those reasons, when our backs were to the wall in terms of production.

    I wouldn’t want to term it “worship” by any means, but personal connections and animosities can have an overwhelming influence at times. One would need detailed knowledge of the personalities involved to appraise that however. But look at the US Army and the Lewis Gun for example. “New tech” always has opponents. All depends on their reasoning or lack of it. “2Pdr AT gun thinking” was a problem. The maintenance skill set and perhaps equipment(?) is an interesting angle.

    Range, speed and altitude are all preferable for PR work, and while without cannons fitted the Whirlwind would have had needed range, (drop tanks were not developed) its big problem again, was the Peregrine engines, which struggled at altitude…..where performance tailed off a lot once above 20,000 ft and it just couldn’t get above 30,000. This is why once the BofB was over the 2 x Whirlwind squadrons were employed successfully in the low level cross channel fighter sweeps once the RAF went over to the offensive. Good low level performance with the punch from the cannons put them in their ideal environment. As such, if they had built more, it probably could have had a successful and useful combat life in North Africa and the Med theatres? We’ll never know.

    Yes, that’s interesting, though IIRC “fighter sweeps” were regarded as a questionable practice in the air forces in terms of cost versus benefit. I recall some felt it was more of a “keep busy” exercise. Of course there would have been a period where it looked very much as though the Germans might crush the Soviet Union and then return west rapidly, so home forces would have had to be husbanded until the outcome in Russiaicon was clear, and a degree of “keeping busy” was inevitable and necessary.

    The whole Channel Dash episode was such a schmozzle that it almost defies explanation, but have you a take on why Whirlwinds were sent out alone? Would be interesting to see the reports of that action.

    The Whirlwind entered service just as the BoB started, so sending them to Scotland was a sensible decision to allow the personal to work up to operational status. The other issue that Whirlwind had, was it had quite a high landing speed for the day (a trait seen on most of Petter’s designs) so it was operationally limited in terms of the airfields it could operate from at the time, again an issue during the height of the Battle when the Luftwaffe were bombing the crap out of our airfields and fighters were being dispersed to satellite airfields around the south-east.


    I suppose that would depend on the experience level of the pilots & senior officers of the squadrons concerned; what was it? For Dowding to describe them as “passengers” speaks to more an animus in my mind; though is it possible he had the squadrons in mind more than the aircraft? (Wouldn't have thought so myself, though haven't examined their records) And of course how long did they stay up there and was it really necessary that they did? Considering how inadequate .303 Brownings were found to be at that time, one would have thought there would be great urgency to get the uniquely heavy armament of the Whirlwind into combat against the bombers that were so endangering Fighter Commands infrastructure as soon as possible, no matter what their readiness by textbook standards.



    No doubt other clues to official attitudes could be found in how the planes were tasked, but I have no information that.

    It was a great advanced design for its time (Teddy Petter went on to design the EE Canberra and EE Lightning post war) it was just let down by the choice of engine, and which at that point in time, couldn’t have the resources it needed to iron out the problems or develop it further, as it was already an out of date engine design in 1939, and why would you do that when we needed all the Merlins we could get for single seat defense fighters.

    Yes, I’ve heard something about his career, though wouldn’t have known his name from memory. When the Ministry is your main client you have to keep mum and carry on regardless of how they treat you or your designs.

    Was there another plane in the same niche or league in RAF and Commonwealth air force service during the war? The USAAF certainly fielded a huge number of P38 Lightnings and had good success with them. Yes, they had greater range, but drop tanks etc...

    You seem to think there was some sort of conspiracy against the Whirlwind, rather than it was just the right aircraft with the wrong engines at the wrong time. As I said, had it entered service a year earlier in 1939…..things might have been a lot different.

    It would depend on how one defined the term I suppose. If one means a course of action confidentially decided on and carried out by a group of individuals or entities, then we live in a veritable sea of them. At other times it can be just a coincidence of opinion among connected individuals which causes them to act towards similar goals without much deliberate cooperation: a prevailing prejudice almost.

    So, yes, I’m still inclined to think there was an animus against the aircraft, and perhaps the company or some persons associated with it. Their withdrawal and scrapping, and the dismissive way they were handled (my impression) supports that, but it’s the fact that similar thinking crops up in so many other places and times that is almost the strongest evidence to me.

    What is a shame is that there are none left……one was sent over to the USAicon for evaluation, after they were withdrawn from frontline service, but was scrapped in Florida just before the war ended, and even worse, Westlands kept one flying as a company hack and comms aircraft for its test pilots before it too was scrapped without thought in 1947.

    Indeed it is a shame, practically a crime and one wonders how and why Westlands themselves would trash what must have been the last example. They may have been “encouraged” to do so, as in the post-war years industry lived at the beck and call of the ministries, and having a surplus aircraft sitting about might have been seen as a “waste of resources” when materials were rationed out to companies by the ministries.

    Heard somewhere that the USAAF Whirlwind’s engines ended up some USAAF officer’s yacht. Maybe it was scrapped so he could get them! Are they out there somewhere yet?!

    There is a project to build a full size replica I believe, but not sure what the status is.

    As with the Spitfire, or the Mossie, another case of a design that “looks right” somehow “being right”.
    Last edited by Surpmil; 05-02-2020 at 03:56 PM.
    "Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened." W.L.S.C..

  4. Avoid Ads - Become a Contributing Member - Click HERE
+ Reply to Thread
Page 2 of 2 FirstFirst 1 2

Similar Threads

  1. Spitfire Vs Me 109....
    By bigduke6 in forum Vintage Military Vehicles and Aircraft
    Replies: 27
    Last Post: 09-01-2017, 08:03 AM
  2. Spitfire -
    By Paul S. in forum Vintage Military Vehicles and Aircraft
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-29-2017, 11:35 PM
  3. Spitfire books
    By CINDERS in forum Milsurps General Discussion Forum
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 03-11-2017, 02:52 AM
  4. SPITFIRE AT DAWN
    By Gil Boyd in forum Vintage Military Vehicles and Aircraft
    Replies: 23
    Last Post: 11-22-2016, 04:33 PM
  5. MMJ 5.7mm Spitfire Headspace?
    By alco3 in forum M1/M2 Carbine
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-15-2010, 02:38 PM

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts