Author Topic: Apophenia's Offerings  (Read 576488 times)

Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2800 on: October 16, 2021, 08:25:06 AM »
This started out as a Naval GB concept but I don't think that carrier aircraft qualify ...

Curtiss Design 92C (XSB4C-1) 'Super Helldiver'

Even before the US Navy's new Curtiss SB2C Helldiver divebomber had entered production, the Bureau of Aeronautics (BuAer) was planning for its replacement. (That would prove prescient when the trouble-prone Helldiver did finally emerge.) Curtiss put forward two proposals as potential SB2C replacements. The first was a February 1941 submission for a heavily-revised Helldiver airframe fitted with a tricycle landing gear and an R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone engine. [1] This was the Curtiss Design 93, two prototypes of which were ordered as the XSB3C-1.

Due to its size (and poor handling qualities), the SB2C would be nicknamed 'The Beast'. Despite that, Curtiss was proposing an enlarged, 'growth variant' as its replacement. As planned, the replacement SB3C could carry a greater payload thanks to its larger and more powerful 18-cylinder engine. The key question for the BuAer was: When would that R-3350 Duplex-Cyclone engine become available? In mid-1941, Wright Aeronautical - the engine-building subsidiary of Curtiss-Wright - could not provide an answer. As a hedge, the Curtiss airframe division offered a less challenging alternative to the US Navy. This was the Curtiss Design 92C. [2]

Enter the Single-Seat Curtiss Design 92C

Submitted in March 1941, the Curtiss Design 92C was a much more straightforward adaptation of the SB2C airframe.  Retaining the lower-powered Wright R-2600-8 Twin Cyclone of the SB2C, the Design 92C abandoned the rear gunner in favour of a shorter, lighter fuselage. Although similar in appearance, little commonality with the original Helldiver fuselage remained. The forward fuselage was shortened by over 3 feet by pushing the engine bearers well back. The rear fuselage was lengthened by a foot. The result was a much better-handling machine than the SB2C as well as being faster and longer-ranged. [3]

The trade-offs were in warload. Obviously, the rear defensive guns had be given up along with the observer. But the bomb bays were also shortening. The same bomb load could be enclosed but there was no longer space for a swinging bomb crutch. It was envisioned that level bombing would be the norm. (The difficulty in aiming by the sole crew member being noted in the BuAer critique.) For diving attacks, wing racks for twin 500 lb bombs would be employed to ensure accuracy of bomb delivery. [4]

Initially, the BuAer favoured the larger Curtiss Design 93 as the XSB3C-1. Curtiss completed a full scale mock-up of this aircraft in December 1941. However, after Pearl Harbor, it became apparent that Army B-29 long-range bombers would have priority for R-3350 engines. Accordingly, the entire XSB3C-1 order was cancelled. Instead, the contract was amended to single Design 92C prototype as the US Navy's XSB4C-1. This R-2600-powered airframe was also to be capable of accepting the larger R-3350 when available to the USN in numbers. [5]

The Curtiss XSB4C-1 - Single-Seat 'Super Helldiver'

The prototype Curtiss Design 92C was built as XSB4C-1 03744 (this BuAer number taken from the cancelled second prototype XSB3C-1). This prototype had components taken directly SB2C-1 production line combined with the heavily revised fuselage structure. As a result, prototype assembly proceeded very quickly at Curtiss' Buffalo plant. As result, XSB4C-1 03744 was completed at Curtiss' Kenmore Avenue Plant in  Buffalo, NY, by early August 1942. Curtiss-Wright Chief Test Pilot, H.L. Child put the aircraft through its paces. [6] On the third test flight, the XSB4C-1's engine threw a rod and 'Skipper' Child had to make a dead-stick landing. This did not speak well of quality control at Curtiss-Wright's R-2600 production facilities. However, the forced landing demonstrated rather dramatically the XSB4C-1's improved flying characteristics as compared with 'The Beast'.

Production schemes were worked out for the SB4C-1 'Super Helldiver' at Curtiss-Wright's Columbus, OH, factory as well as licensed production as the SB2F-2 by Fairchild-Canada. However, in light of experience with pre-approving production for the troublesome SB2C, no firm orders would be placed while flight testing was still underway. In the end, the Bureau of Aeronautics had a change of heart. It was concluded that the improved performance of the XSB4C-1 did not fully compensate for the loss of a rear gunner. Nor was the US Navy convinced that restricting dive bombing attacks to wing racks alone was acceptable. Thus, the sole XSB4C-1 remained at Buffalo and was returned to Curtiss ownership. BuAer 03744 served out its days as an SB2C trials aircraft. US Army interest in the related XA-40 project had also waned. The Curtiss Design 93C was a dead project.

In late November 1943, the XSB4C-1 was testing a 1,900 hp XR-2600-20 installation. This new engine burst an oil line and caught fire on a test flight. Forty miles out from the Buffalo airfield, test pilot Herb Fisher bailed out. The flaming XSB4C-1 crashed into Lake Erie, burying itself in the mud almost 80 feet down south of Dunnville, Ontario. Herb Fisher was quickly rescued by a training launch out of USCG Station Erie. No value was placed on retrieving the XSB4C-1 and the wreck of the sole 'Super Helldiver' remains where it fell.

_______________________________________

[1] There were other revisions to the original SB2C airframe. These included a lengthened rear fuselage (to improve stability) as well as an enlarged fin/rudder and elevators. Fixed armament was to consist of 6 x .50-cal Browning wing guns (or 4 x 20 mm cannons), an increased bomb bay load, and wing hard points for 2 x 500 lb bombs.

[2] The internal Curtiss designation Design 92 had originally been applied to the XSB2C-2 Helldiver floatplane conversion. When that seaplane project was was redesignated, the 'Super Helldiver' concept inherited the Design 92 designation. It is not clear whether the 'C' suffix indicates that the final design was preceded by two interim concepts.

[3] The longer-range of the Design 92C was partly due to reduced airframe weight but was owed primarily to the optional second fuselage fuel tank. The latter nearly doubled fuel load but at the cost of c/g issues.

[4] The 1,600 lb AP Mark 1 could be carried internally but this armour-piercing bomb could no longer be dropped in diving attacks.

[5] The 2,200 hp R-3350 had a 55.78 inch diameter and a weight of 2,670 lbs. The 1,700 hp R-2600-8 had a 55 inch diameter and weighed almost 650 lbs less. The R-3350 engine installation in the Design 83E would be similar to that for the USAAF's XA-40 attack aircraft (that airframe differing mainly in lacking carrier gear and adopting twin 37 mm wing guns). An alternative future engine was the 1,900 hp R-2600-20 to be installed in the Design 93F.

[6] As a naval aviator, Lt. (USN) Henry Lloyd Child was ideally suited to lead the SB4C flight testing. In this, 'Skipper' Child was assisted by fellow Curtiss-Wright test pilots Robert Fausel and B.T. Hulse.

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Offline Jeffry Fontaine

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2801 on: October 16, 2021, 12:45:16 PM »
The lengthened fuselage really does make a difference in turning the original short and stubby Helldiver into something more aesthetically pleasing.  :smiley:
"Every day we hear about new studies 'revealing' what should have been obvious to sentient beings for generations; 'Research shows wolverines don't like to be teased" -- Jonah Goldberg

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2802 on: October 19, 2021, 09:29:14 AM »
Thanks Jeffry  :smiley:  More on the 'Super Helldiver' theme but no real backstory this time but a bit of arm-waving is needed ...

I'm imagining a range of options for submissions to eclipse the rejected SB3C concept. Here, I've grouped some of those options onto example airframes. The basic airframe features an extended rear fuselage with twin tails for more stable handling. Options are:

1: Inverted-gull anhedral on inner wing panels
-- Benefits are a slightly deepened bomb bays and shorter/lighter main undercarriage legs

2: Improved defensive armament, remotely-controlled gun turrets option
-- General Electric Model 2CGD50URC1 dorsal and Model 2CGD50LRC1 ventral gun turrets

3: Improved defensive armament, manned gun turret option
-- Grumman Type 150SE electrically-operated dorsal turret

4: Improved offensive armament, internally-mounted torpedo
-- Bomb bay changes to accommodate proposed 12-foot torpedo

The latter option involved Curtiss' proposal that the British 18-inch aerial torpedo be modified and adopted by the US Navy as an armament option specifically for the SB5C. The British torpedo would be much shortened to fit witin the bomb bays. Shortening the torpedo body would shorten the weapon's range which meant closer-in attacks. To compensate, the basic SB5C would be armed with 20 mm Hispano cannons to suppress defensive fire from ships under attack.

If the standard SB2C wing was adopted for the SB5C, the lower bomb door sections would need to be removed for clearance. If the inverted-gull form was adopted, the increased 'head room' in the bomb bays would allow the bomb doors to be fully closed. In either case, the dive bombing 'trapese' swinging-arm would need to be removed before loading torpedos into the SB5C. The emphasis on torpedos would be Curtiss' counter-argument against the Grumman TBF doing almost anything the Helldiver could ... but better.
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Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2803 on: October 25, 2021, 09:13:39 AM »
A Fury monoplane derivative is a notion that I keep returning to. This time, it will be more backstory drive ...

Sidney Camm and the Hawker 'High Speed Fury Monoplane'

In August 1933, Hawker Chief Designer Sidney Camm submitted his 'High Speed Fury Monoplane' concept to the Air Ministry for consideration. Officialdom was (unofficially) interested but there was no AM Specification for such an aircraft and, therefore, no funds allocated for such a project. As an experimental aircraft, the Air Ministry had already funded the Supermarine Type 224 monoplane fighter. But RJ Mitchell's Type 224 had displayed a disappointing maximum speed of only 228 mph.

As submitted, the 'High Speed Fury Monoplane' was powered by the same engine - an evaporatively-cooled, 600 hp Rolls-Royce Goshawk V-12. [1] Of less advanced construction than the Supermarine Type 224, the Camm design would also result in a lighter, more nimble fighter. Instead of a cranked wing with heavily-trousered landing gear, the 'High Speed Fury Monoplane' featured a simple, tapered planform and dainty, cantilevered main undercarriage legs with Dowty internally-sprung wheels. Camm was convinced that his team had designed the superior fighter. But neither the Air Ministry nor the RAF was yet convinced that this 'High Speed Fury Monoplane' represented a sufficient advance to warrant development.

In mid-October 1933, Sidney Camm presented his 'High Speed Fury Monoplane' concept to the Hawker Board of Directors. With the active support of TO Sopwith, the Board approved funding for a private venture prototype. But there were stipulations. Little of the production Fury remained in Camm's 'High Speed Fury Monoplane'. To limit development costs, the Board insisted that the actual Fury fuselage be retained. It was also suggested that the Air Ministry's preferred experimental steam-cooled Goshawk be temporarily abandoned in favour of the conventionally-cooled 640 hp Rolls Royce Kestrel VI V-12. The two engines were similarly sized but, the Board felt, the Kestrel would be more acceptable to the lucrative export market.

Faster Fury - Refining the 'High Speed Monoplane'

At its best, the troublesome Supermarine Type 224 had proven to be only 5 mph faster than the pending Fury II biplane. [2] Clearly, the Supermarine Type 224 was no yardstick. Rather, the goal must be for Hawkers to produce another world-beater. To Camm, that meant a further redesign. He would need a budget sufficient to cover a fully-retractable main undercarriage and an entirely new empennage - the objective for the latter being the elimination of all struts, bracing-wires, gaps, and other drag-inducing excrescences. The Board agree to this plan. The new Hawker 'High Speed Monoplane' would combine the basic fuselage structure and engine of the Fury II biplane with new wings and tailplane.

The refined 'High Speed Monoplane' retained the basic wing design of the August 1933 concept. The planform had more sweep on its leading edge, less on the trailing edge. However, the basic structural approach and total wing area (200 sq ft) remained unchanged. A key difference, of course, was the incorporation of bays for the new retractable Dowty undercarriage main legs. Those undercarriage legs attached to new centre-section 'stub' - as did the outer wings wing panels. The empennage was entirely new, as was a retractable tailwheel.

Those centre-section 'stubs' were also designed to allow future additions to fixed armament. An immediate armaments change was in adopting the fuselage-side armament position from the August 1934 concept. This revised gun position was designed to accommodate .303-inch machine guns - either Vickers Mk.IV or Browning - or the larger .5-inch Vickers gun. Wing hard points were to be included - outboard of the retracted main wheels - for Small Bomb Carriers or racks.

The cockpit position was as it had been for the biplane Fury. The enclosed cockpit from the August 1933 design was adopted. That sliding Perspex canopy was moved aft to match the original Fury cockpit location. Plans included the use of a reflector gun sight (although the RAF had yet to make a selection of its preferred type). New to the cockpit was a hand lever which which the pilot would manually charge the undercarriage retraction system ... although it was still to be decided whether that system would be pneumatically- or hydraulically-operated.

(To be continued ...)

_____________________________________

[1] The 9-cylinder Bristol Mercury radial was offered as an alternative engine.

[2] The Type 224 and Fury biplanes also had roughly the same wing area - 295 and 252 sq ft respectively. However, the Fury II was over 1,100 lbs lighter than the Supermarine monoplane.
« Last Edit: October 25, 2021, 09:30:13 AM by apophenia »
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2804 on: October 26, 2021, 01:28:38 AM »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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But you can make the Bastard work for it.

Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2805 on: October 27, 2021, 08:21:38 AM »
Faster Fury - Prototyping the 'High Speed Monoplane'

As Hawker Aircraft proceeded with their Private Venture at Kingston upon Thames, the Air Ministry found funds for further development. On the quiet, Hawkers was informed of the intention to procure an initial batch of 30 airframes. [1] The prototype aircraft flew from Brooklands, Surrey, in March 1935. But, as it happened, this prototype was never bought for the RAF. Having gleaned considerable aviation press attention for Hawkers, the prototype was written-off in a hard landing in early December 1935. [2]

Top Hawker Harrier (High-Speed Fury Monoplane) demonstrator, G-ADHF, late Summer 1935.

The first RAF order for what they dubbed the Hawker Harrier monoplane fighter was placed in October 1935. This was for a half dozen Harrier Mk.I fighters. Production proceeded briskly on the fuselages but Kingston proved slower producing wings for the new type. These delays were compounded by large orders also received RAF for improved Fury II biplanes for the RAF. Something had to give if further Harrier orders were to be realized.

Since Hawker Aircraft had taken control of the Gloster Aircraft Company the previous year. It was decided to shift final assembly of Harrier Mk.Is to Gloster's Hucclecote facility. All further Harrier production would also take place at Hucclecote. These decisions had a ripple effect. First, the RAF decided to pass the new Gloster Gauntlet biplane fighters would be passed on to a Reserve squadron. After being informed, Gloster's chief designer left the firm. With Henry Folland gone, it seemed that Glosters would simply become a branch-plant of Hawkers.

The Harrier Mk.I entered squadron service with No.19 ('XIX') Squadron at RAF Duxford in May 1936, replacing that unit's year-old Gloster Gauntlets. An oddity of the six Mk.Is was that tailplanes for these fighters were delivered to Hucclecote complete with rudder stripes. [3] By the Autumn of 1936, No.19's strength had been made up by four-gunned Harrier Mk.IAs - including one Mk.I conversion.

Bottom A Hawker Harrier Mk.I of No.19 Squadron. With its wings yet to be attached, the reserve fuel tank is visible in the wing centre section. (Inset) K8350 was converted to four-gunned Mk.IA standard in early October 1936.

(To be continued ...)

_____________________________________

[1] While The Right Honourable Neville Chamberlain, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, oversaw cutting back on on planned RAF spending, the Air Ministry expanded its Experimental Monoplane Programme. To the Exchequer, it appeared that only six Hawker monoplanes were to be purchased for evaluation. In fact, the AM had already allocated 50 RAF serials to the new type.

[2] Company demonstrator G-ADHF was written-off while being flown by a visiting Estonian Air Force pilot.
Leitnant Tarmo Pilve flared out into what would have been a perfect 3-point landing - had the landing gear legs been extended. This was not an unusual occurrence in these early days of retractable undercarriages.

At the time of the accident, Estonia was operating a dozen Bristol Bulldog II biplane fighters. The accident may have soured Estonian plans to order 12 Hawker monoplane fighters but straitened economic circumstances in the Baltic republic will have also played a part.

[3] Rudder striping on RAF machines had been discontinued almost 2 years earlier. To follow RAF directives, the Duxford Mk.Is had their rudder stripes covered with silver dope by the time the 'stripeless' Mk.IAs began to arrive in Cambridgeshire.
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2806 on: October 27, 2021, 09:23:17 AM »
Not quite a Fury, not quite a Hurricane. The Harrier's looking good! :smiley:
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Offline jcf

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2807 on: October 27, 2021, 01:59:17 PM »
“Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple.
Sense doesn’t come into it. People are
more scared of how complicated shit
actually is than they ever are about
whatever’s supposed to be behind the
conspiracy.”
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Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2808 on: October 28, 2021, 05:00:56 AM »
https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/hawker-harrier

Yup, most of the alliterative names for Hawker aircraft end getting recycled (both RW and whif).

Mind you, somebody at Kingston thought that 'Hedgehog', 'Hornbill', and 'Hoopoe' were evocative names for airplanes  ???
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Offline Acree

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2809 on: October 28, 2021, 07:21:17 AM »
Looks vaguely Belgian (as in a Renard fighter) to me!

Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2810 on: October 29, 2021, 05:54:00 AM »
Looks vaguely Belgian (as in a Renard fighter) to me!

Well ... that sure was prescient!  8)

___________________________

The two-gun installation for the Hawker Harrier was perfected at Hucclecote by Gloster's new Chief Designer, George Carter. This armament was introduced for the first fully Gloster-produced variant - the Harrier Mk.II. With this change, weight of fire doubled with four .303-inch Vickers Mk.V machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. Of course, the loaded weight of the fighter increased as well. This was countered, in part, by the installation of the 690 hp Rolls-Royce Kestrel VI engine introduced to the production line in July 1937. Thus engined, the aircraft became the Harrier Mk.IIA.

Top A Hawker Harrier Mk.I of No.19 Squadron during the 1938 Munich Crisis. Note that this aircraft is fitted with a wireless R/T. No.19 Squadron was scheduled to move to a forward location in NE France but was stood down with the Munich Agreement of 30 September. Shortly afterwards, No.19 re-equipped with the new Hawker Hurricane fighter.

Hucclecote had taken on development on a more powerful Harrier derivative - work which had begun at Kingston. The key change was to be the installation of the larger, 950 hp Rolls-Royce PV.12 (or Merlin C as it had been named). However, the Air Ministry was reluctant to commit Merlins to a fighter which was incapable of mounting the RAF's preferred armament of eight wing-mounted, unsynchronized .303-inch Browning machine guns. This, in turn, forced Glosters to focus on other options.

Although the Harrier had been developed with export in mind, foreign interest in the monoplane fighter had failed to turn into firm orders. Potential exports either had to be declined - as in the cases of Bolivia and Republican Spain - or customers were hedging their bets and waiting for newer, Merlin-powered alternatives. A surprise order materialized from Belgium. That country had been developing indigenous fighters but the all-metal Renard R.36 had proven a disappointment. Alfred Renard continued development but the Aviation Militaire concluded that a "chasse monoplan intérimaire" was required.

A license was obtained for Avions Fairey to assemble Harriers at Gosselies. Standard Harrier III components would be supplied by Gloster. These parts would then be adapted for Belgian-supplied equipment and completed for delivery to the Aviation Militaire. This might have been a simple affair but the Belgians requested a substantial number of changes to suit their needs. The result was that Avions Fairey had to adjust and modify each airframe. The major change was the installation of the powerplant intended for the Renard R.36 - the heavier Hispano-Suiza 12Ycrs V-12.

The HS.12Ycrs was to be a moteur-canon which would further complicated matters. Fortunately for Avions Fairey, France was unable (or unwilling) to deliver moteur-canon engines or their HS.404 guns to Belgium in early 1938. Instead, Hispano-Suiza substituted standard, 860 hp 12Ycrs engines (fitted with synchronization gears but lacking the hollow propeller shafts needed for the moteur-canons). [1] Accordingly, Avions Fairey revised its adaptation. In place of one 20 mm cannon and twin, synchronized 7.65 mm FN-Browning guns, their 'Be.2' variant would be armed with twin 13.2 mm FN-Browning machine guns in the fuselage sides. To counter increased engine weight, the radiator bath was related aft under the cockpit - adopted from Gloster's Merlin-powered Harrier studies. [2]

Bottom An Avions Fairey (Hawker) Harrier 'Be.2' of 4/II/2 Escadrille of the Aviation Militaire/Militaire Luftvaart in late 1938. This aircraft has the original colour scheme but, in the later style, has its individual number applied to the tailfin. The 'Cocotte Blanchje is worn on the fuselage side.

By 1940, these aircraft were repainted in toned-down camouflage patterns. Most will also have had their wooden propellers replaced with 3-bladed Fairey-Reed metal props. This aircraft was destroyed on the ground by Luftwaffe strafing of Nivelles on the morning of 10 May 1940.

(To be continued ...)

_____________________________________

[1] The Renard R.36 engine had produced 910 hp for take-off but Hispano-Suiza had derated the 12Ycrs to improve reliability.

[2] Without a cannon, the 2,200 cid French engine weighed 100 lbs more than the Rolls-Royce Kestrel.
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Offline Buzzbomb

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2811 on: October 29, 2021, 06:12:05 AM »
yes, very nice.
Super convincing

Offline jcf

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2812 on: October 29, 2021, 07:30:31 AM »
https://www.baesystems.com/en/heritage/hawker-harrier

Yup, most of the alliterative names for Hawker aircraft end getting recycled (both RW and whif).

Mind you, somebody at Kingston thought that 'Hedgehog', 'Hornbill', and 'Hoopoe' were evocative names for airplanes  ???

I dunno the Hoopoe is pretty cool looking.  :smiley:
“Conspiracy theory’s got to be simple.
Sense doesn’t come into it. People are
more scared of how complicated shit
actually is than they ever are about
whatever’s supposed to be behind the
conspiracy.”
-The Peripheral, William Gibson 2014

Offline upnorth

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2813 on: October 29, 2021, 03:44:24 PM »
I quite like where you're taking the Hawker Harrier. It looks elegant and purposeful all at the same time.
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Offline Small brown dog

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2814 on: October 29, 2021, 04:45:31 PM »
This is outstanding as far as I'm concerned. Looks more like a should have been than a what if.
Up their with your Supermarine 224/S6.

Just superb ;)
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2815 on: October 30, 2021, 02:09:04 AM »
Any chance of any going to Sweden...perhaps with Bristol Pegasus radial engines?
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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Offline apophenia

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2816 on: October 30, 2021, 02:36:57 AM »
Thanks folks  :D

Any chance of any going to Sweden...perhaps with Bristol Pegasus radial engines?

I had pondered on a radial-engined version but hadn't thought of Sweden ... interesting idea.

I dunno the Hoopoe is pretty cool looking...

So too is the Hornbill in its own way. But, as names go, nothing says 'combat-ready' - especially for 'fleet reconnaissance' - quite like a Hedgehog!
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2817 on: October 30, 2021, 02:49:54 AM »
Triggering inspiration:



And of course, this also brings us to the Finnish ones...



Just saying... ;)
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2818 on: October 30, 2021, 02:59:11 AM »
Or if you prefer:



« Last Edit: October 30, 2021, 03:02:51 AM by GTX_Admin »
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2819 on: October 30, 2021, 05:58:15 AM »
Gotta like that Hart scheme (and it's in the family). But, first, the last of the Brit content ...
_________________________________________________

Last of its Breed - the Hawker Harrier Mk.IV

The Hawker Harrier Mk.II proved a mixed blessing. The fixed armament was doubled but still regarded as inadequate - eight .303-inch guns now being considered ideal by RAF planners. However, that ideal represented an RAF focused on interceptors. What had become apparent was that the 'halfway-house' Hawker was actually the only British fighter capable of counter Germany's newly-introduced Messerschmitt Bf 109B monoplane. And the 'heavy gunned' Harrier Mk.IV was tailored specifically to meet that German challenger.

The layout of the two machines was remarkably similar - 5,000 lb, single-engined, low-winged fighters with outward retracting main undercarriages. Both had flush-riveted metal wings but there the structural similarities ended. No-one would have argued that the Messerschmitt's construction wasn't a generation ahead of the Harrier - with its fabric-covered, steel-tube fuselage. Despite that, performance was roughly comparable ... although the Bf 109B-1 had a slight edge in top speed. In turn, with its slightly larger wing area, a Harrier could always out-turn a Messerschmitt. [1]

Powerplants were another distinction. The Bf 109B-1 was powered by a 680 hp Junkers Jumo 210Da - a compact, inverted V-12. The classic Kestrel of the Harrier was of larger displacement but was actually slightly lighter than the Jumo. For the Harrier Mk.IV, a 745 hp Kestrel XVI was adopted. That slight power advantage was nullified with the introduction of the Bf 109B-2 with its metal, variable-pitch propeller.

The Harrier Mk.IV's key advantage was in weight of fire. The RAF had finally accepted that its desired 8-gunned fighters would be slow to enter service. As an interim measure, the RAF was willing to follow the Belgian lead on heavier calibre guns. The Harrier Mk.IV was armed with twin .5-inch Vickers machine guns synchronized to fire through the propeller arc. These guns had both greater range and more hitting power than the German fighter's pair of rifle-calibre MG17 machine guns. [2]

Also for the Harrier Mk.IV adopted was an aft-positioned radiator. The Belgian machines had shown that there were aerodynamic advantages to a well-shaped radiator bath in this position. It also allowed for much more careful shaping of the ventral air intake for the new updraught SU carburettor. These changes resulted in a slight increase in top speed - to 280 mph - but at some cost in low-speed handling. The Harrier Mk.IV was now somewhat tail-heavy. This worsened handling especially on landing - where the Harrier had always been something of a handful for novice pilots.

These handling challenges were to have been solved in Gloster's proposed Harrier Mk.V. Although similar to the Mk.IV, the Harrier Mk.V was to be powered by the new Rolls-Royce Peregrine V-12. [3] Of similar size to the Kestrel, the Peregrine was 100 lbs heavier - which would go some way towards solving the Mk.IV's tail-heaviness. The Peregrine was also more powerful. With the Peregrine's 885 hp output, the Mk.V's performance increase would have been dramatic. However, the RAF was now confident in sufficient numbers of eight-gunned fighters coming available. There were also some voices within the Air Ministry calling for the elimination of the Peregrine (to allow Rolls-Royce to focus on Merlin development).

Top A Hawker Harrier Mk.IVA in its final days of service with No.19 Squadron, RAF Duxford, August 1939.

Sea Legs - A Final User for the Hawker Harrier

The Harrier Mk.IV (and wireless-equipped Harrier Mk.IVA) had a comparatively short RAF service lives. By the beginning of 1939, sufficient eight-gunned Hurricanes (and Spitfires) had been delivered that the Harriers could be phased out of active service. Initial plans were that the Harriers should be passed on to fighter OTUs but this did not happen ... directly.

As war clouds darkened, the Royal Navy became increasingly concerned about both the aerial defence of its shore bases and the obsolescence of its biplane Hawker Osprey shipboard fighter aircraft. As a replacement for the Osprey, Glosters had proposed a shipboard derivative of its F.5/34 monoplane. This concept was killed by the allocation of all available Bristol Taurus radials to the twin-engined Bristol Beaufort torpedo-bombers for RAF Coastal Command. This left the RN in the untenable situation of employing its Blackburn Skua 2-seat dive-bombers as ad hoc shipboard fighters. Something had to give ... and the opportunity came from the shore base defence requirement.

As the RAF withdrew its Harrier from squadron service, officials at the Air Ministry suggested the transfer of these aircraft to the Royal Navy (representing the first steps towards returning the Fleet Air Arm to Admiralty control). With this, the transferred aircraft became Sea Harrier Mk.IIMs, Mk.IIIs, and Mk.IVs. Other than fitting some naval equipment, the Sea Harriers remained essentially the same as they had been in RAF service. The Sea Harrier Mk.IIMs were a slight exception - being refurbished Harrier Mk.Is and Mk.II/'IIAs. All would be brought roughly to Harrier Mk.IIA standards but differed in having their 'wing root' guns removed to save weight.

In the Sea Harrier Mk.IIM refurbishing and repair process, the Admiralty became aware that Glosters held stocks of Harrier components intended for the still-born Harrier Mk.V. Inquiries were made about having these airframes completed with Kestrel powerplants. The result was the Sea Harrier Mk.VI. To create acceptable landing characteristics, the engine bearers were extended. An entirely new cowling was created for this longer nose which also accommodated a new, 3-bladed DH variable-pitch propeller. These changes helped shift the centre of gravity forward ... despite the addition of RN wireless equipment, catapult dogs, and an A-frame arrestor hook. The wings were standard Harrier Mk.IV panels with no attempt made at wing-folding.

As with the RAF's Harriers, the Sea Harrier Mk.VI was never intended to be more than an interim fighter for the Fleet Air Arm. Grumman Martlets were already on order from the US and the Admiralty had a decided preference for radial-engined aircraft. Still, the Sea Harrier Mk.VI were the only moderately modern monoplane fighters available when No.803 Naval Air Squadron replaced its Osprey and Nimrod biplanes aboard HMS Ark Royal in October 1939. This transition was quite smooth because a Sea Harrier training flight had already been established at RNAS Worthy Down in Hampshire. There, FAA pilots could familiarized themselves with the Sea Harrier and practice simulated deck landings before embarking.

As planned, the Sea Harrier's shipboard career was brief. On 08 April 1940, six Mk.VIs were flown off HMS Ark Royal to land at RAF Hal Far on Malta. It was here that the Sea Harrier built its wartime reputation. These half-dozen aircraft would acquit themselves well during the initial Italian aerial onslaught against Malta. Where possible, the lighter Sea Harrier would distract Italian fighters while the RAF's heavier-armed Hurricanes tackled the Regia Aeronautica bombers. This pairing worked well. And, interestingly, the ,5-inch Vickers armament of the Sea Harrier Mk.VI was a close match to the twin 12.7 mm armament of Italian fighters of the day.

The remaining Sea Harrier Mk.VIs ended their combat careers when flown off HMS Ark Royal for use as advanced trainers in the UK. All available HMS Sea Harrier would be grouped with the OTU at RNAS Worthy Down. Training continued at this Naval Air Station until late 1942. By then, Sea Harriers which had not yet been written-off by student pilots were becoming worn-out. The Sea Harrier Mk.VIs lasted longest of all. Some, retired from the Worthy Down OTU became station hacks at various Royal Navy shore establishments. Other than a few instructional airframes, not a single Sea Harrier was listed as active by the end of 1943.

Bottom A Hawker Sea Harrier Mk.VI of the OTU, RNAS Worthy Down, September 1941. This aircraft was written-off in a failed simulated carrier landing on 31 Nov 1941. The trainee pilot, Sub-Lt RJ Eglindon, escaped this crash-landing with minor scrapes and bruisings.

(Fin)

_____________________________________

[1] Throughout its existence, the Harrier retained its 200 square foot wing area. By comparison, the early-model Messerschmitts had a wing area of just over 172 square feet. For manoeuvrability, the Bf 109B relied upon high-lift devices such as leading edge slats.

[2] It had been originally intended that the Bf 109B-1 would be armed with three MG17, including one firing through the propeller boss. The latter installation proved unreliable and was deleted for production.

[3] Gloster already had Peregrines on order for use on George Carter's twin-engined design to Air Ministry Specification F9/37.
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Offline jcf

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2820 on: October 30, 2021, 06:16:31 AM »
A fixed, spatted gear version, to compete with the fixed gear Curtiss Model 75 export Hawks,
would look cool.
 :smiley:
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actually is than they ever are about
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conspiracy.”
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Offline apophenia

  • Patterns? What patterns?
Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2821 on: October 31, 2021, 11:18:48 AM »
Well, this one has no spats but it does have a radial engine ... ;)
__________________________________________

Interest in the Hawker Harrier was expressed by the Swedish Försvarsmakten which required a new fighter aircraft for the Flygvapnet. For almost a decade, the Swedes had operated the Bristol Bulldog Mk IIA as the Flygvapnet's J 7. Attrition had taken its toll on the J 7 fleet but the biplane was also now entirely obsolete as a fighter aircraft. Negotiations were undertaken to secure a Swedish production license for the Harrier monoplane. Glosters (through Hawkers) was to supply kits of major components for assembly by CVM - the Flygvapnet workshops at Malmslätt.

To meet Swedish requirements, Gloster prepared a pattern aircraft for delivery. To that end, the remains of the original prototype Harrier were rebuilt to take the specified radial engine - a Bristol Mercury. (For production aircraft, the powerplant would be Swedish-licensed engines - 920 hp Nohab-built Mercury XXIVs.) [1] The change in appearance was dramatic. The svelte lines of the RAF's Kestrel-powered Harrier were gone. In its place was a somewhat brutal-looking fighter where  purposefulness was valued higher than attractive lines.

The revised prototype flew with a 840 hp Bristol Mercury IX. To accommodate that radial engine, the cockpit was raised along with the upper fuselage decking. Other noticeable changes were in armament. At Swedish request, a fixed armament of four machine guns was fitted - two in the lower fuselage and two in the upper cowl, displacing the main fuel tank. These guns were all Swedish-supplied 6,5 mm Ksp m/22 FN-Brownings. An entirely new fuel tank was install below the raised pilot's seat with a second tank directly behind the cockpit. The aircraft was shipped to Sweden for trials but a Flygvapnet pilot quickly wrote-off the prototype in a crash-landing at Linköping.

Bottom The Bristol Mercury-powered Swedish 'Mercury-Harrier' as delivered. There were some issues with the factory-applied markings. First, the Swedish roundels were also meant to be applied to the underside of the wings. Second, the fin flash was an inappropriate marking (having become obsolete in May 1937). And, finally, the 'J 8' code should have been a Flygvapnet-applied indivdual aircraft number.

"Förändring är en förutsättning för utveckling ..." [2]

The pace of progress was brisk in the 1930s and the Försvarsmakten had come to see Flygvapnet plans for a Hawker fighter already dated. Revisions were in order and higher performance was demanded. Changes would be made both to specified engine type and to armament. The quartet of rifle-calibre machine guns were to be replaced with heavier-calibre weapons - the 13,2 mm akan m/39A. This gun was another FN-Browning piece, however, the Swedish guns fired Hotchkiss 13,2 x 99 mm ammunition. [3] The British engine was to be replaced by a US-made Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp.

Throughout the Summer of 1939, Glosters shipped semi-finished Harrier components by sea from Sharpness Dock to Gothenburg (Göteborgs hamn). With the outbreak of war in September 1939, Hucclecote informed the Försvarsmakten that Glosters could provide no further assistance with their revised 'Swedish Harrier' project. Realizing that the Flygvapnet's CVM was becoming overwhelmed with war work (as well as being somewhat out of its depth), the Hawker fighter project was transferred from Malmslätt to the newly-formed Kungliga Flygförvaltningens Flygverkstad i Stockholm (FFVS) under Bo Lundberg. The latter had been tasked with developing an entirely new, domestic fighter design. But that would have to wait.

Ingenjör Lundberg - who had come from Sparmanns - and his team began their new task with a survey of Gloster-supplied parts. This this, the teams' design for cowling the Pratt & Whitney engine was adapted. [4] The closely-cowled 'Tvillinggeting' (Twin Wasp) was less 'draggy' (having a diameter 3.5 inches less than the original Bristol Mercury. However, the R-1830 also weighed almost 300 lbs more than the single-row Mercury. To address airframe c/g, the engine bearers were shortened but it was concluded that balance would only be established by lengthening the fuselage. That was accomplished through the simple expedient of moving the vertical tailplane aft.

By the time that the first FFVS J8 was flown at Bromma - there was no prototype as such - the world had changed utterly. The German Luftwaffe was now based on Sweden's borders with Denmark and Norway. Finland had fought its Vinterkrig with the Soviet Union. Never had Swedes felt so vulnerable to outside aggression. That urgency was transferred to the Interimistiska jaktplansprogram (IJP) as the revised Harrier programme had been dubbed. The result was the FFVS J 8A armed with four 8 mm Ksp m/22 machine guns - these rifle-calibre weapons being immediately available for installation. [5]

In May 1940, J8As began to equip the fighter units of the newly-formed Skånska Flygflottiljen (F 10) based at Bulltofta near Malmö. For the most part, flights were dispersed to more remote flygbaser like Rinkaby. There, in the south, sovereignty patrols were the order of the day. Of the 18 FFVS J 8s completed, eight were J 8As, the remainder J 8Bs. All served with F 10 until displaced by domestically-designed FFVS J 22 fighters. The 14 survivors were then refurbished and rebuilt as J 8Cs - with a reduced armament of two 13,2 mm guns. Thence, the J 8Cs were re-assigned north with a new recce-fighter flygeskadern of Norrbottens flygflottilj (F 21). Northern operating conditions were harsh and, by May 1945, only six J 8Cs remained airworthy at Luleå.

Top FFVS J 8B of F10. Note extended fuselage and Swedish-design wooden tail fin. The enlarged, retractable tailwheel was also a local development.

__________________________________________

[1] The Nohab Mercury XXIV - aka My S3 - was then entering production for ASJA-built Northrop B 5B light bombers.

[2] "Change is a prerequisite for development ..."

[3] The heavier-calibre FN-Browning gun was similar to those mounted in Belgian Harriers. However, having no access to Avions Fairey, the FFVS team had to devise their own design of gun mounts.

[4] These Twin Wasps were not the SFA STWC-3G 'Tvillinggeting' later built without a license. Rather, these engines were all ex-French 'war prize' booty purchased from Germany.

[5] It would not be until early 1941 that J 8Bs armed with the planned 13,2 mm FN-Brownings began arriving at combat squadrons.
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Offline Old Wombat

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2822 on: October 31, 2021, 11:37:30 AM »
The "Mercury Harrier" looks like a monoplane Gladiator. ;) :smiley:
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Offline GTX_Admin

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2823 on: November 01, 2021, 01:07:51 AM »
 :smiley:
All hail the God of Frustration!!!

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Offline Buzzbomb

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Re: Apophenia's Offerings
« Reply #2824 on: November 01, 2021, 04:43:40 AM »
Been a great ride through this lot.
Nicely done