Author Topic: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939  (Read 7424 times)

Offline Volkodav

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British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« on: April 23, 2016, 06:33:20 PM »
I have been reading Niall Corduroys book on the Whirlwind and was surprised to read that the RAF were genuinely concerned that if it was perceived that they were not adequately supporting the Army then, as had occurred with the RN FAA, the squadrons intended to support that service (the Army Cooperation Squadrons) would be parred off the RAF and form the nucleus of a new Army Air Corps or Army Air Service.

One of the reasons behind the small numbers in which the Whirlwind was built was that it had actually been cancelled, after the initial production orders had been placed, because the RAF and Air Ministry placed a very high priority (much higher than the Whirlwind) on producing the Westland Lysander.  The reason the Lysander was so important is the RAF were obligated to provide sufficient Arm Cooperation Squadrons to equip the BEF and the apparently very real fear was if the RAF failed to adequately support the army, then forces sufficient to do so would be seconded from the RAF to form a new Army aviation service, in much the same manner as occurred with the FAA.

Dead easy whiff, this happened and the RAFs Army Cooperation Squadrons became the Army Air Corps.  Reading on the Lysander it appears the type was what RAF pilots thought was needed for the job, not what the Army needed, let alone wanted.  Just look at the Wirraways and Boomerangs the RAAF operated in the role to imagine AAC Henleys, Hurricanes, Tomahawks and Kittyhawks, perhaps even Taurus or Hercules powered variants of the Hawkers.  The AAC serves with distinction through the war and after.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2016, 07:50:03 PM by Volkodav »

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2016, 06:53:33 PM »
I think you mean RN FAA, mate. ;)

However, the RANAS/RAN FAA was 1st initiated in 1927 but cancelled in 1928 due to fervent opposition from the RAAF. Probably on the grounds of cost but officially because the Goverment accepted that the RAAF could cover all RAN operations from land bases.

As I've said earlier elsewhere, I'm a great believer in the division of labour in this field; with the Air Force covering strategic defence & strike capabilities & the Army & Navy (& Marines) covering their own butts at a more tactical level.
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2016, 07:50:48 PM »
I think you mean RN FAA, mate. ;)

However, the RANAS/RAN FAA was 1st initiated in 1927 but cancelled in 1928 due to fervent opposition from the RAAF. Probably on the grounds of cost but officially because the Goverment accepted that the RAAF could cover all RAN operations from land bases.

As I've said earlier elsewhere, I'm a great believer in the division of labour in this field; with the Air Force covering strategic defence & strike capabilities & the Army & Navy (& Marines) covering their own butts at a more tactical level.

Thanks, fixed.

Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #3 on: April 23, 2016, 08:28:26 PM »
That'd be an interesting alternative lead up to something I've worked into a number of scenarios, namely the British Army and the Royal marines getting their own fixed-wing CAS force in the 1960s after the US Army win their battle with the USAF to get it and the UK follows the same model. In my story, the Army Air Corps are limited to 'anything which can operate from an unprepared field of dimensions <small>', which is intended to limit them to helicopters and light aircraft, but which doesn't take into account the Harrier.

This AAC Harrier PR.4 is from that background:



I wonder what the AAC's pre-WWII thoughts would be on the type of aircraft they needed? With 20/20 hindsight we can say air-cooled radial engines, lots of guns, lots of armour, lots of rockets and dive brakes, but what was the stated requirement in the late 1930s? Did they want a 1944-style fighter-bomber, or did they want a dive-bomber and fighters to escort it?

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Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #4 on: April 23, 2016, 08:56:41 PM »
My interest spiked when I read the reference, I have known about RAF/RAAF staff work and their reputation for being able to win the political battle for a long time but had never been aware of the Army wanting control of their own airpower again immediately pre WWII. 

Thinking on it, it makes sense, as does the RAFs fear that they would win the battle should the RAF be seen not to be meeting its obligations.  The had probably assumed that with th number of anti aviation senior sirs in the admiralty that the RN would never regain control of their own airpower but it happened, providing incentive to pre-empt and avert any similar move by the army.

Radials would definitely be the go, like I said Taurus or Hercules engined, cannon armed, Huricanes and Henleys for a start.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #5 on: April 23, 2016, 08:58:17 PM »
Love the harrier by the way

Offline Old Wombat

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #6 on: April 23, 2016, 08:59:50 PM »
From an Australian perspective: In my Royal Australian Marines universe I already have the RAMAS & RANAS being formed during WW1 (1916/17) & remaining as separate entities from the start.

I haven't been sure what to do with the AFC/AAS/RAAF but I'm thinking of having the AFC survive the 1919 disbandment of the AIF only to be absorbed into the new RAAF in 1921. Then using the 1927/28 RAN attempt as the time that the Armybegins to wrest back its own Air Corps. Possibly starting with artillery spotters, then moving on to ground support fighters in the mid-30's, probably using obsolete RAAF aircraft, & on to full-blown fighter-bomber support in the early 1940's.

The modern trend towards multi-role fighter aircraft & the turn away from long-range bombers will actually see the RAAF struggling to maintain its existence, rather than the other air arms.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 01:02:32 AM by Old Wombat »
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Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #7 on: April 23, 2016, 10:50:58 PM »
My interest spiked when I read the reference, I have known about RAF/RAAF staff work and their reputation for being able to win the political battle for a long time but had never been aware of the Army wanting control of their own airpower again immediately pre WWII. 

Thinking on it, it makes sense, as does the RAFs fear that they would win the battle should the RAF be seen not to be meeting its obligations.  The had probably assumed that with th number of anti aviation senior sirs in the admiralty that the RN would never regain control of their own airpower but it happened, providing incentive to pre-empt and avert any similar move by the army.

Radials would definitely be the go, like I said Taurus or Hercules engined, cannon armed, Huricanes and Henleys for a start.

Not sure about cannons from a 1930s perspective. Early cannons had very limited ammo supply (typically 60-round drums) and were over-spec for straffing the soft targets that were predominant on the battlefield. Given that 8x .303" MGs were considered adequate for bringing down bombers, I'd imagine a strong urge to fit something similar to the ground attack type with a view to hosing down infantry in the field or trucks on roads.

Dive-bombing was all the rage in the 1930s. You might imagine the AAC gonig for something like the Henschel Hs.123: a tough, operate-from-any-field biplane that could come in two versions:

Dive-bomber: strengthened structure, dive brakes, bomb crutch for one big bomb, two guns.

Ground-attack: armour, lots of MGs, racks for lots of little bombs.

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Offline The Big Gimper

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #8 on: April 23, 2016, 10:59:52 PM »
That's one hottie of a Harrier Harold.  :)
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #9 on: April 24, 2016, 05:36:50 AM »
Interesting scenario.  I suppose a lot will depend on when exactly the Army Aviation goes its own way.

If early on (i.e. pre-1930), you might see some specialised developments though I suspect most would look much the same as were already in existence/used in the army cooperation/light bomber roles - e.g. the Bristol F.2 Fighter.  Maybe some development towards a metal version along the lines of the Bristol M.R.1 or an air-cooled engined variant such as was considered in the real world.  This may lead/be superseded by the real world developments such as the Bristol F.2C Badger:



or Westland Weasel:



If done around the start/middle of the '30s you get options still very much the same as the real world though again with potential differences:

E.g. Hawker Audax



I agree the fashion of the dive bomber would potentially see this being pursued, thus potentially giving army versions of the Hawker Henley or Blackburn Skua:



Of course it could be interesting to see if US developments in this field play any role, thus leading to types similar to the Curtiss A-8/A-12 Shrike:




Looking further afield, I like the idea of something akin to the Hs-123 - just not sure what.

During WWII I think you would see standardisation on platforms such as the Typhoon, Beaufighter and perhaps the various US types such as the A-25A Shrike or Vultee Vengeance.
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Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2016, 06:06:16 AM »
It depends on whether the AAC sees itself as a 'mini-RAF' or decides to go it's own way. If it did the latter, it might go for something like the Junkers J 4:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_J.I





This was really the first example of the thinking that ulitmately produced the A-10. It had 1000lb of armour and all sorts of survivability mods such as solid rod control linkages rather than cables. It didn't achieve much, but then it arrived late in WWI and had limited engine power. Imagine what the same thinking could produce with a 750bhp Mercury to play with.
« Last Edit: April 24, 2016, 06:10:21 AM by Weaver »
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Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #11 on: April 24, 2016, 06:22:17 AM »
In fact, you don't need to imagine it, because Junkers went on to develop the idea, first in the J 10 monoplane (world's first all-metal combat aircraft) and then as the K 47, the latter having a 600bhp radial engine:

J 10 (CL.1):

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_CL.I





K 47:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Junkers_K_47





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Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2016, 06:43:01 AM »
Here's a thought: would an early, independent AAC, with a budget, see value in things like autogyros and helicopters and put more money into them earlier than happened in real life?
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #13 on: April 24, 2016, 10:31:02 PM »
Love the dive bomber idea, they would be a natural fit for a reconstituted air service / corps as they were the effective replacement for heavy artillery.  Agree also that the Henley would be a good fit for the role, this could also lead to a two seat dive bomber equivalent to the Typhoon/Tempest/Fury.

Being Army aviation they could go with the new army weapons, calibres and unique missions.  i.e. 7.92 and 15mm BESAs, maybe a 2pdr auto cannon for an airborne AT mission in addition to dive bombing.  Maybe the splitting off of army cooperation could have included the light bombers as well as battle field air superiority.

From its constitution the RAFs primary concerns became the air defence of London (hence the concentration on short range point defence interceptors and slightly longer ranged pursuit or patrol fighters (also called interceptors)) and strategic bombing.  They were obligated to support the army and RN but made their own interpretation of what the other services needed, as such the aircraft developed for these roles tended to have the flying and performance characteristics desired by the RAFs pilots but had taken very little input from the customer services in reference to what they needed them to do.  Agreed again that it would depend when the split occurred as to how different the army's aircraft were to those used by the RAF.

What also interests me is how the service would be organised.  There was meant to be one army cooperation squadron per division but would there also be a regiment / wing at Corps level or a brigade / group for each Army?  Controlling their own aircraft would the scale actually increase, i.e. a regiment or brigade per division so instead of just army cooperation Lysanders they would also have a dive bomber squadron and a battlefield air defence squadron, maybe also a transport squadron as well?

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #14 on: April 25, 2016, 06:33:41 AM »
Here's a thought: would an early, independent AAC, with a budget, see value in things like autogyros and helicopters and put more money into them earlier than happened in real life?

Maybe.  Perhaps we would see greater use of platforms such as the Sikorsky R-4B Hoverfly I (see example below) than was the case in the real world.



Maybe a version of this armed with some form of rocket (maybe starting with simply attaching bazookas or similar to provide a limited attack capability in support of troops)?

I also could imagine later on (say mid '50s) versions of the Westland WS-51 Dragonfly or Westland Sioux being trailed with the likes of Malkara or SS.11 missiles...
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Offline elmayerle

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #15 on: April 25, 2016, 11:08:09 AM »
I also could imagine later on (say mid '50s) versions of the Westland WS-51 Dragonfly or Westland Sioux being trailed with the likes of Malkara or SS.11 missiles...
Considering that there is a picture of a US Army Sioux test aircraft with four SS.11 or similar, that's not too improbably.

Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #16 on: April 25, 2016, 08:26:00 PM »
Here's a thought: would an early, independent AAC, with a budget, see value in things like autogyros and helicopters and put more money into them earlier than happened in real life?

Maybe.  Perhaps we would see greater use of platforms such as the Sikorsky R-4B Hoverfly I (see example below) than was the case in the real world.



Maybe a version of this armed with some form of rocket (maybe starting with simply attaching bazookas or similar to provide a limited attack capability in support of troops)?

I also could imagine later on (say mid '50s) versions of the Westland WS-51 Dragonfly or Westland Sioux being trailed with the likes of Malkara or SS.11 missiles...

Interestingly Blamey apparently pushed very hard to get helicopters deployed to New Guinea in the early 40s, an independent army air service may have seen this happen.  Ironically Blamey had been an early supporter of an independent air force as he saw it as the best way to evolve and develop military air power.  This follows as Monash stated that much of the combined arms innovation he was credited with was actually Blamey, who was abreast all the latest developments and exceptional at visualising how they could be employed. 

Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #17 on: April 25, 2016, 08:28:14 PM »
I also could imagine later on (say mid '50s) versions of the Westland WS-51 Dragonfly or Westland Sioux being trailed with the likes of Malkara or SS.11 missiles...
Considering that there is a picture of a US Army Sioux test aircraft with four SS.11 or similar, that's not too improbably.

We had both the Sioux and the Alouette II before the Scout was ready, and both of those could carry SS.11.
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Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #18 on: April 25, 2016, 09:14:01 PM »
Being Army aviation they could go with the new army weapons, calibres and unique missions.  i.e. 7.92 and 15mm BESAs, maybe a 2pdr auto cannon for an airborne AT mission in addition to dive bombing.  Maybe the splitting off of army cooperation could have included the light bombers as well as battle field air superiority.

Funnily enough, I was thinking about the BESA in this context just the other day.

Another thing they might do is pick a different 20mm cannon. The RAF's priorities were air-to-air ones: they wanted high muzzle velocity for accuracy and a heavy shell in order to do adequate damage with the minority of round that actually hit the target. This lead to them adopting the Hispano, which had the highest velocity and heaviest shell of any contemporary cannon. However, it had been designed for fuselage or engine mounting, and developing a suitably rigid wing mounting proved surprisingly problematic. The AAC, more concerned with shooting at ground targets, with gravity on their side, from relatively light aircraft, might well have chosen the Oerlikon MG FF instead, for it's lighter weight, lower recoil and smaller ammo. The latter would translate into greater ammo capacity IF bigger drums could be accomodated or a belt-feed modification designed.
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Offline Rickshaw

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #19 on: April 26, 2016, 02:34:20 PM »
Being Army aviation they could go with the new army weapons, calibres and unique missions.  i.e. 7.92 and 15mm BESAs, maybe a 2pdr auto cannon for an airborne AT mission in addition to dive bombing.  Maybe the splitting off of army cooperation could have included the light bombers as well as battle field air superiority.

Funnily enough, I was thinking about the BESA in this context just the other day.

Another thing they might do is pick a different 20mm cannon. The RAF's priorities were air-to-air ones: they wanted high muzzle velocity for accuracy and a heavy shell in order to do adequate damage with the minority of round that actually hit the target. This lead to them adopting the Hispano, which had the highest velocity and heaviest shell of any contemporary cannon. However, it had been designed for fuselage or engine mounting, and developing a suitably rigid wing mounting proved surprisingly problematic. The AAC, more concerned with shooting at ground targets, with gravity on their side, from relatively light aircraft, might well have chosen the Oerlikon MG FF instead, for it's lighter weight, lower recoil and smaller ammo. The latter would translate into greater ammo capacity IF bigger drums could be accomodated or a belt-feed modification designed.

MG FF had a much lower muzzle velocity though, and hence a much lower armour penetration, and armour penetration would be a priority for any ground attack aircraft.  Afterall, their major targets would be AFVs when doing CAS.  A higher muzzle velocity also confers longer range, a not inconsiderate consideration as it means the firing aircraft is outside the range of the defences for longer.

What you might have seen though, was the development of airborne rockets sooner.   For the RAF they didn't appear until late 1943.   For the Soviets, they were using them in the late 1930s, the Germans and Japanese 1944.   Knock 10 years off and suddenly the Blitzkrieg looks very different.


Offline Old Wombat

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #20 on: April 26, 2016, 04:48:59 PM »
The army may well have begun looking at improved anti-air armour & weapons earlier, too. :))
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #21 on: April 26, 2016, 08:58:30 PM »
What also follows is if the army regained control of army cooperation squadrons and tactical air support, then it follows that the RN may have been able to wrest control of Coastal Command back from the RAF as well.

What would interesting is what sort of synergies the army and navy could have developed with their newly gained air power.  For instance Coastal Command could have been divided up with anti shipping roled squadrons being integrated with the RNs Coastal Forces, in fact Coastal Command could have actually absorbed the fairly new Coastal Forces as they were the more established organisation.  The Maritime Patrol or General Reconnaissance squadrons would logically have teamed with the RNs Support Groups (also called escort groups) as well as coordinating with convoys and other missions i.e. the runs to Malta, Crete and Tobruk.

Back on topic this could have seen different capabilities supporting different types of formations, for instance the most important type of airpower for an armoured formation would find and interdict enemy artillery and AT guns while an infantry division would additionally need tank killing CAS.  The could be, instead of just a standard Lysander equipped Army Cooperation Squadron per division, a range of different squadrons, gathered into different types of regiments and brigades.  For example instead of just Lysanders the army cooperation squadrons could have had a mix of them and Gladiators like US Army Air Cav operated a mix of attack and scout helos, changing the number of scouts to attack helos depending on whether the sqn was attack or cav roled.  Same for a mix of Henleys and Hurricanes.

The other factor is army could either have used the same aircraft as the RAF, modified versions of them, or perhaps even entirely different types so as not to disrupt the core combat capabilities of the RAF.  The main thing here could be the use of radial engines over inlines.

Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #22 on: April 26, 2016, 09:46:35 PM »
I wonder if the Bell Airacobra would have had a better reception in the AAC than the RAF? Most of the criticisms of it were related to high altitude air-to-air work, while the most successful users, the Russians, praised it for it's low altitude capability and air-to-ground firepower.

Likewise the Mustang. In real life early Mustangs went to Army Co-operation Command anyway, so maybe the AAC would commission more, possibly with dive brakes like the A-36 Apache.
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #23 on: April 27, 2016, 02:40:52 AM »
I wonder if the Bell Airacobra would have had a better reception in the AAC than the RAF?

I was thinking the same.  A version of the Airacobra with extra armour, maybe with with armor-piercing rounds.
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Offline Weaver

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #24 on: April 27, 2016, 04:10:23 AM »
Here's a radial-engined option that doesn't disrupt UK production lines: the Curtiss Hawk 75. They were available with a fixed undercarriage (good for low-level work where a quick landing might be preferable to an attempted bail-out) and with two 23mm Madsen cannon in underwing gondola. The latter mod didnt go into production because it was judged to slow the aircraft down too much, but that might not matter so much for CAS work.

Even if you went for the retractable gear, the fact that it retracted backwards still elft room on the centreline for a bomb rack or fuel tank. No such store was available in real life, but I'm sure US or UK industry could have come up with one if asked. Underwing bomb racks were developed for it.

Forgeting the fixed gear option for a moment, you might have two versions in service:

Version A: 2 x 23mm cannon under the wings, 2 x .303 mgs in the cowling, centreline bomb rack or drop tank.

Version B: 6 x .303 mgs (2 in the cowling, four in the wings), centreline bomb rack or drop tank, two underwing hardpoints for small bombs or rockets.

If neccessary, the B versions could fly with guns only as escorts for the As, then when air superiority had been achieved, they could bomb up and join in with the ground attacks.
« Last Edit: April 27, 2016, 04:18:34 AM by Weaver »
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #25 on: April 27, 2016, 07:53:07 PM »
I wonder if the Bell Airacobra would have had a better reception in the AAC than the RAF? Most of the criticisms of it were related to high altitude air-to-air work, while the most successful users, the Russians, praised it for it's low altitude capability and air-to-ground firepower.

Likewise the Mustang. In real life early Mustangs went to Army Co-operation Command anyway, so maybe the AAC would commission more, possibly with dive brakes like the A-36 Apache.

Hears a thought, AAC/AAS takes the Mustangs and Apaches as well, but then instead of doing a Merlin conversion they tried Hercules instead.

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2016, 03:24:31 AM »
Here's a radial-engined option that doesn't disrupt UK production lines: the Curtiss Hawk 75. They were available with a fixed undercarriage (good for low-level work where a quick landing might be preferable to an attempted bail-out) and with two 23mm Madsen cannon in underwing gondola. The latter mod didnt go into production because it was judged to slow the aircraft down too much, but that might not matter so much for CAS work.



You're basically talking about the Hawk 75N:






One could build that in Army markings...

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2016, 12:39:50 PM »
Nice one Greg!

So did the Thai ones actually have the 23mm Madsen then?

Special Hobby have done a kit of the M/N/O in 1/72nd but it's OOP at the moment.
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #28 on: April 29, 2016, 01:42:59 AM »
Likewise the Mustang. In real life early Mustangs went to Army Co-operation Command anyway, so maybe the AAC would commission more, possibly with dive brakes like the A-36 Apache.

Hears a thought, AAC/AAS takes the Mustangs and Apaches as well, but then instead of doing a Merlin conversion they tried Hercules instead.
Hmm, four-cannon Mustang wings with Apache dive brakes and a radial engine (trial with Hercules in UK, either US engine or license-built Hercules in US-produced examples); be interesting to see where the oil cooler goes when it can't share a scoop with the coolant radiator any more.

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #29 on: April 29, 2016, 04:07:59 AM »
Nice one Greg!

So did the Thai ones actually have the 23mm Madsen then?

Special Hobby have done a kit of the M/N/O in 1/72nd but it's OOP at the moment.

Answered my own question from a reference book - yes they did. :)
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #30 on: April 30, 2016, 02:43:24 AM »
Sorry I didn't get back to you earlier - was in Adelaide all day yesterday on business.

I really like the Hawk75N idea.  It would probably still get the Mohawk name in Army service.  The lack of retractable landing gear would have been a good way to go IMHO.  This was not only cheaper, it was more rugged for unimproved airfields, and simplified maintenance - all things the Army would have liked especially in a lead up to the war.  BTW, there is more info here

And if anyone wants to have a go at profiling an Army one (hint, hint), here is a line drawing:

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #31 on: April 30, 2016, 04:29:48 AM »
Cheers Greg!

Since the fixed-gear Hawks were intended as a simplified version, they tended to have the Wright Cyclone R-1820 9-cyl engines of about 900bhp. However many US and French ones had more powerful Pratt & Whitney R-1830 Twin Wasp 14-cyl or more powerful Cyclones of anywhere up to 1200-ish bhp. You might therefore imagine the AAC Hawks being a hybrid, with the more powerful engines of the 'sophisticated' versions but the fixed gear of the export versions.
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #32 on: April 30, 2016, 06:16:32 AM »
What sort of markings might we expect on such a platform so as to show it was Army rather than RAF?
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #33 on: April 30, 2016, 11:29:22 AM »
Couple of reasons that export Hawks, fixed gear and retract gear, tended to have Cyclones instead of
Twin-Wasps; one, the US Government had restrictions on who could buy the Pratt engine and what versions
could be sold, and two, the Cyclone was a Curtiss-Wright product, so naturally they sold a package when
they could.
 ;D
The French and Norwegians both ended up purchasing variants with first P&W (A-1, A-2, A-3 and A-6 respectively) and
then Wright (A-4 and A-8 respectively) engines.

The Thai Madsen cannon equipped aircraft were primarily used for ground attack, with evidently satisfactory results.
The 23mm Madsen cannon was also tested by the USAAC on a P-36, redesignated XP-36F, for the ground attack role.

Curtiss Hawk 75 Beauchamp and Cuny; Curtiss Fighter Aircraft, Dean and Hagedorn.

The old Hobbycraft (also boxed by Academy) P-36/H-75 series makes it fairly easy to model a P&W engined, fixed-gear
Model 75 by combining boxings. Note that neither cowling, P&W nor Wright is all that accurate, but they look OK built up.
The Hawk 75M/N/O kit comes with three variations of wheel pants/spats.
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #34 on: May 01, 2016, 02:55:42 AM »

The 23mm Madsen cannon was also tested by the USAAC on a P-36, redesignated XP-36F, for the ground attack role.


Thanks Jon.  Folks, in case anyone is interested here is a photo of the sole XP-36F:



The XP-36F was created by taking P-36A Ser No 38-172 and fitting it with two 23-mm Danish-built Madsen cannon in underwing fairings. The standard P-36A fuselage armament was retained. Unfortunately, this additional armament caused the maximum weight to rise to 6850 pounds and the maximum speed to fall to 265 mph. Consequently, the experimental armament was soon removed and the airplane reverted to a standard P-36A.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2016, 02:59:02 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #35 on: May 01, 2016, 03:15:36 AM »
If anyone is interested, there's one of those Hobbycraft kits on eBay right now:
http://www.ebay.com/itm/1-48-Hobbycraft-Curtiss-Hawk-75M-N-O-/351706500353?hash=item51e3574d01:g:7sUAAOSwLN5WlqNt

The auction ends in 12 days, but it's a BiN and/or "Make Offer" auction, so...

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #36 on: May 01, 2016, 06:39:55 AM »
How about an anglicized Mohawk with a cheaper Bristol Mercury engine? Alternatively, go with a license-built Fokker D.XXI -- it too was offered with underwing 23mm Madsen cannons.
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #37 on: May 01, 2016, 08:25:24 AM »
Wondering where this might all end up by the end of WWII, you might see a purpose-built AAC attack aircraft looking something like a cross between a Sturmovik and Skyraider:

BIG radial engine
Pilot in front of fuselage fuel tank for good vision
Gunner behind fuselage tank with 2 x .303 Brownings
Serious amount of armour
Backwards-retracting gear with a fast-gravity-deploy backup mechanism
4 x 23mm MADEN (Madsen-Enfield ;) ) cannons in the wings
Big airbrakes on the fuselage sides
More pylons than the mind can comfortably contemplate
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #38 on: May 01, 2016, 08:52:31 AM »
For a tail-dragger, definitely backwards-retracting (I like the retracting and rotating for stowage main gear on the Mohawk/Tomahawk/Warhawk line and clearly Vought-Sikorsky did, too, as they bought a license for use on the Corsair's main gear) though I'd like to see forward-retracting (Skyhawk-style) for a tricycle-gear set up, simply because you can then use airloads to help assist in deploying them if needed.  The rest sounds good, though they may have graduated to something larger than .303 for the rear guns by then.

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #39 on: May 01, 2016, 09:46:57 AM »
The backwards-retracting gear is a definite bonus for this role because it sterilises the least amount of wingspan and fuselage width, thus allowing for more weapon pylons. The problem with a tricycle undercarriage on a powerful tractor prop type is that the prop diameter forces the nose gear to be long and heavy. There's a temptation to lighten it as much as possible, which can lead to it collapsing, and it's length also becomes a problem for centreline-mounted weapons, given that the CofG in a piston prop job is relatively far forward.

To get air loads to help with the emergency gear extension, how about this? There's a panel on top of the wing that's hinged at it's back edge and linked to the gear via a cable and pulley system. When the 'emergency deploy' lever is pulled, the front edge of this panel is released, causing the airflow to blow it open and pull the gear down. The panel moves through 180 degrees, so it doesn't end up acting as an airbrake when fully deployed, and since the u/c leg only moves through 90 degrees, this gives the panel some mechanical advantage, assuming that suitably-sized pulleys are used.

Re the .303s, I'm thinking that the higher RoF over a .50 cal would be an advantage in trying to actually hit something, given how inaccurate hand-aimed air-to-air gunnery generally was. One thing it might have different to both the Syraider and Sturmovik wolu d be a twin tail to give the gunner a better field of fire. Not sure how that would play out re prop-wash interactions though.
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #40 on: May 02, 2016, 01:53:43 AM »
A ground-attack Spearfish or two-seat Firebrand perhaps.  ;D  :icon_fsm:
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #41 on: May 02, 2016, 02:51:20 AM »
A ground-attack Spearfish or two-seat Firebrand perhaps.  ;D  :icon_fsm:

More like a Firecrest than a Firebrand.  ;)
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #42 on: May 02, 2016, 03:19:47 AM »
Those all work, though I still think Beaufighters, Typhoons and P-47s (and a few other US sourced platforms such as Vultee Vengeance) would be the main types.  If you wanted a dedicated type and also wanted the tailgunner (also useful for gunship style strafing), one might consider something akin to some of the P.96 proposals:




Depending on which way the requirements went, you might also see such specialised beasts as this:



More details on the latter here
« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 03:21:59 AM by GTX_Admin »
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #43 on: May 02, 2016, 03:24:37 AM »
Speaking of turreted fighters, what about having the Defiants transferred to the Army and also fitted with some 40mm cannon ala Hurricane IIDs:



Result might be a useful anti-tank/anti-strong point platform that can also do useful strafing.

One might even replace the liquid cooled Merlin engine with an air cooled Hercules ala the Radial Engined Hurricane of Boulton Paul P.85A proposal:


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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #44 on: May 02, 2016, 05:43:17 AM »
The Vengeance turned in a good performance during the war that's often overlooked. Vultee had to sub-contract out manufacture to other companies because they were full of work, so you might imagine an AAC version, based on the A-35 version (with 4 deg wing incidence to improve view over the nose), being built in Canada under licence, possibly with a licence-built Hercules engine.
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #45 on: May 02, 2016, 09:55:29 AM »
A ground-attack Spearfish or two-seat Firebrand perhaps.  ;D  :icon_fsm:

More like a Firecrest than a Firebrand.  ;)
;D Just need to figure out an important operational reason to retain the funky wingfold.  ;D
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #46 on: May 02, 2016, 10:00:30 AM »
A ground-attack Spearfish or two-seat Firebrand perhaps.  ;D  :icon_fsm:

More like a Firecrest than a Firebrand.  ;)
;D Just need to figure out an important operational reason to retain the funky wingfold.  ;D

Transporting it by road from one improvised operating site to another?  ;)
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #47 on: May 02, 2016, 11:18:50 AM »
Having read further in the Whirlwind book, it appears that the RAF were very concerned about having an antitank capability, which initially was the Whirlwind until Typhoons and Beaufighters came on line.  This was due to the cannon armament with 20mm considered, probably quite reasonably at the time, an effective anti armour weapon.

Following this logic if army aviation was to have had the antitank/anti armour role, then they would also have had dibs on the Whirlwind and Typhoon/Tornado then, once night fighter requirements had been met, Beaufighters.  As assigning Beaufighters to the Army would have been to the detriment of Coastal Command, maybe they could have had earlier access to Mosquito instead freeing up Beaus for the Army?


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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #48 on: May 02, 2016, 12:02:33 PM »
I've often speculated upon the utility of a radial-engined equivalent to the Whirlwind for the ground-attack/fighter-bomber/dive-bomber role. It might very well end up looking something like a Mercury-engined version of the Italian IMAM Ro.57:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/IMAM_Ro.57




I've always though that this was a damn good looking aircraft, and it's history curiously parallels that of the Whirlwind: nothing really wrong with it, but only produced in small numbers due to a lack of backing and/or uncertainty about it's role.

And yes, that's a kit instruction picture: Special Hobby did it in 1/72nd and 1/48th, though I think it's OOP at the moment.  :-*
« Last Edit: May 02, 2016, 12:05:28 PM by Weaver »
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #49 on: May 02, 2016, 12:17:17 PM »
Kits in both scales are available on eBay for those with the cash (been considering it with the idea of crossing it with a Ro,58 engine installation, or something equivalent, like a Bf110 engine installation, for a high-performance single-seat heavy fighter).  But, yes, with suitable engines (Mercury or Hercules), it could be quite a potent aircraft.

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #50 on: May 02, 2016, 01:44:00 PM »
A ground-attack Spearfish or two-seat Firebrand perhaps.  ;D  :icon_fsm:


More like a Firecrest than a Firebrand.  ;)

 ;D Just need to figure out an important operational reason to retain the funky wingfold.  ;D


Transporting it by road from one improvised operating site to another?  ;)


Perhaps even self-transporting with appropriate add-on wheels and propeller guard?  ;D



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And we, till now unmatched in ill,
Must leave successors more corrupted still."
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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #51 on: May 02, 2016, 07:09:56 PM »
;D Just need to figure out an important operational reason to retain the funky wingfold.  ;D
Smaller footprint, so easier to camouflage and/or shelter. Especially useful if the AAC operates from temporary airstrips and roadways, doubly so if wingfold allows the plane to be hidden in barns and warehouses and other suitable civilian buildings appropriated for Army use.

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #52 on: May 02, 2016, 11:19:36 PM »
A ground-attack Spearfish or two-seat Firebrand perhaps.  ;D  :icon_fsm:

More like a Firecrest than a Firebrand.  ;)
;D Just need to figure out an important operational reason to retain the funky wingfold.  ;D

Transporting it by road from one improvised operating site to another?  ;)

Perhaps even self-transporting with appropriate add-on wheels and propeller guard?  ;D


Why bother with the propeller guard? It could be the ultimate in ultra-slow, ultra-low-altitude close air support: if you can't bomb them and strafe them, just run them over and/or chop them up.... ;)
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Offline Volkodav

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Re: British Army Aviation is split from the RAF in 1939
« Reply #53 on: January 16, 2017, 03:19:06 PM »
Started rereading Power Plus Attitude: Ideas Strategy and Doctrine in the Royal Australian Air Force 1921-1991, by Alan Stephens, for the first time in over two decades and picking up on things I had overlooked or forgotten from my first read.  The Book is OOP but available as a PDF from the RAAF site.

Of particular interest and relevant to this topic is Chapter Two : A Matter of Survival 1921-1938 and especially the section A Theoretical Basis : The Wriggly Note Books, describing the RAAFs early years, the reasoning behind, not just its creation but that of the RAF as well, and of course, its fight for survival.  I knew one of the reasons for the creation of the RAF as a separate service was as a response to the bombing of London i.e. the Smuts Committee, but I wasn't aware that another key factor was that the need to determine who should control and decide the deployment of aircraft surplus to the requirements of the Army and RN. 

Basically by 1917 the operational needs of the Army and Navy for aircraft had been met and surplus were being produced and could be made available for other roles, including national air defence and strategic bombing etc.  The question was who was best suited to develop the required doctrine and effectively deploy the capability, the answer being the most experienced people available, those who operated them in war.  The end result was that as their requirements for aircraft had been met and there was a growing surplus that they had no requirement for the Army and Navy lost control of their aircraft and the capability they provided and it was given to a new service who's role was primarily to do the things that Army and RN didn't to do, ironic.

I was quite interested to also read in this section that in Stephens opinion that even had the established services retained control of their aircraft, similar doctrine would have evolved none the less as it was virtually impossible for it not to, it therefore made sense to save money and resources by combining existing aviation capability into a new but (in Australia's case at least) subordinate service.  He outlined the Australian Armys and the RANs views and stated needs for airpower at the time and made it clear that the senior sirs were in fact quite air minded and definitely saw not just the need but had quite clear requirements for airpower:
Quote
In addition to surveillance, the Navy and Army had their own tasks for the air service. Navy requirements covered three major roles. The first was 'attacking enemy ships', for which torpedo bombers were needed; second was patrolling, scouting and protecting warships, for which flying boats and seaplanes were needed; and finally, 'ordinary fighting squadrons' were required 'for the protection of special points'. The force structure recommended to meet those objectives consisted of one fighting squadron, one torpedo bomber squadron, one ships' seaplane squadron, and 12i flying boat squadrons. Those squadrons required a total of 198 aircraft, with the standard 50 per cent reserve bringing the sum to 297.
Army air requirements encompassed three distinct roles. 'Fighting planes' for 'dealing with enemy aircraft' were listed first, a priority which perhaps unconsciously acknowledged the concept of 'control of the air' as the prime air power campaign. Reconnaissance machines were required for a variety of observation duties, while 'bombing planes' were necessary for 'operating directly against the enemy'; again, there were clear connotations of independent operations in that role. Implicit recognition of independent air power was even more pronounced in the Army's recommended establishment. Only six of the proposed 21 squadrons were intended for direct army support in the reconnaissance role. Of the others, eight were to be fighting (air superiority) squadrons and six bombing squadrons, with the remaining unit responsible for training. Satisfying those roles would require 669 aircraft, including the 50 per cent reserve

While totally unaffordable it is quite apparent to me that the leadership of the army and RAN saw and understood the need for airpower leaving the question in my mind whether creating a separate service actually damaged the building of airpower and evolution of doctrine between the wars?  If for instance if the army decided on one multi role squadron per division, or even a regiment (as was the case with cavalry etc.) then there is the distinct possibility Australia would have entered WWII with more not less airpower.  If the RAN owned their own aircraft would that have gone for a light carrier instead of a seaplane carrier and would they have had an operational torpedo bomber capability, as well as an established long range surveillance capability?

Stephens mentions that Jellicos discussions on the potential of air power and the danger of air attack on ships should have provided warning to Australia and reinforced the idea of a separate air force but he misses the point that Jellico recommended that Australia acquire multiple carriers, i.e. naval operated aircraft.