The Anniversary of The Channel Dash - 1942 - and the wider RN Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War

PhotEx

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It also makes me think of the Swordfish etc detecting the U boat at long range, forcing them underwater, and passing the location of them to an escort.

Except planes like the Sunderland, Catalina and especially the Liberator were the enduring scourge of the Kreigesmarines U Boat arm.
Cutting about in an open cloth biplane for a few hours freezing your nuts off, rather than 13 hours in a large comfy seaplane with a full galley and toilet, less than ideal…



Royal_Air_Force_Coastal_Command,_1939-1945._CH418.jpg


Liberator: 72 U Boats
Catalina: 38 U Boats
Avenger: 35 U Boats
Wellington: 27 U Boats
Sunderland: 26 U Boats
Hudson: 26 U Boats
Swordfish: 22 U Boats
 
Is there any way that the RN could have acquired a high performance fighter in the 1930’s?

Good question - the first step would have been to dump the doctrine, but that would have also required bringing the Dowding system to sea...and that was what I was driving at. By the time this was on the cards, the armoured carriers were well in build (Illustrious was ordered April '37, laid down within the month!)

Thinking about the aircraft, the simple option - joining in on the procurement that led to the interceptor programme - wouldn't have been that simple (were there even joint service procurements?) as it would have meant either changing the Hurricane or Spitfire design quite a bit (let's not even go there) or adding another type, in which case that would be just another development.

There were a few fighter projects that didn't go anywhere (check this out: Miles M.20 or this: Martin-Baker MB 2) so the industry could probably have done it. Although, the simplest option might have been to go with what Boulton Paul proposed - a navalised Defiant with a Bristol Hercules radial - but delete the turret and add forward firing guns...but this is what Blackburn came up with:


and the FAA chose it even though it was 85mph off the pace. scenes!

As for the ships, although it was too late to go back to a Glory Ark style design you can overstate how much the armoured carriers gave up in terms of aircraft numbers. The rated capacity of 36 was....not taken seriously in wartime and they operated as many as 60, with the Implacables going up to 80. (IIRC reading somewhere that although Implacable and sisters had an extra hangar deck they used part of it for extra messes because you ran out of room for crew before you couldn't physically load more planes.)
 

PhotEx

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Good question - the first step would have been to dump the doctrine, but that would have also required bringing the Dowding system to sea...and that was what I was driving at. By the time this was on the cards, the armoured carriers were well in build (Illustrious was ordered April '37, laid down within the month!)
The answer was hiding in plain sight, the Hurricane.
The RN where quite convinced however it couldn't be used aboard a carrier, until the rather desperate pilots of No 46 Squadron RAF rather spoiled the argument by landing all their Hurricanes on Glorious without any training to escape Norway.

No excises, the RN had been using Hawker aircraft the Hurricane was a direct relation of, (After all, its original name was the Fury monoplane), the Hawker Nimrod.

If given the nod in the latter half of the 30's, Hawker would have been quite capable of navalising the Hurricane.
 
Both the Sea Hurricane and Seafire were more than a bit sporky. Winkle's memoir refers on the difficulty of landing them on (the way the Supermarine test pilot was doing before Winkle did his thing even more so)
 

Yokel

LE
If it had been so desired, a suitable requirement could have been issued but hit wasn't.

France and Greece placed orders for the Grumman Wildcat even before WWII began in August 1939.

How long would it have taken for it to enter squadron service and start flying from the carriers? In Wings On My Sleeve Winkle Brown comments that the Martlets were meant to be going to European countries - which had been overrun. He says his had a French accent.

Rather a difference flying a thousand miles out over the North Atlantic and doing a round robin via Iceland and home to flying 200 miles from a carrier.

Maybe - but surely radio homing aides were developed after the specification was laid down?

Of course, if we'd paid attention to the other carrier chaps, we'd have been using high performance scout dive bombers like the Douglas Dauntless and Aichi Val that having sent home a sighting report, sank the offending ships rather than 'slowing them down'
See Japanese ships off Midway and British ships off Ceylon

Surely that would have been down to the torpedo - although that would have demanded an aircraft able to carry it?

Except planes like the Sunderland, Catalina and especially the Liberator were the enduring scourge of the Kreigesmarines U Boat arm.
Cutting about in an open cloth biplane for a few hours freezing your nuts off, rather than 13 hours in a large comfy seaplane with a full galley and toilet, less than ideal…



View attachment 553868

Liberator: 72 U Boats
Catalina: 38 U Boats
Avenger: 35 U Boats
Wellington: 27 U Boats
Sunderland: 26 U Boats
Hudson: 26 U Boats
Swordfish: 22 U Boats

It it interesting to see that there was not that much difference in the number of kills between the Swordfish and the Sunderland. Are these figures for the whole war? I believe that after May 1943, the allies put a lot of effort into sinking U boats transiting through the Bay Of Biscay, which the Swordfish did not take part in. I am not sure if the Sunderland did either. @Archimedes probably knows!

The answer was hiding in plain sight, the Hurricane.
The RN where quite convinced however it couldn't be used aboard a carrier, until the rather desperate pilots of No 46 Squadron RAF rather spoiled the argument by landing all their Hurricanes on Glorious without any training to escape Norway.

No excises, the RN had been using Hawker aircraft the Hurricane was a direct relation of, (After all, its original name was the Fury monoplane), the Hawker Nimrod.

If given the nod in the latter half of the 30's, Hawker would have been quite capable of navalising the Hurricane.

Yes - but but that was at a time when the RAF needed every fighter it could get to fight of the Luftwaffe.

Both the Sea Hurricane and Seafire were more than a bit sporky. Winkle's memoir refers on the difficulty of landing them on (the way the Supermarine test pilot was doing before Winkle did his thing even more so)

IF the capacity had been there, the undercarriage could have been redesigned. In the end they flew from escort carriers in Arctic waters!
 
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Except planes like the Sunderland, Catalina and especially the Liberator were the enduring scourge of the Kreigesmarines U Boat arm.
Cutting about in an open cloth biplane for a few hours freezing your nuts off, rather than 13 hours in a large comfy seaplane with a full galley and toilet, less than ideal…



View attachment 553868

Liberator: 72 U Boats
Catalina: 38 U Boats
Avenger: 35 U Boats
Wellington: 27 U Boats
Sunderland: 26 U Boats
Hudson: 26 U Boats
Swordfish: 22 U Boats

Query, which one is more responsive to the changing situation? I would venture that the Carrier can react better to events around it.
 
Good question - the first step would have been to dump the doctrine, but that would have also required bringing the Dowding system to sea...and that was what I was driving at. By the time this was on the cards, the armoured carriers were well in build (Illustrious was ordered April '37, laid down within the month!)

More difficult, it would have required the Crabs to agree to something they thought to be a waste of time.
 

PhotEx

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Both the Sea Hurricane and Seafire were more than a bit sporky. Winkle's memoir refers on the difficulty of landing them on (the way the Supermarine test pilot was doing before Winkle did his thing even more so)


Yes, the Hurricane like most land fighters of the day had a rather 'bouncy' undercarriage for grass fields, but spring rates an damper rates can be adapted.

An issue with the Hurricane for carrier ops was the stupidly small lifts in the armoured carriers, preventing the Sea Hurricane being struck down into the hanger, (They fitted on the older pre war carriers), limiting the number being carried.
There was some thought to fitting a folding wing on the Hurricane @ 1940, but nothing came of it.

But you wonder why the simple solution the IJN adopted for the A6M which also didn't have folding wings to get it down their lifts didn't occur - a small manually folded wing tip.
Simple, effective, added almost no weight, worked.

Mitsubishi_A62M_Zero_USAF-f3a17388e24c4c718fd990d69db9e2a5.jpg
 

PhotEx

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It it interesting to see that there was not that much difference in the number of kills between the Swordfish and the Sunderland. Are these figures for the whole war? I believe that after May 1943, the allies put a lot of effort into sinking U boats transiting through the Bay Of Biscay, which the Swordfish did not take part in. I am not sure if the Sunderland did either. @Archimedes probably knows!
The main role of the Sunderland was patrolling, it really wasn't a very good bomber – a bit cumbersome with a curious wind out bomb rack.
 

Yokel

LE
The main role of the Sunderland was patrolling, it really wasn't a very good bomber – a bit cumbersome with a curious wind out bomb rack.

My late Uncle was a Sunderland Flight Engineer. I cannot recall him talking about weapon delivery but I understand that a number of Victoria Crosses were won after attacks were pressed home. Patrolling sounds like the role of the Swordfish as a U boat hunter.
 

PhotEx

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Surely that would have been down to the torpedo - although that would have demanded an aircraft able to carry it?


Different concepts.

The RN thought the solution was a very large two man single engine fighter to search for information and attack or drive off enemy reconnaissance planes. But you ended up with a fighter that could find things, but couldn't fight.

The IJN and USN decided the solution was a scouting bomber, dive bombers with teeth.
They ended up with dive bombers that could find things, could attack or drive off enemy reconnaissance planes and were still excellent bombers.

Both the Dauntless and Val outperformed the Fulmar as a 'fighter' by a handsome margin.

Val: 270mph, 1,900ft/m
Dauntless: 255mph, 1,700 ft/m
Fulmar: 270mph, 1,200ft/m

To put a perspective on that, a Fulmar couldn't catch a He 111 bomber in a stern chase, and only had a marginally higher rate of climb.
 
How long would it have taken for it to enter squadron service and start flying from the carriers? In Wings On My Sleeves Winkle Brown comments that the Martlets were meant to be going to European countries - which had been overrun. He says his had a French accent.

Wait how long would a purpose designed Carrier fighter been able to be used aboard carriers? dont they all have decks and arrestor gear?




Yokel said:

It it interesting to see that there was not that much difference in the number of kills between the Swordfish and the Sunderland. Are these figures for the whole war? I believe that after May 1943, the allies put a lot of effort into sinking U boats transiting through the Bay Of Biscay, which the Swordfish did not take part in. I am not sure if the Sunderland did either. @Archimedes probably knows!
[/QUOTE]

Sunderlands were used and sometimes lost to JU88 C's

Sunderland Mk III of No. 461 Squadron RAAF: EJ134 fought off 8 JU88C's shot down 2 damaged 4 and still flew back to blighty to ditch in Cornwall and 10 of the 11 crew survived

U 426 a type 7C getting sunk by a 10 Sqn RAAF Sunderland on 8 jan 44


U-boat_Warfare_1939-1945_C4081.jpg


 
The Sunderland could absorb hits that would bring down another aircraft. The U-boats started to appear with quad 20mms and the deadly 37mm and began to stay on the surface and fight until Beaus and Mossies made daylight runs in the Bay of Biscay impossible and radar equipped bombers made even snorkling dangerous.
 

Yokel

LE
Some people might forget that in addition to politics, the pre war decision makers would have struggled to keep up with the rate of technological change in the ten years before the Second World War. Things such as:

Monoplanes replacing biplanes
All metal aircraft production
Radio telephony
Radar - and the start of miniaturisation
 
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It wasnt unfamiliar technology and none of the above couldnt have been made or adjusted to suit. The Hurricane adaption was already a known quantity. The Russians even did it later, when they fitted their 12.7s and 23mm guns to the Hurricane,so it wasn't impossible.
Hurricane IIC had 4x 20mm Hispanos, and the IID had 2 x 40mm cannon in underwing pods, plus 2x .303 in the wings.
My late Uncle was a Sunderland Flight Engineer. I cannot recall him talking about weapon delivery but I understand that a number of Victoria Crosses were won after attacks were pressed home. Patrolling sounds like the role of the Swordfish as a U boat hunter.
John Cruikshank VC, Catalina North Atlantic, (still alive - last surviving WW2 VC Winner)
Lloyd Trigg RNZAF - Liberator South Atlantic. Only VC to be awarded solely on the evidence of an enemy officer (the Captain of the U Boat Trigg's crew sank)
 

Yokel

LE
Wait how long would a purpose designed Carrier fighter been able to be used aboard carriers? dont they all have decks and arrestor gear?

I meant if the UK had order the Wildcat/Martlet in 1938 0r 1939 - how many would have been in service by 1940 or 1941? Could they have been produced under licence?

Different concepts.

The RN thought the solution was a very large two man single engine fighter to search for information and attack or drive off enemy reconnaissance planes. But you ended up with a fighter that could find things, but couldn't fight.

The IJN and USN decided the solution was a scouting bomber, dive bombers with teeth.
They ended up with dive bombers that could find things, could attack or drive off enemy reconnaissance planes and were still excellent bombers.

Both the Dauntless and Val outperformed the Fulmar as a 'fighter' by a handsome margin.

Val: 270mph, 1,900ft/m
Dauntless: 255mph, 1,700 ft/m
Fulmar: 270mph, 1,200ft/m

To put a perspective on that, a Fulmar couldn't catch a He 111 bomber in a stern chase, and only had a marginally higher rate of climb.

If the assumption was that the fleet would not need to operate near a hostile shore with enemy aircraft., then that seems like an odd assumption and explains the lack of attention paid to air defence until it was too late.
 

PhotEx

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On ROPs
My late Uncle was a Sunderland Flight Engineer. I cannot recall him talking about weapon delivery but I understand that a number of Victoria Crosses were won after attacks were pressed home. Patrolling sounds like the role of the Swordfish as a U boat hunter.


U Boat kills by Swordfish by year

1940: 1 - Narvik
1941: 1 - Gibraltar
1942: 3 - 2 Mediterranean
1943: 3 - Atlantic 2 HMS Biter, 1 HMS Archer
1944: 13 - 10 of which Norway and the Barents Sea
1945: 0


But 1944 was a very different war, take UK bound Convoy RA59A
9 merchant ships escort included 3 Sloops, 5 Corvettes, 1 Frigate, 7 Destroyers, I Cruiser, 2 Escort Carriers
 

diverman

LE
Book Reviewer
U Boat kills by Swordfish by year

1940: 1 - Narvik
1941: 1 - Gibraltar
1942: 3 - 2 Mediterranean
1943: 3 - Atlantic 2 HMS Biter, 1 HMS Archer
1944: 13 - 10 of which Norway and the Barents Sea
1945: 0


But 1944 was a very different war, take UK bound Convoy RA59A
9 merchant ships escort included 3 Sloops, 5 Corvettes, 1 Frigate, 7 Destroyers, I Cruiser, 2 Escort Carriers
What did the convoy consist of, was it a big troop transport for Overlord?
 
What also helped was that convoys were rated as fast or slow and the quality of ships got better so that a convoy commander could demand 12 kts all day from his charges and get it. It wasn't unknown for slow old ships to be holding the convoy back so they were whittled out of the convoys, either by enemy action,weather, mechanical failure and so on.
 
I meant if the UK had order the Wildcat/Martlet in 1938 0r 1939 - how many would have been in service by 1940 or 1941? Could they have been produced under licence?
Since GM wound up producing the F4F as the FM1 I dont see why not> Grumman invented the TBF but the Navy wanted them to concentrate on the F6F so the TBM was a GM product. Certainly they did for the Colt-Browning ANM2 machineguns to be licensed built and in .303 since 1935
 
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