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OT - question, why P-39 and P-40

 
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OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 6:46:35 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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P-39 and P-40 are relatively contemporary designs that somehow fall into the same category of low altitude fighters;

my question is why did the US developed 2 planes that fell into the same role? I can clearly see the differences between a P-51 and a P-47 and why the US wanted both, or between BF109/ FW190 or Spitfire/ Hurricane, but between P-39 and P-40 it seems too be almost the same role

so far my potential answers:
- P-39 was supposed to be a high level interceptor but the turbo charged model was not a particularly success story and war needs made it critical to start production before a solution could be found, and thus, P-39 was downgraded to a low altitude fighter

- Economies of scale: the US knew a war was coming and they needed as many planes as they could get; so having Bell building P-39 while Curtis the P-40 guaranteed bigger numbers than focusing on one design

- Use P-39 as an interceptor against bombers (37mm gun) and P-40 as a regular dogfighter; both were good at the ground attack role



< Message edited by Jorge_Stanbury -- 7/17/2012 6:49:17 PM >
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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 7:01:31 PM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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well USAAF was insisting on full armor / self sealing tanks + lots of gunpower, and half-decent range on internal fuel
(both would be considered long-legged in the ETO)

all the extra weight had a bad impact on performance (take a look at a Bf-109F, basically the same horsepower but far less gun/fuel, so it could really climb)

also possible they didn't want the turbo on the aircobra since it was "topsecret",just how they sent the "castrated lightnings" to britain

in general its shrouded in mystery, but in 1941 the USAAF wanted all those features and were left with "jack-of-all trades" fighters that
were not very good fighter vs fighter (but a lot of that was due to disparity in pilot experienece), however once they got into formations
of sallies, they tore them apart

the original aircobra looked something like this




Attachment (1)

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 7:08:15 PM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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lets add another question -->

why did the japanese use both the Hayabusa and the Reisen?

Reisen won flat out in the January 1941 dogfight contest... so why did they put the oscar into production when the pilots all thought it was junk?

furthermore. why did the japanese insist on long range in their fighters, when their pilots wanted something with good performance instead?

for example the pilots gave the Reisen's gun package a big 2 thumbs down, they wanted the large caliber guns on the nose and with more ammo,
and didn't care about fuel load.. in fact horikoshi put together a variant of the zero that had a wing loading of 88kg/m2, (that's the same as an I-153 biplane)
but barely any range at all

looked something like this






Attachment (1)

< Message edited by Commander Stormwolf -- 7/17/2012 7:09:53 PM >


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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 7:16:46 PM   
Nikademus


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The P-39 was developed originally to satisfy the US Army need for a dedicated ground attack aircraft. Hence the 37mm cannon which while limited in usefulness in a2a combat would theoretically be useful for ground attack. The resultant need to fit the engine behind the cockpit, in addition to making room for the huge cannon would further serve to protect the plane for ground straffing. The prototype was a nimble bird but by the time the production model was ready in 41 it was weighted down by the armor and other gear and resulted in it being underpowered. Since it was originally to be a ground attack aircraft it was not equipped with a supercharger which exaserbated it's performance issues above 15,000 feet.

P40 was a development/refinement/modification (depending on which org you ask) of an earlier fighter design and filled the role of general air fighter. A large contract was awarded to Curtis to fill out squadrons quickly. New, better aircraft were being developed of course but that was in the future.

Keep in mind that the US in particular was blessed with a multitude of aircraft companies, each privately owned and vying for government contracts so there was healthy competition. This fostered its shares of duplicate efforts, dead ends....and in the best case, some beauties that helped win the coming war.


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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 7:16:55 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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so, the P-39 was supposed to be the high-end super fighter and the P-40 the jack-of-all-trades, lower-end aircraft to build in great numbers?

but the impossibility to add a turbo without big compromise in design/ stability made it go into the same niche as the P-40 ?

< Message edited by Jorge_Stanbury -- 7/17/2012 7:18:03 PM >

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 7:24:19 PM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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P-39 had a turbo system right at the beginning

the P-39A flew 390mph and was ordered by the RAF as its interceptor to replace the spitfire

they received the castrated non-turbo version..and cancelled further orders

same thing happened to the lightning


some are saying "well the turbo was causing drag, so they tried to improve aerodynamics .. and it didn't work"

probably export politics had some impact with removing the turbo system,
and the extra weight of the armor and ssf had further impact on performance


warhawk was as they say --> adapted from the P-36 airframe to fill the ranks until newer designs were ready



< Message edited by Commander Stormwolf -- 7/17/2012 7:25:40 PM >


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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 7:29:48 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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between Reisen and Hayabusa, you have the huge political issue of Army vs Navy... so politics might had made the army pick the worst plane and keep on

other options are:
they though more maneuverability, less guns were OK for their short term task of winning against China?
or maybe Hayabusa was cheaper or easier to mass produce?

EDIT: regarding Reisen's too much emphasis in range vs. armament or armor... at least at the beginning of the war; this was a good compromise, the "Centrifugal Offensive" would not have succeded as quickly as it did without the longer range of the zero

< Message edited by Jorge_Stanbury -- 7/17/2012 7:39:51 PM >

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 9:46:09 PM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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In their current forms, Hayabusa would turn faster than a Zero

but add the extra guns, fuel, and carrier capabiilty and the oscar would be really bad

remove those items, and the zero would be excellent


Hayabusa took 25,000 man hours to make (compare 5,000 for a Bf-109E, 10,000 for Hurricane)

pilots also really didn't like it..

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 9:49:47 PM   
crsutton


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus

The P-39 was developed originally to satisfy the US Army need for a dedicated ground attack aircraft. Hence the 37mm cannon which while limited in usefulness in a2a combat would theoretically be useful for ground attack. The resultant need to fit the engine behind the cockpit, in addition to making room for the huge cannon would further serve to protect the plane for ground straffing. The prototype was a nimble bird but by the time the production model was ready in 41 it was weighted down by the armor and other gear and resulted in it being underpowered. Since it was originally to be a ground attack aircraft it was not equipped with a supercharger which exaserbated it's performance issues above 15,000 feet.

P40 was a development/refinement/modification (depending on which org you ask) of an earlier fighter design and filled the role of general air fighter. A large contract was awarded to Curtis to fill out squadrons quickly. New, better aircraft were being developed of course but that was in the future.

Keep in mind that the US in particular was blessed with a multitude of aircraft companies, each privately owned and vying for government contracts so there was healthy competition. This fostered its shares of duplicate efforts, dead ends....and in the best case, some beauties that helped win the coming war.




Not to mention that back then as now the aircraft companies carried a lot of influence in Washington and curried their favorite politicians. A lot of politics behind armament production in the US.

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 9:53:49 PM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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Shoki (Tojo) however was an amazing design, well ahead of everyone else

if they really went to the extremes and reduced its fuel load
(and maybe some better engines later on), it would have been a big headache


japanese were probably also influenced by the battle of britain, and wanted to reduce their ops losses
so they kept their fuel loads high, to the detriment of everything else

in some cases however, that was a good idea - for example the A6M + G4M combination,
the first long range naval attack system

Also remember there was another company (Kawasaki) making japanese fighters.
They were burdened with a lot of useless projects (Ki-48-II for example),

Takeo Doi for example made a high performance version of the Ki-61, with a W.C.E.S. for a higher speed,
and the excellent Ki-64 (but those designs would have been a massive liability on the maintenance front)



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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 10:00:14 PM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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play IL-2 , take the A6M2 with 25% fuel load, and empty loadout

don't worry about having no guns, no-one will touch you

that's about how an 88kg/m2, 366mph fighter will perform

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 10:07:31 PM   
Commander Stormwolf

 

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I did a lot of math on this once, to confirm the numbers from the books on the zero (eages of mitsubishi and zero fighter)

i figured they could make a few models of the A6M2 (like the pilots were demanding)

351mph
96kg/m2
2x20mm-T99-1 on the nose(200rds/gun)
100kg cockpit armor
small self sealing fuel tank

range: 2 hexes internal / 4 hexes drop tank

366mph
88kg/m2
2x20mm-T99-1 on the nose (200rds/gun)
no armor
non-self-sealing fuel tank

range: 2 hexes internal / 4 hexes drop tank


--------------------------------------------------------------------

for torpedo escort use the vanilla A6M2 but instead of the 2x60kg on the wings, use 2x100L drop tanks to increase its range a bit more



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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 10:47:19 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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it is always politics ruling against everything... including common sense... it will always be

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/17/2012 11:30:08 PM   
mullk

 

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sometimes there's wisdom in not putting all ones eggs in one basket. If one fighter is a failure at least you have the other to fall back on. If both work so much the better. P-40 and P-39 remind me sort of the F-15 and F-16 fighters with the Air Force.

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/18/2012 8:02:29 AM   
JeffK


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For a more researched answer try

http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_fighters/p39_1.html

http://www.joebaugher.com/usaf_fighters/p40_1.html

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/18/2012 9:02:50 AM   
YankeeAirRat


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Nikademus

The P-39 was developed originally to satisfy the US Army need for a dedicated ground attack aircraft. Hence the 37mm cannon which while limited in usefulness in a2a combat would theoretically be useful for ground attack. The resultant need to fit the engine behind the cockpit, in addition to making room for the huge cannon would further serve to protect the plane for ground straffing. The prototype was a nimble bird but by the time the production model was ready in 41 it was weighted down by the armor and other gear and resulted in it being underpowered. Since it was originally to be a ground attack aircraft it was not equipped with a supercharger which exaserbated it's performance issues above 15,000 feet.

P40 was a development/refinement/modification (depending on which org you ask) of an earlier fighter design and filled the role of general air fighter. A large contract was awarded to Curtis to fill out squadrons quickly. New, better aircraft were being developed of course but that was in the future.

Keep in mind that the US in particular was blessed with a multitude of aircraft companies, each privately owned and vying for government contracts so there was healthy competition. This fostered its shares of duplicate efforts, dead ends....and in the best case, some beauties that helped win the coming war.




Actually Nik the P-39 was desgined to fill the high altitude interceptor role. The 37mm was there to help destroy the bombers and other fighters. Remember that during the inter-war period .30 cal weapons were common and the .50 cals were not that common. The US didnt have a large calibre weapon until it was converted from the anti-tank gun of the same type mounted in the M3 light tank. The issue with it like a number of other auto-cannons from the inter-war and war was the low muzzle velocity and low rate of fire. The other guns were there to help defend the aircraft from the other fighters and help provide ranging fire to fire the 37mm cannon. In the prototype and experimental stage the P-39 and the Allison engine in it were fitted with a turbo-supercharger during this stage, also of note this is the same style of engine that was fitted to the YP-38A and P-51A; however, someone some place with in the USAAF portion of the War department asked for the engine to be simplified for production so the turbo-supercharger was deleted out of the all the major variants that were being ordered for the production version of the P-51, P-38 and P-39. In turn those aircraft were dogs until the turbo-supercharger was re-introduced (or in the case of the P-51 a licensed vesion of the Merlin was introduced into it).


The P-40 was a modification of the

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/18/2012 3:42:21 PM   
dr.hal


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Yankee you dropped off in mid sentence!

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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/18/2012 7:44:20 PM   
Nikademus


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quote:

ORIGINAL: YankeeAirRat

Actually Nik the P-39 was desgined to fill the high altitude interceptor role.


I've read that in some source materials. However Bergerud's book on Pacific Air combat suggests that the plane was designed or re-designed to market for a low alt ground attack fighter. It does seem strange to me that the deletion of the turbo-supercharger in favor of a single stage supercharger with a critical altitude of 12,000 feet would be retained to fill the "high alt interceptor" role.

It may be that Bell redesigned it that way. (there is some dispute over Bell's motivations for the re-design)

Either way, the actual plane that resulted was suitible at best for low alt/ground attack work. P-40's evolution was simpler....a progression of an existing design that allowed a proven airframe to be built in numbers.


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RE: OT - question, why P-39 and P-40 - 7/18/2012 8:14:25 PM   
YankeeAirRat


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Yea, I just realized that. What I was going to say was

The P-40 was designed to be a pure fighter in the idea of the idea that it would go after other fighters, light bombers, recon aircraft, etc. It was also designed to operate in the lower altitute bands versus what was being asked of the P-39 and P-38.

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