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WW2 aircraft engines

Discussion in 'Engineering' started by Yellow Fang, 19 Feb 2018.

  1. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
    Reading
    The which was better: Messerschmitt Bf109e or Spitfire I is a debate that I have had with myself since childhood. However, perhaps the question should be about which engine was better, the Merlin or the DB601 (I will check later). Personally I suspect the German engine was better because it had fuel injection, while the Merlin had the notorious carburettor problem which led to the fuel cutting out and then flooding during negative g manoeuvres. Miss Tilly Schilling designed a partial solution with her famous orifice, but it took a long time to solve it completely. I think there was also a problem with the position of the glycol tank. The Merlin seems to have been better than the air cooled radial engines that were available, such as the Hercules. The Lancaster was faster than the Halifax. The Mosquito was faster than the Beaufighter. The availability of powerful engines very much hindered Italian and Japanese aircraft performance, while the availability of very powerful engines allowed American fighters to carry more weaponry and armour, as well as giving higher speeds and climb rate. I get the impression engine design was even more crucial than aircraft design.
     
  2. amusicsite

    amusicsite dn ʎɐʍ sᴉɥ┴ Staff Member

    Location:
    UK
    https://corporalfrisk.com/2015/04/11/spitfire-vs-messerschmitt-bf-109/

     
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  3. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
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    Interesting, I have often thought that Fairey's aircraft: the Battle, Fulmar and Firefly were too large to be powered by a single engine, and that if they wanted to stick to that configuration, maybe for deck space reason, they should have considered a second engine driving a contra-rotating propeller. The Fairey Gannet did have two engines and a contra-rotating propeller, but not until many years after the war. Anyway, it turns out that the Fairey corporation were trying to develop their own engine to drive a contra-rotating propeller, but the Air Ministry were not interested.

    https://oldmachinepress.com/category/aircraft-engines/

    The Italians developed a contra-rotating propeller engine for their Schneider Trophy seaplane, but it did not get to compete because the British had won the trophy outright. Fiat had developed an engine that delivered 2500-3100 hp (according to Wikipedia). Mussolini was interested. 2500 hp is more powerful than late WW2 aircraft engines. That's odd because WW2 Italian aircraft were generally at a disadvantage because of their feeble engines.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macchi_M.C.72
     
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  4. classic33

    classic33 Über Geek

    The mosquito relied on speed alone, to protect it during its early life as a high-altitude photo-reconnaissance aircraft.
    Concept of an unarmed bomber, which it was conceived as, didn't go down well.

    The Manchester didn't perform as well as the Halifax, both ordered at the same time.
     
  5. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
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    I have often wondered whether most WW2 bombers were over-manned. The Mosquito had a crew of two; the Halifax had a crew of seven: pilot, navigator, radio operator, bomb aimer/front gunner, upper gunner, rear gunner, and someone else (engineer perhaps). In particular, I wonder whether the upper gunner may have made the heavy bombers more vulnerable than less because the increased air resistance reduced speed. The air ministry were pretty slow to abandon gunners. Sometimes I wonder if even the second crew member of the Mosquito was really necessary. There were reconnaissance versions of the Spitfire. The pilot had to navigate his way there, take the photographs and then find his way back. I believe that took a very skilled pilot, but other fighter bombers such as the Typhoon only needed a pilot.

    It was different with tanks. With tanks, generally all the crew were needed. In some early WW2 tanks, the commander had to operate the radio, search for targets, load the gun, fire the gun as well as instruct the driver. He was overloaded.
     
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  6. classic33

    classic33 Über Geek

    Would the Mosquito have gone onto serve in as many roles if it had been a single seater?

    Originally conceived as a bomber, turned down in the role, "who'd heard of an unarmed bomber?"

    The spitfire came the other way. Losing it's guns to gain extra speed, from fighter to reconnaissance.

    The Beaufort bomber went onto lose a gunner and become the Beaufighter, having lost two crew.
     
  7. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
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    The Mosquito and the Beaufighter were fairly similar aircraft. In the Beaufighter, the 2nd crew member sat behind and could see out via a streamlined blister canopy. Sometimes he had a gun, but more often he didn't. I think night fighters always needed a 2nd man to operate the radar. For precision raids, I think it may have been helpful to have a navigator. For instance, there was the Jericho Operation in which a flight of Mosquitos and a flight of Typhoons flew a mission to attack a Gestapo prison in France to allow some French resistance fighters to escape. It was a low level raid in bad weather. The Typhoons never made the rendezvous, but mission was still a success, in that the Mosquitos breached the prison walls and some prisoners escaped. I doubt on his own, a pilot could navigate his way to a precise point like that, flying low level. All the same, the Hornet, which was to intended to replace the Mosquito only had one crew.
     
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  8. Yellow Fang

    Yellow Fang Veteran Geek

    Location:
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    I was watching this YouTube video in which test pilot Eric 'Winkle' Brown describes his landing of a Mosquito on a carrier deck. Considerations like the high landing speed, heavy weight and engine torque owing to both props rotating in the same direction, made me appreciate why the Royal Navy persisted with heavy, single prop aircraft like the Fulmar and Firefly. It also makes me think the Air Ministry may have been wrong in stopping Fairey from developing its own engine for contra-rotating propellers. Eric Brown said if one engine on his Mosquito failed while coming into land, the plane would flip over and that would be that. Wouldn't you be in a bad position if your only engine failed on coming into land?

     
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