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USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - A (Attack) Aircraft

USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - A (Attack) Aircraft


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USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - A (Attack) Aircraft

The A for Attack designation has continued more-or-less unchanged from 1924 to the present day. The original sequence included a significant number of attack versions of fighter aircraft (such as the A-36 Mustang) or Naval aircraft with army designations (the A-24 Banshee was the Army designation for the SBD Dauntless).

The post-1962 sequence includes several odd features. The Douglas A-26 Invader features in both lists. It was transfered to the bomber list as the B-26 after the Second World War but returned to the A list in 1966. In more recent times the designation has been used for multi-purpose aircraft such as the F/A-18 Hornet, while other attack aircraft have been given F for Fighter designations.

A - Attack (1924-1947)

A-1 not used to avoid confusion with Cox-Klemin A-1 ambulance plane
Douglas XA-2
Curtiss A-3 Falcon
Curtiss XA-4
Curtiss XA-5
Curitss XA-6
Altantic-Fokker XA-7
Curtiss A-8 Shrike
Detroit-Lockheed Y1A-9
Curtiss YA-10
Consolidated A-11
Curtiss A-12 Shrike
Northrop YA-13
Curtiss YA-14
Martin A-15
Northrop YA-16
Northrop A-17/ Douglas DB-8
Curtiss A-18 Shrike
Vultee YA-19
Douglas A-20 Boston/ Havoc
Stearman XA-21
Martin A-22 Maryland
Martin A-23 Baltimore
Douglas A-24 Banshee (SBD Dauntless )
Curtiss A-25 (SB2C Helldiver)
Douglas A-26 Invader
North American A-27
Lockheed A-28 Hudson
Lockheed A-29 Hudson
Martin A-30
Vultee A-31 Vengeance
Brewster XA-32
Douglas A-33
Brewster A-34
Vultee A-35 Vengeance
North American A-36 Mustang
Hughes A-37
Beechcraft XA-38
Kaiser-Fleetwings A-39
Curtiss A-40
Consolidated-Vultee A-41
Douglas A-42
Curtiss A-43
Convair A-44
Martin A-45

A - Attack post 1962

Douglas A-1 Skyraider (AD)
North American A-2 Savage (AJ)
Douglas A-3 Skywarrior (A3D)
McDonnell Douglas A-4 Skyhawk (A4D)
North American A-5 Vigilante (A3J)
Grumman A-6 Intruder (A2F)
Vought A-7 Corsair II
Northrop A-9
Fairchild A-10 Thunderbolt II
McDonnel Douglas/ General Dynamics A-12 Avenger II
McDonnell Douglas F/A-18C/D Hornet
Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
Douglas A-26 Invader (back from B-26 in 1966)
Embraer A-29 Super Tucano
Cessna A-37 Dragonfly

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Contents

The A-26 was Douglas Aircraft's successor to the A-20 (DB-7) Havoc, also known as Douglas Boston, one of the most successful and widely operated types flown by Allied air forces in World War II.

Designed by Ed Heinemann, Robert Donovan, and Ted R. Smith, [4] the innovative NACA 65-215 laminar flow airfoil wing of the A-26 was the work of project aerodynamicist A.M.O. Smith. [5] [6]

The Douglas XA-26 prototype (AAC Ser. No. 41-19504) first flew on 10 July 1942 at Mines Field, El Segundo, with test pilot Benny Howard at the controls. Flight tests revealed excellent performance and handling, but engine cooling problems led to cowling changes and elimination of the propeller spinners on production aircraft. Repeated collapses during testing led to reinforcement of the nose landing gear. [7]

The early A-26 versions were built in two configurations:

  • The A-26B gun-nose could be equipped with a combination of armament including .50 caliber machine guns, 20mm or 37mm auto cannon, or an experimental 75mm pack howitzer (never used operationally). The 'B' gun-nose version housed six (and later, eight) .50 caliber machine guns, officially the "all-purpose nose", later known as the "six-gun nose" or "eight-gun nose".
  • The A-26C ' s "glass" "Bombardier nose", contained a Norden bombsight for medium-altitude precision-bombing. The A-26C nose section included two fixed M-2 guns, but those were eliminated after underwing gun packs or internal guns in the wings proved effective during colder weather. [8]

After about 1,570 production aircraft, three guns were installed in each wing, coinciding with the introduction of the "eight-gun nose" for A-26Bs, giving some configurations as many as 14 .50 in (12.7 mm) machine guns in fixed forward mounts. An A-26C nose section could be replaced with an A-26B nose section, or vice versa, in a few man-hours, thus physically (and officially) changing the designation and operational role. The "flat-topped" canopy was changed in late 1944 after about 820 production aircraft, to a clamshell style with greatly improved visibility. [9] [10]

Alongside the pilot in an A-26B, a crew member served as navigator and gun loader for the pilot-operated nose guns. In an A-26C, that crew member served as navigator and bombardier, and re-located to the nose section for the bombing phase of an operation. A small number of A-26Cs were fitted with dual flight-controls, some parts of which could be disabled in flight for access to the nose section. Access for the bombardier was through the lower section of the right-hand instrument panel he normally sat next to the pilot. This was similar to British designs like the Lancaster, Blenheim/Beaufort, Wellington, etc. A tractor-style "jump-seat" was behind the "navigator's seat." In most missions, a third crew member in the rear gunner's compartment operated the remote-controlled dorsal and ventral gun turrets, with access to-and-from the cockpit via the bomb bay only if that was empty. The gunner operated both dorsal and ventral turrets via a novel and complex (and problematic) dual-ended periscope sight, a vertical column running through the center of the rear compartment, with traversing and elevating/depressing periscope sights on each end. The gunner sat on a seat facing rearward looking into a binocular periscope sight mounted on the column, controlling the guns with a pair of handles on the sides of the column. Aimed above the centerline of the aircraft, the mirror in the center of the column 'flipped', showing the gunner a limited view similar to the view the upper periscope was seeing. As he pressed the handles downward, and as the bead passed the centerline, the mirror automatically flipped, transferring the sight ". seamlessly. " to the lower periscope. The guns aimed in the approximate direction the periscope was aimed, automatically transferring between upper and lower turrets as required, and computing for parallax and other factors. While novel and sound in principle, the developers invested a great deal of time and effort in their attempts to get the system to work effectively, delaying production. As might be expected, the complex system was difficult to maintain in the field. [11]

World War II Edit

Pacific Edit

The Douglas company delivered production model A-26B aircraft to the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 10 September 1943, [12] with the new bomber seeing action with the Fifth Air Force in the Southwest Pacific theater on 23 June 1944, while Japanese-held islands near Manokwari were attacked. [13] The pilots in the 3rd Bomb Group's 13th Squadron, "The Grim Reapers", receiving the first four A-26s for evaluation, suddenly discovered the downward view from the cockpit was hindered by the engines, and woefully inadequate for its intended role as ground-support. General George Kenney, commander of the Far East Air Forces stated "We do not want the A-26 under any circumstances as a replacement for anything." [14]

Until changes could be made, the 3d Bomb Group requested additional Douglas A-20 Havocs, although both types were used in composite flights. [15] The 319th Bomb Group worked on the A-26 in March 1945, joining the initial 3rd BG, with the 319th flying until 12 August 1945. The A-26 operations wound-down in mid-August 1945 after a few dozen missions. [15] Some A-20 and B-25 AAF units in the Pacific received the A-26 for trials in limited quantities.

Europe Edit

Douglas needed better results from the Invader's second combat test, so ferried A-26s arrived in Europe in late September 1944 for assignment to the Ninth Air Force. The initial deployment involved 18 aircraft and crews assigned to the 553d Squadron of the 386th Bomb Group. This unit flew their first mission on 6 September 1944. No aircraft were lost on the eight test missions, and the Ninth Air Force announced they were satisfied, eventually replacing their A-20s and B-26s with the A-26 Invader.

The first group to convert to the A-26B was 416th Bombardment Group. With it, they entered combat on 17 November, and the 409th Bombardment Group, whose A-26s became operational in late November. [16] Due to a shortage of A-26C variants, the groups flew a combined A-20/A-26 unit until deliveries of the glass-nose version caught-up. Besides bombing and strafing, tactical reconnaissance and night interdiction missions were successful. In contrast to the Pacific-based units, the A-26 was well received by pilots and crew alike, and by 1945, the 9th AF had 11,567 missions, dropping 18,054 tons of bombs, recording seven confirmed kills while losing 67 aircraft. [16]

In Italy, the Twelfth Air Force's 47th Bomb Group also received the A-26 starting in January 1945. They were used against German transport links, and for direct support and interdiction against tanks and troop concentrations in the Po valley in the final campaigns in Italy.

Postwar era Edit

United States Edit

With the establishment of the United States Air Force as an independent service in 1947, the Strategic Air Command operated the again re-designated B-26 as an RB-26 reconnaissance aircraft in service 1949 to 1950. U.S. Air Forces in Europe continued operating the B-26 until 1957. Tactical Air Command operated the aircraft as both a B-26 and later designated back to A-26 the final variant was designated B-26K until 1966, then it again became the A-26A. This final version continued in service through the late 1960s with active-duty special-operations TAC units, and through 1972 with TAC-gained special-operations units of the Air National Guard. [ citation needed ]

The U.S. Navy obtained Invaders from the Air Force to use these aircraft in their utility squadrons (VU) for target towing and general utility until super-seded by the DC-130A variant of the C-130 Hercules. The Navy designation was JD-1 and JD-1D until 1962, then the JD-1 was re-designated UB-26J. The JD-1D was re-designated DB-26J. [ citation needed ] The CIA also used the type for covert operations. [17]

The last A-26 in active US service was assigned to the Air National Guard that aircraft was retired from military service in 1972 by the U.S. Air Force and the National Guard Bureau, and donated to the National Air and Space Museum. [ citation needed ]

Korean War Edit

B-26 Invaders of the 3d Bombardment Group, operating from bases in southern Japan, were among the first USAF aircraft engaged in the Korean War, carrying-out missions over South Korea on 27 and 28 June, before carrying-out the first USAF bombing mission on North Korea on 29 June 1950, bombing an airfield near Pyongyang. [18]


USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - A (Attack) Aircraft - History

United States Army Air Corps(USAAC:1925 - 1942) United States Army Air Forces(USAAF:1941-1947) United States Air Force(USAF:1947-present)

On August 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed an Aeronautical Division. This action came only three-and-a-half years after the Wright brothers flew the world's first powered airplane at Kittyhawk, North Carolina. At first, however, the Aeronautical Division was mainly interested in balloons and dirigibles instead of heavier-than-air flying machines. The Army had already used manned balloons for aerial observation during the Civil War and Spanish-American War in the 19th Century. The Aeronautical Division accepted delivery of its first airplane from the Wright brothers in 1909. Renamed the U.S. Army Air Service, it was created during World War I after American entrance in April 1917 as the increasing use of airplanes and the military uses of aviation were readily apparent as the war continued to its climax, by executive order of 28th President Woodrow Wilson, it gained permanent legislative authority in 1920 as a combatant arm of the line of the United States Army.

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Upon arrival in France the aviation units, some of which were trained in France, provided tactical support for the U.S. Army, especially during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne offensives. Among the aces of the American Expiditionary Forces(AEF) Air Service were Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and 2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke. Although failing to deploy competitive combat aircraft, the United States had sent many fine Airmen to Europe. Flying mostly French-built planes, they distinguished themselves both in Allied units and as part of the AEF led by General John J. Pershing. By the time Germany surrendered, Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell had honed many of the AEF's aero squadrons and groups into a formidable striking force which had grown to more than 19,000 officers and 178,000 enlisted men while American industry had turned out 11,754 aircraft (mostly trainers like the JN-4 Jenny). There followed a six-year struggle between adherents of airpower and the supporters of the traditional military services about the value of an independent Air Force, intensified by struggles for funds caused by skimpy budgets, as much an impetus for independence as any other factor. The Lassiter Board, a group of General Staff officers, recommended in 1923 that the Air Service be augmented by an offensive force of bombardment and pursuit units under the command of Army general headquarters in time of war, and many of its recommendations became Army regulations.

Renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926, it was part of the larger United States Army and the immediate predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), established on 20 June 1941. Although discontinued as an administrative echelon in 1942 during World War II, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947. On 1 March 1935, still struggling with the issue of a separate air arm, the Army activated the General Headquarters Air Force for centralized control of aviation combat units within the continental United States, separate from but coordinate with the Air Corps. The separation of the Air Corps from control of its combat units caused problems of unity of command that became more acute as the Air Corps enlarged in preparation for World War II. This was resolved by the creation of the Army Air Forces, making both organizations became subordinate to the new higher echelon. The Army and Navy, both cognizant of the continuing movement within the Air Corps for independence, cooperated to resist it. On 11 September 1935, the Joint Board, at the behest of the Navy and the concurrence of MacArthur, issued a new Joint Action statement that reasserted the limited role of the Air Corps as an auxiliary to the 'mobile Army' in all its missions, including coastal defense. The edict was issued with the intent of pushing the new Air Corps back into its place. However, the bomber advocates like Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell, interpreted its language to mean that the Air Corps could conduct long range reconnaissance, attack approaching fleets, reinforce distant bases, and attack enemy air bases, all in furtherance of its mission to prevent an air attack on America. The lack of inter-service cooperation on coastal defense fostered by the Joint Action Statement continued until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In a special message to Congress on 12 January 1939, President Roosevelt advised that the threat of a new war made the recommendations of the Baker Board inadequate for American defense and requested approval of a "minimum 3,000-plane increase" for the Air Corps. On 3 April 1939, Congress allocated the $300 million requested by Roosevelt for expansion of the Air Corps, half of which was dedicated to purchasing planes to raise the inventory from 2,500 to 5,500 airplanes, and the other half for new personnel, training facilities, and bases. In June the Kilner Board recommended several types of bombers needed to fulfill the Air Corps mission that included aircraft having tactical radii of both 3,000 miles (modified in 1940 to 4,000) and 2,000 miles. Chief of Staff General Craig, long an impediment to Air Corps ambitions but nearing retirement, came around to the Air Corps viewpoint after Roosevelt's views became public.

After September 1939, when Adolf Hitler launched World War II by invading Poland, the Air Corps began a steady growth from 26,000 personnel and fewer than 2,000 planes. The Air Corps had only 800 first-line combat aircraft, 700 of which were declared obsolete by December 1941. Two-thirds of its officers were second lieutenants whose only flying experience was their flight training. The Air Corps had 17 major installations and four depots, and most of its 76 airfields were co-located at civil airports or were small fields on Army posts. The initial 25-Group Program for air defense of the hemisphere, developed in April 1939, called for 50,000 men (12,000 pilots). Its ten new combat groups were activated on 1 February 1940. An 84-Group Program, with an eventual goal of 400,000 men by 30 June 1942, was approved on 14 March 1941, although not publicly announced until 23 October 1941. In addition to unit training and funding problems, these programs were hampered by delays in acquiring the new infrastructure necessary to support them, sites for which had to be identified, negotiated and approved before construction. On June 20, 1941, the Department of War created the Army Air Forces (AAF) as its aviation element and shortly thereafter made it coequal to the Army Ground Forces. The Air Corps remained as one of the Army's combat arms, like the infantry. Expansion of the AAF accelerated after the surprise Japanese attack on Hawaii in December 1941 propelled the United States into the war. The Air Corps ceased to have an administrative structure after 9 March 1942, but as "the permanent statutory organization of the air arm, and the principal component of the Army Air Forces," the overwhelming majority of personnel assigned to the AAF were members of the Air Corps. Under the leadership of Gen. Henry H. ("Hap") Arnold, the Army Air Forces oversaw mobilization of the nation's aviation industry and deployment of the largest air armada of all time. The AAF's inventory encompassed a wide range of training, transport, pursuit, attack, reconnaissance and bomber aircraft. These included the ubiquitous C-47 Skytrain, the splendid P-51 Mustang, the rugged B-17 Flying Fortress and the incredible B-29 Superfortress. Drawing upon American industrial prowess and human resources, the AAF reached a peak strength of 80,000 aircraft and 2.4 million personnel organized into major commands, numbered air forces, air divisions, groups and squadrons. AAF units conducted a wide range of air operations over every theater of battle from the jungle-clad islands of the Southwest Pacific to the sun-baked deserts of Northern Africa, from the icy waters of the North Atlantic to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas.

The Army Air Forces were legally abolished by legislation establishing a United States Department of Defense consisting of a Department of the Army (formerly the War Department), Department of the Navy and Department of the Air Force by Transfer Order 1, Office of the Secretary of Defense, September 26, 1947 at which time the United States Air Force(USAF) was formed. Over the next sixty years, the USAF would participate in Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, the Gulf and Afghanistan as well as supplying civilians in the Berlin air lift. With the C-130 Hercules, the US Military has moved troops to hotspots rapidly all over the world in times of crisis. Armed also with the latest and deadliest aircraft like the F15 Eagle, F22 Raptor and the B2 Bomber as well as thousands of aircraft based all over the world, the USAF has become the dominant arm of political will thoughout the Western world and the Middle East.


AHC: Your very own USAAC/USAAF

A bit on the never much liked P-39 and -40.
The P-39 will not receive that heavy and numerous armament set-up - kills the rate of climb and speed instead Axis machines & men. At the end of the day, it would be probably a belt-fed 20mm through the prop and two .50s. Not over-doing radio sets and armour suite would also keep the weight acceptable. Once the better V-1710s are available (hopefully a bit before mid-1942 as historically) adding a bit of fuel, both internal and external should be done.
The P-40 - no more than 4 .50s. Burrying two coolers in the wing, as done with the XP-40Q might shave some drag. Try and fit 150 gal drop tank under the centreline ASAP.

Once the firing starts, the USAAF will get some British-produced aircraft, as in OTL. Like the Spitfire V - see whether the 150 gal DT can fit, install the 30-35 gal tank behind the pilot (similar to what was done historically). Perhaps some Bendix carbs can be retro-fitted (gain 10 mph vs. float-type), also a bit better stacks (gains 7-8 mph). Perhaps delete four .303s and install two .50s per aircraft.
Once Spitfire VII/VIII/XI is available, try to shove as much of fuel on these as possible. Get as much of Mosquitoes as possible.

Marathag

US small arm development was really troublesome for cannons.
They botched the Hispano 20mm, Madsen 23mm(these both were working weapons before being 'Americanized') and wasted much of the war playing with multiple versions of a .90- caliber round, based roughly off the USN 1.1" round, shortened and necked down.

They never took the obvious way of just upscaling the .50 Browning like the Japanese did, the Ho-5, in 1942, that used a less powerful version of the 20mm Hispano

Galveston bay

The USAAF resisted fiercely ground support missions, particularly direct ground support instead of interdiction. That said, the 50 caliber and bomb load of all mid and late war American fighters was more than adequate for that interdiction mission and it gradually did adapt to the role. The USAAF wanted to focus on strategic bombing and shooting down enemy aircraft (in that order).

Which seems strange considering that it developed excellent medium bombers and attack capability. There was some pressure to make it a more balanced force and that paid off.

In my view the USAAF never had enough transport aircraft, and it had lots of them. Some more of those would have been handy. But transport aircraft are not 'sexy' in warmaking terms and its hard to make command rank being in charge of a airlift wing.

Personally I am a huge fan of the F4U Corsair, and I think it would have served the USAAF admirably in Europe and in the South Pacific.

James Ricker

Tomo pauk

The excellent reading on the subject of airborne guns is here:
http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ref/MG/
The Volume II can be accesed in another web page, Google it for yourself.

The Ho-5 was indeed an excellent piece, too bad the Americans didn't do similar thing themselves. There was also the .60 round and gun for it, firing a high MV projectile, that went nowhere.

Tomo pauk

The USAAF resisted fiercely ground support missions, particularly direct ground support instead of interdiction. That said, the 50 caliber and bomb load of all mid and late war American fighters was more than adequate for that interdiction mission and it gradually did adapt to the role. The USAAF wanted to focus on strategic bombing and shooting down enemy aircraft (in that order).

Which seems strange considering that it developed excellent medium bombers and attack capability. There was some pressure to make it a more balanced force and that paid off.

The USAAF/AF spend quite the resources in order to have ground-support aircraft. They have had the 'attack' category of aircraft, eg. A-20, A-26, A-31, A-25 (Dauntless), A-36 etc. Agreed that Americans were very much fixed on big bombers, though.

In my view the USAAF never had enough transport aircraft, and it had lots of them. Some more of those would have been handy. But transport aircraft are not 'sexy' in warmaking terms and its hard to make command rank being in charge of a airlift wing.

Personally I am a huge fan of the F4U Corsair, and I think it would have served the USAAF admirably in Europe and in the South Pacific.

Indeed, transport aircraft are/were necessary. A 4-engined 'pre-Hercules' would've been interesting - perhaps a spin-off from the B-24?

75000 USD. That it was better in air combat I don't believe, at least not above 20000 ft. The P-47 was not a worse diver (and got better), carried bigger firepower and more ammo per gun and total, and, once the AAF recognised it will need a long range fighter (that we don't need to wait in this thread), the P-47 was a better choice.

Marathag

Budd Conestoga or Fairchild Packet had the wingspan to be four engined. The Budd was very underpowered with just two 1200hp R-1830, and the C-82 was slightly underpowered with two 2000hp R-2800.
Postwar, the XC-82B used the 3500hp R-4360 Wasp Major, that was later used on the C-119

Now the C-87 pretty much was a standard B-24 made to a cargo plane, with a hinged front nose cap

Now the B-24 could have been reworked more, after all, look at the Boeing B377 Stratoliner super guppy conversions

Marathag

Tomo pauk

80% better mileage over either F4U or P-47.
It also took quite some time before USN fielded jets, those replaced both P-51s and P-47s in the USAF earlier than it was the case with Corsair.

Viperjock

Driftless

Marathag

80% better mileage over either F4U or P-47.
It also took quite some time before USN fielded jets, those replaced both P-51s and P-47s in the USAF earlier than it was the case with Corsair.

Riggerrob

marathag makes some good points about USAAF transports and their engines.
C-87 Liberator Express benefitted from B-24's great range, built that long range came at the expense of sluggish take-offs. B-24 was too finely-balanced to make a good freighter and C--87s suffered from a narrow centre-of-gravity range. It would be amusing to speculate on how C-87 would have evolved if WW2 lasted longer: wider horizontal tail, bigger cargo doors, ramp under tail, etc.

Budd Conestoga was under-powered with only a pair of R1830s. R 2800s would have been better.
Flying Boxcars were also under-powered. They only flew well when post-WW2 C-119s were fitted with R4330, 4-row engines. But the R4330 proved a maintenance hog and was shunned by civilian airlines. Marathag is correct in stating that Boxcars would have flown better with 4-engines.
R3350 proved the largest practical engine for transports and served well into the Cold War.

As for adding motor cannons to radial-engined fighters . easy on a single-row radial, but difficult on twin-rows. On a single-row radial engine, you just redesign the propeller reduction gear to displace the propeller above or below the crankcase (ala. Pobjoy) and poke the cannon barrel out between a pair of cylinders. On some engines, this would require re-designing the carburetor or oil-sump.

Tomo pauk

Dilvish

Just Leo

Couple quick questions. When was that armistice again? May, not June? I wasn't born yet, so that's out. If I'm my age, I'm too busy and need too many naps.
If I'm to replace Hap Arnold, there is a bunch to do.
Where did you get your price for the Corsair, and at what stage of production, at which factory, and does it include GFE?
You don't have to change anything to get some Spitfires, and play with fuel tanks, but the Supermarine factory won't like it.
Republic had two factories and Curtiss in Buffalo making Jugs, and there's no reason not to make turbo, and non turbo Jugs. I'm Just Hap, dammit. Make it so. And make sure the radios work before they sail. The Turbo Jug is the one with the pressurized cockpit. Just like the Lightning.
Also, nobody told Douglas to stop producing DC5s, so they have to have a clamshell door at the back. Like the one on the all-aluminum Budd Conestoga.

I need a nap. It's almost midnight. There's so much to do, but.

Tomo pauk

35 US gal) rear tank was used on Spitfires in 1942 in OTL, so I'm not suggesting anything outrageus.

Good thing that a new boss of the USAF might do is to make Curtiss sort out their production of the P-47, since they produced just 354 copies in 18 months in OTL. Cancelling all of the (X)P-60 saga might help here, so could the cancellation of USAF part of Helldiver development & production, and indeed having a simpler P-47 version to produce. Now that we're at sorting out boched jobs, a more stiff control on the Wright Lockland plant would be in order (link for OTL).

Just Leo

35 US gal) rear tank was used on Spitfires in 1942 in OTL, so I'm not suggesting anything outrageus.

Good thing that a new boss of the USAF might do is to make Curtiss sort out their production of the P-47, since they produced just 354 copies in 18 months in OTL. Cancelling all of the (X)P-60 saga might help here, so could the cancellation of USAF part of Helldiver development & production, and indeed having a simpler P-47 version to produce. Now that we're at sorting out boched jobs, a more stiff control on the Wright Lockland plant would be in order (link for OTL).

I had the cost figure myself, long ago, and it was much the same as the Thunderbolt, due to extra cost factors such as flush spot-welding. Trusting such figures is questionable, because there are factors which vary the price over time. The R-2800 went from $26,600 in 1942 to $13,483 in spring 1945, for one. I've read that the Hellcat was $35,000 plus GFE, and $50,000 total. That's not realistic, when the price of the engine, as quoted from Nash/Kelvinator, is added to the price of a propeller, radio, and machine guns.
The British didn't like the mods on the Spitfires. The 16.5 gal wing tanks affected the integrity of the wing, and they thought the teardrop 108's were too wiggly. The fuselage tank was made smaller, and largely fitted to heavier-engined Spitfires not to extend range, but to restore it, with 13 gal wing tanks and the use of the 90 gal slipper tank for range. Acceptance of a very large fuselage tank, as done, would require a head nod from Portal, and he was very stiff-necked.

There's a man named Truman, Harry Truman, who would be interested in Curtiss-Wright shenanigans. Inspectors will be inspected, judged and sent to Leavenworth. It would appear that car manufacturers did a far better job of mass producing aero-engines than aero-engine manufacturers, and had better quality control, since hand-fitting and mass manufacturing do not go hand in hand.

There were a number of policies and doctrines in the Air Corps that needed a new overview and re-assessment. The use of external fuel tanks was expressly forbidden, until the need arose, requiring covert development by those scoundrels who disregarded expressed policy. When the need arose, to fly Lightnings to England, the designs were ready. I don't know if those scoundrels were adequately rewarded. Shouldabeen.

I recently discovered that the Lightning wasn't designed as an intercepter at all, but was designed to thwart a policy whereby pursuit aircraft armament is limited by weight to 500 lbs. This policy is no more.

The Mustang was ordered as the A-36 Apache to take advantage of an availability of attack aircraft funding. I'm head of the Air Corps, and can come up with a better arrangement to produce a Mustang with wing hardpoints, plumbed, and either .50 cal, or revised Hispano cannons to supplant and replace hard done by Cobras and P-40s.

Those 'Cobras known as P-400s, with 20mm cannons, weren't a popular mount, and the 37mm Olds gun was popular with PT boat crews, so my P-39s retain the original 37mm cannon and a pair of .50s.

Some day, I must get around to establishing an attack aircraft policy that makes sense. With hindsight, it shouldn't be too hard.

One more thing. Remember the Bomber Mafia? How old is Robert Kennedy at this time?


USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - A (Attack) Aircraft - History

United States Army Air Corps(USAAC:1925 - 1942) United States Army Air Forces(USAAF:1941-1947) United States Air Force(USAF:1947-present)

On August 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed an Aeronautical Division. This action came only three-and-a-half years after the Wright brothers flew the world's first powered airplane at Kittyhawk, North Carolina. At first, however, the Aeronautical Division was mainly interested in balloons and dirigibles instead of heavier-than-air flying machines. The Army had already used manned balloons for aerial observation during the Civil War and Spanish-American War in the 19th Century. The Aeronautical Division accepted delivery of its first airplane from the Wright brothers in 1909. Renamed the U.S. Army Air Service, it was created during World War I after American entrance in April 1917 as the increasing use of airplanes and the military uses of aviation were readily apparent as the war continued to its climax, by executive order of 28th President Woodrow Wilson, it gained permanent legislative authority in 1920 as a combatant arm of the line of the United States Army.

On April 2, 1917, President Woodrow Wilson went before a joint session of Congress to request a declaration of war against Germany. Upon arrival in France the aviation units, some of which were trained in France, provided tactical support for the U.S. Army, especially during the Battle of Saint-Mihiel and the Meuse-Argonne offensives. Among the aces of the American Expiditionary Forces(AEF) Air Service were Captain Eddie Rickenbacker and 2nd Lieutenant Frank Luke. Although failing to deploy competitive combat aircraft, the United States had sent many fine Airmen to Europe. Flying mostly French-built planes, they distinguished themselves both in Allied units and as part of the AEF led by General John J. Pershing. By the time Germany surrendered, Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell had honed many of the AEF's aero squadrons and groups into a formidable striking force which had grown to more than 19,000 officers and 178,000 enlisted men while American industry had turned out 11,754 aircraft (mostly trainers like the JN-4 Jenny). There followed a six-year struggle between adherents of airpower and the supporters of the traditional military services about the value of an independent Air Force, intensified by struggles for funds caused by skimpy budgets, as much an impetus for independence as any other factor. The Lassiter Board, a group of General Staff officers, recommended in 1923 that the Air Service be augmented by an offensive force of bombardment and pursuit units under the command of Army general headquarters in time of war, and many of its recommendations became Army regulations.

Renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926, it was part of the larger United States Army and the immediate predecessor of the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF), established on 20 June 1941. Although discontinued as an administrative echelon in 1942 during World War II, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947. On 1 March 1935, still struggling with the issue of a separate air arm, the Army activated the General Headquarters Air Force for centralized control of aviation combat units within the continental United States, separate from but coordinate with the Air Corps. The separation of the Air Corps from control of its combat units caused problems of unity of command that became more acute as the Air Corps enlarged in preparation for World War II. This was resolved by the creation of the Army Air Forces, making both organizations became subordinate to the new higher echelon. The Army and Navy, both cognizant of the continuing movement within the Air Corps for independence, cooperated to resist it. On 11 September 1935, the Joint Board, at the behest of the Navy and the concurrence of MacArthur, issued a new Joint Action statement that reasserted the limited role of the Air Corps as an auxiliary to the 'mobile Army' in all its missions, including coastal defense. The edict was issued with the intent of pushing the new Air Corps back into its place. However, the bomber advocates like Brig. Gen. Billy Mitchell, interpreted its language to mean that the Air Corps could conduct long range reconnaissance, attack approaching fleets, reinforce distant bases, and attack enemy air bases, all in furtherance of its mission to prevent an air attack on America. The lack of inter-service cooperation on coastal defense fostered by the Joint Action Statement continued until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. In a special message to Congress on 12 January 1939, President Roosevelt advised that the threat of a new war made the recommendations of the Baker Board inadequate for American defense and requested approval of a "minimum 3,000-plane increase" for the Air Corps. On 3 April 1939, Congress allocated the $300 million requested by Roosevelt for expansion of the Air Corps, half of which was dedicated to purchasing planes to raise the inventory from 2,500 to 5,500 airplanes, and the other half for new personnel, training facilities, and bases. In June the Kilner Board recommended several types of bombers needed to fulfill the Air Corps mission that included aircraft having tactical radii of both 3,000 miles (modified in 1940 to 4,000) and 2,000 miles. Chief of Staff General Craig, long an impediment to Air Corps ambitions but nearing retirement, came around to the Air Corps viewpoint after Roosevelt's views became public.

After September 1939, when Adolf Hitler launched World War II by invading Poland, the Air Corps began a steady growth from 26,000 personnel and fewer than 2,000 planes. The Air Corps had only 800 first-line combat aircraft, 700 of which were declared obsolete by December 1941. Two-thirds of its officers were second lieutenants whose only flying experience was their flight training. The Air Corps had 17 major installations and four depots, and most of its 76 airfields were co-located at civil airports or were small fields on Army posts. The initial 25-Group Program for air defense of the hemisphere, developed in April 1939, called for 50,000 men (12,000 pilots). Its ten new combat groups were activated on 1 February 1940. An 84-Group Program, with an eventual goal of 400,000 men by 30 June 1942, was approved on 14 March 1941, although not publicly announced until 23 October 1941. In addition to unit training and funding problems, these programs were hampered by delays in acquiring the new infrastructure necessary to support them, sites for which had to be identified, negotiated and approved before construction. On June 20, 1941, the Department of War created the Army Air Forces (AAF) as its aviation element and shortly thereafter made it coequal to the Army Ground Forces. The Air Corps remained as one of the Army's combat arms, like the infantry. Expansion of the AAF accelerated after the surprise Japanese attack on Hawaii in December 1941 propelled the United States into the war. The Air Corps ceased to have an administrative structure after 9 March 1942, but as "the permanent statutory organization of the air arm, and the principal component of the Army Air Forces," the overwhelming majority of personnel assigned to the AAF were members of the Air Corps. Under the leadership of Gen. Henry H. ("Hap") Arnold, the Army Air Forces oversaw mobilization of the nation's aviation industry and deployment of the largest air armada of all time. The AAF's inventory encompassed a wide range of training, transport, pursuit, attack, reconnaissance and bomber aircraft. These included the ubiquitous C-47 Skytrain, the splendid P-51 Mustang, the rugged B-17 Flying Fortress and the incredible B-29 Superfortress. Drawing upon American industrial prowess and human resources, the AAF reached a peak strength of 80,000 aircraft and 2.4 million personnel organized into major commands, numbered air forces, air divisions, groups and squadrons. AAF units conducted a wide range of air operations over every theater of battle from the jungle-clad islands of the Southwest Pacific to the sun-baked deserts of Northern Africa, from the icy waters of the North Atlantic to the snow-capped peaks of the Himalayas.

The Army Air Forces were legally abolished by legislation establishing a United States Department of Defense consisting of a Department of the Army (formerly the War Department), Department of the Navy and Department of the Air Force by Transfer Order 1, Office of the Secretary of Defense, September 26, 1947 at which time the United States Air Force(USAF) was formed. Over the next sixty years, the USAF would participate in Korea, Vietnam, Bosnia, the Gulf and Afghanistan as well as supplying civilians in the Berlin air lift. With the C-130 Hercules, the US Military has moved troops to hotspots rapidly all over the world in times of crisis. Armed also with the latest and deadliest aircraft like the F15 Eagle, F22 Raptor and the B2 Bomber as well as thousands of aircraft based all over the world, the USAF has become the dominant arm of political will thoughout the Western world and the Middle East.


USAAC/AAF what-ifs for 1937-42

Here's another old idea. This one is mine. The objection often heard to turbo-compound engines is the problems the R-3350 engines had with their power recovery turbines. However the troubled R-3350 engine is not a good example to use. Allison didn't experience the overheating valve problems with its late war V-1710 turbo-compound engine. Perhaps due to it being liquid cooled. If you want superior engine performance, well over 1 HP per pound and improved efficiency thereby increasing range in pre-war or early war American engines then developing turbo-compound engines is the way to go. Ought to work with the RR Merlin too.

WW2 Earlier Turbo-compound aircraft engines

The P-39 was the U.S. fighter with the most air to air kills. It, was, of course, being flown by the VVS. Of the six soviet pilots with more than 50 kills five flew the P-39. It was lethal at low altitudes.
The P-39 was arguably the U.S. fighter that did the most to win the war. It doesn't get credit because it did it while wearing red stars (and lots of kill markings)
Check what Hush Kit has to say about it

Hush-Kit Top Ten: The Ten Best Fighters of World War II

Canuck Wingnut

Driftless

IF the Hyper engine sinkhole is avoided, how about a continuous line of development of conventional superchargers for the Allison (and maybe others?) V-12's? That performance boost would open up other high-performance possibilities outside of the Packard-Merlin, or the Turbo-Supercharger Allisons (i.e. P-38).

IF the Hyper engine sinkhole is avoided, might Continental or Lycoming have had more useful product lines for warplanes?

Questerr

Driftless

Peg Leg Pom

CalBear

The Air War is at 25K. The Luftwaffe and RAF are there with maneuverable single engine fighters, the B-17 is there. REQUIRE U.S. designs to be as effective as the other powers.

There is no such thing as too much ultra high octane fuel.

Two Stage/two Speed Mechanical Superchargers are a wonderful thing, especially on liquid cooled engines. So are Turbochargers on Radial Engines.

The R-2800 is in production by 1940. EVERY radial engine fighter need to be fitted with the engine in a form that puts out a minimum of 2,000hp.

The R-1820 is an okay engine. The R-2600 is vastly superior. Make sure Boeing, Consolidated, and Douglas understand that 1,500 HP per engine the minimum is what all bombers, including those currently using the R-1820, need, 2,000 hp would be even better. Bombers need to make 300mph in real wartime trim.

The Allison 1710 is a good engine, with a two-stage mechanical Supercharger (yes you can still have a turbocharger as well, 400 mph level flight IS A DOABLE THING)

Power turrets are mandatory for bombers. Paired .50 cals are a good thing. The first thing the bad guys try to do is KILL THE TAIL GUNNER Get the guy armored up. You know that number of rounds assigned per gun on those bombers? Triple it. No, not double, TRIPLE.

No, you DO need long range escort fighters. Shut up. You need long range escort fighters. That is what drop tanks are for. Deal with it. Fighters need at least four .50 cals, six is better, eight is excellent. Four-six 20mm are an acceptable substitute. .30 caliber is for infantry.

There is a guy at Lockheed named Kelly Johnson. He's a national treasure. Remember this. He's working with a guy named Nathan Price. THROW money at their L-133 project.

Sonofpegasus

Workable Goblin

Well, you could have the C-82 be introduced early, I guess. It was underpowered and wasn't really built strongly enough for its mission, but those problems could be fairly easily solved and historically were with the introduction of the C-119 in 1947. The main issue with the latter was that it demanded R-3350 engines, which of course were in high demand. But otherwise I don't see why the C-82 idea couldn't have been conceived in 1939 or 1940 and introduced into service maybe in 1943 or so, which would have given the Allies a cargo transport with a number of interesting advantages over the C-47 and C-54.

However, it seems to me that (at least from the U.S. point of view) nearly all of the transports that were actually used in any number were either adapted civilian designs or converted bombers, with designed military transports not showing up until the very end of the war. The issue, I think, is that no one saw aerial logistics as being a particularly important or critical area before the war showed that aircraft could be very useful not just in combat roles but also in transport and logistics as well. So you're unlikely to see anything happen before the war starts and by that point design cycles are long enough that you're not likely to see anything go into service before the war ends.

My nomination for a "sanity option" or what-if that would boost the Air Force during the war actually has nothing to do with the Air Force per se. Instead, I'd like to ask, what if NACA investigated "advanced" propulsion? NACA, of course, was responsible for researching aeronautical technologies, and it did wonderful, wonderful work with aerodynamics. But it really didn't do much with engines or propulsion--the Aircraft Engine Research Laboratory (aka Lewis aka Glenn Research Center) wasn't established until 1942! So the U.S. lacked a good basic research center to investigate the problem of aerial engines and propulsion the way it had a great center for researching how to design wings and fuselages. Once it was established, it proved to be just as good as any of the other NACA centers at its job, and did a lot of important work on jet engines and rockets in the 1940s and 1950s before becoming part of NASA.

Strictly speaking this falls out of the OP's timeframe requests, but I would suggest that an Engine Research Laboratory separate from Langley be founded in the 1920s or 1930s, once it becomes apparent that Langely is focused mostly on aerodynamics instead of the broader areas of investigation it was originally intended to tackle, with a few hundred thousand dollars a year of extra funding for NACA to compensate for this additional demand on resources. This would be used to carry out basic research into the construction and design of aero engines. This could help lead to some of the changes that CalBear mentions, for example showing the advantages of mechanical (and not just turbo) supercharging. Even though the United States generally had decent engines during the war, this might also make them a bit better overall, too. Ideally, there would also be space for experimenting with radical forms of propulsion like jet engines and rockets, which might have utility (earlier introduction of JATO bottles, better aerial rockets, production jet aircraft), but that's probably a bit much given the culture of NACA at the time and the resources that they would have. Just having an existing propulsion research lab and relevant specialists would do a fair bit to boost the USAAF's capabilities, though.


USAAC/AAF what-ifs for 1937-42

To continue with my engine-this, engine-that stuff.
Hopefully we'd have R-2800 made at Dodge pretty early, too (parent company not wasting time and effort on the IV-2200), along with other sources (P&W, Ford etc.). Yes, this means Dodge does not make R-3350.
Better/bigger S/Cs for R-2800, R-2600 and, especially, V-1710 are needed.
Have government exercise the firm control over the R-2600 production at Lockland factory. It took until winter of 1942/43 to start draining that swamp.
link 1
link 2
Have Packard make a deal with RR/UK for Merlins by Spring of 1940 - saves 3-4 months by not having the American Ford-Merlin debacle happen in between.
Turbochargers, engine controls etc: too many levers for fresh pilot to operate on his own under pressure, especially if number of engines is more than 1 - better & earlier automation is needed.

Alt aircraft:
Seversky makes the P-43 with V-1710 in the nose instead of the R-1830 have Bell make it under licence. P-43 will also need self-sealing tanks, so plan ahead. No XP-44 (yes, not much metal was wasted on this one), no V-1710-powered P-47A mock-up.
Mustang/P-51: jump on that project 100%. Yes, it will be Autumn of 1941 before production starts at NAA, but it might be a great addition for the USAAF for 1942, especially if the better V-1710s or earlier Packard Merlins can be had.
P-47B/C/D: wonderful aircraft that needs pressurized and reliable drop tanks from day one (ditto for other fighters). Also go all-metal with control surfaces from day one.

P-38: a lot to unpack there. Go with 'classic' layout instead of twin boom for easier/faster/cheaper manufacuring and better internal volume? Work around the clock and very early with NACA to eradicate compressibility issues. Fighter is supposed to fight above 20000 ft = heating needs to work flawlessly. The second source for the P-38 will be good, it took really long time for it to be available in numbers.
I'm tempted with P-38 being an 1-engined fighter actually - story has it that Kelly Johnson figured that he needs either 1x1500 HP engine, or 2x1000 HP ones to fulfill the AAC request wrt. firepower and fuel/endurance. So instead of the 2nd option, start with R-2600 + turbo, plop in the R-2800 instead once available (1940 in prototype form, in 1941 in series production). 1-engined fighter is easier for new pilots to master, it can be produced faster, no blind spots due to nacelles, no easy identification by enemy, no heavy stuff away from CoG to kill the rate of roll, no possibility of Venturi tube form between fuselage and nacelles to mess with airflow, easy solution to cockpit heating.

Martin's bombers: A lot to do here, too. It took forever to have some return of investment from B-26. The A-30/Baltimore was meh.

Brazen

Chrysler buy Napier in 1934 as a quick way to move into the Aero engine industry, impressed by the engineering but appalled at the backwards manufacturing practices. Chrysler give Frank Halford the money to work on his H block engines but tell him that they must meet the new Hyper Engine standards being evaluated by the USAAF at this moment. Halford scraps plans for a 1000hp engine and moves straight onto a larger capacity water-cooled H block.

Initial test units are delivered to Chrysler in early 38, Chrysler immediately take the design in house to tool up for production examples, the sleeve valves take some time to produce consistently but that is soon sorted and several detail changes have been made to allow quicker production. Halford in the meantime has been working on optimising the super charger and improvements to increase power.

Test engines are given to the RAF and the USAAF in mid 1939 that produce a reliable 2000hp with single stage, two speed supercharger.

The first aircraft fitted with the new engine is a heavily modified XP-39 which easily out performs the variant with the Allison engine, Curtiss replaced the P40s Allison with the new Chrysler-Napier Sabre and achieved an average cross country speed of close to 400mph while under test, in the mean time the Douglas A20 is also being fitted with a pair of Sabres.

So let's look at a mid war B-29 fitted with 4 3000hp Sabres with 2 stage, 2 speed high altitude super chargers being escorted by Sabre powered Mustangs and Tempests, it's an interesting proposition another combination of UK inline know how and US manufacturing knowhow.

Tomo pauk

1050 sq ft.
'Non-strategic' bombers - B-25 was liked in Pacific, with useful bomb load and guns' armament, and with good range/radius. Improved and more reliable R-2600s will improve B-25's prospects, and of the A-20, too.
A-20 - it took a lot of time for it to 'grow' with regard to bomb- and fuel-load, we need that growth to happen ASAP. The 'gunship' versions of the two were used with great success in Pacific. Again, the LR fighter escort is needed - if enemy fighters appear we kill those, if not the fighters can strafe stuff. Win-win.
Shorter-ranged ground support aircraft - skip the A-24 and other 1-engined aircraft, have the P-36/-40 produced at St. Louis division of Curtiss-Wright so those can start taking over the fighter-bomber and dive-bomber roles? Earlier introduction of rockets?
USAAC/AAF should forget the torpedo-bombing idea IMO.

In the grim dark alternative past of the USAAF, there is only the Lightning. Twin engine fighter, Jabo, whatever random thing we put the Mosquito to, we'll put the Lightning to! Want a four engine bomber? Congrats you get Twin Lightning just kidding you get nothing because that's a total waste and ineffective. Four engines is the land of maritime reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare, not strategic bombing. The claim by air power advocates that it will be able to end the war on its own is completely false as is the belief by the USAAF that they can engage in precision bombing on that scale.

Ok, only Lightning is overkill (go Havocs go!), but that principle stands.

While we can start the war with .50 caliber guns, we’ll need to ramp up to 20mm Oerlikons as soon as possible. Dakka is our one true choice.

Also, learn to skipbomb/dakkastrafe. Between that and trying to high speed torpedo from Lightning/Havoc, the USAAF will actually be useful in anti-shipping role.


USAAC/ USAAF/ USAF - A (Attack) Aircraft - History



























U.S. Military Aircraft Serial Numbers
USAAS, USAAC, USAAF, USAF, USN, USMC and USCG

General Dynamics F-16C Block 42D &ldquoFighting Falcon&rdquo

Okay, you just got your snapshots back from being developed, and you got this great picture of a USAF fighter. However, you're not quite sure what it is. By knowing the serial number of the aircraft, you can immediately identify it. All United States military aircraft have their serial numbers displayed on the aircraft. From the picture, note that the aircraft's serial number, &ldquoAF 88-548&rdquo is displayed on the vertical tail. The &ldquoOK&rdquo above the serial number is the &ldquotail code&rdquo which identifies where the aircraft is from, and what unit it belongs to. &ldquoTail Codes&rdquo are discussed in another section. Back to the serial number &hellip


Watch the video: USAF Paveway Laser-Guided Strike Operations in North Vietnam (May 2022).


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