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Smallest possible WW2 air force in number of types?

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  • Smallest possible WW2 air force in number of types?

    In honour of Paul's exceptional MRA thread, I was wondering what might be the smallest number of types of plane that could be used by any side in WW2.

    Assuming you don't care about copyrights and could actually produce the aircraft, what is the fewest number of aircraft that you could employ in WW2 that would still make your air force first class.

    4 engines for strategic bombing, ASW, transport: B-24?
    2 engines for most of the work: Mosquito?
    1 engine for fighter, fighter/bomber, escort: P-47?
    You would also need at least one type of float plane, and probably one that could be launched from ship catapults?
    Would you need a dedicated fighter and a separated dedicated attack aircraft?

    With the benefit of hindsight, how small could you make your WW2 air force in number of types and still make it world class?


    The only proviso is that any aircraft much have seen service in enough numbers and for a decent amount of time to count. No F4U-4 or Me 262 for example.
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  • #2
    I think you could probably get away with 2 aircraft. That is, a single engine aircraft that can operate as a twin and a four engine aircraft that shares a commonality with a two engine variant.

    So, you have a single engine fighter that can operate from land or sea equally, can operate as a reconnaissance aircraft, or can be a fighter bomber.
    There could be twin version of this plane like the P-82 for example, that provides a night fighter, long range escort, and other twin fighter functions.
    The four engine plane serves as bomber, transport, and ASW, etc. A twin version is derived from it or the four is derived from a twin (like the Ju 88 / 488 or the Manchester / Lancaster only the twin isn't going to be a heavy bomber) giving you a smaller bomber, torpedo plane, etc., based on a shared airframe.

    The float version, if necessary is simply the land version given floats.

    If a true seaplane, with planning hull were necessary that would have to be a separate type.

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    • #3
      Carrier planes need a beefed up landing gear/ airframe and thus preform worse than a ground based plane. If your willing to take the performance hit well okay...
      Credo quia absurdum.


      Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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      • #4
        The best air force in the world is at Davis-Monthan AFB.
        The PLO claims ALL of Israel!!! There will and can NEVER be a "2 State solution".

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        • #5
          Originally posted by ozjohn39 View Post
          The best air force in the world is at Davis-Monthan AFB.
          Which has exactly nothing to do with this thread or World War Two.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
            In honour of Paul's exceptional MRA thread, I was wondering what might be the smallest number of types of plane that could be used by any side in WW2.

            Assuming you don't care about copyrights and could actually produce the aircraft, what is the fewest number of aircraft that you could employ in WW2 that would still make your air force first class.

            4 engines for strategic bombing, ASW, transport: B-24?
            2 engines for most of the work: Mosquito?
            1 engine for fighter, fighter/bomber, escort: P-47?
            You would also need at least one type of float plane, and probably one that could be launched from ship catapults?
            Would you need a dedicated fighter and a separated dedicated attack aircraft?

            With the benefit of hindsight, how small could you make your WW2 air force in number of types and still make it world class?


            The only proviso is that any aircraft much have seen service in enough numbers and for a decent amount of time to count. No F4U-4 or Me 262 for example.
            I'd go along with that, possibly substituting the P-51 for the P-47.
            You'd need a transport aircraft - C-47 Skytrain/ Dakota ? and a Flying Boat:- Sunderland or Catalina.
            "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
            Samuel Johnson.

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            • #7
              You might have a problem in fighting the Battle of Britain with the P-47 in its then state of development. The P-47 could only match or exceed the range of the P-51B and later versions for escort missions with the N models which flew for the last month or two against Japan.

              If we accept that 1939-41 is irrelevant, using the P-51 as a fighter and the Mosquito as night fighter and light bomber would have the benefit that they used merlin engines as did the Lancaster. However, the B-24 is probably the best choice for a heavy bomber, anti-submarine aircraft and heavy transport.

              Carrier based aircraft are special as mentioned. The RN started with the Skua as a specialist dive bomber, the Swordfish as a torpedo bomber and, from 1940, the Fulmar as a fighter and reconnaissance aircraft. Obviously, those were not the best by 1945! However, the RN were the first to simplify by deciding that the Swordfish or Albacore could just about dive bomb. By 1945, the USN and the IJN were simplifying by hanging a torpedo off the SB2C Helldiver and introducing the Aichi B7A. Unfortunately, by 1945 the USN were introducing the Tigercat as a night fighter and the IJN had a specialised reconnaissance aircraft in the Nakajima C6N.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by BELGRAVE View Post
                I'd go along with that, possibly substituting the P-51 for the P-47.
                You'd need a transport aircraft - C-47 Skytrain/ Dakota ? and a Flying Boat:- Sunderland or Catalina.
                P-51 is far too late. By the time it became effective, the air war over Germany was already won.

                Mosquito is definitely one. I have stated B-24 for 4 engined, but does the Lancaster beat it for range? If so I would go Brit there as well, given its ability to carry really big bombs. Fighter would be Spitfire so I appear to be very patriotic.

                However, the British, despite its navy being both the Senior Service and best funded of the three services, doesn't seem to be be able to produce a really decent carrier plane for WW2. The Nazi's didn't have a reasonable surface fleet for what it needed, but the Italians did. The British nearly failed here. Thus, I would certainly go USA in this case. Hellcat as one plane for a carrier?
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                Global Warming & Climate Change Myths: https://www.skepticalscience.com/argument.php

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
                  P-51 is far too late. By the time it became effective, the air war over Germany was already won.

                  Mosquito is definitely one. I have stated B-24 for 4 engined, but does the Lancaster beat it for range? If so I would go Brit there as well, given its ability to carry really big bombs. Fighter would be Spitfire so I appear to be very patriotic.

                  However, the British, despite its navy being both the Senior Service and best funded of the three services, doesn't seem to be be able to produce a really decent carrier plane for WW2. The Nazi's didn't have a reasonable surface fleet for what it needed, but the Italians did. The British nearly failed here. Thus, I would certainly go USA in this case. Hellcat as one plane for a carrier?
                  Too late ? I must have missed any specific date you may have had in mind.

                  Had it have been 1944 (say) then the P -51 would have been on the money, I would have thought.
                  "I dogmatise and am contradicted, and in this conflict of opinions and sentiments I find delight".
                  Samuel Johnson.

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                  • #10
                    I'd think the F4U and Ju 88 / 488 would work. While the later wouldn't be a great transport, it would be a viable one.

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