Underused weapons and equipment in WW II - Page 6

November 24th, 2011  
Sean the flying kangaroo
Hey Sam, sorry, correction for last night I was a little tired and up late here in China...I was talking about P51 Mustangs, when they first arrived in the RAF (Check my post)...( Not P41 ), when they were originally running the Allison engine without super or turbo charging....Same fate for the Aircobra too, although the "Stang" was a lovely airframe from the outset.
November 24th, 2011  
Hi Roo,
I realized you were talking about the P-51. It is interesting how people regard airplane and weapon design as an extremely complicated field in which designers calculate every minute detail to achieve a great design.
Interestingly, the Mustang was designed in record time using some existing parts from other planes. Its laminar airfoil was achieved experimentally, not by calculation and yes the Allison engine sucked as did the 3 blade propeller.
Fortunately, a few smart chaps decided to try the Spit's Merlin and the new Rotol 4 blade prop and were very lucky to obtain permission to do so. The Frankenstein that resulted became the most efficient, easy to produce and deadly long range fighter of the war and together with the more expensive and gas-consuming P-47 accounted by far for most of the 1,000 German planes destroyed per month in 1944 on the western front.
Compare the characteristics, cost and performance of the P-51 (MTOW, max Speed, HP, wing loading, etc,) to those of the Super Tucano with a 5 blade turboprop and composite materials and you realize that the old Mustang is much better!
November 25th, 2011  
Originally Posted by samneanderthal
Actually it was a little more work to develop the new .30 carbine than to use the old .32 Win. The combination of being of being super sonic and a low sectional density is the best way to ensure that you cannot use a silencer and that you lose a lot of energy in the first 100 m (by which time you are subsonic and have a low retained energy). By the way, the ojive of the .30 carbine is hardly suited for super sonic flight.

You have it all the way around, it is far more difficult for an amateur to make a wildcat than for a large factory to make the tooling in a large, well equipped shop.

People who don't know the first thing about ballistics assume that it is incredibly complex and that it requires a lot of testing and equipment. When you know what you're doing it is incredibly simple to design and make a new cartridge with excellent characteristics.
Among the best cartridge designers in history were Newton (.22 Newton) and Ackley who made many much better cartridges than those made by the armies or the big manfacturers using very limited resources.
Regarding guns, Maxim, Brownng, Kalashnikov, etc, all started as amateurs, but knew what they were doing and built their prototypes in a short time and in primitive shops. A little like the Wright brothers. If you know what you're doing it doesn't take comittees, generals and all the BS that usually produce complicated, expensive, unreliable weapons, which are often chosen because of bribes.
Oh please, as far as I remember, you're the one advocating heavier bullets for the .30 Carbine round, not me.
I was merely stating that such a round would be even more anemic than it was with a heavier bullet, on the verge of a subsonic round just to exaggerate the picture a bit.

As for the wildcat-trade, I have to disagree with you there.
A fact proven simply by the number of wildcats that never made it to the production lines of any manufacturer, even though some of them made sense in some respect.
P.O.Ackley did have his followers, but his creations on the wildcat field was little more than beefed-up commercial rounds, plus the ocational hot-rods like .17 Hornet and the likes.
None of them made their way to any major manufacturer, and as such they are strictly wildcat loads kept alive by amateurs like us.
Charles Newton was without any doubth a genius on his field, but too hard-headed for the established industry, and too proud to accept any proffessional help on the public relations part.
Roy Weatherby had both initiative and the courage to go ahead with his ideas, but he had to go all the way to Sweden in order to find a factory willing to set up a production line for his creations.
Same goes for Phil Sharpe and Richard Hart.
Townsend Whelen is another genious on the wildcat field, but the only cartridge of his design that was taken into the warmth and standardized by any major manufacturer was the .35 Whelen, and it took 65 years from the date it was designed...

Ironic, all he managed to create was a less powerfull US version of the 9,3x62 cartridge, 17 years after Otto Bock launched his design.

The point here is that most of the wildcats are just beefed-up cartridges made for the sole purpose of gaining more velocity and power in one spesific rifle, while military rounds are a compromise designed to deliever a reliable function in any possible situation and under every imaginable conditions.

As for the amateurs in the small arms field... Hiram Maxim and John M. Browning both had a basic knowledge of engineering and manufacturing principles, and Mikahil Kalashnikov, allthough only a sergant and mechanic in the tank corps, was transfered to the Red Army Artillery small arms development institute and recieved the proper training there before he started out on the design wich ended up as the notorious AK-47.
November 25th, 2011  
Sean the flying kangaroo
Sam, again great reply, cheers..., Yeah, I have read the interesting development of the P51, it was and still is quite an achievement,...I hope with your obvious vast knowledge and insight too that you have had the pleasure of reading about another fantastic, and to some, little known "wonder child' born of necessity and desperate messages...the CAC CA-12 Boomerang. The turn around from concept to initial production was only 3 months tops...an amazing feat...
The RAAF were desperate to get their hands on a decent fighter as Spitfires were few and far between and taking time to reach Aus, due to our location. As you have said earlier and in other forums too I believe?!!,...we had also lost valuable aircraft in the fall of Singapore.
77 Squadron were heavily committed to the upcoming battle in PNG, so that took care of the only half decent fighter, the P40, that was available. ( I still believe the Zero was more than a match...fireball or not ) All we had left was the old "flying peanut", the Buffalo, and a ragged bunch of obsolete types left over from pre-war time. ( Although the wonderful P38 was starting to trickle in on lend-lease)
What we did have though was a very competent and experienced Government run aircraft factory,..namely the CAC. They were also blessed with some genius minds and aircraft designers, namely Wing Commander Lawrence Wackett as well as the fact that we had been building British and American engines and airframes under licence for quite some time leading up to the WWII. Another blessing was that the Aussie ministers and politicians at the time didn't have the meddling and painfully slow procrastination of the British higher eschelon ( No offence Brits..but it's true...look at the Brabazon and TSR_2), they were aware of the desperate need too, so things happened quickly and smoothly.
The original aircraft in question was the CAC Wirraway, a well built 2 seater much like a Harvard or Texan. It was however pre-war in design, not much more than an advanced trainer...the few that came up against the Japanese found out the hard way that it was obsolete. They still bravely served mainly on convoy patrols and saw service up until 1943.
Anyway,...along comes the genius of Wackett, who through his clever initial licencing of the Wirraways construction, allowed him to modify the design totally as he pleased! Using the complete wing, landing gear and tail unit, he mated these to an entirely new fuselage with a reliable, light and relatively powerful Pratt and Whitney 1200hp Twin Wasp. This of course was how they achieved the rapid development/turn around time, yet I truly believe it was a master stroke ( Which is why your comment on the Mustang spiked my memory).
The Boomerang had a superb rate of climb, was highly manourable, tough and well loved and remembered by the pilots who flew the type. It was also well armed with 4 Browning and 2 Hispano cannon, so all in all a very tidy little and useful plane. The only reason they were replaced was that the Mark 8 Spits became available yet they stayed in production until early 1945. There is only one Boomerang left and fortunately for me I have had the pleasure of seeing it do it stuff at the Caboolture Airshow, near Brisbane. many accounts say that it is still in a museum, but they restored it back to flying condition in the late 90's. I even have some photos of it and have had the exciting experience of touching the flight controls ( Wasn't allowed to climb into the cockpit though...!) When I transfer them to digital copies, I will post them for you. One could even say that it was an underused weapon of WWII as well!, Again,...cheers!, glad to have found this sight!, "The Roo"
November 25th, 2011  
Sean the flying kangaroo
Oh, by the way she is called "Mulligan's Ghost", and she whistles through the air, makes the hair stand up on my arms...really!
November 25th, 2011  
The Boomerang is an excellent example of what common sense can achieve that comittees, brass and huge budgets can't.
It is a shame that Britain used Australian servicemen, but left it unarmed. Australia was extremely lucky that Japan did not invade it and that it attacked the US.
It is remarkable that a country with a small population and limited industry had to develop and manufacture its own modern fighter with an AMerican engine, while the huge British Industry was still producing Swordfish and huge quantities of 4 engine bombers to kill civilians and British crews.
By the way, after the Fairey Battle's dismal failure and losing hundreds of crewmen as a bomber the British turned it into a naval fighter, the Fulmar and made 600 of them! A waste of good Merlin engines, millions of dollars and men.
November 26th, 2011  
Sean the flying kangaroo
And...the Fulmar was another "dog" of kite in my eyes...another silly design that was dictated by a ridiculous set of navy requirements.
Yes Sam, I agree, our servicemen had been getting "the short end of the stick for many, many years in British hands for many conflicts, even going right back to " Breaker Morant " and the Boer War campaign. Thankyou for recognizing our supreme efforts, Australian soldiers, mariners and pilots are well respected as we had to deal with overwhelming odds and challenges yet we adapted and overcame these seemingly impossible hurdles time after time, often with little, obsolete or NO real resources...We also had the benefit of excellent training, guts, determination and living in one of the harshest countries in the world ( Not entirely, but the interior is a killer if you don't know what you are doing...Just ask Burke and Wills.. ) Couple this with some of the world's deadliest snakes and spiders, large salt water crocodiles, at least 5 deadly shark species and a jellyfish that can kill you in about 20 minutes and you get the picture! As well as this, as you correctly stated, our population was very small at the time, plus we had already lost thousands of young men in WWI, so what we achieved was nothing short of a miracle. The diggers were "tough as old boots", we have been repeatedly thanked and we eternally give thanks to those men and women for virtually stopping the Japs in PNG. If you have ever been there and seen the terrain ( especially Kokoda ), you can only stand in awe of what these extremely brave souls did ( some weren't young either ) and sacrificed in order to help turn the Pacific war.

I am deeply proud of our country of course, yet I have the same deep respect for ALL soldiers that have fought for their rights, freedom and their life, regardless of race, creed or colour. Every side has their good and bad, some more than others, unfortunately, such is war.
November 26th, 2011  
Sean the flying kangaroo
UPDATE: Having done a little more investigating, if have discovered that there are 3 airworthy Boomerangs now, and correction on the name of said mentioned aircraft her name is " Milingimbi Ghost ", A46-206. She is a very rare CA-19 model, high altitude performance modified ( which was one of the small drawbacks of the CA-12. A46-122, a Ca-13 is still flying with the Temora Air Museum,... A46-63, an original CA-12 proudly flew again in 2009 There is also, interestingly one in the USA being assembled mostly from all original parts, although it is classified as a replica, it still carries a genuine serial number.
January 1st, 2012  
Another inexpensive piece of equipment that performed well beyond its cost is the escort carrier. It was basically a cheap, slow cargo ship with a flight deck and could carry 24 to 30 planes, usually Wildcats and torpedo planes that dropped depth charges in order to destroy submarines or torpedoes for surface ships.
The allies made 130 escort carriers, 6 of which were made in Britain and the rest in the US.
Although they were very vulnerable, only a dozen were lost. They provided escort for convoys, troop transports, etc, One their most remarkable actions took place during the massive Japanese attack with 27 war ships, which threatened the thousands of troops landing at Leyte. A few destroyers and the planes from the escort carriers damaged several cruisers and battleships and repelled the Japanese attack.
Three escort carriers were sunk by kamikazes and several by torpedoes, bombs and naval artillery one of the British carriers exploded from undetermined cause.
Escort carriers typically displaced 8 tons, against 30,000 for a fleet carrier and had less than 1/3 the crew.
When one compares the cost of a battleship or even a heavy cruiser to that of an escort carrier and their capabilities, it is no wonder that so many of the latter were made.
January 2nd, 2012  
Originally Posted by samneanderthal
Although the 8 mm Kurz was designed in 1938, it was not used until the expensive assault rifle entered mass production in 1943. Had the Germans made some MG-34 for this caliber, it would have been ideal for assault troops that could run with a lot more of these lighter cartridges, under cover from a conventional MG-34 a few hundred meters back.
As I recall they tried the 7.92x33mm in a few FG-42s but felt it was to light weight and switched to the 7.92x57mm which also gave it the advantage of using the standard 5-round Mauser clip, obviously this came at the expense of added weight.

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