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Vigilant1

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Everyone was new to this and just trying to figure things out. The idea of turret fighters sounded pretty good, being able to direct offensive and defensive fire off-axis would be a big advantage. Likewise, bombers that would fly in large formations and provide their own defenses against fighters by mounting lots of guns that could cover every sector. Experience was a harsh teacher.
 
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cluttonfred

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The Wendover (Westland P.12 converted from a standard Lysander) was never intended as a fighter. The normal army cooperation Lysanders had been badly mauled in the Battle of France despite their low-speed maneuverability and good handling because one or two hand-held .303 machine guns were just not much of a deterrent to a Bf 109 or Bf 110.

The use of the Delanne lifiting rear wing was to allow for the rear CG caused by installing a power-operated four-gun tail turret as used on contemporary British bombers. That turret would have helped the P.12 defend itself while attacking potental German invasion forces landing on British beaches and would have also allowed rearward strafing after dropping small bombs. There was also a prototype built with a ventral gun position for firing straight down at enemy troops (the "Pregnant Perch") and more sensible one that just mounted a 20mm cannon on each wheel strut in place of the little stub wing bomb racks.

Westland designer Teddy Petter and test pilot Harald Penrose actually traveled to France in early 1940 before the German invasion to meet Maurice Delanne, discuss the concept with him, and test fly the Arsenal-Delanne 20T. Back in England it all worked very well, Penrose even looped the prototype on its first flight in 1941, but by that point it was no longer needed. See Koen's write-up here: Lysander Delanne - Nest of Dragons
 
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Vigilant1

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The Wendover (Westland P.12 converted from a standard Lysander) was never intended as a fighter. The normal army cooperation Lysanders had been badly mauled in the Battle of France despite their low-speed maneuverability and good handling because one or two hand-held .303 machine guns were just not much of a deterrent to a Bf 109 or Bf 110.
Just to give the RAF planners some credit with regard to the Wendover: Virtually no Bf 109s were armed with anything more potent than 7.92 mm (.312 caliber) machine guns until mid-1940 (with the introduction of the Bf 109 E-3). Though the British . 303 wasn't a very powerful round, there was a good case to be made that a tail/turret gunner (especially with the broad field of engagement offered by the turret) would prove effective in keeping the Hun away. A gun firing aft has some kinetic/range advantages over one firing forward, and a tail gun pretty much prevents a fighter from just slowing down, camping at the 6 o'clock and chewing the target to bits at leisure. The introduction of a tail gun that matches the range of the fighter's forward-firing guns necessitates more complex and fleeting gun passes with tougher firing solutions with very brief engagement windows (esp with a maneuvering target). On the other hand, the turret gunner will be able to lead/engage the fighter through a large portion of his approach and escape from the target. The turret gunner had 4 machineguns, the Bf 109 (through mid 1940) had 4 machineguns.

In the end, as we know, adaptive fighter tactics, their concentration of firepower, and eventually the advent of the 20mm cannon overcame the defensive capability of the turret armament.

Overgeneralization: Defense can extract a great toll on an offensive force, sometimes that is enough. But the offense offers the potential advantages of initiative, surprise, and mass.
 
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Pilot-34

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With the top speed less than half of the fighters it was contemporary with it would be insanity to expect it to be competitive in a dog fight

And that was the problem with the gun turret fighter.

Perhaps someone with a very good simulator program could create equivalent fleets of fighters one with additional Ball gunners and one fleet without without.
In equivalent performance airframes my money is on the fleet with more guns.

Heck my money is always on more guns!
 

Riggerrob

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Dear Pilot-34,
The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm received both Blackburn Skua bomber/fighters and Roc turret fighters. Roc had 4-gun turrets similar to those installed in Westland Wendover, Boulton-Paul Defiant and many Bomber Command aircraft. They were based upon the same airframe but were obsolete by the start of WW2.
FAA 803 Squadron commander declared Rocs a hindrance and requested more Skuas instead.
Rocs only ever shot down a single German airplane (Ju88 over Ostend, Belgium 1940) and were soon relegated to target towing, search and rescue.
Bottom line, British turret-fighters proved vulnerable in combat and were soon removed from front-line service.
Four .303 caliber machineguns may have been effective against WW1 and 1930s vintage wood and fabric biplanes, but were soon obsoleted by modern all-metal airplanes during WW2. Early in WW2, the RAF decided to switch to 20 mm cannons as soon as the bugs were worked out. Lter model Spitifires, Hurricanes, Typhoons and a few bombers sported 20 mm cannons by mid-war. Since Americans struggled to refine 20 mm auto-cannons, they were stuck with .50 caliber heavy machineguns until the Korean War.
 

Vigilant1

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Since Americans struggled to refine 20 mm auto-cannons, they were stuck with .50 caliber heavy machineguns until the Korean War.
Though, really, for the US's particular mission in WWII, the 20mm didn't offer much advantage over the venerable .50 cal in the air to air mode. Our targets were enemy fighters, not bombers, etc. The effective range of both rounds is about the same, and the .50 had a faster, flatter trajectory. They had a higher rate of fire. In an unobserved shot on a fighter or a fairly unmaneuverable bomber, the big explosive rounds of the .20 has the advantage. In a turning fight, the flatter, higher rate of fire .50 was just as good, especially if there were 6 of them.
I was making light of the "puny" .50 cal round when joshing with an Army friend one day. He pointed out what a tremendous weapon the M2 is. "Laugh if you want. Look around at a typical urban or suburban street-- there's NOTHING in sight that offers effective cover against a .50 HMG. Cinder block walls, cars, trucks, trees: the fifty cal will shoot through all of it."
He had a good point.
 

Pilot-34

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Dear Pilot-34,
The Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm received both Blackburn Skua bomber/fighters and Roc turret fighters. Roc had 4-gun turrets similar to those installed in Westland Wendover, Boulton-Paul Defiant and many Bomber Command aircraft. They were based upon the same airframe but were obsolete by the start of WW2.
FAA 803 Squadron commander declared Rocs a hindrance and requested more Skuas instead.
Rocs only ever shot down a single German airplane (Ju88 over Ostend, Belgium 1940) and were soon relegated to target towing, search and rescue.
Bottom line, British turret-fighters proved vulnerable in combat and were soon removed from front-line service.
Four .303 caliber machineguns may have been effective against WW1 and 1930s vintage wood and fabric biplanes, but were soon obsoleted by modern all-metal airplanes during WW2. Early in WW2, the RAF decided to switch to 20 mm cannons as soon as the bugs were worked out. Lter model Spitifires, Hurricanes, Typhoons and a few bombers sported 20 mm cannons by mid-war. Since Americans struggled to refine 20 mm auto-cannons, they were stuck with .50 caliber heavy machineguns until the Korean War.
Im not sure if you are trying to reinforce my point or argue against it somehow?

no I’m not exactly up to the minute on the latest weapons and tactics but it does seem like a lot of modern jet weapon platforms use a GIB.
 

Kiwi303

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Coming back and reading this thread got me thinking about the looks of that Wendover, and the more I look at it the more I wonder about updating it as a tricycle amd replacing that aft end with a Kamm tail with a loading ramp like a UHaul trailer or horse box trailer...

E-AB Cargo or Air-RV anyone?

Maybe pitch it to the AIr force.
 

Aesquire

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The Turret Fighter concept had one successful day, during the Battle of France, when Boulton Paul Defiants chopped up enemy fighters who thought they were attacking Hurricanes. Then the element of surprise was lost and that was that for the concept.

Iirc there was one success against bombers, which was the original idea, to fly into formation and engage.

The mutant Lysander was a bomber type defense improvement attempt for a plane who's only advantage over fighters was slow speed maneuverability, like Cubs and Taylorcraft dodging Messerschmidts.

The modern GIB is a radar operator, navigator, and second set of eyes. Intended to share the far more complex work load of an all weather fighter - bomber. There are attempts to automate functions to cram the job into one pilot, which helps a lot with "fighter jock ego" and power to weight ratio.

But every second you are head down In the cockpit, playing with buttons and looking at screens, is two seconds you aren't paying attention outside. Time for an Enemy, a missile, or a mountain to get you. Controlled flight info terrain, anyone?

The Skua actually proves the concept of the 2 man fighter while showing the downside. All Weather flying, specifically Night flying from Carriers, is really better with a dedicated navigator. The second set of eyes really makes a difference in situational awareness. In the late 1930s through 1944 American Carrier pilots were not universally and rigorously trained in night flying. Landings in the dark are hazardous!

Iirc for half the war only one American carrier really trained for night operations. The Brits, otoh, did. See Taranto Raid.

The F4 Phantom ( all weather ) and others use the same logic to get to the same compromise.

Today, there is thinking that the mass and life support for a second crewman might be better used for multiple cameras and satellite links. You could have a team of people watching your six who aren't distracted by G loads, confused by orientation, or burdened with helmet and mask. Otoh that link will inevitably be jammed and hacked. Leaving the poor pilot suddenly alone and half blind, or worse, given a deafening roar of dubstep.
 

Pilot-34

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The Turret Fighter concept had one successful day, during the Battle of France, when Boulton Paul Defiants chopped up enemy fighters who thought they were attacking Hurricanes. Then the element of surprise was lost and that was that for the concept.
interesting
When attacked and defended as equals the concept was successful?
Yes so when the tactics you use on a plane that has half your speed were not thought to be available the concep kicks butt!

Or is anybody really surprised putting lipstick on a pig didn’t turn her into the queen of the ball?
 

Vigilant1

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The question is similar to the ones faced by the inter-war air theorists and planners. Could suitably equipped bombers, using appropriate procedures and tactics, penetrate defended airspace and accomplish their mission with acceptable losses? Or, would escort fighters be necessary?
There's a lot of interesting study on this. It may sound like a simple question, but it wasn't. US planners (esp the USAAF staff that produced AWPD-42), and later the US/UK planners that produced plans for the Combined Bomber Offensive needed to make assumptions based on very limited data or experience, and many of these assumptions proved to be wrong (esp regarding bombing accuracy, but also about the effectiveness of defensive armament and tactics).
In US daylight heavy bomber operations in Europe, flak caused about as many losses as enemy fighters. Flak also caused a greater reduction in bombing accuracy than fighters did. Also, the (many) planes damaged by AAA became much easier targets for fighters (if they fell out of formation).
 

Aesquire

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When attacked and defended as equals the concept was successful?
Nope. Ambushed & surprised by deception!

Aerial combat evolved over time from throwing rocks just as other combat has.

There's a great short story by David Drake in a "Magic, the Gathering" card game book. A bunch of authors were asked to write short stories based on a card of their choice as part of the advertising and profit side sales for the game. Drake chose this one. Funny as ....


He's an award winning author famous for the Hammer's Slammers sci-fi future armored vehicles stories. Veteran of the only independent tank unit in Vietnam. Fluent in multiple languages including Latin, he often writes sci-fi novels based on historic battles. Once complained the best selling fantasy author just wrote the same drek over & over and was getting rich, while decent authors struggled. So he then wrote a fantasy series with the exact same plot in each book. Best sellers! Really annoyed himself! ( darn good books, though )
 

Vigilant1

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I’d still like to see a really good simulator battle
It would be possible to do a simulator battle of turret fighters vs conventional fighters, but everything would hinge on the underlying assumptions.
The next day, humans would adapt in an attempt to overcome, so a simulator >war< would have very little predictive value (except to illuminate the sensitivity of the results to various included assumptions. This "factor analysis" often has much greater utility than the "results" of the sim run.
I'm still waiting to see a sim of WW-IIII, Fulda Gap and Western Europe, 1988, that includes all that has been released about US/NATO and Soviet/WP plans. Just the first 3 weeks. T-72s in Madrid? That should occupy some processing power.
Again, assumptions would be key (especially: Does the fight remain conventional, or does it escalate to tactical nuclear weapons? Might not seem very "tactical" in Brussels.)
 
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Pilot-34

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Lol speed is the deed
That Ball turret it is only going to help when you’re slower than the attacking aircraft.
On the other hand when you’re being jumped from above you are slower than the attacking aircraft.
Adding that ball turret is gonna cost you a few miles per hour.
would it be worth it?
 

Riggerrob

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Lol speed is the deed
That Ball turret it is only going to help when you’re slower than the attacking aircraft.
On the other hand when you’re being jumped from above you are slower than the attacking aircraft.
Adding that ball turret is gonna cost you a few miles per hour.
would it be worth it?
They tried a dorsal turret mockup on a Mosquito bomber, but quickly concluded that the loss in airspeed was worse than any defensive advantage.
 
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