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A future Belgian Air Force 1941

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A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby daveh on 24 Aug 2012 16:18

From a variety of sources the following has been suggested:

1st regiment
1 and 2/I/1………….Breguet Br694
3 and 4/II/1………..…Breguet Br694
5 and 6/III/1……………SABCA S.47
7 and 8/IV/1……………SABCA S.47
9 and 10/V/1………….SABCA S.47
11 and 12/VI/1…….….SABCA S.47

2nd Regiment
1 and 2/I/2……………Hawker Hurricane I
3 and 4/II/2………….Fiat CR 42 to be replaced by Renard R 38
5 and 6/III/2…………Brewster B 339 to be replaced by Renard R 38
7 and 8/IV/2………… Hawker Hurricane I
9 and 10/V/2………… Hawker Hurricane I

3rd Regiment
1 and 2/I/3…………..Douglas DB 7
3 and 4/II/3………….Douglas DB 7
5 and 6/III/3………..SABCA S. 48
7 and 8/IV/3………..PZL P.37C

Fighters:
SABCA was to build 80 Hawker Hurricane I under licence. One delivered to the Air Force 10/5/40
40 Brewster B339 ordered. The first were unloaded at Bordeaux Spring 1940 but none were delivered to the Belgian Air Force

Bomber and Army Co-Operation
SABCA were to build 32 Breguet Br 694 under licence.
SABCA were to build 40 Douglas DB 7
Renard were negotiating to licence build PZL P.37C
SABCA S.47 development of the Caproni Ca335
SABCA S.48 were to build 24 caproni Ca.312

Can anyone confirm the above suggestions?
Were any other designs considered/ordered?
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby A McAuslan on 29 Sep 2012 14:29

Hi Daveh,

First let me thank you for all the excellent information you have posted on Belgian artillery etc.

The conjectural Belgian Air Force of 1941 is a bit of a whimsey but surely the Renard R-38 is a bit of a stretch. The plane had been under development from November 1937 and still, even with a Merlin 11, was only on a par with the Hurricane in terms of speed in July 1939 though it was much faster climbing. That was a prototype, however, and the inevitable accretion of weight with the addition of military equipment would have seen that advantage diminish. A look at the Renard's proportions immediately make me question if it had cg problems. The armament was also only four rifle calibre Browning machine guns. The Hurricane version to be built by SABCA was to have the Merlin 111 engine, Rotol propellors and an armament of 4 x 12.7 mm MG. I believe that the 2eme Regiment would have been a homogeneous regiment wholly armed with Hurricanes.
That said probably the fighter pilots who would have been looking forward most to their new aircraft would have been the poor unfortunates who had to fly the Buffalo. At least the CR 42 was manouverable.
What is your scenario which sees the German's not attack West in 1940? Do France and UK decline to declare war in September 1939 and Germany and Russia carve up Poland and a sort of peace returns to Europe? This being followed by a period of mass rearmament and the Belgian allocation of 25% of national budget continuing through 1940. If that is the case what do you see as the state of the Belgian 'Maginot' line if a German attack does not take place till late 1942? (This makes the further assumption that Barbarossa takes place as planned in April/May 1941 - not June- and that Moscow falls and Russia sues for peace about January 1942. If we are making assumptions lets go the whole hog!) If a Maginot like line had been constructed then do you think the Belgian attitude to 'armed independence' would have changed and an alliance with France and the UK which would have permitted their troops to enter, not invade, Belgium in response to, or to pre empt, a German attack might have been concluded?

Cheers,
Sandy.
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby daveh on 30 Sep 2012 10:52

The idea behind this post was to look at the type of aircraft that the Belgians were in the process of ordering to re equip the Air Force.
The number of Hurricanes ordered from the UK and produced under licence would have been insufficient to fully equip all 10 squadrons of the 2nd Regiment. The start of WW2 led to neutral nations such as Belgium facing difficulties in obtaining modern fighters. The ordering of the Renard R 38 could, perhaps, have resolved that.

One would hope the Belgian pilots would have found the Buffalo as useful as the Finnish pilots did.

What is your scenario which sees the German's not attack West in 1940?

I don't have one :D
While it is interesting to speculate, and I do enjoy reading such what ifs, I find I have more than enough problems trying to find out what really did happen!
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby daveh on 30 Sep 2012 16:11

from http://warbirdsforum.yuku.com/topic/133 ... Ghec03A_TA

The December 11, 1939 contract between Brewster and the Belgian Ministry for National Defence, Aviation Department, did indeed cover license production. In addition to the order for 40 Model 339B's, the contract provided for Belgian license production. The Belgians were to notify Brewster that they were taking up that option by June 30, 1940, and if so they would have to pay Brewster $100,000 plus $2,800 per aircraft completed. The contract was very clear that this license did not include engines or engine equipment, instruments or armament. The extent of detail makes it clear to me that Belgium had plans to produce the Brewster.
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby A McAuslan on 30 Sep 2012 19:08

Thanks Dave,

Point taken
In the real world can you see SABCA having the design/development organisation to enable them, by 1941' to have completed the modifications necessary to the variety of projects associated with them? It is sad to have to note that the only aircraft of wholly Belgian origins in the Belgian air force at May 1940 was one which had such poor flying qualities that it was reported that aerobatics were banned. If a second fighter type were considered to be essential I believe attention may have, temporarily, gone to the Koolhoven FK58 which SABCA was building under sub-contract for the French Armee de l'Air. I also know that nine nations had expressed interest in acquiring Supermarine Spitfires before May 1940. I do not know if one of these was Belgium but the commonality of the Merlin power plant would have made sense.
As regards my comment on the Buffalo I know that examples of the Belgian model were flown - I have a photogaph of one - but the general experience of all combatants who flew the Buffalo against quality opposition was brief and catastrophic. While the courage and skill of the Finns is not in doubt the quality of their Russian opposition is. The Belgians were against the most experienced and skilled pilots in the world (with the possible exception of Imperial Japanese Navy) at the time and their opponents were equipped with a fighter which had been developed in combat. No doubt there are reports from some Finnish pilots out there who flew both the Buffalo and the Emil who could comment authoritatively on the relative merits of the two types and the probability of success flying each type against the other.
The history of ordering aircraft 'off the drawing board' is littered with abject failures - the Blackburn Botha being a prime example from this period - and the possibility of successfully introducing a myriad of new types into service in 18 months (I am taking the target date as December 1941) when many of them needed to have development work and new production lines set up is surely unrealistic.
If Renard could have secured the assistance of some of the National Aviation Establishment engineers from Warsaw and put the Los C into volume production I believe it would have formed a powerful addition to Belgian forces. Development potential also existed in that design and ultimately they could look to the Mis version.
I appreciate there would only be two months to assess the qualities of the Buffalo as against the Hurricane. I would assume this would have been enough to see it rejected. For the scenario (that an independent Belgian nation and air force was extant in 1941) to be a reality then the UK would also be free from attack and Spitfires would have been available for export. I believe that the Belgian government would have been well served to move heaven and earth to acquire them. France had already, by May 1940, received its first Spitfire and I believe deliveries could have started to Belgium before the end of 1941.
The position with the Italian origin aircraft is tied up with my scepticism as to the ability of SABCA to carry out the redesign etc necessary to see them into service and the question about what would Italy have done. I can only see Italy attacking Greece and Albania, becoming a co-belligerent with Germany and not co-operating with SABCA. Concentration on construction of Breguet 694's and the Douglas DB 7
would then take place and I would assess the front line strength of a Belgian Air force at the conclusion of 1941 as being made up from the following types
Breguet 694
Douglas DB 7
Hawker Hurricane
Brewster Buffalo (about to be replaced by Supermarine Spitfire)
PZL P.37 Los C.
In terms of overall numbers of aircraft this represents a huge expansion of a modest force. (taking your operational structure I can assume about 450 front line aircraft taking modest 25% reserves ) At May 1940 I understood the front line strength to be about 177.
I have tried to stay more directly to topic but, without projecting events elsewhere and postulating on their consequences, I believe it is impossible to speculate. (Do you accept that by including Renard 38 in your own outline you have speculated that it could be developed into an effective warplane?)
Cheers,
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby A McAuslan on 16 Nov 2012 11:55

Hi Daveh,
I was recently thumbing through Morgan and Shacklady's book Spitfire The History and came across the Belgian interest in acquiring this aircraft. This reveals that 13 foreign countries had expressed an interest in acquiring the Spitfire and that these had been allocated priorities. France was No1 and Belgium was No 2. On 28th September 1938 a quotation was supplied for the supply of 15-45 aircraft. In August 1938 it is stated that 'Switzerland, Yugoslavia, Belgium and Holland were all awaiting permission to licence build'. That is not all the story, however. In the first week of September 1939 test flights were arranged for Yugoslavian and Belgian pilots and it is stated that 'The Belgians preferred the French Renard' (pages 74 to 76). Spitfire deliveries were slow to build up but, if Belgium had managed to survive till 1941, I am confident (perhaps) that the merits of the design would have been proved and the Belgian Air Force would have been flying the type.

Cheers,
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby Prosper Vandenbroucke on 16 Nov 2012 12:10

Sandy wrote,
That is not all the story, however. In the first week of September 1939 test flights were arranged for Yugoslavian and Belgian pilots and it is stated that 'The Belgians preferred the French Renard' (pages 74 to 76)


The "Renard" was not a french aircraft but a belgian made aircraft.
http://www.vvjack.be/PORTAIL/articles.php?pg=art55
(in french language)
and also here
http://www.fnar.be/RenardR36livre.htm

Sorry for my poor english
Kindly regards from Belgium
Prosper :wink:
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby A McAuslan on 17 Nov 2012 22:21

Hi Prosper,
I was aware of the origin of the Renard design but quoted the extract exactly. I have previously expressed my thoughts on the probability of the Renard being able to become an effective warplane.

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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby phylo_roadking on 17 Nov 2012 23:57

The conjectural Belgian Air Force of 1941 is a bit of a whimsey but surely the Renard R-38 is a bit of a stretch. The plane had been under development from November 1937 and still, even with a Merlin 11, was only on a par with the Hurricane in terms of speed in July 1939 though it was much faster climbing. That was a prototype, however, and the inevitable accretion of weight with the addition of military equipment would have seen that advantage diminish. A look at the Renard's proportions immediately make me question if it had cg problems. The armament was also only four rifle calibre Browning machine guns.


"was only on a par with the Hurricane in terms of speed in July 1939 though it was much faster climbing" - there's some question over the actual top speed of Hurricane Is; sometimes down as far as 250 mph at sea level. Whereas we don't know if the "quoted" top speed of the R-38 is a "maximum test figure" or what :( Nor do we know at what all-up weight that speed was obtained - "clean" or with armour, guns, radio etc.

Whatever it was, it certainly wasn't "on a par" with the Hurricane - the Hurricane I came in at 316 mph, the R-38 at 339! (Graham&Swanborough) Paul Burniat, SABCA's chief test pilot, put it right between the Hurricane and the Spitfire performance-wise...

"Les qualités de vol et les performances de cet avion le situaient entre le célèbre « Hurricane » et le merveilleux « Spitfire»"


"The plane had been under development from November 1937 and still, even with a Merlin 11, was only on a par with the Hurricane in terms of speed in July 1939 though it was much faster climbing. That was a prototype, however, and the inevitable accretion of weight with the addition of military equipment would have seen that advantage diminish."
- The R-38 was close to half a ton lighter than the Hurricane - empty or loaded...and by the time it would have come to series production, the Merlin III with its power hike would have been available :wink: Certainly enough to compensate for guns ammo and armour.

"armament was also only four rifle calibre Browning machine guns" - OR 4 x 13.2mm MGs ;)

I also don't quite see where you see any potential C-o-G issues...

Image

There may ALSO have been one major advantage over the Spitfire - COST! SABCA thought it would come in at HALF the cost of a Spitfire! 8O
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby A McAuslan on 22 Nov 2012 19:29

Hi Phylo,
Sorry about delay in my reply - computer was sick.
The C of G problem is my own concern. I have made some assumptions about the location of the main fuel tank which I place between the engine and the pilot. My concerns relate to the position of the engine and the wing leading edge combined with my presumed fuel position and the pilot location behind the rear wing. I envisage a centre of gravity of the plane, loaded, as being close to the centre of lift of the wing aerofoils and, with a lowering fuel state, as migrating forwards. It is modern practice in fighters to have an inherently unstable aircraft which, if the computers go down, the pilot punches out of it since he cannot retain control. If the C of G and the centre of lift are too close together then an unstable condition can result. I admit to having seen no other expression of a similar concern with respect to the Renard. However, if a similar look at the relative positions of other fighters of the time are made - say the Bf 109, Dewotine 520, Spitfire and Hurricane - the main mass of the engine is well advanced and retains a C of G ahead of the centre of lift. In my 'analysis' an exceptionally highly skilled pilot would be able to control the Renard and fly it with amazing elan and manoeuverability. I would expect it to be a killer in squadron service. But then I must again admit this is purely my own concern.
I have never noted a potential alternative armament of 4 x 13.2 mm mg for the Renard and my own source was War Planes of the Second World War, Fighters, Volume 1 by William Green. It was fitted with a Merlin 11 engine and a three bladed propellor. Performance figures ranging from 267 m.p.h. at sea level to 336 m.p.h. at 19,685 ft are quoted. The loaded weight is quoted as 5,719 lbs and I would expect that to be the weight at which performance figure are quoted - ballast being used in place of any unfitted equipment (the experts in trials figures without equipment were the Italians). I would expect no performance enhancement from the fitting of a Merlin 111. The power output figures for both the Merlin 11 and the Merlin 111 are about 1,030 hp at standard boost at 3,000 r.p.m. at 16,500 ft. (The Merlin 111 employed a slightly higher boost which improved low level performance only) The main performance improvement was from the fitting of a three bladed propellor - which the Renard already had - and which boosted Hurricane 1 top speed to 324 mph at 17,800 ft and 280 at sea level. (figures from p 195 of 'The Hawker Hurricane' by Francis K Mason)
Since a similarly fitted Spitfire was pushing out 365 mph at these sorts of heights I would have expected that, in the situation in which the Belgian air force was forced to operate, any performance edge available over the alternatives available would have been worth a fortune. For its 15 Spitfires Turkey was quoted £13,000 per complete Spitfire. (page 75 of Spitfire - The History)
Cheers,
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby phylo_roadking on 23 Nov 2012 19:49

Sandy, in regards to the alternate gun fitment for the R-38...the 4x13.2mm entry comes from Green's own entry for the R-38 in Green&Swanborough!

Regarding the fuel tank and centre of gravity issue...well, the issue isn't the "leading wing" of the wing....but where the weight of the aircraft's mainspar lies ;)

First of all - yes, I do belive the R-38 has it's fuel tank in front of the pilot...see here for the R-36...http://www.fnar.be/html/R36/R36-03.jpg ...and although I don't have a similarly detailed drawing for the R-38 - I do have THIS! http://www.fnar.be/html/R38/R38-03.jpg ...which shows an identical vacant space in an identical position in the R-38 ;)

Now....look where the fuel tank actually is - between the wing's two main lateral members ;) If fighter aircraft were designed "fuel neutral", then a fuel tank position there should make little difference to it's actual centre-of-gravity when full. Not if properly dammed internally against fuel "slosh".

Also - the R-38 MAY just have had enough weight behind the pilot to make up for any potential nose-heaviness - inasmuch as they had a steel frame but SABAC pannelled the Rs' rear fuselages with duralumin, not fabric as the Hurricane was, for instance. Yes, the R-38 was lighter than a period-equivalent Spitfire by a few hundred pounds - but this COULD also simply have been down to carrying half the Supermarine's armament and ordnance!

It's also worth noting that if you look at a 3-d cutaway of the Spitfire I/II...IT'S main fuel tank was in EXACTLY the same position I.E. between the wing's two lateral frame members!!
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby A McAuslan on 24 Nov 2012 11:26

Hi Phylo,
Don't disagree with most of what you say. However the main mass is surely the engine and the leading edge of the R38 wing is forward under the exhaust ports of the Merlin. It is, so far as I am aware, the relationship between the centre of gravity of the aircraft and the centre of lift of the aerofoil that is the main determinant of basic stability. I would expect that the location of the main fuel tank is to try to reduce the C of G migration as fuel is used up and so minimise trim tab adjustments. My concerns, and I admit they are my concerns, are that I see the centre of lift of the aerofoil section as pretty far forward. If I go back 60 years to my days at primary school, and making balsa models, the way to get a stable flight was to stick some putty or plasticine on the nose and make the C of G well forward of the aerofoil.
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby phylo_roadking on 25 Nov 2012 17:36

It is, so far as I am aware, the relationship between the centre of gravity of the aircraft and the centre of lift of the aerofoil that is the main determinant of basic stability.


But then again - fighters needed a degree of instability to make good aerobatting dogfighters ;) One of the criticisms often laid against the Hurricane for instance was that it was too stable...or at least more so than the Spitfire.

If I go back 60 years to my days at primary school, and making balsa models, the way to get a stable flight was to stick some putty or plasticine on the nose and make the C of G well forward of the aerofoil.


Well, a rubber band didn't weigh as much as a RR Merlin in proportion!
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby phylo_roadking on 26 Nov 2012 17:44

Just been looking again at comparative three-line drawings of the R-38 and the Spitfire I/II...

The leading edge of the Spitfire's elliptical wing is actually further forward towards the Merlin installation than the Renard's! Compare for example where the exhaust ports are...

Don't forget, that isn't a blending fillet there in the R-38's wingroot - that's its radiators!
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Re: A future Belgian Air Force 1941

Postby A McAuslan on 26 Nov 2012 19:19

Hi Phylo,
I had assumed the radiators to be housed in the air scoop below the fuselage. Can you tell me if the Renard company was trying to use evapouration type rads? Since the wing root fillets are the radiators then I can see no through airflow and unless we have evap. type radiators - which RR tried and abandoned - I can't see how they would work. That would certainly place the weight of the 1,440 lbs weight (both Merlin 11 and 111 came in at that) relatively further forward and contribute to stability. This would give a similar position to the Spitfire. How do you consider the wing loading at about 27 lbs per square foot as the Renard prototype flew (5,719 lbs v 215.278 sq feet) as compared with the operational Spitfire 1 at 26 lb per sq ft - bearing in mind that the Spit. prototype weighed in at 5,332 lbs and a three bladed Mk 1 at 6,200 lbs with gross wing area of 242 sqr feet - with full operational equipment might have affected performance of the Renard - assuming satisfactory engine cooling could have been achieved.
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