Ineffective & deficent Allied equipment

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Takao
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Post by Takao » 21 Jan 2004 16:05

I’m not trying to get our Finnish friends to say anything bad about the Buffalo, F2A-1 (Model 239). Only to acquiesce to the fact that they only flew one model and have no experience with the -2 or -3. Whereas the US flew all three models of the Brewster. History, both US & Finnish, has shown that the F2A-1 was a superb aircraft. History also shows that the F2A-2 & F2A-3 were not.

I think what everyone needs to realize is that the performance of the F2A-1(Model 239) is not the same as the F2A-3. Empty, the -3 weighed some 200 kilos heavier than the -1; loaded it was 800 kilos heavier. This seriously effected the -3’s maneuverability and stability. The -3, with a more powerful engine, was some 20 knots faster, but time to climb was not visibly effected between the -3 & -1.

Our Finnish friends are justified when the claim the stellar reputation for the F2A-1, that reputation was earned and deserved by the aircraft. However, the dismal reputation for the F2A-2 & F2A-3 is also equally correct. Those models performed poorly and earned their inferior rating.

Ok, all performance & stats aside. The root cause for the Brewster’s poor remembrance
falls squarely on the shoulders of Brewster Aeronautical Corporation. They created a world class fighter, but dropped the ball in producing a great design. Brewster, through mismanagement and poor production planning, failed to meet the US Navy’s production quotas. The company was awarded their contract for 54 F2A-1s in June, 1938, but during all of 1939, they had completed only 11! Brewster’s failure allowed Grumman to reenter the carrier fighter race with a redesigned F4F. Brewster saw their star being eclipsed by Grumman and struggled to catch up, but their effort was in vain. Their attempts to improve on the F2A-1 only served to denigrate the plane’s overall performance and Brewster’s efforts to increase production numbers failed. In the end Brewster was lucky if it produced 200 F2As (of all types), while Grumman went on to produce several thousand F4Fs. By December 7, Grumman was churning out the F4F-3s, while Brewster still hobbled along producing small numbers of the F2A-3s. So there here it is, NUMBERS. It was easier and logical for the USN to focus on the more numerous F4F and let the Brewster Buffalo keep its dismal record, than worry about how to get a handful of Brewsters to be able to match the Zero.

@Harri,

Hi Harri, thanks for the links on the Curtiss

About the gear problems with the F2A-3.
Sounds strange that the landing gear of Brewster would have been worse than that of Wildcats'?
Landing aboard a carrier puts much more stress on the aircraft and its landing gear than a runway landing. The F2A-3 was much heavier than you Finnish F2A-1s, but the F2A-3 was without improvements to the landing gear to compensate for its additional weight, thus the landing gear failed. Another tale of landing gear woe was with the F4U Corsair. The oleos of its landing gear were too tight, giving the plane a tendency to bounce when it slammed into a carrier deck. Needless to say, after several accidents, the plane was taken off the carriers and handed over to the Marines where it established an excellent record. When theses deficiencies were corrected in April 1944, the Marines retained priority for the F4U and its appearance on carriers had to wait even longer.
I agree with Mark V and Juha T. Perhaps most people in this forum can't even imagine those problems FAF and its personnel (including pilots) faced during the war. Our resources were really minimal and even the most obsolete planes were so valuable that they were brought back at any cost.
Any members familiar with the CBI(China-Burma-India) Theater or the Pacific from 1941-1942 can relate very well to your dilemma. The Allies in the Pacific were short of everything until 1943. Even as late as 1944, in China, great lengths were gone to recover downed & damaged B-29s because spares & replacements were so hard to come by.


Some Americans did take the AVG’s experiences to heart, Jimmy Thatch and “Butch” O’Hare, to name a few. However, their counter-tactics to the Japanese Zero were approved for their squadron use, but turned down for overall use by members of Admiral Halsey’s staff.


There are many reasons for the rapid loss of Japanese superiority.
- Failure to quickly develop a successor to the A6M Zero, or any other of their aircraft, once more advanced US designs arrived in the Pacific.
- No rotation home for pilots. Thus, the best Japanese pilots could not pass their knowledge on to the new trainees.
- Failure to adapt old tactics or introduce new tactics to meet the changing needs of the aerial battlefield.
- Lack of aircraft production to meet losses, let alone attempt to increase the number of aircraft. Japan was totally unprepared for the attrition warfare of 1942-43. Even before the war the Japanese Zero was not being produced in numbers the Japanese high command expected.
- Inadequate training approaches. Japanese flight schools could produce a small number of excellent fliers, but American flight schools produced tremendous numbers of good fliers.

Those are just a few...

@Mark V
One thing is for sure.

Those who designed and built those Cyclones at Curtiss-Wright were first class - it is miracle that Brewsters could get into the air at all in mid-1944.
Don’t forget about your mechanics who maintained those engines and kept them running.
They were just as important as the pilots who flew the planes.

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Takao
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Post by Takao » 21 Jan 2004 16:08

I don’t think the M-3 Lee/Grant was that bad a design for the time, given how little time and effort was given to the design. It should be remembered that the M-3 was an improvised design and not one that went through the full design process. It was a “stop-gap” measure until a better tank was designed. It was intended to combat the German Panzer IIIs and early mark Panzer IVs not Tigers or Panthers. When the US Army saw how badly it needed to upgrade its tanks, it decided to take a short cut and use an existing design modified to accept a 75mm gun. They chose the new, but as yet, unproduced M-2 tank chassis. The turret was too small for the 75mm, so the most expedient way to mount the 75mm in the tank was by using a sponson mount in the hull. The 37mm M-2 tank turret was kept, to provide extra firepower, and 4 machineguns were added. When the M-3 was first produced, in June 1941, it was more than capable of defeating any tank so far seen on the battlefields of Europe. While German anti-tank technology made the M-3 an easy target by 1943, the M-3 soldiered on until the end of the war fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. Sure, the M-3 won’t win any beauty prizes, but it was one of the few effective tanks in 1941.

@Caldric,

I think it unfair to use the 88mm effect on the M-3 as basis for any decision about the M-3. As the 88 was effective against most if not all tanks produced during WW2.

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Post by Mauser K98k » 21 Jan 2004 16:36

Takao wrote:There are many reasons for the rapid loss of Japanese superiority.
- Failure to quickly develop a successor to the A6M Zero, or any other of their aircraft, once more advanced US designs arrived in the Pacific.
- No rotation home for pilots. Thus, the best Japanese pilots could not pass their knowledge on to the new trainees.
- Failure to adapt old tactics or introduce new tactics to meet the changing needs of the aerial battlefield.
- Lack of aircraft production to meet losses, let alone attempt to increase the number of aircraft. Japan was totally unprepared for the attrition warfare of 1942-43. Even before the war the Japanese Zero was not being produced in numbers the Japanese high command expected.
- Inadequate training approaches. Japanese flight schools could produce a small number of excellent fliers, but American flight schools produced tremendous numbers of good fliers.

Those are just a few...
Two specific reasons are the massive loss of top-grade pilots at Midway, and the heavy loss of pilots flying mission after mission from Rabaul to Guadalcanal. Hundreds of miles each way over ocean, and if a plane got a bit of battle damage or any mechanical problem whatsoever, chances were it would not make it back to Rabaul.

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Post by Mark V » 21 Jan 2004 17:06

Good post Takao.

Caldric
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Post by Caldric » 21 Jan 2004 17:57

Takao wrote:@Caldric,

I think it unfair to use the 88mm effect on the M-3 as basis for any decision about the M-3. As the 88 was effective against most if not all tanks produced during WW2.
I was not trying to be fair, I was making a comment that is all. 37mm would have most likely worked on many areas of the tank. I was only stating that the 88 would be an over kill.

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Dwight Pruitt
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Post by Dwight Pruitt » 22 Jan 2004 01:12

Mauser K98k wrote:I'm sure the designers of the M3's were proud of themselves. But having the large gun untraversable (where the tank itself has to be aimed) should have been an obvious flaw.

Plus, in the world of tank combat, two "little" guns is not equal to one "big" gun. Also, with that short barrel on the 75mm gun, it couldn't have developed enough muzzle velocity to threaten a German tank.
The designers of the M3 knew of the shortcomings of the tank even before it was put into production. It was known that a 75mm gun was needed back in the M2 days, the problem was how to design a turret (and turret ring) large enough to accomdate it- not an uncommon problem if you look at the Char B and early Churchill. By the time the M3 design was completed, and before it was put into production, work on the M4 had started. The problem was the US and the UK needed a 75mm armed tank now, and couldn't afford to wait on the M4.

The "little" 75mm (there were two different versions of 75mm fitted)could and did generate enough muzzle velocity to not only threaten but knock out most contemporary German tanks. It also added HE capability which added to the versatility of the tank, and engage the main scourge of tanks in WW2-the towed AT gun. Was it a great design? No, but it was good for it's time considering the manufacturing capabilities of the US at that point in the war. It's funny to me that lack of traverse of the main gun is pointed out by M3 detractors but is overlooked by StuG and Jagdpather and even S-tank aficianadoes.

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Juha Tompuri
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Post by Juha Tompuri » 22 Jan 2004 13:44

Mauser K98k wrote:
One more thing: the strenght of undercarriage of Buffalo.
Did the Europeans and Australians have more gentle touch to the plane (and airfield) as they seldom seem to have complained it to be weak?
Here the Dutch praise the strenght of it: http://www.danford.net/dutch.htm

Regards, Juha
Remember, the Americans had trouble with the landing gear on Aircraft Carrier decks. Carrier landings are notorious for being hard on landing gear. Especially with the Buffalos being over design weight because of modifications.
Did only the carrier based US planes suffer from the weak undercarriage?

Regards, Juha

P.S. Takao, good post

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Mauser K98k
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Post by Mauser K98k » 23 Jan 2004 03:36

I believe only the carrier-based Buffalos suffered landing gear damage problems.

As previously noted, the F4U Corsair also was relieved of carrier duty due to landing gear problems. Also, another reason the Corsair was difficult to land on a carrier was because of the extremely long nose which obstructed the pilot's view of the carrier deck and the LSO. Corsair pilots had to adopt the tactic of approaching the carrier immediately behind the flight deck from the port side and at a 45 degree angle, then banking hard and flaring for slam down.


Here's another piece of ineffective equipment---the US Mk 14 torpedo.
specifically, the exploder devices.
The Great Torpedo Scandal emerged and peaked between December 1941 and August 1943, but some of its roots went back twenty five years. It involved primarily the Mk.14 and three distinct problems, depth control, the magnetic influence exploder and the contact exploder, whose effects collectively eroded the performance of the torpedoes. The scandal was not that there were problems in what was then a relatively new weapon, but rather the refusal by the ordnance establishment to verify the problems quickly and make appropriate alterations. The fact that after twenty five years of service the Mk.10 had newly discovered depth control problems adds weight to the characterization of the collection of problems and responses as a scandal. These comments should, however, be mitigated a little by the fact that each of the Mk.14 problems obscured the next. Although BuOrd did not identify the final problem, contact exploder malfunction when a torpedo running at high speed struck the target at ninety degrees, their response, once the difficulty had been identified, was notably prompt. In spite of the promptness of BuOrd's response, by the time it reached Pearl Harbor a number of relatively simple solutions to the problem had been proposed, and modifications had already been designed and implemented. This was, however, almost two years after the United States entered WW II.
http://www.geocities.com/Pentagon/1592/ustorp2.htm

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adrian
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Post by adrian » 25 Jan 2004 01:49

Reference the M3 Lee/Grants.

The Lee/Grant was an interim tank as has been pointed out already and was for the most part out of service in the European Theatre by late 1943. It did serve on with distinction in the Pacific (with the Australians) and in Burma with the Anglo/Indian forces. Given the nature of these campaigns the M3's were an excellent platform for the tasks at hand. The 37mm Secondary Gun was a more than adequate weapon for the majority of Japanese Armoured vehicles and the 75mm M2 main armament was an excellent bunker busting weapon when using HE rounds.

The M3 Lee/Grants saw action in July of 1945 on Borneo with the Australian Army. I wonder if that was the last active operation that this vehicle had? The M3 was retired from the Aust. Army's Armoured units in 1952.

To criticise the vehicle because of its lack of traverse is, IMO, ignoring the great variety of both Russian and german vehicles that had limited traverse - some of which eg SU 100,StuG - were amongst the more outstanding A vehicles of WW2. The M3 was not a great vehicle but it certainly served well in many fronts.

adrian

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Post by Polynikes » 12 Feb 2004 05:30

I have to agree about the Fairy Battle - the best comment I ever read about it was that "It was no fairy and it couldn't battle".
It killed a lot of good aircrew before it was finally chopped.

Not sure the Westland Whirlwind deserves a worst weapon label though.

The US Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a seriously flawed weapon. Too fragile to act as a section/squad support weapon as it didn't have a fast barrell change facilty and firing too big a round to act as an assault rifle, it left US army and USMC sections weak in firepower (though their semi-auto Garands compensated).

The British 2lb AT gun was a fine gun but by WWII was way underpowered.

The British Universal Carrier was way too small to be practical.

The Boyes anti-tank rifle was reckoned by its partisans to be a hell of a rifle but by 1939, too weak to seriously damage AFVs. Interesting how the large calibre rifle has returned to modern arsenals as has the automatic rifle masquerading as an LMG (in the form of the awful British L86).

The USA made a sub-machine gun called the Reising - it was made in a "paratroop" version too that was universally hated and the USMC reportedly dumped them by the hundred in Pacific island lagoons.

The Tortoise heavy infantry tank was an exercise in futility.

The Boulton-Paul Defiant was a riddiculous joke of a "fighter" that couldn't fire forward, only backwards!

British army "battle dress" served to make British soldiers look stupid (as well as cold and wet).

The British army helmet was silly.

..............HOWEVER, the prize for the most stupid, useless allied weapon of WWII is (not the Soviet dog mounted AT mine) but the British "Toffee Apple Sticky Bomb"

Of all the stupid ideas that were ever conceived in a NAAFI bar.

Cheers from Rich

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Post by robert knott » 18 Feb 2004 07:17

There is an item that is not very famous or exciting, but I can only imagine the thousands of times it was cussed at by aggravated U.S. Army soldiers... the M1910/1928 Haversack. It has to be without exception the worst piece of load-carrying gear used by any major army. Evidently the designers did not want the soldier to carry anything except what was issued to go into it. The haversack must be removed and completely disassembled to retrieve anything from it. I could go on and on... I've owned one (an M1910) for about 35 years; I bought it at a second-hand store, and back in those days of little information it took me a long time to figure it out. Since then, I've acquired another, plus the pack carriers that go on the bottom, as well as the manual describing how to use it... and I'm still discovering bad things about it! I can't believe American soldiers were forced to carry this contraption through two world wars, when a good replacement could have been designed by a 12-year-old in an hour or two.

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adrian
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Post by adrian » 18 Feb 2004 21:57

The Boulton-Paul Defiant was a riddiculous joke of a "fighter" that couldn't fire forward, only backwards!
I will not even attempt to defend the Defiant here, but I will try to give an insight into the logic of this strange beast!

Now remember, when this mighty beast started to evolve in the heads of the designers at Boulton-Paul in the mid 30's, the issue of a stable gun platform was uppermost in their minds. The latest turrets being developed (eg the Frazer-Nash) that were being installed on the Whitleys,Blenheims and the early Wellingtons were extremely stable and accurate systems. The theory was that if the pilot was left to flying the Defiant and the gunner was left to shooting things down then a beautiful compromise would be reached. The ideal method of attack (and remember this thing was designed to shoot down bombers not other fighters) was that it would fly up level with the offending aircraft and give it a 'broadside' as such. Too bad if the other guys shot back!

The Defiant is a classic example of the engineering not meeting reality. Had it had at least a few forward firing guns it might have enjoyed a bit more sucess and creditibility and perhaps not been so maligned by future forum posters! :D

adrian

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Post by Wm. Harris » 18 Feb 2004 23:03

The ideal method of attack (and remember this thing was designed to shoot down bombers not other fighters) was that it would fly up level with the offending aircraft and give it a 'broadside' as such.
The Germans used a similar concept with some of their night fighters, called schräge musik. It allowed a fighter to creep up underneath a bomber, where it could attack it with impunity (Brit heavy bombers didn't have ball turrets like the B-17 did). I understand this method was used fairly successfully.

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Post by Tony Williams » 20 Feb 2004 16:35

I can't resist this one!
Polynikes wrote: Not sure the Westland Whirlwind deserves a worst weapon label though.
Agreed. It was as fast as a Spitfire, very compact and with four 20mm in the nose had devastating firepower. Its main problem was that development took too long; if it had been ready in time for the Battle of Britain (as it should have been) it would probably be regarded as one of the classic planes of WW2, because it would have chewed up the Luftwaffe bombers far more than the Spitfires and Hurris could. Then it was unlucky to use the Peregrine engine, which was half of a Vulture. When the Vulture was cancelled, the Peregrine went too, so it effectively had no engine, in terms of any future development.
The US Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) was a seriously flawed weapon. Too fragile to act as a section/squad support weapon as it didn't have a fast barrell change facilty and firing too big a round to act as an assault rifle, it left US army and USMC sections weak in firepower (though their semi-auto Garands compensated).
On the contrary, the US troops loved the BAR. It was still being rated as one of their most successful weapons even in Korea. If the troops like it, it ain't bad.
The British 2lb AT gun was a fine gun but by WWII was way underpowered.
Nope. It was one of the most effective AT guns in the world in 1940 - the German 37mm was pathetic by comparison. The problem was that it stayed in service for too long.
The British Universal Carrier was way too small to be practical.
Didn't seem to stop it seeing a huge amount of use in a variety of roles.
The Boyes anti-tank rifle was reckoned by its partisans to be a hell of a rifle but by 1939, too weak to seriously damage AFVs. Interesting how the large calibre rifle has returned to modern arsenals as has the automatic rifle masquerading as an LMG (in the form of the awful British L86).
Agree about the Boys - none of the AT rifles was worth the development effort, with the exception of the Russian PTRD. However, the L86A2 is a huge improvement over the A1 version and the British are keeping it in the inventory alongside the new Minimi LMG, because of its great long-range accuracy.
The Tortoise heavy infantry tank was an exercise in futility.
In the same class as the Jagdtiger.
The Boulton-Paul Defiant was a riddiculous joke of a "fighter" that couldn't fire forward, only backwards!
As has been mentioned, the concept of attacking bombers from a favourable angle was not stupid. However, it was based on the assumption that Germany was so far away that the Luftwaffe couldn't use escort fighters, so the bombers would be on their own - and vulnerable. The RAF never expected the Luftwaffe to be based at French airfields just across the Channel...

Tony Williams

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 20 Feb 2004 17:24

How about the British subs with the 12" cannons.?

The Douglas Devastator Torpedo Bomber , " I hope the Finns did not fly this duck too".

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