Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Discussions on WW2 in the Pacific and the Sino-Japanese War.
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EKB
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 21 Oct 2020 09:17

Former British Navy fighter pilot had some statements to make about the origin of back-seat observers and the consequences ...

"Few if any at the Board of Admiralty knew one end of an aircraft from another and none had commanded an aircraft carrier of any sort. Their minds were set in casements of steel. Their plans were limited to the range of a 16 inch gun and proceeded at the speed of the Grand Fleet at Jutland. Of course, I and my fellow volunteers in 1940 had no idea we were about to be employed by such a management. We naturally assumed that the Royal Navy, with its fine history and its traditional good sense, would now turn the new weapon which it had just re-acquired into its main striking force, and that they would obtain the very best aircraft, including fighter aircraft, against all other competition to defend it for this purpose.

Having handed over the Royal Naval Air Service to the RAF in 1918, by 1921 the Navy realised that they would soon lose operational control as well as administrative and material control of the RAF’s “Fleet Air Arm”. To keep a foot in the door they recruited Observers — a new RN ‘specialisation’. The Naval Observers would fly in the back seats — and they would purposely be made senior to the RAF pilot in front so that the Navy would then command the aircraft. By 1936, Observers were being attracted into the Navy with the recruiting slogan “Become a Naval Observer and command your own aircraft”. As these Naval aircrew rose in rank they would command the new aircraft carriers, would advise on air matters in the Admiralty and take their place as senior officers on Admirals’ Staffs.

However, time was too short for this idea to begin to operate before war came in 1939. The ‘short service’ 1936 intake had scarcely reached the rank of Lieutenant when they were needed to fight in such aircraft as the Skua and for their numbers to be decimated for little result.

Besides the Navy’s lack of senior officers to advise on air operational matters and how aircraft and aircraft carriers could best be used, it also lacked those with the vital experience and technical knowledge necessary to write specifications for new aircraft and weapons. Two such specifications resulted in the production of the Blackburn Skua/Roc and, three or four years later, the Fairey Barracuda. The Skua was designed as a torpedo/bomber/recce/fighter. It was, and still is, impossible to design such a dream of an all-purpose aircraft, any more than it is possible to produce a lorry which, once it has dropped its load, turns miraculously into a racing car. Two or three fundamentally different roles — such as strike/fighter, cannot be combined into the same basic structure and remain effective in either.

The Skua was consequently a ghastly failure, both in its basic flying characteristics and in its performance. When a version of the Skua — the Roc — was fitted with floats for the Norwegian campaign, it could only just remain airborne at full take-off power! The Barracuda was designed and built as a replacement to the Swordfish/Albacore just as the Grumman Avenger of the US Navy was designed and built as a replacement to the Douglas Devastator at about the same period. The Grumman Company was given only the barest outline to work on. They had already started to produce the Hellcat single-seat US Naval fighter to replace their Wildcat and they had the US Navy’s full confidence. Although the RN’s counterpart to the Avenger was, in time, cost, and task, almost to the same specification, the ‘Barra’ was a travesty of an aircraft. Their Lordships had altered its original logical design concept to a high wing design. This was decided upon without regard to the damaging effect it would have on the aerodynamic problems.

Apparently, the high wing design was required so that the Observer, sitting on his throne at the back, could take bearings from two enormous compasses sited in bay windows on the mezzanine floor behind the pilot and have an unobstructed view of the earth and sea below. Besides the obvious structural problems of supporting a large tailplane at the uppermost extremity of the tail fin, the designers had to make sure that the tailplane itself was high enough to clear the expected turbulent down wash from the mainplane itself when airbrakes were in use. In fact, they never succeeded, as the hangar height of the Illustrious Class carriers was too low to allow this.

The Barra therefore suffered from a fatal design flaw, an unpredictable change of trim in the pitching plane when dive brakes were used. The wingfolding arrangements were also thrown off course and the undercarriage was so long and heavy that when a leg broke after a heavy decklanding it required eight men to lift it and throw it into the sea. The equivalent Seafire undercarriage needed only two. It was so overweight and underpowered that its rate of climb was too slow for any hope of surprise in its approach to the target, and barely perceptible at all in tropical temperatures — if a useful load was carried. It was little wonder that the Barracuda was soon declared unfit for use in the Far East, almost the moment it arrived there in any quantity.

Of course it is easy to blame Their Lordships for the various iniquitous flying abortions which they caused to be produced, but the firms of Fairey and Blackburn — the main contributors to this sorry line of lethal failures for the FAA before and during the war — should have used their wisdom to warn their customers of the consequences of their impossible demands, as, no doubt, designers such as Sydney Camm, Folland and R. J. Mitchell would have done before money and time were spent on them."

***

"We were unaware that the German hill-top radar had already ‘seen’ the Barracudas, as they had to start their climb 20 miles before they reached the coast. Subsequent strikes were therefore unsuccessful, for Tirpitz was by then completely covered with smoke from the smoke generators around her, and bombing was a lottery. Once the Germans had radar, they could never be surprised by the Barras or similar slow-climbing, low performance, strike aircraft. However, when the Corsairs and Hellcats later went in alone, surprise was achieved. Instead of staggering in at 100 knots and with a barely perceptible rate of climb they were able to zoom up from sea level at the last moment, giving insufficient time for radar warning of their approach. Thus it was that the only hit of the first day’s strikes was made by a Corsair, as they arrived overhead before her smokescreen was properly formed.

Furthermore, being fighters, they could manoeuvre easily and neatly round the rain storms, without ploughing straight through them in the headlong and insensitive way that Observer-led strikes seemed to do. Fighter-bombers could also remain in a cohesive group for far longer than the Barracudas when the weather was bad. Their leaders did not consult with each other before every alteration of course, their formations were manoeuvrable and they could see where they were going.

Before embarking on this trip, I had met Lt Geoffrey Russell-Jones, DSC, again, at Hatston. He was still in a high state of nerves from his dreadful Malta experiences and to heap the Barracuda upon him for the April raid afterwards must have tried his spirit beyond its defences, as he himself admits. So that all those who flew this dreadful aircraft anywhere near a hostile airfield in daylight in Norway were brave men, like the Skua pilots before them. We just thanked God for giving us the relative safety of our Seafires."

https://www.amazon.co.uk/They-Gave-Seaf ... 251&sr=8-1
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 21 Oct 2020 09:41

ljadw wrote:
18 Oct 2020 09:11
EKB wrote:
18 Oct 2020 03:07
The crisis management would have been easier with better resource management.

Before the first shots were fired, there were warning signs that the Defiant, Fulmar, Battle, Barracuda, Roc, Botha and Stirling would not live up to expectations. Building those aircraft was a waste of productive capacity, aero engines and raw materials.

With more urgency from the Air Ministry, Air Staff, Admiralty, captains of industry, the Boulton-Paul, Fairey, Blackburn manufacturing teams could have been re-tooled to build the more useful aircraft needed overseas such as Hurricanes, Spitfires, or Beaufighters. A Whirlwind with Merlins instead of the awful Peregrines would be a step up from the in-house designs at B-P, Blackburns and Fairey. The Stirling was doomed by conflicting government specs and Short Bros. could have instead built multi-engine transports or more Sunderlands.

A navalized Whirlwind or Beaufighter might be possible, with a performance far above what the Fleet Air Arm had at the time. The folding wing Mosquito TR.Mk.33 went to sea in 1946, although the circumstances were different then.
But the transport problem still would remain: it would take months to transport these aircraft to Malaya .
And it would take also a lot of time to train/retrain crew and technicians and to transport them to Malaya .And to say that Short Bros.could have built more Sunderlands or transports is an unproven claim .
Besides : WHY would Britain transport Spitfires and their crew/technicians to Malaya where there was peace,while meanwhile the LW was attacking British cities and shipping ?

It was a global war so of course there were issues with maintaining a supply line with the colonies. That was not, in itself, a good excuse for inaction or waiting until it was too late to respond.

This was a can or should question of defending outposts of the empire. The British definitely could do it more efficiently but the RAF obstructed that idea persistently. By 1941, Fighter Command had far more aircraft than required for defense of the home islands and despite having to contend with alarmists, Churchill had signals intelligence that Germany would not invade England.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by ljadw » 21 Oct 2020 09:57

The defense of Britain came first .Malaya was on the last place .Britain was at war with Germany, not with Japan, thus why send capital ships and aircraft to the Far East .
And in 1941 there were no indications til it was too late, that Japan would attack Malaya.
The Prince of Wales left the UK on October 25 and arrived at Singapore a few days before Pearl Harbor .
And, that FC has more aircraft than required to defend the UK,is irrelevant, as more aircraft do not mean more pilots and technicians .
An outpost of the empire which was at peace could not demand reinforcements when the motherland was at war .

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Attrition » 21 Oct 2020 12:29

[quote=EKB post_id=2297506 time=1602986831 user_id=15024]
The crisis management would have been easier with better resource management.

Before the first shots were fired, there were warning signs that the Defiant, Fulmar, Battle, Barracuda, Roc, Botha and Stirling would not live up to expectations. Building those aircraft was a waste of productive capacity, aero engines and raw materials.

With more urgency from the Air Ministry, Air Staff, Admiralty, captains of industry, the Boulton-Paul, Fairey, Blackburn manufacturing teams could have been re-tooled to build the more useful aircraft needed overseas such as Hurricanes, Spitfires, or Beaufighters. A Whirlwind with Merlins instead of the awful Peregrines would be a step up from the in-house designs at B-P, Blackburns and Fairey. The Stirling was doomed by conflicting government specs and Short Bros. could have instead built multi-engine transports or more Sunderlands.

A navalized Whirlwind or Beaufighter might be possible, with a performance far above what the Fleet Air Arm had at the time. The folding wing Mosquito TR.Mk.33 went to sea in 1946, although the circumstances were different then.
[/quote]

You might find The RAF in the Battle of France and the Battle of Britain: A Reappraisal of Army and Air Policy 1938-1940 (2016) by Greg Baughen quite interesting on the fatuities of Air Ministry expectations of the future of the single engined fighters which equipped most of fighter command by 1940.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EwenS » 21 Oct 2020 19:54

EKB wrote:
18 Oct 2020 03:07


A navalized Whirlwind or Beaufighter might be possible, with a performance far above what the Fleet Air Arm had at the time. The folding wing Mosquito TR.Mk.33 went to sea in 1946, although the circumstances were different then.
The Beaufighter was impossible for the RN carriers in the first half of the war due to its weight. The Illustrious class as designed and built had decks and aircraft lifts stressed to take aircraft up to about 14,000lbs.This was improved as the war went on. A Beaufighter Mk I exceeded 15,000lbs empty.

The Implacables were designed to take aircraft up to 20,000lbs. Hence the reason for the Sea Mosquito trial being on Indefatigable in 1944 and plans for Highball and Sea Mosquito operations being based around them in 1944/45.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 24 Oct 2020 10:06

EKB wrote:
21 Oct 2020 09:17
"Few if any at the Board of Admiralty knew one end of an aircraft from another and none had commanded an aircraft carrier of any sort. Their minds were set in casements of steel. Their plans were limited to the range of a 16 inch gun and proceeded at the speed of the Grand Fleet at Jutland. Of course, I and my fellow volunteers in 1940 had no idea we were about to be employed by such a management. We naturally assumed that the Royal Navy, with its fine history and its traditional good sense, would now turn the new weapon which it had just re-acquired into its main striking force, and that they would obtain the very best aircraft, including fighter aircraft, against all other competition to defend it for this purpose.
This is a great demonstration of the dangers of using the opinions of relatively junior officers recorded in their memoirs as historical evidence. An alternative view can be found in a memo from the 1st Sea Lord to General Ismay (for the British PM) of 30 Jan 41 (ADM205/10):
5. The need for higher speed carrier borne aircraft has long been appreciated, but the difficulty has lain in obtaining production of an aircraft capable of fulfilling all carrier operational requirements.

For many of their functions carrier borne fighters require long range and navigational facilities. A two seater fighter has therefore been the aim and was vindicated in the Norwegian campaign. It was realised that for defensive purposes a single seater fighter might be acceptable with consequent improvement in performance and the Sea Gladiator was introduced. This was still too slow and the possibility of producing a folding Hurricane or Spitfire was investigated early in 1940. After careful and exhaustive tests neither was found suitable.

In December 1939 Staff requirements for a single seater fighter were submitted for approval by D.N.A.D.

In July 1940 Board approval was obtained for an initial order of 100 N.11/40 Blackburn single seater fighters; production to be proceeded with when possible without detriment to more vital requirements.
Six weeks ago the First Lord had a personal conversation with Lord Beaverbrook and Mr. Westbrook urging the need now for bringing the N.11/40 into immediate production. The difficulty is the demand for “Sabre” engines for the “Typhoons”.

6. To fill the gap before the production of the Blackburn fighters 26 Brewster fighters on order for Belgium were taken over (18 of these are now at Alexandria) and also 81 Grumman fighters on order for France. At the same time orders were placed for 100 Grummans modified to fold, an additional 150 being ordered later. Every effort has been made to overcome teething troubles with the guns and certain engine defects.

7. Naval opinion is still not decided whether a single seater fighter will be able to carry out all the functions required and the majority consider that both single seater and two seater types are necessary. In this connection it should be pointed out that fighter command do not operate their fighters more than forty miles from the coast, due to navigational difficulties. It is realised that a two seater inevitably means some sacrifice of speed – probably of the order of 80 knots – but the ability to return to the carrier is of paramount importance.

8. The present policy is to have both two seater and single seater fighters, and for this reason we have recently formed 3 Grumman squadrons with the intention that carriers can have a proportion of both types, the proportions being adjusted to suit the type of operation.
Regards

Tom

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 24 Oct 2020 13:50

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
24 Oct 2020 10:06
EKB wrote:
21 Oct 2020 09:17
"Few if any at the Board of Admiralty knew one end of an aircraft from another and none had commanded an aircraft carrier of any sort. Their minds were set in casements of steel. Their plans were limited to the range of a 16 inch gun and proceeded at the speed of the Grand Fleet at Jutland. Of course, I and my fellow volunteers in 1940 had no idea we were about to be employed by such a management. We naturally assumed that the Royal Navy, with its fine history and its traditional good sense, would now turn the new weapon which it had just re-acquired into its main striking force, and that they would obtain the very best aircraft, including fighter aircraft, against all other competition to defend it for this purpose.
This is a great demonstration of the dangers of using the opinions of relatively junior officers recorded in their memoirs as historical evidence. An alternative view can be found in a memo from the 1st Sea Lord to General Ismay (for the British PM) of 30 Jan 41 (ADM205/10):
5. The need for higher speed carrier borne aircraft has long been appreciated, but the difficulty has lain in obtaining production of an aircraft capable of fulfilling all carrier operational requirements.

For many of their functions carrier borne fighters require long range and navigational facilities. A two seater fighter has therefore been the aim and was vindicated in the Norwegian campaign. It was realised that for defensive purposes a single seater fighter might be acceptable with consequent improvement in performance and the Sea Gladiator was introduced. This was still too slow and the possibility of producing a folding Hurricane or Spitfire was investigated early in 1940. After careful and exhaustive tests neither was found suitable.

In December 1939 Staff requirements for a single seater fighter were submitted for approval by D.N.A.D.

In July 1940 Board approval was obtained for an initial order of 100 N.11/40 Blackburn single seater fighters; production to be proceeded with when possible without detriment to more vital requirements.
Six weeks ago the First Lord had a personal conversation with Lord Beaverbrook and Mr. Westbrook urging the need now for bringing the N.11/40 into immediate production. The difficulty is the demand for “Sabre” engines for the “Typhoons”.

6. To fill the gap before the production of the Blackburn fighters 26 Brewster fighters on order for Belgium were taken over (18 of these are now at Alexandria) and also 81 Grumman fighters on order for France. At the same time orders were placed for 100 Grummans modified to fold, an additional 150 being ordered later. Every effort has been made to overcome teething troubles with the guns and certain engine defects.

7. Naval opinion is still not decided whether a single seater fighter will be able to carry out all the functions required and the majority consider that both single seater and two seater types are necessary. In this connection it should be pointed out that fighter command do not operate their fighters more than forty miles from the coast, due to navigational difficulties. It is realised that a two seater inevitably means some sacrifice of speed – probably of the order of 80 knots – but the ability to return to the carrier is of paramount importance.

8. The present policy is to have both two seater and single seater fighters, and for this reason we have recently formed 3 Grumman squadrons with the intention that carriers can have a proportion of both types, the proportions being adjusted to suit the type of operation.
Regards

Tom

Admiral Dudley Pound was not a fighter pilot and the report reads like dogma. The Firebrand did not see action in WWII and probably a blessing that the Napier Sabre did not power the Firebrand or Sea Fury. As the chief test pilot at Hawkers said, the unreliable Sabre engine was always the weak point of the Typhoon, which did go through brief and unsuccessful trials with the British Navy.

Yes the Seafire suffered from various technical issues and checked fewer boxes for deck operations than paper specs for the Firebrand. But it was available and stood a better chance of surviving contact with the enemy than the two-seaters.

Another FAA abortion was the fixed undercarriage Miles M.20 fighter.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 24 Oct 2020 14:46

EKB wrote:
24 Oct 2020 13:50
Admiral Dudley Pound was not a fighter pilot
Nor was he a submariner, an engineer or a Royal Marine, what's that got to do with the price of fish?

Like all memo's, official letters, reports and signals made by very senior military officers this would have been generated by his staff. In this case almost definitely those of the 5th Sea Lord at the time. It's alright for you (and for us all :) ) looking back in hindsight, but officers like Pound had to go with the information to hand and rely on the information being supplied to him by his experts.
EKB wrote:
21 Oct 2020 09:17
'Besides the Navy’s lack of senior officers to advise on air operational matters and how aircraft and aircraft carriers could best be used, it also lacked those with the vital experience and technical knowledge necessary to write specifications for new aircraft and weapons.'


Of course, the RN did exercise between the wars with their carriers to try to work out how best to use them; and this led, for example, to the composition of Force H being based on pre-war exercises in hunting for battlecruisers. There was also the problem during the early years of the war that RAF shore-based fighter aircraft were so short ranged as to need RN (and USN, many thanks!) aircraft carriers to be misused to deliver them. See the multiple carrier ferrying missions to Malta and those within the Indian Ocean in early-42.

Let's face it, Pound basically agrees with your chap's remarks:
5. The need for higher speed carrier borne aircraft has long been appreciated, but the difficulty has lain in obtaining production of an aircraft capable of fulfilling all carrier operational requirements.
What they really needed was an F-18 Super Hornet obviously! :lol:

Regards

Tom

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EwenS » 24 Oct 2020 19:50

EKB wrote:
24 Oct 2020 13:50
Tom from Cornwall wrote:
24 Oct 2020 10:06
EKB wrote:
21 Oct 2020 09:17
"Few if any at the Board of Admiralty knew one end of an aircraft from another and none had commanded an aircraft carrier of any sort. Their minds were set in casements of steel. Their plans were limited to the range of a 16 inch gun and proceeded at the speed of the Grand Fleet at Jutland. Of course, I and my fellow volunteers in 1940 had no idea we were about to be employed by such a management. We naturally assumed that the Royal Navy, with its fine history and its traditional good sense, would now turn the new weapon which it had just re-acquired into its main striking force, and that they would obtain the very best aircraft, including fighter aircraft, against all other competition to defend it for this purpose.
This is a great demonstration of the dangers of using the opinions of relatively junior officers recorded in their memoirs as historical evidence. An alternative view can be found in a memo from the 1st Sea Lord to General Ismay (for the British PM) of 30 Jan 41 (ADM205/10):
5. The need for higher speed carrier borne aircraft has long been appreciated, but the difficulty has lain in obtaining production of an aircraft capable of fulfilling all carrier operational requirements.

For many of their functions carrier borne fighters require long range and navigational facilities. A two seater fighter has therefore been the aim and was vindicated in the Norwegian campaign. It was realised that for defensive purposes a single seater fighter might be acceptable with consequent improvement in performance and the Sea Gladiator was introduced. This was still too slow and the possibility of producing a folding Hurricane or Spitfire was investigated early in 1940. After careful and exhaustive tests neither was found suitable.

In December 1939 Staff requirements for a single seater fighter were submitted for approval by D.N.A.D.

In July 1940 Board approval was obtained for an initial order of 100 N.11/40 Blackburn single seater fighters; production to be proceeded with when possible without detriment to more vital requirements.
Six weeks ago the First Lord had a personal conversation with Lord Beaverbrook and Mr. Westbrook urging the need now for bringing the N.11/40 into immediate production. The difficulty is the demand for “Sabre” engines for the “Typhoons”.

6. To fill the gap before the production of the Blackburn fighters 26 Brewster fighters on order for Belgium were taken over (18 of these are now at Alexandria) and also 81 Grumman fighters on order for France. At the same time orders were placed for 100 Grummans modified to fold, an additional 150 being ordered later. Every effort has been made to overcome teething troubles with the guns and certain engine defects.

7. Naval opinion is still not decided whether a single seater fighter will be able to carry out all the functions required and the majority consider that both single seater and two seater types are necessary. In this connection it should be pointed out that fighter command do not operate their fighters more than forty miles from the coast, due to navigational difficulties. It is realised that a two seater inevitably means some sacrifice of speed – probably of the order of 80 knots – but the ability to return to the carrier is of paramount importance.

8. The present policy is to have both two seater and single seater fighters, and for this reason we have recently formed 3 Grumman squadrons with the intention that carriers can have a proportion of both types, the proportions being adjusted to suit the type of operation.
Regards

Tom

Admiral Dudley Pound was not a fighter pilot and the report reads like dogma. The Firebrand did not see action in WWII and probably a blessing that the Napier Sabre did not power the Firebrand or Sea Fury. As the chief test pilot at Hawkers said, the unreliable Sabre engine was always the weak point of the Typhoon, which did go through brief and unsuccessful trials with the British Navy.

Yes the Seafire suffered from various technical issues and checked fewer boxes for deck operations than paper specs for the Firebrand. But it was available and stood a better chance of surviving contact with the enemy than the two-seaters.

Another FAA abortion was the fixed undercarriage Miles M.20 fighter.
I see that you are from the USA. I think you need to study British wartime aviation a bit more closely before making some of these sweeping comments.

The Napier Sabre was a complex engine and its rushed development resulted in early problems that took time to iron out, particularly in relation to the sleeve valves. However it was a successful engine, powering over 3300 Typhoons and over 900 Tempests through to the early postwar years. It did go into the Firebrand initially. BUT the Ministry of Aircraft Production decided that, after 50 had been built with that engine, all future supplies of the engine should be diverted to the Typhoon.

The Firebrand had development issues and was subject to changing priorities, not only with the engine. That all led to delay and it finally entered service as a torpedo fighter in Sept 1945.

The Sea Fury began life as a lightweight version of the Centaurus engined Tempest II.

Other complex engines of the same period encountered similar problems. Check out the Wright R-3350 in the B-29.

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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 24 Oct 2020 23:45

EwenS wrote:
24 Oct 2020 19:50
I see that you are from the USA. I think you need to study British wartime aviation a bit more closely before making some of these sweeping comments.

Nearly all aero engines had initial problems with reliability. Some were rapidly improved, but the Napier Sabre was not one of them. It was a bad engine, or to put it more precisely, an experimental type that was rushed into service because of the war emergency.

The RAF demanded 240 hours between engine overhauls. This is what happened:

"Napier was struggling with the Sabre engine, in particular with frequent failures caused by uneven wear of the sleeve valves. Even by the end of 1942 the time between overhauls (TBO) was still only twenty-five hours."

https://www.amazon.com/Flying-Limit-Tes ... 091&sr=8-1


April 1944: “ Slowly the new Tempests were ferried in and the Typhoons went. My letter 'R's engine had completed its 240 flying hours which was considered fantastic; fifty hours was the norm at that time for the Napier Sabre engine. I was told they were taking it back to the makers to investigate and find out what the difference was. I reckoned it was the driver.”


July 1944: “The Air Officer Commanding, Air Vice Marshall Harry Broadhurst also paid us a visit, and took up a Tempest to try out his new super plane. Unfortunately the Sabre engine played up with it’s old tricks. After sputtering and coughing on take-off, he was glad to get down on earth safely.”


October 1944: “We were still having a good deal of trouble with the engine oiling up. The Napier Sabre didn’t really like idling. It was far happier when we were chasing V1s at full bore when serviceability was the best ever. At Volkel there were miles of brick laid perimeter tracks. The ground off the tracks was soft, as Joe Hindley found to his cost when he ran off the perimeter track and the plane tipped up on its nose. This meant that you had to taxi slowly and with a good deal of care. This in turn meant that unburned oil collected around the sleeve valves of the engine, and when you opened up for take off, great blobs of oil came back from the exhausts. At best obscuring the windscreen, at worst causing the engine to cut.”

https://www.amazon.com/Soldier-Cockpit- ... 054&sr=8-1


June 1944: “Some old problems persisted. F/O Theodore Alexander Bugg (J11316) of Niagara Falls baled out over the Channel on June 12 after his engine packed up. A rescue launch retrieved him in 15 minutes. Three days later, 440’s diarist noted that four Typhoons had been forced back in one mission due to engine trouble, and that by mid-afternoon all its aircraft were unserviceable. Eight were flyable by 1830 hrs—less than half the squadron’s strength. On June 23, F/O R.A. Brown (J21136) of 439 had to ditch in the Channel after oil pressure was lost. Clearly, the Sabre engine was still less than totally reliable.”

“By mid-June, the RAF had a Spitfire Wing (No. 144) in France itself. Two days later, RAF Typhoons began moving to the continent, but this went slowly, partly because of the crowded airfields and partly because of Sabre engines suffering from dust ingestion on the rough Normandy fields. New air filters had to be fitted to clear that problem.”

https://www.amazon.com/Typhoon-Tempest- ... 170&sr=8-1

The Sabre was probably better suited to the three-engined coastal forces MTBs, where a mechanical failure was less likely to produce fatal casualties.

EwenS wrote:
24 Oct 2020 19:50
The Napier Sabre was a complex engine and its rushed development resulted in early problems that took time to iron out, particularly in relation to the sleeve valves. However it was a successful engine, powering over 3300 Typhoons and over 900 Tempests through to the early postwar years. It did go into the Firebrand initially. BUT the Ministry of Aircraft Production decided that, after 50 had been built with that engine, all future supplies of the engine should be diverted to the Typhoon.

There were many known crashes due to engine trouble, not including the substantial number of losses for which the cause was unknown due lack of witnesses or received distress calls. From what I can tell No. 266 Squadron held the record with 26 Typhoons known to be written off due to motor failures, although other units were not far behind.

No. 247 Squadron lost 25 Typhoons to engine trouble, although there might have been two others. Three times this happened to Sergeant Sinjo Ryen, who was killed in the last incident.

No. 486 Squadron
Tempests (15)
Typhoons (7)

No. 56 Squadron
Tempests (11)
Typhoons (9)

No. 3 Squadron
Tempests (13)
Typhoons (6)

No. 609 Squadron
Typhoons (17)

To put that in perspective the RAF formed at least 15 squadrons of Mustangs with the Allison engine, with a similar low altitude mission to support ground operations. I checked Norman Franks Fighter Command Losses for mechanical failures but just a few cases were noted. Surely there must have been others that were unknown to the author, but the same could be said of all other fighter aircraft.

https://www.amazon.com/Typhoon-Tempest- ... 504&sr=8-1

https://www.amazon.com/Rise-East-China- ... 05&sr=8-14

https://www.amazon.com/Royal-Fighter-Co ... 270&sr=8-3

https://www.amazon.com/Royal-Fighter-Co ... 292&sr=8-1

EwenS wrote:
24 Oct 2020 19:50
Other complex engines of the same period encountered similar problems. Check out the Wright R-3350 in the B-29.
True that, but:

"We were getting about 200 to 250 hours of operation out of an engine initially, before it was time to replace it with another. That meant maybe 15 missions average, assuming the engine wasn't hit by flak or fighters, and that there were no operational problems. Later in the war - by about June 1945 - we got that figure up to about 750 hours per engine, which wasn't bad, considering the conditions under which those engines had to perform. One of the reasons was that some of our men figured out a way to add some cooling area to the rear cylinder bank; we fabricated the baffles there, installed them, and dropped the rear cylinder head temperatures by 45C. That change was incorporated in later production engines.”

https://www.amazon.com/B-29-Superfortre ... 712&sr=8-1

In general radials gave a longer life. Nor was there worry of leaking coolant from loose connections or battle damage. For the same reasons, air-cooled engines were favored by airlines and air cargo services.
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EKB
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by EKB » 25 Oct 2020 04:21

Tom from Cornwall wrote:
24 Oct 2020 14:46
The need for higher speed carrier borne aircraft has long been appreciated, but the difficulty has lain in obtaining production of an aircraft capable of fulfilling all carrier operational requirements.
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Last edited by EKB on 25 Oct 2020 11:58, edited 1 time in total.

Tom from Cornwall
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Re: Why Was Britain Defeated in Malaya?

Post by Tom from Cornwall » 25 Oct 2020 10:53

:D

Put the UK down for a hundred! :thumbsup:

Then, after a couple of defence "reviews" (cuts!) we'll make that 50 and finally end up with two. :lol:

Regards

Tom

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