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Author Topic: Long-range Spitfire? - What if  (Read 5133 times)
Editor
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« on: April 29, 2009, 05:56:13 PM »

I'm reading (in Morgan & Schacklady) about the anxiety and problems with increasing the range of the Spitfire, the problem which hadn't been solved throughout the war. Apparently the Air Ministry had been requesting solution to this since 1941 and wasn't content with overload tanks when they were introduced, much preferring increased internal tankage. Eventually, two options emerged, rear fuselage tank behind the pilot, which spoiled the handling qualities of the a/c considerably, and wing root tanks (รก la Mk. VIII) which in turn were too small to matter.

My question is why didn't Supermarine think about increasing fuel capacity by extending the fuselage in the area of the main tank? It should have been be a relatively easy matter of inserting a "plug" in the fuse at the place which was constant in cross-section and positioned in the CG. Yes, the cockpit would have ended up further back, but with the Spitfire's long nose, would that be much of an additional disadvantage? A rather moderate insert would be required to hold the additional 30-45 gal as per standard overload tanks.

Opinions welcome on this theory; perhaps I'm missing something entirely!

/M.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2009, 06:20:38 PM by Editor » Logged
DominikS
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« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2009, 10:48:39 PM »

Martin I yhink that your idea isn't very good. With additional fuel in front of the cockpit Spit would have too heavy nose. I think that the only way was to increase the capacity of the wing tanks and the tank they installed - that aft the cockpit. But pilots would have to remember to use the rear fuselage tank first. It's the only way, I think.
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Editor
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« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2009, 11:09:22 PM »

That's not really what I meant. You could insert a larger fuel tank, pushing the engine a bit forward and the rear fuselage much further aft, placing the "new" tank in the CG precisely as the old one was Smiley On the contrary the rear fuel tank made the a/c tail-heavy and difficult to fly.

I'm sure that there would be other difficulties with this approach (as were with any) but keeping the CG in place should IMO not be one of them Smiley


« Last Edit: April 29, 2009, 11:13:01 PM by Editor » Logged
Edgar Brooks
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« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2009, 01:01:35 PM »

It's unlikely the W.D. would have allowed it, knowing that other fighters, like the Typhoon and Tempest, were already under way.  All modifications needed W.D. approval, and Supermarine managed to increase the capacity, quite successfully, with the rear fuselage tanks of the XVI, and late Griffon series.  The new length would have needed totally new jigs and tools, in an airframe which had its manufacturing system spread all over the country; it looks, to me, like a logistical nightmare, and remember how long it took between the arrival of the Typhoon, and that of its stretched cousin, the Tempest.  Just putting a new wing on the 21 caused mayhem.
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Editor
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« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2009, 09:57:59 AM »

I realise that for many reasons, there was a tendency of keeping the production Spitfire "as is" - hence the Mk. V and Mk. IX.

However, to my knowledge (or Morgan & Shacklady's Smiley, although the Supermarine considered many grand schemes of upgrading the Spitfire, no idea of enlarging the main fuel tanks by reworking the fuselage was ever put forward. Perhaps it was too difficult/excessive to consider. I know too little about aircraft engineering to judge, but I thought it would seem reasonable.

« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 08:57:22 PM by Editor » Logged
Spits
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« Reply #5 on: May 08, 2009, 01:21:56 AM »

My answer would be it would be uneconomical to change the existing jigging or build new ones,stores would be a nightmare.Remember each Spit was in fact handbuilt to a degree and the factory workers very skilled at building them quickly.Think of all the tooling,retraining and load on the complete engineering side of Supermarine at the time.Only have to look back on how much trouble they had getting the MkI,s into service to see what they had to contend with.Stressed skin fighters were all pretty new to them.
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