Great Britain’s world-famous bomber. The Avro Lancaster was a product of A.V.Roe Ltd., whose design team was lead by Roy Chadwick. It had been developed from the earlier Manchester, the engines of which had given great cause for concern since its service introduction and led to early withdrawal from the ranks of RAF.
The redesign included an extension of the wingspan to the allowable maximum of 102 feet plus the installation of four Rolls-Royce Merlins instead of the previous Vultures. The first prototype made its maiden flight, complete with triple fins, on 9 January 1941. After the initial flight-testing, some alterations were made to the airframe, the greatest of which were the twin tailfins plus the installation of ventral and dorsal gun turrets.
The first Avro Lancaster combat mission came on 2 March 1942, and the first bombing raid, on Essen, fallowed eight days later. The Lancaster I, fitted successively with Merlin XX, 22 or 24 engines, remained the only version in service throughout 1942 and entirely 1943, and eventual total of three thousand four hundred and forty Mk Is were completed by Avro, Armstrong Whitworth, Austin Motors, Metropolitan-Vickers and Vickers-Armstrongs. Avro completed two prototypes for the Lancaster II, powered by 1,725 hp Bristol Hercules radial engines as a safeguard against possible supply shortage of Merlins. In the event no such shortage arose, but three hundred production Lancaster IIs were built by Armstrong Whitworth. The other principal version, the Lancaster III, was powered by Packard-built Merlin 28, 38 or 224 engines; apart from a modified bomb-aimer’s window, this exhibited few other differences form the Mk I. […]
The Republic P-47 Thunderbolt was the largest single-engine craft built during World War II, and the Army Air Force acquired it in greater numbers than any other fighter. The Thunderbolt’s ability to absorb incredible damage and stay aloft was legendary, and pilots affectionately referred to it as the “Jug.”
This famous aircraft was a further development of the mediocre Republic P-43 Lancer. It was built around a 2,000-horsepower Pratt & Whitney radial engine and carried a supercharger in the aft section of the fuselage. The prototype XP-47 flew for the first time in May 1941 and showed great promise, but a succession of technical problems delayed production until spring 1942.
Orders were placed in September 1940 for one hundred and seventy-one P-47Bs and six hundred and two P-47Cs, and on 6 May 1941 the XP-47B made its first flight. The B and C models were basically similar, but C was given a slightly longer fuselage to improve manoeuvrability.
The first Republic P-47 Thunderboltfighters entered United States Army Air Force (USAAF) service in 1942, becoming operational with Eighth Air Force units over Europe in April 1943 and in the Pacific theatre some two months later. […]
Originated with the Vought-Sikorsky Division of United Aircraft Corporation, the Vought V-166B prototype of the Chance Vought F4U Corsair, designated XF4U-1, flew for the first time on 29 May 1940, becoming a few months later the first US warplane to fly faster than 400 mph (644 km/hr). This was the prelude to an 11-year production life, during which twelve thousand five hundred and seventy-one of these fighters were built, and a service career that lasted until the mid-1960s. Acknowledged universally to be the most outstanding carrier-based fighter to be deployed operationally during the war, the Chance Vought F4U Corsair Is and IIs in service with the Royal navy’s Fleet Air Arm were the first to demonstrate the outstanding potential of this design.
The initial US Navy contract was for five hundred and eighty-four F4U-1s, delivery of which began in September 1942. Most of these went to Marine Corps or land-based Navy squadrons, due to early difficulties in operating the Chance Vought F4U Corsair from aircraft carriers, and the first operational missions were flown by Squadron VMF-124 of the USMC in February 1943. The Corsair’s gull-wing configuration was devised to avoid the excessively long undercarriage legs that would otherwise have been necessary to provide clearance for the large-diameter propeller; but the far-fat cockpit position gave the pilot a poor view forward when landing. Hence from the six hundred and eighty-ninth F4U-1 onward, a new, raised cockpit hood was introduced on the Corsairs being built by Vought and Brewster Goodyear factories. The Vought F4U-1C was armed with four 20 mm wing cannon instead of the former six machine-guns, while the F4U-1D (Goodyear FG-1D) had an R-2800-8W water injection engine and provision for eight underwing rocket projectiles or two 1,000 lb (454 kg bombs). […]
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Source: Consolidated B-24 Liberator
To the Consolidated B-24 Liberator go the distinctions of being built in greater numbers and more variants than any other U.S. aircraft of World War Two, and of serving in more combat theatres, over a long period, than any heavy bomber on either side. It originated as the Consolidated Model 32, a major feature of which was the exceptionally high aspect ratio Davis wing that gave the Liberator its prodigious range.
Conceived five years after the Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress it did not, in fact, notably improve on the older bomber’s performance and in respect of engine-out performance and general stability and control it was inferior, being a handful for the average pilot. The B-24 Liberator was by far the most complicated and expensive combat aircraft the world had seen – though in this it merely showed the way things were going to be in future. Yet it was built in bigger numbers than any other American aircraft in history. In terms of industrial effort it transcended anything seen previously in any sphere of endeavour.
The sole XB-24 prototype flew on 29 December 1941, followed by YB-24 service trials aircraft and thirty-six production B-24As. One hundred and twenty were also ordered by the French Government, but these were diverted to Britain.
Early Consolidated B-24 Liberator versions supplied to the RAF were judged not combat-ready, and they began the Atlantic Return Ferry Service as LB-30A transports. Better defences led to the RAF Liberator I, used by Coastal Command with ASV radar and a battery of fixed 20 mm cannon. The RAFLiberator II (B-24C) introduced power turrets and served as a bomber in the Middle East. The first mass-produced version was theB-24D, with turbocharged engines in oval cowls, more fuel and armament and many detail changes; 2,738 served US Bomb Groups in Europe and the Pacific, and RAF Coastal Command closed the mid-Atlantic gap, previously beyond aircraft range, where U-boat packs lurked. […]
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Bell P-39 Airacobra History
One of the first interceptors to have a tricycle undercarriage, the Bell P-39 Airacobra was unique in having its 1,150 hp Allison V-1710-E4 engine mounted behind the pilot, the propeller being driven via a long extension shaft.
Originating as the Bell Model 12, the Airacobra was designed by Robert J. Woods primarily as a vehicle for a heavy-calibre cannon. The XP-39 flew for the first time on 6 April 1938, a contract for thirteen YP-39 test aircraft being awarded in April 1939. These were based on the prototype, after its modification to XP-39B standard without the engine supercharger originally fitted. The first Bell P-39 Airacobra production version was the P-39C, but only twenty of these were completed. In the P-39D, the 37 mm cannon and twin 0.50 in guns in the nose were supplemented by 0.30 in wing-mounted machine-guns and provision was made for an external bomb or fuel tank to be carried. Four hundred and four P-39Ds were built for the US Army, delivery beginning in April 1941. A further four hundred and ninety-four P-39D-1 and D-2 Airacobras (Bell Model 14) were built for Lend-Lease allocations, these having a nose cannon of lighter (20 mm) calibre.
Airacrobras were initially ordered by France, but after the armistice the contract was taken over by Britain. Following Air Fighting Development Unit trials, one squadron, No 601, was re-equipped with the type. It was found that performance at altitude was very poor and mechanical unreliability led to serious serviceability problems. The Bell P-39 Airacobra was briefly used for ground strafing, but was withdrawn from operations after four months. The bulk of the 670 ordered were cancelled, and instead went to the US Army Air Corps, while many were supplied to Russia, where they proved suitable for low-level attacks.
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