Whittles world

 

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Introduction

13/05/2012     - I am still thinking about having Frank Whittle transfer from the RAF to the RAAF and start working with the CAC (Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation) in Australis to implement his jet engine project. Whittle would patent his design in 1930, put a proposal before interested parties in 1931/32. Be knocked back by the RAF but receive interest from the RAAF. The transfer to Australis takes place 1932/33, with work on the jet project starting in earnest 1933 with a first flight of CAC Whittle experimental jet taking place late in 1935 with proving flights extending through the first half of 1936. Having proved the concept a set of pre-production aircraft would have to be ordered, to either extend from the experimental aircraft or be built to a different design. This would take the work through to the end of 1938 early 1939 (from what I have read on other aircraft of the time 18 months to two years for this stage would be about right). The pre-production aircraft would then be evaluated and either accepted and larger amounts of production aircraft ordered. This would be late 1939 and right at the start of the World War. My next problem is what sort of aircraft should receive 'jet-ification'. My thoughts are that there should be 2 fighter types, 1 single and 1 twin engine type each. 1 medium bomber type, 1 long range bomber type, and lastly for the Navy 1 fighter type and 1 light bomber type. None of these types would have extreme aerodynamics as they would have been based on the known types of airframes then available (Hurricane. Spitfire, Whirlwind, Albermarle, Liberator, Battle). All of the types would need to be converted from rear wheel landing type to tricycle undercarriage types if required. As more powerful jet engines become available and speeds increase out beyond the 500mph mark only then will the aerodynamics such as swept wings would be required to be researched (this would be an ongoing project anyway).

As this is a naval based Alternate Universe, I am particuarly interested in what the jet aircraft would do to the development of the aircraft carrier. The high landing speed of jet aircraft is a major problem. One in that other world that did not need tackling till 1944 with the entry of the Gloster Meteor. Now in Australis the new aircraft would require a fresh look at aircraft carriers in 1939. The solution worked out in 1944 and started trials in late 1945, using lines drawn on a standard flight deck, was the system that became the 'angled flight deck'. With ships that are building you are going to have a fairly comprehensive redesign that if done early enough will not add anything to your building time. I figure at least 12-18 months rebuilding time for a simple conversion to an angle deck configuration for existing ships. I can think of three major things that need to be enhanced for jets. Being a mobile airport the aircraft need to land and take off. Landing on has two bits to it, the angle deck and stronger arrester wire setup, otherwise the jet landing speeds will pull existing arrester wires to pieces. The third item is how to launch them to a speed that allows them to get airborne. Higher load catapults would have to be produced. The only other area of concern is getting your aircraft from hangar to flight deck without seriously interfering with the aircraft operations. Elevators in the middle of the flight deck were common but would interfere with optimal operations with jet aircraft, the deck edge elevator pioneered by the US on the Essex class is what is required. Right, next is "is the technology available" for all these advances. From what I can see and read about and investigate on the internet and in my hard copy resources the answer is, Yes, Yes and Yes. The next problem is deciding which of your extremely useful and valuable aircraft carriers that exist now should be taken out of service for 12-18 months for a jet operating rebuild right at the time that war has broken out. Part of the problem is how big would the aircraft carrier need to be to operate jets? That other world did not convert anything much less than 700 feet (the majority of the UK light fleets were around 690+ feet). How much length of angled deck is required?, that is the question that determines the size of the ship that can be converted or built. The first jet aircraft for the Navy would not be available till late 1940, early 1941. Quite frankly while those aircraft would be jets and faster than their equivalents of the time. They would still not be fast enough (over 450mph+) to require an immediate change to angled deck technology. Speeds of aircraft will increase markedly from 1943 onwards when the aircraft will be able to breach the 500mph barrier with ease. At that stage some aircraft carriers with angled deck technology will need to be available and others will need to be in the process of becoming angled deck carriers. This gives the Navy 4 years from first evaluation of jets to the stage where the new technology required has to be available to cope. It is much faster to produce the aircraft than the ships.

As can be seen you cannot just say "we have jets 5 years early" because the ramifications of pulling this advance back to the mid 1930's are tough to quantify in the technology and when it needs to be invented. Having one step of the technology road early means that other steps need to be thought of and invented to make the other bits of technology useful. With Whittles engines, advances in power during the first 6-12 months meant that just the original prototype aircraft went from a first flight maximum of 360mph to 466mph on the same aircraft frame. Taking another popular airframe. the Spitfire, first flight was about 320mph in 1936 through to the Griffon powered types at 450mph in 1945-46. Raising the power of the jet engine is significantly easier than the piston engine.

Another thing to think of is your Allies. When do you make your advance in jet technology available to them?

 

Early Sea Jets:   Early aircraft carried on the carriers

 

Shipbucket Comparisons:   looking at angled decks using shipbucket drawings.

 

Modern Day Comparisons:  using material sourced from the internet.

 

Whittles Carriers (1940-1945):  My Commonwealth Nations aircraft carriers with changes for operating jets

 

Having had time to think about jets and their early impact on any world war it would be impossible to guess exactly what would happen. It is quite possible that the Germans would be defeated in 1940. Commonwealth jets would clear the skies and have air supperiority wherever they appeared. German jets would not have appeared till late 1942 and it would be impossible for the German Army to hold on for that long. Italy would never have entered the war as France would never have fallen. New World Order with Commonwealth still at the top of the tree. US would be the poor cousins. The Commonwealth would have whipped the Japs by themselves and left the US with nothing to do and no influence where they gained it after WW2. USSR would have had no Great Patriotic War and the country would have had decades of Stalins internal pogroms to look forward to.

By changing one thing as fundamental as early jet aircraft, the whole face of the earth as we know it would have changed radically.

 

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