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Posted: 8/12/2011 11:01:38 PM EDT
IIRC it took until the advent of the Mustang before bombers had fighter escorts all the way to the targets in Germany and back to Britain.

Yet the Army Air Service was experimenting with in-flight refueling in 1923.

Practical technology just wasn't there, or what? Just seems like that would have been of great utility and priority to have fighter escorts along that whole trip.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:04:03 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/12/2011 11:04:47 PM EDT by SleeperShooter]
Buffetting of the air by the propellors of the lead plane caused excess turbulance and headaches. Dyson hadn't created a better system yet.

-SS




Sorry, one of those overpriced fan commercials just came on. Thought it was funny. Otherwise, I got nuffin and my baby didnt do nuffin.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:04:34 PM EDT
Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
IIRC it took until the advent of the Mustang before bombers had fighter escorts all the way to the targets in Germany and back to Britain.

Yet the Army Air Service was experimenting with in-flight refueling in 1923.

Practical technology just wasn't there, or what? Just seems like that would have been of great utility and priority to have fighter escorts along that whole trip.


im gonna guess it's this
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:06:02 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Jonny712:
Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
IIRC it took until the advent of the Mustang before bombers had fighter escorts all the way to the targets in Germany and back to Britain.

Yet the Army Air Service was experimenting with in-flight refueling in 1923.

Practical technology just wasn't there, or what? Just seems like that would have been of great utility and priority to have fighter escorts along that whole trip.


im gonna guess it's this


And I'm with you on that one. I think they just hadn't perfected the technology at that point, at least not to the point where it could be used for what they were up to. Plus I think to some extent the aircraft didn't need it.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:11:51 PM EDT
Props. They chop, dice and frappe the refueling hose.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:14:43 PM EDT
Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Props. They chop, dice and frappe the refueling hose.


Ayuup.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:16:47 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SleeperShooter:
Buffetting of the air by the propellors of the lead plane caused excess turbulance and headaches. Dyson hadn't created a better system yet.

-SS




Sorry, one of those overpriced fan commercials just came on. Thought it was funny. Otherwise, I got nuffin and my baby didnt do nuffin.

Until I saw that commercial I did not realize how unsettling blade fans really are. In fact they are so downright unsettling it's SCARY! I better buy a dyson.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:18:43 PM EDT
There was a LOT of experimentation with various in-air refueling methods. Having a giant spinning blade on the front of 90% of planes that needed refueling was the biggest obstacle.

Even with twin engine aircraft like the P-38 that had some successes, the methods that eventually worked once or twice required such a crack pilot that it wouldn't have been feasible to roll them out to all our air forces (USAAC, USN, and USMC). Most of the stuff that worked at all involved spare drop tanks dangling on long hoses that had to be grabbed with hooks and bridle contraptions. It wasn't safe and wasn't enough benefit to be worthwhile.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:19:02 PM EDT
Originally Posted By fettesbrotde:
Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Props. They chop, dice and frappe the refueling hose.


Ayuup.


I dunno...Seems like if they could figure out how to initiate nuclear fission, they could figure out a refueling system for a propeller-driven aircraft. Like we have for helicopters.

Although...I'm in the medical field, and in conversation with one of our ex-military medical helicopter pilots, he told the story of a fellow pilot who earned the nickname "Lorena" by severing a in-flight refueling hose with his rotor blades.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:34:58 PM EDT
Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
Originally Posted By fettesbrotde:
Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Props. They chop, dice and frappe the refueling hose.


Ayuup.


I dunno...Seems like if they could figure out how to initiate nuclear fission, they could figure out a refueling system for a propeller-driven aircraft. Like we have for helicopters.

Although...I'm in the medical field, and in conversation with one of our ex-military medical helicopter pilots, he told the story of a fellow pilot who earned the nickname "Lorena" by severing a in-flight refueling hose with his rotor blades.


The Brits probe and drogue their C-130s.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:36:48 PM EDT
Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
Originally Posted By fettesbrotde:
Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Props. They chop, dice and frappe the refueling hose.


Ayuup.


I dunno...Seems like if they could figure out how to initiate nuclear fission, they could figure out a refueling system for a propeller-driven aircraft. Like we have for helicopters.

Although...I'm in the medical field, and in conversation with one of our ex-military medical helicopter pilots, he told the story of a fellow pilot who earned the nickname "Lorena" by severing a in-flight refueling hose with his rotor blades.


WWII combat aircraft, especially fighters, didn't have the power to haul around internal fueling equipment like that, and they were unstable enough already that having large masses sticking out and messing with the center of gravity would have been disastrous.

Manufacturing and materials technology just weren't far enough along to do even primitive probe and drogue refueling.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:45:56 PM EDT

Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:
Originally Posted By AGreyMan:
Originally Posted By fettesbrotde:
Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Props. They chop, dice and frappe the refueling hose.


Ayuup.


I dunno...Seems like if they could figure out how to initiate nuclear fission, they could figure out a refueling system for a propeller-driven aircraft. Like we have for helicopters.

Although...I'm in the medical field, and in conversation with one of our ex-military medical helicopter pilots, he told the story of a fellow pilot who earned the nickname "Lorena" by severing a in-flight refueling hose with his rotor blades.


The Brits probe and drogue their C-130s.

Well, I was joking, kinda. You have to understand that everything in aviation is a tradeoff. A compromise. Could it have been done with pusher props or twin engine aircraft?, sure. But at what cost to efficiency, weight, complexity, maneuverability, speed, logistics, money, etc, etc, etc.
Link Posted: 8/12/2011 11:47:45 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Rogue-Sasquatch:
There was a LOT of experimentation with various in-air refueling methods. Having a giant spinning blade on the front of 90% of planes that needed refueling was the biggest obstacle.

Even with twin engine aircraft like the P-38 that had some successes, the methods that eventually worked once or twice required such a crack pilot that it wouldn't have been feasible to roll them out to all our air forces (USAAC, USN, and USMC). Most of the stuff that worked at all involved spare drop tanks dangling on long hoses that had to be grabbed with hooks and bridle contraptions. It wasn't safe and wasn't enough benefit to be worthwhile.


I'm sure the weight of the re-fueling gear had a negative effect on performance.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 12:17:39 AM EDT
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By Rogue-Sasquatch:
There was a LOT of experimentation with various in-air refueling methods. Having a giant spinning blade on the front of 90% of planes that needed refueling was the biggest obstacle.

Even with twin engine aircraft like the P-38 that had some successes, the methods that eventually worked once or twice required such a crack pilot that it wouldn't have been feasible to roll them out to all our air forces (USAAC, USN, and USMC). Most of the stuff that worked at all involved spare drop tanks dangling on long hoses that had to be grabbed with hooks and bridle contraptions. It wasn't safe and wasn't enough benefit to be worthwhile.


I'm sure the weight of the re-fueling gear had a negative effect on performance.


Hell, performance impact aside, imagine if the USAAF's heavy bomber raids needed to refuel a few times on their way to and from their targets in Germany. Given the size of the raids, it would have been impossible to maintain any semblance of order unless the tankers were simply part of the bomber formations, which would require them to also carry defensive guns and make them fat easy targets for the Luftwaffe. A formation that had many of it's tankers shot down would either have to start sending aircraft back to base to reduce fuel requirements, thus reducing the defensive firepower available and the impact on the target, or maybe even cancel the raid entirely. And what happens if you've reached the farthest point of your flight and suddenly loose a few more tankers than you could spare? All of a sudden you've got to start picking who gets to have the gas to go home and who doesn't...
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 12:26:41 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Der_Hans:

Hell, performance impact aside, imagine if the USAAF's heavy bomber raids needed to refuel a few times on their way to and from their targets in Germany. Given the size of the raids, it would have been impossible to maintain any semblance of order unless the tankers were simply part of the bomber formations, which would require them to also carry defensive guns and make them fat easy targets for the Luftwaffe. A formation that had many of it's tankers shot down would either have to start sending aircraft back to base to reduce fuel requirements, thus reducing the defensive firepower available and the impact on the target, or maybe even cancel the raid entirely. And what happens if you've reached the farthest point of your flight and suddenly loose a few more tankers than you could spare? All of a sudden you've got to start picking who gets to have the gas to go home and who doesn't...


KB-17

Bomb bay used for a fuel cell, to buddy fuel B-17's.

I don't think bomber range was the issue.

But fighter range was.

Putting refueling gear in a B-17 might not have a giant impact on performance. They might have been able to carry more bombs on long runs, since the tankers would be toppping them off as needed.

But fighters, all the extra weight, not good.

Mid-air refueling would be a logistical, and tactical problem for bombers, and a performance robber for fighters.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 1:42:05 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 8/13/2011 1:42:50 AM EDT by 1srelluc]
Enemy pilots would not sit idly by and allow refueling at least in the '43 and early '44 period. It was not the uncontested skies US pilots enjoy today when they refuel.

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 2:09:20 AM EDT
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By Der_Hans:

Hell, performance impact aside, imagine if the USAAF's heavy bomber raids needed to refuel a few times on their way to and from their targets in Germany. Given the size of the raids, it would have been impossible to maintain any semblance of order unless the tankers were simply part of the bomber formations, which would require them to also carry defensive guns and make them fat easy targets for the Luftwaffe. A formation that had many of it's tankers shot down would either have to start sending aircraft back to base to reduce fuel requirements, thus reducing the defensive firepower available and the impact on the target, or maybe even cancel the raid entirely. And what happens if you've reached the farthest point of your flight and suddenly loose a few more tankers than you could spare? All of a sudden you've got to start picking who gets to have the gas to go home and who doesn't...


KB-17

Bomb bay used for a fuel cell, to buddy fuel B-17's.

I don't think bomber range was the issue.

But fighter range was.

Putting refueling gear in a B-17 might not have a giant impact on performance. They might have been able to carry more bombs on long runs, since the tankers would be toppping them off as needed.

But fighters, all the extra weight, not good.

Mid-air refueling would be a logistical, and tactical problem for bombers, and a performance robber for fighters.


The question I would ask is are you better off having a KB-17 tag along to fuel the normal B-17 so it can haul more bombs, or are you better simply bringing two B-17s?

I think that air to air refueling may have had some benefit later on, say in late 1944 or 1945, for bombers trying to hit targets deep in Germany from their bases in England. Since the allies had taken back lots of ground in France by then, the bombers could tank up to top off before crossing into enemy territory.

But then why not just build an airbase in France?
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 2:16:23 AM EDT
1) Ranges were relatively short

2) Rate of fuel consumption of a P51 verses a F15. Sort of like a Ford Focus verses a NACSAR Sprint Cup car.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 2:19:12 AM EDT
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 2:39:16 AM EDT
Gasoline. 115/145 octane aviation gasoline.

Aircooled, spark ignition aircraft engines. Exposed, red hot exhaust manifolds, sometimes belching visible flames from the pipe.

Even if you found a way to keep the fueling drouge away from the nine foot diameter spinning propeller, the spray of GASOLINE near an engine like that would make any sane man shit his pants.

.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 2:43:49 AM EDT
I would guess that the sheer number of planes required would be excessive on top of everything else.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 4:03:45 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Der_Hans:
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By Der_Hans:

Hell, performance impact aside, imagine if the USAAF's heavy bomber raids needed to refuel a few times on their way to and from their targets in Germany. Given the size of the raids, it would have been impossible to maintain any semblance of order unless the tankers were simply part of the bomber formations, which would require them to also carry defensive guns and make them fat easy targets for the Luftwaffe. A formation that had many of it's tankers shot down would either have to start sending aircraft back to base to reduce fuel requirements, thus reducing the defensive firepower available and the impact on the target, or maybe even cancel the raid entirely. And what happens if you've reached the farthest point of your flight and suddenly loose a few more tankers than you could spare? All of a sudden you've got to start picking who gets to have the gas to go home and who doesn't...


KB-17

Bomb bay used for a fuel cell, to buddy fuel B-17's.

I don't think bomber range was the issue.

But fighter range was.

Putting refueling gear in a B-17 might not have a giant impact on performance. They might have been able to carry more bombs on long runs, since the tankers would be toppping them off as needed.

But fighters, all the extra weight, not good.

Mid-air refueling would be a logistical, and tactical problem for bombers, and a performance robber for fighters.


The question I would ask is are you better off having a KB-17 tag along to fuel the normal B-17 so it can haul more bombs, or are you better simply bringing two B-17s?

I think that air to air refueling may have had some benefit later on, say in late 1944 or 1945, for bombers trying to hit targets deep in Germany from their bases in England. Since the allies had taken back lots of ground in France by then, the bombers could tank up to top off before crossing into enemy territory.

But then why not just build an airbase in France?

They did. But it was usually for fighters and other assorted Ground Attack aircraft.

By the way, you're forgetting all the logistical efforts needed to keep aircraft supplied and flying. Just remember that Patton & Co. ran out of gas long before they reached The Rhine.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 5:13:09 AM EDT

Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By Der_Hans:

Hell, performance impact aside, imagine if the USAAF's heavy bomber raids needed to refuel a few times on their way to and from their targets in Germany. Given the size of the raids, it would have been impossible to maintain any semblance of order unless the tankers were simply part of the bomber formations, which would require them to also carry defensive guns and make them fat easy targets for the Luftwaffe. A formation that had many of it's tankers shot down would either have to start sending aircraft back to base to reduce fuel requirements, thus reducing the defensive firepower available and the impact on the target, or maybe even cancel the raid entirely. And what happens if you've reached the farthest point of your flight and suddenly loose a few more tankers than you could spare? All of a sudden you've got to start picking who gets to have the gas to go home and who doesn't...


KB-17

Bomb bay used for a fuel cell, to buddy fuel B-17's.

I don't think bomber range was the issue.

But fighter range was.

Putting refueling gear in a B-17 might not have a giant impact on performance. They might have been able to carry more bombs on long runs, since the tankers would be toppping them off as needed.

But fighters, all the extra weight, not good.

Mid-air refueling would be a logistical, and tactical problem for bombers, and a performance robber for fighters.

Actually extra weight had a negative impact on the B-17s performance.

Prior to the P-51s and drop tanks, the 8th Air Force tried YB-40s, which were "escort" B-17s, very heavily armed. They had trouble keeping up.

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 5:18:06 AM EDT
Originally Posted By ODA_564:

Actually extra weight had a negative impact on the B-17s performance.

Prior to the P-51s and drop tanks, the 8th Air Force tried YB-40s, which were "escort" B-17s, very heavily armed. They had trouble keeping up.



I said, fuel in place of bombs.

So the total weight would be the same.

Instead of 8,000 lbs of bombs in the KB-17, there would be 8,000 lbs of fuel.

I wonder who designed the YB-40's w/o thinking about extra wind resistance, and weight issues, effecting performance. If anything the YB-40's should have been at least margianlly faster than the B-17's.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 5:40:50 AM EDT
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By ODA_564:

Actually extra weight had a negative impact on the B-17s performance.

Prior to the P-51s and drop tanks, the 8th Air Force tried YB-40s, which were "escort" B-17s, very heavily armed. They had trouble keeping up.



I said, fuel in place of bombs.

So the total weight would be the same.

Instead of 8,000 lbs of bombs in the KB-17, there would be 8,000 lbs of fuel.

I wonder who designed the YB-40's w/o thinking about extra wind resistance, and weight issues, effecting performance. If anything the YB-40's should have been at least margianlly faster than the B-17's.


Yeah, but the YB's didnt leave several tons of excess weight in Germany like the planes they were escorting...
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 5:50:00 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Silence:
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By ODA_564:

Actually extra weight had a negative impact on the B-17s performance.

Prior to the P-51s and drop tanks, the 8th Air Force tried YB-40s, which were "escort" B-17s, very heavily armed. They had trouble keeping up.



I said, fuel in place of bombs.

So the total weight would be the same.

Instead of 8,000 lbs of bombs in the KB-17, there would be 8,000 lbs of fuel.

I wonder who designed the YB-40's w/o thinking about extra wind resistance, and weight issues, effecting performance. If anything the YB-40's should have been at least margianlly faster than the B-17's.


Yeah, but the YB's didnt leave several tons of excess weight in Germany like the planes they were escorting...


They might have depending on how much .50 cal they went through...................

According to wiki the YB-40 was 4,000 lbs heavier than a fully loaded B-17.

The bomb bay was converted to carry ammo.

Not to mention the extra turret, guns etc sticking out of the plane.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 6:02:45 AM EDT
Originally Posted By OLY-M4gery:
Originally Posted By ODA_564:

Actually extra weight had a negative impact on the B-17s performance.

Prior to the P-51s and drop tanks, the 8th Air Force tried YB-40s, which were "escort" B-17s, very heavily armed. They had trouble keeping up.



I said, fuel in place of bombs.

So the total weight would be the same.

Instead of 8,000 lbs of bombs in the KB-17, there would be 8,000 lbs of fuel.

I wonder who designed the YB-40's w/o thinking about extra wind resistance, and weight issues, effecting performance. If anything the YB-40's should have been at least margianlly faster than the B-17's.


They kept up just fine, on the run into the target.

It was after the bombs were dropped, at which point they found themselves to be much heavier than the other B-17's without their bombs.

Also, 8000lbs was a max bomb load. The B-17 did not carry anywhere near that weight on the long range missions into Germany.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 6:06:12 AM EDT
Good, informative, thought-provoking thread, in GD no less.

Hey, it happens................just not often enough.

My two cent's worth is the Air Force got enough range from the newer, larger
drop tanks to put in-air refueling on the back burner. The P-51's could make it
there and back already...........if it ain't broke, don't fool with it (right now).

I had no idea until recently that some of those drop tanks were made of freaking PAPER!!
(No, I don't have any more info on that, other than they did have 'paper' tanks, sorry)
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 6:10:31 AM EDT
Originally Posted By UtahShotgunner:
They kept up just fine, on the run into the target.

It was after the bombs were dropped, at which point they found themselves to be much heavier than the other B-17's without their bombs.

Also, 8000lbs was a max bomb load. The B-17 did not carry anywhere near that weight on the long range missions into Germany.


Yeah, about 4,000.

The YB-40 was rated at 48 minutes to get up to 20,000 feet, a regular B-17 took less than 1/2 that.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 7:52:53 AM EDT
Originally Posted By Papaw:

I had no idea until recently that some of those drop tanks were made of freaking PAPER!!
(No, I don't have any more info on that, other than they did have 'paper' tanks, sorry)


Yep, that was a great innovation.

Lighter, cheaper and you weren't 'giving' the enemy free aluminum.

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 8:12:31 AM EDT
Originally Posted By BillofRights:
Props. They chop, dice and frappe the refueling hose.


Exactly what I was gonna post.



Link Posted: 8/13/2011 9:13:29 AM EDT
Interesting how hindsight is always 20/20.

Link Posted: 8/13/2011 9:28:03 AM EDT
The second order effects might be something you dont want.

The Japanese' betty bomber was very long ranged, due to their conception of the need for a long range aircraft over the Pacific. It was so long ranged that it was used on raids that the zero escorts could not reach, and it suffered badly. I wonder if a small mid air refueled force would have achieved better results than a larger force hitting shorter range targets.

I am out of my lane here, but if you had a refueler, the best airframe for it would have been a C-47 or maybe a B-24, and I doubt they could carry that much gas to make it worthwhile.

It would have been useful for maritime patrols over the North Atlantic against the U Boats but that problem could have been solved through much simpler means, such as committing more aircraft to the problem.

There was such a huge rush to train new pilots, tens if not a hundred thousand––-that a quantity of good ones was better than a small cohort that could be trained for midair refueling.



Great idea––-before its time in this case.
Link Posted: 8/13/2011 9:42:11 AM EDT
Don't forget that AV-gas is a different animal than jet fuel. A bit of a mist of jet fuel is no big deal. A mist of AV-gas around a piston engine that is spitting fire out of the exhaust could get exciting.
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