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Boulton Paul Defiant

Old 28th May 2020, 11:48
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Originally Posted by green granite View Post
F5/34 design was powered by a 840hp Mercury and with this engine reached around 316mph
The Blackburn Roc also had the Boulton & Paul 4 gun turret with no forward facing guns; it was powered by a Bristol Perseus radial of 890hp and according to Wiki, was much slower than the Defiant with a cruise speed of 135mph (max 223 mph) compared to the Defiant's cruise of 175 mph (max 304 mph) with the 1030hp Merlin 111. In addition to the gun turret however, the Roc had bomb racks under the wings which could carry up to 4 x 250 lb bombs.
Rocs were built by Boulton and Paul at Pendeford, thus delaying Defiant production!
Wiki only mentions one 'kill' by a Roc, a Ju88 which was attacking a convoy off Ostende.
Another design with the Boulton and Paul turret was the Hawker Hotspur which additionally had one forward facing Vickers machine gun however this design did not get past the single prototype which flew in 1938, after the Defiant but slightly before the Roc..
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Old 28th May 2020, 12:11
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Letter in today's "Times" from the Director of the RAF Museum from 1988-2010. He states

"Verkaik's book makes a revisionist case for an aircraft that was a death trap for those that flew in it. In the 1980's I interviewed several Defiant "survivors" all of whom were fiercely loyal to the aircraft. However their stories of poor performance, speed and the difficulties of bailing out of the rear turret were salutary."
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Old 28th May 2020, 21:42
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“Poor performance and speed” pretty much sums it up, but they were not the types fault. If you stick a decently powerful donk on the front of any aircraft then it has a far better chance of realising its expectations.

The Roc for instance with a crew of two and a four gun turret and having a sub 1000hp engine is a joke tbh!


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Old 28th May 2020, 22:16
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If one goes back to history I wonder if the person that initiated the requirement was an ex Bristol fighter man.


How can you be aggressive if you have to run away to bring the guns to bear? Even if you get into a position to win the fight the enemy can break off the fight at will. How can you be as good as the other fellow if your aeroplane is that much heavier with more drag than the enemy?

It was a flawed concept and should never have been considered for production.
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:03
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I seem to remember the Flypast article saying it was wholesale slaughter in France of the type and when the final ones reached the U.K. the LAC gunner was stunned to find that the gunners in the U.K. were now paid Sgts.

Nice idea, but like the flamethrowers in the tail the Germans tried, ultimately they proved to be a failure.
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Old 29th May 2020, 01:33
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https://flypast.keypublishing.com/20...f-enemy-radar/
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Old 29th May 2020, 03:46
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Times: In Defence of the Defiant
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Old 29th May 2020, 08:12
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I also never understood why it would be so good at shooting down bombers - with the gun at the back you'd have to fly in front off, or beside the enemy, to get a shot in - you'd be firing 4 MG's and they'd be firing back with MG's as well - both with the same range - not a recipe for a long life I'd have thought.................................
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Old 29th May 2020, 17:46
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Nope, agreed....... the Germans thought sticking a flamethrower in the tail would put off attacking fighters, what happened was the fighters thought they were causing damage so pressed home the attacks. They soon ditched that idea.
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Old 29th May 2020, 18:35
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Originally Posted by NutLoose View Post
Nope, agreed....... the Germans thought sticking a flamethrower in the tail would put off attacking fighters, what happened was the fighters thought they were causing damage so pressed home the attacks. They soon ditched that idea.
The F111 had a flamethower in the tail and that was found to be pretty effective.
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Old 29th May 2020, 19:54
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The Defiant is mentioned in yesterday's episode of Invasion on BBC4. As the presenter sits in the aircraft's four-gun turret he intones "This aircraft is one of my favourites, the Defiant bomber". Does nobody check this stuff before it's let loose on the public?
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Old 29th May 2020, 21:24
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Originally Posted by chevvron View Post
The F111 had a flamethower in the tail and that was found to be pretty effective.
For warming up a chilled audience at wet airshows!
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Old 29th May 2020, 21:51
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Taken today, 29/May/2020, the plaque at Blakeney, commemorating F/L Nicholas Cooke DFC, with the spire of Balkeney church in the background.
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Old 29th May 2020, 22:00
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For some reason (which is beyond me) I can't upload the photo I took of the plaque itself. If you can't read it, it states:
In Memory of
Flt. Lt. Nicholas Gresham Cooke, D.F.C.
A Keen sailor In Blakeney Harbour.
British 14ft Dinghy Team 1934.
Killed In Action Over The North Sea
May 31st 1940 Aged 26.
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Old 30th May 2020, 09:57
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Defiants guns forward

When I joined the Air Cadets at Kenley (1960) we had an ex Defiant gunner as a CI. I recall he was a bit miffed that no one really knew of the type (Compared with the Hurricane and Spitfire) but I well remember his comments regarding the job in the turret. The placing of the guns forward was to be the gunners 'final' action if he was unable to operate the turret in the normal way due injury, and apparently enabled the pilot to have some limited forward fire option. It is not surprising that the type was forgotten as no airframes were on display as gate guards and it did not feature in the post war Battle of Britain accounts/films/books. At the time '1960' there were only a couple of Hurricanes and half a dozen Spitfires that were still flying but those types were evident as Gate Guards countrywide. As a night fighter it was only as successful as technology at the time allowed, and would not have had the facility (or space) to fit the eventual radar equipment. Our defences in 1940 were not geared up to having an enemy only 20 miles away, and the Defiant should never had been used to deal with 'fighter escorted bombers' for obvious reasons. Reflecting on the situation decades later i was quite lucky to have actually spoken to a surviving Defiant gunner, as there could have only been a few around by 1960.
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Old 30th May 2020, 10:59
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Originally Posted by POBJOY View Post
SNIP
Our defences in 1940 were not geared up to having an enemy only 20 miles away, and the Defiant should never had been used to deal with 'fighter escorted bombers' for obvious reasons.
SNIP
I wonder if anybody's defences were really ready for 'fighter escorted bombers'? Most air forces seem to have assumed that bombers would be able to operate unescorted, protected either by their speed or defensive armament. Perhaps also there was an overestimation of the effectiveness of bombing, so people were not prepared for the long attritional campaigns in which a loss rate of, say, 6% or more was a losing proposition, even though the bombers were certainly getting through.

Before the experience of 1940 the task looked different, simply fighter vs bomber, and as the bomber forces had great confidence of the effectiveness of the four-gun turret, the Defiant evidently looked like a good idea; attacking from below was already well established from WW I, and turned out to be still a good tactic in WW II (hence Schraege Muzik, anticipated by the Sopwith Dolphin).

Things turned out differently, and the Defiant turned out to not be a good idea, though neither was it a scandal for it to have been built (although Colin Sinnott in The RAF and Aircraft Design 1923-39 records adverse reaction to the proposal to build it without forward armament). Perhaps the crews reported that they liked the aircraft because it was a good implementation of an idea that turned out not to meet the circumstances. It wasn't much slower than a Hurricane, and was surely a lot better than the Blackburn Roc. Presumably most of the aircraft that ended up as target tugs were not bad aircraft, just aircraft without any more useful aggressive role.
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Old 30th May 2020, 15:00
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"Most air forces seem to have assumed that bombers would be able to operate unescorted, protected either by their speed or defensive armament. Perhaps also there was an overestimation of the effectiveness of bombing, "

read any history of the Bomber Command in WW2
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Old 30th May 2020, 22:33
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Originally Posted by Asturias56 View Post
"Most air forces seem to have assumed that bombers would be able to operate unescorted, protected either by their speed or defensive armament. Perhaps also there was an overestimation of the effectiveness of bombing, "

read any history of the Bomber Command in WW2
I have read a few. I am specifically not talking about the experience of 1939 when the RAF quickly discovered that unescorted formations of bombers were unable to bomb naval bases in daylight. What I am referring to is the thinking of the mid-1930s, the relevant period for the design and procurement of the Defiant: the period when bombers were being designed (and introduced) that were faster than the fighters then in service, and when multi-gun turrets were replacing single rifle-calibre machine guns as defensive armament. In this period new (interceptor) fighters were being designed and introduced, and very good they were, but they were all relatively short ranged, and not suitable for escorting bombers: the Messerchmitt Bf 109 was notoriously marginal even for the short range of the raids of 1940. As far as I know, and I could well be wrong, the first aircraft introduced by a major power as an escort fighter was the Mitsubishi A6M "Zero," and that was slightly later than the European 1,000hp monoplane fighters.

What I am asking (and expecting the answer "No" but prepared to learn) was whether any planners, in the mid-1930s when the Defiant was specified, were expecting large formations of bombers with fighter escorts.
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Old 31st May 2020, 09:23
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FP the answer is NO as far as GB was concerned. Remember we had the only organised air defence system in Europe, and this was designed with defending against machines from Germany. One of the reasons that the BEF and AASF lost so many aircraft in France was because there was no effective French system to operate with and is one of the reasons the German advance was so rapid.
It was always assumed that the 'Bomber would get through' (which they did) and were armed to deal with interception. However interception was far from perfect and of course there was always a limit of machines to intercept.(even less after the French campaign).
When you consider the Defiant was lugging two crew and a heavy turret all on an early Merlin its performance was always going to be less than sparkling compared with its 8 gun sisters.
It could have played a part against unescorted machines but the game had dramatically changed by 1940 and its use suspect for daylight ops.
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Old 31st May 2020, 18:33
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Popjoy is correct - the Air Staff never looked at escort fighters - in fact I don't think the British (RFC, RNAS & RAF) ever really had an escort fighter. It wasn't as if the Defiant had a significantly longer range than the 8 gun fighters - it would have been better to reequip with Blenheim's I think
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