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Early USN Scout, Observation and Scout Bomber Aircraft

Started by sideshowbob9, March 18, 2010, 04:46:08 PM

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sideshowbob9

Today I created a monoplane SOC Seagull using some P-39 wings and it suprises me how much it looks like a proto-SB2C (albeit about one third smaller). It's hit me just recently how blurred the line betwen early USN Scout, Observation aircraft and Scout Bombers is.

Another example of this is the evolution of the O2U/O3U Corsair to SBU and SB2U or the F8C into SBC.

I find this period of transition somewhat convoluted and quite fascinating. I just wanted to know what other people thought on the subject.

Jschmus

I've only gotten interested in that period of aviation in the last few years.  Truth be told, I have trouble telling a lot of aircraft from that period apart.  When I visited the Virginia Air & Space Center a couple of years ago, they had a 1/72 model of one of the 1930s aircraft carriers, Saratoga or Ranger, with most of a full carrier wing parked on deck, like so:



If not for the helpful plaque under the display, I'd have had trouble telling you what any of the aircraft were, except maybe for the F3Fs, which are fairly distinctive.
"Life isn't divided into genres. It's a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical, science-fiction cowboy detective novel. You know, with a bit of pornography if you're lucky."-Alan Moore

JoeP

Oooo...  :wub: :wub:

My favorite paint schemes are the pre-war US bright colours with silver dope. I will someday build some post-war up to current USN birds in some of those schemes.
In want of hobby space!  The kitchen table is never stable.  Still managing to get some building done.

sideshowbob9

It gets even worse. I got an old Lindberg F11C Goshawk in the post today (with a Hasegawa 1/32 BF2C on the way) and that family resemblence is even present in the fighters. The main difference is in the number of seats.

QuoteIf not for the helpful plaque under the display, I'd have had trouble telling you what any of the aircraft were...

I thought I was doing well in that regard until I saw that picture.

QuoteMy favorite paint schemes are the pre-war US bright colours with silver dope.

There's certainly no shortage of different combinations of ID colour bands and aircraft types in this period to model is there?




Stargazer

Being a Curtiss buff (and a lover of pre-WWII aircraft in general), I have got to say I find these old biplanes quite fascinating. Yes, the distinction between scout (S), observation (O), scout-observation (SO), observation-scout (OS), scout-bomber (SB) and fighter (F) is not always self-evident... And yes, it's not always easy telling all these Curtiss, Great Lakes, New Standard, Naval Aircraft Factory, Consolidated, Fleet, Vought, Stearman or Boeing aircraft apart... I would say that the tail fin can be really helpful, especially for Boeing, but truly if you don't have the registration and/or tail markings it can sometimes be a nightmare!

Logan Hartke

Don't forget about the BF (bomber-fighter), T (torpedo), and TB (torpedo-bomber).  And that's just the pre-war 1930s carrier planes!  The manufacturer can be hard to tell because for the Navy really did identify their aircraft by manufacturer (usually), NOT by designer.  So if it was built by the Naval Aircraft Factory, Great Lakes, General Motors, etc, the aircraft was identified as such, regardless of whether it's really a Martin, Vought, or Grumman design (and even tooling!!!).

The Air Force didn't bother with that.  A Boeing B-17 was still a Boeing B-17 regardless of whether it was built by Boeing, Vega, or Douglas.

The Navy had a nasty habit of splitting a bid into two parts.  Winning design and winning manufacturer were two different things.  This happened a few times and it would really tick off a designer to see someone else build their plane.  Consolidated would win a contract for the design, only to have Martin win the contract to build the darn thing.  It did drive designers to become better manufacturers, too, though.  Without those sorts of incidents, Consolidated probably wouldn't have become the manufacturer it was in WWII. 

Cheers,

Logan

Stargazer

Thanks, Logan. The reason I did not mention the B, BF, T and TB classes was because to me they were more easily identified than the rest, or at least it's easier to tell an aircraft is from this group rather than the other. But you're right. One thing you failed to explain is that the Navy gave the manufacturing job to the lowest bidder. That's how Curtiss, Martin or Boeing got to build other manufacturers' aircraft because they promised to offer a better price, period. I doubt the practice of splitting the bid into two parts was as systematic as you seem to imply, although if you have a reference towards this I'm more than willing to see it.

Logan Hartke

It wasn't systematic, it was just as you said it was.  Whoever could do it the cheapest.  At least, that's the way it was pre-war.  Once war started it was more based on manufacturing capabilities.  Vought was bitten by that more than once.  The XTBU Sea Wolf was probably the best US torpedo bomber of the war, and it came out early enough to make a difference, but Vought didn't have the manufacturing capability to build it.  The Navy gave the contract to Consolidated, who didn't care about the design and just converted a Mack truck plant to build it.  They did so slowly and poorly.  As a result the aircraft built came out very late and very flawed.  Luckily the Avenger was good enough that it didn't much matter.  Even there, though, look at how many of them were TBMs and not TBFs.

It usually didn't matter who built the plane, but Brewster had earned such a bad reputation with Navy fliers from the Buffalo that when they started building Corsairs, some pilots refused to fly them.

Cheers,

Logan

sideshowbob9

QuoteDon't forget about the BF (bomber-fighter), T (torpedo), and TB (torpedo-bomber).

Good point.

Quote....but Brewster had earned such a bad reputation with Navy fliers from the Buffalo that when they started building Corsairs, some pilots refused to fly them.

Ouch! Did Brewster ever do anything right?

Whatever happened to Great Lakes? The BG-1 is quite a good looking aircraft and served for quite a while.


Logan Hartke

Quote from: sideshowbob9 on March 20, 2010, 08:58:15 AM
Quote....but Brewster had earned such a bad reputation with Navy fliers from the Buffalo that when they started building Corsairs, some pilots refused to fly them.

Ouch! Did Brewster ever do anything right?
Well, they said that its Corsairs weren't bad, but its reputation killed it.

Quote from: sideshowbob9 on March 20, 2010, 08:58:15 AMWhatever happened to Great Lakes? The BG-1 is quite a good looking aircraft and served for quite a while.

Went out of business in the Great Depression, 1936.  Just couldn't last a few more years until the good times for US aircraft companies.

Cheers,

Logan

NARSES2

Well Olimp have just come out with this nice looking one. Some parts look very modern whilst the bi-plane format shows the conservatism of the time.

Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.

Stargazer

Quite an original subject! But it says "-Jouce" when it should be -Joyce. Berliner-Joyce was the forerunner of North American Aviation, and is in fact the reason for the letter "J" being used by the Navy for NAA aircraft until the early 1960s.

NARSES2

Quote from: Stargazer2006 on March 21, 2010, 02:57:59 AM
Quite an original subject! But it says "-Jouce" when it should be -Joyce. Berliner-Joyce was the forerunner of North American Aviation, and is in fact the reason for the letter "J" being used by the Navy for NAA aircraft until the early 1960s.

Until you pointed that out I hadn't noticed it ! Brain automaticaly read Joyce  :banghead:
Do not condemn the judgement of another because it differs from your own. You may both be wrong.