It’s 1 July 1938
The fleet air arm has its Swordfish, Skua and Roc aircraft in or about to enter production, and the follow types in development, or about to enter development as per the historic time line.
N8/39 Two seat Roc replacement, later N11/40 – eventually Firebrand F1
N9/39 Two seat Fulmar replacement, later N11/40 – eventually Firebrand F1
In a strategic review prompted by a monumental complaint from the Admiralty – the Air Ministry is prepared to cancel two RAF types – the Whirlwind and the Botha, and transfer the design and production resources to the FAA to fill perceived gaps in their aircraft order of battle.
In a technical memo to the Admiralty board, the air ministry spells out what this means, they state.
The resources herby surrendered will be sufficient to allow the development of a complete new naval type of aircraft, and the eventual production of up to 800 machines at this type, using the combined resources of these two firms, with the first operational aircraft expected within 36-48 months from the start of the project. The limitation in this case being engines – with the Hercules, Vulture, Sabre or Griffin thought to be suitable by the air ministry.
Or, alternatively, the resources could be used to produce an adaptation and nasalisation of two existing types in or about to enter RAF service, with production of 400 machines of each type, with first operational deliveries expected 24 months from project start. It is thought that a significant modernisation and re-powering of the Skua would fit under this “conversion” category.
You are heading a naval staff committee (armed with a modest degree of hindsight) tasked with deciding the best way of utilising these proffered additional resources. Do you recommend;
1) Development of a whole new type – to enter service in 3-4 years July 1941 to June 1942, if so what type? (single seat fighter, two seat fighter, fighter dive bomber, fighter observation, torpedo/spotter, dive bomber spotter, dive bomber torpedo spotter or just plain dive bomber or plain torpedo bomber). What engine do you choose and what performance do you hope for? And why this choice?
2) Modification of two existing or under development types to enter service from July 1940 – if so what types and why?
PS – When LtCdr PMN1 tries to side track the enquiry with esoteric questions about the possible impact of some unbuilt twin, or the Fairey in house engines, he should immediately be banished to the whale catcher escort project, commencing with six months service at sea in civilian ships of this type.
PPS - no corrections to the specifications solicited either, I have British Secret Projects, I just dont have it in front of me now.