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    wwII: who builds bombers, who builds cargo aircraft agreement

    There supposedly was some kind of agreement during World War II that the U. S. would take on the job of building cargo aircraft, since it would be shipping vast quantities of materiel across the Atlantic, and the British would concentrate on bombers. Whether or not it was originally intended, this gave the U. S. a huge leg up during the development of airlines during the late 1940s and '50s: the U. S. had the DC-4/6/7, the Constellation and the C-97-derived Stratocruiser to play with (to say nothing of the DC-3) while the British were left to try and turn Lancasters into passenger aircraft.

    Was there indeed such an agreement, or is it all a myth? And if there was an agreement, was it formalized or just a handshake thing?

    #2
    Brabazon made an interesting comment in the House of Lords in October 1943 regarding transport aircraft......"We were always told that we must not disturb the war effort, and that America would be cross if we built such machines"......

    https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1943/1943%20-%202596.html?search=brabazon

    ......curious phrasing considering he was heading the Committee looking at post-war civil aviation and had previously been the Minister for Aircraft Production, which would have placed him in the best position to have known. In fact why make any comment at all?

    Comment


      #3
      Stephan, I think the topic was discussed here before and the consensus was that it's not true.

      Remember, the Connie (f.f. Jan 43) and DC-4 (f.f. Feb 42) were essentially done before the U.S. entered the war. The transport aircraft the UK produced just before the war were soon to be obsolete seaplanes, and niche types like the Dh Albatross. Hardly anything in the DC-4 class.

      If the subject was broached, I bet it was to just state the obvious...namely the UK was too occupied with warplanes to design and build a modern transport....even a DC-3 type, so use U.S. types (available free under lend lease) and already available.

      (As an aside, remember that even though it tried, and spent a lot of money on various projects and designs (the C-76, C-82, the Budd Conestoga, and
      a large Cessna to name four), the U.S. never came up with anything better than the C-47 during the war...The C-46 was also a prewar design).

      But despite the wartime shortage of airframe designers, (a point Bill Gunston repeatedly made and was as important as factory space) the UK was thinking ahead to the post what era with the Brabazon commission...and preliminary work was being done in post-war transports, even if no metal was cut.
      Last edited by J Boyle; 12th October 2018, 12:03.
      There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

      Comment


        #4
        The OP refers to; 'the requirement to ship vast quantities of materiel across the Atlantic' The transportation of truly vast quantities of war equipment ("Britain's War Machine", David Edgerton) some portion of it qualifying under lend-lease agreements, necessitated the use of ships, hence the invention of the British designed and American built Liberty ships.

        Because of the sheer volume of materiel, aircraft could not be considered. Low volume, high value goods were another matter. There were sufficient numbers of transport aircraft for this purpose especially over battle locations such as Arnhem and Normandy.

        The myth lacks rationality. There might have been a suggestion that the Americans would have become a touch irritated if they had discovered that the British had established a design office to consider and prepare a prototype of a post war transport aircraft, while still engaged in laying waste to the Fatherland !

        Comment


          #5
          J Boyle,absolutely. The UK had no suitable base upon which to build while the US was forging ahead. The only two 'modern' transport designs, the Fairey FC1 and Short C32, had barely started construction before cancellation on outbreak of war. In the absence of documented evidence for there being some form of agreement with the US, and there appears to be none, I would conclude that the situation was the direct consequence of the pre-war position.

          However I would dispute Gunston's suggestion that there was a shortage of airframe designers during the war. As production focussed on the progressive development of a reduced number of types, largely to avoid disruption on production lines, several were left frustrated that their talents for new design were underused. Think Tiltman at Airspeed, Radcliffe at Folland, Martin at Martin-Baker, the Miles team etc.

          Comment


            #6
            Yes,this topic was discussed at length 6-7 years ago here and 'alertken' ('tornadoken'?) contributed greatly but I can't get the site search engine to find it (has everything before 2015 been chucked?) .

            Comment


              #7
              The confusion (myth) arises from Minister of Production O.Lyttleton's visits to US, June and November, 1942.We all know of the Combined Chiefs of Staff work on High Strategy - Germany First, Italy, not Balkans, etc.., but they also handled the Supply Chain. ex-Minister of A/c Production J.Llewellin 22/11/42-11/11/43 chaired Br.Supply Council in US as Minister Resident in Washington for Supply and sat on PrioritiesCommittees assigning resources - they had names like Drop Forgings Sub-Committee. Shipping. Lyttleton's Agreements set priorities in 1943 production as: bombers/UK, transports/US, not to inhibit longer-term new US bombers (see B-32, B-29, B-36), or UK transports:

              DPM Attlee in HofC, 1/6/43: "design jobs have been allocated for 4 types of (Brabazon Committee) planes (other) arrangements are in hand for the adaptation of existing types for civil service". Bristol then held a Design ITP for Type I T.167; Phipp/Brabazon,P18 has the others as Airspeed/Type II (to be AS.57), Avro/Type III (to be687), DH/Type V (to be D.H.104 Dove). All that had followed War Cabinet Minutes W.M.(43).35,25/2/43, SofS/Air: "We will not accept a (Civil) solutionon the basis that we won't build any a/c and we want (Cabinet) authority (now to) plan some production". We had ordered 200 Yorks, 1/43.

              Lyttleton's priorities gave us 1,929 DC-3/C-47 (Gradidge/1,P.88, plus RAAF/RCAF/SAAF...) C-47 was the sole aircraft in Saceur Ike's list of 5 war-winning utensils.

              The myth - if not mere confusion - maybe of a piece with other we wuz robbed Ameriphobe calumnies: to divert attention from the outcome of great privilege enjoyed by UK Aero (where were the auto or marine or agricultural Brabazon Committees?) We produced Dove and Viscount...and a flock of turkeys.

              Brab's "US cross" comment in the Lords, 20/10/43 was maybe disinformation for the Axis: the UK/US long haul "civil" schemes were highly pertinent to SEA/ Pacific Theatres.
              Last edited by alertken; 14th October 2018, 09:26.

              Comment


                #8
                I find it interesting that the myth had already embedded itself sufficiently deeply by mid 1943 that Brabazon thought it worthwhile to mention it in his comments. Rumours and conspiracy theories propogated very effectively at the time even without the internet and social media

                Comment


                  #9
                  This topic reminds me that the allies would have been "up a creek" without the DC-3 to turn into the C-47. I can't think of another existing aircraft the could have filled that role.
                  There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    As an aside to the shortage or not of aircraft designers, which I agree seems unlikely, I've either read or seen a programme recently that said we were desperately short of draughtsmen.during the war.
                    Regarding the agreement which I've also seen debunked, I wonder if another reason was priorities. Until 1943 or so we didn't actually need transport aircraft anywhere near as much as we needed bombers and fighters. Home transport was handled by the railways and other theatres of war were so far away that shipping was the only option.
                    It was possibly not so much agreed as accepted that by the time transport aircraft were actively needed, the U.S. would have taken up the shortfall.

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I guess that is probably correct. Afterall 'designer' doesn't necessarily mean the guy at the top, it applies equally to the qualified engineering draughtsmen who turned general ideas into something that could be built. The same applies to stress engineers. Even if no new models are coming across their boards every tweak, modification and enhancement to existing aircraft types takes effort.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        "Shortage of draughtsmen" was a constant in briefings to Ministers. Its origin was the 1920s' arrangement of confining military orders to firms in the Air Ministry Ring (which then had no pejorative implications). Civil servants and Farnborough boffins perceived UK to have no shortage of Eureka! schemers - even an excess, nor of "hands", but in between, the process of turning back-of-envelope into a repeatable product, was seen as bottleneck.Sir Roy Fedden would incur wrath by saying so and inspiring 1946 Ministers to found Cranfield College of Aeronautics - folk like Sir Fred. HP were dismissive.

                        You are allowed to suspect that this was a convenient excuse for discarding such prospective new entrant designers as Martin Baker.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          But then the smaller players got plenty of work and were kept busy for years, although not always for their own designs. M-B, Folland etc etc all did good business and generally kept shareholders happy.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            So we came up with the Comet, which was a long way ahead of anything the Americans had come up with at the time. Had it not been for the window issue (and bearing in mind the Canberra and the following V-bombers), could we have stayed ahead?

                            Comment


                              #15
                              "...could "we" have stayed ahead"?

                              Subsequent history casts doubts on that. It isn't that the UK had a technical shortfall with its airliners, rather a political/economic one. The nationalized nature of the industry, which gave too much power to government bureaucrats and not the economics driven world wide airliner market suggests the outcome of the battle of airliners would have been in doubt.
                              The government didn't back potential winners like the Vickers V.1000, while favoring types too suited to one customer (i.e. the Trident) to succeed internationally. Sounds a bit like the UK military aircraft market....

                              And as I understand it, the only thing really revolutionary about the Comet was its powerplants, airframe and system wise, it wasn't markedly ahead of the American types.

                              And remember, what makes a successful...that means well selling...airliner isn't it's looks or even being the "first"...it's whether or not it can make money for its operator. Fanboy criteria of looks and nationality are secondary.

                              Recall that the Viscount and 1-11 (as well as the F-27 and to an extent, the Caravell) both sold well in America because they were the proper aircraft for those carriers. For American long distance routes, the small but fast Comet wasn't as good a "fit" as existing DC-6s and Constellations (both of which were mature, reliable aircraft in the early '50s).

                              Also, the Concorde was doomed due to the raise in oil prices (and secondly the not hard to understand unwillingness of American regulators to allow supersonic flight over the continent) which made its operations at anything other than first class rates unprofitable, and not as some claim a huge anti-UK conspiracy. After all, the American SST was cancelled following protests from the newly emerging environmental lobby which feared sonic books and high altitude emissions and contrails which they claimed would cause global cooling.
                              Last edited by J Boyle; 17th October 2018, 16:57.
                              There are two sides to every story. The truth is usually somewhere between the two.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Interesting question, but then you also need to ask: could the various factories around the UK have produced a similar number of airliners at a comparable production rate to those being built at the Boeing and Douglas factories?
                                A Little VC10derness - A Tribute to the Vickers VC10 - www.VC10.net

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  The basic answer is no. That's partly what I was suggesting in my post #10, our aircraft factories were already running at pretty much maximum capacity producing "warplanes" for want of a better description..
                                  Last edited by dhfan; 17th October 2018, 16:51.

                                  Comment


                                   

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