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Thread: Spitfire with drop tank/s was it ever fully utilised in cross Channel ops in 43/44?

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    Default Spitfire with drop tank/s was it ever fully utilised in cross Channel ops in 43/44?

    The Spitfire MkV and IX was predominently a close support fighter.
    Its radius of action was no more than 200 miles.
    With the advent of the P47 and P51D its escort capability allegedly was comparatively diminished by its inability to carry fuel.

    I understand that the wings were not as strong as the P-51 or P-47 for underslung tanks of this capacity?? Really?
    Were there also logistical problems with delivery of the 'cigar' tanks which I've noticed WERE employed beneath the fusalage on occasion in conection with preparations for Operation Overlord, which is the period and location with which I am concerned.

    How often did the cigar shaped drop tanks get used or was there any other kind of drop tank used during late 1943/early 44 in connection with the above and which squadrons and how often were they used please?

    Dave

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    Hi Dave

    The most common form of drop tank used on Spitfires were the 'slipper tanks', these were an inverted aerofoil shape and carried under the fuselage between the undercarriage legs. They came in about three different sizes, 30 gals, 90 gals and 170 gals, although the latter was for ferrying only.

    Malcolm

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    Default Slippers

    Yes. They were used in Malta to get the aircraft ashore.
    But I have a picture somewhere of a cylindrical tank under the mid fusalage, on a Spitfire at Friston in Sussex.
    I was trying to establish if these or some other kind were used on cross channel ops in the build up to DDay?
    Thanks for the details about the slippers
    Dave

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    Hi Dave

    Both types were used operationally the cigar type being used later and certainly during D-Day and probably before

    Malcolm

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    There does not seem to be very many photos but there are one or two a2a shots of whole formations of Spitfires carrying the cigar tank. If you look in the right places ie AEAF, 2TAF records etc there seems to be lots of paperwork about the manufacture and supply of these tanks and suitable racks on which to carry them.

    Steve

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    Hi
    I suggest getting hold of a copy of chris thomas's excellent 2nd TAF Vol 1, there is at least six photos and two profile drawings.
    cheers
    Jerry
    Last edited by brewerjerry; 9th September 2011 at 00:33.

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    Not quite what is meant here but in the boardroom of Strongs Brewery at Romsey there was a photo of a Spit with 2 9 gal casks under the wings that allegedly was flown across to Normandy just after D day

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    Default Spitfire Range + TAF drop tanks

    Thanks Pete Malcolm Steve and Jerry.
    The P51D range was about 1,650 mi (2,655 km) with external tanks
    THe only Spitfires used in service that had this capability (via a broadly similar route by adding LE and fusalage tanks) were the PR versions.
    I think therefore it would be fair to say that given that both aircraft encountered stability issues initially when the fusalage tanks were added that the Americans were simply more hell bent on resolving these problems quickly for their burgeoning escort duties than were we (by fast and furious adaptions to the P-51B).

    Possibly the underwing tanks that were tried on Spits were rejected after fouling the wing on a drop test.
    I cant be sure the wings were not man enough to support them. Besides they handled the beer(Pete).
    Possibly the pitch stability of the PR versions when full led to their rejection for adaption to escort fighter.

    Thanks for the information that the TAF were using the fusalage (I think made of paper?) drop tanks in the months leading up to DDAy.
    Their escort missions were not confined to France at that time but went as far as Holland.
    Herein might lie the answer to my query.
    But how often they were used en-masse is difficult to say I suspect.

    The records may/may not give this information?
    Pete, the beer tanks were never jetisoned so never went into service operationally
    Dave
    Last edited by david cullen; 9th September 2011 at 12:00.

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    Default Spitfire Range + TAF drop tanks

    Thanks Pete Malcolm Steve and Jerry.
    The P51D range was about 1,650 mi (2,655 km) with external tanks
    THe only Spitfires used in service that had this capability (via a broadly similar route by adding LE and fusalage tanks) were the PR versions.
    I think therefore it would be fair to say that given that both aircraft encountered stability issues initially when the fusalage tanks were added that the Americans were simply more hell bent on resolving these problems quickly for their burgeoning escort duties than were we.

    Possibly the underwing tanks that were tried on Spits were rejected after fouling the wing on a drop test.
    Possibly the pitch stability of the PR versions when full led to their rejection for adaption to escort fighter.

    Thanks for the information that the TAF were using the fusalage (I think made of paper?) drop tanks in the months leading up to DDAy.
    Their escort missions were not confined to France at that time but went as far as Holland.
    Herein might lie the answer to my query.
    But how often they were used en-masse is difficult to say I suspect.

    The records may/may not say.
    Dave

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    I understand that the trials of real long range Spitfire were aborted, when Merlin Mustang appeared, with superior performance in every respect. There were some attempts to improve range, still, wing tanks in Mk VIII, and aft fuselage tank in later marks, but as it caused stability probolems it was sealed, and used for special occasions only. There was also a Spitfire LR.II not mentioned in the thread, which saw limited use in 1941. As a side note, I recall an anecdote seen somewhere, that a pilot flying T.9 Spitfire from the backseat during filming of the BoB, noted, that they have tried various things, instead of the simplest, moving cockpit a few inches back.

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