Reply to post: Re: "the Camel, best all-round fighter of the First World War"

Kingston's aviation empire: From industry firsts to Airfix heroes

itzman

Re: "the Camel, best all-round fighter of the First World War"

its more complex than even that.

WW1 saw a continuous evolution of aircraft with tactics changing as aircraft capability changed.

Its not really meaningful to talk about the 'best' aircraft.

Camels were for a time there best there was on the allied side, although the Nieuport wasn't bad, then SE5a, SPAD and the Bristol fighter came in with more power and easier flight characteristics and the rotary engine died the death.

Monoplanes were distrusted - the thick wing needed for structural integrity was reckoned to be aerodynamically unsound, and indeed at lower speeds a thin curved wing does work better, but as speeds grew so the Schneider trophy races lead to the sort of monoplane design that culminated in the Spitfire.

Oddly while the hurricane owed a lot to earlier biplanes in terms of 'frame and canvas' construction, the spitfire owed a lot to biplane thinking in terms of a large wing area of slender dimension. That gave it the excellent turn it had, but made it a poor gun platform as the wing was not stiff enough to preserve the orientation of the machine guns under recoil over any sort of range.

Ultimately the Tempest was the peak of Hawkers WWII efforts, tough, murderously fast, heavily armed and able to withstand punishment - although the engine problems were never really solved.

Post war, you have to say that the Hunter was the best and most successful aircraft Hawker ever produced. The Harrier was good, but ultimately its role has been replaced by the attack helicopter.

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