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GOT: The Curtiss A-14/A-18


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#1 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 01:04 AM

I am glad that I again found time to create another GOT topic. This time our theme is the Curtiss A-18 attacker experimental from the thirties. It is fairly well described on the net, I mostly quote the US Air Force Museum Virtual Aircraft Gallery. The first step to development was the

XA-14,

a private Curtiss project to replace its A-12 single-engined assault airplane.

http://www.nationalm...eet.asp?id=2918


The aircraft showed superior speed performances from the beginning, so I would have preferred to see it in the heavy fighter rsp. "destroyer" role. Little is known that efforts were made truly to create an attacker from this swift plane, by employing a 37mm cannon, now calling the aircraft

YA-14
http://www.nationalm...eet.asp?id=2919

Although this picture can be seen using the link above, I think it's o.k. to repeat it here because the sight of the cannon is really impressive:

ya14-3.jpg

Thirteen test samples of the XA-14 were ordered, and because of an engine improvement (Wright R-1820-47 "Cyclone" instead of Wright R-1670-5 "Whirlwind"), the aircraft was redesignated

Y1A-18

http://www.nationalm...eet.asp?id=2929

Unfortunately, no serial production order followed, because the aircraft was considered too expensive for its intended role. After testing, the Y1A-18s lost a letter and a digit and became

A-18s

http://www.nationalm...eet.asp?id=2930

The A-18s have to be seen as consideration samples for succeeding aircrafts like the Douglas A-20. They were used as bomber trainers on Lawson field. The last A-18 went out of service in 1943.

http://www.joebaughe...attack/a18.html


There are two strands still open:

- it is said the A-18 influenced the development of the Kawasaki Ki-45, which looks fairly similar

- some sources say at least one A-18 was sent to Australia.

Any further information about the upper two questions are welcome.


I would like to have seen the A-18 in combat, although its assumed influence on the early stage of the air war in the Pacific is questionable. At least, the US would have had a Lightning before the Lightning. To end here, I would like to show you some fine pictures, among these the only one I know until now of the A-18 in colour:

Mystery5.jpg

1963L.jpg

PG-172.JPG

And its windshield is too steep, that's what I also don't like on many Miles aircraft!



#2 Ricky

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 05:57 AM

It is almost an American Beaufighter...

#3 GregP

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 09:18 AM

Thank you RT! Some new A-18 photos for me.

I think the A-18 had real potential, but was ignored for political reasons. Looks like an American Ki-46 to me; not as esthetically pleasing, but had potential. Can't imagine what politics killed it, but most combat aircraft that "don't make it" are killed by civilians who don't even have a pilot's license ... they are killed by "economic need" in some area or another.

Recall when reconditioned F-16's beat out the Northrop F-20. There never was a fly-off. The victor was declared on paper. Same thing as WWII.

#4 robert

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Posted 26 June 2005 - 10:57 AM

There are two strands still open:

- some sources say at least one A-18 was sent to Australia.


That may very well simply be a case of name confusion. The name Shrike was resurrected during WW2 for the A-25, the USAAF version of the Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. An order of 150 was made by the Australians, but after evaluating one, the order was cancelled after ten had been delivered.

There's a photo of a "Curtiss Shrike" in Australian markings on page 84 of Aircraft of the RAAF 1921-78, by Pentland and Malone, and it's definitely an A-25, rather than an A-18.

#5 acresearcher

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Posted 14 May 2017 - 04:46 PM

If one wishes to see how the A-18 would have fared in combat, you need look no further than the Bristol Blenheim. Had the A-18 gone to war it could have easily been nicknamed "Target", "Ace-Maker", etc. 

 

The A-18 was completely unsuited to the needs of modern combat. It carried a pitifully small combat load of bombs and had a gun armament that MIGHT have been adequate for WWI but was not even close to the needs shown in WWII, had little armor and generally lacked the needed range. This was even clear to the Air Corps. It did, however, provide enough information from testing to aid in the future requests for proposals that resulted in the A-20 and its competitors like the Stearman X-100/XA-21, the NA-40 - which, of course, ultimately morphed in the immortal B-25 - and the Martin 167. A quick comparison of these aircraft will show them all be substantially bigger, heavier, able to carry a larger bomb load farther and at least as fast if not faster. Of these, I would say the Martin 167 was probably the closest in comparison to the A-18 - and not good enough for the Air Corps. 

 

Interestingly, the A-14/18 had one additional and seldom-mentioned drawback - it was so tall that it was extremely difficult for the crew to mount the beast! That may have been one reason that American attack and medium bombers quickly moved to tricycle landing gear. 

 

I hope this is helpful. While fanciful statements along the lines of "I would have liked to have seen it in combat." are interesting, the inability to do the job and subsequent losses of brave, trained aircrew would have been a tragedy.

 

AlanG



#6 flying kiwi

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Posted 15 May 2017 - 09:53 PM

I agree with acresearcher. This plane was no Beaufighter and no Lightning. It wasn't even a Blenheim, which did provide some useful service. It would have resulted in more waste of young lives than what happened anyway. I suspect the Axis would really have loved to see it in combat.

#7 GregP

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 12:54 AM

Well. the Avro Manchester didn't set anyone's heart on fire, either. But when re-done as a 4-engine bomber, the Lancaster was a winner.

 

The Shrike was NOT going to be a good one going to war in WWII, but a development of it could have been a good one in a "what-if" scenario. I generally don't like those, but some redesign, in this case, might have produced an interesting aircraft. Still, the Shrike, as built, would absolutely have been a good target practice device for friend or enemy.

 

The thing is, when the Shrike was built, they didn't KNOW that since the "modern" Bf  109 / Spitfire  - I-16 weren't really around and known yet, so it was a good effort on the part of Curtiss.



#8 flying kiwi

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 08:20 AM

There were a lot of planes developed in the early/mid 30s that were overtaken by advances before they could ever enter service. I'd put the Shrike in this category, along with the Blackburn Roc. If the designers had started a year later, it may have been something totally different.
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#9 bearoutwest

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Posted 16 May 2017 - 11:43 PM

If you take the YA-14/YA-18 as originally designed in 1934, and transplant it into 1940 then it's performance and armament for an attack bomber is not out of place.  A 500-lb bomb load and a single cannon (in the YA-18) with a number of light machine-guns is similar to the French Br693 series.  Though the YA-18 would be somewhat slower than the Br693.  The Bristol Blenheim only had a 1000-lb bomb load.

 

If you place the YA-18 over France in 1940, into the teeth of the German flak and fighter cover over the Sedan and the Meuse bridgeheads, then as @Aceresearcher and @Flying Kiwi have commented, these YA-18s would have been slaughtered......as were the Fairey Battles, the Blenheims, the LeO-451, the Bre693 (and probably even later Typhoons, Thunderbolts & B-25, etc.....and probably anything less protected than a modern A-10).  The situation involved the no-win scenario of flying into a wall of well-established flak positions and wall-to-wall fighter coverage.

 

The question I'd like to see answered is "if" the YA-14 (and/or it's YA-18 "cousin") had been used in squadron numbers, what would have developed from it in the years from 1934 to 1940?  The Blenheim influenced the design of the Beaufort (no, I didn't say the Beaufort was developed from the Blenheim, merely influenced), which then went on to be cut-and-pasted into the Beaufighter.  The years 1934-1938 were very significant in engine design, and fighter/bomber evolution.  We went from the I-16 style of aircraft to the Bf109/Hurricane/Spitfire style. How could a YA-14/YA-18 influence the future design of Curtiss attack aircraft?

 

...geoff

 



#10 Romantic Technofreak

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Posted 18 May 2017 - 06:19 AM

I have seen most of my very old links now are dead now. But this was written in a time when Wikipedia was not as developed as it is now, so anybody can inform himself there (I did not look but am sure there must be a good article about the A-14/A-18).

 

Remember even the later versions were delivered already in 1937. So all comparisons to active WWII aircraft go wrong. Also, the "A" designation leads to see it as attacker. A troublesome task for an unarmoured aircraft. The Bf 110 did not only fail as long-range escort fighter, it also suffered heavy losses in the ground attack role, being unarmoured as well.

 

So better consider the A-14/A-18 in a role where it could fare in advantage. What if (sorry Greg, I didn't know that you don't appreciate that much) it had been delivered to Spain? What if to China? As fast reconnoisater? Places where the opponent used Heinkel He 70 and Mitsubishi Ki-15 in the same role, but these being single-engined aircraft with their limited capacities?

 

Mosquito-style harassment bombings and long-range escort could have been other promising roles, the latter at a point of time when no other air force had an aicraft to perform this. For aerial combat, it could have been tested how it had stood against P-35 and P-36.

 

The A-18 did not have more than 930 hp engines. Theoretical successors of it during WWII could have buzzed around with engines of 1.600 hp each, like the Beaufighter, thus being able to carry the same military equipment and payload, so that would have been a fair comparison.

 

Regards, RT






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