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  #1  
Old 4th November 2014, 13:46
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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North American NA 16-15?

One option offered to Finnish Air Force (FAF) in their purchase competion of 1936 was North American NA 16-15 (or NA-50?, in USA P-64?). It was mentioned to be reasonably fast (430 - 440 kph at 3000-4000 meters) and it would not have been expensive (it was cheaper than the chosen Fokker D XXI with fixed landing gear and slower speed).

However, I wonder if NA 16-15 was just a paper plane in 1936/1937 because wikipedia suggests that the maiden flight of this type was made as late as in May 1939. Here a wiki entry related to NA 16-15: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_P-64 . IIRC, Peruvian Air Force used this fighter in Peruvian-Ecuadorian war in 1941.

As a base to this fighter served the North American NA-16 trainer plane and this is what wiki tells about it: "NA-16 evolved into a series of aircraft that were some of the most widely used advanced and basic training aircraft produced by any country, and provided the basic design for a single-engined fighter intended for small countries that needed a simple aircraft with modern capabilities and features."

The wiki description of NA 16-15 seems to indicate that it would have been a ideal choice for Finnish Air Force and perhaps also for Polish Air Force to modernize their fighter force with reasonable plane and reasonable price before WW2.

The NA 16-15 with max speed of 430/440 kph was maybe not the cutting edge of aviation technology by 1939, but the truth is that most small or medium-sized European countries had very slim chances to have Spitfires or Bf 109 E´s or any planes comparable to them by 1939. The very top technology was not in sale for lesser countries and their defense budgets were limited.

The Polish tried to build a modern monoplane fighter PZL 50, but unarmed prototype was ready only by spring 1939 and it could not make more than 430 kph. Hawk 75 was a flying machine and decent airframe by 1937/1939 standards, but it was quite expensive. And the orders of Hawk 75 should have been placed well before the French placed their big orders, otherwise Hawks would not have arrived to Finland/Poland in due time. Taking this in account NA 16-15 would perhaps been reasonable choice in second half of 1930´s to modernize fighter forces of air forces of small or medium-sized countries. Specially if there was an option for license build it (both Poland and Finland had their own aircraft industry).

But would NA 16-15 have been really available and delivered in time with considerable numbers for Polish Air Force or Finnish Air Force before the outbreak of war? If it just a "paper plane" on drawing board in 1936, then NA-16-15 would have arrived too late to Poland or Finland to take part in WW2 / Winter War.
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Old 4th November 2014, 17:08
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

The original NA-16 design was offered for export sales in five basic variants, the single seat fighter being the NA-16-5. Individual sales were then initially noted by an alphabetical suffix eg NA-16-4P, before being allocated a North American charge number for production. I don't recall ever seeing mention of any NA-16-x designation above 5.

Certainly North American agreed with your thoughts on its prospects, but no single-seater was built before the NA-50s, which Dan Hagedorn describes as a development of the NA-16-5. It would certainly have been a paper project in 1936, though not one that would have taken too long to realise. However, the quoted speed appears to be optimistic, as this would have probably been a fixed undercarriage design at this date. Either that, or we do need to slip the delivery dates a little.
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Old 4th November 2014, 18:19
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

Hmmm

What was a NA16-15? There is no such charge number and as far as I am aware no such North American designation either. They reached NA16-5 if I read my sources correctly.

I doubt very much that either Poland or Finland would have been interested in the NA50/NA68 contraption. Sweden was looking just as much for fighters back then than both those countries. Since we chose the Seversky fighter, finland could have done the same but they settled for the Brewster. Since Poland was allied to Britain at the time they had already chosen British fighters.

The Polish PZL P.50/I had already clocked 500 km/h during a test flight and that was an interim design only. I believe they would have opted for the P.50/II design which was much more advanced, but as history shows it was too late anyway.

Cheers
Stig
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Old 10th November 2014, 15:29
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

According to documentation of aircraft purchase offer documentation of Finnish Air Force in 1936 there was such as North American NA 16-15 offered to Finnish Air Force, but likely it did mean some other NA model (5?). Anyway it was considered seriously for promising price/quality -basis (we talk of year 1936!).

Probably being a "paper plane" it was rejected in favour of Fokker D XXI, which was already available and there were good relationships of Fokker company, which was considered as reliable firm. During those days the retractable landing gear was also considered less reliable than the fixed one for the rough Finnish airfields. In Winter War Fokker did indeed prove to be able to consider from rough frozen lake bases and Finnish mechanics found it easy and simple to maintain. Also for license-building Finnish raw materials could be used. One reason mentioned why NA 16-?? was rejected is that there was no option to arm it with cannons, which was possible for Fokker. However when 20 mm cannons of single cannon-armed Fokker D XXI were tested in Winter War they were found so unreliable that they were soon replaced by machine guns - so Finns bought a more expensive and slower fighter for an cannon option which proved to be worthless!

When it comes to Seversky P-35, it was also considered but too late. There were also some problems like getting a license building option for it.

Brewster was adquired during Winter War for the simple reason that it was one of the very few modern fighter on offer to Finns during Winter War. The Brewster were bought for the Winter War, but they came too late to participate significantly in it. Brewster proved to be the best fighter of Finnish Air Force until Bf 109 G´s were bought from Germany in 1943.

The Polish project PZL 50/I - to my knowledge the prototype achieved only 430 kph and failed to meet the target of 500 kph. Poles had big problems to find suitable engine for their modern fighter and the project suffered of various delays - and resources were wasted in other ideas like failed PZL 38 project. Thus Poles remained with old PZL P 11 and P 7 as "modernizing" with slightly better PZL P 24 was not considered an effort good enough.
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Old 22nd November 2014, 17:33
Stig Jarlevik Stig Jarlevik is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

Well, I would be interested to see any NA document which refers to the NA16-15 since the books I have read does not mention it even as a project.

With regard to the PZL 50/I my reference is J Cynk who, in the Putnam book, states that initially the performance was very disappointing with a top speed of 442 km/h being reached. However he continues and says that in August 1939 (after the engine had received a larger carburettor intake) it exceeded 500 km/h in level flight.

Cheers
Stig
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Old 25th November 2014, 14:04
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

I have tried to find from Finnish sources what NA 16-15 might possible have been, if such plane is nonexistent in North American company history. So far I have not result. It may well be it was based on some NA 16 model existing in 1936, but for export purpose there was a designation "16-15" (export version of some NA 16-? like Hawk 75 was of P-36). When I find the possible answer, I will post it here.

Another mystery plane offered to Finnish Air Force in late 1930´s was "Bellanca fighter". What it might have been? Bellanca 28-90?
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Old 3rd February 2015, 16:16
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

Mystery solved: NA-16-15 offered to Finnish Air Force in 1936 was indeed NA-16-5 as a single seat fighter version, equipped with Cyclone G-2 engine giving 840 hp at 1750 meters and armed with 4 x 7,62 mm or 2 x 12,7 mm machine guns in North American offer specification.

The promised performance in terms of max. speed:
364 km/h at sea level, 424 km/h at 3000 m - 439 km/h at 4000 m - 450 km/h at 5000 m.

Climb of rate: 6,65 minutes to 6000 meters (2000 meters approx. 2 minutes)

Other data: empty load 1540 kg and flight load 2060 kg, wing load 100 kg /m2, service ceiling 10 100 meters, no limits to diving speed, fuel capacity 250 liters.

+ reliable radio equipment.

+ reasonably cheap price (cheaper and clearly better performance at least on the paper than the chosen Fokker D XXI)

For a fighter plane of the year 1936 looks quite good on the paper. Maybe too good to be true? And would there have been about 40 NA-16-15´s with promised performance available for Finnish Air Force at the eve of Winter War (Nov. 1939) as there were Fokker D XXI´s?
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Old 3rd February 2015, 22:49
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

Yes it looks good, but remember that promises in 1936 only mean deliveries in 1938, when it wouldn't look quite so good. Hagedorn quotes the NA-50 first delivered in March 1939 at 295mph at 9.500 ft, which is indeed quite good - if ever proven. The P-64 with a slightly more powerful engine, cannon and retractable undercarriage, is only credited with 270mph at 8,700ft. The NA 50 only had 2x0.303 machine guns. It was delivered only seven months after the order in August 1938, but NA had much more experience in building the aircraft, a flowing production line, and an extra two years to work up details of the design. Up to four forward firing guns was a capability of all NA 16 variants (at least theoretically if not practically) but this was rarely if ever carried.

There is however the political matter: would NA have been able to get permission from the then-isolationist US State Department to sell fighters to Finland? There was considerable fuss within the US over the sale of combat aircraft to their long-time ally France.

Looking further at the P-64, it has an empty weight of 4,660lb, a normal loaded weight of 5,990lb, and a maximum weight of 6,800lb. The cannon and retractable undercarriage would add weight, but it still makes those quoted for the NA 16-5 appear optimistic.

Looking at the D 21, it's top speed is only 9mph slower than that projected for the NA 16-5., and a service ceiling of 36,010ft. It doesn't seem that bad a deal.
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Old 4th February 2015, 16:43
GuerraCivil GuerraCivil is offline
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Re: North American NA 16-15?

On paper NA-16-5 promises were in all aspects clearly better than Fokker D XXI - Finnish version with Mercury engine made it at most 418 km/h at 5000 meters. Wingload was heavier than that of NA-16-5 "paper fighter". Fokker D XXI was considered too stiff plane for dogfights against Soviet I-16 and I-153 planes - in some tests it was found out that even Blenheim Mk I bomber could make a turn more quickly than the poor Fokker! As a general rule dogfights were thus avoided and Fokkers concentrated on SB and DB bombers which were sometimes difficult to catch with Fokker´s speed.

And not to speak of nonexistent self-sealing tanks and armour plate - luxuries which would have made the already stiff plane even more heavy and clumsy.

But on the other hand it was a simple and easy-to-maintain plane, which adapted well to the small Finnish airfields and frozen lakes. In 1936 it was available as a really flying plane and the license-building option in Finland was quite cheap when Finnish raw materials could be used for construction.

Most of the about 40 Fokkers fighters available at the eve of Winter War were Finnish-built aircraft and in a way Fokker D XXI was more a Finnish than Dutch plane (most of the Fokker D XXI´s of world have been built in Finland + most of type´s combat service in Finland). And despite type´s shortcomings Fokker pilots claimed in Winter War about 120 air victories - so maybe not so bad after all.
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