While the existence of the Typhoon, larger and faster brother of the Hurricane, was revealed this spring, there still has been very little extra data available as to just what the plane can do. With the new 2,400-hp Napier Sabre engine, a 24-cylinder H-type liquid-cooled engine, the plane's top speed is said to be well in excess of 400 mph, while it is armed with the largest number of cannon and machine guns ever carried on a single-engine airplane.
The Axis has shown up with some new wrinkles to an old theme too, a new version of the Me-109, the type G, was seen at the Russian front and shot down intact. It now has a 1,700-hp liquid-cooled engine, but heavier armament and armor around pilot and fuel tanks brought the top speed down to around 335 mph. An improved FW-190 has also been reported from England, but as yet has not been observed in large-scale action.
In the bomber field, the Germans have been playing around with a number of high-altitude and performance planes, notably the four-engine, twin-propellered Heinkel bomber, which they claim has the same bomb load as the Stirling, but up till now has stayed away from British defenses. The other plane is a revised Ju-86 with pressure cabin, which can operate at about 40,000 ft. The answer to this plane is coming off our production lines in the form of the P-47, which was designed for high altitude, not modified.
The Italians, feeling rather unhappy with their 1930-vintage biplanes, have been using the new Macchi 202 fighter illustrated in our September issue, which is said to give them back a little of their flair for flying. The light armament has made these planes an easy prey for Allied fighters, though.
A general survey made by Peter Masefield in England gave the Allies by far the best set of planes as far as heavy equipment, fighters and general utility planes are concerned. Only two Axis planes are mentioned in the line-up, the Do-217E-2 as the best medium bomber and the Italian Savoia SM-84 or 94 as the best land-based torpedo plane. The new British and American planes now coming off the lines, combined with bigger and better guns and bombs like the recent four-ton blockbuster used by the RAF, should place us in a position to add measurably to the Axis' discomfort. As interesting as some of Mr Masefield's candidates were some of his omissions — outstanding of which were the B-17 and B-24.
Details have at last been released about the Short Stirling heavy bomber, mainstay of the first large-scale British air offensive against Germany. Appearing in a recent issue of the Aeroplane is a set of impressions about this leviathan by one who should know, the late Capt F D Bradbrooke, just released although written some 20 months ago, before he was lost in takeoff on his way across the Atlantic.
Capt Bradbrooke was in charge of ferrying the Stirlings from plant to base fields and as such became closely familiar with them. The final summing up of this plane's qualities is a masterpiece in itself:
“The answer must be, and is, that this aeroplane really flies itself, subject to adjustments by the mighty atom in the nose, who has the cards distinctly stacked in his favor. His muscular control is nominal only, but by good design these tons of metal are made intimately subject to some 6,000 hp at his finger tips. Let nobody say we have made no progress in aeronautical science, for this control business is a miracle by itself. Anyway it gives the atom a mighty nice feeling."
Specifications of the Short S-29, or Stirling I, equipped with four Bristol Hercules VI motors, totaling 6,400 hp, are as follows: span 99', length 87', height 22' 9", empty weight 46,000 lb, gross weight (normal) 70,000 lb, maximum bomb load 17,000 lb. Maximum speed over 265 mph at 14,000 ft, and range over 2,000 mi at 225 mph plus.
This article was originally published as part of the "Aviation Abroad" column in the November, 1942, issue of Aviation magazine, vol 41, no 11, p 261.