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Why Is/Was the Wildcat So Ugly?


Bearfoot
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I'm sure it will grow on me. Many a/c that I used to consider ugly I now see as beautiful as I understood the functionality that drove the aesthetics, or it otherwise just grew on me over time like a loyal dog (E.g., I now consider the P-51D quite pretty, but there was a time I just didn't care for its looks).

 

Sooooo, what's the design theory behind the Wildcat's fat/tubbiness? It looks like the Navy took a plane a 5-year old put together by jamming a ruler through a barrel, stuck an engine on it and said to its pilots, "here you go".

 

Was the tubbiness/squatness a design constraint/feature? Perhaps to accommodate for restricted spaces on carriers?

 

Or was it just historical accident from its design predecessors of a different era? 

Edited by Bearfoot
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F/JG300_Gruber

LOL

 

I'm siding with Bearcat on this one ! :biggrin:

 

Never understood how people could find any trace of prettyness in the tubbiness of those planes (I include the P47 along with it)

 

 

 

And also, why do you need to start funny threads I want to F5 when it's 1:30AM and I need some sleep ??? :P 

Edited by F/JG300_Gruber
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ShamrockOneFive

To understand the F4F... You need to understand the F3F and the earlier aircraft in the series.

 

F3F-1_4-F-7_Jax.jpg

 

The F4F Wildcat was a monoplane development of the F3F. You can definitely see the progression of the design between the FF, F2F, F3F, F4F and even onwards from that through the F6F Hellcat and F8F Bearcat.

 

I don't actually know why the design was put together that way but I'm going to guess that its a combination of factors including being an easy way to shape a fuselage from a large radial engine and in order to make the airframe sturdy enough to handle carrier landings.

 

It takes a bit but the US Navy fighter designs are powerful and rugged aircraft. They aren't beautiful they are purpose built to be very tough and capable of withstanding difficult operations at sea.

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Tbh, I don't find any of the American planes particular attractive with the exception of maybe the B-25, P-40, and the F4U. I always thought the P-51D was rather ugly due to the air intake and exhaust at the bottom of the plane lol

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big ass radial engine up front right? that takes care of the nose. The rest, well......

 

the funny thing is the gear was manually cranked up so apparently all the Wildcats did a few jinks on take off as the pilots cranked and cranked. I expect to see that too! lol

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II/JG17_HerrMurf

She has a relatively large engine up front with a slightly complex hand cranked landing gear hanging underneath. The pilot sits relatively high to have a good view for approaches to carrier traps. There is a VERY large armored plate which covers it all behind the pilot. Everything else flows from those elements. She is sweet tubby goodness!

Edited by II/JG17_HerrMurf
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

I find aircraft like the Wildcat to be the most beautiful.

 

The P-47, B-24, F4F, and F6F are my favorite aircraft and the ones I find to be the best looking. Beauty is just a matter of opinion.

Edited by Legioneod
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

 

... Beauty is just a matter of opinion.

 

No doubt. Never suggested otherwise.

 

And, of course, form follows function.

 

I just wanted to know exactly function justified such tubby form ;)

Edited by Bearfoot
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My significant other thinks the I-16 is "cute" - barrel shape and big round "face" = "baby" in her mind. I am sure she would see the Wildcat in the same light.

 

Perhaps the designers were influenced by their wives?

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I've never been a big fan of the U.S. Planes from an aesthetic point of view ( I do love the b17 though) but you can't help but admire some of the design philosophy. They just designed the plane around the engine, I like that.

 

I know we all keep going back to the old days of il21946 but the most fun I had in that game was the pacific, the wildcat being a good start then getting into the sexiness of the corsair. I'm really looking forward to the pacific in this engine

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Maybe because it reminds me of a wind-up toy plane in its proportions? ;)

 

s-l300.jpg

 

But as I noted above, I am interested in the function/design principles behind the form, whether or not you think the form is beautiful or ugly ...

Edited by Bearfoot
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Some of the looks come from the Grumman type retractable main landing gear, obviously the simple mechanism wouldn't fit into a low decker and it did require some volume in the fuselage. Additionally, a good vision over the nose and a low landing speed (large wing) were important for carrier landings.

 

I'd say a P-36 is what could be considered a good looking aircraft at the time, using the same / a similar engine.

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When I was  a student, there were a couple of jokes being passed around one of them was "What's the best position to place a canard control surface?" The answer : "On somebody else's airplane!" The other was "Do you know what characterizes American aerodynamics?" Answer: "Add more power!"

 

I think the Wildcat is a product of the latter. ;)

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F/JG300_Gruber

When I was  a student, there were a couple of jokes being passed around one of them was "What's the best position to place a canard control surface?" The answer : "On somebody else's airplane!" The other was "Do you know what characterizes American aerodynamics?" Answer: "Add more power!"

 

I think the Wildcat is a product of the latter. ;)

 

:biggrin: 

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Wildcat :biggrin: Looks like an extended beer barrel. But like somebody explained earlier, its desgin is influenced but its earlier "variants". BTW. Mustang isnt ugly for me and my fav us plane is P47.

Edited by blackram
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It looks like the Navy took a plane a 5-year old put together by jamming a ruler through a barrel, stuck an engine on it and said to its pilots, "here you go".

Agreed.

 

This one does not appeal to me whatsoever.

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I like it - it is charming in a cartoonish, ugly duckling sort of way. Leave it in a hanger alone for a year to grow up and a Hellcat will appear.

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There are a few aircraft that are genuinely beautiful, many that derive passable good looks from their functionality, and some which are just plain ugly - I'd put the Wildcat somewhere in the middle.

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elny7.jpg

 

It's form follows it's function.  Oh, and yeah, that's me, several years ago.

 

Also remember that the F4F was originally designed as a biplane, but was quickly changed to a monoplane configuration as it became apparent that the biplane's future in military aviation was over.

 

Carrier aircraft in the piston engined era were a gigantic compromise between performance and durability, and durability came first in that equation because, well, the sea is a harsh mistress. 

 

The few land based fighters that were converted for carrier use, Seafire, Sea Hurri, and the un-needed Bf109 T, were, or would have been in the case of the Messer, not good at the job, to put it politely.

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=362nd_FS=Hiromachi

 

 

Oh, and yeah, that's me, several years ago.

Did you get any younger since than ? ;) 

 

Also, I still wonder about rear visibility, from this picture it seems one can really look behind though there isnt much room under that canopy (seems a bit cramped), but that would make it whole world better than Corsair. 

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VA_SOLIDKREATE

Wild vs. Zeke in the upcoming Battle of Midway expansion.  CANNOT WAIT! I have a ton of historical reference concerning markings and paint schemes.

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This was large part of what stopped me from learning more on PTO - all Naval planes were so similar and brutish (short barrel-like fuselage, stubby wings, big radial) they are hard to tell apart, with F4U and P-47 looking like even more variants from that template :).

 

According to people in this thread:

http://forum.il2sturmovik.com/topic/25185-ok-sell-me-pacific-theatre-planes/?p=389310

A lot of design similarities come from need to fit the planes on the carrier, ease of maintenance and interchangability of spares.

Edited by Trupobaw
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This was large part of what stopped me from learning more on PTO - all Naval planes were so similar and brutish (short barrel-like fuselage, stubby wings, big radial) they are hard to tell apart, with F4U and P-47 looking like even more variants from that template :).

 

Really, only aircraft from the same series look similar, F4F, F6F, and F8F.  They look completely different from aircraft like the F4U Corsair, or the Zero.  If I didn't know the Western/Eastern fronts as well as I do, I could say the same thing about the P-40 and P-51, or any of the 109's with any other 109, etc.

 

They say that all black labs look the same until you have a black lab yourself.  It's a matter of your own familiarity.

Edited by CF-105
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There are a few aircraft that are genuinely beautiful, many that derive passable good looks from their functionality, and some which are just plain ugly - I'd put the Wildcat somewhere in the middle.

The Zeke is truly beautiful. Watch one fly in person and you will fall in love. :)

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Really, only aircraft from the same series look similar, F4F, F6F, and F8F.  They look completely different from aircraft like the F4U Corsair, or the Zero.  If I didn't know the Western/Eastern fronts as well as I do, I could say the same thing about the P-40 and P-51, or any of the 109's with any other 109, etc.

 

They say that all black labs look the same until you have a black lab yourself.  It's a matter of your own familiarity.

 

Yep, what s/he said.

 

The Corsair and Zero have big radials, but that's about the end of the similarity with fhe F4F/F6F/etc. series. And both are, IMHO, among the most beautiful aircraft to fly. In WW2 or otherwise! The Corsair is a robust, handsome, powerful, muscular beauty, like a Destrier. While the Zero is a sleek, elegant, racing beauty, like a Thoroughbred. 

Edited by Bearfoot
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The design is based around the power plant, and Navy aircraft need to be stronger than land based aircraft, undercarriage is a chapter by it self and delayed readiness for the corsair among others. 

It is a product of development and how things was seen at time it was drawed.

The development of the F6 was the same, but with bigger engine and wider undercarriage placed on the wing. And probably the most successful naval aircraft in the war

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The development of the F6 was the same ... And probably the most successful naval aircraft in the war

 

Though in this it is more difficult than usual to separate the performance of the a/c from the performance of the pilots in this success, as for most of its service life, was there not massive disparity in training/competence/experience of the USN pilots vs the IJN, the latter having irreplaceably lost the flower of its fighter corp in the early part of the war?

Edited by Bearfoot
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Tbh, I don't find any of the American planes particular attractive with the exception of maybe the B-25, P-40, and the F4U. I always thought the P-51D was rather ugly due to the air intake and exhaust at the bottom of the plane lol

The P-51 is by far my favorite WWII A/C. It was the second model plane I ever built as a kid. I had no idea what a Mustang was then other than it was a model kit. But it looked pretty cool to me when it was done. I think the belly scoop accentuates its appearance. It blends so well the the rest of the fuselage, not just stuck on it for functionality. I love the Mc.202 and Mc.205 family too. They are both beautiful fighters but how much better would they have looked with a sculpted radiator and air scoop instead of the square edged monstrosities that were grafted onto both of them?  

 

The F4F ain't beautiful, but it did its job pretty well. The U.S. Navy was lucky to have it in service when it did. Had Japan stuck in 1940, the air war in the Pacific would have been far different.  

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