THREE basic ways in which naval aviation can assist the battle fleet to attain victory are stated, and the aircraft are classified as fighting, observation, torpedo and bombing, and patrol planes. The primary and secondary uses of the types are set forth, and, since their tactical employment controls the features of their design, a brief sketch is given of the tactical considerations of fleet air-work.
The development of naval aircraft to date and the trend of future development are then described. As naval fighting planes must be carried on the ships of the fleet and must have the utmost possible performance and service ceiling compatible with low landing-speed, their size and weight have been reduced by the use of air-cooled radial engines and the intelligent employment of light alloys and ingenious detailed construction. The latest development in this class is a single-seater designed around the Wasp 500-hp. engine and equipped with a supercharger. It is light but is designed to carry a considerable load of bombs.
In the two-seater class the Corsair has been developed around the Wasp engine as a general-purpose machine. As a landplane it was adopted for airplane-carrier use in scouting squadrons. Now it is made readily convertible for use as a seaplane by the installation of a float, and as an amphibian by the attachment of retractible landing-wheels.
Through their use for a multiplicity of purposes, the former torpedo and bombing planes grew too large and a complete right-about-face was necessary. The problem was solved by the development of the Hornet and Cyclone 525-hp. air-cooled engines and the use of light alloys. The present Martin bomber is lighter by more than a ton than its immediate predecessor, has greatly improved performance and has flying qualities approaching those of the lighter craft.
Patrol planes also have gone through an evolution and now have metal hulls and wings and are built around the Cyclone and Hornet engines. They have recently established a large number of seaplane records. It seems desirable now to begin to redesign the airplane structure, with the purpose of making the patrol airplane as small as possible consistent with seaworthiness, long range, habitability for the crew, and offensive characteristics.
At the meeting, the author supplemented his paper by running comment on the lantern slides as they were shown. As printed herewith, this points out notable features of the four types of airplane for service with the fleets and the latest developments in them. All are air-cooled and are highly satisfactory for their various specialized services.
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Edward P. Warner, in the discussion, points out that in rating naval aircraft many considerations must be taken into account and everything else cannot be sacrificed to performance. Loads that must be carried, visibility from and comfort in the cockpit, and ease of maintenance are of great importance. Differences that exist between countries in their political, strategic and geographic situations must be considered in design. Therefore, battle tactics that influence design are not only general but may be highly specialized.