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Bugatti 100P Rebuilt: The Plane That Could've Turned the Battle of Britain 353

Posted by samzenpus
from the blast-from-the-past dept.
concertina226 writes "A team of engineers is working together to recreate the Bugatti Veyron (or Bugatti 100P), an art deco-era fighter plane designed for World War II that would have broken the air speed record in 1940 — only the plane was never flown. Featuring forward pitched wings, a zero-drag cooling system and automated flight control assistance, plane was capable of reaching an air speed of 500mph, which would have made it the fastest and most advanced plane of its time."
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Bugatti 100P Rebuilt: The Plane That Could've Turned the Battle of Britain

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  • Sensationalist (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:00PM (#46388171)

    From TFU:

    "The Bugatti 100P was not ready in time for the September 1939 deadline to enter the Coupe Deutsch aircraft race, ... If the Germans had been able to get hold of the Bugatti, it is believed that the plane could have outperformed the British Supermarine Spitfire planes during the Battle of Britain."

    Incredible how unrealistic/sensationalist how people can be. The prototype was not ready in Sept 39, it was hidden in France and hence can only be found there by the Germans after May 1940 and still it is assumed to take part in the Battle of Britain on the summer of 1940? And according to the title it is even supposed to win the war at that time???

  • Re:Engines (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:05PM (#46388211) Journal

    There are a lot of "coulds" in this article.

    Saying it would be a match for the Spitfire is probably wishful thinking - just because it can go fast in a race doesn't mean you can mount weapons on it and still have it go as fast. It also may have handling issues that requires very high pilot skill to land and take off - and you have to remember that in WWII pilots were let loose on Spitfires and the like with relatively low hours. There may also be other problems that would surface (which is possibly why they don't want to go over 200 mph with the replica) such as it may suffer from flutter at high speeds; flutter will destroy an airframe in seconds.

  • by dbc (135354) on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:06PM (#46388221)

    Interesting question. "Computers" as we think of them today, were built using vacuum tube logic at that time. I'm not sure when miniature tubes came into being, but I think they are post-war. Vacuum tubes have reliability problems, dislike vibration, generate a lot of waste heat, and consume huge amounts of power. Not really good choices for a fighter aircraft. In any case, if it were a vacuum tube computer, it would have been an analog computer, no doubt. But, recall that at the time, the term "computer" was used to refer to all different kinds of mechanical computers. Battleship targetting computers, for instance, were marvels of mechanical design and intricate gearworks. Perhaps there was some kind of analog computation done with a gear box.

  • Re:Two things (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 03, 2014 @01:55PM (#46388599)

    Forward swept wings are prone to static aerolastic divergence at lower speeds than aft swept, and this can become a wing design driver. For an aft swept wing, aileron reversal can become your headache. The dynamic aerelastic stability (aka flutter) concequences I can't comment on (at least without digging through references or asking a colleague).

    If I remember correctly, the X-29 was inherrently longitudinally unstable, but that was a design decision. Although the geometry of the fwd swept wing makes it a little difficult, the wing could simple have been attached further aft to make the rigid body mode stable (the key relationship in the RB stability is the relative position b/n the aerodynamic center (AC) and the CG.

  • Re:Not a Nazi Plane (Score:4, Interesting)

    by HornWumpus (783565) on Monday March 03, 2014 @02:37PM (#46388951)

    If you have the faster aircraft, you don't engage in a furball. See also e-fighting.

    The faster aircraft makes a series of high speed passes connected by half loops (to conserve energy) until it has shot down the slow tight turner. If at any point that stops working (e.g. two more slow airplanes showup) the faster plane can bug out.

    The faster flying/climbing plane will win 90% of 'dog fights' (sans missiles). Of course that assumes equally trained pilots.

  • Re:Already Lost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cavreader (1903280) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:25PM (#46389365)

    The P-51 also shot down quite a few ME 262's because the tactics and maneuverability limitations made the ME 262's predictable. They brought overwhelming speed to the fight but little else. The P-51's even downed a few Russian Migs at the beginning of the Korean war before the US fielded jet fighters in any numbers.

  • Re:Already Lost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by imikem (767509) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:45PM (#46389529) Homepage

    And it also helped that the Luftwaffe was just about out of skilled pilots, chronically short of fuel, lacking in materials for the jet engines, etc. A case of "plenty good enough" combined with every other advantage except nose to nose superiority.

    Note however that GP's post was wrong in ignoring the fact that the ME-262 also brought serious stooping power to the fight with FOUR 30mm cannon, along with rockets. You really, really did not want to be in front of one of these.

  • Re:Already Lost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by PapayaSF (721268) on Monday March 03, 2014 @03:53PM (#46389613) Journal

    Superb aircraft.

    Oh, indeed. And the story of its origin is wonderful. [wikipedia.org] In 1940 the British wanted North American Aviation to produce Curtiss P-40 Warhawks under license, but NAA thought they could make a better aircraft faster. And the first P-51 rolled out 102 days after the contract was signed, and first flew 47 days after that. It took a few years of upgrades and revsions to turn it into the best piston-engined fighter of the war, but compare that initial design and development cycle to the years and even decades it takes to get anything built these days.

    Interesting tech note: the P-51's distinctive radiator/oil cooler actually added speed to the plane: cool air came in the front, and the hot air exiting the back added some jet-like thrust.

  • Re:Already Lost (Score:4, Interesting)

    by OneAhead (1495535) on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:10PM (#46389743)

    And yet, they succeeded to launch over 3,000 strategically ineffective V-2s, which were complex to build, expensive, and used materials and chemical production capacity that could have been put to "better" use. Freeman Dyson famously said "the V-2 program was almost as good as if Hitler had adopted a policy of unilateral disarmament [wikipedia.org]", and according to Albert Speer [wikipedia.org], if Germany would have steered the V-2 research more towards development of their radar-guided SAMs, and used the resources made available by doing so (as well as by scrapping the V-1s) to build more Me 262s, it might have been able to prevent the allies from gaining air superiority over its territory and bombing its military production capacity into pieces. This in turn would have made it much harder for the allies to waltz through Germany. Even then, there's no way the Germans alone could have won against most of the rest of the world, but they might have been able to make the battle for Germany expensive enough to negotiate more favorable conditions for surrender, or perhaps even an armistice. (Assuming they also succeeded to keep airplane-dropped nukes out through military or diplomatic means.)

    Its seems like the world has to thank Hitler's maniacal obsession with offensive strategy, tactics and weaponry for the relative quick ending of fighting in Europe.

  • Re:Already Lost (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Ol Olsoc (1175323) on Monday March 03, 2014 @04:58PM (#46390237)

    Its seems like the world has to thank Hitler's maniacal obsession with offensive strategy, tactics and weaponry for the relative quick ending of fighting in Europe.

    One of the oddest things we see when we get into these conversations is that way too many people seem to think "If Hitler had done this, the Nazi's would have won the war."

    Its as if the Allies were somehow not capable of any innovation, and would just stood still for the superior German technology to tear them apart. Not too many seem to acknowledge that the Allies were developing jet fighters also.

    Britain had the Gloster Meteor and de Havilland Vampire. The US had the Lockheed P-80, (eventually the F-80) which had come close to being deployed in the war, some were in Europe right before VE day.

    Point is, resources won the war. If the war had continued, the Allies would have been able to counter the ME262 in short order - the first P-80's were designed and built in 143 days. War makes for fast evolution of fighting machines, and the Germans were not the only smart people.

    Any air superiority the Nazis would have gained using an air force of jets would have been quickly lost as the Allies could have swamped the ME262's, with jet fighters of their own. A longer war perhaps, but similar results.

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