• Hi Guest!

    The costs of running this forum are covered by Sea Lion Press. If you'd like to help support the company and the forum, visit patreon.com/sealionpress

What if, the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 jet-propelled fighter flying boat

lordroel

Active member
#1
What if, the Saunders-Roe SR.A/1 jet-propelled fighter flying boat

So seeing these advertisements made by the Saunders-Roe for their SR.A/1 Jet-propelled fighter flying boat i started to think, what if the RAF ore the FAA began fielded the plane.

History of the SR.A/1 Jet-propelled fighter flying boat

World War II in the Pacific presented challenges to the operation of aircraft that weren’t faced by pilots in Europe. Most notable was the fact that much of the the action took place over the open ocean, far from land bases. Large bombers possessed the necessary range for long-distance missions, but fighters did not. Japan addressed this problem by modifying the famed Mitsubishi A6M Zero by adding floats so it could operate from any smooth patch of water. However, the floats caused a considerable amount of drag and rendered the A6M2-N “Rufe” unable to tangle successfully with Allied fighters. But the idea of a waterborne fighter remained attractive, and the British firm Saunders-Roe tried to overcome the problems suffered by a float plane fighter by eliminating the floats altogether and replacing the propeller engine with a more powerful turbojet. The result was the SR.A/1, unofficially nicknamed the Squirt, the world’s first jet-powered flying boat.

Outwardly, the SR.A/1 resembled most flying boats of the era. It had a boat-like hull with a high shoulder-mounted wing, and a tail raised above the water. Where it differed significantly was in its power plant. Instead of traditional piston engines, the Squirt was powered by two turbojets housed in the fuselage and fed by a large air intake in the nose. The Metropolitan-Vickers Beryl turbojets were the first to be designed with an axial flow compressor and, by the time they had been further developed and installed in the third SR.A/1 prototype, the Beryl had become one of the most powerful turbojets of its era, providing the Squirt with a top speed of 512 mph. The Squirt featured retractable outer stabilizing floats and an automatic mooring system so the pilot could dock without assistance and without getting his feet wet, as well as long beaching gear which allowed the fighter to taxi onto dry land. The single pilot was placed in an ejection seat high on the fuselage, but this severely hindered his visibility, and this deficiency was exacerbated when the clear canopy was replaced by reinforced canopy that all but eliminated rearward visibility. Though armament was never fitted, Saunders-Roe planned for four 20mm cannons in the nose and up to 1,000 pounds of bombs or rockets housed internally.

The Squirt’s maiden flight took place on July 16, 1947, and while it showed good handling for such a large, thick-winged fighter, there was one insurmountable problem: the war had ended, and there was simply no mission for a flying boat fighter. Also, production of the engines had ceased when Metrovick left the gas turbine engine business, so there were very few engines on hand. Testing of the prototypes continued, but, with no role to play, the project was eventually shelved. It was resurrected briefly in 1950 during the Korean War, but by then there was only one SR.A/1 remaining, the others having been lost to crashes, and the project was officially retired the following year. The sole remaining Squirt now resides at the Solent Sky aviation museum in Southampton.

But some ideas are hard to die, and the demise of the Squirt was not the last hurrah for a water-based jet fighter. Convair made an attempt with the F2Y Sea Dart in 1953, but, like the SR.A/1, the difficulties of flying a small jet fighter from the surface of the water, and the compromises in performance, consigned the Sea Dart to a similar fate.

Picture I



Picture II



Picture III



Picture IV

 
#2
It would have the same problem as the Harrier; namely that the runway is the simplest of your problems, and unless servicing, maintenance, rearming, refuelling and repair of battle damage are equally mobile then you haven't gained very much. Oh, and communications, operations planning and early warning. And...

Actually, when does wing- in- ground- effect become practical? Because I am now picturing a wing of these things or their successors operating with the support of a wing of logistics/transport ekranoplan functioning as a mobile airfield- which would probably be more use in the long run.
 

lordroel

Active member
#3
Actually, when does wing- in- ground- effect become practical? Because I am now picturing a wing of these things or their successors operating with the support of a wing of logistics/transport ekranoplan functioning as a mobile airfield- which would probably be more use in the long run.
That would be cool to see happening.
 

Cook

an obscure historical reference.
#4
I'm just thinking of the very limited number of sites they could operate from. Seaplanes/flying boats did not normally operate from open waters because they were usually too rough, forcing them to rely on sheltered harbours, and they can be quite limited. For instance, during WW2 there were only three sites in the Australian North West suitable for flying boats to operate from - Exmouth, Broome and Darwin. Of those, Exmouth was generally too open and rough, leaving just Broome and Darwin. So two decent sites and one quite limited site in a stretch of coastline equal to that from Lisbon to Copenhagen.
 

lordroel

Active member
#5
I'm just thinking of the very limited number of sites they could operate from. Seaplanes/flying boats did not normally operate from open waters because they were usually too rough, forcing them to rely on sheltered harbours, and they can be quite limited. For instance, during WW2 there were only three sites in the Australian North West suitable for flying boats to operate from - Exmouth, Broome and Darwin. Of those, Exmouth was generally too open and rough, leaving just Broome and Darwin. So two decent sites and one quite limited site in a stretch of coastline equal to that from Lisbon to Copenhagen.
But the British could use them and if they can sell the SR.A to other countries i could see the Norwegians with their many fjords operating them as well.
 

Cook

an obscure historical reference.
#6
But the British could use them and if they can sell the SR.A to other countries i could see the Norwegians with their many fjords operating them as well.
It's hard to see any advantage in them though. If they are operating from a seaplane tender ship it isn't going to be any smaller than an aircraft carrier, and has the disadvantages that, unlike an aircraft carrier, it has to stop dead in the water to launch and recover the aircraft, and will very seldom be able to operate in open waters. If they are operating from fixed locations, coastal bays or fjords, then apart from the runway itself they are still bound to the same facilities that any other airfield requires - hangers, etc - that are the most critical and vulnerable parts of an airfield.

There's also the question of just how vulnerable the engines would have been to flame out if they ingested swell from a wave?
 
Last edited:

Tabac Iberez

Impetious
Published by SLP
#7
But the British could use them and if they can sell the SR.A to other countries i could see the Norwegians with their many fjords operating them as well.
What, you think a fjord is calm or a place you can plonk down the repair shops and fuel tankers for these maintenance monsters? The British are flat broke and trying very hard not to become an American arms subsidiary right now, so they're making the most economical purchases they can considering Plan B is calling across the pond and asking "got any spare X lying around" to which the answer is Yes to, we'll ship it on the next boat. Getting a regular jet aircraft is enough of a pain, but putting it on something you need to drag out of the water makes it ten times worse. Think of all the extra vehicles and people!

Also that "hundred bomber raid" poster is garbage, because that's a naked beach. You try and run a single plain out of there, much let squadron, and you're gonna have a real bad time. Not a road in sight- I'll say that air raid worked wonders!