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Interceptor vs. Escort

Discussion in 'Aircraft' started by GunSlinger86, Jul 4, 2020.

  1. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    They are both fighter planes, so they have to have speed. What are the major differences between an interceptor/pursuit and escort?
     
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    A escort must be able to fly the distance and then fight for whatever it is trying to protect (bomber/transport/recce).

    A interceptor must be able to rise quickly enough to a sufficient altitude to successfully interdict what ever it is trying to catch.
     
  3. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    Are there specific attributes specific to each fighter besides range and climb?
     
  4. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    That was the theory in the 1930s

    The Mig 1-3 Spitfire and Me109 were designed was interceptors. Fast high rate of climb. Limited fuel capacity and range. The British Bolton and Paul defiant was another interceptor design with a turret to engage bombers with oblique fire to solve the problem of high speed interception.

    The Me110 was about the only aircraft designed as an escort fighter in the 1930s. The Potez 631 was designed as a multi role fighter/ recce/bomber. The Bristol Blenheim fitted with a gun pack was used as a long range fighter. The concept worked in WW1. The Bristol Fighter two seat fighter was a decent long range fighter with a similar performance to the DH9A Bomber.

    The theory lasted until serious air fighting took place over NW Europe in Summer 1940. No twin engine twin seat fighter had the performance to take on single seat interceptors. So the problem became one of lengthening the range of the interceptors. External fuel tanks were one way. Some single seat fighters had an exceptional range. The P51 had a range of 1,650 mi (2,656 km) with external tanks but it was not the only long range allied escort. The Yak 9DD a range of 1,420 mi (2,285 km)

    Naval aircraft had a different problem there was no space on a carrier for more than the minimum different types of aircraft. Interceptors also needed the range to escort carrier based bombers. The A6M had a long range by virtue of its light weight. USN fighters applied power and external fuel tanks
     
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  5. harolds

    harolds Member

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    All true, but often the roles were often interchangeable. The P-38 was designed with interception in mind but mostly did everything else! The Spit was interceptor, escort, photo recon and even ground attack.
     
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  6. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Every war has its own characteristics

    By the end of the war there were two types of fighter aircraft.

    1. Aircraft originally conceived as interceptors but used as interceptors, escort fighters, air superiority fighters, fighter bombers and tactical reconnaissance. Spitfire Me109 Fw190, P47 P51, P38 yak Lagg Mc202 and Me262 - the first of a line of jet fighters

    2. Twin engine twin seat fighters used as night/ all weather fighters, long ranged fighters and ground attack aircraft. Me110, Ju88, Mosquito, Beaufighter, P61, Dinah, Ki45
     
  7. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I think it could be argued that most weapon systems designed to do one primary job found themselves forced into other roles either because their design allowed them to do so, there was nothing else available or the original purpose no longer applied.
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    As always, even these roles blended together...With the FW-190 & P-38 being used as night fighters. The FW-190, P-47, & P-38 being used in ground attack. The P-47 & P-51 were used as long-range fighters.

    The Ki-46 Dinah was primarily reconnaissance, with only a few being converted. It lacked the necessary climb speed to be an effective bomber destroyer. While there were projects to improve its climb rate & speed, most came to nothing.

    The Mosquito also operated in the reconnaissance role.
     
  9. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Well-Known Member

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    So basically the different front-line fighters from the beginning of the war; Spitfire, Hurricane, Me-109, P40, P39, P38, P47, P51, etc. Were assigned the role of escort or interceptor depending on that particular plane's strong aspects? They may have been given specific jobs, but depending on their attributes, could be changed?
     
  10. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Availability and strategic situation tended to determine whether an aircraft was assigned a particular role.
    For the RAF:
    Hawker Hurricanes were assigned to the air component of the RAF and the advanced strategic strike force in France in both interceptor and escort roles because their rugged undercarriage was deemed more suitable for operations from temporary air strips. Blenheim fighters were initially used as escorts for operations over the Netherlands Spitfires were retained in the UK as an interceptor.. In the Battle of Britain both Spitfires and Hurricanes were both used as interceptors. By 1941 the Hurricane was outclassed as a fighter and used in the ground attack and fighter bomber role.

    No Spitfires were sent to the middle east until mid 1942 or the far east until 1943. P40's were used as the preferred fighter in North Africa,m though Huirriocanes stiull soldiered on.

    The limitation on Spitfires as an escort was its short range, but it was used to escort bombers on raids over Occupied Europe. When the USAAF deployed in force to the UK, The RAF retained responsibility for the air defence of Great Britain while the USAAF concentrated on bombing targets in Germany and occupied Europe. However when the V Weapons struck Britian some US Aircraft were deployed as interceptors.
     
  11. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    In basic terms, an interceptor's primary target is incoming bombers. The escort fighter's primary target is the interceptors coming after the bombers it is shepherding. Thus, the interceptor's role becomes more complicated in that it now has to deal with fighters to get to the bombers. And you eventually wind up with multi-role aircraft.
     
  12. harolds

    harolds Member

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    Complicated indeed! The German response to the tough, heavily armed B-17 was the "heavy fighter" interceptor. These were FW 190s and ME 109s with extra armor and armament. The latter included 30mm Mk 108s which, according to the Germans, could bring down a bomber in just a few hits. All this extra stuff made these fighters wallowing hippos in a dog fight so that they had to have their own escorts of regular fighters.

    One of the problems with these huge bomber formations was that it was very hard to equally cover the whole formation with escorts. The German air controllers became adept at finding the holes in the coverage and directing the interceptors to where the coverage was weak. Sword and shield-sword and shield-etc.
     
  13. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    ..why not I 41 or I 51 etc, then?
     
  14. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Because "Pursuit" was the US Army catch-all phrase for all types of fighters.
     
  15. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    And the USN called them by the versatile, and what eventually became the norm, name "fighters" . . . and their squadrons were called, since back into the 1920's, "fighting squadrons" as opposed to, for example, "bombing squadrons" or "scouting squadrons" where one found the dive bombing community.
     
  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    It also helped that the USN assigned "P" to Patrol Squadrons. VP-1 was established/renamed on March 4, 1922.
     
  17. bronk7

    bronk7 Well-Known Member

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    P47 sounds a lot better than I47
     
  18. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    And 8th Fighter Command became fairly adept at sending fighters ahead to the German's staging areas and engaging the interceptors before they could get to the bombers. As you note, for every measure there is a counter-measure.
     

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