The World War 2 Obscure Trivia Thread


Which of the following aircraft were not fitted with skis?

A- North American P-51 Mustang
B- Fokker D.XXI
C- Lockheed P-38 Lightning
D- Polikarpov I-153 “Chaika”


Well the Fokker was used by the Fins so I’d imagine they fitted some with skis and I can’t imagine that the Russians wouldn’t have done the same to the Polikarpov.

I have a suspicion that “all of the above” may be the answer, but the P-38 would be the one I’d have the biggest doubts over.


Seconded. Not that I know, it’s just a gut feeling.


I can think of at least one P-38 where the pilot would have liked to have some skis.


It is “all of the above.” The D.XXI and I-153 were often refitted with skis. Pretty easy on the Fokker. The USAAF did experiments will skis on all their planes, though I don’t believe any were used outside Alaska.

Proof the P-38 could hit the slopes:

Not sure how well it worked on the Lightning, but if I remember correctly, the P-51 did okay with skis, not losing too much top speed.


Now for a follow-up question:

Of the four previous fighters (D.XXI, I-153, P-38, P-51) which did they consider fitting floats to?


Ah yes, Glacier Girl. They’ve got her looking a bit better now.


P-51? They got floats onto the Spit after all.


True for the Spitfire, but not so, as I recall, for the Mustang. Close, though.


Well I’d struggle to see why the Russians would need a floatplane, so that rules out the Polikarpov. The Dutch are a bit of a sea fairing nation so I’d be tempted to go for the Fokker but something tells me it’s going to be the P-38.


It was the P-38. None were ever fitted, as far as I can find, but at least one was given a modified tail, since there was concern about the rudders hitting the water.


And here’s what the monstrosity may have looked like.


The P-38 was a very versatile craft. Some had bombardier positions in the nose, others had a radar operator seated behind the pilot.

Were any fitted with an off-center cockpit, similar to the F-82 Twin Mustang?


As in with a cockpit in one of the booms?

A problem with that, if that’s what you mean, is that there is quite a lot of stuff in there already. Have a look at this cutaway


Unlike other Alison engined aircraft of WW2, the P-38 had excellent performance at high altitude. The problem for a piston engine is that as the aircraft’s altitude increases, the air pressure drops, the amount of oxygen entering decreases and as a result the power output drops off. Most aircraft used a supercharger, which is basically a compressor running off of the engine, to feed compressed air into the engine, maintaining high altitude performance. There is a penalty to this in that the supercharger can end up using a significant percentage of the engine’s power output to keep it going. The problem with the Alison was that it only used a simple supercharger design rather than the two speed, two stage type used in engines like the Griffon or later marks of the Merlin, which limited its performance at higher altitudes.

The P-38 solved the problem by using a turbosupercharger, usually shortened to just turbo. Instead of using the output from the engine, a turbo uses the force of the exhaust gasses exiting the engine to drive a compressor. This can lead to a very efficient design with the added bonus that as altitude increases, the pressure differential between the inside of the engine and the atmosphere increases, meaning that the turbo delivers higher power output to the compressor.

The drawback with this is that it involves a large amount of piping and heat exchangers. This takes up room, adds weight and increases the vulnerability of the aircraft to battle damage. This is a picture of the turbo installation from a P-47, which was the only other aircraft in large scale service which used a turbo.

As can be seen in the cutaway, a large part of the internal volume in the P-38’s booms is taken up by its turbocharger installation and associated piping. I’m not sure that there’s space in there for much else.

Something else to consider is that the gun installation in the P-38 was considered to be especially effective because the twin boom configuration allowed them to be mounted on the centreline of the aircraft, pointing directly ahead and in line with the pilot. If you move the pilot to one of the booms, he’s now out of line with the guns.


Who had a private army that helped the British win the campaign in North Africa?


There was one…

You’re right that it was a very impractical solution to making a trainer version. But, like the “Swordfish” version, and the recon bird with a crewman in the nose with two machine guns, this one-off oddball existed.


Would the Gurkhas count as a private army?


No, they were part of the Indian army at the time IIRC.


Good Lord! It looks suspiciously like they’ve taken the turbo out on that one too, although I suppose it doesn’t matter so much for a trainer.


A Russian / Belgian former sugar refinery manager?


Which German aeroplane was nicknamed “Mücke” or “Mosquito”?