Charles Gray wrote:
Here's a question-- the Germans had several forward swept wing designs
in the works during WWII.
However, I recall reading that even in the 1980's the strain on the
airframe made such a design very difficult to successfully carry off.
That being the case, was there any realistic chance that such fighter
designs could have been successfully fielded, or is this a case of a
severe underestimation of the problems by the engineers?
The latter, essentially. The Germans weren't really aware of the aerodynamic
wing twisting problems of FSW in high speed aircraft. In fact, the Ju 287
prototypes were limited to relatively low speeds ( 400 mph) for exactly
this reason. While the engineers tried to make the wings more stiff, this
would have only pushed the limit slightly up but wouldn't have solved the
problem. A high-speed FSW can't be made without modern composite materials.