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Effectiveness Of Straffing Aircraft Against Ships


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What's the cost of a bomber for a Destroyer? Crew? Technical material? What about a transport? Men, Supplies and what ever that transport could transport in future?

What's the cost difference between a B-25 and a cruiser? Men/material in transports?

For an exceedingly salient example, what about the Battle of the Bismark Sea? The trade was 13 men with 2 bombers and 4 fighters lost to 8 Japanese Transports, 4 destroyers, 20 fighters and nearly 3000 dead. Seems like a very good trade.

The point of strafing a target while your buddies are bombing is to split the fire of the target. AAA can't fire at two things at once. Also, if the target is a transport full of infantry, shooting it up with .303 MG's is going to accomplish something even if the ship doesn't stop. Concentrated targets like that are ideal.



Edited by rmgill
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There was a WWII era Radar Altimeter at the time.

The RT-7 / APN-1. Fitted to B-24s at least. Indicated 50-300 feet.

Apparently also in the "TBM Avenger (see image from TBM Flight Manual), dive bomber SB2C Helldiver, patrol aircraft PV-1 Ventura, PV-2 Harpoon, PBY Catalina, PBM-5 Mariner, and PB4Y Privateer. "https://aeroantique.com/products/radio-altimeter-altitude-selector-switch-sa-1-arn-1-for-radio-set-an-apn-1?variant=6185153069086http://thepastpresented.com/index.php/tag/rt-7-apn-1-radar-altimeter/

 

Of course. Radar aided torpedo bombing! I saw the training film on YouTube.

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Nobu: Desperate certainly qualifies when their carriers are coming under direct gunfire from capital ships. When the flattops are well out of reach, the word would then be hyperbolic.

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Nobu: Desperate certainly qualifies when their carriers are coming under direct gunfire from capital ships. When the flattops are well out of reach, the word would then be hyperbolic.

This.

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The word "desperate" seems more suited for the side trying to fight approximately 400 USN carrier aircraft in daylight with surface ships. This is about 150 more aircraft than 1st Carrier Striking Force brought with it to fight the hoped for decisive battle to decide the future of Japan at Midway.

 

When the flattops are well out of reach, the word would then be hyperbolic.

 

Of the 19 USN carriers whose aircraft were in action against the IJN at Samar, only a fraction were under direct gunfire. The others, including the big fleet carriers Hancock, Hornet 2, and Wasp, were out of reach of Kurita's guns for the course of the battle.

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The word "desperate" seems more suited for the side trying to fight approximately 400 USN carrier aircraft in daylight with surface ships. This is about 150 more aircraft than 1st Carrier Striking Force brought with it to fight the hoped for decisive battle to decide the future of Japan at Midway.

 

When the flattops are well out of reach, the word would then be hyperbolic.

 

Of the 19 USN carriers whose aircraft were in action against the IJN at Samar, only a fraction were under direct gunfire. The others, including the big fleet carriers Hancock, Hornet 2, and Wasp, were out of reach of Kurita's guns for the course of the battle.

Even if some of the fighters didn't belong to the carriers under fire, they would still feel desparate to save their buddies under heavy fire. One could view as that those other fighters perhaps didn't have to stick around buzzing over the cruisers and maybe could have just wdnt home once their ammo ran out. But since they stayed around and risked themselves under AA fire with no ability to attack, then there is a degree of heroism in that.

 

Of course, yes, in cases when the Japanese fought hard, it is usually described as fanatical rather than heroism. Although in Japanese circles etc, heroism or 英雄 is used. And often the response to it is the kneejerk reaction of "war crimes! aggressors!" etc, when it really isn't fair for that kneejerk reaction to always come about so I know where you're coming from. But having exchanges being reduced to a competition for honour or reduced to appeasing sentiments really is kind of annoying. Well sometimes the nitty gritty just has to play out, but it is tiresome, and probably wasn't necessary, but who am I to judge whether or not it should be shut out. Being a control freak is no good either. But I'm here and feel I have to say something instead of not posting at all. But actually, all things consider, such kneejerk reactions and such hasn't been nearly as bad as it has been say 4-5 years ago on these boards. So it doesn't really feel necessary to press even more on it IMO.

Edited by JasonJ
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To the best of my knowledge, no fast carrier aircraft fought in the Samar engagement. All the aircraft were from the escort carriers of the Taffy units. Even though Taffy 3 was the only group that was actually engaged by the Japanese ships, the others would have been on the block had events transpired differently.

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The word "desperate" seems more suited for the side trying to fight approximately 400 USN carrier aircraft in daylight with surface ships. This is about 150 more aircraft than 1st Carrier Striking Force brought with it to fight the hoped for decisive battle to decide the future of Japan at Midway.

The carriers were CVE. None had prepared for anti ship missions, some were hunted down by IJN surface ships, the others were under Kamikaze attack. A coordinated reaction wasn't possible.

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Interesting how that graphic fails to mention the 10 USN carriers of Taffy 1 (70 miles away) and Taffy 2 (30 miles away), whose 280 aircraft engaged in unrelenting strikes against Kurita throughout the battle, and whose decks were close enough to cycle rearmed aircraft back over the target area 10-15 minutes after launch. In fact, it fails to mention the contribution made by USN airpower to the battle at all.

 

Inflating the desperation of the odds faced by the USN at Samar by de-emphasizing the total airpower supremacy enjoyed by it throughout the battle is actually understandable in the context of war propaganda, as the narrative of Kurita's battleships running away from an inferior force is certainly more palatable than the battle's parallel and darker narrative of a U.S. intelligence failure comprehensive enough to compel USN destroyer captains to order their crews to commit suicide en masse by capital ship.

 

Whether it is understandable 75 years after the fact is another question entirely.

Edited by Nobu
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Interesting how that graphic fails to mention the 10 USN carriers of Taffy 1 (70 miles away) and Taffy 2 (30 miles away), whose 280 aircraft engaged in unrelenting strikes against Kurita throughout the battle, and whose decks were close enough to cycle rearmed aircraft back over the target area 10-15 minutes after launch. In fact, it fails to mention the contribution made by USN airpower to the battle at all.

 

Inflating the desperation of the odds faced by the USN at Samar by de-emphasizing the total airpower supremacy enjoyed by it throughout the battle is actually understandable in the context of war propaganda, as the narrative of Kurita's battleships running away from an inferior force is certainly more palatable than the battle's parallel and darker narrative of a U.S. intelligence failure comprehensive enough to compel USN destroyer captains to order their crews to commit suicide en masse by capital ship.

 

Whether it is understandable 75 years after the fact is another question entirely.

What's your point? Heavy ships got into gun range of slow, relatively unarmed CVE's who's aircraft where pressed into attacking heavily armored ships in an attempt to save the Large, slow carriers?

 

Bringing up Leyte, wasn't that itself an act of desperation? How many ships were thrown into attack and what was lost? The landings weren't stopped.

Edited by rmgill
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I thought I read somewhere that a 5" round from the stern gun on one of the CVEs hit a Long Lance torpedo on one of the cruisers causing a chain reaction that sank it?

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Gunners aboard CVE 68 Kalinin Bay claimed a single 5" hit on a heavy cruiser during the battle, attributed as received by IJN Tone. Tone survived the hit and the battle.

 

The carriers were CVE. None had prepared for anti ship missions

 

TBFs and TBMs from CVE White Plains are credited with the sinking of a Japanese cargo ship off Saipan in June, indicating that at least some of the USN naval aviators operating off of CVE decks that October were prepared to fly anti-shipping missions, the in my mind unlikely possibility that USN naval aviators assigned to CVE airgroups in 1944 were an inferior classification of USN naval aviator denied anti shipping mission training notwithstanding. If so, I have never read of it.

 

The availability of torpedoes, useless for anything but anti ship missions, aboard CVEs for rearming their air groups also indicates a degree of anti-shipping mission capability held by the 16 CVEs off Samar.

Edited by Nobu
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The mission of the Taffy carriers was ground support, ASW and CAP. Escort carriers were considered by all to be second-stringers. The fast carriers had primary responsibility for strike against Japanese combat units.

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Having torpedoes in their magazines is not the same as having them on aircraft. As I understand it, the CVEs were launching whatever they could get off before the IJN battleships started hitting them.

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Having torpedoes in their magazines is not the same as having them on aircraft. As I understand it, the CVEs were launching whatever they could get off before the IJN battleships started hitting them.

 

The CVE could have as many as 12 torpedoes stowed, but for this operation only 9 were stowed per carrier. St Lo only had 8 (4 stowed and 4 on skids preparing to arm her TBM) when she was struck by the suicide plane at 1053. Two of her TBM did land on Marcus island and were armed with torpedoes, one launching at 0950 and the other at 1115...in other words after the Japanese retirement began at c. 0925.

 

White Plains launched two TBM with torpedoes during the action, at 1017.

 

Kalinin Bay loaded the two TBM aboard with torpedoes during the action, but was unable to launch them because the catapult was damaged.

 

Fanshaw Bay was unable to launch any torpedo-armed aircraft.

 

Kitkun Bay managed to launch five torpedo-armed aircraft at 1013.

 

Gambier Bay was unable to launch any torpedo-armed aircraft before she was sunk, although she did launch all available aircraft.

 

Nor were there any AP bombs aboard, typical stowage was for only about 24 500-lb SAP (what St Lo had aboard), the rest were 500-lb GP, 350-lb DP, and 100-lb GP.

 

Insofar as i can tell, all aircraft were armed with bombs and rockets or depth charges when the Japanese were encountered, the response by torpedo-armed planes was helter skelter.

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During the entire period 18-29 October, TU 77.4.1 expended 30 torpedoes, including at least four on 25 October. They also expended four 1000-lb AP, so at least a few were aboard.

 

In TU 77.4.2, Marcus Island was only able to dispatch two TBM to attack the Japanese and it is unclear if they were torpedo-armed or not (the rest of her ten TBM were ashore where they were airdropping a shipment of rations and water.

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The mission of the Taffy carriers was ground support, ASW and CAP.

 

RADM Oldendorf's message to Kincaid at 0420 on the day of the battle suggesting that Kincaid prepare airstrikes on IJN warships retiring southward from the Battle of Surigao Strait the night before strongly suggests that the mission of Kincaid's Taffy carriers included anti-shipping as well.

 

The carriers were CVE. None had prepared for anti ship missions

 

Taffy 1 subsequently launched a strike against Nishimura's retiring ships consisting of 11 torpedo bombers and 17 fighter escorts armed with 500lb SAP bombs at 0545 on the day of the Samar engagement.

 

In addition, all three Taffys were ordered to keep strike groups loaded with torpedoes and SAP bombs while Taffy 2 executed searches of the Surigao Strait and Mindanao Sea for the presence of Japanese warships beginning at sunrise.

 

Some degree of preparedness for anti-ship missions on the part of TG77.4's CVEs and naval aviators is indicated by these operations and orders the morning of October 25.

Edited by Nobu
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Thanks, Rich and Nobu, for posting that information. If I had read any of that, it was in my early teens, when I read S.E. Morrison (the full series), and obviously long forgotten.

Edited by shep854
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Having torpedoes in their magazines is not the same as having them on aircraft. As I understand it, the CVEs were launching whatever they could get off before the IJN battleships started hitting them.

My point exactly. If the CVE had been given an hour to prepare for an anti ship strike .... Well, they hadn't.

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My point exactly. If the CVE had been given an hour to prepare for an anti ship strike .... Well, they hadn't.

 

Not entirely accurate, as while the 6 CVEs of Taffy 3 can be described as generally not having enough time to prepare for anti-shipping strikes, the same cannot generally be said for the 4 CVEs of Taffy 1 and the 6 CVEs of Taffy 2.

 

CVE-78 Savo Island of Taffy 2 had both the time to issue orders to remove ground strike ordnance from its Avengers at approximately 0745, and to arm 5 of them them with torpedoes. These combined with 2 torpedo armed Avengers of CVE-77 Marcus Island to launch a coordinated anvil-and-wave torpedo attack on Kurita's warships at approximately 0845.

 

The results of this one attack were reported as 2 torpedo hits on the starboard side of a Tone-class heavy cruiser, detonating its entire stern and filling the air with debris from the combined explosions, 1 torpedo hit on the portside stern of an Atago class heavy cruiser, and 1 possible torpedo hit on a Japanese DD that left it crippled and dead in the water.

 

A degree of ability to prepare for and launch coordinated anti-shipping strikes on the part of the 10 carriers of TG77.4.1 and TG77.4.2 is indicated by these actions conducted by the USN on October 25 off Samar.

 

Having torpedoes in their magazines is not the same as having them on aircraft.

 

The sailors of IJN Chikuma who were lost in the battle to USN carrier airstrikes in daylight would have likely agreed.

 

"...Chikuma but was soon attacked by four TBM Avenger torpedo-bombers. Richard Deitchman, flying from USS Manila Bay, succeeded in hitting her stern port quarter with a Mark 13 torpedo that severed her stern and disabled her port screw and rudder. At 1105, Chikuma was attacked by five TBMs from USS Kitkun Bay. She was hit portside amidships by two torpedoes and her engine rooms flooded. At 1400, three TBMs from a composite squadron of ships from USS Ommaney Bay and Natoma Bay led by Lt. Joseph Cady dropped more torpedoes which hit Chikuma portside."

 

Mis-attribution of the resultant death and destruction caused by these and other attacks on October 25 off Samar to anything but USN anti-shipping strikes in daylight does neither side credit, and obscures the picture of the battle and its narratives that have come to light 75 years afterward.

Edited by Nobu
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I'd like to mention the German WW2 style of ship strafing:

 

Germany used two-engined torpedo bombers, which had to use the cover of dusk or dawn for the strike to survive in the Med, not the least because the torpedoes were poor ones with much more restrictive (speed / altitude) drop parameters than those used in 1943-1945 in the Pacific. Far up in the Arctic Sea there was daytime much of the year (even for several weeks a year), so a different approach was used with a massed long line attack (which was quite easily countered becuase if came but from one direction, not from two 90° apart directions as did the Japanese against PoW & Repulse in late 1941).

 

The Med dusk/dawn attack required the bombers to drop the torpedo very close to target, and the bombers then did not turn around (because risk of collision, size of silhouette during turn, loss of speed etc.). They proceeded to overfly or narrowly pass the target, and then any other ships behind.

This is where the strafing happened; they used typically a single fixed 20 mm gun (mostly 20 mm MG 151/209) for this in addition to fairly light (7.92 or relatively light bullet 13 mm) machineguns. The strafing was first and foremost meant to suppress light AAA.

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The 3 RCAF squadrons of CC, 404, 407, 415, had 97 ships damaged or sunk with a ratio of 3:1 sunk to damaged. 404 flying Beaufighters being the most successful with 3/4 of the ships including Z-32, Z-24, ZH-1 damaged and Z-24, T-24 sunk.

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