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Effectiveness Of Straffing Aircraft Against Ships


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#21 Adam_S

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 1407 PM

 

Fighters were used on strafing runs against the Tirpitz IIRC. While they didn't do much damage to the ship, it was reckoned to have caused considerable casualties to AA gun crews.

During the Battle off Samar, Wildcats strafed the Japanese cruisers and battleships in desperate attempts to distract them from the jeep carriers of Taffy 3.

I believe strafing to suppress AAA was a rather common practice; if nothing else, it gave fighters a chance to get a few licks in.

 

 

I guess it also gives the AA crews some more targets to worry about.


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#22 Markus Becker

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 1538 PM

How would 8 or 10 x 0.50s compare to 4 x 20mm Hispanos + 6 x 0.303 or 4 x 0.50  in the anti ship role?  


Very favourably I guess. Rifle caliber rounds are too light to punch through, 20mm guns were meant to fire HE rounds to blow bits out of the airframe. That should be fine for taking out AA gunners but that's it.
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#23 Markus Becker

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 1541 PM

I believe strafing to suppress AAA was a rather common practice; if nothing else, it gave fighters a chance to get a few licks in.


I'm fairly sure it was USN doctrine. Suppress AA and maybe take out things like range finders.
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#24 KV7

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 1741 PM

'Plastic' ship armor was developed to defend against strafing attacks. 

https://en.wikipedia.../Plastic_armour


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#25 shep854

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 1852 PM

 

How would 8 or 10 x 0.50s compare to 4 x 20mm Hispanos + 6 x 0.303 or 4 x 0.50  in the anti ship role?  


Very favourably I guess. Rifle caliber rounds are too light to punch through, 20mm guns were meant to fire HE rounds to blow bits out of the airframe. That should be fine for taking out AA gunners but that's it.

 

Yes, I guess pretty much equivalent; mainly a matter of what each country had available and their respective doctrines.  While the .50s gave uniform performance, the mix of .303 for deck sweeping and 20mm for punch didn't do the recipient much good at all.


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#26 shep854

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 1915 PM

Since .50s and 20s are central to this thread, a bit of background on why the US seemed to be so wedded to the big Browning:

http://www.quarryhs.co.uk/US404.htm

The Hispano-Suiza HS.404 20 mm Aircraft Gun in US Service


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#27 rmgill

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Posted 10 May 2019 - 1919 PM

How would 8 or 10 x 0.50s compare to 4 x 20mm Hispanos + 6 x 0.303 or 4 x 0.50  in the anti ship role?  

How are the 20mm fuzed? How wold they deal with armor or splinter shields? Aircraft fuselages are going to handle the impacts differently than mild steel hulls and several layers of ship compartments.  I can see fast fuzed 20mm impacting on the 1st compartments of the ship and detonating there but not getting to the vitals. 


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#28 Markus Becker

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 0351 AM

What you said. A 20mm HE shell with an impact fuse will blow a hole into the (by comparison) very flimsy structure of an aircraft but it won't penetrate anything solid. Like the steel plating of a ship. Rifle caliber bullets have a limited armour piercing performance at best. More info is on Tony's website. 

 

To give you an idea on how vulnerable DD were. In 1935 the USN usued up two Clemsons and concluded that bombs as small as 100 lb and exploding as far as 40 ft away would cause "very considerable damage" and that strafing with .50 bullets "would quite suffice to disable ships whose only protection were 1/4" gun shields". 


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#29 JWB

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 1020 AM

Those 20mm HE shells were designed to shred aluminum aircraft skin. To cause significant damage against steel plate requires much larger projectiles. Like 40mm. In fact those B-25s might have been more effective armed with a pair of 40mm guns instead of a single 75.


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#30 Chris Werb

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 1139 AM

The 20mm would probably be significantly better at flak suppression as a 0.50 has an ECR of 0.25" and a 20mm HE presumably a few yards for fragmentation plus the effect of blast on gunner's aim. Vs hull plating, how they were fuzed would, as Ryan stated, make a huge difference, Then again one that fully penetrated the plating would be useless for flak suppression, unless it went through a gunshield. Circumstantial evidence does show lots of explosions on ships shot up by Beaufighters which would lead me to believe ammunition was point detonating or similarly fuzed. Would a 20mm on a Beaufighter have been loaded purely HE/HE-T or would there have been a mix of projectiles?  The Beaufighter's 20mm guns had 240 rpg vs 500 RPG (IIRC) for the B-25s nose mounted 0.50s.


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#31 Dawes

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 1248 PM

USAF used to have a 20mm round called the M95 AP-T for use against armored targets. The projectile was simply a solid slug made from bar or forged steel. Not sure if it saw much use (in Vietnam, if anywhere) and it was withdrawn from use probably after the war.


Edited by Dawes, 11 May 2019 - 1249 PM.

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#32 Chris Werb

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 1444 PM

I recall reading that the 0.50 M8 API was a big leap forward in effectiveness - it wasn't as penetrative as a dedicated AP round, nor as likely to ignite as a dedicated incendiary, but it put the incendiary sufficiently deeply into a (robust or lightly armoured) target, which made all the difference.


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#33 DougRichards

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 1818 PM

We should also remember how new the high velocity 12mm - 20mm technology was in the lead up to WW2.  The Becker Type M2 20mm gun only went into production in 1916, and in many ways was a weapon looking for a purpose.  The light construction of most WW1 aircraft really only needed rifle calibre rounds to bring down.  The 12mm - 13mm rounds being developed were mainly for anti-tank use, once again, not in service until 1916.

 

So, effectively,  in a space of 20 years a wide range of guns and ammunition was developed that previously not been used, and in many ways did not have a target (for naval purposes 45mm was really the minimum calibre for anti-torpedo boat work, and if two ships had come in machine gun range of each other then something either very serious or strange had occurred.

 

Having said that the requirement for aircraft to even strafe ships was probably invented by Billy Mitchell as part of the June - July 1921 tests.

 

Going on just 20 years, the Douglas Dauntless had two .50cal forward, whilst the later Helldiver went to 20mm.  The Skyraider also had 20mm, which would tend to indicate that the USN, the most experienced navy in attacking ships, had decided that 20mm was better than .5cal.  Of course the Grumman Avenger had .50cal.


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#34 Dawes

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Posted 11 May 2019 - 2056 PM

Regarding strafing, a historical report on DTIC related some interesting facts about the M56 20mm HEI round. This round was used extensively in Vietnam for strafing. It was fitted with the M505 point detonating fuze which had a rather blunt aerodynamic shape. This design (standardized in 1955) was seen as acceptable for combat at high altitudes where it's blunt shape wasn't an issue in the thinner atmosphere. Strafing at low altitudes in Vietnam, this round was slowed down to the point where it had functioning problems at ranges over a mile.


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#35 Chris Werb

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 0622 AM

We should also remember how new the high velocity 12mm - 20mm technology was in the lead up to WW2.  The Becker Type M2 20mm gun only went into production in 1916, and in many ways was a weapon looking for a purpose.  The light construction of most WW1 aircraft really only needed rifle calibre rounds to bring down.  The 12mm - 13mm rounds being developed were mainly for anti-tank use, once again, not in service until 1916.

 

So, effectively,  in a space of 20 years a wide range of guns and ammunition was developed that previously not been used, and in many ways did not have a target (for naval purposes 45mm was really the minimum calibre for anti-torpedo boat work, and if two ships had come in machine gun range of each other then something either very serious or strange had occurred.

 

Having said that the requirement for aircraft to even strafe ships was probably invented by Billy Mitchell as part of the June - July 1921 tests.

 

Going on just 20 years, the Douglas Dauntless had two .50cal forward, whilst the later Helldiver went to 20mm.  The Skyraider also had 20mm, which would tend to indicate that the USN, the most experienced navy in attacking ships, had decided that 20mm was better than .5cal.  Of course the Grumman Avenger had .50cal.

 

Some Corsairs had 4x20mm cannon and some Hellcats 2x20mm cannon + 4 x 0.50 mgs. Most Bearcats had 4 x 20mm and the Tigercat 4 x 20mm + 4 x 0.50 mgs.


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#36 MiloMorai

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 1312 PM

RAF Costal Command flew AA suppression and attack a/c against ships. There was a reason pilot head armour was greater than 1/4"' thick which was the typical thickness of ship hulls (destroyer and under size).


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#37 Stuart Galbraith

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 1402 PM

There is  good thread on here showing B25 armament options. Interesting to see one fitted with rocket pods normally seen on a P47, not something Id seen before.

https://ww2aircraft....ad.10766/page-8


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#38 rmgill

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 1520 PM

Forward firing rockets is interesting, especially in the rotary launcher in the nose.
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#39 Chris Werb

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 1644 PM

I was always dubious about the 75mm and it doesn't surprised me that they removed it from aircraft and sometimes replaced it with yet another pair of 0.50s. It also surprises me that the single 20mm + 8 0.50s in the nose version was not more widely known in recent years as multiple airframes were thus fitted. The rotary rocket launcher is indeed interesting!


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#40 17thfabn

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Posted 12 May 2019 - 2020 PM

 It also surprises me that the single 20mm + 8 0.50s in the nose version was not more widely known in recent years as multiple airframes were thus fitted. The rotary rocket launcher is indeed interesting!

 

 

I had not heard of widespread use of 20 mm guns on U.S. B25 gunships. 


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