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Bombers, speed over defensive armament, why were lessons ignored ?


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#1 Justin Smith

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 05:56 PM

I know that hindsight is 20/20, but even so it has always struck me as surprising that the fact speed was (and is) the best defence for a bomber was not realised more fully in WW2.
I read somewhere that Mosquitos were four times (or was it fives times ? ) less likely to be shot down than heavy bombers were, and in the war RAF aircrew were, unsurprisingly, far happier flying Mosquitos than the heavies.
I accept that heavy bombers carried 3 or 4 times the bomb load, but even so, it seems to me indisputable that high speed medium bombers (or even light bombers) would have been a far better bet than the heavy bomber death traps in which so many exceptionally brave men were killed.
Even if you forget the huge cost of each Lancaster shot down, as against the cost of a medium or light bomber, the most important thing is that there were only two crew to get killed on each Mosquito, rather than 7 or 8 on each heavy bomber. In fact I read the other day there was a study done at the time by some RAF scientific bod who seriously suggested removing the defensive armament from the heavy bombers, his reasoning being the resulting increase in their speed * would reduce how many were shot down. He went further to suggest that even if the number of planes shot down just stayed the same, the removal of the gunners would at least save 2 mens lives each time a heavy was lost.
Thus, the advantage of speed over defensive armament was already fully understood during the war.
If the factories couldn`t produce any more Mosquitoes, why couldn`t some other fast light/medium bomber have been produced ?
I would suggest a 2 engined (and/or 4 engined) plane, with no defensive armament, carrying as high a bomb load as possible consistent with a minimum 350mph speed.
Why didn`t they do it at the time ? ! ?
Any thoughts ?

* Assuming that Bomber Command didn`t just use the removal of the armamant as an excuse to increase the bomb load. But even then surely removal of the turrets would reduce the drag with a resulting increase in speed ?

(The relevant authors of the report were Freeman Dyson and Mike O`Loughlin : reference added 2 Nov 11 from "Lancaster The Biography" - Tony Iveson)

Edited by Justin Smith, 02 November 2011 - 06:34 PM.
Reference for quote

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#2 brndirt1

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:11 PM

There seem to have been both lines of thought as to bombers as the war approached. The Luftwaffe went with the "Schnell bombers", and while it first appeared to be an excellent concept on paper, as soon as it was put into practice with the Do-17 (one of the fastest planes of its day) in the Spanish theater the need for defensive weapons became evident. As they added weapons to protect themselves from even the fighters of the time, they lost both speed and bomb load.

Strangely the LW stayed with the idea and didn't really go for developing the larger four engine bombers until it was far too late to do them any good. The story of the "Mossie" carrying the same load as the B-17 is a bit skewed, at its maximum load it matched the minimum load of some of the 17s, and didn't come close to the loads of the Lanc., or the B-24.

The air fleet needed a combination of high altitude long range but slower machines, and low altitude fast machines. Not one or the other, but a combination of the two. With the power plants of the day, you could develop one or the other to its max., but a combination of the two proved to be the winning mix.
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#3 phylo_roadking

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:46 PM

In fact I read the other day there was a study done at the time by some RAF scientific bod who seriously suggested removing the defensive armament from the heavy bombers, his reasoning being the resulting increase in their speed * would reduce how many were shot down.


Justin, the whole issue was a little bit more complicated than that....and fed into Barnes Wallis' work on the Victory bomber in the first years of the war.

The Luftwaffe's nightfighters had performances that were sometimes very compromised over their dayfighter versions - thinking of the Ju88 and Me110 here, particularly the latter....by having to carry heavy radar, having extra drag due to their antenna arrays, and flame baffles over their exhaust stubs compromised exhaust "tune". So they sometimes had only a few MPH advantage over, say a Lancaster at high altitude.....

Keep that in mind for a moment, and read on....

Next issue was their attack profle; each nightfighter "orbited" inside their own "kamhuber box", a 3d "box" in the grid of same that was the Luftwaffe's Kamhuber Line down through Europe...and had its own dedicated ground controller GCI'ing it. When radar detected an enemy aircraft entering that particular box - the ground controller vectored the nightfighter onto it from wherever in the box it was; it had to pick up speed from "cruise" and chase the bogey - sometimes the whole width of the Box! That is....accelerate to catch an enemy that entered the Box at full speed, actually catch them...AND have enough speed in hands to do anything other than just an attack from the rear....

The reason for the obiting and the GCI'ing was that the Luftwafe's radars had quite a short range in the air.

Anyway....chasing down an RAF bomber all over the landscape, catching it slowly, with only a few MPH in hand...a Lancaster pilot could simply attempt to evade attack by throwing his aircraft into a dive to build up speed - very often enough to break contact as the nightfighter gasped along behind it!

So....given all THAT why did a Heavy bomber NEED anything more that a tail gun??? ;)

This as the principle to the Victory Bomber - spiral up to height and top speed over the UK - then dash across to Europe right up at the limit that any fighter could hope to achieve....with a speed advantage in hand. Unfortunately, in the absence of both a bomb big enough for the Victory to carry, and the RAF failing miserably at precision bombing.....the Victory Bomber idea soon became moribund. But while at the planning stage....ALL it would have needed was a single tail turret.

Now - if you add EXTRA speed into that equation, a performance greater than a nightfighter with all their performance disadvantages could achieve - why do you need defensive armament at all?

As for this...

Assuming that Bomber Command didn`t just use the removal of the armamant as an excuse to increase the bomb load. But even then surely removal of the turrets would reduce the drag with a resulting increase in speed ?


Bomber Command heavies didn't have THAT many turrets anyway! :) Only the Canadian-built versions had ventral ones IIRC, and several marks did away with the dorsal. But although yes, deleteing a turret and guns and gunner (and ammunition, don't forget!) DID save weight...it wasa marginal bombload addition compared with the power improvement that Rolls got out of successive marks of Merlins, allowing the Lnacasters to carry heavier and heavier bombloads. They entered service carrying a bombload of 8,000lbs....and at their most potent, the B.Mk1(Special)s of 617 Sqn. could carry 22,000lbs!
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#4 harolds

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 06:58 PM

Clint,

Good post, but Mr. Smith brings up a excellent point: That is, the forward and dorsal turrets on British bombers were damn near useless for their intended role. Almost all Luftwaffe fighter attacks were made from behind and below-well below if "jazz music" guns were used. By eliminating the forward turret it would have saved weight, reduced drag and eliminated the need for one crew as well. Getting rid of the dorsal turret would have had the same effect except possibly even more drag would have been eliminated. Here one could argue that repositioning the dorsal turret to a ventral position would have had good benefits but once the RAF started using radar for navigation and bombing there was no place to put a ventral turret. A little additional speed could have saved many RAF lives since the ME-110s, JU-88s and DO-17s, with three crewmen, heavy electronic gear, and heavier armament/ammo, weren't much faster than the bombers they were pursuing.

#5 phylo_roadking

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 07:29 PM

Almost all Luftwaffe fighter attacks were made from behind and below


...because of the issues I mentioned above.

-well below if "jazz music" guns were used.


Schrage Musik was a way of making the best of ONLY a few MPH speed advantage; a nightfighter didn't actually HAVE to outfly/outfight a bomber - it just had to slowly cruise along underneath it! :D

Here one could argue that repositioning the dorsal turret to a ventral position would have had good benefits


Not against Schrage Musik - you have to see a nightfighter to fire on it; flying along below a bomber, a nightfighter with dark or blackened upper surfaces couldn't be spotted against the ground below...but a nightfighter making a straight-on rear or beam attack stood a chance of being spotted against the hours of "afterglow", first to the West on the way outbound to the target, or in the East ahead of dawn on the way home.

EDIT: as an aside - I've read in at least two places in the last year that the use of ventral turret was also prevented by the "bulged" bombdoors option that helped stretch the Lanc's bombcarrying apacity...

Edited by phylo_roadking, 24 October 2011 - 07:43 PM.

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#6 harolds

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 08:22 PM

Phylo,

We were writing these at the same time. Before I started my last post your post wasn't up there. However you got yours posted first. It seems to me that we were essentially saying the same thing.

#7 Justin Smith

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 09:16 PM

If the arguement is that German Nightfighters weren`t, in reality, that much faster than the British heavies, with the implication that the speed of a Mosquito wasn`t really needed, why was it so few of the latter were shot down, compared with the former ?

On the point that a mix of bombers was needed I only accept that insofar as a Lancaster was needed to drop a Tallboy or Grand Slam (though I personally wouldn`t have thought keeping a heavy bomber force just to drop a thousand Tallboys was a good use of resources). I still don`t see why twice the number of smaller, but significantly faster, bombers couldn`t drop the same number of bombs. Remember far fewer highly trained crew would be needed, there would be only 2 (or 3 ? ) crew in each of the smaller bombers, and they wouldn`t need replacing so often because they wouldn`t get shot down after an average of only 20 odd missions.
But even if the larger fleet of smaller bombers couldn`t drop the same bomb tonnage I still wouldn`t support the use of heavies when statistically the crew were dead men before they completed their tours. And that`s without counting in the enormous cost of manufacturing each destroyed heavy bomber.

#8 leccy1

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 10:16 PM

Economy of scale may come into play here. So just throwing a few things out.

Lanc has one pilot, it carried upto 12000lb of bombs in varying sizes and types. The mossie would require 3 pilots and have a more limited type of bombload to carry the same weight.
So we have increased airframes, fuel, pilot training (not forgetting there was always a fight for who should get the engines allocated).

Lancs would fly without front and mid upper gunners but had to have a rear gunner to go on a mission (information from former crews and BBMF).

More types of aircraft also meant you would be more flexible in your capability and guarded against a failure of one type (groundings due to type defects, shortage of parts, etc).

Concentrating on smaller faster light and medium bombers would not necessarily equal less aircraft lost, the air defence tends to be tailored to the threat, the threat was more from the heavys in the west, in the east it was more from light and mediums.

The Brit heavys and mediums flew at night due to losses to daylight air defence, would the faster smaller aircraft still use the night or would they change to a daylight force?.

A target requiring 30 heavys with the attendant forming, up time on target, etc would be changed to 90 mossies. Immediately we have increased the number of aircraft, the time to form up, the possibility of detection by various means.

Maybe concentrating on developing a fast, agile, long range escort fighter, would have been a better use of resources to escort the heavier bombers. The Mustang produced in numbers sufficient to keep the enemy fighters off in the day? .

#9 phylo_roadking

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 10:39 PM

If the arguement is that German Nightfighters weren`t, in reality, that much faster than the British heavies, with the implication that the speed of a Mosquito wasn`t really needed, why was it so few of the latter were shot down, compared with the former ?


Justin, you've got that a bit "@rse-about face" as we say at home. The Mossie's reduced losses in the FNSF were due to its speed. Its speed meant that it had fewer losses - if it's speed had been around that of a Lanc, then more losses.

ANY aircraft cruising at, say, somewhere under the Lanc's max of ~280 mph will be caught and punished, with whatever degree of difficulty, but they will be caught.

How the RAF then overawed the Kamhuber Line was by the Bomber Stream tactic...

Remember up the thread I described an LW nightfighter orbiting in its box?Once it had completed its chase - whether successfully or unsuccessfully - it THEN had to get back into its box to be GCI'd by its controller onto another contact....and the whole operations began again.

A nightfighter could ONLY do this a fixed number of times per sortie/per fuel load!

By "streaming" heavies through a handful of boxes, instead of a clumped formation, the RAF forced the nightfighters to fly back and forth over the sky all night, but with a finite number of interceptions each. To combat that, the Germans had to move to more and more individual radars, and more and more individual nightfighter-controller pairings per box...making the Kamhuber Line very clumsy and overly-crowded/complicated. But once trapped into it, all the Germans could do was expand it/extend it - they didn't manage to come up with a viable and improved alternative....or even one that could be out in place without leaving Germany vulnerable for x-amount of time WHILE it was put in place!

So that's how losses were cut...to a mimium level of attrition/nightfighter interceptions that could be absorbed by Bomber Command nightly.

If the Mossie had flown at the Lanc's speed - it WOULD have suffered that minimum attrition at least. But because of it's higher speed - it didn't.

As for escort fighters - don't forget that Nightfighter Mosquitos accompanied Bomber Command raids over Berlin etc.!

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#10 Poppy

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:29 PM

I dunno...To knock out a large target like marshaling yards, refineries, manufacturing plants etc, it would take many tons of bombs. More economical to build 1000 bombers that deliver 10000lbs each rather than 2000 delivering 5000lbs and all the related maintenance,fuel, pilots etc. Also the fire generated by many bombs at once figured into the destruction so a larger concentration of heavy bombers overhead would be more destructive than the same amount of light fast bombers...The US counted on combined firepower of the box formation for protection rather than speed. Not to mention fighter escort.

#11 Erich

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:41 PM

actually the dark surfaces like black or dark grey overall was removed from LW NF's flying underneath a BC bomber due to just what is mentioned ............... being outlined by the fires below. Also another important notation is that during 1944 till wars end the LW NF force flew outside of intended orbiting boxes to tackle BC outside of their ranges with the inclusion of outboard fuel tanks the fighters could then pursue, first oncoming bombers then post target as they flew outbound to England
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#12 phylo_roadking

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Posted 24 October 2011 - 11:54 PM

Hi, Erich - mind if I pick your brains on a few things from that?

Also another important notation is that during 1944 till wars end the LW NF force flew outside of intended orbiting boxes to tackle BC outside of their ranges with the inclusion of outboard fuel tanks the fighters could then pursue, first oncoming bombers then post target as they flew outbound to England


This has made me think of something; what about the physical plant of the Kamhuber Line, the radars etc.? Was it recovered eastwards as the Allies advanced through late 1944-early 1945?

Did the LW attempt to displace the Line eastwards....or just move over wholly to the situation you described above?

How many times could, say, a Ju88 with wing tanks fly longer interceptions like that in a sortie?

actually the dark surfaces like black or dark grey overall was removed from LW NF's flying underneath a BC bomber due to just what is mentioned


Was it removed from ALL nightfighters - or just those based in/operating over bombing zones in Germany?

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#13 phylo_roadking

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 12:01 AM

Hi Poppy...

More economical to build 1000 bombers that deliver 10000lbs each rather than 2000 delivering 5000lbs and all the related maintenance,fuel, pilots etc.


Well, by the end of the war IIRC the Heavy Force had a theoretical force of ~3,500 four-engined heavies!

As for maintenance - well, there's only a given maximum number of nights in a month that bombers, whatever they are, could hope to sortie, because of the moon state etc.

But in turn - don't forget that ideally, the Mosquitos allowed far more "precise" delivery of munitions than the Lancasters and other heavies offered midwar. In effect - the Light Night/Fast Night Striking Force brought Bomber Command "back" to where it THOUGHT it had been in 1940-41 - capable of night precision bombing ;) And in a given operation, the Mossies MAY have dropped less, but if they dropped it more often on or closer to the defined target....

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#14 CAC

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 12:24 AM

Im just going to wade in and say two things...
Removing guns was asking for an attack on that front...a behind (and below) shot was the desirable angle of attack but if you could offer a pilot with a "safe" attack line...most would take it.
Area bombing was the tactic of the day until more accurate sights were introduced...area bombing requires maximum bomb load, from one bomber and then its flight...to maximise the chance of destroying what you are actually aiming for...so light bombers with limited load "weren't" desirable...max load was...then try to defend a max loaded heavy bomber (not by speed) but with guns, armour, fighter escorts and tactics. Schnell bombers work if you have the accuracy...Now, if only you could join the accuracy of a Stuka with the speed of a Mozzie...then you would have an bomber!
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#15 phylo_roadking

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 01:07 AM

Im just going to wade in and say two things...
Removing guns was asking for an attack on that front...a behind (and below) shot was the desirable angle of attack but if you could offer a pilot with a "safe" attack line...most would take it.


An attack from behind/below wasn't "desirable" - not into the face of 4x.303 MGs - except once Schrage Musik arrived on the scene; it was in many cases the ONLY option available.

To attack from head-on or from the side...meant not only building up enough speed to catch your quarry after chasing it across your Kamhuber Box - but enough MORE to actually outfly it I..E. circle it and THEN attack it from another angle! Meanwhile - if you're spotted - the Lancaster pilot simply piles on more speed far quicker courtesy of Old Man Newton by diving away.


Now, if only you could join the accuracy of a Stuka with the speed of a Mozzie...then you would have an bomber!


After years of experience - the RAF did! Operation Jericho? ;) Whereas at the start of the war, Stuka pilots were only training for accuracies of within 10 metres of target.

then try to defend a max loaded heavy bomber (not by speed) but with guns, armour, fighter escorts and tactics.


That's what the Americans did - but they didn't bomb by night, or face nightfighters.


Well - in the main! If Erich's around again I'm sure he'll have the precise dates - but at one point in the USAAF bombing campaign, before the Thunderbolt arrived - the nightfighter Me110 squadrons were tasked by day against USAAF B-17 box formations and caused losses...

Then, without warning - the Thunderbolt DID arrive! AND along with it - the old tactics for fighting Me110s ;) "Boom and zoom" attacks, like those pioneered by the AVG against lightweight Japanese fighters. The Me110 was only truly manouverable and dogfight-able against single-engined monoplane fighters right up at the top part of its performance envelope, because of its quite small tail surfaces....and its mechanical fuel injectors - and the nightfighter's flame baffles! - meant that it was quite sluggish to accelerate to that top end performance.

First the Poles, then the French, then the RAF...learned to dive at speed onto cruising Me110s from above and behind, fire on them in passing, then dive away at speed - leaving the 110s wallowing behind them and accelerating much more slowly, usually far too slowly to catch up.

IIRC, after experiencing major losses to the first long-range escorting Thunderbolts, the 110s were "withdrawn" back to nightfighter duties...

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#16 CAC

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 01:22 AM

[quote name='phylo_roadking']An attack from behind/below wasn't "desirable" - not into the face of 4x.303 MGs - except once Schrage Musik arrived on the scene; it was in many cases the ONLY option available.

I have to argue this again...A behind shot is ALWAYS the most desirable angle of attack...Any other shot is a deflection shot...a behind shot allows for the possibility of ALL rounds hitting the target...it also gives a maximum slow approach speed, giving the pilot time to line up the target and then line his sites and then maximum time on target. Of course there were plenty of tactics to make the enemy think twice about a behind shot, but they were always what the pilot looked for first...it just makes sense...easier target (cant see you, cant split away without having the same chance of following it), all points of attack available and max rounds hitting...i cant see anyone being able to argue otherwise...Closing distance is another discussion, but behind is by far the "sweet" spot for a fighter pilot...even today. If you attack from behind coming out of a dive the "second shot" is still available.
What aircraft is the combination of Mosquito and Stuka?? The Mozzie was never as accurate as the Stuka...it only takes one 500 pound bomb to blow most things up....(Gestapo HQ excepted...too big). 10m isnt far enough away to avoid damage from a 500lb bomb

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#17 phylo_roadking

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 01:46 AM

A behind shot is ALWAYS the most desirable angle of attack...Any other shot is a deflection shot


Actually - it's the other way round - Deflection or "No Allowance"" shooting is always preferable; a straight-on attack from behind HAS to have "bullet drop" as a factor!

Take a look here, you'll see what I mean - http://freespace.vir...l/Nodeflect.htm

Schrage Musik was the most famous form of "no allowance" shooting during WWI - you didn't have to aim, just cruise along directly underneath the target and press the go button - you can't HELP hitting it!

The British had actually carried out a LOT of research on this before the war in a number of applications - the most advanced of which was the Gloster F.9/37 Gloster F.9/37 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia with its two Hispano cannon buried in the fuselage at an oblique angle, just like Schrage Musik!

Instead, they built the lessons into the Bolton Paul Defiant, and the Blackburn Roc! :o

giving the pilot time to line up the target and then line his sites and then maximum time on target. Of course there were plenty of tactics to make the enemy think twice about a behind shot, but they were always what the pilot looked for first...it just makes sense...easier target (cant see you, cant split away without having the same chance of following it),


Nightfighters COULD be spotted against the night glow - ever flown at high altitude at night in an airliner and looked out the window after dark? It may be night outside by several hours, but back on the Western horizon there's still a distinct glow...enough to silhouette a nightfighter against. And that's where a GCI'd nightfighter would be attacking a bomber from on the way INTO Europe - from behind, to the West after the stern chase to onboard radar acquisition.

And - if spotted - which picks up speed faster in the dive?

A nightfighter already up at the top of its performance envelope to catch the bomber in the first place....the four-engined bomber accelerating to full war power or whatever it's called on a Lancaster....or the bigger, heavier aircraft assisted by gravity? ;)

The Mozzie was never as accurate as the Stuka...it only takes one 500 pound bomb to blow most things up....(Gestapo HQ excepted...too big). 10m isnt far enough away to avoid damage from a 500lb bomb


The Luftwaffe got an embarassing lesson in how accurate and useful the Stuka wasn't at cracking "any" target in the first two days of the Polish campaign - and the aerial attacks on the A/T gun-equiped bunkers on the Mlawa line protecting the city of the same name north of Warsaw.

After several armoured attacks on the Line, the Germans sent in the Stukas - and very few hits were scored on the bunkers - and none of them penetrated. The defenders were rocked and morale suffered to an extent in the bunkers - but there still were distinctly few hits.

This was a battle I hadn't heard of before until the subject came up in a thread on AHF some time ago and I did some searching - read the last few pages here

Axis History Forum • View topic - did the stukas suck so much?

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#18 Poppy

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 02:00 AM

What was the effective range of Schrage? Could they , like, fly 3000 feet below a bomber during daylight? Or was it never deployed during daylight and was a non visual radar controlled weapon?

#19 CAC

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 02:09 AM

Actually - it's the other way round - Deflection or "No Allowance"" shooting is always preferable; a straight-on attack from behind HAS to have "bullet drop" as a factor!

Take a look here, you'll see what I mean - No allowance shooting, a principle of air combat, an overview.

Schrage Musik was the most famous form of "no allowance" shooting during WWI - you didn't have to aim, just cruise along directly underneath the target and press the go button - you can't HELP hitting it!

The British had actually carried out a LOT of research on this before the war in a number of applications - the most advanced of which was the Gloster F.9/37 Gloster F.9/37 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia with its two Hispano cannon buried in the fuselage at an oblique angle, just like Schrage Musik!

Instead, they built the lessons into the Bolton Paul Defiant, and the Blackburn Roc! :o



Nightfighters COULD be spotted against the night glow - ever flown at high altitude at night in an airliner and looked out the window after dark? It may be night outside by several hours, but back on the Western horizon there's still a distinct glow...enough to silhouette a nightfighter against. And that's where a GCI'd nightfighter would be attacking a bomber from on the way INTO Europe - from behind, to the West after the stern chase to onboard radar acquisition.

And - if spotted - which picks up speed faster in the dive?

A nightfighter already up at the top of its performance envelope to catch the bomber in the first place....the four-engined bomber accelerating to full war power or whatever it's called on a Lancaster....or the bigger, heavier aircraft assisted by gravity? ;)



The Luftwaffe got an embarassing lesson in how accurate and useful the Stuka wasn't at cracking "any" target in the first two days of the Polish campaign - and the aerial attacks on the A/T gun-equiped bunkers on the Mlawa line protecting the city of the same name north of Warsaw.

After several armoured attacks on the Line, the Germans sent in the Stukas - and very few hits were scored on the bunkers - and none of them penetrated. The defenders were rocked and morale suffered to an extent in the bunkers - but there still were distinctly few hits.

This was a battle I hadn't heard of before until the subject came up in a thread on AHF some time ago and I did some searching - read the last few pages here

Axis History Forum • View topic - did the stukas suck so much?




Bullet drop isnt a factor in close...if you are at range of course that is a factor and yes makes it a deflection shot also...so you go in close...150-200 yards...if your rounds are dropping at that range, turf them. (not counting .303, which should never have been put in an aircraft in my opinion). Dont where you get defelction being "desirable"...Apart from the odd pilot who trained on deflection shooting (very experienced) the only way to garauntee a hit was from behind...can argue this all day...
Should say at this point i am ONLY talking DAY FIGHTERS...i dont need to tell you that night fighting is a different kettle of fish and required many different tactics...
"or the bigger, heavier aircraft assisted by gravity?" - You're going to kick yourself for writing that : ) hehe...Newton would be rolling his eyes...
And your Stuka anecdote comes from the Spanish war...even the Luftwaffe were inexperienced then! We are talking WW2...and the Stuka was very accurate indeed...(of course not ALL the time).
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#20 Erich

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 02:31 AM

am so pumped full of drugs due to an injury what I am about to write may not make sense ............

phylo first yes the dark black scheme was slowly removed and a more light blue-grey used sometims overall and then a series of darker grey splotches or squiggles to break up the blue as the Allies would look down on the Lw NF. The black ws kept to some degree even in 1945 on the undersufaces. The uppers on Bf 110G-4's and Ju 88G-6's sometimes consisted of a darker scheme of greens and brown violets but this was for the purpose of guarding the NF's during daylight the LW hoping the fighters would melt away on the grass and at tree line from Allied fighter bombers which in most cases found the NF's just sitting on the fields which they promptly shot up.

during the Normandie invasion the Kamm line disintigrated totally, there was not a second line of radar defense, one would say it was haphazard still though protecting vital industrial centers.

The Ju 88 with internal not external tanks could fly at good lengths the nights sorties were ended due to low fuel reserves or running out of ammunition. if the Ju crew although seldom done could intercept the incoming force the possiblity existed to land and refuel and get back in the air to intercept the outgoing Bombers.

The SM installation probably had the ranges of upwards 1000 feet though the NF crews got in much closer looking for the dampning flames of the 4-engines and then slowly closed upwad targeting the inner wing adjoing structures and the inboard enignes allowing the flames casued by the 2cm/3cm rounds to spread to the fuel tanks in the wings. And no not regualted by on board radar this was strictly the eyes of the pilot using an overhead into the canopy sighting system. the 2cm rounds in this case Glimmspur were a very faint form of Incendiary tracer. and no it was only used at night.

as to the Bf 110G-4's/Ju 88C's yes in late 1943 into spring of 1944 but the attrition rate grew so high the T/E's were removed from daylight operations via combat with US fighter escorts chiefly the P-47D variants.

hope this helps guys . . . .
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#21 Poppy

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 03:23 AM

Even full of drugs, Erich is the bomb...Hope you're ok there.

#22 CAC

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 03:45 AM

am so pumped full of drugs due to an injury what I am about to write may not make sense ............

phylo first yes the dark black scheme was slowly removed and a more light blue-grey used sometims overall and then a series of darker grey splotches or squiggles to break up the blue as the Allies would look down on the Lw NF. The black ws kept to some degree even in 1945 on the undersufaces. The uppers on Bf 110G-4's and Ju 88G-6's sometimes consisted of a darker scheme of greens and brown violets but this was for the purpose of guarding the NF's during daylight the LW hoping the fighters would melt away on the grass and at tree line from Allied fighter bombers which in most cases found the NF's just sitting on the fields which they promptly shot up.



during the Normandie invasion the Kamm line disintigrated totally, there was not a second line of radar defense, one would say it was haphazard still though protecting vital industrial centers.

The Ju 88 with internal not external tanks could fly at good lengths the nights sorties were ended due to low fuel reserves or running out of ammunition. if the Ju crew although seldom done could intercept the incoming force the possiblity existed to land and refuel and get back in the air to intercept the outgoing Bombers.

The SM installation probably had the ranges of upwards 1000 feet though the NF crews got in much closer looking for the dampning flames of the 4-engines and then slowly closed upwad targeting the inner wing adjoing structures and the inboard enignes allowing the flames casued by the 2cm/3cm rounds to spread to the fuel tanks in the wings. And no not regualted by on board radar this was strictly the eyes of the pilot using an overhead into the canopy sighting system. the 2cm rounds in this case Glimmspur were a very faint form of Incendiary tracer. and no it was only used at night.

as to the Bf 110G-4's/Ju 88C's yes in late 1943 into spring of 1944 but the attrition rate grew so high the T/E's were removed from daylight operations via combat with US fighter escorts chiefly the P-47D variants.

hope this helps guys . . . .



Forgot one thing....Once you fire your cannon, get the F out of there! One fires from below and behind...guess where the debri wants to fall??
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#23 Justin Smith

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:14 AM

I dunno...To knock out a large target like marshaling yards, refineries, manufacturing plants etc, it would take many tons of bombs. More economical to build 1000 bombers that deliver 10000lbs each rather than 2000 delivering 5000lbs and all the related maintenance,fuel, pilots etc. Also the fire generated by many bombs at once figured into the destruction so a larger concentration of heavy bombers overhead would be more destructive than the same amount of light fast bombers...

The US counted on combined firepower of the box formation for protection rather than speed.

Not to mention fighter escort.


Which didn`t work.......

(I accept that the escort fighters, particularly the Mustangs, did work, which makes one wonder why it wasn`t tried earlier, after all drop tanks weren`t a new idea in 1942)

Edited by Justin Smith, 25 October 2011 - 07:31 AM.


#24 Justin Smith

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:23 AM

Justin, you've got that a bit "@rse-about face" as we say at home. The Mossie's reduced losses in the FNSF were due to its speed. Its speed meant that it had fewer losses - if it's speed had been around that of a Lanc, then more losses.
ANY aircraft cruising at, say, somewhere under the Lanc's max of ~280 mph will be caught and punished, with whatever degree of difficulty, but they will be caught.
How the RAF then overawed the Kamhuber Line was by the Bomber Stream tactic...
Remember up the thread I described an LW nightfighter orbiting in its box?Once it had completed its chase - whether successfully or unsuccessfully - it THEN had to get back into its box to be GCI'd by its controller onto another contact....and the whole operations began again.
A nightfighter could ONLY do this a fixed number of times per sortie/per fuel load!
By "streaming" heavies through a handful of boxes, instead of a clumped formation, the RAF forced the nightfighters to fly back and forth over the sky all night, but with a finite number of interceptions each. To combat that, the Germans had to move to more and more individual radars, and more and more individual nightfighter-controller pairings per box...making the Kamhuber Line very clumsy and overly-crowded/complicated. But once trapped into it, all the Germans could do was expand it/extend it - they didn't manage to come up with a viable and improved alternative....or even one that could be out in place without leaving Germany vulnerable for x-amount of time WHILE it was put in place!
So that's how losses were cut...to a mimium level of attrition/nightfighter interceptions that could be absorbed by Bomber Command nightly.
If the Mossie had flown at the Lanc's speed - it WOULD have suffered that minimum attrition at least. But because of it's higher speed - it didn't.
As for escort fighters - don't forget that Nightfighter Mosquitos accompanied Bomber Command raids over Berlin etc.!


Breakdown in communication here, I`m saying the speed of the Mosquito was significant, and, in fact, all bombers used without heavy fighter escort, should have had a similar speed.
I accept what you say that bomber streams and other counter measures (mainly electronic) lowered the loss rate on the Bomber Command heavies, but the loss rate was still too high.
Far too high.
A 5% loss rate was considered acceptable, that`s 5% per sortie !
I can`t think such a loss rate would be acceptable in any other mainstream branch of the British military.
I don`t think it was acceptable, mainly the death rates of those brave young men, but also the sheer cost of it. Not only the cost of the heavies themselves, but the cost of training up all those crew, to last such a short time on ops.

Edited by Justin Smith, 25 October 2011 - 07:32 AM.


#25 Justin Smith

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Posted 25 October 2011 - 07:25 AM

Hi Poppy...
Well, by the end of the war IIRC the Heavy Force had a theoretical force of ~3,500 four-engined heavies!
As for maintenance - well, there's only a given maximum number of nights in a month that bombers, whatever they are, could hope to sortie, because of the moon state etc.
But in turn - don't forget that ideally, the Mosquitos allowed far more "precise" delivery of munitions than the Lancasters and other heavies offered midwar. In effect - the Light Night/Fast Night Striking Force brought Bomber Command "back" to where it THOUGHT it had been in 1940-41 - capable of night precision bombing ;) And in a given operation, the Mossies MAY have dropped less, but if they dropped it more often on or closer to the defined target....


Agree completely.




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