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Dive-Bombers vs Torpedo Bombers

Discussion in 'Air Warfare' started by DesertWolf, Dec 3, 2004.

  1. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Indeed, but if the Devastators at Midway had been replaced entirely with Avengers would they have fared any better? I think everything points to the conclusion that very little would have changed.

    The fault for the annihilation of the Devastators at Midway lies more in the circumstances of the action than the aircraft.
     
  2. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    Exchange Swordfish for Devastators and you might get more planes back ( the Swordfish was a bloody tricky customer to shoot down ) probably would get any torpedo strikes though.

    I agree with you any torpedo bombers in that situation are going to get mauled the only question is how badly.
     
  3. DesertWolf

    DesertWolf Member

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    The avenger would have done a little better than the Devestator thanks to some higher capabilities butr the end result would have been clearly the same. How in hell did those debestator pilots not boil with fear? :eek:

    Either theyre damned stupid or damned brave to go in on the carriers with Aircraft shooting them down and alone like that.

    Simonr: I believe the Kate is a better aircraft than the Devestator but it would have suffered the same damage as the Devestators at midway.

    Incidentally, are you guys sure that the Devestator saw its last missions at Midway? I seem to recall that a few were used to fly a couple of subhunting missions after midway before being withdrawn from service.
     
  4. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    These are the stats I've been able to find.

    B5N Kate
    Engine Nakajima Sakae 21 14-cylinder radial 1,115 hp
    Weight empty: 2,270 kg (5,005 lb) - loaded: 4,100 kg (9,039 lb)
    Armament One defensive 7.7mm gun in the rear cockpit.
    Ordnance Three 250 kg (550 lb) bombs, or one 800 kg (1,764 lb) torpedo.
    Performance Max speed: 377 km/h (235 mph)
    Ceiling: 8,250 m (27,067 ft)
    Range: 1,237 miles

    TBD Devastator
    Wingspan: 50 feet
    Length: 35 feet
    Height: 15 feet 1 inch
    Ceiling: 20,800 feet
    Range: 435 miles
    Gross weight: 9,862 pounds
    Power plant: One 900-horsepower Pratt & Whitney R-1830-64 engine
    Speed: 296 mph
    Accommodation: Three crew
    Armament: .50-inch machine gun, .30-inch machine gun, 1,200-pound bomb load

    So the Devastator has superior speed and armament and protection, both carry a torpedo of which the Japanese examples were far superior to the US ones, although the Kate has a superior bomload for level bombing, but that was of secondary importance to its role as a torpedo bomber.

    The Kate has much superior range and ceiling, although the latter is pretty irrelevant to a torpedo bomber, and overall the Devastator's top speed is not really much benefit as both have to slow to about 100-150 mph to drop their torpedoes.

    I'd still rather be in the Devastator as with superior armament and armour (And speed to escape once the torpedo's been dropped) you're more likely to survive an engagement, but in every other practical respect I agree the Kate is the better plane.

    As for the US Torpedo crews, no they were not stupid, they knew very well the odds they were facing but the Marauders, Avengers and Devastators went in anyway.
     
  5. DesertWolf

    DesertWolf Member

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    Your Info is not the same as mine:

    Douglas TBD-1 Devestator:

    Type: Torpedo
    year: 1937
    Engine: Pratt and Whitney R-1830-64 Twin Wasp, 14-cylinder radial, aircolled, 900h.p.
    Weight: 10,194lbs.
    Max. speed: 206mph at 8,000ft
    Ceiling: 19,700ft
    Range: 716miles
    Armament: 1 .50machine gun , 1 .30machine gun, 1,000lbs. of bombs.
    Crew:3


    Nakajima B5N2:

    Type: Torpedo
    Year:1940
    Engine: Nakajima NK1B Sakae 11, 14-cylinder radial, air-cooled, 1,000h.p.
    Weight: 8,360lbs.
    Max. speed: 235 m.p.h. at 11,810 ft.
    Ceiling: 27,100 ft.
    Range: 1,237miles
    Armament: 1 machine gun, one 1,760lb torpedo or bombs.
    Crew: 3


    So if my info is correct the kate was faster than the Devestator.

    Add to it the much better range (about double :eek: ) and muche better ceiling and you have an excellent toredo bomber for its time.

    Lets not forget that the Kates torpedo was much better than that of the Devestator.

    In terms of armament an additional machinegun will pmake almost no defirrence in protection (as we see at Midway) and the Devestator had only a very slight advantage over the Kate in terms of armor. Both planes were not well protected.

    So in overall id think the Kate was superior to the TBD.


    As for the torpedo bombers being stupid, it was an expression of admiration of their courage as you would notice from my sentence.

    "Either theyre damned stupid or damned brave to go in on the carriers with Aircraft shooting them down and alone like that."
     
  6. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    I found the same top speed for the Devastator, however this was it's speed with Torpedo, whereas the figure for the Kate is without.

    Clean (without torpedo) the Devastator is faster.
     
  7. DesertWolf

    DesertWolf Member

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    What about the range?
     
  8. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Hmmm, there does seem a couple of discrepencies there I have to admit, I'll check my books against what I found on the net and reply again later, especially as the top speed I had does seem optimistic...

    As for the torpedo bombers being stupid, it was an expression of admiration of their courage as you would notice from my sentence.

    "Either theyre damned stupid or damned brave to go in on the carriers with Aircraft shooting them down and alone like that."


    I know, I was just trying to reiterate that...
     
  9. Skua

    Skua New Member

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    Concerning range. It seems to me that the discrepancies between different sources are often caused by some sources giving the ferry range while others give the combat range. The ferry range should be about the double of the combat range.
     
  10. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Right, I've come to the conclusion that the information I posted earlier regarding the Devastator and which I took from a website was to say the least hopelessly innaccurate.

    Let that be a lesson on the perils of trusting internet research!

    Desertwolf, the information in my books seems to tie in with what you have posted, 206mph was the Devastator's top speed, the ceiling is as you've quoted, my books give the range of the Devastator as 416 miles, but include the important information that this is its range carrying a Torpedo, I would guess then the 716 miles is its range unladen.

    It could apparently carry either a Torpedo or a 1,000lb bomb, it is possible that the Torpedo perhaps weighed in heavier which could account for the higher figure of 1,200lbs and that the 1,000lb bomb was simply the largest available to the US Navy at the time, however I'm not particularly inclined to trust the internet source so I think it's fair to assume the maximum load to be the lower figure.

    The effectiveness or not of the Torpedo as much as is crucial in battle is not directly related to the capabilties of the aircraft, although it is worth mentioning that the Japanese Torpedoes were probably the best in the world at that time.

    Overall, I agree with you that the Kate was clearly superior to the Devastator.
     
  11. canambridge

    canambridge Member

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    With all due respect, I think you're letting your national allegiance show here. Exchange Swordfish with Devastator and nobdy gets back alive. The Japanese had real fighters and real anti-aicraft, something the Swordfish rarely had to face in the Atlantic. Look at the Channel Dash for a glimpse of how the Swordfish may have done in the Pacific. I think 7 of the 41 Devastors sent out made it back. One of six Avengers, and two of four torpedo carrying B-26 survived.
     
  12. DesertWolf

    DesertWolf Member

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    You summed it up pretty well :D



    Im inclined to agree with canambridge about the swordfish
     
  13. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    Possibly but bear in mind the Swordfish was a very difficult plane to shoot down. Experence showed that the combination of it's slow speed, tight turning circle, ability to go into a near vertial dive and capacity to soak up massive damage and remain airborn, made it damn near impossible for a single fighter to shoot down.

    I've heard that Japanese AA wasn't that great, thoughts and comments?
     
  14. Ricky

    Ricky Well-Known Member

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    Although only the slow speed & ability to absorb damage help during the torpedo run...
    I'd have to say that I broadly agree with canambridge (how shocking, a Brit arguing against British equipment!! :D ), although the Channel Dash is a little skewed, as only 6 Swordfish were sent out.

    However, for a high-performance fighter to shoot down a low & slow plane is not easy...
     
  15. DesertWolf

    DesertWolf Member

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    The swordfish was able to absorb damage in proportion to its meager structure, however enough rounds (especially cannon) and the swordfish would be destroyed.
     
  16. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    One of the reasons the swordfish was so resilient was that canon shells didn't work all that well against it. Unless they hit something solid they would just zip through leaving small holes.

    To give examples of the type resilience, during the Bismark attack one Swordfish staggered home with 175 separate holes in the wings and fuselage, another minus it's entire floor. After the attack on Taranto one Swordfish gone back to the carrier with it's fuselage bent like a banana and two of the control surfaces jammed in opposite directions.
     
  17. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    "Experence showed that the combination of it's slow speed, tight turning circle, ability to go into a near vertial dive and capacity to soak up massive damage and remain airborn, made it damn near impossible for a single fighter to shoot down."

    Tight turning circle is no use in these circumstances as you're going to have to fly straight and level on your run in, the ability to go into a near vertical dive is of limited application when the highest altitude you can drop a 1942 vintage USN Air Torpedo from is 100ft (That's one evasive move you're only going to try once!), the slow speed is just going to mean that you're going spend longer under the guns of the Zeroes so the capacity to soak up massive damage is going to be needed in abundance!

    Oh, and there's not going to be a single fighter, don't forget the torpedo squadrons here attracted the attention of the entire Japanese Combat Air Patrol!

    "I've heard that Japanese AA wasn't that great, thoughts and comments?"

    Here it didn't need to be, less the 36 Zeroes that were escorting the Midway Island strike they had four carriers worth of fighters to deal with the Torprons.

    "However, for a high-performance fighter to shoot down a low & slow plane is not easy..."

    They handled the Devastators pretty easily...

    Regarding the Midway torpedo planes losses Canambridge is right, however both the surviving Marauders and the Avenger (which the pilot somehow managed to navigate back with his gunner dead and compass shot away) crashed on landing and were written off, the only aircraft of the torpedo stike to remain in any condition to fight the next day were the handful of Devastators.
     
  18. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    I don't know assuming Swordfish weave and dive when attacked they could keep the zeros pratting around for quite a while. Of the course the chances of any of the swordfish scoring a torpedo hit wouldn't so much drop as nose dive.

    A though occurs (rare event), the Americans arrive piece-meal at mid way. The Japanese fighter cover got sucked down to fight the torpedo bombers leaving the dive bombers who arrive late to attack without fighter interfereance. Mess with the composition of the force and you mess with this fortunate accident of war.
     
  19. Simonr1978

    Simonr1978 New Member

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    Let me just say this again, you're flying at 100ft, where exactly are you going to dive to?!? :roll:

    You're on the torpedo run, you have to fly straight, you cannot weave, if you're going to start weaving around in order to somehow keep the Zeroes busy (And for what purpose since none of the attack waves at Midway actually communicated with each other?), you might as well just ditch your torpedo and open the throttles as wide as they'll go to try and get away from the Zeroes and Japanese Warships as quickly as possible.

    Your point about altering the composition of the force is valid, however I would assume that although the composition of the force was changed the arrival timings somehow remained the same in our Alternate History.

    In any case I would suggest that pretty much whatever (WWII) Carrier type you change the torpedo bombers to, they're going to get butchered regardless.
     
  20. Ebar

    Ebar New Member

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    I don't think we're really disagreeing. The above came from my first comment when we started to go down this track.

    I think you'll get a get a greater number of surviors if you exchange the Devastators for Swordfish, but you won't get a greater number of torpedo strikes.

    Unfortunately at Midway the torpedo bombers played the role of bullet sponge thus leaving the field clear for the Dauntless Divebomber to change the course of the Pacific War.
     

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