Best biplane divebomber

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Admiral Beez

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Oct 21, 2019
Toronto, Canada
Biplane dive bombers include aircraft such as the Fairey Albacore, Aichi D1A, Curtiss SBC, Henschel Hs 123 and Heinkel He 50. Which one can carry the heaviest load, the fastest, accurately hit the target whilst defending itself from interception?
 
Hi,
Overall I guess I kind of tend to not really get too much into trying to compare different planes, ships, tanks, and such too closely on details as each design could probably be greatly impacted by the requirements set forth by their respective governments etc. And sometimes the percieved shortcomings of a given design may be more of an issue with the shortcomings of those who drew up the requirements etc to predict what may be needed and/or attainable in the timeframe that the design would serve.

That said though, I have always liked the SBC, with its enclosed greenhouse and retractable wheels marriede to its biplane layout. As such, it kind of has a "retro-future" look and feel to it for me :)
 
That said though, I have always liked the SBC, with its enclosed greenhouse and retractable wheels marriede to its biplane layout. As such, it kind of has a "retro-future" look and feel to it for me :)
Me too. Give the Helldiver folding wings (presumably from the Curtiss Seagull shown folded below) and we have a candidate for the FAA instead of the shockingly slow Skua. And one that can carry double the bombload (if a 1,000 lb AP bomb can be found for the FAA).

Curtiss_Cleveland.jpg


SOC-seagull-foldedwings-CV.jpg


To be fair, while the Skua is 9 mph slower at max speed, it does have a 12 mph advantage over the SBC in cruise speed. This is assuming we can/should trust Wikipedia. And of course a folding SBC would be heavier, especially to take divebombing strain, and thus perhaps slower.
 
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The Albacore could carry the most due to needing to haul a torpedo.

The Curtis and Henshel could carry 1/2 of that (1000 lbs).

The Aichi and the Heinkel could carry 1/2 of that (500 lbs).

The Curtis was fastest at 230 mph (15,200 ft).

None of them would have maneuvered worth a damn while loaded but the SBC would have, I'd bet, the best chance of avoiding slaughter against real fighters.

The Henschel was almost as fast and with the 2 MG FF 20mm canons that were a field mod, it was easily the best of them at the close air support job, probably why they were used until all were gone. The Luftwaffe having air superiority for at least some of that time helped too.

Ultimately? I'd prefer to be in one of the F3Fs escorting the SBCs to the target & back ;)

(all numbers are WIKI since I don't have any books)
 
I don't think the RN had anothing larger than a 500 lb bomb. And this would have to be centreline mounted, so the Albacore is limited. Could it dive at sharp angles?
Yes it could. Both it and the Swordfish had to be capable of diving steeply because that was part and parcel of the RN torpedo attack technique. Replace the torpedo with bombs and they could serve as dive bombers. The Albacore could even use its flaps as dive brakes if needed.
 
Let us make it clear. Both the Swordfish and Albacore had dive bombing as part of the doctrine and both were used very successfully as dive bombers in the close support role in France and North Africa as well as elsewhere. At Taranto, for example, the oil tanks were a dive bombing target for several of the Swordfish. No dive bombing special attachment bar choosing the under wing bomb racks from standard stores.

Part of answering the OP is deciding on the task in hand. The HS123 use bears no resemblance to the long range ship borne strike task. Bomb load, cruising speed and range play a part. Taking these into account I plump for the Albacore, accepting that none on the list will survive an unescorted encounter with enemy fighters bar. Endurance may let them out manoeuvre the fighters if those are near the limit of their range and have to disengage after a short while. Another factor might be the training of the crews and available navigation devices for night and bad weather actions. IIRC there were no ship borne radar equipped night fighters until the end of Fulmar MkII production so the best that might be done is the ship's radar placing a day fighter some where in the vague vicinity of the incoming dive bombers. Albeit in the dark/ rain and good luck making a night landing.
 
repost from another thread:

The RN/FAA actually did spec and purchase a small quantity of 1500 lb AP bombs pre-war. It was basically a shorter version of the RAF 2000 lb AP bomb. It had the same 13.5" diameter and basic nose profile. The lighter weight was to allow the carriage by any FAA aircraft that could carry a torpedo, including the Swordfish and Albacore. I have not been able to find any specific info on when/where it was employed, just that the small number that had been purchased were used up in the early war during the BoF/pre-BoB period.

The FAA/RAF also had a 500 lb AP bomb (technically listed as 450 lb AP) that was 9.2" diameter. Again, the supply was used up in the early-war.

also:

Swordfish and Albacore 'normal' dive angles in training were 60°-70° with underwing bombs, though lower angles were often used in operations depending on circumstances. The Albacore was trialed during development and the dive angle limit was determined to be 60° when dropping centerline ordnance - I do not know the limit for the Swordfish when carrying centerline stores. I do not know if either type actually dropped centerline ordnance during operations while dive bombing.
 
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Dive brakes - tick (it used its flaps if necessary)
Bomb load - 2,000lb
Cradle - who needs it when the designed bomb load (4x500lb or 6x250lb) was carried under the wings!

Don't forget its dive bomber role in the 1930s was tearing up unarmoured Carrier flight decks and damaging ships' AA and upperworks o allow the TB to do the real damage.
 
Dive brakes - tick (it used its flaps if necessary)
Bomb load - 2,000lb
Cradle - who needs it when the designed bomb load (4x500lb or 6x250lb) was carried under the wings!

Don't forget its dive bomber role in the 1930s was tearing up unarmoured Carrier flight decks and damaging ships' AA and upperworks o allow the TB to do the real damage.
So in other words... only good for attacking lightly to non armored/protected targets.

NOT able to attack concrete-protected targets, nor heavy warships -due to its inability to properly dive-bomb with a heavy bomb, just a "moderately steep downward glide", not a dive.

Using a dive to quickly reduce altitude before leveling out THEN releasing the weapon is NOT "dive-bombing", it is level bombing with a "rapid descent approach to target" profile.

Dive bombing includes releasing the weapon while still in a steep dive.
 
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Dive bombing includes releasing the weapon while still in a steep dive.
As an Albacore did (as did the Swordfish, albeit with a smaller bomb load). Not only onto ships but on specific ground targets as in France and North Africa.

BTW Gloster Gauntlets and Vickers Vincent's were used in a dive bombing role in Sudan by the South Africans. Also the Hawker Hart series did dive bombing and were used in the East African campaign and Iraq.

FWIW the South Africans also used a Vickers Valentia as a bomber there too. Mercifully not as a dive bomber. That would have looked like a galleon under full sail gracefully sinking into the depths. Albeit a galleon with a 2,200lb bombload.
 
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