Combat Air Patrol

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by Francis marliere, Feb 8, 2012.

  1. Francis marliere

    Aug 9, 2004
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:

    I request your help up a difficult subject : the effectiveness of combat air patrol. I would like to know how often and how far from the carrier / airbase an annemy strike can be intercepted.

    I understand that it's a difficult question because it depends on a lot of factors (help of radar or visual search only, visibility, cloud cover, etc.) and would appreciate your help because I could find no information yet.

    Thanks a lot for any help,

    Francis Marliere
  2. oldcrowcv63

    oldcrowcv63 Well-Known Member

    Jan 12, 2012
    Likes Received:
    Trophy Points:
    Tired and Retired
    Northeast North Carolina
    #2 oldcrowcv63, Feb 9, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2012
    Happy to help if I can... I have actually spent some time thinking about this subject and it's not an easy one to assess. It is most interesting in 1942 when the tactics used were in development. By the end of 1943, USN CAP had become essentially impermeable until the advent of the Kamikaze, essentially an unmanned cruise missle. There were a number of remedies tried, none of which were completely satisfactory.

    Circa-1942, CAP typically had warning of incoming raids at distances of between 50 to 100 nm. Intercepts occurred at about 25 to 30. long range intercepts were rare except for snoopers.

    CAP interceptors pretty much had one chance to get it right. The relative velocities of pursuer and target were such that reengagements were tough to do and creating a running battle back to the base or carrier was something that was pursued but with more success later in WW2 than earlier. CAP pursuit would typically break off when in friendly AA Range.

    There were very effective RADAR directed CAP intercepts at Coral Sea, and Midway but diffculties arose during Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz battles that weren't really solved until better RADAR related technology and the F6F Hellcat came available. In general, early CAP experience showed promise but to be fully effective, required a better interceptor than was available until late 1943. Today's CAP is somewhat different while retaining some basic principles. Modern CAP is primarily designed to counter the cruise missle threat to the Carrier battle group and not so focused on manned bombers. That means intercepting at very long range. The F-14 was the penultimate CAP interceptor and the F-18 models can't duplicate its capability as far as I know.

    For practical history on this subject I recommend John Lundstrom's two volume First Team Books that discuss the first 6 moths of WW2 and the Guadacanal campaign in turn.

    You might also read Robert Shaw's Fighter Combat (Shaw is a retired USN fighter pilot) although Lundstrom claims he has ignored much of the most interesting USN develpments in concentrating on USAF issues.

    For some period orientation check out the USN 3 part training video describing CAP tactics


    In the video you'll hear fighter direction terms:

    "Buster" means proceed at maximum speed
    "Hey Rube" means return in the direction of the ship.
    "Tallyho!" means enemy aircraft sighted

Share This Page