F6Fs dive-bombing capability

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by VBF-13, Nov 23, 2013.

  1. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I’ve talked to pilots who flew these, a number of whom got their wings in SBDs. The upshot is, the F6Fs were easier to dive-bomb in.

    I’m not taking anything away from the SBDs. The SBDs were crackerjack dive bombers. The F6Fs were easier to get on target, adjustment-wise, than the SBDs. I don’t know that that had to do with the greater thrust, or what, perhaps minimizing the adjustments for drag, and such. I know that the SBD pilots were highly-qualified and could put those bombs where they needed to be. Maybe, I’m just saying, in the F6Fs, they didn’t have to be as highly-qualified. Gosh, forgive me, I don’t have Wikipedia backup on any of that.

    Technically, I’m wondering, is there any basis for the claim? Focus on the approach to the target. Why would it take less skill to hit the target in an F6F than in an SBD? Is there a simple answer?

    I’ll just add this. A lot of F6F pilots got through Pensacola on other aircraft. They switched over to F6Fs. My Dad was one of those. He loved the SBDs, very, very much. In fact, when I took him to Kalamazoo, the kid let him in the ropes, to answer the audience’s questions, and he went on for a good hour, and had that audience spellbound. But he maintained, throughout, he was over-qualified in the SBDs. Hey, there’s a reason these pilots loved that F6F. What can I tell you?

    Getting back to the question, is there any basis for the claim? Yes, I want to hear the technicalities that bear. To this point, all I really know is, the claims. Maybe some of you can help me on that. I probably may not understand very much, but if you’ll try, I’ll try. Thanks.
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    That does wonders for range/payload. It's the same reason P-47 had a large payload. However I doubt the fighter aircraft had accuracy anywhere near as good as a purpose built dive bomber. Nor were the fighter aircraft armored against ground fire.
     
  3. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    #3 VBF-13, Nov 23, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
    Dave, the F6Fs were built for dive-bombing, right out of the box. In the VBF squadrons, where they particularly exploited that aspect, the pilots had more hours logged in bombing and specials (combining the two aspects) than in gunnery. When it came to bombing, this multipurpose aircraft was no geranium. In the VF squadrons, there they focused more on gunnery.

    Back to the question, could it be the handling? It was just easier to "keep on the road," so to speak? What technical factors would bear on that, give a dive-bombing aircraft an edge in that?
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    .....No dive brakes.
    .....No dive bomber sight.
    .....Could not carry bombs larger then 500 lbs.
    .....Cockpit not armored to protect pilot against ground fire.
    .....No automatic device to assist with pull out from dive.

    What makes you think F6F was designed for dive bombing?
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Could be a number of things.

    Aileron response, elevator response. Did the dive brakes on the SBD disrupt the air flow to the tail control surfaces?
    Stability in the dive, no porpoising or snaking?

    On some aircraft the air flow over the control surfaces and the control effort needed to move the surfaces just hit "sweet" spots that made the airplane easier to control even the peak performance or limits (turning circles, etc) weren't much different.
     
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  6. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    I'm sure this will start a fight but I don't believe the F6F can be a dive bomber in the classic near vertical dive mode. My reasoning is this, please note the propeller arc in this diagram
    grumman_hellcat.gif
    The Hellcat drop tank and bomb pylons are all behind this arc

    464px-F6F_VF-11_CV-12_1945.jpg F6FHellcataircraftofBombingSquadron808ontheHMSKhediveD62oftheRoyalNavyinthePacificin1945_zps4cc6.jpg

    anything released from those stations in a vertical or near vertical dive will strike the prop.

    The SBD, like the Stuka and Val , got around this by using a bomb trapeze and mounting stations outside the propeller arc
     
  7. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    #7 VBF-13, Nov 23, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
    This is more like it, thanks. There was something that made these pilots like these for bombing, Short.

    On Dave's last reply, Dave, I guess that's what I'm asking. It wasn't constituted like an SBD. Still, those pilots knew how to come out of a blackout, without an assist. In an SBD, if you could help it, you're going to scram, once you dropped those bombs. In the F6F, you're going to go right back up there and get back into the fight. It wasn't designed to be an SBD. I didn't mean that. But name me one fighter that spends half its training hours dive-bombing. These were bombing-capable. And that didn't happen by accident.
     
  8. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I don't know that they brought them in that "hot," you might be right. But I like your pictures.
     
  9. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    I'll offer this as some framework, perhaps, for the question. Just so you all don't get down so hard on little old me for asking it, lol. I suppose any fighter can be rigged for dive-bombing. I don't think that's so insurmountable a problem. An Aronca Chief can probably be rigged for dive-bombing. The thing about these F6Fs is that was premeditated in the design. They knew these would be used for dive-bombing. I believe the same holds for the F4Us. At any rate, it's atypical to think of these multipurpose aircraft as dive-bombers, I'll give you all that much. We're rather accustomed to rating them on their gunnery aspects, hardly ever on their bombing aspects.
     
  10. MikeGazdik

    MikeGazdik Member

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    #10 MikeGazdik, Nov 24, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2013
    I do not see how a bomb dropped would accelerate through the prop? Plane diving at 450mph, drops bomb. The bomb now has to deal with aerodynamic drag, without the thrust it had when attached to the airplane. It will decelerate faster than the airplane. And unless the aircraft is at 90 degrees, which is unlikely, it will slow down and "fall away" from the airplane. So it will not strike the prop. The bomb has no thrust, and gravity will pull it away from the airplane, it will not hit the prop.

    This has nothing to do with the other merits of flight and design you guys are discussing. Help me if I am wrong.
     
  11. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that you are, not least because "vertical" was a term used for a steep dive of 70 degrees or more. The USAAF tested the P-47 and discovered that a centrally mounted bomb did not strike the propeller in a "vertical" release. I don't see why the F6F should be different.

    It was probably a good dive bomber due to stability in all axes in the dive. Any tendency to skid for example would throw off the aim. Contemporary reports would suggest that the F6F had good dive properties, though the dive speed limits set were not very high.

    Despite Davebender's comments the F6F was regarded as a very rugged aeroplane, capable of absorbing considerable punishment, and did carry significant armour, though it was not specially armoured as a dive bomber.
    On the other hand I agree with him that it wasn't designed primarily as a dive bomber, it was ordered as a back up to the F4U. It was primarily a fighter, designed for fleet defence. At the time almost every fighter was being pressed into a fighter bomber role and the F6F was certainly better equipped for that than many, even if inadvertently. It is often overlooked, just what a large aeroplane it was.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  12. BiffF15

    BiffF15 Well-Known Member

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    I've dropped "manual" or WW2 style bombs with both the AT-38 and the OV-10 Bronco. Hands down the AT-38 was much more accurate and it was simply due to how true, smooth, stable the plane flew. The 38 had no adverse yaw, Bronco did, the 38 had a very high wing loading while the Bronco did not (less bouncing around or more stable), and the 38 had power reserve to get to speed that the mighty B did not.

    It could be that at pickle speed the F6F was easier to make corrections with, or fly as compared to the SBD. It also had quite a bit more power. It was also much newer and benifited from advances made during that time.

    Or, it could be that the pilots preferred having the ability to tangle with the enemy on favorable odds AFTER having dropped their gravity propelled free fall devices.

    Cheers,
    Biff
     
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  13. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    Missed this. Make that capacity two 1000 lb. bombs.
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Most fighter-bomber hardpoints did not allow weapons that heavy. Was this a special version of F6F with stronger then normal hardpoints?
     
  15. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

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    You bet, Dave. That's the main reason this undercarriage was no F4F undercarriage. This aircraft had the capacity to carry two 1000s under the wings just aside the belly or one right under the belly.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Most?

    P-38- two 1000lb to 2000lb bombs.
    P-47-once they put hard points under the wing -two 1000lb bombs.
    P-51- started at two 500lb bombs, went to 1000lb bombs I beleive with the "D"D model?
    F6F-once they installed hard points, were always a pair of 1000lb bombs
    F4U-1000lb bombs or larger
    Notice a trend here? Once the engine power got beyond 1200-1400hp the Americans went for a pretty much standardized 2000lb bomb load minimum.
    Typhoons and Tempests could carry pairs of 1000lb bombs.

    few other fighters had the power (and wing) to lift 2000lbs bombs and carry them very far so there was little sense in rigging multiple 1000lb hard points on them.
     
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  17. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    #17 Glider, Nov 30, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2013
    I suspect its more to do with the tactical situation that dictates the training, rather than the fighter . As far as the RAF was concerned the Typhoon pilots were mainly trained in GA but that is to be expected. Spit IX pilots from basically D Day on spent most of their time being trained in GA tactics and those units with the Spit XIV which were used as fighter cover spent most of their training on fighter tactics. It depended on the how the aircraft was to be used. A Spit in late 1944 would be more likely to be trained in Fighter tactics as they fulfilled the cover role in the PTO

    I don't know but would expect that the P47's on the 9th Air Force had a similar approach to training and concentrate on the GA role
     
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  18. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    After the rejection of dive bombing by the Air Ministry/RAF no dedicated ground attack aircraft were employed by the RAF in Europe or the Middle East. Consequently, in early 1941, no operational British fighter could carry bombs, as noted in an RAF Intelligence Report, commenting on the earlier use of Luftwaffe fighters in a bomber role. ('Co-operation between the German Air Force and the Army' PRO AIR 40/2054). Since their aircraft were unable to carry bombs, RAF fighter pilots were not trained in bombing tactics.

    The RAF's first fighter-bomber attack in Europe was carried out by Hurricane IIBs of 607 squadron in October 1941, nearly two years into the war.

    The RAF's first fighter-bomber attack in the Mediterranean was carried out by Hurricane Is of 80 squadron, fitted with eight under wing 40lb fragmentation bombs, in support of Operation Crusader a month or so later.
    These pilots presumably received "on the job training" at their units. The RAF had a policy whereby all pilots finished their training at an operational unit in any case.

    Subsequently bombing methods and tactics became part of the training for all RAF fighter pilots. Special courses were also run for operational pilots, either as refreshers or like the three week rocket firing course for Typhoon pilots. All RAF fighter pilots, regardless of what aircraft they would eventually fly at an operational squadron were trained in fighter-bomber tactics.

    A quick look at my own father's post war (early 1950s) log books would show that he spent a great deal of his flying time at 801 Squadron (Fleet Air Arm) practicing bombing, more than on air to air tactics.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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  19. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    If true then why weren't 1,000 lb or larger bombs employed against the Metz fortress system during fall 1944 by fighter-bombers?
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It agrees with tables I have for US fighter in North West Europe, apart from the P-51.

    P-38 L - 2 x 1000lb bombs, combat radius on internal fuel only - 260 miles.

    P-47 D - 2 x 1000lb bombs, combat radius on internal fuel only - 230 miles.

    P-51 B/C/D - 2 x 500lb bombs, combat radius on internal fuel only - 325 miles.

    The tables are based on ' The USAAF evaluation board in the European Theater of Operations, Report No. 33 - Tactics and Techniques of the Tactical Air Commands in the ETO'.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
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