Flak suppression

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by wuzak, Apr 14, 2012.

  1. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    How much effort was expended in suppressing flak during WW2?

    What techniques, weapons and aircraft were used?


    Was just wondering if rocket projectiles had enough range to strike flak positions before being within the effective range of their self defence guns. I realise that RPs were woefully inaccurate, but would shooting off a few of them at a flak position cuase the position to stop firing long enough to follow up and drop some bombs in there? Thinking along the lines of FB Mossies, which would carry both.

    Speaking of FB Mosquitos, would the FB.XVIII have been efective against flak positions? The Molins gun was much more accurate than the RPs, and the FB.XVIIIs had a lot of extra armour on the front. The downside is that the FB.XVIII was probably more vulnerable to enemy aircraft.
     
  2. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    Probably the most common flak suppression weapon was the onboard cannon/mgs, part of the formation attacking Flak positions while others attacked the primary target(s). Germans used sometimes anti-personel cluster bombs. Probably easiest way to see flak suppression in action is to look from Youtube RAF CC shipping strikes, part of the strike force were strafing the smaller flak ships (Vorposterbooten and R-booten) while the other part went after bigger ships.

    Juha
     
  3. PJay

    PJay Member

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    The Strike Wings: Special Anti-shipping Squadrons, 1942-45 by Roy Conyers Nesbit is very interesting on Flak suppression during strikes.
     
  4. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Flak suppression in 8th AF varied, but the tactics the 355th developed included approaching the airfield at high speed, lead flights pick flak left and right for first pass and trailing flights went after the aircraft - one pass unless the flak was deemed mostly suppressed.

    Usually another squadron would trail and assume CAP for the strafers, then swap positions if the airfield had a lot of targets. One element would orbit and take gun camera of the airfield, particularly the fires to help Intelligence do a credible strafing summary.
     
  5. PJay

    PJay Member

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    #5 PJay, Apr 14, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
    Double post. Whoops.
     
  6. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Low-level ops by RAF Mosquito FBVIs often utilised a fighter escort, which was also employed on flak suppression. For example, on the Amiens prison raid Typhoons were used as escort, and on the Shell House raid (Copenhagen) RAF Mustangs were used. In the latter, the Mustangs attacked known or observed flak positions.
     
  7. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    one method

    FlakTower03.jpg
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Always wondered about that photo. The structure looks more like a lighthouse, beacon or water tower, rather than a flak tower. But then, each of those were just as important in their own way, so a good target.
     
  9. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    So, fighters were the choice for flak positions, mainly using their guns?
     
  10. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Wuzak - the guys most contribiting to beating up airfields were the 8th AF. Period. The Mustang destroyed just short of 4500 German aircraft ( by credits). No other combat org came close.
     
  11. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

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    Flak wasn't only at airfields. And I wasn't talking about airfields.
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I think fighters would be the choice, at least for the first pass. Unless you have bombers like the B-25 and B-26 with heavy forward firing armament. Trying to use bombs give the light AA guns a "free" shot as the bombers come in. Granted it is head on from the guns the plane is headed for. In addition the bombers would need delayed action fuses so they aren't really safe pulling away. If the guns are "dug in" ( weapons pits, sand bagged, or concrete emplacements) only direct hits will really take out the guns, although near misses would probably silence them for a while.
     
  13. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #13 michaelmaltby, Apr 15, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
    From James Gehart's article, previously referenced ... :

    "... The Red Air Force employed the P-39 Airacobra in several roles: the most common role was to cover or protect ground forces. This entailed patrolling in a zone above a specific Red Army formation and preventing the penetration into that zone of German bombers and their accompanying fighters. A second mission for the P-39 was to escort Il-2 Shturmoviks or Pe-2 dive bombers to attack German troops and installations. In this role the P-39s were used to fend off German fighters or to suppress German AAA defenses."

    If you were an AA LIGHT FLAK gunner those slow, big balls of 37mm HE canon fire arcing down must have made some impression ... not like rockets that just took off .. awesome but dumb. The 37mm had a pilot, :) ... and he tracked his target .....

    MM
     

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  14. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    The knucklehead in the P-47 is attacking a water tower. A FLAK tower is vastly different: it is a huge multistory building used as a bomb shelter, it has perhaps 4m of bomb proof concrete for a roof. The roof is likely to carry a FLAK battery and radar.
     
  15. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    That "knucklehead" might have spotted a machine gun crew firing at him, from the safety of the top "room," and decided to keep it quiet. It happened all the time.
     
  16. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Any high point like that near a airfield is going to have a observation post and a few light flak or machine guns posted on it, they'd have to be fools not to. You can see a gap between the roof and tower.

    Of course i'm not saying the Germans with their "right brain thinking" couldn't be fools.
     
  17. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    I know that - but for one very large combat org, as well as 9th AF, it was the only flak suppression being done on any organized basis.
     
  18. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    #18 Siegfried, Apr 15, 2012
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
    The trigger happy knucklehead is attacking the water tower on May 15th 1944. This is prior to D-day so its rather puzzling as to what is being spotted from the tower. There are no viable "observation ports" unless there are tiny portholes with frogmen behined them in the tower. Unfortunatly the frogmen wouldn't be able to see upwards or even shoot up due to the slate roof.

    Unless he had been specifically ordered to straff these are the kind of out of control pilot that might on a boring day straff an lone ox cart carrying produce on which a school girl is hitching a ride on the basis that it might somehow be military. I guess they exist in every airforce.

    Sorry, this is a picture of a slightly silly act with an even sillier caption. It would have caused great discomfort to the local French population and no doubt sanitation problems.

    Perhaps the photo should have been titled "staffing a water tower vaguely suspected of carrying out an observation function"

    A whole bunch of German airfields in France were fake: included were fake aircraft complete with plexiglass canopies. At least 50% of the straffed aircraft claimed destroyed would have been dummy. Producing decoy's was considered as important as camaflauge of real assets.
     
  19. MacArther

    MacArther Active Member

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    Actually, concerning the P-47 and the flak tower, if you look at the picture, the scale seems a bit off. Look at the bottom of the flak tower: There appears to be a sizable fence surrounding the tower. While a water tower might have a fence there, the tower as a whole seems a little too sturdy to be used exclusively for water storage.
     
  20. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    It's 1944, towers were unlikely to have been built with steel reinforced concrete; Bricks would be the only way and that means a very heavy structure. The French like to keep their countryside looking good.
     
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