Flying bombs / pilotless bombers: good for Allies?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    ...assuming they did built something like that, and deployed them in hundreds, and than in thousands?
     
  2. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    Only if they could provide accuracy better than bombers. Outside that, they were terror weapons which I don't think were effective. Toward the end of the war, some guided weapons had potential using line of sight visual guidance and, more importantly, TV guided weapons.
     
  3. MIflyer

    MIflyer Member

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    One of the more tragic failures of vision is that the US did not combine the V-1/Fi103 technology (also built by the US as the Loon) with the TV guidance used in the USN's Project Aphrodite and the minitaure/subminature vaccum tube technology that came out at the end of WW2 to build a low cost air-launched precision guided missile with a range in excess of 100 miles. Even a modest development effort could have had this ready by the Korean War. In fact, it was not even ready for Vietnam. We finally had something like that for Desert Storm, a mere 40 years late.

    And the Loon could have been equipped with the USN's Bat missile radar guidance technology to build a long range antiship weapon as well. The Bat's main drawbacks were inadequate range, it being dependent on the altitude of the launch aircraft and the inability to figure out which ship in a convoy you were shooting at. The powered Loon would have solved the range problem and the target selection problem could have been handled by simply launching more missiles. Imagine a Battle of Midway style action fought using B-29's launching radar guided Loons day and night from altitudes above the capabilities of IJN aircraft. Tom Clancy probably would describe it as "The War of the Worlds and our side gets to be the Martians."
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Here is an article about the Miles Hoop-la, the un-maned plane that carries a single 1000 lb bomb, 'bomber' being powered by Gipsy Major engine. The accuracy was deemed enough to hit a city (reckon the city needed to be big :) ). Guess Hamburg Tokyo fit here (not that I'm enamored with bombing of cities, but that was being done repeatedly).

    Miles Hoopla
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    There were several projects for such weapons and they date back to WW I.

    Curtiss/Sperry "Flying Bomb"

    Interstate BQ-4/TDR

    or the Miles Hoop-la

    http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:...og28nofNjANULJCI-uUOXAsGEFZ1L9Xf7Yt1R-Kt5j6jA

    As has been said, the problem was in aiming them at anything smaller than a large city. Accuracy decreases with the square of the range. Double the range and the impact area is four times the size.

    Project Aphrodite or Perilous also springs to mind.

    Operation Aphrodite - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Some have suggested that the project was given up as being TOO Perilous for the Allies. :)
     
  6. davparlr

    davparlr Well-Known Member

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    Don't forget the Kettering Bug - Kettering Bug - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    I've already said that city was reckoned as a fair target for better part of the WW2, so if it can hit such a target than it's a viable weapon.

    The RAF USAAF can use their heavy or medium bombers to launch it from, say, 100 miles away and the return, so keeping the accuracy within acceptable margins. Makes the job for escorts far more simpler.
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Performance of the bombers while carrying such weapons is best described as dismal, making interception by fighters easier and also lowers operational ceiling making it harder to dodge flak. launching from aircraft could degrade the accuracy even more. If the bombers have trouble figuring out were they are to drop dumb bombs, launching missiles in exactly the right direction at exactly the right time is going to be an even bigger problem. Say your missile will stay in a two mile circle at 100 miles but now you are dropping them from aircraft that could be anywhere in a two mile circle themselves. your impact area just went to 4 miles across.
     
  9. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    One is left wondering what some of these half baked missiles were ment to achieve? All would have been excedingly easy to intercept, all I think would actually have been easy
    AAA or FLAK targets. Only in the case of weak defenses would they be fully usefull; so what is the point? Was it that dangerous for a Corsair or Hellcate to put 2000lbs down on a relatively undefended area. The only thing I can think of is the possibillity of extreme accuracy.

    The only thing impressive, and it is very impressive, is the guidance technology: color TV guidance over 50 miles.

    The Curtiss Sperry flying bomb probably would have disgraced America given that it would be mainly randomely killing civilians and this would have initiated such attacks without precedent.

    The US actually did use a gyro-stabalised glide bomb, the GB-1, against Cologne in early 1944. It was dropped from B-17's. It was about as accurate as the V1. Was this the first vengence weapon? The TV-guided "GB-4", developed directly by the USAAF, was a more refined weapon than the GB-1, with a similar configuration but cleaner implementation. It was actually used in combat (bunkers around normandy), but though it had performed well in tests, for various reasons it did poorly in the field. One of the problems seems to have been the poor quality of the image returned by early TV camera tubes, which restricted operations to broad daylight, fair weather, and easily distinguished targets. A pulsejet-powered variant, the "JB-4", was developed but never got out of the test stage.

    German missiles, the V1 and V2 were designed to avoid interception. Greatly improved guidance in the case of the V1 was litterly only weeks away, may even have made the war had not the invasion cut of the guidance transmitters. The greatly improved V2 guidance was also reaching some conslusion after 3 years of work. (highly columated beam).

    In WW1 the Germans, under the aegis of Wener von Siemens, developed a number of glide bombs and glide torpedoes that were remotely controlled via cable and to be launched from Zeppelins or giant Zeppelin-Starken bombers against shipping.

    The Germans did develop a TV guidance system in WW2 called Tonne Seedorf. It used synchronised crystalised oscilators to help preven jamming. The problem was that in European conditions visibilliy is too poor. However pictures of TV images through the seekers head are available and on a sunny day are very good.

    Another issue was the non use of gyro-stabalisation of the TV head (on both US and German missiles)
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Something like the V1 might be good for attacking targets in the Ruhr Valley. The first few attacks probably won't achieve much but once you get major targets such as Krupp and the hydrogenation plants dialed in they could be attacked every night at low cost.
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Why would the performance ceiling been dismal? The heavies were cruising at 200-250 mph anyway, and the bomb can be designed so a better pert of it is situated in the bomb bay. A guided bomb weighting 5000 lbs can be lifted in the air as any other payload weighting 5000 lbs, no problems for any allied heavy bomber. Sure enough, later Lancs, or B-29s can carry many times as much :)
    You do have a point about the accuracy of the air-launched bomb, wonder how accurate were V-1s launched from He-111s?

    Since LW Flak was able to kill huge amounts of RAF bombers (from 2 per night in 1941, to 10 in 1943), why do you think that eg. Miles Hoop-la would be such an easy prey?

    Wonder if there was a way to implement Gee, Oboe, X-Gerat etc for such weapons?
     
  12. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    A cruise missile flying at 300mph would be an easy target for both FLAK and fighters by day. At night its lack of evasive manouvers would also make it a relatively easy target. In anycase these US missiles were intended to attack targets not even well defended by the more deadly light FLAK.

    In anycase the slow US missiles would have been easy targets for the more effective short range and medium FLAK if that had of been available.

    Some or many, don't know exact figures V1 that were lanched from He 111 were launched over Schwann-See radio buoys dropped by Luftwaffe pathfinders using EGON (an Oboe like system good to put a bomb withing about 1.2km via 300m square at about 300km. I suppose the launch point was inaccurate and wind estimates were unavailable. It's not apparent why the system was so inaccurate (ie 6% found their targets). EGON used only a single Freya radar but EGON-II used two antena just like oboe and was more accurate.

    Using Oboe to guide a cruise missile would be relatively trivial, the signal that applies the dot or dash into the pilots headphones can easily be amplified and conditioned to apply directly to an auto-pilot trim. The Ewald-II Sauerkirsche guidance systems under construction for the V1 could have guided BV-246 glide bombs as well and controlled the air launched V1's. It really was not far away.
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Lifting the weight isn't the big problem. It is the large increase in drag. Some B-17s had external racks for a pair of bombs up to 4000lbs each. They were seldom, if ever, used in combat because the external bombs caused too large a drop in performance.

    The B-29 is a far cry from the medium bombers you mentioned along with the heavies in your post. A Wellington with a V-1 Missile under it would be a Luftwaffe pilots dream ;)
     
  14. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    A great many USAAF B-17 missions plodded their way through Reich airspace at 150 knots.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    A heavy bomber with payload cruising at 180 mph is an even easier target.

    $2,036 (5,090 RM). Production cost for V1 cruise missile.
    $0. Cost to recruit and train V1 aircrew.

    $215,516. 1944 production cost for B-24 bomber.
    $??. Cost to recruit and train B-24 aircrew.

    V1 type cruise missiles make a lot of sense because they are so inexpensive. You can purchase 100 V1s for the price of a single heavy bomber even before we factor in aircrew cost and the cost of producing airfields capable of supporting heavy bombers.

    Argus Motoren Company was working on unmanned aircraft during 1936. RLM didn't provide funding for development until 19 June 1942. Six years of minimal development. After RLM provided funding Argus and Fieseler required only two years to produce an operational weapon. If RLM had funded development during 1936 the V1 could theoretically been in service during the Battle of Britain.

    For RAF Bomber Command a weapon such as the V1 makes even more sense. Rather then sending hundreds of heavy bombers over Germany every night they could send hundreds of unmanned cruise missiles. The V1 wasn't terribly accurate but neither were British heavy bombers. With a bit of launch crew practise V1s should be able to hit Hamburg and the Ruhr.
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    My point exactly.
     
  17. JoeB

    JoeB Member

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    #17 JoeB, Mar 7, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2012
    "Easy target" is all relative. Manned night bombers could do relatively little to defend themselves. They mainly relied on that particular bomber not coming under attack, plus supporting electronic warfare (jammer, chaff) a/c, friendly night fighter/intruders and other general diversions. Relatively seldom could they evade nightfighters, and very seldom shoot them down or drive them off with defensive fire. So, a 200-250mph (more realistic than 300mph) drone or missile at night would probably not take any heavier losses than night bombers if it was the same size, and fewer losses if smaller and harder to see. The RAF had to pull back on night bombing deep into Germnay in early '44 when losses reached the high single digits % per sortie, but in case of drones/missiles you're going to 'lose' 100% of the vehicles anyway. If 91% of them have the opportunity to reach targets rather than 100%, that doesn't affect the equation very much. If it makes economic/military sense to expend the drone/missile in one mission with zero opposition, it probably still makes sense if 10% are shot down, but manned bomber ops are hard to sustain v 10% continuous losses.

    In the day light the situation is a little different because manned day bomber formations, of the US heavy type bombers, had considerable ability to defend themselves v fighters, though ultimately not adequate ability alone. And also escorting fighter protection was made somewhat easier by the bombers being in a concentrated formation, whereas night bombers and day or night missiles/drones would fly similarly in a loose stream.

    And as with any weapons alternative, there's no reason that missile/drone attackers would have to be used strictly instead of manned bombers. They could be used in addition, only assuming the drones were relatively cheaply adapted from manned types and didn't require a large mainly separate production effort.

    But the big tactical drawback of US WWII/Korean War TV guided attack drones, which offered precision capability when they worked, was that the control a/c had to fly right nearby, and it wasn't practical for a bunch of those pairs to fly together. So it wasn't just a bunch of drones flying independently and unescorted which you expected to lose on each mission anyway, but a bunch of manned director a/c you couldn't afford to lose on each mission. And of course that particular form of guidance only worked in daylight and reasonable weather. The concept was really only viable with clear air superiority, as against targets in occupied Europe outside Germany (the main intention of the USN drone PB4Y/B-24 program) or bypassed Japanese bases where smaller TV attack drones were used late in the war, or the Korean War where a few F6F TV guided attack drones were used in non-MiG areas.

    Joe
     
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