FM-2 Wildcat and dive bombing

Discussion in 'Aircraft Requests' started by mjdavis, Jan 14, 2009.

  1. mjdavis

    mjdavis New Member

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    The technical specifications for the FM-2 Wildcat usuually say it can carry 2 - 250lb bombs on wing hardpoints but I've never been able o find anything in writing that actually describes a FM-2 Wildcat actually bombing anything. I have seen the description of the F4F Wildcats at Wake Island using 100lb bombs to bomb the Japanese invasion fleet and sinking a destroyer. What I am trying to find out is:

    !. Are there any written examples of FM-2 wildcats engaged in dive bombing targets, especially ships at sea?

    2. Did any of the FM-2 Wildcats drop bombs on Kurita's center force when it attacked Taffy 3 at Samar at Leyte gulf?

    Also, dome of the last thousand or so FM-2 Wildcats produced were armed with 6 - 5 inch rockets. Were any of the FM-2 Wildcats on the CVE's at Leyte Gulf equipped with rockets and if they were, did they use them to attack Kurita's Center Force at Samar?

    Thans !1
     
  2. Amsel

    Amsel Active Member

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    I cannot recall at this time any single acount of Wildcats divebombing ships. I will keep an eye out though.

    In the Battle off Samar the FM-2's were going by standard tactics by escorting the TBM Avengers to the enemy fleet and then going in first on strafing runs. I have not seen any acounts of the Wilcat's divebombing though. In the mixture of Taffy 2 and Taffy 3 sorties against the Center Fleet which was 204 sorties; they fired 276 rockets. So it is possible that the Wildcat's were armed with rockets.

    On an interesting sidenote the .50 cal. fire from the Wildcat's strafing runs were highly effective. Even to the point of being able to force the Japanese ships to turn away from the strafing. The hail of small arms fire tore up the bridges, started small fires, and threatened to blow up the torpedos aboard the Japanese ships. About ten minutes after the Tone sunk the Gambier Bay a flight of Wildcats sortied against the Tone and tore up the bridge wounding the Captain.
     
  3. mjdavis

    mjdavis New Member

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    It would seem like a good idea for the CVEs of Taffy 2 to arm some of their Wildcats with bombs (or rockets if they had that equipment) when they went to the aid of Taffy 3 at Samar. Taffy 2 was no more than 35 miles from Kurita's ships and they might have had the information that Kurita didn't have any air support.

    The wildcats had a short range but they should have been able to lug a 500lb bomb load 35 miles with no problem. If they did encounter any Jap fighters they could have jettisoned the bombs and engaged the fighters.

    I have been unable to find out if any of the CVE's other than the ones carrying Hellcats, carried any 1000lb or larger AP or SAP bombs. I've only found references to Avengers carrying either torpedoes or 500lb bombs during the Battle of Samar.

    It also appears that Taffy 1 had sent many of it's Hellcats on the chase after Shima's southern force and weren't avalible to attack Kurita until they returned and at that time they were forced to refuel and rearm at Tacloban and I don't know what types of ordnance were available there.
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    IIRC, the ships of the Taffy force were all engaged in Ground Attack and were tasked to cover the invasion beaches. As such, their armaments were anti-personel in nature, not AP. The rockets and bombs had GP warheads on them. Probably not much use against anything larger than a destoyer but useful against exposed mounts or personel.

    They were launched with whatever they were carrying. Must've been even more confusing for the Japanese to be glide bombed by Torpedo bombers and rocketed by fighters.
     
  5. mjdavis

    mjdavis New Member

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    To Amsel

    In my previous response I didn't address your interesting comment about strafing. I'm not a pilot and never flew in anything smaller then a commercial airliner so i don't have a feel about how strafing actually works.

    With that caveat I'll make the following asumptions/guesses.

    a wildcat or similar aircraft would be approaching an enemy ship at about 150 yards/sec.

    maximum range of it's 50 cals would be about 2000 yds but the burn out range of the tracers would be about 1000 yds.

    The wildcat wing guns are usually set to converge around 250 - 300 yds.

    If the piloy statrted firing at 1000 yds and pulled out at 250 yds, that would give him 5 secs of firing time at most, although i'm sure that would seem like a very long time to the pilot being shot at by the ships AA.

    I have no idea what the accuracy of a moving wildcat's guns would have at these ranges but the combination of range and rounds crossing at long ranges due to convergence it would seem that only the last second of firing would have good accuracy.

    I would think that pilots would be trained to target either the bridge or open AA mounts. Your story of wildcats shooting up the bridge of the Tone and wounding the captain is a good case in point. That reminds me that I saw someplace that Wildcats knocked out Kongo's rangefinder with strafing attacks during the Battle of Samar but considering the size of a rangefinder I would think that was just a lucky hit!

    Any info you can provide about strafing techniques of carrier borne fighters and their effectiveness against enemy warships would be greatly appreciated. Any corrections to my assumptions/gueses above would also be appreciated.

    In reference to your comment that Center force warships were turing away from Wildcats because of the strafing; do you think it's possible they were turning away because they couldn't tell if the attacking aircraft was carrying a bomb or torpedo?

    As far as wildcats carrying rockets during the Battle of Samar, I haven't been able to find any information. This was late in the war so it's possible that Sprague's CVE's could have been carrying some of the rocket equipped Wildcats that were produced at the end of the production run.
     
  6. mjdavis

    mjdavis New Member

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    To Timshatz

    (Cocerning your response about Taffy aircraft being used for ground attack roles when Kurita appeared) Worse, many of the planes were involved in activities like dropping supplies and water to the Marines ashore. Taffy 3 was under attack and launched whatever aircraft that was on board, mostly without any ordnance other than machine gun rounds.

    Taffy 1 had sent out aircraft in the other direction looking for the remmants of the southern force. Taffy 2 had the most aircraft on board at the beginning of the battle and did launch some Avengers armed with torpedoes.

    The aircraft assigned to covering the invasion were recalled and rearmed with torpedoes, bombs and rockets. As far as rockets were concerned I've only seen references to Avengers armed with rockets but not Wildcats during this battle. And as far as bombs are concerned, at Samar, I've only seen references to Avengers being loaded with 500lb bomb and it's unclear if they were SAP or GP. I haven't read anything that says any Wildcats were armed with rockets or bombs or if any Avengers carried anything larger than a 500lb bomb. I don't think even a 500lb SAP would have much effect on Kurita's BBs, especially the Yamato. I would think that the CVEs would have carried some 1000lb and maybe even 2000lb bombs even if they were GP bombs to be used against land targets.

    Also, because of the problems with the aircraft torpedo before the invention of the ring tail version, Avengers had started to move away from torpedo bombing and more towards dropping bombs. Avengers weren't capable of the angles required in actual dive bombing so they used the glide bombing technique which only used an attack angle of 50 degrees. It was around this time that the technique of skip bombing was invented but I don't know if it was ever used by Avengers.

    I would greatly appreciate any information concerning the ordnance used during the Battle of Samar (Leyte Gulf).

    I would also appreciate any examples of Wildcats being used in a dive bombing role during WW2 .
     
  7. Marshall_Stack

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    What are "ring tail" versions? I thought that Avengers moved away from torpedo attacks because of the vulnerability of approaching a ship to launch a torpedo.
     
  8. mjdavis

    mjdavis New Member

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    The ring-tail was an arial torpedo with a a contraption made of plywood attached to the tail. It broke away when the torpedo hit the water but helped to stabilize it on the way from the plane to the water. This allowed the Avengers to drop torpedoes from much higher heights (800 ft instead of 100 ft) and at much higher speeds (up to 280 knots instead of 100 knots). This made them less susceptible to AA and enemy fighters when making a torpedo run. I don't think the ring-tail modification came out until some time in 1944 but were being used by the Taffy Avengers at Samar.
     
  9. Elvis

    Elvis Member

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    The box-like structure on the back of this torpedo indentifies it as a "ring tail" version.
    Also seen is the "drag ring" around the front of the torpedo, in this case a Mk. 13.

    [​IMG]

    ...and here what they have to say about the usage of those items on the Mk.13 torpedo...

    "The early models were handicapped by the need to drop them low and slow - 50 feet (15 m) and 110 knots - which made the torpedo planes carrying them more vulnerable to attack. The torpedoes themselves were found to be prone to defects. In mid-1943, an analysis of 105 torpedoes dropped at speeds in excess of 150 knots found that 36 percent ran cold (did not start), 20 percent sank, 20 percent had poor deflection performance, 18 percent gave unsatisfactory depth performance, 2 percent ran on the surface and only 31 percent gave a satisfactory run. The total exceeds 100 percent as many torpedoes had more than one defect.
    These problems were greatly reduced by the latter years of the war. Torpedoes had fin stabilizers, nose drag rings and tail shroud rings added, all of which worked to slow the torpedo after it was dropped so that it struck the water nose-first and at an acceptable speed. These improved the drop characteristics such that the recommended aircraft maximum launch parameters were increased to a height of 2,400 feet (730 m) and a speed of 410 knots.
    The addition of the nose drag ring improved aerodynamic performance by stabilizing the torpedo in flight and reduced air speed by about 40 percent. It also acted as a shock absorber when the torpedo struck the water. The tail shroud ring improved the water run by reducing hooks and broaches and by eliminating much of the water roll which had characterized the earlier Mark 13s. Hot, straight and normal runs now approached 100 percent. To speed availability of the much improved torpedo, the Bureau of Ordnance had tail assemblies built with the shroud ring attached and then shipped these to the fleet for upgrading the existing inventory. By the fall of 1944, the modified torpedo was in general use by the front-line carrier units which were enthusiastic in their praise. On one occasion in early 1945, six torpedoes were dropped from altitudes between 5,000 and 7,000 feet (1,500 to 2,100 m). Five out of the six were observed to make their runs hot, straight and normal. By the end of the war, the USN considered the Mark 13 to be the best aircraft torpedo produced by any nation and it remained in service until 1950.
    A lanyard was attached to the tail of the torpedo. When dropped, the lanyard tripped a starting lever, but a water trip delay valve prevented the combustion flask from lighting off until the torpedo had entered the water. When dropped at 150 knots or more, the torpedo would enter the water at an angle of between 26 and 30 degrees. The water needed to be at least 150 feet deep (45 m) and the torpedo assumed its preset running depth after water travel of 300 yards (275 m). The exploder mechanism was armed after water travel of 200 yards (180 m). Depth could be set up to 50 feet (15 m).
    "

    The design of this particular torpedo goes back to about 1925, but didn't really get underway, in ernest, until about 1927.
    The Mk.13 torpedo entered service in 1935.



    Elvis
     
  10. mjdavis

    mjdavis New Member

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    Thanks for the info. I believe that the plywood version I read about was a temporary field modification that was made until the actual production version was available. It's too bad these modifications weren't available at Midway.
     
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