Ground to Air combat

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by GarudaMP, Aug 8, 2016.

  1. GarudaMP

    GarudaMP New Member

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    I've always wondered, in situations where an AA gun or other countermeasures are not available, what would the ground forces of an army would do when an enemy's air force attacked? Would they return fire using firearms? Were there historical records of rifles and sub-machineguns downing aircrafts?
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Take cover.
    I know some infantry were trained early in the war to fire volleys at attacking aircraft, but in reality exposing themselves to do so was not a smart way to survive.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  3. aurora-7

    aurora-7 Member

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    Imagine as a foot soldier with a .303 rifle against an aircraft with .50 and/or 20mm guns. The aircraft's guns have a lot more hitting and penetration power so I think most (there are always exceptions) dove for cover on a strafing run.

    I did come across a figure of the only 'non-fighter' ace of WW2 -an Australian named Norman. F Williams, who was a bomber aircraft gunner with 9 kills.
     
  4. fubar57

    fubar57 Well-Known Member

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    #4 fubar57, Aug 8, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
    S/Sgt. Michael Arooth (379th Bomb Group) was credited with 17 victories and Flight Sergeant F. J. Barker (RAF)scored 13 victories while flying as a gunner in a Boulton Paul Defiant turret fighter, piloted by Flight Sergeant E. R. Thorn, there is also a source that says 12½
     
  5. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I think Baron von Richthoven was killed by ground fire, a single .303 bullet.
     
  6. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I would say wood and fabric triplane flying at around 100 miles an hour (maybe), pusuing another aircraft, unarmoured and armed with a couple of rifle calibre machine guns poses considerably less risk than a Typhoon, P-47 or Fw 190 :)

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  7. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Sure thing but flying above a few thousand men armed with rifles and machine guns means you run out of statistical luck eventually.
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    In a Fokker Dr.I ? Yes. At 400mph firing rockets and cannons in a Hawker Typhoon? not likely. A fast moving, fleeting target way beyond the ability of the average rifleman or machine gunner to hit, and that's if they are bold enough to get their heads out of the dirt.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  9. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Rockets were inaccurate but used because they were a stand off weapon, the Il2 had a lot of armour to protect against ground fire. I agree its a difficult target to hit but there were a lot of allied planes that were hit.
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    By light flak, that is anti aircraft fire. I'm sure some were hit by small arms, the sheer number of sorties flown would make this a statistical probability, but the response of any infantry to an air attack would be to seek cover and get their heads in the dirt, not start firing their rifles at the aircraft.

    One of the great strengths of the rockets was their psychological effect, even on well protected or dug in troops. The Germans were terrified by them, even more reason to seek cover.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  11. yulzari

    yulzari Active Member

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    British special ops ish (not to identify them) advisors flew the Afghan Mujahideen to Scotland to teach them the art of small arms ambush of low flying aircraft in mountainous terrain in the days of the Soviets in Afghanistan.
     
  12. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Good photo of Russian snipers shooting at low flying aircraft.

    The date was about 1943, if memory serves right.

    image.jpg
     
  13. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I've seen that picture of the Soviets before. I call propaganda, it was a futile exercise, they would have had more chance of hitting the moon.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #14 stona, Aug 8, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2016
    I assume that refers to helicopters. Not quite the same as a 300-400mph WW2 ground attack aircraft.

    The Vietnamese certainly trained for volley fire against US helicopters. There is an account of this in (I think) Neil Sheehan's 'A Bright Shining Lie'.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  15. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Just a few examples of Luftwaffe pilots encountering Allied small arms fire:
    Joachim Münchberg (I./JG27) had his helmet speaker shot off by small arms fire during a strafing pass in his Bf109. North Afrika, June 1941.

    Günter Egli (II/JG54) had his fighter disabled by small arms fire and forced to land near Grimbergen during operation Bodenplatte.

    Then regarding the Red Army, this passage from the book "Junkers Ju88 Kampfgeschwader On The Russian Front" by John Weal:
    "II./KG54's second mission, flown about an hour later, did not go so well, however. Having bombed the airfeilds at Luck and Kolki, crews flew back at low level, ground strafing knots of enemy troops on the way. They received a rude surprise. For the first time they experienced the Red Army's disconcerting habit when under fire, not of diving for the nearest available cover, but of standing it's ground and letting fly with every weapon that could be brought to bear. The net result was two aircraft so badly damaged by small-arms fire that they were forced to crash-land behind enemy lines. Both machines were from 4. Staffel, including that of the Kapitän, Oberleutnant Günter Seubert who, although wounded, made his way back to friendly territory along with two of his injured crew."

    There's plenty of other examples of infantry (Axis and Allied) shooting at enemy aircraft with small arms, but these are the ones that come to mind at the moment.
     
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  16. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    There is no way of knowing what hit those aircraft. I bet it was fire from machine guns. Riflemen stand little chance of hitting a Ju88, well manned machine guns do.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  17. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Yes Steve but most infantry had machine gunners in the company
     
  18. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Are they training? So many snipers together.
    Or perhaps they are shooting at a flock of geese, scrounging up dinner.
     
  19. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Low flying aircraft, beit a bomber or fighter, can present itself as a target to even light caliber rifles.

    The defenders at Tobruk made a showing of themselves with concentrated rifle fire, the Afrika Corps distributed insteuctions to their troops that instructed ALL personnel to employ available arms to engage enemy aircraft and even gave recommendations as to what range to engage at and when to shoot at it for maximum effect.

    The USMC instructed Marines on how to employ their rifles in a concentrated defense against strafing aircraft.

    The Imperial Japanese Army had extensive training to engage low flying aircraft with rifles.

    The British Home Guard not only trained at using rifles at enemy aircraft, but were successful in several cases.

    It's not impossible to land hits on an aircraft if you know how to "lead". As far as the hitting power of a rifle caliber bullet, bear in mind that most infantry rifles had comparable calibers to that of most Air Forces at the start of the war (.303 cal, 7.7mm, .30 cal., etc)
     
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  20. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    The French army of 1940 was virtually devoid of proper AA defences. The frontier forces in the Nth of France under Gen Georges had just 5 regiments of "anciens" AA weaponry to defend nearly 60 divisions plus all the rear area services.

    Against these paltry defences, one would expect virtually no losses to the attacking LW, yet in that 6 week campaign, the LW lost very heavily, something like 1500 a/c in total to all causes. The French fighter arm is credited with about 500 victories in that period, the RAF about 300 or so. That leaves about 700 LW aircraft downed to various other causes. Some of that number had to be to ground fire.

    Hedgehopping attacks are about as dangerous as it gets for aircraft. everything that can, will fire at you, and some of those weapons will hit you. rifle fire is pretty desperate and forlorn, but HMG fire has a real chance of hitting and hurting an attacker.

    The solution is to fly higher, which is precisely what everyone did. Fly at above 5000' and no weapon of MG calibre is going to hit you. even most LAA weapons will struggle. at zero feet, in an unarmoured or inadequately armoured aircraft, you are vulnerable to small arms fire.

    Aircraft like the heavily armoured IL-2 could operate at hedgetop height with a degree of impunity and dropping bombs at this height made it easier to hit stuff.
     
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