How effective were tail gunners in dive bombers.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by [SC] Arachnicus, Nov 20, 2012.

  1. [SC] Arachnicus

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    439
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Civil Servant
    Location:
    West Chester OH
    I have basically no knowledge of dive bombers that had tail gunners, so how effective were they when attacked by a enemy fighter? I saw a episode of Dogfights where a Dauntless faced a couple Zeros and I remember the pilot saying that the tail gunner couldn't do anything because he was being thrown around too much.

    Also, I am building a scale model Stuka and while building, asked myself the question of how easy it would be to accidentally shoot up your own tail of the plane?
     
  2. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    2,485
    Likes Received:
    110
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    auto body repair
    Location:
    pound va
    Any aircraft that had a tailgun had interupters that wouldn't let the gun fire when it was pointed at the tail assembly.
    Even some WW1 aircraft used a post that wouldn't let the gun point at the tail, you had to go up and over it.
     
  3. [SC] Arachnicus

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    439
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Civil Servant
    Location:
    West Chester OH
    Interesting and thanks for the info.
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    8,006
    Likes Received:
    441
    Trophy Points:
    83
    In Dogfights episode, the SBDs are without bombs, in an anti-torpedo-plane duty, or something as an auxiliary fighter. As such they were not carrying any bombs, so they could try some dogfight vs. IJN fighters (that Swede Vejtasa succeed, should not fool anybody to think that SBD was also a good fighter). In dogfights, it's not hard to imagine that a rear gunner was of no use, apart to provide warning that someone is at own 6 o clock.
    The bomb-carrying planes need a rear gunner to disrupt the enemy fighter from gaining an easy kill, they cannot count on getting the enemy fighter. Even so, when matched with equal number of properly positioned fighters, the dive bombers suffered accordingly. Even the speedy Judys vs. Hellcats.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I think tail guns on dive and torpedo bombers were most effective at low altitude where fighter aircraft cannot take advantage of high speed and vertical maneuvers.
     
  6. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    48
    My Dad trained on SBDs and a good buddy of his trained on TBMs. In fact, my Dad took his carrier qualifications in Lake Michigan on an SBD. The primary purpose of the rear gun on both those aircraft was defense. They didn't send dive-bombers or torpedo-bombers into combat to dogfight, they sent the fighters in for that. Once the dive-bombers and torpedo-bombers did their job, they were instructed to get the hell out of there. I read on the Internet, I forget where, that "SBD" stands for "Slow But Deadly." How adorable. I'll bet it didn't take a whole lot of brains to come up with that one. Actually, the SBD was referred to as, the "Speedy D." And, that's the truth. Go figure...
     
  7. Francis marliere

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2004
    Messages:
    72
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    8
    In early 1942, the US carriers had only 18 fighters, not enough for maintening a strong CAP around the Task Force and escort the strike aircrafts. Hence, during the battle of the Coral Sea, some SBD were pressed on anti-torpedo patrol. If my memory is good, they were credited with 7 Kates but lost 7 planes to Zeroes and tail gunners. As far as I know, it was the only time that SBD were used in this role.

    Best,

    Francis Marliere
     
  8. VBF-13

    VBF-13 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2010
    Messages:
    1,029
    Likes Received:
    33
    Trophy Points:
    48
    #8 VBF-13, Nov 26, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012
    I can understand that. While the SBDs weren't by any stretch of the imagination the bombing-fighting aircraft the later F6Fs were, when pressed, they were designed to "mix it up" with the enemy aircraft, as such, that's what those .50s on the nose were for.

    Edit: Although, that said, its not surprising, being deployed to that secondary role, the Zeroes and tail gunners got them...
     
  9. [SC] Arachnicus

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    439
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    Civil Servant
    Location:
    West Chester OH
    What a horrible job being a tail gunner. Not a pleasant feeling looking at the nose of the enemy with completely unnecessary sized rounds to remove parts of you.
     
  10. meatloaf109

    meatloaf109 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2012
    Messages:
    6,688
    Likes Received:
    252
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Occupation:
    plumbing "pro" at Lowes in Franklin N.C.
    Location:
    north carolina
    It comes down to this; All war sucks. Someone has to be the poor bastard in the rear cockpit, and someone has to be the poor bastard that spent three years on a rock in the middle of the Pacific typing endless reports. But never think that the one was more important than the other. We owe them all so much, They were the greatest generation. And they are going away fast. Find one and say "Thank you"!
     
  11. Capt. Vick

    Capt. Vick Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2008
    Messages:
    7,914
    Likes Received:
    639
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Long Island, New York
    Ask Saburō Sakai how effective SBD rear gunners were:

    From Wiki: Sakai was seriously wounded in a failed ambush near Tulagi of eight SBDs, a mixed flight from Bombing Squadrons Five and Six (VB-5 and VB-6).[10] Mistaking the SBDs for more Wildcat fighters, Sakai approached from below and behind, targeting a VB-6 Dauntless flown by Ens. Robert C. Shaw. The sturdy dive bombers with their rear-mounted twin 7.62 mm (0.3 in) machine guns proved tough adversaries, and a blast fired by one or more of the SBDs' rear gunners, possibly including Shaw's gunner, AO2/c Harold L. Jones, shattered and blew away the canopy of Sakai's Zero.[11]

    The description of this aerial battle from Saburō Sakai is different.[12] He spotted eight planes in two flights of four and initially identified them as F4F Wildcat fighters. When he attacked - followed by three other Zero fighters, he discovered that the airplanes were TBF Avengers because he clearly distinguished the top turret and the ventral machine gun. He put in flames and shot down two of the TBF Avengers and these two victories (61st and 62nd) were verified by the other three Zero pilots but during this day, no TBF Avengers were reported lost.[12] This is an example how even an experienced pilot during the heat of battle, may not identify correctly enemy airplanes or receive verified credit for airplanes not shot down.
     
Loading...

Share This Page