Level Bombing

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by diddyriddick, Jun 20, 2009.

  1. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    In reading about IJN strategy, particularly with regard to Pearl Harbor, there are repeated references to level bombing. It was extremely effective against the thick deck armor of BBs. Genda and Fuchida even went so far as to train Kate Pilots in level bombing excluding torpedo training-so while torpedo carrying Kates were no different than bomb carrying Kates, they were really a different subunit. Oklahoma was capsized/sunk by torpedoes. Arizona blew up catastrophically when a modified 16" naval shell was dropped by a level bomber and pierced her forward magazine.

    My question, then is this: Was level bombing used for anti-ship roles otherwise? Did the IJN use it during other battles such as Coral Sea, Midway, et al? Or were the Japanese just hedging their bets against torpedoes not working in the shallow Pearl Harbor?

    And secondly, did other belligerents, such as the US or UK, ever use level bombing in an anti-ship role? I know that TBFs and TBDs both had capabilities of carrrying bombs-I would assume Swordfish did too-but all I've ever read is in a ground support role.

    In other words, was this an invention specifically for the Pearl operation?
     
  2. Hop

    Hop Member

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    On the day Britain declared war, 3 September 1939, the RAF sent 18 Hampdens and 9 Wellingtons to bomb German warships off Wilhelmshaven. There were several subsequent raids involving those types and also Blenheims and Whitleys.

    The RAF made numerous level bombing attacks against the Kriegsmarine from then onwards. At first just warships at sea or in harbour, later those in docks or dry dock.
     
  3. Flyboy2

    Flyboy2 Member

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    I think that both the B-24s and the B-17s did level anti-ship bombing, because they weren't stressed for dive bombing.

    I'm not sure, so somebody more informed on this forum maybe able to qualify that claim.
     
  4. mhuxt

    mhuxt Active Member

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    Prince of Wales and Repulse were sunk by Japanese level bombers, IIRC, while underway and maneuvering!
     
  5. wheelsup_cavu

    wheelsup_cavu Well-Known Member

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  6. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Correct. B-24s, B-17's, B-25's, PBY's, Beauforts and Hudson's were all used against Japanese shipping as level bombers. However due to their poor success rate, mast height and skip bombing soon became the tactic of choice for anti-shipping strikes in this theatre. The Battle of the Bismarck Sea proves this fact, with the Japanese being able to resupply Lae from Rabaul with relative inpunity prior to the switch over from level to mast height/skip bombing.
     
  7. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    I have to think that hitting a ship with level bombing while it's maneuvering is pretty dam impressive.
     
  8. diddyriddick

    diddyriddick Active Member

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    I'm sorry. I should clarify my inquiry. The level bombing done by B-17s, B-24s etc is somewhat different than that used by the IJN during WWII. I'll have to check Prange, but IIRC the Kates at Pearl were dropping from about 12,000 feet, and using specifically designed anti-ship bombs. Allied heavies would have bombed from substantially higher altitude, and used more general types of bombs.

    Were any other carrier-borne forces employed in this role?
     
  9. flakhappy

    flakhappy Member

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    This is in response to the general question about level bombing. If I remember the history of my group, the 97th, its B-17s bombed italian warships in harbor in Sicily in 43 at least once. I don't remember the results.
     
  10. BombTaxi

    BombTaxi Active Member

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    I personally can't think of another carrier arm using high-altitude level bombing against ships - the USN and FAA both favoured dive-bombing attacks for greater accuracy. However, as others have pointed out, many air forces used high-altitude level attacks against ships moored in harbour.
     
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