May 1943. Allied maritime attack capability

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Sep 6, 2012.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    http://www.eccoh.com/days/days171/days171.pdf
    According to Rick Atkinson (An Army at Dawn).
    May 6, 1943. 5 A.M. Ship departs Tunis.

    May 6, 1943. 8 A.M. First Allied air attacks.
    The POW ship seeks shelter in a cove sheltered by cliffs on Cap Bon’s NW shore.

    May 7, 1943.
    Damaged POW ship attempts to return to Tunis. Third Allied air attack lands the only bomb hit which turns out to be a dud. After a fourth Allied air attack the ship was beached near village of La Goulette and prisoners were released. At least six more air attacks during the afternoon. A total of more then one hundred bombs were aimed at the freighter. They all missed except for the single dud.


    An interesting war story. However what really grabbed my attention was poor Allied maritime attack capability four years after the start of WWII in Europe. That freighter should have been meat on the table for American and British bombers.
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Lloyd Triestino was a shipping line,I don't think that was the name of the freighter. A ship is a hard think to hit with a dumb bomb and I guess that was demonstrated there. What was doing the bombing?

    For heavy bombers in 1944 the "radial standard deviation of a bomb pattern" was typically 500-800 yards. 100 bombers achieved a density of 10 bombs per acre at the centre of the pattern,easily missing a ship altogether.

    For fighter bombers it's not much better. In 1945 the ORS 2nd TAF examined the accuracy of Typhoon bombing operations between November 1944 and April 1945. Nine targets were analysed. The average radial error of these attacks was 158 yards. Only 50% of bombs fell within 130 yards of the target. Again they would have to drop a lot of bombs and be VERY lucky to hit a ship.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  3. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I agree. I think Atkinson got that part wrong. However most of the other information is probably correct as it is from first person interviews.
     
  4. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I don't doubt it. I'm just not surprised that the Allied aircraft couldn't hit a relatively small target like a ship. Infact I'd be surprised if they had hit it more often :)

    Steve
     
  5. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    #5 tyrodtom, Sep 6, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
    It's a pretty vague report. No where does it say how many , or if any other bombs were dropped. If this ship was in a convoy, or alone.
    Over 4000 bullet holes, but only one man killed.

    No wonder it's vague, it's from Gen. Denholms obituary.
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Google and you will find a WWII era newspaper interview. I think that's where the information originated.
     
  7. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    Well let's just say a lot of "bullet" holes which,as the ship was under attack for some time,is not surprising. Noone in their right mind counts 4,000 holes all over a ship,it is obviously an estimate but there must have been hundreds of hits at least.

    For every one hundred and twenty 20mm cannon rounds fired by a Typhoon, an average of thirty two (27%) would statistically hit a 10' square normal to the line of flight of the attacking aircraft. A ship is a lot bigger than that so,unlike with bombing,we should reasonably expect a lot of hits.

    The exact details of the story may be a bit vague,first hand accounts often are,but there is nothing in the story which is surprising or seems untrue in a general sense.

    Steve
     
  8. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    It's from the point of view of some prisoners in the hold of a cargo ship. They could hear and feel plenty, but see nothing. I doubt the German/Italin crew was giving them a running commentary of what was going on topside.

    Not really anything to judge the capability of allied maritime attacks in 1943 from.
     
  9. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    How did the Allies fare in the Battle of the Bismarck Sea?
     
  10. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    You are going to base a whole maritime capability on one attack?

    Really? Seriously?

    Lets pick a botched Luftwaffe attack as well, and base the whole Luftwaffe's capability on that one attack. :rolleyes:
     
  11. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Using wave top skip bombing for the first time, they devastated the IJN. The only way to sink ships was either by dive bombers or wave top attacks.
     
  12. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    How many sorties were flown to sink a dozen ships? How many of those ships were sunk by aircraft? Even with the techniques developed by this time hitting a ship was not easy.

    In 1940,dive bombing,the Luftwaffe managed to sink seven vessels in one afternoon flying 130 "Stuka" sorties (I'm not counting the 100 or so escorting fighter sorties as they didn't attack the ships being busy with the RAF)

    How much better or worse did the Allies do at the Bismarck Sea three years later? I'd be surprise if they didn't fly,relatively,many more sorties over the two days.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  13. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    #13 Juha, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
    According to McAulay's Battle of the Bismarck Sea, 189 bomber sorties and 117 fighter sorties. Japanese losses were 7 cargo ships and 4 DDs andJapanese ships were clearly bigger than British coasters, the biggest was 8,125 gross tons Nojima.

    Juha

    PS On CW9 "Peewit" losses only 3 were definitely by LW, 2 were sunk during previous night by E-boats and one was lost by collision while dodging torpedos fired by E-boats.
     
  14. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #14 stona, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
    Thanks Juha,so in general terms they weren't doing much better.

    I can't emphsise what difficult targets ships were for aircraft at this time. Any target was difficult to bomb but a relatively small,moving target was a very tricky proposition. Even a large ship stationary might not be that easy,anyone fancy a go at Tirpitz!
    She survived five attacks by the FAA (Tungsten and Goodwood I-IV),then two from the RAF (Paravane,Obviate) before the Lancasters of Catechism finally got her. Up until then she had been most badly damaged by the audacious midget submarine attack (operation Source)

    There is a school of thought that the Ju 87s were withdrawn from the BoB to conserve their rapidly diminishing numbers in order to challenge the Royal Navy's expected defence of a German invasion fleet. I don't buy it myself (I don't believe the Germans themselves believed an invasion was possible) but more importantly I wonder how effective they would have been.

    Steve
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Historical accounts suggest the prison ship was subject to at least ten Allied air attacks with a total of over 100 bombs dropped.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Tromso area flak defenses.
    German flak units in Norway
    Radar and searchlights.
    158 x 8.8cm flak.
    73 x 3.7cm flak.
    332 x 2cm flak.
    .....152 officers assigned to Tromso area flak units.
    .....4,893 enlisted personnel assigned to Tromso area flak units.


    KM Tirpitz was anchored near Tromso, an area that had some of the strongest flak defenses in the world. An entirely different matter from attacking a merchant ship anchored in an area with no flak defenses. A pilot would need gonads the size of melons to attack Tromso. If he's lucky enough to survive he should probably go to the nearest casino upon returning home.
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #17 stona, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
    Doesn't alter the fact that they couldn't hit it,well,they could occasionally but not initially well enough to do serious damage to such a well armoured vessel.

    It's worth mentioning that only the last two attacks I mentioned took place at Tromso.

    Previously at Altafjord.
    "Tungsten" lost only 2 aircraft of the 80 involved (2.5%) and when the second wave came in AA defences were alert and fully manned.
    All four "Goodwood" attacks,a total of 217 sorties lost only 11 aircraft,a loss rate of almost exactly 5%.
    "Paravane" didn't lose any aircraft to Flak. One Lancaster made four runs at the target,that crew probably did posess large gonads,or maybe they didn't fancy flying home with a Tallboy hung up.

    At Tromso.
    "Obviate",one Lancaster damaged and eventually forced to land in Sweden.
    "Catechism" one Lancaster suffered the same fate.

    After "Obviate"the Luftwaffe stationed fighters at Bardufoss,not far from Tromso,and RAF intelligence reports would indicate that this was considered a far greater threat than anti aircraft defences.

    Steve
     
  18. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    #18 DerAdlerIstGelandet, Sep 8, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2012
    Again, it is one attack.

    It is easy to support your agenda with it, but it is one attack.

    Lets do an exercise. Okay?

    1. Pick the worst Luftwaffe Operation.

    2. Say how that one operation makes the whole Luftwaffe capability terrible.

    I bet you would not even think of doing it. Thats okay because it is pointless...
     
  19. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Which accounts are you talking about ? What you've provided so far says nothing of the sort.

    The little bit of a account you provide is from prisoners in a hold of a cargo ship. They would be able to see nothing.
    The ship would no doubt be in a convoy, there's no way they could know if other explosions were "near misses" or other ships being hit.

    This is nonsense dave, not one of your better attempts.
     
  20. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    It may not be one of his better attempts,I'm not sure why we'd drop 100 bombs on a freighter,but the attack he highlighted would be fairly typical. Others have proffered the Bismark Sea,Kanal Kamf,Tirpitz as examples.The example of the Channel convoy I gave was regarded as a resounding success by the Luftwaffe at the time as I believe was the Battle of the Bismarck Sea by the Allies.
    On every occassion many,sometimes hundreds,of aircraft sorties were needed to sink a few ships.
    Noone so far has provided any examples of aircraft bombing ships with outstanding accuracy during WW2. That would seem to be the exception rather than the rule. It may explain why all combatants were developing better and better guided anti-ship weapons as the war drew to a close. In extreme cases they were developing human guided suicide "missiles". They were also attempting less successful weapons,I remember film of a Fw 190 dropping a rocket powered "bouncing bomb whose first rocket powered bounce was more than a kilometre!
    Steve
     
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