Napalm: viability as an anti-tank wepon?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by tomo pauk, Nov 15, 2012.

  1. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    8,005
    Likes Received:
    441
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Was it ever used in such a manor? If yes, how good/bad it was?
     
  2. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    May 20, 2004
    Messages:
    13,090
    Likes Received:
    15
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    Platonic Sphere
    Tomo I have many first person accounts and from their war diaries of the US NFS 422nd and 425th during the advance into Germany during 1945 where Nap was used nearly ever night by at least 1/2 of the intruder P-61's operations along the Rhine and Mosel rivers. anything subject with lights on roadways and into crossroads/villages was flamed. I can only assume besides dropping on motor transports in low light conditions and low ground-haze smoke the thought was yes armored columns must also have been hit but the true effects on these do not seem to be known and followed up on by daylight Recon.

    E ~
     
  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Napalm was used extensively by the 9th Air Force who favoured it over the rockets preferred by their colleagues in the RAF 2nd TAF. They certainly did use it against armour. I can probably dig up some figures at the weekend.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Flamethrowers were employed against tanks during WWI. Napalm is almost the same as flamethrower fuel, just a bit thicker. I'm surprised napalm wasn't widely used by every WWII era airforce.
     
  5. kettbo

    kettbo Member

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2007
    Messages:
    435
    Likes Received:
    14
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    US Army (Ret)
    Location:
    Western Washington, USA
    hmmmm, crew need air to breathe, fuel and ammo burn well, stuff stowed outside a tank or any vehicle like oil cans, tentage etc burn decently.
    Napalm is very good I'd think. Problem would be accuracy. Get those flaming trails on target though, would be hell to pay
     
  6. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    Messages:
    1,710
    Likes Received:
    107
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    8,005
    Likes Received:
    441
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Eric, thanks.
    Steve, I look forward to read about the topic.
     
  8. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Hopefully I can escape this damned studio tonight and get tomorrow at home with my books,a bottle of wine and several rugby matches.

    First day off since October 25th !!!!

    Steve
     
  9. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    8,005
    Likes Received:
    441
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Take your time, man :)
     
  10. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    #10 stona, Nov 17, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2012
    I've had a quick look through the reports of the various ORS which investigated the air attacks on German armour post D-Day.
    Despite the numerous claims there is not one single example of an armoured vehicle examined by any ORS (they looked at many hundreds) destroyed by napalm. For example of the 101 destroyed armoured vehicles examined in the Ardennes salient which had been attacked with all types of aerial ordnance resulting in claims for 66 tanks,only 1 was certainly destroyed from the air (bomb) and 6 others possibly. The majority,36,had been destroyed by ground forces firing armour piercing shot.

    Napalm was very effective against fortified positions and dug in troops despite their position affording them considerable protection.This was largely due to the psychological effect of the weapon. Some infantry commanders requested the use of napalm against positions they would shortly assault. Napalm was preferred to fragmentation bombs because "it generated unbearable heat which forced the Germans out of these positions." (slit trenches which afforded protection from fragmentation bombs)

    The US 117th Infantry Regiment reported that although little damage was done to pillboxes and other fortified positions by either general purpose or napalm bombs,the napalm,

    "..had a tremendous psychological and physical effect upon the enemy troops occupying the defences outside the pill boxes. These outer defences were given up because of the napalm attack forcing the enemy troops into the pill boxes. This enabled our attacking troops to get to the rear of the fortifications.......
    PoWs stated that napalm did not bother them while they were in pill boxes;however the demoralising effect was great and fear of further attack by 'fire bombs' persuaded them to stay inside their pill boxes."

    I would conclude that whilst napalm was an effective weapon in a CAS role against troops dug in or in fortified positions it was ineffective against armoured vehicles.

    A 9th AF report suggested that napalm could be capable of burning out a tank,even as a result of a near miss,it cautioned against the use of the weapon in close proximity to friendly troops and suggested increased use of rockets (like the RAF). Rockets were not infact adopted on a large scale by the 9th AF and on ocasions where heavy concentrations of German armour were encountered by American forces rocket firing RAF Typhoons were often employed in the American sector to engage them. (ORS 9th AF Report No 59,"Rocket Status in 9th Air Force").

    Steve
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2008
    Messages:
    8,005
    Likes Received:
    441
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Thanks again :)
     
  12. Tzaw1

    Tzaw1 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Warszawa
    Home Page:
    Yes. Soviet Il-2 in Battle of Kursk and later other soviet bombers too. They used ampulles AZh-2 (АЖ-2) with incendiary fluid KS (КС) similar to napalm.
    Accordin to Drabkin's "I fly Il-2", these waeapom was more succesful in tank destroying than guns or bombs.
    But, naturally, this was very risky weapon for bombers and shtormoviks.
    More (russian) for example here: АЖ - зажигательные ампулы жестяные or here: 5.7. / -
     
  13. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2010
    Messages:
    794
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Its possible then that the IL-2 was far more accurate than the faster allied fighters in aiming its bombs, how was aiming carried out?
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    More then possible. High speed fighter aircraft aren't terribly accurate when attacking ground targets without the benefit of modern gyro stabilized and computer guided sights. Fighter aircraft don't normally have an armored tray to protect the pilot from ground fire either.

    Aircraft like the Ju-87 and A1D were far more successful at ground attack then a P-47 could ever be. Hurricane with its low wing loading was probably good too but I don't know how well protected it was against ground fire.

    However it's my understanding the Il2 had a particularly poor bomb sight. So the otherwise good characteristics of the IL2 were largely wasted.
     
  15. Tzaw1

    Tzaw1 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2008
    Messages:
    275
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Location:
    Warszawa
    Home Page:
    Accurate doesn't matter. Il-2s droped these AZh-2 like a small bombs - in the swarm. They don't aimed precisely.
     
  16. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2008
    Messages:
    10,691
    Likes Received:
    676
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Urban Design/Strategic Studies Tutor
    Location:
    Orange NSW
    RAN Sea Furies and Fireflies used Napalm rockets in Korea against NK T-34s and other Heavy hard targets. A total of 2000 rocket attacks were carried out. It was claimed that 54 (or 61....I have to check) enemy tanks were destroyed. That has been disputed to as low as 8 tanks destroyed, so the margin would seem somewhere between 8 and 60 I guess.

    Aussies found Napalm superior in knocking out a tank over HE. HE required far more accuracy, more or less a direct hit was needed. Eight rockets fired in salvo landing in a close pattern (say 30 yads or less) around the vehicle with napalm warheads, is more than likley going to riuther incinerate or asphixiate the crew (or both) and burn out the electrics. There is a risk also that ordinance and/or fuel carried by the tank may well cook off as a result of the incendiary attack
     
  17. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2009
    Messages:
    7,534
    Likes Received:
    948
    Trophy Points:
    113
    8 destroyed for 50-60 claims is much better than the figures from the various ORS during WW2 when only 1 in 100 claims was shown to be valid for all aerial attacks on armour. Maybe they'd got better at it or maybe they had better claims discipline :)

    The USAAF findings in 1944 agreed that napalm could be an effective weapon against tanks,also concluding that a near miss could be fatal. A near miss with HE,be it a rocket or bomb,was completely ineffective. The Americans were not then using napalm rockets but napalm bombs,sometimes nothing more than crudely modified drop tanks,and accuracy was a problem. The recommendation,not adopted,to use more rockets was because of serious reservations about using napalm devices in proximity to friendly forces.

    The USAAF used napalm very effectively against larger targets like fortified positions and troops dug in in so called "wet woods" as I posted above.
    They called in rocket firing aircraft from the RAF 2nd TAF to engage concentrations of armour or preferred themselves to engage them with bombs. Both methods were soon shown to be very inaccurate.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  18. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2006
    Messages:
    7,359
    Likes Received:
    561
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Executive, Consulting
    Location:
    Scurry, Texas
    The 355th FG used napalm on three separate occasions between February and March 24, 1944. The tactical mission was behind enemy lines and the load out included one 75 gal fuel tank plus one 75 gallon napalm/ignoter tank. In all three cases the targets were truck/armored vehicle depots.

    Napalm was used quite a bit by CAS Mustangs and P-80's against the North Koreans and believed to be quite effective and preferred over bombs.

    One speculates that if a Molotov cocktail can disable a tank, why in hell wouldn't napalm?
     
  19. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2009
    Messages:
    1,710
    Likes Received:
    107
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Gender:
    Male
    It seems that this would be a relatively simple subject for testing under controlled conditions.
    Drop napalm on various armoured vehicles/tanks, wait for things to cool down, and examine the results.
    Did gasoline, diesel or ammo cook off? Did materials melt, such as wire insulation, fan belts, coolant hoses, etc?
     
Loading...

Share This Page