P-51 tank busters?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by grampi, Jul 30, 2015.

  1. grampi

    grampi Member

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    Has anyone seen the movie "Saving Private Ryan? I just watched it again last night and I noticed near the end of the movie when the Mustangs are flying over shooting up the Germans, Capt. Miller asked what they were. One of his troops says "they're P-51 tank busters, sir." Was this some kind of mistake by the writers, or was there actually such a thing as a "tank buster" version of the P-51? I've never heard of one...
     
  2. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    P51s and RAF Mustangs could carry 500Ib bombs or rockets and had 0.5in MGs or 20mm cannon not really "tank busting" equipment. Post war evaluation showed very few tanks were busted in Normandy. I remember the scene you are talking about in real life I think Tom Hanks would be dead and the tank would rumble on. Good film though.
     
  3. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Agreed - at the time of D-Day. Having said that the bomb racks were redesigned for increased bomb load of 1000 pounds each - or 110 gallon/160 gallon fuel tanks before D-Day. Napalm was carried during several July/August 1944 CAS missions by 8th AF FG's in 75 gallon tanks. The D-25 had five rocket launcher stubs on each wing capable of carrying 5" zero launch rockets and was available in numbers in February 1945.

    The silly part of Saving Private Ryan is that the P-51Ds shown were VERY rare on D-Day and as shown were 78th FG which didn't convert from P-47s until the last week of December, 1944
     
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  4. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Post D Day there were many more uses for P 51s like escorting bombers diver patrols or destroying V1 launch sites.
     
  5. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #5 GregP, Jul 30, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 31, 2015
    You forgot about hanging beeg kegs on the bomb shackles and flying up to 30,000+ feet to get then cold. I have heard numerous stories about this from former WWII pilots.
     
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  6. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I think a 1000Ib bomb would have done for Hanks, however it was a special armour piercing bomb that exploded inside the tank, I dont remember seeing the other one explode though.
     
  7. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    Although not strictly accurate, the movie scene in question used the best available aircraft (Duxford based and, as Bill mentioned, in the colours of the 78th FG. ) for the visual effect required by the story line.
    A bit of a partial slip, historically, but much better than using Harvards (AT-6), as was the 'norm' in most war movies of the past !
    In reality, the aircraft used would more likely have been P-47's or Typhoons. But then, it was a movie trying to tell a partly-realistic story, whilst portraying a fairly authentic view of the action and battles of the time, employing the best available props and equipment the producers could obtain or manufacture.
    To be really pedantic, Tom Hanks and his group would not have come up against Tiger tanks either, as the story was set just a few days after D-Day itself, with the first Tigers arriving on the front in very late June / early July, having traveled from the south of France, and been involved in some brutality on the way, such as Oradour sur Glane.
    Although a good movie overall, with the production team making great efforts at authenticity of equipment, action scenes etc, it was a movie, for entertainment and mass box-office returns, not a truly accurate documentary presentation.
     
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  8. mexchiwa

    mexchiwa New Member

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    Would the Mustamg have been any more of a tank killer in Korea? Israel in 48?
     
  9. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Destroying a tank from an aircraft isnt easy. Single engined AC cant carry heavy weapons. The A 36 dive bomberversion of the mustang was a good dive bomber but suffered from having a water cooled engine.
     
  10. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The A-36 didn't suffered from having a water cooled engine IMO. The single engine aircraft, even fighters, were capable to haul up to some 4000 lbs of under-slung weaponry, plus internal MGs or cannons; some fighters were obviously better than the others.
    Granted, it took plenty of an effort from aircraft to actually destroy a tank.

    As for Mustang (or other fighters) in Korea, there was an option to use napalm to kill tanks and other unlucky 'receivers'.
     
  11. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    from wiki

    Besides dive bombing, the A-36A racked up aerial victories, totaling 84 enemy aircraft downed and creating an "ace", Lieutenant Michael T. Russo from the 27th Fighter Bomber Group (ultimately, the only ace using the Allison-engined Mustang).[14] As fighting intensified in all theaters where the A-36A operated, the dive bomber began to suffer an alarming loss rate with 177 falling to enemy action.[14] The main reason for the attrition was the hazardous missions that placed the A-36A "on the deck" facing murderous ground fire. German defenses in southern Italy included placing cables across hill tops to snare the attacking A-36As.[23] Despite establishing a "reputation for reliability and performance, "the one "Achilles' heel" of the A-36A (and the entire Mustang series) remained its vulnerable cooling system leading to many of the losses.[24] By June 1944, A-36As in Europe were replaced by Curtiss P-40s and Republic P-47 Thunderbolts.[6]
    unquote


    Rockets are hard to aim precisely, MGs and small calibre cannon cant destroy a tank. A bomb will destroy a tank if you hit it directly or very close to it but dive bombing a tank means flying straight at it and tanks usually had a lot of men with MGs around them. P51 loss rates started to climb when they went down to straf airfields, ground fire was a bigger danger than LW fighters.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Gruenhagen might be wrong that P-40s replaced A-36s from June 1944 - how many USAF units used P-40s by that time in Europe? The A-36 was out of production for more than a year by that time anyway.
    The number of losses need to be weighted vs. missions flown, bombs dropped/hits, enemy AAA and fighters deployed, and indeed vs. enemy aircraft killed (not just claimed), then we compare that with losses of aircraft aircrew lost. I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that A-24 (Dauntless foe USAF) would've suffered far greater losses than A-36, per same weight of bombs delivered on same targets. Also from Wiki: "Nevertheless, the A-36 was used with great success as a dive-bomber, acquiring a reputation for precision, sturdiness and silence.[21]"

    Agreed all the way. British were testing the Mustang with 2pdr cannons from Hurricane IID, too bad the A-36 didn't get those.

    Agreed again.
    Quirk was that P-51 had legs to fly 450-650 miles away from own base, strafe the airfields say, anywhere between Rhine and Berlin, and return, without need for escort. The F4U can'd do that, F6F can't, the Fw-190 can't (had the Allies had them), the P-38 is a bigger target and has problems of it's own, the P-47 that can do that is 6 months too late for that (late P-47D that is deployed in ETO from mid 1944 on).
     
  13. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    #13 pbehn, Aug 1, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2015
    The P 40 was produced until 1944 the A 36 was a political plane serving mainly to keep the "P51" in production 500 were produced. If you have air superiority I dont think it matters how fast your ground attack planes are especially if you are dive bombing.
    The Mosquito Tsetse with a 57 mm gun would probably have been great but with its rate of fire you need your enemy to sit the tank exactly where you can hit it, plane mounted anti tank guns seem to me to be suited to the steppes or north african desert in Europe The land isnt flat enough and has trees on it.

    Personally I think the allies in Normandy would be better off not trying to bust tanks and making sure they busted everything around them trucks bowsers and men, if the tank is the only thing that can move then it wont move far and cant go much faster than walking pace.
     
  14. Greyman

    Greyman Active Member

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    ... horses. Somewhat vulnerable ...
     
  15. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    A P-40 produced in 1944 does not automatically mean it will be in USAF service in 1944. Especially not in Europe; Asia/Pacific might be different for the same user.

    It's role in keeping the NAA production lines running in Inglewood surely was of great importance With that said, the A-36 flew combat missions with distinction, calling it a political airplane is selling it short.

    The A-36 did not enjoyed air superiority in 1943 when attacking targets 200-300 miles away from the bases. It actually served as an escort for B-25s and B-26s in 1943.
     
  16. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    But sometimes, rather than destroy tanks, it was easier and more effective to destroy the bowser convoys travelling to refuel tanks....
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The US formed no new units with P-40s after 1943. A-36 units in Italy may have gotten P-40s due to shortages of replacement A-36s for a short period of time in 1944. P-40s using Allison engines may have been seen as requiring minimum training for ground crew. Units were converting to P-47s within weeks or a couple of months. The P-40s may have already been in theater and/or been planes turned in by P-40 units converting to P-47s.

    By 1944 the "new" P-40s were going mostly to allies as lend lease. The last few hundred built went directly to scrap yards.
     
  18. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    The P-40 in A-36 units were indeed interim, I assume to replace losses or worn-out A-36. They transitioned to P-47 shortly afterwards.
     
  19. redcoat

    redcoat Active Member

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    The US Army did not encounter Tiger tanks until after Operation Cobra, before then they had all operated against the British and Canadian sectors.
     
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  20. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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