Strafers

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Mar 10, 2013.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Two part question:

    What were the "best" strafing aircraft?
    - Single engine, fighter type
    - Single engine, dive bomber type
    - Two engine, heavy fighter type
    - Two engine, light bomber type
    - Two engine, medium bomber type
    - Etc, etc, etc.

    What were the best strafing firearms?
    - .30, .303, 8mm machine guns
    - .50, 13x64B machine guns
    - cannon
    - Etc.
     
  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Unfortunately it depends on the target type and the mission distance.

    IL-2s would have been worthless ( or near to it) in the New Guinea/SWP campaign. If you can't reach the target it doesn't matter HOW good the plane is otherwise.

    ".30, .303, 8mm machine guns" work great un-unprotected troops. Not so good on other things. If a twin engine bomber can FLY home with 200 .30, .303, 8mm hits putting a few dozen such hits into a parked aircraft is not going to take it out of action permanently.

    For the most part the "- Single engine, dive bomber type" is out of the running, too few guns (Vultee Vengeance and A-36 aside).

    Using B-25s to "strafe" German troops on the steppes of Russia might not have gone well either. A rather big/slow target exposed to a lot of AA fire?

    Strafers are part of a weapons mix and how good they performed sometimes depended on well other aircraft did their jobs on the same day. Kept enemy interceptors away or suppressed AA gun positions.
     
  3. Denniss

    Denniss Active Member

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    P-47 and Fw 190 for single-engine, lots of .50 or four 2cm and two 7.92/13mm MG forward-firing guns combined with air-cooled angine and good armor.
    Bf 110, Beaufighter/Mossie, maybe P-38, with a good amount of forward-firing armament.

    Even more deadly is a Fw 190F (just two 2cm guns + 2 MG) with underwing gun pods containing four MG barrels each. I assume they were usable on the 190F but they were for sure used by Ju 87/88 strafers.
     
  4. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    beaufighter was optomised in later models for this role?
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Strafing aircraft must approach within small arms range. Most important requirement is protection of pilot against rifle/LMG rounds.

    Smaller is better. Larger aircraft such as Ju-88 and B-25 can strafe just fine but they make large and expensive targets.

    You might surprise the enemy once but if you come back for a second strafing run every soldier on the ground will be firing at cyclic rate. So you want enough firepower to get the job done with a single pass.

    And the winner is....
    Fw-190F. Well protected, heavily armed, small and fast. Wing hardpoints should contain cluster bombs, rockets or additional cannon for this dangerous mission.
     
  6. Wildcat

    Wildcat Well-Known Member

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    Australian built Mk21 Beaufighter has the goods aswell. 4x 20mm cannon, 4x .50cal MG plus 8 rockets or bombs depending on thye mission.
     
  7. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    #7 michaelmaltby, Mar 11, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
    The Soviets used the P-39 quite effectively in concert with their IL-2 - sweeping in ahead to soften things up before the attack bombers. (NOT busting tanks)

    The P-39's based at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal were also effective at strafing barges and coastal traffic, IIRC. The engine in the rear was the key feature as well as the rather solid "keel" that ran the length of the AC on the bottom. They were vulnerable from behind and above but not so much so from behind and below.

    1 37mm. 2 50's (and 2 30's) was an impressive output as Stug's signature pic illustrates.

    MM
     

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  8. vinnye

    vinnye Member

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    #8 vinnye, Mar 11, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
    Henshel HS129 was quite well equipped for strafing, good firepower well armoured and two engines.

    Also worth a mention, later Hurricanes, 12 303 machine guns can cause quite a lot of damage depending on target.
     
  9. Ainene

    Ainene New Member

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    Well, simple example: Il-10 prooved quite formidable in Europe.(spring '45) (on low level strafe runs it is more or less analogue to fw-190f). A-20 B-25 of VVS, when tried for ground attack - happened to be kamikaze crafts(plus found to be not too responsive at low heights and low speeds), and transfered to NBAPs(night bombing regiments).
    The very same Il-10, summer '45, against japanese: heavy losses(sunndenly for soviet AF) against japanese shipping&ports, for moderate results... and the very same soviet A-20s(strafing, skip-bombing) - very effective, good results, low losses(reports about extreme sturdiness). And this is not simply about ground vs. sea targets - much slower and weaker protected Il-2s were quite effective against shipping(Baltic).
    Paradox?
    No. Different targets, different conditions, different AA, different all.
    So, for anti-ship work- we need, imho, 2-engined sturdy(yet as small as possible) airframe with heavy armament. My choice - probably, late Beaufighters.
    Against logistics, transport - late-war fighter bombers(single engined, resonably sturdy+as fast as possible at ground level) with good payload will do(phoon/pest, Thunderbolt, Fw-190).
    For point targets at frontline - Il-2(10), Hs.129B. Against softer targets Il, for tanks - Henshel.

    Universal solution - well, AD-1 Skyraider. =) But too late for ww2.
     
  10. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    P-47 for obvious reasons- could absorb a lot of punishment deliver the goods.
     
  11. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Were P-47 pilots protected against 7.92mm AP rounds coming from below?
    Could P-47 carry optional cannon pod on hardpoints so aircraft would have something more potent then .50cal MGs?
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    What is a "strafer"?
    Is it a specialized attack attack or strike aircraft?
    Does it have different role or intended target than a low level bomber or anti-tank aircraft?

    From Wiki, for what it is worth;

    "Strafing is the practice of attacking ground targets from low-flying aircraft using aircraft-mounted automatic weapons.[1] This means that, although ground attack using automatic weapons fire is very often accompanied with bombing or rocket fire, the term "strafing" does not specifically include the last two."

    Early Skyraiders would actually be lousy "strafers" as the early versions had one 20mm cannon in each wing, Great ATTACK plane, lousy strafer. Later versions doubled the number of 20mm guns.

    I am not sure why the protection level of 7.92 AP should be a limit on a strafer. I don't know how many ground machine guns were even issued more than a belt or two of AP ammo.

    The only thing that 20mm cannon could take out that multiple .50s could not would be certain classes/types of armoured vehicles. Neither will tank out real tanks (bigger than light tanks) and both will take out APCs and SP guns, especially open topped ones.

    .50s seemed to work pretty good against railroad locomotives, railway wagons, trucks, ships up to destroyers (not sinking but damaging steam power plants).

    Hanging 30mm and above guns on a plane and it has gone from "strafer" to anti-tank.
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    #13 GregP, Mar 11, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
    Pretty good points, Shortround.

    I recall reading somwhere (no doubt a US source) thath the most destructive weapon of WWII was the 50-cal machine gun, if the sum of all damage was taken into account. They didn't give references ... just made a claim that I doubted even then. But it does give one a sense that the 50-cal and above MG were more than adequate for straffing.

    I'd say you are spot-on; the straffers would have 30 cal to 20 mm weapons, with anything bigger being a dedicated use for other than straffing. I doubt if anyone who finished the war alive ever straffed targets like airfields, railyards, armored ships of the line, V-1 sites, etc. with more than one pass. They simply straffed targets of oppurtunity while on the way home and didn't circle back to give the buggers a second shot at them.

    As for the best, I have read a lot about the best fighters, but the best straffer is one subject I have't seen covered very often. When I DO see it, the P-47, Typhoon, the Il-2, and the B-25H usually are in the article, with one or two articles covering the straffing version of the A-26 Invader (LOTS of guns firing forward). Those were usually related as late-war incidents showing its prowess, and lamenting it wasn't avbialble earlier. Most were P-47 articles.

    From them, I could not even begin to say which one was the top straffer, but I CAN say that being the target of a straffing attack was apparently one of the least-desirable places to be in the entire war, particularly if there was no grassy ditch to jump into when the attack became imminent.
     
  14. stug3

    stug3 Active Member

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    #14 stug3, Mar 11, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2013
    Not to mention the degradation in performance to the point where if enemy fighters show up you're gonna be some trouble.
    As far as taking AA fire you could do a lot worse than being stuck in a P-47. If you dont want to believe its reputation, thats up to you, db.
     
  15. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Otto Carius considered flakvierling to be very effective against ground targets. I believe he knew what he was talking about.

    Aircraft mount 20mm cannon with decent HE shells would have a similiar effect vs soft targets.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Kind of missing the point aren't you?

    And your comparison is more than a little bit flawed. The flakvierling may have been very effective against ground targets but as far as I know it was never used from an airplane. How much experience did Otto Carius have with even the American quad .50 ground mount?

    The P-47 is putting out about 100 bullets a second.

    4 Hispano guns put out 40-48 rounds a second depending on MK of gun.

    There isn't much you can hide behind that a 20mm will "get you" and a .50 cal won't.

    The .50 is not the super gun that many people make it out to be, but against many targets it will do the job, Against hard targets (medium tanks, bunkers, large ships) that the .50 is useless against even the most powerful 20mm won't do the job.

    The 20mm (for ground strafing) does a good job but there is a rather narrow band of targets it can destroy that the .50 won't.

    As for the blast effect??? 20mm shells (mine shell excluded) rarely had much more than 10grams of explosive. A British No 36 hand grenade had 69 grams out of a total weight of 765 grams.
    20mm shells are very mini grenades. Blast radius may be sufficient in the confined space of an airplane but in an open field?
     
  17. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    it's not the blast that does the damage with a 20mm cannon shell, it's the splinters, fragments go a lot further than the lethality of the shockwave, which is why the meingesschoss is a bit of a conundrum, or dead end as it reduced the amount of casing to fragment whilst only increasing the explosive filler by a small amount, either way a 20mm can hold very little explosive!
     
  18. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    True but then most of the fragments from a 20mm shell aren't going all that far either. Far enough in an airplane, several feet, but on open ground?

    Depending on the source the ideal weight for a grenade or shell fragment is between 3-10 grains. Heavier traveling further and doing more damage. Getting the shell body to break up into the right sized fragments can be a problem.

    perhaps blast radius was not a good choice of words. lethal radius or incapacitation radius?
     
  19. Kryten

    Kryten Member

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    #19 Kryten, Mar 12, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2013
    lethal radius would probably cover it, on the subject of grenades, many people forget the explosive is simply the bursting charge, the lethal effect is designed to be from fragmentation!

    and post war development of autocannons ahve taken exactly the same route.

    which begs the question, did the germans actually go down the wrong route with the mine shell?
     
  20. dobbie

    dobbie Member

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    Id go with the P47 and the Typhoon for ground strafers in a single engine aircraft. As for the twin engine, the P -38 as I understand it could lower flaps 10 degrees which gave it a slightly nose down attitude in level flight which would be an advantage-the only negative would be the liquid cooled engines. The advantages of these 3 would be speed and the ability to defend themselves against enemy fighters. If that were not a concern, the A26 with the 8 gun nose should do a fine job, as would the Mosquito. Amazing how much damage a wooden frame can take and stay in the air.....
     
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