Tallboy v.s. a modern aircraft carrier?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by ShVAK, Sep 28, 2012.

  1. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    After promising near-failures in Operations Paravane (9/15/44) and Obviate (10/29/44), Operation Catechism's Lancasters sunk the already heavily damaged Tirpitz with Tallboys on 11/12/44. They did with three direct hits (and a few near-misses) what seven prior operations involving midget subs, torpedo bombers, etc. failed to do.

    Of course the practicality of strategic saturation bombing circa WWII is very limited to nonexistent against modern carrier groups and saturation by low-value anti-shipping missiles and/or drone attack, guided ordnance from interdictors like the F-15E or F-18, or in extreme cases tactical nuclear arms (torpedoes, cruise missiles, depth charges et al) are the preferred methods for combating surface fleets. But even if modern defenses made such an attack near impossible, I question whether current capital ships would be able to withstand the pounding a 12,000 lb Tallboy or even larger WWII-era earthquake bombs (Grand Slam, T-12) could inflict. Would a modern carrier be as tough as the dreadnoughts of old?

    We'll use the USS Enterprise as our benchmark. Wanted to use Nimitz-class but armor protection is still classified for obvious reasons. Figures from Wiki are sourced from Naval Vessel Register, Navy.mil, military-today.com, Jane's et al.

    [​IMG]

    General characteristics

    Class type: Enterprise-class aircraft carrier
    Displacement: 93,284 long tons (94,781 t) Full Load[2]
    Length: 1,123 ft (342 m)[3][4]
    Beam: 132.8 ft (40.5 m) (waterline)
    257.2 ft (78.4 m) (extreme)
    Draft: 39 ft (12 m)
    Propulsion: 8 × Westinghouse A2W nuclear reactors
    four sets Westinghouse geared steam turbines, 4 × shafts
    280,000 shp (210 MW)
    Speed: 33.6 kn (38.7 mph; 62.2 km/h)
    Range: Unlimited distance; 20-25 years
    Complement: 5,828 (maximum)
    Ship's company: 3,000 (2,700 Sailors, 150 Chiefs, 150 Officers)
    Air wing: 1,800 (250 pilots, and 1,550 support personnel)
    Sensors and
    processing systems: AN/SPS-48 3D air search radar
    AN/SPS-49 2D air search radar
    Electronic warfare
    decoys: AN/SLQ-32
    Mark 36 SRBOC
    Armament:
    2 × NATO Sea Sparrow launchers
    2 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS mounts
    2 RAM launchers
    Armor: 8 in (20 cm) aluminum belt (equivalent to 4 in (10 cm) rolled homogeneous steel armor), armored flight deck, hangar, magazines and reactor[5][6]
    Aircraft carried: Hold up to 90
    60+ (normally)[7]
    Aviation facilities: Flight deck: 1,123 ft (342 m)
    Notes: The ship has 4 steam powered catapults.[9]


    Thoughts?
     
  2. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    4,179
    Likes Received:
    167
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Hobart Tasmania
    What about highball?
     
  3. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Good question, I didn't think of bouncing bombs. An Upkeep bouncing bomb has 6,600 pounds of Torpex filling compared to 5,200 in a Tallboy and would have the advantage of hitting the ship under the waterline instead of requiring a direct hit. Even looking past the issues of accurately hitting a carrier on the move (dams are stationary :p), I wonder if that would be sufficient to do much damage. A lot of the Tallboy's destruction comes from the penetration and not just the area effect.
     
  4. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    How? CVs still are eggshells, especially against heavy bombs, with tremendoust firepower,

    Juha
     
  5. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2009
    Messages:
    24,069
    Likes Received:
    655
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Korporate Kontrolleur
    Location:
    South Carolina
    I would think a tall boy dropped from height could do a considerable amount of damage on any ship.
     
  6. johnbr

    johnbr Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2006
    Messages:
    2,501
    Likes Received:
    374
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    London Ontario Canada
    The designer of it said the optimum height was 30k to 40k for the tall boy and the grand slam.
     
  7. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Lancasters generally reached an altitude of 25K with a Tallboy on board.
     
  8. wuzak

    wuzak Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2011
    Messages:
    4,179
    Likes Received:
    167
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Location:
    Hobart Tasmania
    Less - 18-20k.

    I think teh service ceiling of Lancs was also less than 25,000ft.
     
  9. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2010
    Messages:
    1,006
    Likes Received:
    36
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I somehow think it would be academic since I don't believe a Lancaster could survive the defenses of a modern carrier group manuvering at sea and probably could only score a hit on a moving carrier by dumb luck and the seawhizzes would chop a plane trying to make a bouncing bomb run into pieces (and probably the bouncing bomb also)
     
  10. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    Yes, the quetion is purely theoretical but if hit by a Tallboy sized bomb dropped from high altitude the protection of Enterprise would be totally inadequate to prevent heavy damage if the fuzes of the bomb work.
     
  11. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    I believe I stated something like that from the get go. :rolleyes:

    If it makes this hypothetical easier, I guess substitute a bunch of very large drones each carrying a Tallboy equivalent. Or even modern strategic bombers if you believe that will make this scenario survivable. A B-1B would be a lot harder to intercept coming in at high subsonic velocity, and a B-2 might slip by AWACS and get to the group.
     
  12. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Alright, maybe I should make this a little more concrete.

    Knowing of what it did to the Tirpitz, how many Tallboy hits would you estimate to sink the Enterprise or similar naval carrier? Or how many Upkeep/Highball?
     
  13. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2003
    Messages:
    5,906
    Likes Received:
    853
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Electrical Engineer, Aircraft Restoration
    Location:
    Rancho Cucamonga, California, U.S.A.
    #13 GregP, Sep 29, 2012
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
    The real problem comes when you try to get the tallboy to a position at 30k-40k from which it can be dropped and score a hit.

    US aircraft carriers generally don't allow unidentified aircraft much inside 50-60 miles before shooting it down. They start asking penetrating questions of the target at 100 miles ... an expect an answer. If you get much closer than 25 miles, they have identified you as non-hostile, but sill shadow you anyway unless you are an expected US, Allied aicraft, or neutral. We HAVE let Soviet and Russian aircraft fly close, but were ready for anything at the time. Every gun, missile and airborne aircraft in the task force was ready, believe it.

    While the USS Cole was hit by surprise, a carrier would not allow that to happen without expending considerable effort to avoid it. The effort would most likely succeed or partly succeed. An iron bomb can be hit EASILY by modern weapons. All carrier task forces HAVE modern weapons.

    So, a tallboy would never GET there unless it was in a missile ... and I doubt it even then. The defenses are much better than most people realize or even suspect are possible. Don't forget, the carriers are surrounded by Aegis cruisers who are ALSO on high alert. There is no Air Force in the world who wants to take on a single Aegis cruiser, including our own, much less several Aegis crusiers. Suicide without at least a probability of success is never a pleasant undertaking.

    However, if a tallboy DID hit a US carrier, the damage would be tremendous. Would it sink? I think that would depend on the hit. It COULD sink, but unless the hit were lucky enough to take out the damage control systems, I doubt it. Multiple hits? Maybe and probably. Multiple hits would invite the question of how the attacker got into attack position to start with. I seriously doubt it will or could happen anytime soon unless the attacker were a stealth attacker ... and we LOOK for that with great attention. Stealth only works if the target is using expected detection gear. You cannot disguise everything to all systems ... unles you know them ALL, inside and out, together with the detection routines used.
     
  14. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    If you had, say, 100 drones all carrying a Tallboy and attacking en masse I doubt even several Aegis cruisers and Goalkeeper AA working in tandem could stop a wave like that. Unless they were extremely slow. Granted that is a really unlikely scenario.

    There's also the area of effect any large earthquake bomb or bouncing bomb has even if it near-misses. Some of Tirpitz's damage was caused that way, which makes me wonder how well protected a modern carrier is below the waterline.
     
  15. msxyz

    msxyz Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Didn't the USAF used a TV guided 'tallboy' design during the war in Korea for hitting bunkers and bridges?

    I think hard hitting 'iron' ordnance are less effective on todays ship because they lack the thick layers of armor needed to trigger the retarded fuzes. A huge iron bomb travelling at about mach 1 would punch a neat hole through the ship and explode in the water below (if it will explode at all).

    Something similar was already observed with big bore AP shells fired at 'soft' targets: the shells were completely ineffective as they simply drilled their way through the target and eventually explode on the other side.
     
  16. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2007
    Messages:
    3,734
    Likes Received:
    65
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Helsinki
    In fact a powerful explosion undera ship is very damaging, that the reason why seabed mines are so dangerous and also why a magnetic fuzes for torpedos were so attractive before WW2. That was one main reason behind the uneffectiveness of German and US torpedos early in WWII. When it was found that the difficulties to adjust the fuzes to work effectively and the effect of degaussing the ships on it made it very unreliable and torpedos needed still to rely on contact fuzesit was found that the newer torpedos usually ran clearly deeper than preset which had not been important with magnetic fuzes but was all important with contact fuzes.

    Shells are a different thing, their trajectory is usually much shallower and they usually don't explode under ships and anyway they had much less explosive than a bomb of same weight.

    Juha
     
  17. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Biggest guided bomb I know of used in Vietnam was the AGM-62 Walleye II, which was only 2,000 pounds. The BLU-82 Daisy Cutter was the largest used operationally (15,000 pounds), but that was an anti-personnel bomb and didn't have the penetrating power or delayed fuzes of a Tallboy.
     
  18. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Aug 29, 2008
    Messages:
    15,188
    Likes Received:
    2,029
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Public Safety Automotive Technician
    Location:
    Redding, California
    Home Page:
    A bomb striking the water from altitude will detonate just as if it struck a solid object or the earth because of the compressability of the water. This also holds true with a significent detonation below the surface and within proximity of the hull of a ship.

    This is why the grand slam was able to destroy dams, because the force of the explosion was compressed and magnified.

    Detonated below the waterline of a ship, these large bombs may not sink the ship outright, but at the very least, would do serious damage.
     
  19. msxyz

    msxyz Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2012
    Messages:
    90
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Here, I found the bomb I was talking about:

    Bell ASM-A-1 Tarzon

    It wasn't Tv guided as I remembered but it used a primitive MCLOS similar to the one employed by the German Fritz X.
     
  20. ShVAK

    ShVAK Member

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2012
    Messages:
    212
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Oh derp, I just realized you said Korea instead of Vietnam. :oops:

    That is an interesting bomb, never heard of it before.
     
Loading...

Share This Page