US Medium Bombers: Flak and Interceptors

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Mar 13, 2015.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    If B-17's and B-24's needed altitude to mitigate flak and interceptors, then why weren't the medium bombers devastated?
     
  2. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    Speed, and the types of targets they went after were not defended by multiple layers of heavy AAA
     
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  3. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    They were...

    B-26 over Toulon, France. Only two survived.
    B-26_over_Toulon-two_survived.jpg

    9th AF A-20 over France. None survived.
    77_09_4503a.jpg
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The key for medium bomber survival was to fly them as low as possible. That makes the 88mm and bigger Flak next to unusable, and it substantially cuts the time for acquiring a correct firing solution for 20-37mm Flak. If the 'solid nose' is installed, with multiple MGs, the 2-engined bombers can also harm the Flak positions.
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    It also substantially cuts time for the bomber to acquire a correct firing solution.
     
  6. cherry blossom

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    #6 cherry blossom, Mar 14, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2015
    A “good source” for a discussion of the optimal tactics for medium bombers to avoid flak is Joseph Heller's Catch 22, for example the discussion on evasive action between Yossarian and McWatt. Although the footnotes are not up to this forum's high standard, it is worth noting that Heller had flown 60 missions as a B-25 bombardier.

    ps. For those who don't know the book

    "Bomb bay clear," Sergeant Knight in the back would announce.

    "Did we hit the bridge?" McWatt would ask.

    "I couldn't see, sir, I kept getting bounce back here pretty hard and I couldn't see. Everything's covered with smoke now and I can't see."

    "Hey, Aarfy, did the bombs hit the target?"

    "What target?" Captain Aardvaark, Yossarian's plump, pipe-smoking navigator would say from the confusion of maps he had created at Yossarian's side at the nose of the ship. "I don't think we're at the target yet, are we?"

    "Yossarian, did the bombs hit the target?"

    "What bombs?" answered Yossarian, whose only concern had been the flak.

    "Oh well," McWatt would sing, "what the hell."
     
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  7. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    In Europe I believe they normally flew at medium altitude as the light flak was deadly and I am not sure if the solid nose B25 was used in Europe, I do know that the RAF didn't use them
     
  8. FLYBOYJ

    FLYBOYJ "THE GREAT GAZOO"
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    LOL!

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  9. syscom3

    syscom3 Pacific Historian

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    The first low altitude medium bomber mission was an unmitigated disaster. Nearly all B26's were shot down by light flak. Henceforth they stayed up a bit higher.

    Although the heavy flak could be deadly and accurate at that altitude, their limited rate of fire and slow traverse meant the defenders could only get a couple shots off.
     
  10. Koopernic

    Koopernic Active Member

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    The U.S. Medium bombers were not so often exposed to enemy fighters or FLAK while in transit because they did not penetrate so deeply into enemy territory. When attacking a target such as a bridge at say 8000-12000 feet they would for a short time be exposed to FLAK at fairly effective range.

    When intercepted by powerful heavily armed fighters such as the Fw 190 even B-26s would suffer terribly. The 486 bombardment group for instance.

    From memory US heavy bombers were tasked with low altitude bomb runs minutes before the amphibious landings on the Normandy beaches due to shortages of mediums and lights. They suffered on account of their large size, literally being a large slow target for light FLAK.

    A Luftwaffe FLAK battery consisted of 6 x 8.8 cm FLAK 37 and two quad 2.0cm FLAK 38 for self defence.

    Te Germans were very good at camouflage and they also bunkered their weapons in pits if they had time to do so. Suppressing FLAK is not straight forward.
     
  11. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    So if medium bombers flew LOW, they got shellacked by light flak - so they flew MEDIUM.
    But if heavy bombers flew MEDIUM, they got shellacked by heavy flak - so they flew HIGH.
     
  12. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    I think you will find that the majority of targets attacked by mediums were too small to defend with heavy AA guns under Radar control. You wouldn't find a medium at medium altitude over a major city.
     
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  13. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    Look at it another way...

    For pinpoint targets like a Gestapo headquarters or a rail bridge, are you going to send a Lancaster or B-24 in?

    And on the otherhand, how many Mosquitos or B-25s will it take to hammer the bearing factories at Schweinfurt?
     
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  14. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    #14 drgondog, Mar 15, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2015
    The first 8th AF attack was by A-20's on June 29 with a single American crew joining 226 squadron to bomb Hazebrouck Airfield with no losses. On July 4 - The 15th BS used RAF Boston III's to attack airfields in Holland. Six US 8th AF crews joined RAF 226 squadron for the attack, two were shot down over the De Koog and Bergen airfields.

    The May 17, 1943 attack by the 322BG w/12 B-26s from the 451st/BS resulted in only one returning - an abort due to engine failure. This was their second mission following the unsuccessful attack on Ijmuiden three days before on the 14th where one B-26 was damaged by flak and crashed after five of the crew bailed near Bury St. Edmunds but pilot KIA .

    These were the first B-26 raids and convinced the 8th AF (then 9th) that low level raids were too risky.
     
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