USAAC ground-attack/dive bomber (North American A-36 Apache)

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    The A-36 was relatively short lived.
    Perhaps the P-51 wasn't the ideal platform for this role, but perhaps the concept could have/should have been executed in another platform???

    The USAAC tried some naval designs like the A-24 Banshee and A-25 Shrike, with what seems to be limited success.

    Perhaps a fighter based platform would have been better?

    Or was the concept of a ground-attack/dive bomber flawed?
     
  2. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    I would have to dig it up but the guys that flew them loved the A-36. They claimed it could dive straight down and give them a positive target aquisition....however the down side was they guners on the ground had a stationary target to shoot at. i will see if i can dig up the site or the stories for you.
     
  3. Siegfried

    Siegfried Banned

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    #3 Siegfried, Nov 3, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2011
    One would think that with a stunning airframe
    as the P-51A one would not convert production
    to the A-36 dive bomber variant but use the P-40
    as a dive bomber instead thus leaving the
    P-51 as a fighter.

    There may have been technical reasons such as
    the thicker wings of the P-51A allowing easier
    mechanical integration of the split dive brakes or
    placement of P-40 undercarriage. It may also
    have been a way North American could
    wangle a sale to the USAAF or North American
    simply had the idea and Curtiss didn't.

    Dive bombing seems to have been a US Navy speciality
    and used by the Royal Navy on the Skua.

    What is fascinating about the A-36 is its ability to
    be both a full screaming dive bomber as well as
    a very fast fighter aircraft. I don't think many
    other aircraft were able to match this.

    It's somewhat puzzling as to why the Luftwaffe didn't
    copy this dive brake arrangement for its single seaters
    or for the matter anyone else; though these type of
    brakes were used on the Me 410 for instance.

    By 1942 two new bomb sights were in service with the Luftwaffe.

    1 The Lotfe 7C, this was a gyrostablised bombsight that had variable
    speed drives that could be trimed in speed to track a target on the ground
    to theraby establish true ground speed and therefore wind drift and
    automatically calculate an offset.

    More or less similar to the Norden.

    2 The Stuvi 5B was a continuous computing shallow dive bombing sight.
    It put a continuous impact point on to the target so that for instance
    a Ju 88 without dive brakes and in a 20 degree dive could bomb accurately
    in a shallow dive from say 8000ft to 5000ft.

    The this bomb-sight was also used by Ju 87 Stuka; it was not suitable
    for aircraft that didn't have good downward vision or alternatively
    those that could go in a steep dive.

    The British Mk XIV bomb-sight could also slide bomb.


    s it seems dive bombing was no longer so important, except at sea, where the
    small target the aircraft made reduced chance of a hit.


    The allied moved to rockets. The Germans started to develop a computing
    bombsight suitable for fighters that worked through the gunsight called
    the TSA-2D. They also started to introduce rockets in the final months of
    the war.

    I'm curious to know if the US had or used any shallow dive or slide bombing sights.

    It seems the doctrine was just to use a formation of Medium bombers such as
    B-26 or B-25 to do a drop from medium altitude: say 8000-12000ft
     
  4. norab

    norab Well-Known Member

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    The Vultee A-31 used essentially the same dive brakes and was capable of a vertical dive
    tumblr_lrhsq6jB3x1qzp3pqo1_400.jpg
     
  5. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    I believe lack of armor protection was the A-36 achilles heel. The U.S. Army Air Corps could have added armor but I get the impression they didn't really believe in light bombers anyway. Otherwise they would have made greater use of the A-20.
     
  6. drgondog

    drgondog Well-Known Member

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    Hap Arnold didn't have procurement money left for fighters but wanted to keep the NAA building the P-51 but he did have funding left for dive bombers - Voila, the A-36 was born.
     
  7. model299

    model299 Member

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    It was my impression from books and magazines I've read that the A-36 program was designed to keep the North American project alive, as the "powers that be" were supposedly telling the AAC that "You've already got the P-40, what do you need THIS aircraft for."

    I've also read that, with age, the reliability of these airbrakes proved problematic, and that on examples still in the field, they were simply wired shut.

    Edit: Eh, spanked by drgondog! :oops:
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Then why not add armor protection for the pilot, cooling system etc. to make the aircraft successful in the CAS role? Otherwise you are just throwing an aircraft and pilot away.
     
  9. model299

    model299 Member

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    One word. Weight.
     
  10. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Ju-87Ds, Il-2s, Me-410s and Hs-129s all managed to fly despite having significant armor protection. I think the A-36 will still fly also after adding 500 lbs of armor. Flying a CAS aircraft without protective armor is little more then a suicide mission.
     
  11. vanir

    vanir Banned

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    The US Navy, FFAF and RAAF were about the only people in the world who wanted dive bombers after 1942. Can't remember where the British unloaded their Skuas but it was like they wanted to forget they existed, even our Vultees wound up in our hands because nobody else wanted them. We used them as level bombers and fighter-bombers mostly, even as heavy recon-fighters, not as traditional dive bombers often.
     
  12. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    VVS also wanted dive bombers, the Pe-2s were their birds.
     
  13. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    German Me-210C / Me-410A was a dive bomber.

    The RN determined that the American made F4U fighter also made a decent light bomber. I think that's why the RN gave up on purpose built dive bombers such as the Skua, SBD and SB2C.
     
  14. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    All this being said, I wonder what kind of results the A-36 achieved.
    If favorable, why was the type not continued - or the concept continued in another platform (such as with a radial engine?)
    If unfavorable, why? Poor platform, poor armor protection, etc.?

    I'm sensing an overall distake for dive bombing by the USAAC.
    It seems they tried the concept with several platforms.
     
  15. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Dive bombing works really great if your opponent has
    A. Few, if any fighters to attack the dive bombers.
    B. Few, if any anti-aircraft guns to shoot at the dive bombers.

    While an A-36 could do a much better job of defending itself than an A-24 (Dauntless) or A-25 (Helldiver) that is AFTER the bombs are dropped. If attacked before the bombing run and the bombs are dropped it is a "mission kill" for the defender even if they don't shoot down a single plane. A dive bomb run sets up the dive bomber in a relatively straight, predictable flight path that is a blessing to a light anti-aircraft battery or even AA machine guns regardless of the type of engine.
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    You've got no other choice if you want to hit the target with unguided munitions. That's why the Me-210 / Me-410 had 900 lbs of armor to protect the aircrew and critical engine components. It also had some of the best protected fuel tanks on any WWII aircraft.

    If the USAAC want the A-36 dive bomber to succeed then it needs serious armor protection also. You cannot protect an aircraft against 20mm fire but a dive bomber should be capable of surviving a considerable amount of machinegun fire.
     
  17. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    The A-36 flew 23,373 missions and lost 177 a/c (enemy air and ground actions). They claimed 84 e/a and 17 on the ground.

    23,373/177 = 697 missions per loss
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    The Plane That Saved The Mustang: The North American A-36 Apache
    Reading this article I get the impression A-36 dive brakes were inadequate to slow the aircraft for accurate bombing. Inadequate bomber training was the final nail in the A-36 dive bomber coffin. These problems may have been fixable but the USAAC made no serious effort in that direction. Instead the A-36 ended up being used as a low altitude fighter in a manner similiar to P-40s and P-47s assigned to the Mediterranean theater.
     
  19. Milosh

    Milosh Well-Known Member

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    Gee Dave, the Stuka dived at a 60-90° angle, holding a constant speed of 350-370 mph. The Ju87 must therefore have been inadequate.
     
  20. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps the A-36 bomb site wasn't as good as the Ju-87 bomb sight. Otherwise it's difficult to understand why it couldn't bomb accurately at similiar dive speeds.
     
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