Vicinity of Cassino, Italy. Mid March 1944.

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by davebender, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Information from "The Day of Battle" by Rick Atkinson.

    "Two companies of Rajputana Rifles reached Castle Hill"
    "After the second day, resupply came only by air, in belly tanks dropped by A-36s from fifty feet, or by parachute."

    500 A-36s built yet popular history books seldom mention A-36 in combat. One of the few mentions I've seen and it's just a low level supply drop!
     
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  2. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Always interesting to learn more about the A-36.
    It's interesting to speculate on what it might have accomplished had it continued in production and seen wider service.
     
  3. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    I wonder if this may be because many referred to it as "Mustang."

    from Wikipedia:
    By late May 1943, 300 A-36As had been deployed to the Mediterranean Theater, with many of the first batch sent to the 27th to re-build the group following losses as well as completing the final transition to an all-A-36A unit.[15] Both groups were actively involved in air support during the Sicilian campaign, becoming especially adept at "mopping" up enemy gun positions and other strong points as the Allies advanced. During this operation, the 27th Group circulated a petition to adopt the name "Invader" for their rugged little bomber, receiving unofficial recognition of the more fitting name.[15] Despite the name change, most combat reports preferred the name "Mustang" for all of the variants.[22] The Germans gave it a flattering, if fearsome, accolade, calling the A-36As: "screaming helldivers."[21]
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    One might also check it's record. One source claims "The type flew over 23,000 combat missions, dropping 8,000 tons of bombs, and claiming 84 enemy aircraft in aerial combat. Only 177 A-36s were lost to enemy action, a loss ration of under 1%, very impressive for a ground attack aircraft."

    Which seems a far cry from dropping supplies.
     
  5. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    There was also an A-36 ace, Lieutenant Michael T. Russo from the 27th Fighter Bomber Group.
     
  6. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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  7. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Or, another way to spin the same, this time from Wikipedia:

    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.

    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]
     
  8. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The enemy action included AA guns.

    One might compare the loss ratio of losses per 100 sorties to that of the 4 engine bombers. Or perhaps to the Hawker Hurricane in fighterbomber/close support roles.
     
  9. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    If the water cooled A36 was so vulnerable why would swapping them for the liquid cooled P40 work. They both have big radiators dangling in the breeze I can only think the shorter coolant pipes of the chin radiator would help.
     
  10. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    One 'theory' was that the ground gunners didn't lead the target enough and planes were more likely to get hit from mid-point to tail than from nose to mid-point. Another may be the shorter coolant pipes as you say although the coolant pipes don't take up a lot of room.
    Something in favor of the later P-40s is they had 3 hard points and were rated as carrying three 500lb bombs. P-40s were often overloaded and there were instances in Italy where they were supposed to have carried a pair of 1000lb bombs.
     
  11. fastmongrel

    fastmongrel Well-Known Member

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    Must have been fun for the pilot getting airborne from an Italian airfield with 2x1000lb bombs.
     
  12. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    I have no idea what they left behind for fuel/ammo (or even guns) or how bad they beat up the engines doing this. It is mentioned in "AHT" but no details are given.
     
  13. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    I thought the P-51 had a larger radiator area to take advantage of the ram compression+diffusion ducting arrangement, though that would be more relevant to vulnerability from behind and not so much below.

    With the P-40's chin/beard radiator+oil coolers, you also limit the general vulnerable area to the engine section itself, rather than exposing both the engine and a separate area for the radiator in the belly (or wings, etc -relevant to the 109 and spitfire). Jumo's annular radiator configuration had similar advantages in short plumbing and more compact radiator/engine vulnerable area.

    It's also potentially easier to armor, but that's only relevant if armor is actually fitted.
     
  14. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Is the issue the plane or the tactics?
    Were P-40's dived from the angles and speeds that A-24's, A-25's, A-31's and A-36's were?
     
  15. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    A-36s and most dedicated dive-bombing attack planes had dive breaks, the P-40 never got them.
     
  16. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    The dive brakes on the A-36 were supposed to limit the speed in a vertical dive to 390mph instead of the 500+ of a Mustang with no brakes. Great for accuracy, not so great for evading flak.
     
  17. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

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    Sometimes you have no choice but to dive through significant ground fire. Which is why CAS aircraft such as dive bombers should provide armor protection for aircrew.

    Cockpit is as large or larger then radiator and even more vulnerable to enemy fire.
     
  18. bobbysocks

    bobbysocks Well-Known Member

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    I read a couple accounts from guys who flew them. according to what I remember they could dive darn near 90 degrees down which added to their accuracy.
     
  19. kool kitty89

    kool kitty89 Well-Known Member

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    The comparison was also being made between A-36 dive bombing, and P-40 dive bombing with (likely) shallower angles. The latter case might lead to a longer approach and certainly exposes a larger area to AA fire.

    Then again, it might be possible to manage <390 MPH dives at sharper angles on the P-40 between the higher drag and possibility of entering the dive at lower speed. (killing speed before entering a dive seems like a worse strategy than diving near terminal speed and holding it with dive breaks though) Same goes for hurribombers.
     
  20. Balljoint

    Balljoint Member

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    I’ve read that as the ground fire became more intense the dive angle became rather shallower.

    Just an opinion, but I’ve always thought the toughest duty the Red Tails pulled was their time in A-36s.
     
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