Was the P-38 Lightning ever fitted with torpedoes?

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by gjs238, Feb 17, 2015.

  1. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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  2. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    One aircraft was fitted with a pair (real or dummy I don't know) for trials. I don't think it went any further than that although the picture/s sure show up a lot.
     
  3. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    My initial answer would be ... YES.

    Lockheed-P-38-Lightning-024.preview.jpg

    and

    torpedo-bomber_zps6479cac7.jpg

    Sure LOOKS like it to me. However, if the pair at the bottom was real, I THINK the nosegear would sag maybe just a bit lower. Just my own thoughts on it ...
     
  4. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Try: Lockheed P-38 Lightning Ideas and Inspiration

    Scroll a little over half way down the page. There is a sequence of photos showing a torpedo dropping away from the plane

    It seems all the pictures of the the Torpedo carrying P-38 have AF 221 on the boom/s wither or not they have the number 44 on the rudder.
     
  5. gjs238

    gjs238 Well-Known Member

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    Would be interesting to speculate how/where some P-38's showing up with torpedoes would have been useful.
     
  6. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    Probably to sink ships ... in the ocean. :)
     
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  7. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The US torpedos were having plenty of problems that prevented them do their job, ie. sink ships. Googling 'US torpedo scandal' brings plenty of hits, and indeed it was a scandal.
    Prior 1944, the P-38 (or any US aircraft) will do much more harm to Axis ships if it uses bombs - they are far more reliable, readily available, and a hit by a 500, 1000, let alone 1600 lb AP bomb will put many a ship out of commission. The aircraft carrying a torpedo is a far easier target than a bomb-carrying one. It is easier to hit a small target, say a destroyer, by a bomb in a low-flying aircraft than with a torpedo.
    In 1943, the mast-height bombing and skip bombing were perfected enough to be viable, dive bombing more earlier.
     
  8. Edgar Brooks

    Edgar Brooks Active Member

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    It would be interesting to compare the preferred aircraft's delivery speed of the torpedo against the stalling speed of the P-38 (flaps up, presumably.)
     
  9. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    Looks like the torpedos are fixed behind the rear undercarriage, I think a hang up with one torpedo would be "interesting" for the pilot.
     
  10. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Range would certainly have been interesting but one tested configuration was one torpedo and one drop tank.
     
  11. GregP

    GregP Well-Known Member

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    I think a torpedo hang-up would be "interesting" for any aircraft carrying a extrernally and having retractible landing gear. If you were flying one, I bet you did a pretty good check of your parachute ... just in case of same.
     
  12. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    The P-38F that was used for testing, was actually an RAF Lightning Mk.II retained by the USAAF (AF221 43-2035) and had two different configurations.

    The one configuration was carrying two torpedoes that limited the P-38's range to 1,000 miles and gave a 16% penalty in speed performance (300 mph max.)

    The second configuration was with a single torpedo and a 310 gallon drop tank that extended it's range to 2,160 miles. This configuration gave a performance penalty of only 12%.

    The max. weight of either configuration was 1,900 pounds. It was reported that the tests were very successful and that flight characteristics were "very stable" and when the ordnance was released, the aircraft only "jumped slightly".

    The only reason the P-38 project was cancelled, was because the shift away from torpedo bombing at that point in the war.
     
  13. Garyt

    Garyt Member

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    True, for the US bombing in the early war period was more effective than torpedoes. And a torpedo run makes a plane more vulnerable than a dive bomb run.

    But the US success with dive bombers was based largely on their successes against Japanese Carriers, which were not flight deck armored and were often caught with decks full of fuel and bomb laden aircraft.

    Against armored vessels, the bombs were far less effective. Must HE bombs are not going to get deep enough on a Heavy Cruiser or better to do effect seaworthiness, their best hope is that the start fires that don't get put.

    Even AP bombs are going to struggle to penetrate thick deck armor if they are dropped from dive bomb heights. Yeah, the Oklahoma, but that was level bombing from high altitude, almost useless against a moving target.

    I've often wondered if the increased penetration of an AP bomb was worth it. An AP bomb won't penetrate thick armor, and does not have the bursting charge of a GP or HE bomb (one in the same on GP/HE) to damage the upper works of a vessel.

    Best the an HE bomb does against a battleship is to knock out AA guns and damage control crews, and maybe that lucky hit that knocks out a fire director, radar or similar.
     
  14. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The Val dive bombers sunk heavy cruiser HMS Dorsetshire with 250 and 500 (actually 551 lbs - 250 kg) lbs bombs; looks like it was 10 bombs total? One of the bombs detonated the ammo magazine, those tend to be well armored. HMS Cornwall was sunk by same bombs, 8 hits.
    The SBD-1 (= the 1st Dauntless version) carried not just 500 lbs bomb, but also 1000 lb GP bomb and 1600 lb AP bomb. So Id say that the Dauntless with a 1000 lb, let alone 1600 lb bomb was in a good position to harm any ship they can hit.
    A doctrine for dealing with a battleship in low level horizontal bombing was to release the GP bomb a bit early, so it can explode just near the ship, thus emulating a sea mine explosion.
     
  15. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    The British (and I bet everyone else) did a lot of investigations and experiments to determine which bombs worked best against various types of ships. Against armoured vessels the most crucial factor was the time of the delay of the fuses fitted to the AP bombs.
    I have somewhere one of the RAF (not RN) reports from the mid 1930s about this, but it's at home and I'm not :)
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  16. Garyt

    Garyt Member

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    The Val's were probably using the Type 99 number 25. This was a semi-AP bomb with about 24% explosive by weight, as opposed to a 500 pound American GP bomb about 51% explosive. The Japanese bomb was a bit more of a piercer and usually had a bit of a delay.

    I don't think either of the 2 cruisers had much over an inch in vertical protection, I think the Type 99 #25 would be capable of piercing, I think they are rated at about 50mm or so with normal dive bombing altitudes.

    Those bombs the Japanese has were probably best against cruisers, with some AP ability but not as much blast as a more standard GP type of bomb.

    Most Bombs though at dive bombing altitudes were not overly effective against most battleships, at least as far as disrupting sea worthiness. That is unless they got not hits but near misses, which was more damaging than a hit, as the between war testing by the US Navy showed.
     
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