WWII and Korean War Tankbuster Aces

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by parsifal, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There was a thread "Ju87 Tank Aces" that had some real promise but got derailed and then the thread was closed.

    I was really interested in the original question, and disappointed that it fell apart so badly

    So I have decided to reopen a related but slightly modified thread.....covering both Korea and WWII

    I am going to make a request for people to repspect the right of other members to express their opinions. I would very much like to hear the range of different opinions, whatever they are, but i dont want people to start attacking other members because they dont like what they are hearing.

    This topic is fairly wide ranging, covering all nationalities and two wars. Should be wide enough to produce some intersting discussion.

    Ive restarted this topic on the basis of Adlers final comments on the matter, which i will quote below


    Hopefully we mere mortal members have learnt some maturity since the last thread was closed and will get to enjoy this thread a litle better and for longer than the last attempt.

    Go ahead, enjoy gentlemen....
     
  2. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    There is a restored Hawker Sea Fury from the RANs 805 squdron at the AWM. The paint scheme is a faithful representation of an 805 Squadron aircraft that served in the Korean War. The fuselage also sports repairs of what looks like a couple of holes similar to those caused by small calibre ground fire, damage common to nearly all of Sydney’s Korean Sea Furies. Unfortunately, from an authenticity viewpoint, the aircraft lacks an armour plate under the engine oil cooler. Additionally, two mission markers, now virtually hidden under the new paint, are not of a pattern used by RAN aircraft in Korea.

    805 Squadron departed for Korea aboard HMAS Sydney on 31 August 1951, with DD HMAS Tobruk in company as her escort, and arrived in Japan on 19 September 1951
    Participating in 'Operation Strangle,' which was intended to cut enemy supply and communications to the front lines, Sydney would share patrol duties on Korea's west coast with Royal Navy (RN) and US Navy (USN) carriers as part of Task Force 95, United Nations Blockade and Escort Force. Operations would normally entail ground attack including close air support for ground forces, armed reconnaissance, spotting for ships guns and anti-shipping strikes. In addition, the CAG, now bearing the black and white markings of the United Nations, would maintain a Combat Area Patrol (CAP) during daylight hours to protect Sydney in the event of an air attack.

    The CAG conducted its first raids on 5 October 1951 with 32 sorties mounted in the 'Wales' area in the south-west of North Korea. Six days later, Sydney's CAG flew a light fleet carrier record to date of 89 sorties in one day conducting attacking raids and targeting sorties for USS New Jersey. This exceptional performance drew high praise from the British Commander-in-Chief Far East Station

    Collectively, Sydney's CAG had flown 2366 sorties for the loss of three lives (all from 805 Squadron) and 14 aircraft (five of which were lost overboard or damaged beyond repair by Typhoon Ruth). Sydney had achieved an enviable operational record in Korea and it was noted that enemy activity decreased significantly in Sydney's area of operations. The squadron was credited with the destruction of over 60 AFVs, including more than 8 T-34s. The RAN retained usage of SAP warheads, whilst the Meteors of RAAFs 77 Squadron which began using Napalm warheads to great effect from 1952 onward. Whilst not very accurate, placing 8 HE rockets within 30 yards of the target could be unpleasant for the crews inside the tank. There is really no way to confirm those claims one way or the other however.

    Because of the frailities of the sleeve valve engines, armour plating was added to the underside of the FB11 engines. The armour plate under the oil cooler was an important modification applied to all Korean War Sea Furies. The air-cooled Bristol Centaurus Mk 18 engine was very powerful (2,500 hp) and normally reliable, but it had a sleeve valve design and it was particularly sensitive to oil pressure problems. A drop of five to ten psi from a normal operating oil pressure of 95 psi was enough to risk seizure or engine fire within 30 seconds or so. The armour plate gave limited protection to the big oil cooler in the port wing root from small arms ground fire and self-inflicted rocket/bomb shrapnel and ricochet damage.

    This was in contrast to the Rolls Royce Griffon Mk 74s of the Fairey Fireflies of 817 Squadron which, together with 808 (Sea Fury) Squadron, made up the CAG for HMAS Sydney . The Griffons brought their aircraft home time and time again despite massive battle and other damage. It was a very reliable engine, liquid cooled and with conventional valves. In one instance in Korea, due to the supply of some dodgy camshafts, a connecting rod sheared and actually penetrated the crankcase and engine cowling shortly after launch. The engine lost all oil pressure immediately, but the remaining operating cylinders and brilliant airmanship brought the aircraft and its very shaken crew back to a hairy but safe deck landing before it quit.

    The Sea Fury normally carried eight ballistic three-inch rocket projectiles in Korea, each with a 60-lb Semi Armour Piercing (SAP) or Napalm warhead. It also had a very effective set of four 20-mm cannon shooting ball, SAP and incendiary ammunition and it normally carried two 45-gallon drop tanks for extra range and endurance. For shorter ranged missions the drop tanks might be replaced by 2 x 500lb and 8 rockets. Each sortie typically consisted of a strike against a pre-briefed primary target, such as reported troop concentrations or stores, followed by armed reconnaissance hunting for targets of opportunity along roads, railways, rivers and canals. Other sorties included direct support of Australian and Allied troops in front line trenches, as well as Naval Gunfire Support, where pilots spotted fall of shot and directed main armament shoots from battleships, cruisers, destroyers and frigates against targets ashore.
     
  3. Jabberwocky

    Jabberwocky Active Member

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    I often wonder whether the Hurricane Mk IV/IID would have been an effective tank hunter over Normandy/Western Europe through 1944/1945.

    The official reasons that the cannon armed Hurricanes were abandoned were their vulnerability (lack of speed in particular) and the lack of effectiveness of the 40 mm S gun against the heavier German AFVs (Tiger, Panther and the various other animals).

    However, I don't really buy it. At least, not for the cannon armed versions.

    The pair of Vickers S guns only weighed 320 lbs and didn't impose the same drag penalties as the rocket set up (which, admittedly, made the Hurricanes desperately slow). With rockets, the Hurricanes were limited to around 200 mph at sea level.

    The S gun could punch through any German armour short the cats, including mainstays like the Pz IV and Stug III/JgPz.

    The Allies had almost total aerial command over the battlefront post D-Day. Cannon-equipped Mk VIs operated successfully throughout 1944 and into 1945 in the Balkans.

    According to Tony Williams:

    "Tests in the Far East showed a high level of accuracy, with an average of 25% of shots fired at tanks striking the target. Attacks with HE were twice as accurate as with AP, possibly because the ballistics were a closer match with the .303" Brownings used for sighting (the HE shell was lighter and was fired at a higher velocity). By comparison, the practice strike rate of the 60 pdr RPs (rocket projectiles) fired by fighter-bombers was only 5% against tank-sized targets. Operational Research following the Normandy battles of 1944 revealed that in action this fell to only 0.5%, presumably because of problems in making the complex mental calculations about the trajectory of the slow-accelerating rockets, although the effect of a salvo of RPs on the morale of tank crews was admittedly considerable."

    A handful of squadrons of Hurricane IVs, right up at the battle front, could have proved invaluable in support against German armour in battles like Falaise.
     
  4. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    The thing that could've boosted the performance of the S class would be the Littlejohn adaptor, that improved penetration some 50%. More here:
    Vickers 40mm "S" Gun
     
  5. Aozora

    Aozora Well-Known Member

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    Interesting thought, but why not take it a stage further and mount the 40mms on some of the 2 TAF Typhoons? The rockets were not accurate enough to consistently knock out small, mobile targets such as tanks, but they were extremely effective against larger, fixed targets such as buildings, plus they provided a great deal of firepower against troop/soft skinned vehicle concentrations. A Typhoon armed with 2 40mm and 2 20mm cannon?
     
  6. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Ive never really accepted the notion that rockets were not effective. Against A tank, they were not nearly accurate enough. But what about 50 tanks in a reasonable concentration.

    When US B-17s hit the remains of Lehr in front of the Cobra Breakout, they basically destroyed Lehr as a fighting force. Not that they had much left by the time of the breakout. But what litle they had left was destroyed by these heavies plastering them. Not so much tanks....they were long gone, but a lot of vehicles and men. So if a bunch of unwieldy B-17s can flatten 2000 dug in Infantry, why is it so difficult to imagine 20 or 30 typhoons (or in my country's case, Sea Furies) going after 50 or 100 tanks crammed into a confined space and having reasonable success....perhaps not against the tanks per se, but certainly against the supportiing elements surrounding and supporting those tanks.

    RAAF Meteors in Korea were said to have had particular success with their Napalm rockets. Ive never sen a whole squadron unleash the ordinance in salvo or even in echelon, but I have seen 3 o4 a/c releasing the modern equivalents of the HVAR rockets. They could take out two or three house blocks with ease, so it stands to reason that if 2 o3 a/c can blow up 2 or 3 houses, then 20 or 30 a/c are going to take out a whole city block. Under the right conditions, I see that as quite lethal.

    Perhaps a combination of rockets, bombs and cannon could do the trick....but why does it need to be 40mm +. The Soviets did qute well with their cannon armed Sturmoviks, and we were quite satisfied with our 4 x 20mm cannon in the Sea Furies. I fail to see why its necessary to go heavy and opt for a 40mm gun.....
     
  7. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    It depends on what you are trying to kill, everybody was fixated on the TANK as the big bugaboo. They wanted to kill the TANK directly, not run it out of fuel or spare parts. The later is easier and perhaps more effective in the long run but doesn't satisfy the gut reaction.

    20mm guns work great on APCs, armored cars (tracked recon vehicles), most SP guns and any and all manner of support vehicles. They don't work so good on main battle tanks, even main battle tanks like the German MK III. Unless the plane is diving at 30 degrees or more the impact angle on top surfaces is going to be rather acute and little or no penetration is going to occur, Most 20mm guns can't make it through even 30mm vertical armor at any reasonable distance. The 23mm guns in the IL-2 were sort of in a class of their own with about 60% MORE muzzle energy than a Hispano gun, this is NOT the 23mm gun used in the late LA fighters. Russians went to 37mm armed Sturmoviks because the 23mm guns weren't doing the job.

    IF you want to KILL tanks from the air you needed a good sized gun. The rockets are not accurate enough.
     
  8. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    at least for WW 2 you must consider the angle of approach and just where on the tank will you use your cannon rounds, 2cm will not do it 3cm and above had the performance due to the type of AT- hard point and tungsten cored rounds used.
     
  9. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    In fact Vickers S was capable to penetrate the side armour of Panther also the rear armour of its turret, but Hurri IV was too slow and vulnerable when one takes into account of the effectiveness of German AAA in Normandy.
     
  10. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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    The promlem with 37mm armed Ii-2s were that the recoil of the guns dipped the nose of the plane, not a good thing for accuracy and even less at zero altitude and if the guns didn't fire absolutely simultaneously the nose slew sideways. That's why Il-2 37 had only limited production run. Soviets prefer A/T bomblets as aerial A/T waepon. Vickers S had much less peak recoil because it was a long recoil design.
     
  11. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Napalm just rings 'right', for tanks, vehicles, infantry, AAA... It would be somewhat less than ideal weapon if friendly forces are around, though.
    The 40mm cannons were not all the same, the variety was comparable to 20mm weaponry. The S class was one of modest power, firing either a heavy projectile at modest velocity, or a mid-weight projectile at decent velocity. So the recoil was thus manageable, the long recoil working principle further reducing the stress on the airframe. The 'soft' recoil was also beneficial to the accuracy, not something Il-2s (those armed with 37mm) could've bragged about.
    The 20mm in Sea Furies was not that good a tank killer.
     
  12. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    Is that related to the performance of the gun, or the frailties of the power plant. I always assumed the 20mm was the standard Hispano Suiza Cannon that the Allies had been using for more than 10 years. Or is your criticism equally applicable to all Allied a/c equiped with this weapon.

    If the criticism relates to the vulnerability of the engine, thats a fair enough comment, However some steps had been taken to reduce that vulnerability by installing armoured plating on the underside of cowling.

    Losing three aircraft under operational conditions out of 2200 sorties is a pretty low attrition rate. There were other losses, due to a typhoon that washed overboard some aircraft from the Sydney, but I wouldnt really include those losses in an analysis for this issue.
     
  13. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    Neither 20 mm was that much of a tank killer, if we leave aside the light tanks (Pz-I/II, T-60, L6 etc). I' was not referring to the engine.
     
  14. Ascent

    Ascent Member

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    #14 Ascent, Feb 25, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
    I think the 'S' guns are a missed opportunity and would have made a very useful contribution over Western Europe, however that's with hind sight. As far as the planners knew the rockets were a better weapon, delivering a much more powerful punch. It's only with post battle analysis that the accuracy becomes questioned. Even knowing what we now know about how likely you were to actually hit a tank I wouldn't have wanted to be on the recieving end of a full salvo.

    Risking a little thread creep here but what do you think about the MKXVIII Mosquito armed with a pair of 40mm 'S' guns instead of the single 57mm? Would it still be as viable an anti shipping weapon?
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    I dont think there is any argument that the 20mm HS404 simply lacked the AP capability to take on the armour plate of a heavy tank. The SAP round of the HS404 I believe could penetrate about 17mm of standard plate whereas the deck armour of a Soviet T-34 was a uniform 20mm. Direct hits by a mixed HE/SAP FB11 (about 50/50 ammo split was the usual load out) was probably not going to defeat a T-34s deck armour, but if there were enough hits its going to make a big mess just the same. Quite feasible to imobilize the tank, which in a battle situation might well be as good as an outright kill, or give time for a retreating force to get out of Dodge.

    Rockets also had an advantage over guns in their utility....a rocket fired at a mixed soft skin/Infantry/ AFV mix of targets (far more usual that just AFVs on their own) might not hurt the tanks, but will almost certainly do a lot of damage to the soft targets. A gun armed aircraft is unable to have much area effect.

    The Germans repeatedly stated in 1944 that the decisive element of the Allied inventory was their Fighter Bomber attack aircraft. We have since been told by so-called "specialists" that this is all untrue, that the germans were untroubled by the FBs, because of accuracy issues, and in consequence, the low casualty numbers. I think the low casualties are true, but the German assessments are still correct. We have taken 1 plus 1 and arrived at 3. Ground Support is not about the casualty rates. Its about the denial of mobilitythat in effect acts as a force multiplier for the ground forces. I think thats the key to understanding the allied success witht their tactical support.

    In Korea the allies misused their tactical airpower. They applied rocket firing ground support aircraft as independant, deep ranging strike aircraft (Operation "Strangle"). Given the known inaccuracy of rocket firing a/c, and the primary role of tac air as a force multiplier of ground formations, much of the real benefits of the rocket firing FBs empoyed in Korea would have been lost
     
  16. tomo pauk

    tomo pauk Creator of Interesting Threads

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    For the 20mm to penetrate the upper deck of any decent tank, the plane needs to be diving vertically to the target. The non-dive-bomber can do that trick only once, since it will never recover from the dive. We can note that British, Germans and Soviets went quickly at 37-40mm stuff for their tank killers, despite having capable cannons in 20-30mm range.

    Now I know that you said 'not penetration, but making a mess out of it' - if the tank is penetrated, that might cost it it's crew, along the tank itself. Not so much if the 20mm stuff found the way to it.
     
  17. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    Tomo has the right of it. IF the tank is level ( not on a slope) a plane diving at 30 degrees ( and disregarding any curve in the shell trajectory ) the shell will hit the top deck at 60 degrees from vertical. Simple geometry says the shell has to travel twice the distance of the thickness of the plate (10mm=20mm and 20mm=40mm) this disregards the tendency of the shell to skid or ricochet which varies on shell/projectile type. IF the plane is at less than 30 degrees things get much worse real quick.

    Even dive bombers cannot do much since their safe pull out distance is several thousand feet from the target and accuracy would be a bit dismal at such a distance.

    The planes with the 30-40mm guns attacked at very low level and were shooting at the rear/sides of the tanks, where they hit ????

    Granted you get a lot more hits but even the best aircraft 20mm wasn't as powerful as the 20mm AT rifles ( not counting the velocity imparted by the aircraft) and not much was thought of them for stopping the 20 ton and up tanks.
     
  18. mike siggins

    mike siggins Member

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    now back to the origanal question who was the second best axis tank killer and the allies top killers dont even want to say his name and the arguing starts
     
  19. Juha

    Juha Well-Known Member

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  20. Erich

    Erich the old Sage
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    good listing Juha I had posted on that other failed thread Petr Kachas listing as well. Gents remember the LW Fw F/G's, Hs 129 and Ju 87 G's had different approach and level/altitude tactics throughout the war against Soviet armor and MT's.
     
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