The dive bombers did more than sink Japanese warships. Dive bombers supported Marine and Army landing troops with pre-invasion bombing of landing beaches, shore installations and airfields, destroying many Japanese planes on the ground. Some blew up oil refineries and oil storage tanks in such faraway places as Camranh Bay and Saigon in Southeast Asia.
With extra fuel tanks installed in the bomb bay Helldivers navigated long range searches covering miles. These eight hour flights, with pilot and gunner strapped into a single engine plane, were an endurance test with nothing to look at but ocean in all directions. Navigation was dead reckoning, using the plotting board which slid out of the instrument panel. With a K camera mounted under the fuselage Helldivers served as photo planes for reconnaissance and damage assessment. Crewmen were trained to use K cameras as well as the machine guns. One of the reasons that this visually spectacular dive bombing weapon never attracted the attention of the film or TV producers is the fact that it had a short life.
It was born early in World War I when German and Allied pilots began throwing grenades at troops on the ground. Before they had mechanical bomb releases twenty pound bombs would be wrapped in burlap fastened around the fuselage of the plane. Over the target one end of the burlap would be released spilling out the bombs. It soon became evident a steep dive was necessary to hit small targets on the ground, or moving ships.
WW2 Dive Bomber Aircraft ()
There are conflicting claims over who made the first vertical dive bombing attack. Marine Corp perfected dive bombing for tactical support of ground troops in Haiti and Nicaragua. The Stuka JU 87 proved its worth in Spain in action against ground targets and as an anti-ship weapon.
Army Air Force adopted the weapon.
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As a result the British Navy was starved for modern aircraft as the RAF concentrated on strategic bombers. Fortunately, far sighted aviators of the U. Navy were able to pursue development of dive bombers at a time when aircraft were regarded by many ranking officers as merely scouts and spotters for the Main Battle Line.
That was over 70 years ago. By the end of World War II the unrecognized contributions of the dive. Propeller driven dive bombers were replaced by jet aircraft firing rockets and guided missiles Accurate targeting no longer needed to expose pilots and aircraft to point blank enemy fire.
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With the new threat of guided missile anti-aircraft batteries it became necessary to perfect new attack procedures, just as we now adjust to the new attack tactics using drones. The YouTube video below addresses this issue:. Just click:.
Smith, , Page Walsh USNR ret. Posted by George J. Walsh, Lieutenant Cmdr. Subscribe to: Posts Atom. Mentioned in?
References in periodicals archive? The Germans had more aircraft overall, but these were in squadrons of out-dated, virtually obsolete twin-engined bombers that were poorly armed and could only carry a small bomb load or Stuka dive bombers - good at dive bombing but they were slow and, again, with poor defensive armament, making them easy prey.
It was difficult enough looking after yourself in those days, with older kids constantly dive bombing you.
Marine squadrons continued to fly SBDs until the end of the war. Although the Curtiss Helldiver had a more powerful engine, a higher maximum speed and could carry nearly a thousand pounds more in bomb load, many of the dive bomber pilots preferred the SBD, which was lighter and had better low-speed handling characteristics, which were critical for carrier landings. Sign up for free e-mail delivery and notices of Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum events, special offers, and news. Stay in Touch Sign up for free e-mail delivery and notices of Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum events, special offers, and news.
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