Vertical attack torpedo bombers

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RF
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Vertical attack torpedo bombers

Postby RF » Wed Oct 17, 2012 4:38 pm

Over the last forty or so years I have come across various fictionalised accounts of torepedo carrying aircraft delivering their torpedo vertically as a dive bomber as opposed to horizontal launch into seawater.

Three questions:

1) I s there any instance of this type of action being done, if so was it successfull?

2) If the answer to 1) is no, is there any type of torpedo bomber capable of vertical delivery of a torpedo?

3) If the answer to 2) is yes would such tactics include attacks on land targets?
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Re: Verical attack torpedo bombers

Postby tommy303 » Wed Oct 17, 2012 8:56 pm

I don't know of any instance where this was actually done successfully, although it might have been tried as an act of desperation. There are a number of reasons why such an attack would not be a matter of doctrine:

1 torpedo shape is not condusive to accuracy needed for bombing and the torpedo might well tumble instead of stabilize during free fall from dive bomber release altitudes.
2 high cost of a torpedo compared to a bomb would make it prohibitively expensive.
3 torpedoes generally arm themselves after a 100 to 200m run in water and the warhead casing is less robust than a bomb casing.
4 most torpedo bombers could be used in level or shallow descent bombing, but most were not strong enough for actual dive bombing--a notable exception being the Fairey Barracuda.

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Re: Verical attack torpedo bombers

Postby tommy303 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:02 am

I would presume, and of course this might be just my opinion, but fiction writers are often easily confused; in this instance, it might be by the fact that many, if not all torpedo bombers could also be used as level bombers or glide bombers in which case the payload would be bombs rather than torpedoes. With the exception of the Barracuda, most torpedo bombers lacked the dive brakes and strengthened airframes necessary for actual dive bombing.

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Re: Verical attack torpedo bombers

Postby RF » Thu Oct 18, 2012 8:32 am

tommy303 wrote:I would presume, and of course this might be just my opinion, but fiction writers are often easily confused....... for actual dive bombing.


Or perhaps (as I suspect) of not letting technical detail get in the way of telling a good story.

One example I can remember is of a fictionalised account in the mid-1970's involving a Bismarck class battleship called ''Tirnhorst'' in which the hero of a flight of Beaufighter torpedo bombers launches a solo diving bombing attack on Tirnhorst with his torpedo while the German crew were distracted by the approach at low level of the main formation of torpedo bombers. The dive bombing strike was done to knock out the anti-aircraft guns of Tirnhorst and in the fictionalised account this is what happens.

Another fictionalised account also from the seventies involves the blowing up of a Japanese battleship by the dropping of a torpedo straight down its funnel. I did note at the time that this battlleship didn't conform to the usual Japanese practice of having funnels slanted backwards to vertical, this funnel was conveniently rigid upright.
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Re: Verical attack torpedo bombers

Postby Rick Rather » Thu Oct 18, 2012 7:17 pm

This raises a question I've had for some time about my avatar (at right).

I cropped that picture from a frame of John Ford's "Midway" at about the 6:48 mark of this version.

I assume that the aircraft is a Kate, since I do not see the Val's fixed landing gear*. However, it is clearly making some type of diving attack. In addition to its role as a torpedo bomber, the Kate was also referred to as a "level bomber". Of course at Pearl Harbor they had to make literal "level" attacks to properrly drop their converted 14" AP shells. This film suggests that when Kates dropped more conventional bombs, it did so in what the US called a "glide bombing" attack, rather than a truly level one.

Does anyone have more information on the Kates' prefered bombing tactic?

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*Of course, there is always the possibility that I have misidentified the aircraft if the film resolution was not good enough to show fixed-gear.
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Re: Vertical attack torpedo bombers

Postby tommy303 » Thu Oct 18, 2012 11:50 pm

It would of course be possible to glide bomb with a Kate, although it was set up with a bomber type bomb sight for level bombing operated by the chap seated between the pilot and rear gunner. I am not sure if Kate pilots were trained to glide bomb--possibly not--as the preferred bombing method would have been on the level. I seem to recall in both Midway and Tora Tora Tora, the Vals are shown in rather shallow glide bombing--this being because the replica Vals were not stressed to simulate dive bombing which was the Vals' main forte, the Val, like the Ju87, being an almost vertical screamer in a dive. As far a John Ford's footage goes, there appears to have been some footage of aircraft taken from other aircraft in a shallow dive bombing attack and the ones, such as in your avatar do not appear to be Kates which had long fuselage and quite a wide wingspan, nor Vals with fixed landing gear and eliptical wings. I presume the war department or department of the Navy spliced in some training footage to simulate parts of the attack.

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Re: Verical attack torpedo bombers

Postby steffen19k » Tue Oct 23, 2012 1:52 am

Rick Rather wrote:This raises a question I've had for some time about my avatar (at right).

I cropped that picture from a frame of John Ford's "Midway" at about the 6:48 mark of this version.

I assume that the aircraft is a Kate, since I do not see the Val's fixed landing gear*. However, it is clearly making some type of diving attack. In addition to its role as a torpedo bomber, the Kate was also referred to as a "level bomber". Of course at Pearl Harbor they had to make literal "level" attacks to properrly drop their converted 14" AP shells. This film suggests that when Kates dropped more conventional bombs, it did so in what the US called a "glide bombing" attack, rather than a truly level one.

Does anyone have more information on the Kates' prefered bombing tactic?

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

*Of course, there is always the possibility that I have misidentified the aircraft if the film resolution was not good enough to show fixed-gear.



Those look like Zekes or Zeroes to me. But as you pointed out, the film resolution is less than perfect, and the length of the 6:48 clip isn't long enough to get a good feel for whats going on.
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