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 Post subject: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: May 31st, 2013, 2:04 pm 
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4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that perhaps should be!)

By John Ash


The forgotten 4;

Amiot 143

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The Amiot 143 is a twin engined French bomber built for a 1928 requirement. It was a powerful re engined version of an older type, and retained some of the older features such as the non retractable undercarriage. It was however an all metal aircraft, which for an aircraft which entered service in mid 1935 isn't bad going. It boasted a number of innovative features, such as twin deck fuselage, and a wing section deep enough to allow the on board engineer to access the engines whilst the Amiot was in flight, and although its undercarriage was outdated, the French designers were well aware of it, and developed aerodynamic covers. The 143 had a range of 745 miles, could fly up to 26000 feet, and had a maximum speed of 193 miles per hour. Few of these statistics are particularly impressive, when compared to the similar British Hampden bomber, the Amiot's defensive armament is on par and all gunners had clear fields of fire. It could climb considerably higher. However the Hampden carried over twice the bombload, and was 60mph faster. The Amiot was so antiquated, that a large proportion of its 1760lb bombload was carried externally!

A small number built were sent to equip the Spanish air force, unfortunately it is not known how they performed. However, at least 132 served with the French. The type suffered from constant redesigns and intended role changes. The last 143's were produced as late as March 1938, by that point the aircraft was hopelessly out of date and had begun to be replaced. Nevertheless at the outbreak of the Second World War, Amiot 143s equipped 5 metropolitan groupes and a 6th African based groupe.

During the Phoney War, Amiot 143's flew reconnaissance and leaflet raids. Only 87 remained in front line service on 10 May 1940, and only 50 of these were based in France. During the Battle of France, the Amiot 143 flew a number of night attacks against German airfields and lines of communications and surprisingly, losses were low. By 14th May 1940, the French were becoming a little reckless and desperate and switched to daylight operations. Despite escorting the bombers losses climbed rapidly. A raid of 13 Amiots lost 12 planes on the 14th May, another raid of 10 planes on the same day lost 3 near Sedan. In total, the Amiot 143 was responsible for the dropping of 474 tonnes of bombs. 52 Amiots were left by the time the surrender was signed, 25 of these wound up in North Africa. The Germans captured 11 in 1943, of which only 3 were capable of flying, those 3 were used as transports. The other survivors were used as bombers by the Vichy until 1941 in Syria, and after the Allies landed in Africa, the 143 found itself back in Allied hands, where it was relegated to transport duties until the last was retired in early 1944.

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Ugh...

Why don't we/should we remember it?

Why remember it? Well, the plane was to be relegated to training duties by the time the war broke out. But the slow pace and short-sightedness of French production meant that the 143 was very much still in front line duties. However, it is responsible for a desperate last ditched defence, and although losses were heavy (except at night, where 4 were lost over 200 missions) the small numbers of 143's in service dropped enough bombs to equate roughly to 5 missions per plane. That's pretty admirable, it's not like the pilots didn't know in May 1940 how hopeless the aircraft was, half of them were lost on leaflet dropping missions before there was serious opposition...

Why don't we remember it then? It's f.ugly =/ A nation infamous for its appreciation of fine forms and a natural eye for beauty produced this. It can hardly be a symbol of France's inner glory and front line resistance if it doesn't look the part. How pilots were expected to fly whilst squinting or drowning in eye-bleach is beyond me.

As discussed, it was obsolete, it was poorly armed, slow, and had a small pay load and a short range. Like most early bombers it proved as vulnerable as Winterfell, and if it is famous for anything, it is for its appearance and appearance alone.

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Obsolete, but there were a few redeeming features.

Bristol Beaufort

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The Bristol Beaufort was a British twin-engined torpedo bomber first flying in 1938. It flew at 265mph, had a range of 1600 miles and ceiling of 16500 feet. The Beaufort was derived from the Blenheim and was the RAF's standard land-based torpedo bomber from 1940 to 1943. Beauforts first saw service with Coastal Command, and later with the Fleet Air Arm until they were withdrawn from European service.

Beauforts flying from Britain flew sorties as torpedo bombers, conventional bombers, and mine-layers (often because of an early war shortage in torpedoes, because you might not need them when defending an island nation...) After 1943 they were used as trainers until declared obsolete in 1945. Training missions were flown more frequently than operational sorties, and more Beauforts were lost to accidents and mechanical failures than to combat. South Africa operated the type until 1944, Australia until 1946, and Turkey until 1950.

The aircraft was designed as a 3 man aircraft, but the British insisted on a 4th man which added weight. Design modifications allowed for a capable torpedo bomber, with a fuselage specifically designed to hold a torpedo. Other modifications are initial combat sorties were flown, including the addition of extra defensive guns. The type was a marked improvement over outdated torpedo aircraft such as the Vickers Vildebeest which was still in service in 1940. Crews had to be extensively retrained to operate the faster, heavier Beaufort. After some successful attacks, Beaufort squadrons flew "Rovers" (armed reconnaissance missions).

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A "Rover" attack.

Successful torpedo drops require a straight approach run where the speed and height of the drop allow the torpedo to enter the water. Otherwise, the weapon could "porpoise" (skip through the water) or break up. Height over water had to be judged without radio altimeters. (It is hoped that at least one pilot joked about dangling an, appendage, from the bomb-bay). Beaufort crews had to drop at 21 metres altitude at a distance of 610 metres. The Beaufort's dropping speed was faster than the Vildebeests it was replacing (which could dive onto the target). A ship the size of the Scharnhorst would fill the windscreen a mile out and was easy to underestimate the range, as a result torpedoes were often released too early. Once the torpedo had been dropped, a sharp turn was sought, but more often than not the aircraft had to fly over the target at full-throttle, below mast height. Gaining altitude would expose the aircraft to anti-aircraft guns.

Beauforts were involved in a number of attacks on specific enemy vessels in addition to the Rovers. On the 21 June 1940 9 Beauforts unsuccessfully attacked Scharnhorst with the loss of 4 aircraft. Bombs had to be used as no torpedoes were available and the dive bombing attack was carried out using 500 lb bombs. In early April 1941 the Gneisenau was moved from dry dock because of an unexploded bomb following a raid on Brest. 1,000 AA guns protected the base, and the Gneisenau was positioned in a way that required extremely accurate torpedo drops. It was planned to attack torpedo nets using 3 Beauforts with bombs, 3 more would then attack the ship with torpedoes. The attack, at dawn on 6th April 1941 did not go according to plan. The bomb-carrying aircraft were unable to take off and the other three aircraft got lost in the mist and arrived at Brest independently. A Beaufort flown by F/O Kenneth Campbell, did penetrate the harbour and torpedo the Gneisenau but was shot down. Campbell was awarded the VC and his Observer, Sergeant J.P. Scott the DFM.

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1942 colour photo of a low pass off of Cornwall.

On 12/13 June 1941, 18 Beauforts were tasked with sinking the cruiser Lūtzow near Norway. At midnight, a Blenheim confirmed the position of the ship but most of the Beauforts failed to find them. One aircraft, piloted by Flight Sergeant Ray Loviett (who had become separated) took the Lūtzow by surprise as his aircraft was mistaken for a German Ju 88 known to be patrolling the area. He did not come under fire and hit the Lūtzow, putting her out of action for six months.

During Operation Cerberus, the infamous"Channel Dash" by Scharnhorst, Gneisenau and heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen which took place from 12 February 1942, 28 Beauforts set out to attack. 13 failed to locate the enemy and three were downed. 11 Beauforts sighted the ships and unsuccessfully attacked. Another failure was the attack on Prinz Eugen off of Norway in May 1942. A strike force consisting of 12 Beauforts, 6 Blenheims and 4 Beaufighters was formed to attacked the famous cruiser. When the Prinz Eugen was sighted the Beaufighters attacked with cannon fire, covering the Blenheims which were making dummy torpedo runs. German fighters arrived and it was left to the Blenheims to fend them off whilst the Beauforts started their attack. 3 Beauforts were downed before they could launch their torpedoes and the nine torpedoes which were launched missed. A fourth Beaufort, already damaged but survived. A second mission of 15 Beauforts were deployed too far north, and 4 were shot down. However, at least 5 German aircraft were downed. Of the 11 Beauforts remaining, 7 jettisoned their torpedoes. The Beaufort would not operate again from Britain again.

Despite the failure, lessons were learned and some aspects of it were successful. Beaufighters were used in flak-suppression and escort roles, and other diversionary tactics used. After these attacks, it was concluded that the Beaufort was obsolete and a torpedo version of the Beaufighter entered service. Later the last prop driven twin engined aircraft to serve in the RAF, the tough, superb, yet unpopular Bristol Brigand would fill the torpedo role.

Beauforts saw more successful service in the Mediterranean. Beaufort squadrons operating out of bases in Egypt and on Malta were a thorn in Rommel's side preventing the Axis from shipping supplying the DAK. They scored some successes, such as crippling the 12,700 tonne Victoria by 3 Beauforts. Most impressively, a raid by 9 Beauforts hit and crippled the Italian cruiser Trento. The first hit is accredited to the plane flown by Flying Officer Arthur Aldridge. His Beaufort was mistaken for a friendly aircraft. The other 8 Beauforts found the ship having been guided by gunfire. Several more torpedo hits were scored for the loss of 1 Beaufort which belly-landed at Luqa. Trento was later sunk by the submarine HMS Umbra. At least 7 other ships of between 5000 and 10000 tonnes were sunk or crippled by Beauforts.

However, the theatre of operations the Beaufort were most successful is the Pacific with the Royal Australian Air Force. The Australians built all but six of their Beauforts in Australia (some 700 aircraft in total). They first entered service in December 1941 and the Beaufort was vital to the RAAF becoming a mainstay of the RAAF until 1944. Beauforts were produced in Australia up to a rate of one per day and successfully served as a maritime patrol and strike aircraft. Aviation historian William Green states that the Beaufort's "part in the defeat of the Japanese forces in the South-West Pacific was probably of greater importance than that of any other single aircraft type."

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Finally found its feet, Australian Beauforts were hugely successful.

Why don't we/should we remember it?

A fairly good aircraft on paper. It was fairly hardy, it was fast and could carry a large bomb-load for a plane of its type and size. The airframe was solid enough for the Beaufighter to be developed from it. It fought with some surprising distinction although it did have some serious flaws. The type suffered stinging losses, although once some initial problems were resolved it scored a few hits and kills against aircraft and vessels. The Pacific War is often forgotten, and this is the theatre where the Beaufort was most successful. The Beauforts association with the widely criticised Blenheim might drag it down into the forgotten pages of an aircraft identification guide (Lets face it, people read the British section of those for 3 things, Spitfire, Lancaster, Vulcan) but the Beaufort is overshadowed by the superior multi-role Beaufighter, which is turn, is one of those forgotten aircraft.

Heinkel He 177

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The Heinkel He 177 Greif (or Griffin, or Flaming Coffin...) was the only sole operational long-range bomber flown in decent numbers by the Luftwaffe. Entering service as late as 1942, the Greif was also the first purpose-built heavy bomber built by Germany before the war, and the only long range bomber built in large numbers during World War II. As with the vast majority of Luftwaffe aircraft, the Greiff was not a strategic bomber, but was intended for tactical use (largely because German bomb-sights were terrible, so planners questioned the effectiveness of horizontal bombing). The He 177 was tasked right from its inception to fly precision dive bombing sorties that the Junkers Ju 87 pioneered during the earlier Spanish Civil War, its design brief called for an anti-ship medium angle dive bomber that carried around 4400lbs of bombs. The aircraft's design as an obese dive bomber resulted in major deficiencies and ultimately hindered the Greifs use in strategic bombing. This six seat four engined (yea four) bomber did have a longer range (about 3400 miles) than any other German bomber. Despite the muddled, and warped, design requirement, the Greif is well designed, resulting in same favourable design features. The unusual requirement for such a large aircraft meant that the basic design caused significantly less drag than any 4 engined type of the period. The engine layout, tubular structure and very long wings allowed for it's high speed and long range, and the aircraft's defensive armament was potent, consisting of 3 7.92mm machine guns, 3 13mm machine guns, and 2 20mm cannon. Over 6000lbs of bombs could be carried internally, or 7200lbs externally, including 3 anti ship missiles. It was the innovative engines however, which would prove the types Achilles heel.

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One of the infamous anti ship missiles used by Germany

Luftwaffe aircrew despised the aircraft and unkindly nicknamed it the Luftwaffenfeuerzeug (Luftwaffe's lighter) or the "Flaming Coffin" as the engines had a tendency to catch fire with just routine use. While these problems were later rectified the bomber could not be deployed in influential numbers due to Germany's deteriorating situation in the war. The DB-610 engine is in fact a pair of DB605 engines combined together and operating a single prop shaft which gave tremendous power and lift capability and greatly reduced drag, but as aforementioned were exceptionally unreliable. 6 out of the 8 prototypes crashed, and most of the first 35 production models were written off by fires and take off accidents. Arado, responsible for the first aircraft, built 130 updated A-1 versions, and then Heinkel took over production for the improved A-3 and A-5 versions, of which 170 and 826 were built respectively. The He 177 did continue to be a nuisance to ground crew and air crew even when the problems with fire were resolved which is unfortunate for the Luftwaffe, as the Greif proved to be an otherwise exceptional bomber and it certainly had the most military potential and the greatest capabilities.

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The troublesome engines

The A-1 was used mainly as a patrol and maritime strike aircraft, and could drop an impressive array of anti-shipping ordnance including the wire guided Henschel Hs 293 missiles. It is this anti shipping role that the Grief is most remembered for. Less remembered are the Steinbock raids, interesting bombings raids carried out on London in early 1944. They were failures, the Greifs climbed to 30000 feet and began a high speed shallow dive, reaching speeds of 435mph, the bombs were released at about 15000 feet, speed in the withdrawal was maintained and the aircraft typically re-entered German airspace at 2400 feet.. This allowed them to evade RAF night fighters but meant bombing accuracy was pretty much based on guess work and gut instinct. Only 4 of the 35 Grief aircraft that took part were downed, but one failed to take off, and 8 had to turn back because of fires. These were brand new aircraft, however with an average loss rate of 60% for all types of bomber used in the Operation, the 10% loss rate of the He 177 made them the most survivable bomber in the campaign. More successful conventional bombing raids of 90 Grief aircraft were carried out in mid 1944 on the Eastern Front. Although these missions on the Eastern Front were mainly carried out in daylight losses were relatively light as they were at high altitude and the Soviet Air Force was equipped mainly for low-level combat roles.

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Shallow diving He 177, or one with engine trouble. Who knows?

One of the assets of the Grief was its experimental potential, including unsuccessfully mounting 75mm auto-loading anti-tank guns. Other modifications included five A-5's were fitted with 33 21cm rocket mortar and nicknamed the Flying Battleship, it was intended to break USAAF bomber formations. Allied fighter sweeps massed ahead of bomber formations meant the scheme was abandoned. Various experimental defensive weapon fitments were also tried on small numbers of HE 177s set aside for experimentation. Twelve examples of the He 177 A-1/U2 Zerstörer variant armed with a pair of 30 mm MK 101 cannons at the front of an enlarged ventral gondola was developed and intended for ground attack, train busting, and anti-ship raids. Luftwaffe units in the Stalingrad area modified a small number of He 177s by fitting a 50 mm Bordkanone BK 5 cannon for flak-suppression sorties.

Why don't we/should we remember it?

Germany had a multitude of effective and little known aircraft, and few remember that Germany had a heavy bomber with many more criticising the Luftwaffe for not having a heavy bomber at all! The 177 is Germany's only truly heavy bomber available in decent numbers. As with most German bombers, the He 177 was rarely seen from the summer of 1944 onward due to fuel shortages. The He 177 has been compared with the American Boeing B-29 Superfortress as that too suffered with teething problems which also took two years to iron out, and only then finding success. However the He 177 was never to achieve its full potential. It was seldom used as a heavy bomber, with many being used to carry out experiments, the He 177 is most famous for launching anti-ship missiles, missiles which in reality were more famous than the mother aircraft.

Another reason it is likely forgotten is because of the Amerika Bomber. These paper planes are items of history which have risen to extreme prominence in recent times. Apologies to those Amerika Bomber fans out there, but it is the He 177, and not any other aircraft which most likely would have flown sorties to bomb the mainland USA, (conventionally or atomically)and a programme to modify the He 177 was well underway, one example was discovered in Czechoslovakia after the war. That said, as the plane had a tendency to catch fire and be forced to land without leaving German airspace, a nuclear armed He 177 might have been more of a danger to the Axis than the Allies.

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GO AWAY! (Eugen Sänger's 1935 sub-orbital bomber experiment)

Vickers Wellesley

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[Image Credit: Emoscopes] Wellesley Mk I and Long Range variant (re engined)

The Wellesley was an general purpose bomber created by the legendary Barnes Wallis and introduced in 1937. The basic design was capable of carrying out level bombing missions, performing army co-operation tasks, flying dive bombing sorties, performing reconnaissance sorties, airlifting casualties and launching torpedoes. This design was interestingly supposed to be a biplane aircraft and the Wellesley shared methods of design and construction used by Wallis on the R100 airship. A private venture resulted in the Vickers Type 246 monoplane, which used the same design principles. This aircraft had superior performance to the previous biplane design which had already beaten its competition. The RAF eventually ordered 176 of the Type 246 under the designation Wellesley, but only for the light bomber role.

The single-engine monoplane boasted some interesting features, including a retractable undercarriage and an innovative geodetic construction. It also had no bomb bay. In fact, the presence of a bomb bay might have meant that the aircraft fell out of the sky.

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We hope for comedic value that when they tried to fit a Wellesley with a bomb bay, the bombs stayed aloft.

All 2000lb of bombs were carried in a pair of streamlined under-wing panniers. This eased the construction process and stopped the aircraft from falling apart.

The RAF received its first Wellesleys in 1937 and the aircraft eventually equipped six RAF Bomber Command squadrons in the UK. The 2 seat bomber had a range of around 2000 miles but 5 Wellesleys with provisions for three crew members were modified for long-range work for the RAF Long-Range Development Flight. 3 of these on 5 November 1938 flew non-stop for two days from Ismailia, Egypt to Darwin, Australia (7,160 miles) setting a world distance record which remained unbroken until late 1945 but this flight remains the longest by a single engined aircraft to this day.

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Mk I Wellesley

The RAF however, were well aware of obsolescence of this type by the outbreak of the Second World War. The Wellesley had a very weak defensive armament consisting of a single .303in machine gun in the right wing, a second .303 machine gun at the rear, and the desperate prayers of the pilot. This was seen as a critical flaw despite the fact that the aircraft was fairly fast (~200mph), and had a great maximum ceiling of around 25000 feet, although some estimates put this figure far higher. Nevertheless, the Wellesley had been phased out from home based squadrons, but remained in service in the Middle East which equipped 3 squadrons. These squadrons became heavily involved in East Africa after Italy declared war in June 1940, where they carried out bombing missions in Eritrea, Ethiopia, and Somaliland beginning the following day when Wellesleys based in Sudan took part in their first bombing missions against Asmara, in Eritrea. Although obsolete, the British had little choice but to use the Wellesley as a major part of the theatre available bomber force. However the type did indeed prove fears correct, British fighter escort was often unavailable and the Wellesley proved vulnerable to the Fiat CR.42s, an out of date Italian biplane fighter. The Wellesley was used as a bomber until late 1941 when the last Italian-held town fell to Commonwealth and Ethiopian forces. Surviving Wellesley units began maritime reconnaissance duties until September 1942 when presumably they were replaced by Sunderlands and Beauforts.

Why don't we/should we remember it?

While the Wellesley was not a significant combat aircraft its construction processes were very influential in successful successor designs such as the Vickers Wellington and the Vickers Warwick. It was also an important part of the Middle Eastern campaign and should be remembered for the difficult missions it successfully undertook. This strange beast appears to be an aircraft of limited potential. The bombload was initially decent for an inter-war single engined design (certainly a good figure compared to aircraft like the Amiot 143), but later single engined fighter bombers could carry larger payloads at greater speeds. Whilst the Wellesley could accommodate larger engines, enclosed cockpits and a third crew member, because of the pannier designs it seems unlikely that any increase in bombload could be achieved without over stressing the wings and it never really was suitable for modernisation.

Something that perhaps the RAF should have done is strap a torpedo to the underside, remove the panniers, and have been done with it. At least then the Wellesley might have been 20mph faster. One begins to wonder if a Wellesley could have taken the Swordfish's role as it is actually not that much larger.

And 1 that should be;

Junkers Ju 87 Stuka

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The Stuka, arguably the best known Luftwaffe aircraft is certainly the easiest German aircraft from the Second World War to recognise and remember.

This infamous dive bomber had over 6000 examples produced and was in service from 1936 until the wars end, 7 main variants were produced. And pilots like the equally infamous Hans-Ulrich Rudel (the only person to be awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds who flew 2,530 combat missions claiming 800 vehicles, 519 tanks, 150 artillery pieces, 70 landing craft, 9 aircraft, 4 armoured trains, several bridges, 1 destroyer, 2 cruisers, and the Soviet battleship Marat) add to the legendary fame of the Ju 87. The aircraft was easily recognisable because of its distinctive inverted gull wings, fixed undercarriage and its Jericho-Trompete (Jericho Trumpet). The Stuka was/is the propaganda symbol of German blitzkrieg victories. It did incorporate a number of innovative features in its design such as the automatic pull-up dive brakes under which ensured the aircraft recovered from a dive even if the pilot blacked out.

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Stukas prepare to dive on targets

Dive bombing in the Luftwaffe stems from one man, Ernst Udet, a innovative (or foolish) man who advocated dive bombers over medium bomber designs. It was entirely possible that Germany's bomber fleet may have consisted entirely of dive bombers, the Condor, and the Grief. Udet was unable to completely convince the German big wigs (probably because his trial involved him personally flying a Curtis Hawk in a 900 metre dive dropping 2lb bombs and barely pulling up in time.) Nevertheless, the design process continued at Junkers, a firm which had a history of producing Dive Bombing aircraft and designed the first, the K47, in the mid 1920's in great secrecy. The Stuka, based off of the K47, was the first Junkers to not use the trademark corrugated skin, and the prototype encountered a number of design flaws.

This is where it gets suspicious. The Reich Air Ministry ordered a competition between the glide bomber Heinkel He 118 and the latest (2nd) version of the Ju 87. Following tests in 1936, the Junkers representative was told that Stuka stood little chance of becoming the Luftwaffe's main dive bomber, as it was underpowered. On 9 June 1936, the Air Ministry ordered cessation of development in favour of the Heinkel He 118. Udet promptly cancelled that order. Udet later crashed the He 118 prototype, trying to use the glide bombing He 118, designed to dive at a 50 degree angle, as a dive bomber. - Despite Heinkel warning Udet that if the aircraft was put into a steep dive the propeller would fail. When Udet he commenced his first dive from 13,000 feet the engine oversped, the propeller suddenly feathered, and sheared the reduction gears and the aircraft disintegrated as Udet bailed. Immediately after the incident, Udet himself announced the Stuka the winner of the competition as the Ju 87 repeatedly demonstrated dives at 90 degrees with no trouble.

It was not the last time the He 118 was seen however, as the Japanese Yokosuka D4Y naval dive bomber is based off of an improved 118 design.

Despite being 'chosen', the Stuka design still was seen as inadequate and drew frequent criticism. Although the The Ju 87 could take off in 820 ft, climb to 6,150 ft in 8 minutes while carrying 550 lb bomb load and cruise at 160 mph, it was seen as underpowered. Another Heinkel design, the biplane He 50, had better acceleration and could climb faster, allowing better evasion of defences. The Reich Air Ministry stated that any speed below 217 mph was unacceptable for those reasons. More powerful engines were fitted until 1945, but this target was never achieved.

In its favour, the Stuka was exceptionally agile and study, and the finished product has been labelled as "in a class of its own". [Eric Brown RN, British test pilot, Commanding Officer of Captured Enemy Aircraft Flight section]

The Ju 87 rose to prominence as the Luftwaffe believed that dive bombing the most effective way of destroying targets. Technical data supported the accuracy of Stuka strikes achieving greater destruction over Dornier Do 17s or Heinkel He 111s. Operations with the Condor Legion in Spain supported these theories on dive bombing and led some to believe that pinpoint accuracy was possible - diverting them away from the idea of conventional horizontal bombing. The concept of dive bombing became so popular among Luftwaffe leadership that it became almost obligatory in new designs. The Junkers Ju 88 and the Dornier Do 217 were equipped for dive bombing, as was the He 177, a requirement that contributed to its failure.

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The distinctive Stuka was fairly widely exported, one even saw serve with the USAAF!

Sturdy, accurate, and effective, the Stukas potency as a precision ground-attack aircraft was valuable to German forces in Poland, France, the Balkans, North Africa, and the early stages of the Eastern Front campaigns where fighter resistance was disorganised and infrequent. The Ju 87 may well be the best known Luftwaffe aircraft, but it is also the easiest to shoot down. During the Battle of Britain the Ju 87 proved very, very vulnerable to fighter aircraft, its flaws became frighteningly apparent where its comparatively poor manoeuvrability and its continual lack of both speed and defensive armament meant that the Stuka required escorts to operate effectively. Work to develop a replacement started soon after. The Luftwaffe was forced to use the Focke-Wulf Fw 190 fighter as no new specialist design could be manufactured under the increasing pressures of the war. The Fw 190F began to replace the Ju 87 in 1943, but the Ju 87 continued to be used as a night nuisance-raider until 1945. Of the major variants, the A and B variants were obsolete, and had a minuscule bomb load of around 500lbs (although they served well until 1940), the R variant was for long range anti-ship missions, but could only carry a single 500lb bomb and was even slower than the original. The C variant was the unsuccessful carrier version and the G variant was the tank hunting aircraft developed after the Stuka was withdrawn as a dive bomber - heavily armed and armoured, it proved to be a successful ground attack aircraft but were produced in very low numbers. This leaves the D variant, the interim version of the Ju 87 that was the best it could possibly be and was intended to serve until a better replacement was found. It boasted a better defensive armament and the bomb load was quadrupled. They were faster and more powerful, had a superior combat range and proved to be better carrier versions than the dedicated variant.

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The dive attack

Many Stukas were relegated to training duties before/early stages of the war. Some say the Heinkel He 111 was probably more useful in achieving blitzkrieg, and providing tactical support as it was highly advanced and carried a larger bomb load. Even the updated D variant was slow and vulnerable in comparison with any Allied fighter with more potency and farther up the evolutionary chain than the fruit fly.

Why do we remember it?


The sound of impending doom and pant shitting meets fingernails down a blackboard

You'll be diving under your desk the second you begin to play that clip.
...
And the D and G variants were rather good at their jobs provided they could be protected.

BUT

The widespread use of the Sirens of Jericho is almost modern myth. Although this successfully was used to weaken enemy morale and enhance the intimidation of dive-bombing, the targets soon started to become used to it. Additionally the devices increased drag and reducing speed by 10-20 mph. They were withdrawn and instead bombs were fitted with whistles to produce the noise after release.



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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: July 29th, 2013, 10:54 am 
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The only one that is 'forgotten' is the first one, I had heard of all of the others



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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: July 29th, 2013, 11:12 am 
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Fair enough, but they are dwarved by aircraft that were more (or less) successful and despite the flaws in the designs or poor combat performance these aircraft all have something they should be remembered for IMO, such as the ballsy He 177 raids or the Wellesley construction process.



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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: August 1st, 2013, 11:01 pm 
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Darkhorse wrote:
Fair enough, but they are dwarved by aircraft that were more (or less) successful and despite the flaws in the designs or poor combat performance these aircraft all have something they should be remembered for IMO, such as the ballsy He 177 raids or the Wellesley construction process.


if you want to find more flaws in the He 177 I have a book by Eric Brown (he tested it for at the RAE) , those Germans and their obsession with dive bombing! :roll:



another forgotten bomber is the Breguet 693, it was one of the few good French aircraft (apart from the Dewotine. 520) which was actually pretty good, but as with good French aircraft they hadn't built enough of them before 1940

it was easy to produce, easy to fly, easy to maintain and fast for its time (1939) at 300mph

it was basically a French Beaufighter!
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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: August 7th, 2013, 2:35 pm 
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An interesting read. Thanks!


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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: August 16th, 2013, 10:53 am 
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Agunter999 wrote:
The only one that is 'forgotten' is the first one, I had heard of all of the others


:P

Surely that depends on how well you know your planes, I'd argue that other than the Stuka and the He177 they could be considered little known!

Darkhorse, bang on about the Beaufighter point in the Beaufort article btw. I think the Beaufighter's modern day claim to fame is a brief appearance with Davos Seaworth (Liam Cunningham) in the third Mummy film, and being kickarse in War Thunder.



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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: February 8th, 2014, 7:36 pm 
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The Beaufighter is arguably forgotten, but it is remembered because of its success, durability and widespread use. It is certainly better remembered than the majority of other WW2 Bristol aircraft.

It is no Spitfire however, it never had the glory moment that other aircraft types had. And that is why I think it has slipped from memory.



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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: February 8th, 2014, 9:27 pm 
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Then there are aircraft like the Barracuda which had glory moments yet are still forgotten.



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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: March 8th, 2014, 5:14 pm 
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Darkhorse wrote:
The Beaufighter is arguably forgotten, but it is remembered because of its success, durability and widespread use. It is certainly better remembered than the majority of other WW2 Bristol aircraft.

It is no Spitfire however, it never had the glory moment that other aircraft types had. And that is why I think it has slipped from memory.


it also never found its way into the media and popular culture, like the Spitfire, Hurricane, Mosquito and Lancaster did

they all got their own films...

Beaufighter didn't get any films!


The Typhoon and Tempest are another example of this



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 Post subject: Re: 4 Forgotten WW2 Bombers (& 1 that should be!)
Unread postPosted: May 21st, 2014, 4:06 pm 
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The Ten-gun Terror!




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