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The Anniversary of The Channel Dash - 1942 - and the wider RN Fleet Air Arm during the Second World War

At the start of the war the US Mark 13 torpedo had to be dropped at 50ft at 110 knots, which resulted in huge losses. By 1944, however, the US had devised plywood devices that were attached to the torpedoes that allowed drops from 800 feet at 300 knots. Combined with improvements to the torpedo itself, the Mark 13 became a very effective weapon.

View attachment 550372

View attachment 550376

Are those additions meant to raise the bouancy, or are they ablative to take the impact and break off?
 

ABNredleg

War Hero
Are those additions meant to raise the bouancy, or are they ablative to take the impact and break off?
The nose drag ring created a 40% reduction in air speed when dropped, as well as absorbing the shock of impact. It was designed to increase air stabilization, but the resulting better water entry so reduces impact damage that the pilots were able to release from a greater height. The tail shroud improved underwater performance by reducing broaches and rolls. They're both ablative. Drag rings were replace by parachutes in modern air dropped parachutes.
 
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The nose drag ring created a 40% reduction in air speed when dropped, as well as absorbing the shock of impact. It was designed to increase air stabilization, but the resulting better water entry so reduces impact damage that the pilots were able to release from a greater height. The tail shroud improved underwater performance by reducing broaches and rolls. They're both ablative. Drag rings were replace by parachutes in modern air dropped parachutes.

How much of an impact did that have on aircraft range and performance? Do we know who manufactured them?
 

ABNredleg

War Hero
How much of an impact did that have on aircraft range and performance? Do we know who manufactured them?
I can't find anything on impact of aircraft performance, although I suspect it probably wasn't that great. They were carried internally by the Avengers so the drag ring wouldn't add drag to the aircraft itself. They did slightly reduce the speed and range of the torpedo itself.

They were designed by the California Institute of Technology and tested at Newport. My reference just states they were produced by BuOrd.

The Mark 13-1A replaced the tail shroud ring with a circular metal ring.

1613677301442.png


My reference is

Amazon product
 
I've written on several of the lazy assumptions, half-baked assertions and plain wrong statements of 'fact' conained herein before. But, glutton for punishment that I am, FWIW a few considerations:

RN Aviation Doctrine
It's easy to suppose that because the USN and IJN did things very differently to the RN that 'they were right' and that 'we were wrong'. But it's fundamentally not a zero sum game. The RN were absolutely pioneers in the field of naval aviation. From modified battlecruisers and merchant vessels like Furious and Argus the FAA, even when still part of the RAF, was right at the forefront of innovation.

The downside of this, of course, was that other navies around the world could, and very much did, learn from the inevitable mistakes and false turns the RN made. It meant that this country was paying to innovate but, in the constrained economic times of the 20s and 30s, could not afford to 'fail fast' and rapidly act on lessons learned.

There were, arguably, 5 maritime powers at the start of the Second World War. Two, the French and Italians, were not seriously in the aviation game. Two, the USN and IJN were typically half an 'innovation generation' behind the RN in 1939.

The Great Carrier Size Debate

Here again, one has to contextualise when and why carriers were designed and built. The Courageous Class were First War battlecruisers converted to carriers, Argus was a liner. What they did allow though was to learn about operating aircraft at sea, even on a sub-optimal platform.

Ark Royal, criticised and she often is, was absolutely revolutionary. Purpose built, 2 hanger decks, a larger air wing than the RN had ever deployed before; the Navy's first proper Fleet Carrier. She was also smaller than the Navy wanted, and more expensive. The first because she was built to Washington limits (ignored just a couple of years later by the US and Japan, only Britain was arguing to renew the 1922 treaty), the second because the shipyards had to learn how to weld a 22000 tonne in order to save weight.

The armoured deck carriers, vs the roughly contempraneous Yorktowns, were, of course, a product of the war they were planned to fight. In the mid-30s (I forget the exact year, but I've slept since I last read widely on this) the Joint Intelligence Committee published their paper on what all could see was the coming war. They, rightly, stated that Britain was likely to have to fight Germany and/or Italy and/or Japan; or any two but not all three; and not two alone with no allies.

If the UK was to fight Germany then the RN would adopt it's traditional role of blockading Germany and dominating the Atlantic. Pre-war planning was that if the Italians got involved, then Britain would be allied with France and the Italian fleet would be a French problem. The RN did not plan, and was not directed to, to fight in the Atlantic and Mediterranean. They did, though, expect that British shipyards would be at capacity turning out the late 30s building plans and would struggle to repair damaged, let alone build replacement, carriers. The UK did not have the industrial capacity to be able to afford risking losing it's carriers and that informed the decision to go with armoured carriers albeit with smaller air wings. Given that less than a year into the war the entire Western and Southern seaboards of continental Europe were in enemy hands that decision could be considered providential.

If there's an appetite, I'll weigh in (no pun intended) on naval aircraft, the FAA vs RAF competition and torpedo vs dive bombers in a bit.
I read quite a few books on the war in the pacific and the inexperience of USN aircraft carrier commanders who for the most part knew very little about naval aviation. Lots of mistakes were made. I can’t for the life of remember the book I read which talked about the experience of US aviators training with a British carrier. The septics were hugely impressed and I seem to recall many of their carrier drills were taken from working and training with the British. I wish I could remember which book it was. They are in the loft so I will have to dig them out and re read.

really enjoyed tour post by the way
 

Yokel

LE
I read quite a few books on the war in the pacific and the inexperience of USN aircraft carrier commanders who for the most part knew very little about naval aviation. Lots of mistakes were made. I can’t for the life of remember the book I read which talked about the experience of US aviators training with a British carrier. The septics were hugely impressed and I seem to recall many of their carrier drills were taken from working and training with the British. I wish I could remember which book it was. They are in the loft so I will have to dig them out and re read.

really enjoyed tour post by the way

Something does not add up about that. Because there were no naval Pilots between 1918 and 1937, there were no senior officers who had been pilots. Because policy had limited the speed of carrier aircraft, there was no experience of operating high performance aircraft from a carrier deck.

The exchanges between the RN and USN started during the war and continue to this day.
 
Something does not add up about that. Because there were no naval Pilots between 1918 and 1937, there were no senior officers who had been pilots. Because policy had limited the speed of carrier aircraft, there was no experience of operating high performance aircraft from a carrier deck.
I’ll have to dig the book out. I’m sure a British carrier sailed with the US navy. It’s either just before the war or during the war.

the captain of one of the carriers at midway was a former pilot.

im going to have to dig the books out and read them. They were a riveting read. Really opened my eyes to the competency levels of the USN at the beginning of the war. RN were streets ahead of them on every level. Luck was on their side or they would have been stuffed. One of the flights of dauntless only found the japs because the flight leader ignored orders and went with his instinct.

just ordered a 1/32 swordfish Mk1....
 

Joshua Slocum

LE
Book Reviewer
Something does not add up about that. Because there were no naval Pilots between 1918 and 1937, there were no senior officers who had been pilots. Because policy had limited the speed of carrier aircraft, there was no experience of operating high performance aircraft from a carrier deck.

The exchanges between the RN and USN started during the war and continue to this day.
by the end of the First World War, in November of the following year, the Royal Air Force had become the largest and most powerful air force in the world
The figures of its composition alone are indicative of its astonishing growth, In August 1914 the British had only 56 military aircraft and the R.F.C. and R.N.A.S. Consisted of a handful of enthusiastic pioneers, At the end of 1918, the R.A.F. Had a strength of over 22,600 aircraft-3,300 of which were classified as first line- and 103 airships. There were over 130 squadrons serving overseas, and some 50 at home, at 400 airfields at home and just over 270 overseas, All this absorbed some 27,00 officers and over 250,000 men in the other ranks; and there were 25,000 members of the Women's Royal Air Force, From such and infinitely small beginning in 1914, the new air force had become, in the short period of four years, a very great Service.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
I do not think he is just by pointing out that there is a dedicated thread for discussing the events of Pearl Harbour, and related topics.

I do wonder if the development of naval aircraft weapons and there delivery would have been better if the Navy had control of flying before 1937? How did the aircraft delivered torpedo compare to the surface warship launched one - in terms of size and range?

There was a lack of realistic exercises involving aircraft defending the fleet from attacking aircraft in the 1930s, meaning that the vulnerabilities of the slow moving torpedo were not fully understood.

half the size, weight, range and warhead.
 

ABNredleg

War Hero
im going to have to dig the books out and read them. They were a riveting read. Really opened my eyes to the competency levels of the USN at the beginning of the war. RN were streets ahead of them on every level. Luck was on their side or they would have been stuffed. One of the flights of dauntless only found the japs because the flight leader ignored orders and went with his instinct.

just ordered a 1/32 swordfish Mk1....
The RN certainly was a pioneer in carrier aviation but I would argue that the USN's carrier doctrine going into WWII was in some ways more advanced, in part due to their far larger airwings. Pre war exercises often involved multiple carriers and hundreds of aircraft. More importantly, the use of deck parks allowed the USN to generate far more offensive power. The RN's doctrine of striking aircraft below significantly reduced the size of the airwing and the number of sorties that could be generated. They had good tactical reason for doing so but it was a real eyeopener for them when they started operating alongside US carriers in the Pacific. It had nothing to do with the skill of their sailors and pilots, but rather the intensity, pace and scale of carrier warfare in the Pacific as opposed to the European theater.

As for proficiency at the beginning of the war, the USN held their own against what was probably the most proficient carrier navy at the time despite having some pretty crappy aircraft, particularly torpedo bombers. They fought well at Coral Sea and Santa Cruz, and won a crushing victory at Midway. By 1943 they were ascendant and by 1944 the carrier task forces were the most powerful naval forces anywhere. I won't argue that the RN in 1941 wasn't a better combat fleet but two years of fighting will do that. It took a year of hard lessons for the USN to become tactically efficient, but by 1944 they were a very effective fighting force.
 
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The RN certainly was a pioneer in carrier aviation but I would argue that the USN's carrier doctrine going into WWII was in some ways more advanced, in part due to their far larger airwings. Pre war exercises often involved multiple carriers and hundreds of aircraft. More importantly, the use of deck parks allowed the USN to generate far more offensive power. The RN's doctrine of striking aircraft below significantly reduced the size of the airwing and the number of sorties that could be generated. They had good tactical reason for doing so but it was a real eyeopener for them when they started operating alongside US carriers in the Pacific. It had nothing to do with the skill of their sailors and pilots, but rather the intensity, pace and scale of carrier warfare in the Pacific as opposed to the European theater.

As for proficiency at the beginning of the war, the USN held their own against what was probably the most proficient carrier navy at the time despite having some pretty crappy aircraft, particularly torpedo bombers. They fought well at Coral Sea and Santa Cruz, and won a crushing victory Midway. By 1943 they were ascendant and by 1944 the carrier task forces were the most powerful naval forces anywhere. I won't argue that the RN in 1941 wasn't a better combat fleet but two years of fighting will do that. It took a year of hard lessons for the USN to become tactically efficient, but by 1944 they were a very effective fighting force.
That very much reflects what I’ve read of them, with the exception of the early years of the war. The impression I was left with from what I read was if they hadn’t had luck on their side, they’d have been in deep shit. I seem to recollect midway was the turning point for them, in competency as much as anything else.

let me try and dig the titles out this weekend and I’ll post them. Two very good reads.
 

Sticky847

Clanker
The RN certainly was a pioneer in carrier aviation but I would argue that the USN's carrier doctrine going into WWII was in some ways more advanced, in part due to their far larger airwings. Pre war exercises often involved multiple carriers and hundreds of aircraft. More importantly, the use of deck parks allowed the USN to generate far more offensive power. The RN's doctrine of striking aircraft below significantly reduced the size of the airwing and the number of sorties that could be generated. They had good tactical reason for doing so but it was a real eyeopener for them when they started operating alongside US carriers in the Pacific. It had nothing to do with the skill of their sailors and pilots, but rather the intensity, pace and scale of carrier warfare in the Pacific as opposed to the European theater.

As for proficiency at the beginning of the war, the USN held their own against what was probably the most proficient carrier navy at the time despite having some pretty crappy aircraft, particularly torpedo bombers. They fought well at Coral Sea and Santa Cruz, and won a crushing victory Midway. By 1943 they were ascendant and by 1944 the carrier task forces were the most powerful naval forces anywhere. I won't argue that the RN in 1941 wasn't a better combat fleet but two years of fighting will do that. It took a year of hard lessons for the USN to become tactically efficient, but by 1944 they were a very effective fighting force.
Not forgetting the USN fleet train that allowed it to operate at such a pace and distance from its pre war bases, the scale and rate of change for the US carrier forces in the Pacific was simply astonishing.
 

Mölders 1

Old-Salt
That very much reflects what I’ve read of them, with the exception of the early years of the war. The impression I was left with from what I read was if they hadn’t had luck on their side, they’d have been in deep shit. I seem to recollect midway was the turning point for them, in competency as much as anything else.

let me try and dig the titles out this weekend and I’ll post them. Two very good reads.

After 1942 U.S. Industrial Might entered full production and the U.S. Shipyards were launching Warships of all kinds at an unparalleled rate.

So any Japanese victories In 1942 would have merely delayed their inevitable "crushing".
 
How much of an impact did that have on aircraft range and performance? Do we know who manufactured them?
Well the main torpedo carrying aircraft was the TBF/TBM avenger which carried ordnance internally not in the slipstream.

The SB2C theoretically could also carry one if the bombay doors were removed, it was never used in combat as such, though it was practiced in the PTO
 
It doesn't seem to have affected the USN or IJN in a particular way, without an independent Air Force to influence their development. USN air-delivered torpedoes (dire), while IJN air-delivered weapons and the aircraft that delivered them (pretty good).
B5N1 and B5N2 "Kates" might have been good in 1941-42 but by mid 42(Santa Cruz islands) were merely targets able to only defend with a single flexible Lewis gun copy and were not used as Kamikazes for the most part as they were too slow.

Their Ordnance was great, the envelope to deploy it was almost as useless as the TBD-1.
 
the Kates were also used as level bombers; it was Kates that did most of the damage to battleships at Pearl with modified naval shells as aerial bombs.
 

PhotEx

On ROPS
On ROPs
The RN certainly was a pioneer in carrier aviation but I would argue that the USN's carrier doctrine going into WWII was in some ways more advanced, in part due to their far larger airwings. Pre war exercises often involved multiple carriers and hundreds of aircraft. More importantly, the use of deck parks allowed the USN to generate far more offensive power. The RN's doctrine of striking aircraft below significantly reduced the size of the airwing and the number of sorties that could be generated. They had good tactical reason for doing so but it was a real eyeopener for them when they started operating alongside US carriers in the Pacific. It had nothing to do with the skill of their sailors and pilots, but rather the intensity, pace and scale of carrier warfare in the Pacific as opposed to the European theater.

As for proficiency at the beginning of the war, the USN held their own against what was probably the most proficient carrier navy at the time despite having some pretty crappy aircraft, particularly torpedo bombers. They fought well at Coral Sea and Santa Cruz, and won a crushing victory at Midway. By 1943 they were ascendant and by 1944 the carrier task forces were the most powerful naval forces anywhere. I won't argue that the RN in 1941 wasn't a better combat fleet but two years of fighting will do that. It took a year of hard lessons for the USN to become tactically efficient, but by 1944 they were a very effective fighting force.

it’s a popular myth the USN was ‘forced’ to fall back on its carriers after its battleships were sunk at Pearl Harbor, but it’s simply not true.

as the Fleet Problem annual war games from the early 20’s demonstate, the USN was formulating doctrine to use carriers as its primary offensive arm.

the deployment of HMS Victorious to the South Pacific in 1943 was a game changer for the Royal Navy and Fleet Air Arm. Here they saw first hand how far off the pace they were, but being assiduous students, they very quickly raised their game with the unstinting assistance of the USN.
Prior to 1944, the FAA was a flawed weapon, but come 1944, the FAA would become a deadly and efficient killing machine that earned the ungrudging respect of the USN

FWiW: large numbers of FAA aircrew and support personnel were trained in USN flight schools and trade schools in the CONUS starting in 1940.
The very close relationship between the USN and FAA dates from that period.
 

Mölders 1

Old-Salt
the Kates were also used as level bombers; it was Kates that did most of the damage to battleships at Pearl with modified naval shells as aerial bombs.

I thought it was the Torpedo carrying Kate's of the first wave that did most of the damage at Battleship Row, (except for the U.S.S. Arizona)?
 

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