World of Warplanes Bombing Tactics and Techniques Guide by Schultz
Maybe now you think that it is very easy to drop bombs, just press B, then R to drop bombs with the help of the reticule, but with this guide I want to add diversity to our game and bombing tactics.
When released from an aircraft, a bomb carries with it the aircraft’s velocity. In the case of a bomber flying horizontally, the bomb will initially be travelling forward only. This forward motion is opposed by the drag of the air, so the forward motion slows over time. Additionally, gravity provides a constant force on the bomb, accelerating it downward. The combination of these two forces, drag and gravity, results in a pseudo-parabolic trajectory of some complexity. For aiming purposes, the key calculation needed from this trajectory is the distance the bomb will travel forward while it falls, a distance known as the “range”. The bomber’s task is to fly along a line to the target until it reaches this distance from the target, and drop the bombs at that instant.
In the past, aircraft did not have navigation systems that could direct an aircraft towards an arbitrary point in space.Instead, navigation was carried out in relation to objects on the ground – whether they be visual indications or radio beacons. If one calculates the range for a given set of conditions, simply trigonometry can be used to find the angle between the aircraft and the target when they are that far apart. By setting the bombsight to that angle, the “range angle”, the aircraft simply had to approach the target and drop its bombs when the target appeared lined up with the sights.
As the trajectory of the bomb is complex, solving the range is a complex problem. This is normally accomplished by looking up data measured on a bombing range and reduced into table form. Any changes in speed, direction or altitude required all of this to be looked up again. In order to reduce this workload, mechanical calculators were increasingly common during World War II, including the famous Norden bombsight and the less well known British Mark XIV bomb sight and German Lotfernrohr 7. Even with these calculators, accuracy was often poor due to inaccuracies in the ballistics of individual bombs, wind measurements, or setup errors. Moreover, the need to fly in a straight line toward the target made it easy for anti-aircraft artillery to aim at the bomber, which demanded that the aircraft fly higher to avoid fire, and thereby magnified any errors in setup. In spite of enormous efforts, accuracies for horizontal bombing throughout the war was generally measured in thousands of yards.
Consider the same aircraft, now travelling vertically instead of horizontally. In this case there is no horizontal velocity when the bomb is dropped, so the force of gravity simply increases the speed along the existing vertical trajectory. The bomb will travel in a straight line between release and impact, eliminating all of the complex calculation and setup required in the bombsight. Instead, the aircraft can simply point itself directly at the target and release the bombs, the only source of error being the effects of winds after release. For bombs, which are well streamlined and relatively dense, wind has a very small effect, and the bomb is likely to fall within its lethal radius of the target.
Diving perfectly vertically is by no means simple, especially when you consider the forces generated when the aircraft has to return to horizontal flight after the drop. But more generally, as the aircraft tilts further from the horizontal, the horizontal component of its own airspeed is reduced, which reduces the range. At some point, for a given altitude and dive angle, the trajectory so closely matches a straight line that bomb sighting becomes a trivial exercise and a straight line sight is all that is needed. Differences in the path due to the ballistics of different bombs can be accounted for by selecting a standardized bombing altitude and then adjusting the dive angle slightly for these different cases.
In these examples, accuracy of the drop is primarily a function of the accuracy of the pilot or bombardier’s ability to accurately sight the target. This is aided by the fact that the aircraft is pointed towards it, making sighting over the nose dramatically easier. In addition, the target continues to approach as the bomber dives, allowing the aim to be progressively adjusted over time. In comparison, if a horizontal bomber notices that it is off the line directly over the target when the range angle is reached, there is nothing they can do – turning to the angle that would correct this would also change the groundspeed of the aircraft (at least in the presence of wind) and thereby change the range as well.
For this reason, dive bombing was the only method of providing the accuracy needed to attack high-value point targets like bridges and ships. They were a common feature of most naval air services, and many land-based air forces as well.
On the negative side, optimizing an aircraft for near-vertical dives came at the expense of performance. In addition, a dive bomber was highly vulnerable to ground fire as it dived towards its target. Dive brakes were employed on many designs. These created drag which slowed the aircraft somewhat in order to increase accuracy and to prevent speeds which could damage the structures of the plane. These were almost exclusive to dive bombers, though the air brakes fitted to modern aircraft are often of a similar design.
In pop-up bombing, the pilot approaches from low altitude in level flight, and on cues from the computer pulls up at the last moment to release the bomb. Release usually occurs between 20°–75° above the horizontal, causing the bomb to be tossed upward and forward, much like an underarm throw of a ball.
Although “pop-up” bombing is generally characterized by its low-level approach, the same technique of a toss starting from level flight can be used at any altitude when it is not desirable to overfly the target. Additional altitude at release gives the bomb additional time of flight and range, at the cost (in the case of unguided munitions) of accuracy due to windage and the increased effect of a slight deviation in flight path.
The Dive-toss delivery technique was the first “toss” bombing method developed after World War Two at the US Navy’s rocket development center at Inyokern, California in 1947 as a method to attack heavily defended targets without unduly endanger the attacking aircraft. Although toss bombing might seem the direct opposite to dive bombing, where the plane pitches downwards to aim at its target, toss bombing is often performed with a short dive before the bomber raises its nose and releases its bomb. This variant is known as “dive tossing”. This gives both the bomb and aircraft extra momentum, thereby helping the aircraft regain altitude after the release and also ensuring that airspeed at the calculated release point is still sufficient to get the bomb to the target.
A more dynamic variant of toss bombing, called over-the-shoulder bombing, or the LABS (Low Altitude Bombing System) maneuver (known to pilots as the “idiot’s loop”), is a particular kind of loft bombing where the bomb is released past the vertical so it is tossed back towards the target.
This tactic was first made public on 7 May 1957 at Eglin AFB, when a B–47 entered its bombing run at low altitude, pulled up sharply (3.5 g) into a half loop, releasing its bomb under computer control at a predetermined point in its climb, then executed a half roll, completing a maneuver similar to an Immelmann turn or Half Cuban Eight. The bomb continued upward for some time in a high arc before falling on a target which was a considerable distance from its point of release. In the meantime, the maneuver had allowed the bomber to change direction and distance itself from the target.
Author and retired USAF pilot Richard Bach describes such an attack in his book Stranger to the Ground:
“The last red-roofed village flashes below me, and the target, a pyramid of white barrels, is just visible at the end of its run-in line. Five hundred knots. Switch down, button pressed. Timers begin their timing, circuits are alerted for the drop. Inch down to treetop altitude. I do not often fly at 500 knots on the deck, and it is apparent that I am moving quickly. The barrels inflate. I see that their white paint is flaking. And the pyramid streaks beneath me. Back on the stick smoothly firmly to read four G on the accelerometer and center the needles of the indicator that is only used in nuke weapon drops and center them and hold it there and I’ll bet those computers are grinding their little hearts out and all I can see is sky in the windscreen hold the G’s keep the needles centered there’s the sun going beneath me and WHAM.
My airplane rolls hard to the right and tucks more tightly into her loop and strains ahead even though we are upside down. The Shape has released me more than I have released it. The little white barrels are now six thousand feet directly beneath my canopy. I have no way to tell if it was a good drop or not. That was decided back with the charts and graphs and the dividers and the angles. I kept the needles centered, the computers did their task automatically, and the Device is on its way.”
Now for our game, for dive bombing the pefect planes are F4U and F2G, because they have enough time to recover from the dive and they are lighter.
For horizontal bombing, level toss and pop-up IL-2, IL-2 (t),IL-8, FW-57 are the perfect planes.
I would like also to suggest that we can release bombs while the plane is upside down, so we can make a dive toss or “over-the-shoulder”.
Here are 2 videos with some bombing techniques.Enjoy!Other World of Warplanes Articles
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