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Anti-Aircraft use in WWII ground combat

Discussion in 'Weapons used During WWII' started by JJWilson, Jun 8, 2018.

  1. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    AAA works. Making sure the pilot knows he is being shot at is a good way to spoil his aim. Air forces sustained high casualties attacking ground targets, which is one reason the rocket projectile was a popular aircraft munition. It is also the rationale for some British units to shoot back weapons free when attacked by "friendly" aircraft. They probably couldn't shoot them down but would make it hard for the aircraft to hit ground troops.

    As Rich has pointed out, an air attack can take place so fast that it i too late to react. I suspect any AAA would be on flat beds at the beginning or end of a trains which would give a good view of any aircraft attacking along the rail line.

    I don't think there was necessarially a set drill for military trains. There may have been different rules for passengers of civilian trains caught in an air raid on the home front.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  2. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Ahhh! But it says nothin about running as fast as you can sideways - after all a crossing target is harder to hit.
     
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  3. Sheldrake

    Sheldrake Member

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    Jumping up and down like a kangaroo used work in some computer games
     
  4. USMCPrice

    USMCPrice Idiot at Large Patron  

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    You know AA on ships is moving as well, not just forward speed but rolling and pitching as well. With heavy AA you need a more accurate firing solution because you're trying to burst the shell in near proximity to the aircraft. So if the aircraft is in the burst radius of the round, fragmentation is what does the work. With lighter AA it's more a matter of shooting at where the aircraft will be, and having the aircraft fly into it. Obviously, equipment with better gun directors had better effect, but the ole' M1-eyeball tied to the Brain Housing Group-1 targeting solution computer could still be effective.

    [​IMG]
    20mm Oerlikon with reminder for BHG1 targeting computer to lead the aircraft​
     
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  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Remember that warships had AAA and would be, generally, maneuvering to avoid aircraft. The train crews would have an advantage there as the train couldn't do circles or zig-zag. Then factor in the relative speed difference between a diving Stuka and a train on the tracks.

    ETA: Ninja'd.
     
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  6. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Besides the gun you have the crew and ammunition supply, which seems a bit much to carry on the deck of a tank ;) Or in a halftrack you pretty much use up the carrying capacity of the vehicle. Then if you drop the gun off for AA action, as soon as you want to move again, you have to go back and load up gun, crew, and ammo.

    I actually agree with you in principle; it does seem a pity to have to divert a proportion of your tank production to AA vehicles - every Wirbelwind is one less Panzer IV - but if you need light flak that can keep up with mobile troops, you might have to accept it.
     
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  7. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    As Rich said, it was largely because of Goring's desire to maximize the resources under his control. The Luftwaffe didn't just compete with the army for flak, it had its own army! It started with the paratroops, which made some sense, like a navy having a marine corps, but they continued to expand long after Germany had ceased significant airborne operations. Eventually there were about a dozen parachute (Fallschirmjager) divisions, although several were only "created" in the last months of the war and never became operational. Then there were 22 Luftwaffe field divisions, essentially infantry divisions, formed because Goring refused to have manpower reallocated to the regular army. There was even a panzer division, named (surprise!) the Hermann Goring Parachute Panzer Division. "Parachute" was just a title; they didn't actually attempt to drop tanks out of airplanes. This was later joined with the Hermann Goring Parachute Panzer Grenadier Division to form the Hermann Goring Parachute Panzer Corps.
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
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  8. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Thank you all for you answers, very informative, and entertaining answers :D. I'll try and think of more potential questions to ask!
     
  9. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    That was a huge item of discussion prewar and a giant item of dispute during the war within the U.S. Army. The Coast Artillery Corps spent 20 years interwar determining the best way to conduct a ground-based air defense with light and heavy AA guns and determined, correctly, that director-control was the best way to go for obtaining hits. They spent a lot of the very few research dollars available to spend on developing directors for the 3" and 105mm guns, then later the 90mm and 120mm guns, and the 37mm and later 40mm guns. By the late 1930s Sperry had developed some very good analog computers that when linked to range-finders and sighting telescopes could provide an accurate firing solution, given that the speed of the aircraft was estimated correctly.

    The problem, for the light AA guns, was that the directors were heavy, required generators, and took time to set up and generate solutions.The M5-series of directors weighed 690 pounds initially and 766 pounds in their final iteration. They were mounted on a tripod that weighed 226 pounds. The rangefinder weighed 247 pounds. The generator weighed god knows how much more. Then add the remote control selsyn. You've just added about two tons of weight to the system you're hauling about, which for the 40mm is about two and a quarter tons...so you've nearly doubled the weight of the system.

    By late 1943 and early 1944, the AA Command was split between the old Coast Artillery officers who believed in the school solution for both heavy and light AA, directors and all the paraphernalia. However, the Commander of the 49th AA Brigade, assigned to First Army, Colonel Patterson, decided to junk the whole director business and go with just the onboard sighting systems, the Stifkey and Peca lead-computing sights developed when it was realized the standard ring lead computing sight was worthless. The problem remained that the lead-computing sights were limited to aircraft traveling up to 400 MPH. By late 1942 though, German ground attack aircraft like the FW 190 were approaching that limit, which combined with the typically short engagement times meant accuracy was still limited. Jets basically scuppered the whole concept of light AA developed during the interwar and wartime period.

    The Navy of course got away with it by tacking all their heavy directors, range finders, generators, and other impedimenta on warships, which was cheating.
     
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  10. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Rocket Jump in the old Doom first person shooter.
     
  11. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    That was not "cheating," that was "Fight smarter, not harder."

    Cheating, at least according to the Germans and Japanese, was using the VT fuse.
     
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  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    The problem for the Army was developing a 2000 ton AA platform.
     
  13. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    They did manage a 38,500 pound AA platform, the M19, but it was just 250 pounds lighter than its light tank papa the M24, even with its open turret. So adding two tons or so of FC equipment wasn't going to hack it, never mind that the analog directors did not like to perform well on vibrating platforms (the Navy spent a lot of effort isolating their systems from vibration).
     
  14. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Which sounds like every things ever designed by a committee.
     
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  15. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    One system, many platfforms...trains.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    From an AHF thread entitled "Flak on Rails"
    Link: Flak on rails • Axis History Forum

    Not sure if it had an all up weight of 2,000 tons though.
     
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  16. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Thank you Javey...:):):)
     
  17. Takao

    Takao Ace

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