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Deflection shooting.


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#1 Flo

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Posted 03 January 2012 - 10:40 PM

Has anyone got access to, or recall reading, any period documentation on WW2 airborne deflection gunnery?

It's often said that the USN were the only fighter force in WW 2 to teach deflection gunnery. The statement presumably originates with some unique aspect of their training. I'm curious about what that might be.

The reason is that the statement is nonsensical. Most fighter forces used towed windsocks for gunnery practice. It's highly inadvisable to attempt a zero deflection shot on a towed target, the possibility of hitting the towing aircraft would be enormous!
Then there's the design of the periods gunsights- they made allowance for deflection. In the British reflector sights those were referred as 'rings'; 'one ring deflection' ect. That can get confusing, though! The targets wingspan was physically dialled in on one ring, range on another. The 'ring' referred to was the glowing target reticule. Thus:



I've found a few references to training units. This one for the RAF Fighter Leader School, for instance:

http://www.milfield....ol_milfield.htm

But so far, nothing like a tactical publication or manual. My search fu is weak, can you guys help?

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#2 Edgar Brooks

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:31 PM

Try "Spitfire Manual 1940," edited by Dilip Sarkar, ISBN 978-1-84868-436-2. It contains a whole chapter, on air fighting, with contributions from "Teddy" Donaldson, "Sailor" Malan, and "Zura" Zurakowski. Whoever said that deflection shooting wasn't taught is talking twaddle.

#3 Flo

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Posted 04 January 2012 - 01:54 PM

I can feel a wee excursion onto Amazon on payday...:D

I don't think it's quite 'twaddle', just posters on a number of boards not familiar with the concepts involved. I think either the design of USN fighters or some aspect of their training has generated a belief that the USN were experts at deflection shooting. I'm curious about where the belief originated, not whether poster 'a' or 'b' has a handle on what's involved.

Meantime, can anyone think of some training asset the USN possessed that was unavailable to their Army colleagues or the Europeans?

#4 GregP

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 04:20 AM

Can you please define "twaddle?"

I laughed so hard it hurts, because it brings to mind things ... other than deflection shooting for me! A "shaved twaddle" makes me think of things other than a near-miss in combat gunnery! :D

#5 Edgar Brooks

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:28 AM

As so much in the English language, its origins are lost in the mists of time; its meaning is "Senseless or tedious uninteresting talk" (according to my dictionary,) and is supposed to be a derivation of "twattle," over which it might be sensible to draw a veil...........:rolleyes:

#6 GregP

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 03:56 PM

A sheer veil it is then ... no more of this twaddle from me.

#7 ChrisMcD

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Posted 05 January 2012 - 10:33 PM

Getting back to deflection shooting for a moment. it occurs to me that gunsight development would be an indicator of who did what and when.

http://en.wikipedia....i/Gyro_gunsight

IMHO it appears to be;

a) The Irish who came up with the idea of a reflector gunsight,
http://en.wikipedia....ki/Howard_Grubb

B) The Germans who developed it and then didn't bother to introduce it till too late

c) The British who develop the first production versions

and finally

d) The Americans who perfect it and shoot everyone else.

I think we have been here before! Apart from, possibly the Irish getting the ball rolling!

Also, coming back to the other topic - surely it refers to the Orkneys
http://en.wikipedia....i/Twatt,_Orkney

Famed for Eric Browns exploits with his Martlets at HMS Tern

#8 Flo

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 12:33 AM

Are you accusing the great Eric Brown of being a t:eek:at?

(Flo tries to fake looking shocked...)

#9 Kutscha

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Posted 06 January 2012 - 04:32 AM

The Germans had a reflector gun sight in WW1 but it didn't go into production. In one of my good reference books there is a photo of it mounted on an Albatros D.Va.

They also had a 12 barreled motor driven rotary aircraft machine gun.

#10 USSInidiana

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 12:48 AM

I think icky brought it up in the Darwin thread. I've seen on a couple of forums that Lundstrom mentioned it in his books but did not say it wasn't taught in other airforces just that the USN really,really pushed it to a much larger degree. It's been brought forth that Grumman designs with their short noses allowed it to a finer degree at higher angles then other fighters with longer noses.

Just what I've read guys...

#11 Flo

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Posted 07 January 2012 - 10:57 PM

It's not just Iccky, like yourself I've seen it on various boards. I suppose it's possible that the USN developed a particular focus on taking advantage of features peculiar to Grumman fighters? They certainly seemed more adept at dealing with Japanese fighters than the paper performance of their aircraft should have allowed.

#12 ChrisMcD

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 10:37 PM

A quick google seems to indicate that during the BoB the RAF woke up to the fact that they needed to work harder on training pilots in deflection shooting

http://en.wikipedia....F_Sutton_Bridge

AFAIK the US Navy studied the European air war very closely (ie self sealing tanks etc.).

So it would be reasonable for them to pick up on this "discovery" and do something about it.

John B. Lundstrom's book - The first team: Pacific naval air combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway ISBN-10:159114471X - comments on page 467 that; when dealing with nimble aircraft like the Zero, US navy pilots had to be taught to take snap shots whenever the opportunity permitted.

"Given the fast-paced. unpredictable nature of aerial combat, it often was impossible for the pilot to choose the type of attack or counter-attack he would make. Perhaps he lacked the initial altitude advantage or speed that would have vouchsafed him such latitude. The Navy's gunnery training with its emphasis on deflection shooting equipped its pilots to make successful attacks from almost any position relative to the target. Once the pilot began his run, he could base his estimate of target speed and deflection on his previous experience in making the four standard approaches. Because of this training, the target presented to him a recognisable aspect in his sights, and he could adjust his lead accordingly.

Given Zeros and other nimble enemy aircraft, the naval pilot most often had only a snap burst, full-deflection shot. He had to score with his first bullets or he might not have a second chance to shoot. Thus it was matter of “shooting from the hip," where skill in deflection shooting made most of the difference.

The pilots of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps were virtually the only fighter pilots trained from the beginning to utilize and regularly succeed in deflection
shooting. With the partial exception of the Imperial Japanese Navy, no other air forces during World War II taught their pilots how to make full deflection shots.
For the U.S. Army Air Forces, the Royal Air Force, the Luftwaffe, the Red Air Force, and all the rest, stem and head-on approaches with their minimal deflection angles comprised the primary attacks. Only a tiny minority of their pilots realized the potential of deflection shooting and taught themselves the techniques, usually after extensive combat experience."

Sounds like this is where the idea came from IMHO

#13 Edgar Brooks

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 03:08 PM

I can't say to what extent it went, but RAF pilots did get tuition in deflection shooting; I was given a biography of a Norwegian pilot, and it tells how the subject was raised, and taught, while he was at OTU.
Edgar

#14 Flo

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:45 PM

Damn! I'm a big Lundstrom fan, too. I need to get another copy of The First Team...

That comment's pure tosh, though. (The RAF part.) It's not possible to train in stem or head on approaches against the aerial targets used by the RAF.

A towed target is too small for long range shooting. A head on attack would put both aircraft at risk of collision, a diving attack is potentially dangerous to the attacker and a zero or near zero deflection shot puts the tow at risk. It jars with the descriptions we've been hearing all last year of the RAFs' slashing attacks, too.

It reads like the USN fought the way they trained. The RAFs pre-war notions of area attacks against unescorted bombers turned out to be a cruel fantasy...

#15 drgondog

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 06:10 PM

USAAF was using towed targets (Sleeves) behind a tow ship to practice deflection shots in Advanced training. All fighter pilots were required to shoot and practice Skeet regularly to familiarize themselves in the art of 'sufficent forward allowance'. The earliest reference to target towing for USAAF that I have found was 1942.

A 'one ring' deflection shot was roughly comparable to skeet station high 2, or low 5 in near level flight.

A 'three ring' was a near 90 degree deflection shot (or station 4)

Later the P-39/63 was modified with armor to be able to take hits from frangible 30 cal bullets and the pursuing a/c could shoot at a real fighter rather than a fabic sleeve.

I have a pic of my father's P-40 with a chunk of sleeve imbedded in the wheel fairing where he collided with it..

#16 NeoConShooter

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 05:00 AM

The Navy was the only force to teach true deflection shooting. The towed sock you refer to is on a cable a mile behind and well below the tow plane. The deflection they are talking about is, for the most part, between 7-1/2 and 15 degrees angle off.

The Navy training BEFORE the WAR was for up to 90 degrees angle off. No other force was even remotely close at that time.

The Navy used to shoot at the moving shadow of the target plane on the water. That training was unique and very effective.

The sight you mention came along late in the war, '44 IIRC, and required at least two seconds of steady tracking after the range and aircraft type was dialed in. The sequence went something like this.

1. ID the Target and set the type on the site dial.

2. Twist the range knob until the target's wing span filled the outer ring on the reticule. In some planes this was located on the throttle handle. P-38/47/51 for sure.

3. Track the target while keeping the wing size setting right and the target centered for TWO WHOLE SECONDS.

3A. Some times you could see the sight "Settle down" or stop jiggling to know it was now tracking the target. Count "One thousand one-One thousand two.

4. Open fire.
There are degrees of deflection and you have to be careful what you are talking about. The Navy was so good at it that some of the Japs they shot down early in the war were at 90 degrees angle off. I have watched thousands of hours of gun camera film and have yet to see any Non Jap plane bursting into flames at 90 off.

Hope this helps.

#17 Ricky

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 10:29 AM

Forgive my ignorance, but how is shooting at a plane's shadow on the water different from shooting at a towed target? Both travel at the same speed/angle of the original plane. The only difference I can see is that by shooting at the water you are adding a significant risk of your novice pilots crashing into the sea...

#18 Edgar Brooks

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 11:58 AM

It probably saves all the rigmarole of finding a target tug, crewing it, then flying it to a particular point. Caldwell (I think) got his pilots, near Durban, to do the same, but they were way out in the boondocks.

#19 Flo

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 03:00 PM

:) I like your style, but you do talk b*llocks! How on earth can you know what gunsight he's describing, unless he tells you himself?

Maybe he was describing a K-14 gyro sight, as you seem to assume, maybe he was describing an N-2A reflector, maybe even a Brit or Commonwealth sight; not unknown in P-40s of all marks?

Either way, there's no need to be so rude.

Before you try to patronise drgondog again, it might help you to know a wee bit of background. He is an aerodynamic engineer. His father was a distinguished pilot, a combat veteran flying Mustangs. He has actually flown a Mustang, with his father demonstrating some basic fighter manoeuvres in company.

So if he states that the USAAF taught deflection shooting, I'd consider that a verified fact, not mere opinion. :P
Or, to put it another way, your post following his wasn't just rude, it was embarrassing to read.

DrG, thanks for sharing that, mate. I'd love to see that photo!

Ricky, Edgar, from Neos post, that sounds like a continuation shoot, not a basic training tool. The 40's equivalent of post war/modern era towed, water borne targets? Useful for practising low level drills and anti surface tactics, less so as a method of teaching aerial gunnery...

#20 Edgar Brooks

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Posted 19 April 2012 - 06:44 PM

Target Towing Flights were in existence, in the U.K., from 1938,

Edited by Edgar Brooks, 12 May 2012 - 06:40 PM.





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