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Thread: German Torpedo Bombers? What Were they?

  1. #1
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    Default German Torpedo Bombers? What Were they?

    I'm currently reading Rick Atkins's book on the Africa campaign, "An Army at Dawn." I'm thoroughly enjoying it. I'm getting to the part now where the Germans and Italians are sending in forces to counter the US and British surprise landings at Oran, Casablanca, etc. during Operation Torch.

    The Germans retaliate by sending in U-boats and conducting air strikes. In one passage, the Luftwaffe attacks with JU-88 bombers and "torpedo planes"sinking four British merchantmen and troop ships.

    I was wondering what the Germans used as their torpedo planes during WWII...

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    Probably the Ju-88s were outfitted with a torpedo. I've seen them before, but i'm not sure if that's what the author is saying here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    I was wondering what the Germans used as their torpedo planes during WWII...
    Hello Nick
    This could be the He-111 the tupical german "torpedo plane" in the North sea.

    "I decide who is a Jew and who is an Aryan "- Hermann Goering

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    There were several planes fitted for torps.

    Dornier Do 22
    Fieseler Fi 167
    Heinkel He 115

    Later Focke-Wulf Fw 200s were designed to carry missiles.

    Ju 88s were mainly used as fighter-bombers, and later night fighter and long range escorts for the Fw 200 Condors. The Ju 88A could carry two torpedoes and was used in raids though.

    Japanese Kyushu Q1W Tokai "Eastern Sea" (known also as Lorna, tot he allies), a land-based anti-submarine patrol bomber aircraft developed for the Imperial Japanese Navy in World War II from the Ju 88. Although mainly used against subs with up to 500 kgs of depth charges.


    Not the best piccy.

    Some aircraft would lend themselves very easily to carrying torpedos, some bombers carried their bombs on the outside still, with weight being the only factor. Whilst others (particularly those with bomb basy) would need work.

    A torpedo had to be dropped with precision flying, otherwise it would go anywhere, hit the water and explode or even (if the fins were damaged on impact) go straight down/spin off manically.
    Last edited by 1000ydstare; 03-25-2007 at 04:19 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ww2admin View Post
    Probably the Ju-88s were outfitted with a torpedo. I've seen them before, but i'm not sure if that's what the author is saying here.
    They may well be. Atkinson is a very good, fluid writer. His only weakness seems to be the typical generalization of military equipment by one that is not interested in the details.

    He says JU-88s are the bombers, then implies that a different aircraft was used as a torpedo plane, but does not give a type...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chevan View Post
    Hello Nick
    This could be the He-111 the tupical german "torpedo plane" in the North sea.

    Hey Chevy!

    I was thinking this is the most likely plane.

    Which is strange to me, since I'm more accustomed to reading of the American and Japanese single seat torpedo planes that must have been far more agile...

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    Default He-115 torpedo bomber

    Here's a pic of a He-115 torpedo bomber.
    The torpedo was carried in the internal bomb bay.
    Specs
    Origin: Ernst Heinkel AG, Marienehe
    Type: Multirole seaplane
    Models: He 115A to E
    First Flight: Prototype: October 1936
    Service Delivery: He 115A-0: July 1937
    Final Delivery: About July 1944
    Powerplant:
    He 115B-1:
    Model: BMW 132N
    Type: nine-cylinder radial
    Number: Two Horsepower: 865 hp

    He 115C-1:
    Model: BMW 132K
    Type: nine-cylinder radial
    Number: Two Horsepower: 970 hp
    Dimensions:
    Wing span: 22.275m (73 ft. 1 in.)
    Length: 17.30m (56 ft. 9½ in.)
    Height: 6.60m (21 ft. 7¾ in.)

    Weights:
    Empty: 6,690kg (14,748 lbs.)
    Maximum: 10,400kg (22,928 lbs.)
    Performance: Normal, Loaded
    Maximum Speed: 327km/h (203 mph)
    Range (With Full Weapons Load):
    2,090km (1,300 miles)
    Range (With Maximum Fuel):
    3,300km (2,050 miles)
    Initial climb: N/A
    Service Ceiling: N/A

    Armament:
    Two MG17 7.92mm machine guns, one in the nose and one rear facing
    Various stores up to 1,420kg including torpedoes, mines and bombs.
    Notes:
    The B-2 model had it's floats strengthened for landing on ice or snow.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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    Actually the Ju-88 was also used as a torpedo bomber, in the variant A-17.


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    More information of the torpedo armed Ju-88s, from: "Ju-88 in action part I"




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    Indeed excellent explorative work, honorable ladies and gentlemen. I shall try to throw in here some additional details.

    Firstly, it has to be accentuated that the most successful German torpedo-bomber in WW2 without a shred of doubt was a good old He 111, and the most enviable results of this type have been achieved through combat actions that were undertaken from Bardufoss and Banak airfields in Norway - predominantly by KG 26 (Löwen Geschwader) - against allied convoys plying the North Cape route from mid-June 1942 onwards.



    He 111 H-6, KG 26, equipped with two Lufttorpedo LF 5B

    Although slightly outdated, the He 111 possessed some very good flight characteristics. First of all, old "Doppel-Blitz" (double lightning) was a steady machine, unwavering in level flight, completely predictable within cruise regime, with a possibility to be smoothly trimmed, as well as with quite handy low-level cornering speed. The plane was initially designed to be an unyielding bombing platform and its behavior has completely reflected that assignment.

    He 111H-6 produced from late 1941 was the first torpedo-variant of the type able to carry heavy external loads, including bombs larger than 250 kg, or a pair of torpedoes, beneath the fuselage. The He 111H-6 was both versatile and well liked by its crews, serving on all fronts with the Luftwaffe.



    He 111 H6 Torpedo-bomber

    Potentials of air-launched torpedoes, however, were discovered commensurately very late, because the German torpedo development had been completely in the hands of the Kriegsmarine since 1932, which had actually purchased the Horten naval torpedo patents from Norway in 1933 and the Whitehead-Fiume patents from Italy in 1938. Germans, essentially, had used a variant of the Norwegian aircraft-dropped torpedo – the 450mm Schwarzkopf F5 with a range of 2000 meters and maximum speed of 33 knots. It was armed with a 200 kg Hexanite explosive warhead. Subsequent German derivative, improved LF 5B travelled at a speed of 40 knots, and was armed with a 180 or 250 kg warhead filled also with Hexanite.

    It has to be maentioned, however, that the technical development toward German air-launched torpedoes was pursued in a rather leisurely manner, mainly bcause it was conducted by the Seeluftstreitkrafte (naval air division of the Kriegsmarine), and the results of trials and reports of combat operations were jealously guarded by the navy. During extensive torpedo-dropping trials, carried out in 1939, both the He 59 and He 115 floatplanes were used, and the failure rate of the torpedoes was a amazing 49 percent!

    In 1941, the Luftwaffe decided to pursue its own development trials with the intention of setting up a powerful force of torpedo-bombers. The first torpedo development establishment was formed at Grossenbrode, on the Baltic coast. Several aircraft types were intensively tested and it was soon apparent that the proven and long-established He 111, as well as the faster Ju 88 were the most suitable types.



    He 111 H 6 – LF 5b launch

    Luftwaffe unit Kampfgeschwader 26 was anticipated to play the leading role in this new torpedo plan, and Stab, I and III/KG 26 were selected as the specialized torpedo-units, while II/KG 26 remained in the classicist level-bomber role. It sounds almost unbelievable, but the tactical detachment of a few of KG 26’s He 111s to Flieger Korps X in the autumn of 1941 for torpedo operations was short-lived due to lack of torpedoes!

    In January 1942, the Luftwaffe’s demands for the centralization and control of all German and Italian torpedo development were finally granted. Colonel Martin Harlinghausen was appointed as the head of all Luftwaffe torpedo development, supply, training and operational organizations, with the TorpedoTraining School established at Grosseto in Italy. During the early months of 1942, I/KG 26 underwent torpedo conversion-courses, lasting between three and four weeks. The Gruppe’s He-111H-6’s could carry two torpedoes slung on racks beneath the belly; the standard torpedoes used were the German LT F5 and LT F5W, both of 450-mm caliber, with the latter based on the Italian model made by Silurificio Whitehead di Fiume.

    While I/KG 26 underwent conversion at Grosseto, its future and the bases from which it would operate had already been decided. Luftflotte V, based in Norway and Finland, needed additional bomber support to interdict Allied convoys on the Murmansk/Archangelsk route. In March, Göring ordered Luftflotte V to collaborate with the aerial reconnaissance units of the Kreigsmarine and to attack the convoys when they came into range, and also to shift bomber forces from the Finnish front to accomplish this task. Within I/KG 26, based at Banak and Bardufoss, there were 12 crews available for torpedo operations with the Heinkel He 111H-6 planes.

    During March and April, various PQ [and retuning QP] convoys were succesfully attacked. Although the Luftwaffe claimed all 35 ships sunk, they had only sunk seven. New lessons had been learned, however, which were to form the basis of later tactics when greater torpedo forces were expected to be available. Coordinated torpedo and bomber attacks sowed confusion among the defensive screen. The most favorable time was at dusk, with the torpedo-bombers coming in from the darker hemisphere aided by the ships' pre-occupation with dive bombers and level bombers by the Ju-88’s of KG 30, thus affording the low-flying Heinkels of KG 26 an element of surprise. The tactic known as "Golden Zange" (Golden Comb) consisted of a mass torpedo attack by as many as 12 He-111’s flying in wide line-abreast, with a simultaneous release of torpedoes to obtain the maximum spread while dividing defensive fire.

    Aircrafts have been spaced about 200-300 meters apart, and both LT F5b (improved version) and Italian LT F5W torpedoes were used. The F5W was preferred as the F5b’s whisker-type detonating pistol seldom operated when the target was hit at an sharp angle. Torpedoes were launched at a range of 1000 meters, and usually from a height of 40 meters (125 feet), the parent aircraft flying dead straight and level in order for the weapon to enter the water at the stipulated 12 degrees. AA fire, particularly that of 20mm Oerlikon guns, was considered a greater threat than escorting RN fighters. Observation of torpedo-tracks or hits was next to impossible, as the parent aircraft had to execute violent evasive action as soon as the weapon was dropped. The Ju-88’s of KG 26 had considerably more success than the Ju-88’s of KG 30, and sunk the majority of the merchant ships claimed.


    Ill-fated convoy PQ-17 was set upon for five days, in which 23 out of 33 ships were sunk, and Luftflotte V accounting for fourteen of them. This action saw the use of a few He-115 floatplane torpedo-bombers too, but mainly the He-111’s of I/KG 26 and the Ju-88’s of KG 30 were in action.

    By the end of July, III/KG 26, under captain Nocken, had completed the course at Grosseto and had transferred its Ju 88A-4 torpedo-bombers to Rennes-St.Jacques. They eventually wound up at Banak along with a considerable anti-shipping force of bombers, torpedo-bombers and reconnaissance aircraft.

    Convoy PQ 18, which came under attack in mid-September 1942, differed from previous Arctic convoys in that its anti-aircraft defenses included an aircraft carrier. Though the Luftwaffe achieved its greatest success to date by sinking a large number of ships, they lost 41 bombers. Royal Navy Hurricanes and Martlets [Grumman F4F Wildcats in British service], the long and strenuous flights of the bombers, and intense AA fire made torpedo-bombing mostly hazardous. Chances of rescue for a downed crew were practically non-existing, and life in the freezing waters of the Arctic was measured in minutes only.



    Initial submergement of the LF 5B aerial torpedo


    Forced close-up of the first part… To be continued!

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    Axis torpedo bombers – part 2

    The above mentioned attack saw the last of the massed torpedo attacks by the Luftwaffe, and never again were the concentration and results achieved in subsequent actions in the Mediterranean or elsewhere. With the Allied landings in North Africa, the Mediterranean became the pivot of Axis anti-shipping operations, but Allied air superiority forced massive casualties. The poor performance of torpedo-bombers thereafter was partly due to inexperienced replacement aircrews, Allied air supremacy, and relegation to night attacks where air opposition was weaker. The deepening fuel crisis and shortages further curtailed training. During the first ten days of the Normandy operation with hundreds of targets, only five vessels were sunk. Norwegian air strength was supplemented by the Ju 188, but during a four-day attack where 200 torpedoes were launched, all failed to hit. By early 1945 KG 26 had all but lapsed into inactivity.

    Despite heavy losses, however, the experiences of KG 26 in Norway had confirmed the effectiveness of aerial torpedoes in maritime warfare. Ten of the thirteen ships destroyed were the victims of torpedoes delivered by KG 26. Of the 860 sorties flown by Stumpff's Luftflotte V aircraft against PQs 16, 17, and 18, over 340 were made by torpedo bombers. German assessments of these operations confirmed that the torpedo bomber was the most efficient mean of destroying enemy merchant ship. The calculations undertaken by Luftwaffe's 8th Abteilung have proved that while only one vessel was sunk for every 19 bombing sorties undertaken, torpedo missions sank an Allied vessel on every 8 sorties, that is, they were on average twice as effective as high-level or dive-bombing attacks, and one-quarter of all the torpedoes launched struck their targets.

    (Previous text represents a selection From "Hitler's Luftwaffe" by Tony Wood and Bill Gunston, Salamander Books, [1997], "The Story of the Torpedo Bomber" By Peter C. Smith, Almark Publishing, London [1974],and Die grossen Luftschlachten des Zweiten Weltkriegs : Flugzeuge, Erfolge, Niederlagen. [1993], ISBN: 3704360295)

    However, perhaps this thread is the right place for an additional aircraft presentation, for the introduction of Savoia-Marchetti SM 79 Sparviero – a legendary Il Gobbo Maledetto - probably the best land-base operated torpedo bomber of the WW2. Although not originally designed as a torpedo bomber, SM 79 was a strong, fast and maneuverable aircraft, completely suitable for this demanding role. In spite of its cumbersome appearance and outdated steel tube, wood and fabric construction, the SM 79 was a rugged, reliable multi-role medium bomber which did quite a bit of damage in the face of heavy opposition.



    Savoia-Marchetti SM 79 Sparviero – the best land-base operated torpedo bomber in WW2

    The torpedoes utilized by the torpedo-bombing squadrons of the Regia Aeronautica, the Aerosiluranti, were of the 450mm Silurificio Whitehead di Fiume type, produced by previously mentioned company as well as by the Silurificio Italiano di Baia in Naples. Both models had a range of 3000 meters with maximum speed of 40 knots. The torpedo was usually launched from an altitude of approx. 40 meters, at a speed of 300 km/h.



    Launch of the Fiume-Whitehead Torpedo

    It sounds incredible, but SM 79 actually caused more allied war and merchant ship losses in the Mediterranean than Italy's entire surface navy! Courageously flown, it was a considerable thorn in the side of the Allies in the Mediterranean theater until overwhelmed by Allied air superiority.



    SM 79 - Reparto Sperimentale Aerosiluranti della Regia Aeronautica

    Perhaps the best illustration of the SM 79’s effectivity is the "Operation Pedestal" that occurred in the August of 1942, when Allied naval forces have undertook a strong effort to relieve besieged Malta with 14 ships heavily guarded by Royal Navy escort. Among the enemy aircraft sent against them were 74 "Sparrow Hawks", a number of which had already scored hits on the battleship HMS Malaya and the carrier HMS Argus. "Pedestal" eventually got through to Malta, but at the cost of one carrier, two cruisers, a destroyer and nine merchant ships, many of them having been hit by 450 mm torpedoes launched from the S.M.79s.

    It sounds almost unbelievable, but although the first experimental launches of airborne torpedoes dated back to 1914 Italy entered the war without a single squadron of torpedo launchers! The first aerial torpedo bomber squadron actually was formed in August 1940. After the surrender of the Fascist regime in 1943, the S.M.79 fought on both sides for the remainder of the war. Surviving SM.79s were converted into transports during the last phases of the war, serving in that role until the 1952.

    Like Germans Italians have used Flying Boats in torpedo-actions as well, but due to insufficient production these were attached mainly to naval recconaiscene and naval rescue groups. The most distinguished Italian type was the Cant Z 506 Airone, with 57 machines assigned to naval bombardment squadrons.



    Cant Z 506 Airone

    Although Airone was a very good, durable airplane, with excellent maritime qualities and capability to withstand incredibly hard combat blows, its insufficient speed and a relatively small capacity for offensive weaponry haulage have created a decision toward reassignment of the type to reconnaissance duties.

    Cant 506s from the naval bombardment units have distinguished themselves in numerous attack against the allied convoys, especially in the Battle of Calabria and the clash of Cape Teulada, but these battles were the last missions of the Cant Z 506 in a torpedo-bomber role.

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    Excelent.

    The Italian silurante is regarded in some sources like the best torpedo bomber in ww2.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=84de0I8Eg3A

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    Default Re: German Torpedo Bombers? What Were they?

    I think there was a Me262 Torpedo bomber.

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    Default Re: German Torpedo Bombers? What Were they?

    For the most german bombers there was a Torpedo Rüstsatz. The bomb rack ETC ( Elektrische Trageeinheit Zylindrisch) couldt be changed or modified to carry Torpedoes.
    The most interesting is the FW 190 Torpedo conversion .
    Last edited by genkideskan; 04-27-2008 at 01:21 PM.

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    Default Re: German Torpedo Bombers? What Were they?

    Librarian, you've just reminded me of a couple of questions I've wanted answering for a while and haven't remembered to ask.

    1) What if any torpedo planes did the Germans have operational in Summer 1940?
    2) What if any armour-piercing bombs did the Germans have operational at this time, and what aircraft were cleared to drop them?

    My interest is of course related to the assertion that the Luftwaffe could have caused serious damage to the Royal Navy if Operation Sealion had been attempted. Some people claim that the Luftwaffe could have kept out or at least crippled the RN (I have my doubts - see the evacuation of Crete and Dunkirk), and the availability of these systems is critical to understanding what if anything they could have done.

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