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Combat Tactics

(How to use the B-26 effectively in combat and not get hurt.)

gold checkmarkThe Syllabus:

SHORAN - An Operator's Commentary

The tactics described herein are designed to cover both day and night operation and have been developed through actual combat experience as well as continual experimentation on bombing and gunnery ranges. It is realized that targets, weather, and terrain will vary with each mission, presenting a different problem of attack in each case. However, the basic principles involved in the tactics described below will remain the same and the instructor should stress the necessity of the trainee pilot developing a high degree of proficiency in these principles through concentrated effort on the practice range.

While practicing the tactics described below on the practice range, the range pattern minimum altitudes, etc., as prescribed in the 3rd Bombardment Wing (L) Regulation 50-6 and 50-6A, will be followed at all times.

gold checkmarkA. STRAFING (AREA)
This method of attack is usually employed during the hours of daylight from a low-level approach to the target. However, it may be used at night under bright moonlight, but with a higher angle of attack than advocated herein.

1. On departing the IP for the target, the pilot will immediately check all gun switches ON and increase the airspeed as rapidly as possible to a desired 320 mph. At approximately 3,000 yards from the target, the pilot pulls up to 300 ft. above the terrain, spots his target, releases the safety switch on the guns, and make necessary last minute azimuth corrections.

2. At approximately 1200 yards from the target, the pilot enters a gentle dive, lines up he target in the sight and commences his strafing run. Firing bursts should be short, starting at 1,000 yards, and breaking off at 400 yards. Gently fan the rudder during the run to effectively cover the target area.

3. Points to be stressed:

a. Airspeed should be increase rapidly after leaving the IP (Desired airspeed is 320 mph). This is the best defense against enemy ground fire while on a low-level strafing run.

b. Maximum effective firing range of the calibre .50 machine gun is 1,000 to 400 yards.

c. Evasive action off the target should be high airspeed close to the ground, using whatever evasive turns are possible in the surrounding terrain. Terrain, in all cases, will dictate the evasive action. However a chandelle is considered highly undesirable, since this maneuver present a plan view of the airplane for any enemy gunners surrounding the target area.

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gold checkmarkB. STRAFING (HIGH-ANGLE)
This method of strafing attack is the most common and effective tactic employed in night operation against moving targets such as trains and trucks supply dumps, and towns suspected of housing troops or supplies.

1. Following are the principles involved in the high-angle strafing attack:

a. The attack is made from an altitude of at least 3,000 ft. above the target, depending on surrounding terrain.

b. A dive angle of approximately 30 degrees is established for the firing run.

c. Desired airspeed of approximately 320 mph is sustained throughout the firing run.

2. The advantages of this type of strafing attack during the hours of darkness are as follows:

a. Targets are more easily spotted from a search altitude.

b. A visual picture of the terrain surrounding the target may be maintained, allowing a planned attack on, and departure from, the target.

3. Procedures recommended for carrying out a high-angle attack are:

a. Upon sighting a target from the above recommended search altitude, the pilot immediately checks all gun switches and determines the best approach to attack with reference to target and surrounding terrain.

b. Start the firing pass when it is estimated that approximately a 30-degree dive can be established for the run. Power should be increased to reach the desired 320 mph on the approach.

c. Commence firing short bursts at 1,000 yards and break off at 400 yards. At low altitude, avoid passing directly over a target suspected of containing explosives.

d. The breakaway from the target should be at high airspeed, and the evasive turns, of course, are dictated by surrounding terrain and enemy fire.

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gold checkmarkC. ROCKET FIRING
1. The tactics employed in a rocket attack are identical to the low-level and high-angle strafing attack as described above. However, the techniques involved in hitting the target require a better than average judgment of range and can only be attained through devotion to serious instruction and practice. Procedures for setting up the Rocket Intervalometer should be thoroughly understood, and the rocket checklist should be used before the rocket attack.

2. Targets for the 5 inch HVAR rocket are the same as those vulnerable to the calibre .50 machine gun. NVAR rockets are exceptionally adapted to the destruction of tanks. The rocket is used for both day and night low-level operation. However, the difficulty experienced in depth perception on dark nights makes accuracy questionable.

3. Pilots using rockets for the first time during the hours of darkness should be cognizant of the rocket flash causing partial blindness for a few seconds immediately after firing. Different pilots, experienced in night rocket firing, have developed various means of effectively eliminating this hazard. Some recommend closing one eye during the time the rocket is being fired, and using this eye after the flash has subsided. Others recommend closing both eyes a split second before releasing the rocket, then allowing one or two seconds for the flash to subside before exposing the eyes again. Serious thought should be given to considering the latter method before using it when operating below 1,000 feet.

4. Procedures prior to rocket attack.

a. Gun sight ON and set for desired range, airspeed, and angle of attack.

b. Bomb-Rocket switch on ROCKET.

c. Rocket fusing switch on INSTANTANEOUS.

d. Rocket knob to #1.

e. Rocket selector switch to AUTOMATIC or SELECT as desired.

f. Bomb circuit main power switch ON.

5. Refer to the attached charts for determining sight settings at various airspeeds and ranges of release. Charts are compiled for low-level attack or high-angle dive.

a. The desirable range of release is 1,000 yards and the maximum effective range is 4,000 yard.

b. The best results have been obtained with the steep-angle of dive.

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gold checkmarkD. NAPALMING
1. The napalm attack is considered very effective against all targets except bridges and tunnels. The effective area of the napalm splash is a sector of approximately 80 degrees at a radius of approximately 150 ft. from the point of impact. This method of low-level attack can be employed either day or moonlight night operation. It is not recommended for attack during the hours of complete darkness because the recommended altitude of release is 50-100 ft. above the terrain, and a flat target approach is required for accuracy. Some pilots have been able to release the tank from a glide-bombing altitude, but they are still required to come to a low altitude for release.

2. Tactics involved in this attack are identical to the minimum altitude bombing approach to the target, (see par. IV.F) The techniques used for hitting the target differ slightly. The napalm tank, when dropped, has no predictable trail. Therefore, when it is released over 100 feet above the terrain it cannot be accurately aimed.

3. Proficiency in the use of napalm can be attained only through development of technique around the recommend basic principles as outline below, and intensive practice on the bombing range.

4. Procedures.

a. Prior to entering approach to the target, set up switches for release of the napalm tanks, in accordance with existing armament checklist available in the airplane.

b. Enter the target approach in the same manner as on a minimum altitude bombing run.

c. Desired airspeed is 300-320 mph in a level attitude.

d. Establish altitude of 50-100 ft. above the terrain.

e. Use the gun sight to kill drift only.

f. Release napalm tank just a split second before target passes under the nose of the aircraft.

g. Use standard evasive departure from the target.

h. It is emphasized that the best point of contact for the napalm tank with reference to the target is 25-50 feet short, to allow the napalm to splash onto the target.

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gold checkmarkE. GLIDE BOMBING
1. This type of attack has been developed to permit bombing attacks by B-26s not equipped with bombsights and those carrying bombs with fuses unsafe for release at low altitude. The glide bomb attack is especially well adapted to targets in rough terrain, which forbids the low-level attack, and for attacking targets at night when a clear view of the terrain and target cannot be maintained at low level. Glide bombing may be effectively used by the B-26 on any targets vulnerable to all standard General Purpose bombs up to and including the 1,000 lb. GP Bomb. Parachute type bombs and VT fused bombs must be released from level flight, therefore are not considered adaptable to glide bombing.

2. As stated in previous recommendations, the highest proficiency in glide bombing may be attained by building individual technique around the recommended procedures herein described. The importance of being able to judge slant range to the target during both the hours of daylight and darkness cannot be stressed too highly.

3. Procedure

a. Approach the target at an altitude of 4,000-6,000 ft. above the target, depending upon the elevation of the surrounding terrain.

b. Pilots should approach the target slightly to the right, allowing an unobstructed view of the target throughout the approach.

c. When it is determined that a dive angle of 25-35 degrees can be established to the target, execute a diving turn to the left, lining up on the target. Open bomb bay doors immediately upon rolling out of the turn and establish an airspeed of 300-320 mph.

d. Use the gun sight to kill drift only.

e. Start pullout when it is estimated that the airplane will reach the lowest part of the round out no lower than the minimum altitude specified for releasing the type bomb carried.

f. The technique for determining the bomb release point in the round-out can be developed only through observing demonstrations by the instructor pilot and by intensive practice. However, the bomb should not be released until the attitude of the airplane is 20 degrees or less below horizontal in the round out.

g. Evasive action off the target is, of course, dictated by terrain and enemy fire. However, the minimum altitude stated above should not be violated. Airspeed may be increased as desired.

h. The necessity of stressing the importance of the pilot knowing the limitations of the airplane and for knowing the minimum allowable altitude of the type bomb carried cannot be emphasized too highly.

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1. This method of attack is the most accurate and effective type of tactic used by light bombardment aircraft. Pilots of the 3rd Bombardment Group (L) should be proficient in its employment. Though well adapted for daylight low-level tactics, this type of attack has limited use in most night operation. The conditions necessary for successful minimum altitude bombing are as follows:

a. Good visibility and an excellent view of surrounding terrain for approach and departure from the target.

b. Delay-fused bombs (4-5 sec. minimum) or parachute type bombs.

c. No Composition B bombs should be dropped from minimum altitude.

d. Obstructions to low-level aircraft must be visible. (Cables, high-tension wires, etc.).

2. Procedures

a. On departure from the IP, all bomb switches checked ON and airspeed increased to a desired 300-332 mph.

b. Remain low-level until within 3-4 miles of the target, then pull up to altitude needed to spot target.

c. Line up target in sight, go back to low-level, open bomb bay doors, and start bomb run on target.

d. Establish desired altitude 50-300 feet, depending on obstacles surrounding target, and maintain airspeed as indicated above.

e. As the leading edge of the target contacts the pip of the sight, the bomb should be released.

f. Departure from the target is as described in low-level tactics.

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1. The use of flares for Night Attack operation has greatly increased the probability of successful low-level attack during the hours of darkness. If used properly, the flares decrease the hazards of hitting ground obstacles while pressing the attack and greatly increases target accuracy.

2. Following are recommended procedures for most effective utilization of the flare launched from the B-26:

a. Flares on the B-26 are externally hung to the rocket rails. Therefore, the procedure for setting up the rocket switches will be used for release of the flares. The instructor should give a thorough explanation of this system.

b. For effective flare operation, airspeed should be 170 mph or less at the time of release.

c. Altitude at the time of release should be 4,000-6,000 ft. above the target. This altitude will allow sufficient illumination for approximately 3 low altitude attacks on a target.

d. The flare should be dropped approximately 1,000 yards upwind of the target to give maximum coverage. (This figure will vary with wind velocity. However, it may be considered a good average).

e. High-angle attacks are preferred during flare operation for the following reasons:

(1) Flares may not sufficiently illuminate surrounding terrain features for good low-level attack.

(2) High-angle attack gives better overall picture of the target.

(3) Maneuvering for attacks can be done outside area of illumination without hazard of hitting terrain and avoids giving away approach to the target.

f. Successive attacks under one illumination should not be made on the same approach.

g. The pilot must be prepared to make a successful transition from contact flight while under the flare to instrument when departing the illuminated area for another approach to the target. It is recommend that cockpit lights be turned up for attacks under flares.

3 It has been found by experienced Night Attack pilots that the Night Intruder is primarily located by sound of the airplane engines and then picked up visually by search in the direction of this sound. It is therefore recommend that Night Intruders searching an area, bombing from medium altitude, or making low altitude attacks, kick the propellers out of synchronization for 20-50 RPM. This oscillating noise cannot be pinpointed as to direction and, therefore, confuses any enemy ground searcher.

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1. This type bombing attack is frequently used by the 3rd Bomb Group during daylight operation and is rapidly becoming a very effective method of attack against moving targets during Night Intruder missions. The success of the synchronous bombing attack during day or night operation depends entirely on teamwork between the pilot and the bombardier.

2. To bring about the successful bomb drop, the pilot must be cognizant of the problems faced by the bombardier and thoroughly understand his own responsibilities as pilot. Those procedures required of the pilot throughout a synchronous bombing mission are outlined below and it is necessary that the pilot become highly proficient in same.

a. The pilot and bombardier must discuss the proposed bomb run prior to take-off so that the pilot will be familiar with the approach, the target, and enemy opposition.

b. The pilot must be prepared to make the bomb run either by setting up the C-1 autopilot or by manually following the PDI.

c. While the bombardier is leveling the bombsight prior to the actual bomb run, the pilot must be capable of holding the airplane straight and level, maintain airspeed to be used on the bomb run, and avoid skidding. (Bomb bay doors must be open during this operation).

d. While making a bomb run by PDI, the pilot must be capable of making immediate PDI corrections in addition to maintaining a constant airspeed and altitude.

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gold checkmarkI. SHORAN BOMBING
1. Assuming that the radio equipment necessary for Shoran bombing is in operational condition, a well-trained Shoran crew may very easily carry out a highly accurate medium altitude bombing mission.

2. With the Shoran training given to pilots and Shoran operators by the 3rd Bomb Group Ground Training Section and the Shoran flying training given in Shoran-equipped aircraft, the pilot should be able to develop the necessary techniques for a successful Shoran bomb drop. However, it is emphasized that only through successful crew coordination can this be accomplished. It is therefore recommend that this coordination be practiced throughout all Shoran flying training.

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gold checkmarkJ. MPQ-2 BOMBING
1. This type bombing is a medium altitude ground-controlled method of bomb drop. After departing the IP, the airplane is completely under the control of the ground controller. The pilot is guided throughout the bomb run by verbal instructions from the above mention ground controller.

2. Before being considered combat ready in Night Attack operation it is necessary that each pilot study 3rd Bomb Group SOP 60-1, which covers the entire MPQ-2 bombing procedure.

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gold checkmarkSHORAN - An Operator's Commentary

Above we have the "official" instructions on how the missions should be flown. Certain of the instructions are incomplete. In many cases people didn't fly the missions they way they were supposed to because they disagreed with the "school solution." Below is an interesting commentary from a navigator who flew out of Pusan (K-9) on SHORAN missions that some of our men flew. The compartment they worked in was terrible.

I flew ten SHORAN missions to exotic Korean sites such as Sinanju, Siniuiju, Pyongyang etc. The SHORAN set was located in the gunner's compartment against the left side of the aircraft with the face of the equipment facing the right side of the aircraft. All of the gunnery equipment was taken out and the top turret was replaced with a dome, which housed the transmitter. You can always tell a SHORAN equipped aircraft. Just look at the rudder. The transmitting antenna sat on top.

The system requires an airborne transmitter/receiver set, a bombing computer to determine the dropping point, and two ground stations within 300 miles of the target. Essentially the SHORAN operator directs the aircraft down an arc of known distance from one ground station, over the target, until the aircraft reaches a precise distance to the target from the other station. The aircraft must be within electronic line of sight of both ground stations.

In Korea it was necessary to bomb from above 14,000 feet to reach the worthwhile, heavily defended targets well within range of enemy fighters. To reach bombing altitudes of 16,000 feet with the heavy load required a long and laborious climb with max blower on the engine superchargers.

Entrance into the compartment was tenuous. You had to stand on a truck bed or a step-ladder to get in. Once I used a stack of ammo boxes. You had to reach in and remove the seat from the side emergency exit. Then you put your parachute in and got in - with difficulty. Then you put on your parachute. Someone handed you the seat and you installed it. You sat facing forward - there was not enough room to face the set, so you operated everything over your left shoulder.

The normal escape route for bailout for the gunner was through the bomb bay. This exit was covered with sheet metal to shield the transmitter/receiver from the blast of cold air that might adversely affect the tubes during the last critical minutes before the drop when the bomb bay doors were opened. There was only a small opening about 4" x 4" so that the SHORAN operator could verify that all bombs had left the bay. In an emergency one was supposed to jettison the side exit door, remove and jettison the seat, then struggle your way out of the door, which was at knee level.

We operators often debated whether it was worthwhile to wear a chute, but we all did. The redeeming virtue of flying SHORAN was that you could see nothing and only know about the flak when it rattled off the aircraft -- at which time you stuck your head further into the scope and concentrated on the run. All SHORAN operators were volunteers. If one had claustrophobia he could not stand the compartment.

C.O. Smith
37th Squadron K-9

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