So this is what scout planes looks like in WWII

Discussion in 'World War 2' started by Carlo G, Jul 17, 2012.

  1. Carlo G

    Carlo G New Member

    Photo taken from here
  2. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    SB2U's from VS-41 with USS Ranger (CV-4) in background. One of the classic early-war Atlantic Fleet NavAir shots. Another good find!
  3. JimmyMadness

    JimmyMadness New Member

    Thanks for sharing the picture! It's crazy how technology has changed so much in such a little time!
  4. Carlo G

    Carlo G New Member

    I wonder if the scout planes will take off like a regular airplane. I dont see any wheels o_O
  5. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Not sure what that is. I see it from many angles in lots of SB2U photos. It appears to be a small streamlined attachment to the outboard ordnance hard points. Not a regular bomb, not a depth bomb, not a smoke canister, - wrong shape for all - not a fuel tank - too small to be worth the trouble. If I didn’t know better I’d hazard it was a “do nothing” to protect the shackles on the hard point from unnecessary bashing, but I don’t really believe that, either. SB2U pilot manual does not mention it - not that I expected that it would. Has nothing to do with accessing the aircraft. To get into the cockpit, front seat or back, one climbs up on the wing at the trailing edge of the wingroot and comes in over the side.
  6. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    Landing gear retracts up into the underside of the wing. Like the F4U and the F6F, the assembly rotates the wheels 9o degrees so that they lay flat.
  7. John

    John Active Member

    Thanks Leonard, it is a mystery
  8. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    AH HA!! Mystery solved.

    I knew if I searched enough manuals I could come up with it. Those devices are, indeed, attached to the under-wing ordnance hard points. As well they should - they are Mark 43 practice racks. Each rack carries five spring loaded practice bombs which can released one at a time. These are for dive bombing practice - though in truth, the SB2U was not a true dive bomber. The spring loading mimics the effect of the bomb displacement arm, which is the Y shaped device you see along the centerline of the fuselage underside.

    By the mid-1940s the Mark 43 was replaced by the Mark 47 which carried eight practice bombs and functions in the same manner. It was longer thinner than the Mark 43.

    The bombs themselves were 4.7 lbs AN Mk-43 practice bombs, each about 8 inches long & a little over 2 inches in diameter with a small black powder marking charge in the nose which was activated by a shotgun primer.


  9. John

    John Active Member

    Thanks Rich - Well done
  10. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    I love an adventure!
  11. Carlo G

    Carlo G New Member

    WOW! Nice, R Leonard!

    So those scout planes are armed as well. I wonder if those scout planes have machine guns too
  12. R Leonard

    R Leonard Active Member

    A quick tutorial . . .

    The airplanes in this photo are SB2Us, probably SB2U-2s, maybe SB2U-1s, but definitely not SB2U-3s. In USN aircraft designations the letters and numbers tell you everything you need to know . . .

    SB = Scout-Bomber
    2 = the second scout bomber type produced by
    U = Vought

    The -1, -2, and -3 are variants of the type. You really cannot tell an SB2U-1 from an SB2U-2 without crawling around inside it, from the exterior they look the same. To tell an SB2U-3 from the other two, the quickest way, visually, is to look at the guns. The next way is to look at the context of the photo.

    What guns? you say. Well, the SB2U-1 and the -2 both had a fixed .30 cal. machine gun which fired through the propeller arc and what is known as “free” .30 cal. machine gun operated by the radio-gunner in the back seat. The SB2U-3 was gunned up, with both of the .30 cal. guns replaced by .50 cal. guns.

    So, how can I tell that without actually seeing the guns that these are either -1s or -2s and not -3s? Easy, context of the photograph; all the -3s went to Marine Corps VMSB squadrons (VMSB = V-Heavier than air; M-Marine Corps; SB-Scout Bomber) so they would not be operating from USS Ranger (the carrier in the background). The VMSB squadrons which received SB2U-3’s were either in Hawaii or at San Diego when issued their aircraft, Ranger was an Atlantic Fleet carrier home ported in Norfolk - there was no opportunity for overlap.

    Only the Marine SB2U-3s saw actual combat action in US service, this at the Battle of Midway where VMSB-241 employed them in attacks on the Japanese carriers on 4 June and against the cruisers Mikuma and Mogami on 5 June. No hits were scored in any of these attacks. More later.

    All SB2Us were capable of carrying up to a 1000 lbs bomb, though as things worked out, mostly because of design limitations, the standard service payload was a 500 lbs bomb. This was attached centerline with the bomb displacement gear (what some would like to call a bomb crutch, but that is sloppy terminology).

    As a dive bomber, the SB2U series was a big disappointment. The plane was designed without dive brakes such as found on the SBD series (SB = scout-bomber, D = Douglas). The original thought by Vought was that the plane could enter its dive attack and the pilot would reverse the propeller, thus providing sufficient braking to slow the dive enough to maintain aiming control. Tests by the Navy showed that this was really a bad idea and it was abandoned. The only other option was to lower the landing gear before entering the dive as a measure to achieve aiming control. This became the standard practice; however the result was that the airplane could not actually perform in a configuration as described by the Navy as what one might want a dive bomber to do.

    As far as the Navy was concerned, dive bombing attacks required a plane to dive at from 90° to 60° from the horizontal. The Douglas SBD, for example, could easily meet this requirement and became one of, if not the, pre-eminent dive bomber of the war. The SB2U, could not and was restricted to what the Navy referred to as glide bombing. The glide bombing profile called for an approach of from 55° down to 35° from the horizontal.

    One often reads that the VMSB-241 pilots at Midway, even in their SBDs (it was a split equipped squadron, half SB2U-3s and half SBD-2s) executed their attacks on the Japanese in the glide bomb profile due to a lack of training. Not so. The reality was that since the squadron did not receive its SBDs until just days before the battle, all their bombing practice and training had been in their SB2Us, which could only glide bomb. This was how they were trained. Very few of the pilots had any real SBD time, so the decision was made to go with what they knew how to do. Unfortunately, most of their training was in glide bombing stationary targets . . . that method is a really tough way to hit a moving target and the results of their attacks were indicative of the problem . . . no hits. The only worse way to attack a moving ship is from a horizontal, or level, attack such as executed by USAAF B-17s at Midway which, despite huge claims to the contrary, also scored no hits.

    By the end of 1942 there were no USN or USMC SB2U squadrons operating in harms way, either aboard a carrier or from land, although there were some stateside squadrons, Marine and Navy which still operated them in a training mode until SBD production caught up with demand.


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