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Old 08-03-2018, 02:00 PM   #1
Bunyap
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Default Spitfire Bomb and Drop Tank Update

Bombs and drop tanks were introduced last month in an update to the Spitfire and those features have been added to the campaign missions wherever appropriate. This will be most noticeable on mission 2 and 12. Those are now dive bombing missions as they were originally intended.

These procedures are paraphrased from a manual in use at the time and are included in the briefings:

Releasing bombs from a 45 - 60 degree dive is the preferred method due to increased accuracy and less vulnerability to flak. The approach to the target is made at an airspeed of 220 - 230 mph managing the aircraft so the final alignment with the target is directly into the wind. At the moment the target is hidden beneath the wing on a line about one third of the way to the wingtip, make a gentle descending turn in the direction of the target. Regulate the rate of the turn to ensure the target is always in view.

Align with the target and increase the dive angle to 45 - 60 degrees. Do not allow excessive speed to build up. This reduces the time available for aiming and could make aircraft control more difficult, especially when pulling out of the dive. Release the bombs at an altitude no lower than 3,000 feet above ground level. This allows you to pull out of the dive before entering the bomb’s fragmentation zone and to avoid most ground fire from enemy positions in the area.

Depart the target at high speed in order to stay clear of enemy flak. Only climb to rejoin the formation after having travelled some distance.






These tactics were emphasized in memos like this from late May:




The records for Normandy Spitfire dive bombing missions, without exception, show aircraft diving from 8,000 feet above the target and releasing at 3,000 feet. There is no rule against trying new things and different tactics here, but that is a pretty good place to start if surviving the mission is important to you.

Also, it is very important you use the proper command to have your squadron strike the correct target. It is all explained in the briefing but, as a reminder, engage 'primary and rejoin' will ensure they strike the planned target every time.




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This update also includes drop tanks where appropriate but that is mainly for AI flights flying over from England. In general, all Spitfire missions launching from England carried a drop tank of some type. By May/June 44 it was almost exclusively the 44 gallon cylindrical tank, the same tank used on the Hurricane and Typhoon, adapted for the Spitfire IX, and pictured here:













There were also the three sizes of 'slipper' tanks that could be mounted but from what I can tell they were rarely used by the time of the invasion. If anything, it would likely be the 45 gallon size as referenced in this memo:



This is the only photo I could find of a slipper tank in use during the Normandy campaign:



The 44 gallon cylindrical tanks tanks would be jettisoned every mission when empty on signal from the formation lead. All tanks, especially the slippers, were prone to hang up when attempting to jettison. This usually resulted in that aircraft returning to base with a wingman as escort.

When the Spits started to fly missions from Normandy in mid-June, drop tanks were not generally used. Most squadrons had come to the conclusion that they were not worth the trouble and that was formalized in memos like this from the 21st of June:



They still show up occasionally for units flying longer than usual patrols over the beachhead or the very occasional sweep as far as Paris but drop tanks don't show up again until the Brits/Canadians start to push east in late August.

So to make a long story short, 44 gallon cylindrical tanks were used on every mission from England and drop tanks were only very rarely used on missions from Normandy.
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Old 08-03-2018, 02:23 PM   #2
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Wealth of knowledge you are, thanks for all you do giving great life to these birds !

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Old 08-05-2018, 11:12 AM   #3
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This should be a sticky, for sure. Great post, Bunyap!
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Old 08-05-2018, 08:40 PM   #4
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Thanks Bunyap! Very interesting read especially with the added original material
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Old 08-12-2018, 01:11 PM   #5
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Thanks Bunyap! Best 10 bucks I ever spent!
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Old 08-12-2018, 02:02 PM   #6
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Thanks for posting the technique documents Bunyap. Just ran some practices of this and wit works a charm.

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Old 08-16-2018, 11:12 PM   #7
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BUNYAP LIVES
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