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"1930s Bi-Plane Strafing" Topic

21 Posts

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23 Aug 2012 2:06 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

  • Changed title from "1930's Bi-Plane Straffing" to "1930s Bi-Plane Strafing"

1,550 hits since 23 Aug 2012
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

Mick A Inactive Member23 Aug 2012 4:46 a.m. PST

How effective was (or would be) straffing vehicles with old bi-planes of the 1930's?


advocate23 Aug 2012 4:52 a.m. PST

A slower plane means more time over target, and maybe more accurate as a result. But they had fewer, lighter weapons than later WW2 aircraft and would be more vulnerable to anti-aircraft fire.

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2012 5:23 a.m. PST

I would think pretty effective (in the 1930's) but as noted as more vehicles acquired things like co-axial MGs this would be more and more dangerous for the biplane

So – probably very effective against Warlord Chinese – but I would not like to try it against the Reichswehr

Mick A Inactive Member23 Aug 2012 5:44 a.m. PST

The rules I'm concocting uses d6's, I have that a plane rolls 6d6 (basically two hmgs) needing sixes to hit. Any hits will take out infantry and cavalry, then it needs 4's or 5's to make soft skin vehicles take a morale check and 5's or 6's to take out soft skinned vehicles and make light armour take a morale check (it won't have any effect on medium or heavy armour).

Firing at planes is only effective with hmgs. Three dice per hmg again needing 6's to hit with 4's and 5's causing a morale check and 5's and 6's shooting it down. Does this sound about right?


deephorse23 Aug 2012 6:44 a.m. PST

Try here,

enter 'straffing' in the search box. There is a particularly interesting thread entitled 'On The Effectiveness Of Ground Attack In The Great War'.

I know that this is WWI but I think that much of the comment will apply to your period.

bsrlee23 Aug 2012 6:57 a.m. PST

US fighters, pre'38, were pretty much universally armed with one .30 and one .50 MG. British fighters had 2 to 4 .303 MG's, 2 seaters seem to have had 2 foward firing and one or two flexible .303's. The Polish fighters with 2 x 20mm cannon and mg's were a nasty shock to the Luftwaffe in 1939.

Until the final pre-war generation of fighters (P40, Spitfire, Me109) they were all quite vulnerable to rifle calibre MG fire, only the crew areas having any protection at all and the structure being fabric over a mostly metal frame (Hurricane etc)

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2012 8:17 a.m. PST

When you shoot at a plane with an HMG, while I think the numbers are right, you also have to have the right kind of HMG – for example, a Maxim on a wheeled mount will never – ever – be able to effectively engage an aircraft

Black Bull23 Aug 2012 11:28 a.m. PST

Which Polish fighter had 20mm cannon ? or are you thinking of the Soviet I-16

Personal logo enfant perdus Supporting Member of TMP23 Aug 2012 11:58 a.m. PST

The export-only PZL P.24 had the cannon/MG combo, specifically on the A and F models used by Greece.

StarfuryXL524 Aug 2012 9:39 p.m. PST

enter 'straffing' in the search box.

You might get more results if you enter "strafing" in the search box.

deephorse25 Aug 2012 8:13 a.m. PST

Indeed you might, along with the odd pedant.

BlackWidowPilot Fezian Inactive Member25 Aug 2012 12:11 p.m. PST

The export PZL P24 packed the 20mm guns, yes; the earlier PZL P11c had to make due with 4 7.92mm light machine guns, unfortunately.

I suspect that the first airborne 20mm cannons the Luftwaffe encountered was courtesy of the French, whose fighters since the Dewoitine D 510 of the 1930s (and used by China against the Japanese and allegedly by Republican Spain during the SCW) had them as a fairly standard armament fit of one 20mm cannon firing through the prop hub and two or four 7.5mm MAC machine guns in the wings.

As for the effectiveness of the French Hispano-Suiza cannon as a strafing weapon, there was a drawback the French discovered too late for their own good: they hadn't planned for tank armor to thicken up to such an extent that they'd actually need a dedicated AP round for their 20mm cannons, so nobody thought to order any in time for the German invasion that started in May 1940!

That said, the weapon could deliver some perfectly nasty results against softskins and personnel, so for prewar strafing runs I'd say that outside of the odd AFV encounter, a strafing run by a D 510 on some hapless Nationalist or IJA column could get real messy real fast.

Leland R. Erickson
Metal Express

Old Slow Trot Inactive Member25 Aug 2012 12:23 p.m. PST

Not that effective if you're Cary Grant.

StarfuryXL525 Aug 2012 3:33 p.m. PST

Not trying to be pedantic (this time), just helpful. If you use "straffing" you'll just get other results of that misspelling of the word. You'll get more of the results you want if the search string matches the string you're looking for.

DBS30329 Aug 2012 3:13 a.m. PST

Worth remembering that the Luftwaffe pioneered its approach to ground support (which arguably was just a development of what the RFC had done with fighters and the Germans had done with Schlastas during WW1) with the He51 and Hs123 in Spain before the arrival of the Ju87 on the scene.

Also, in 1940 the biggest threat to the armoured cars of 11th Hussars when they were playing merry hell behind the Italian front lines was the CR32s and CR42s sent out to hunt for them.

1968billsfan Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2012 9:25 p.m. PST

Interesting topic. In the thirties, the planes would be stafing with 1 or 2 30 calibre MGs and would not have pilot armor, bulletproof glass, armor around engines and oil coolers and no self sealing gasoline tanks. The ground forces would not have quad 20mm, or 37mm AA but would have ganged 30 calibre MG's to shoot back with.

That is my impression, was it easier & more effective relatively against soft targets and personell or harder?

Pyrate Captain17 Jan 2013 8:02 p.m. PST

There are a lot of variables to examine.

Dropship Horizon Inactive Member18 Jan 2013 11:52 a.m. PST

The ground forces would have multiple MGs on AA mounts or 20mm cannon. First 20mm AA was late WW1 and Oerlikon started manufacturing 20mm in the early 20's. The German Flak 28 from around the 1920s and famous Flak 30 was available from 1934. To mention just a few.

By the middle of the 1930s there were several manufacturers producing 37mm and 40mm light aa guns.

So not such a one-sided picture.


Lewisgunner Inactive Member19 Jan 2013 10:03 a.m. PST

Interesting as to whether rifle fire from the ground has any effect. In the Far East I understand that Japanese doctrine was to have troops shoot back with whatever they had. This had the advantage that it made them feel less vulnerable, a feeling that certainly affected British troops when attacked as they were supposed to let AA or the RAF deal with air attackers.
Ground rifle fire would have the advantage that it came from many directions and so was less likely to trail the plane, , but the disadvantage that it was not likely that a stream of bullets would hit. I do remember teasing that it kept pilots flying higher o avoid the shooting..

Dropship Horizon Inactive Member19 Jan 2013 1:54 p.m. PST

The British Army's Infantry Section Leading 1938 looks at AA defence in Chapter 11/section 77.

Essentially the recommendation is passive protection by not drawing attention to yourself. If attacked however, the platoon is the unit of fire, with fire orders given by the platoon commander. It says that the plane is to be engaged with "continuous rapid fire" and that the plane presents the best possible target when it climbs away.

Now, take a look at this interesting article on Sealion defences in 1940. At the bottom is a nice description and illustration of the "hosepipe" method of shooting from the hip with a Bren at attacking aircraft!



Dropship Horizon Inactive Member21 Jan 2013 12:33 p.m. PST

Found what I was looking for:

British Army SMALL ARMS TRAINING~ANTI AIRCRAFT 1937 in all it's glory. Learn how to shoot down dastardly dive bombers with your trusty .303.



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