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LVTs at Omaha beach

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  • #46
    Carl-

    You make two particularly excellent points.

    First, the height at which the bombers released over Omaha was simply too high for them to have any appreciation as to their accuracy (or, rather, lack of it). 20,000 feet is fine for large area saturation bombing but not for tactical air support, which was what D-Day really needed.

    Then you mention that we really used the wrong weapon in the arsenal. I don't think that anyone, by 1944, really believed in the "pickle barrel" accuracy of the B-24 and B-17. When acceptable accuracy is measured in yards and hundreds of them, that'd have to be one very large barrel. The weapons should have been B-25s and -26s and Jabos such as the Thunderbolt and Typhoon (or at least those types of aircraft). Heck, import a few Helldivers for the job if need be. I believe that the heavies provided what was, in effect, little more than suppression fire, leaving the Navy to provide more accurate support. I maintain we would have been better served had lighter bombers and fighter-bombers (and maybe dive bombers) provided more accurate suppression/kill fire in conjunction with the Navy. Using the right tool for the job improves the chances of a successful completion.

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    • #47
      The role of the tactical airforces single engine aircraft for the beach assualts is unknown to me. While the Brits had their Tentacles as forward air controlers the 1st Army & USAAF did not have as capable air control system in June 1944. That had to wait several weeks for Maj Gen Quesada to take over from Bereton as the tactical AF commander. Since the naval gunfire spotters on Omaha Beach were hors combat & ineffective for two hours I am guessing the odds are radio equipped FACs would have been so as well.

      A second question is the degree of skill required in that situation. Where the good guys are seperated from the targets by only 100 to 300 meters it takes a incredible amount of pilot & ground controller skill to keep the bombs off the your side. In the Carolines & Marshal island assaults in 1943-44 the USN provided dive bomber pilots who were extremely well trained at hitting ships, but the Marine and Army on the ground frequently had to abort or wave off the dive bombers as the pilots misidentified the men on the ground. Despite sincere efforts the Navy pilots did not bring their training up to the level needed for such close in work. On Omaha Beach the infantry and engineers pinned behind the seawall or skulking through the dunes and bluffs were usually less than 400 meters from the cannon and MG bunkers. In that situation any Army or Navy pilots would have found it very demanding to consistently stick the bombs beyond the friend positions. Desperate moment call for desperate solutions but it would have been hairy.
      Last edited by Carl Schwamberg; 11 Jul 12, 16:51.

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      • #48
        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post

        ......it takes a incredible amount of pilot & ground controller skill to keep the bombs off the enemy.

        You didn't really mean that did you ?
        Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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        • #49
          Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
          Since the naval gunfire spotters on Omaha Beach were hors combat & ineffective for two hours
          IIRC the British were using pilots in Spitfires to do spotting for the heavy naval units - did the US navy do likewise?

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          • #50
            The US Navy had its own Float Planes for that purpose. You could launch them, but you needed fairly calm seas for them to land in for recovery. I am not sure if US Army Air Force aircraft could talk to the Navy by radio.

            Pruitt
            Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

            Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

            by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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            • #51
              Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
              The US Navy had its own Float Planes for that purpose. You could launch them, but you needed fairly calm seas for them to land in for recovery. I am not sure if US Army Air Force aircraft could talk to the Navy by radio.

              Pruitt
              Good question...and I wish I knew the answer.

              I cannot recall ever reading about any float planes being launched to spot the fall of shells. The Channel would have been far too rough for them to land, but England wasn't all that far away.

              In various books on D-Day I've read, I can recall several mentions of the British having artillery spotters go in with the troops, if not in the first wave than early in the second. They would have had appropriate communications equipment with which to call it naval supporting fire and, possibly, air support.

              The American experience was altogether different. We might have- and probably did have- spotters go ashore early on but, as the Americans suffered far heavier casualties (at least at Omaha), one can assume that the casualties among the spotters was likewise higher. I have read repeatedly that the radios were discarded when soldiers carrying them stepped off into water well over their heads and the weight threatened to drown them. The few that made it ashore seemed almost invariably not to work. I can recall one instance I read about in which a destroyer was given coordinates on which to fire via Aldis lamp!

              We did have amphibious force command ships which were supposed to have communication equipment necessary to speak to all branches involved (and probably to those of other participating countries as well), but how effective they ultimately were I have no idea.

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              • #52
                Originally posted by tigersqn View Post
                You didn't really mean that did you ?
                Uh, no

                Originally posted by Aber View Post
                IIRC the British were using pilots in Spitfires to do spotting for the heavy naval units - did the US navy do likewise?
                Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                The US Navy had its own Float Planes for that purpose. You could launch them, but you needed fairly calm seas for them to land in for recovery. I am not sure if US Army Air Force aircraft could talk to the Navy by radio.

                Pruitt
                I've read two third hand versions, and not been able to track down cllaboration of either. One stated the float planes were considered unsuitable as the congested fleet operations area complicated landing & recovery. The NGF ships had fairly confined fire support areas to shoot from and launch recovery ops risked the ships and aircraft crossing though areas set aside for all sorts of other purposes and the lanes for moving to and from the specified waiting, firing, unloading, assembly, casualty areas.

                The other item claimed the US 1st Army was provided with the same special radio equiped Spitfires as the Brits used. That is the normal RAF radio for the Spitfire was not suitable for communicating on the naval radio frequencies. The pilots were described as US Army artillery air observers qualified by the RAF in the Spits. That they worked in pairs.

                I suspect the air observers whatever they flew in were concerned with spotting artillery positions and moving enemy beyond the beach. Every reliable source I've run across notes the NGF largely shifted to scheduled targets inland as the air strike approached. Counter battery was a priority target after the preperation fires on the beach finished and air observers would be important to refining target accuracy for that. Also from my own experience air observers would have been little better off than the ships in spotting the camoflaged bunkers through the early morning haze. There were at least six NGF spotting teams in the first assualt wave & my take is the assualt plan depended on them spotting the remaining enemy positions from on the beach and at ranges of 200 to 1000 meters.

                having wrote all that I'd still need some much more solid sources to be certain.

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                • #53
                  Somewhere in the deep dark corners of my memory, I am vaguely recalling that US Navy did use floatplanes to direct gunfire in some Pacific Invasions. I can't verify it right now, maybe the source will come to me later...

                  Floatplanes might also have some utility in picking up downed fliers right off the beach, but escorts did most of this.

                  Pruitt
                  Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                  Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                  by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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                  • #54
                    Hi

                    Seen plenty of LVT footage of them coming ashore and on land, but just how were they transported and got into the water?

                    Regards
                    "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." Churchill

                    "I'm no reactionary.Christ on the Mountain! I'm as idealistic as Hell" Eisenhower

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                    • #55
                      Originally posted by Andy H View Post
                      Hi

                      Seen plenty of LVT footage of them coming ashore and on land, but just how were they transported and got into the water?

                      Regards
                      Originally ships crane, like any other boat. Common Liberty ship had a set of thirty ton and one fifty ton crane. Specialized Liberty & Victory ships had 75 & 100 ton cranes. Whatever ships carried them usually had the holds set up for vehicle transport. You can also run them off the bow ramp of a LST or similar landing craft in calm water. I cant remember when the first ships with well decks & ballast tanks arrived in the PTO. One or two may have been present for the Tarawa landings. Search the web long enough and you will find photos of the LVT hoisted over the side and rolling off ramps at sea.

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                      • #56
                        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                        Somewhere in the deep dark corners of my memory, I am vaguely recalling that US Navy did use floatplanes to direct gunfire in some Pacific Invasions. I can't verify it right now, maybe the source will come to me later...

                        Floatplanes might also have some utility in picking up downed fliers right off the beach, but escorts did most of this.

                        Pruitt
                        At the USS Alabama memorial park in Mobile, the battleship has a Kingfisher float plane on one of its aft catapults. I >think< I recall having seen and read a plaque mounted nearby that explains the Kingfishers were used mostly to search for downed fliers. I can't exclude the possibility that they also directed gunfire- I just can't remember one way or another- but I'm less iffy on the rescue operations.

                        My wife and daughter are headed there this weekend, as my daughter's dance studio will perform at a pageant there. Unfortunately, I've got to work so I can't go, else I'd surely find a couple-three hours to visit the park.

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                        • #57
                          Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                          Somewhere in the deep dark corners of my memory, I am vaguely recalling that US Navy did use floatplanes to direct gunfire in some Pacific Invasions. I can't verify it right now, maybe the source will come to me later...
                          Float planes were the usual choice, but the Bai du Seine was a bit overcrowded that morning so the non use of floats has some credibility. Another factor against floats is they are a fire hazard when there is incoming fire. When you read the detailed accounts of the cruiser & BB battles you'll note the floats are either launched or abandoned well before surface action erupts. Off the Calvados & Cotientin coast the BB & cruisers were well in the range of the costal artillery. Float planes sound like a tricky complication in that battle. ...but we need some decent sources on the subject.

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                          • #58
                            Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
                            Float planes were the usual choice, but the Bai du Seine was a bit overcrowded that morning so the non use of floats has some credibility. Another factor against floats is they are a fire hazard when there is incoming fire. When you read the detailed accounts of the cruiser & BB battles you'll note the floats are either launched or abandoned well before surface action erupts. Off the Calvados & Cotientin coast the BB & cruisers were well in the range of the costal artillery. Float planes sound like a tricky complication in that battle. ...but we need some decent sources on the subject.
                            I wandered over to several Kingfisher pages but could find no record of D-Day service. I'm pretty sure that the BBs at least were equipped with them, but whether any were actually used that day I can't determine.

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                            • #59
                              Mustapha,

                              The older Battleships and Cruisers did not ship the Kingfisher. They usually used the Curtis SOC-3 Scout. This was a biplane design.

                              The main problem with Observation Floatplanes is the fuel on them goes up when the plane is hit. It takes too long to drain the fuel when battle is imminent.

                              Pruitt
                              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                              Comment


                              • #60
                                Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                                Mustapha,

                                The older Battleships and Cruisers did not ship the Kingfisher. They usually used the Curtis SOC-3 Scout. This was a biplane design.

                                The main problem with Observation Floatplanes is the fuel on them goes up when the plane is hit. It takes too long to drain the fuel when battle is imminent.

                                Pruitt
                                I wish I could say that I'd forgotten that, but the truth is I didn't know it in the first place to forget it. I had assumed that updates to the older ships including modifying their float planes.

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