Successful offensive air action is dependent on (1) Properly indoctrinated and well trained air groups. (2) Complete appreciation of the striking power of modern aircraft when properly employed. (3) A bold and imaginative plan of attack designed to take timely advantage of available weapons including scientific and natural aids. (4) Sufficient planning of the attack based on information concerning the location, nature and scope of the objective. (5) A thorough understanding of the attack plan by each pilot. (6) An efficient and aggressive execution of the attack.
The primary mission of carrier-based aircraft is twofold; first the destruction of enemy forces; second-The protection of our own forces. If the enemy strength is destroyed by timely, aggressive offensive action, the protection of own forces becomes a simple problem. Therefore, tactics employed should be those designed to gain and maintain control of the air after which enemy material and personnel can be systematically destroyed. A bold aggressive attack thoroughly planned and properly executed is the best defense.
2203. METHODS OF ATTACK.
For daylight attacks on well defended combatant ships the following is true: As the angle of dive decreases from the optimum (70°) the percentage of hits decreases and damage to own plane increases. The current methods of delivering daylight attacks are as follows: (a) Dive bombing. (b) Glide bombing. (c) Low level bombing. (d) Intermediate or high level bombing. (e) Rocket attack. (f) Strafing. A coordinated attack employing an appropriate combination of the various methods is recommended, as it tends to confuse the defenders. The feasibility, as well as advantage, of night air attacks is rapidly becoming an import- ant factor in carrier air operations. A discussion of this type of attack is included subsequently.
2210. PLANNING OF A CARRIER
2211. PRINCIPLES OF AIR ATTACK.
(a) The degree of success attained by air attack is usually proportional to the quality of the attack plan. Such a plan should be based on knowledge of the location, nature and strength of the objective. Once this information is available and a plan decided upon, all pilots participating must be thoroughly briefed if an efficient and aggressive execution of the plan is to result. (b) Air Attack like any other mode of warfare has but one purpose-inflicting maximum damage on the objective. Combatant ships protected by aircraft, antiaircraft guns, and free to maneuver, are the most difficult targets for aircraft to attack successfully. Experience has proven that a coordinated attack with bombs, torpedoes and machine guns is the most effective method of attack. Opposing fighters are the only serious threat to successful air attack. Enemy air opposition can be thwarted by (1) Surprise, (2) Own VF protection, (3) Reducing the time between sighting the objective and the attack, (4) Timing subsequent attacks to strike before the enemy has recovered from the confusion of the preceding attack, (5) Destruction of enemy carriers.
2212. TIMING THE INITIAL
The ultimate in timing is achieved when the enemy is attacked before his aircraft are launched. This can best be accomplished by night attack. Knowledge of the enemy's location is a prerequisite of good timing. Experience to date has proven that it must be assumed that the enemy has some knowledge of the location of our forces. Every effort should be made to strike the enemy first and if possible destroy his aircraft before they can take the air.
2213. COMPOSITION OF ATTACK
The number and type of planes constituting the initial groups is of the utmost importance. It will depend on (1) Available Air Strength, (2) Time of Day and (3) Probable Number of Enemy Aircraft. In a major action the primary purpose of initial attack groups is to destroy or disableenemy carriers as soon as possible. After this has been achieved, our air forces can attack and sink other ships at will. At night enemy carriers may be disabled by bombs or torpedoes. In daylight it is best accomplished by dive bombers. When time is of the utmost importance, initial groups should be launched in waves, each wave of sufficient strength offensively and defensively to accomplish its mission. Radar countermeasures may reduce effectiveness of enemy fighter direction. The guiding principle is to hit the enemy hard initially and then keep hitting him at regular and short intervals, thereby preventing damage repairs and the servicing of planes.
2214. PRIORITY OF TARGETS-SURFACE.
So many factors are involved in assigning priority to surface targets that it is impracticable to set forth as doctrinal a single list to be used in the absence of other directives. The destruction of carriers or the crippling of their decks may eliminate the air opposition and the carriers should undoubtedly be near the top of any priority list. The question of priority as regards attacks on cruisers and battleships deserves special consideration and the decision should be based on the relative number of each type. The battleship is extremely difficult to destroy compared to a cruiser. Therefore, there should be a distribution of bombs designed to damage and slow both types rather than a concentration for all bombs on either one to the exclusion of the other. The existing strategic and tactical situations must determine the priority of available targets and the OTC should keep all carrier pilots informed of the priority they should give targets which might come within their range. Under some conditions the enemy's transports, oilers, destroyers, command ships, etc., might very properly be given priority over large combatant ships. Carrier Task Forces on the offensive normally have considerable intelligence information regarding probable strength and location of enemy surface forces and time for the systematic formulation of a plan of attack in advance of actual contact. Such time should be used to acquaint all pilots with the parts they are to play in the coming battle. Air Group training is designed to provide efficient methods of carrying out effective attacks against surface ships However, the number and types of ships to be encountered determines the method of attack and the fire distribution to be employed. The principles are (1) Concentration of sufficient strength to sink or completely disable individual vessels, and (2) delivery of the attack in such a manner as to minimize the effectiveness of enemy VF and Antiaircraft opposition fire against the principal element of the attack.
2216. PRIORITY. OF TARGETS-LAND.
In the absence of specific instructions, the priority of bombing targets in attacks on enemy land bases should be as follows: (a) Enemy aircraft on ground. (b) Ships and Ships Repair Facilities. (c) Fuel and Ammunition Dumps. (d) Aircraft Repair Facilities and Hangars (e) Radio and Radar Installations. (f) Barracks and Bivouac Areas. (g) Transportation Equipment and Shops. (h) Antiaircraft Installations (when repeated attacks are to be made higher priority should be assigned). (i) Runways. Bombing aircraft should be supported by fighter escort whose primary mission is protection of bombers from attacking enemy aircraft. The assistance to our own bombers by strafing of antiaircraft installations ahead of bombing attacks may be accomplished by fighter aircraft not required for escort duty.
2216. INITIAL ATTACK GROUPS.
If the contact with the enemy. force is made during darkness the initial attack group should be launched for a night attack. The element of surprise afforded by the cover of darkness, plus the success attainable using low-level radar bombing tactics, is a heavy factor in favor of this type of attack. Subsequent attacks after daylight should employ normal departure procedure for such wave. The composition of subsequent waves will depend on availability of planes. Deck load strikes will normally be employed. Torpedo attacks and low level bombing attacks should be coordinated with dive bombing or glide bombing until enemy opposition to air attack is eliminated. The ratio of four VF to six VB or VT should be maintained as long as enemy air opposition persists, after which VF may be used as fighter-bombers. In attacks against bases, it is considered appropriate to time the operation so that the initial strike against the base is a pre-dawn attack tuned so that the attacking planes return shortly after daylight. The &first day attack group should be preceded by a fighter sweep to effect control of the air and to establish Combat Air Patrol(s) over enemy base(s) to deny use of the landing fields. Subsequent attack groups are timed so that a uniform flow of aircraft attacking the target is maintained.
2220. EXECUTION OF AIR ATTACK
The successful execution of an air attack plan depends on the efficiency with which the following. phases are carried out: (l) Take-off, (2) Rendezvous, (3) Departure, (4) Approach, (5) Deployment, (6) Attack, (7) Retirement.
2221. THE TAKE-OFF.
Planes should be spotted if practicable to take-off in tactical order in order that an expeditious rendezvous and departure can be accomplished. The order of take-off by types is not fundamentally important and is usually dictated by takeoff characteristics. However, torpedo planes must not proceed ahead of glide or dive-bombers if a coordinated attack is to be made.
2222. RENDEZVOUS AND DEPARTURE.
Each tactical division should rendezvous immediately after take-off. If urgent departure is ordered, each division proceeds towards objective immediately and effects a running rendezvous en route. The first division is invariably accompanied by VF. If normal or deferred departure is to be used, proceed to assigned rendezvous sector. Depart according to plan or when ordered. Failure of a division leader or squadron leader to rendezvous should not delay departure. refer to figure II-34.
2223. THE APPROACH.
The approach may be made at low, intermediate or high altitude depending on weather, visibility, and the expected defensive power of the enemy. (a) A low approach (below l,000 feet) is normally used only at night when the tactical value of altitude is not necessary in order to launch an effective attack. (b) An approach at intermediate altitude (8,000 to 12,000 feet) may be dictated by weather conditions. It can be used to advantage by attack groups who are following the initial group, to confuse the enemy radars and avoid detection. (c) The high altitude approach (15,000 to 30,000 feet) is normally used for initial strikes on naval forces and well defended land bases. The tactical value of altitude, offensively and defensively outweighs the element of surprise which might be lost due to enemy radar detection at long range. A compromise approach with the group remaining at low altitude until near the objective should be used with great caution. If such a group were sighted by a picket or scouting aircraft the mission could easily be defeated.
Deployment of an attack group occurs as soon as the exact location of the objective is determined. Normally, it follows shortly after sight contact, but may follow radar contact. It is commenced on signal from the officer in tactical control. Deployment of a composite group has three phases, first a separation of the attack group according to types and method of attack to be employed. Each group is accompanied by assigned escort fighters. The second phase is a dispersal of each type by tactical divisions. The third phase is deployment of individual planes preparatory to final attack. i\'hen only one type of attack is to be delivered, the first phase is not necessary.
2225. ATTACK PROCEDURES.
There are four general attack procedures: (1 ) Urgent Attack, (2) Normal Attack, (3) Deferred Attack, (4) SearchAttack. The specified procedure governs rendezvous and departure. The actual attack will depend on the composition of the group, unexpected target disposition, surprise contacts, weather and other unforeseen developments. (a) Urgent Attack.-Urgent attack procedure is specified when it is desired to reduce to a minimum the time required to start units towards the objective. It is the recommended procedure for initial groups when the attack is to be made in several waves, At least one-half of the escort fighters should be launched first. They wait and proceed in company with the first attack unit which is a division of bombers. Following divisions will effect a running rendezvous en route to target. (b) Normal Attack.-If normal attack procedure is ordered, all elements of the group rendezvous expeditiously in the vicinity of the carrier and take departure without further orders. If aircraft are attacking in waves and normal attack is specified, launchings are continuous but departures are spaced by the amount of time needed to take-off and rendezvous (about 20 minutes for well trained pilots). If the initial wave takes urgent departure, the second wave using normal departure should reach the objective just as the first group completes attack. When using normal attack procedure, each group should use a different approach altitude. (c) Deferred Attack.-If deferred attack procedure is ordered, all attack groups rendezvous and proceed as a singly group. For example, if several carriers are operating operating and it is desired that attack groups from more than one ship proceed together, deferred departure and attack procedure is ordered. If only one group from one ship is to be launched, deferred procedure should be ordered rather than normal procedure if it is desired to delay actual departure until further orders (d) Search Attack.-This procedure is used when the location of the objective is known only approximately, and a search is to proceed ahead of the attack group. Search units are launched first with orders to take urgent departure unless a scouting line is to be formed, in which case normal departure is specified. The remainder of the attack group is then launched with orders to effect normal or deferred departure and proceed along the median line of the search sector. The group circles at a point about two thirds of the estimated distance to the target and awaits further orders. If a contact report is received, proceed with attack.
The effectiveness of a well-timed attack can be greatly reduced if the element of surprise is not achieved. The successful combat air leader is one who takes full advantage of all scientific and natural aids to achieve surprise. Surprise is principally dependent on: (1) Coordination of effort, (2) Direction of attacks, and (3) Altitude of attacks. Coordination of effort results when all bombs, bullets and torpedoes have been effectively delivered on the target in the shortest possible time. The result is less effective AA fire and fighter opposition, and less evasive target maneuvers, thus assuring the maximum number of hits. Variations in the directions and altitudes of attack constitute the most important means of gaining surprise. The proper use of such variations can only result from strenuous and imaginative training and the full use of initiative by the group, squadron and division commanders participating in the attack. Repeated blind adherence to rigid procedures in the presence of opposition brings quick retribution.
Attack planes retire after release at highest possible speed and at very low altitude. Change course during retirement only enough to avoid giving intervening ships a no deflection shot during approach. When out of automatic AA range commence "jinking" (gaining and losing altitude). Any maneuvers while within range of automatic AA only tends to reduce speed and thereby increase the chances of getting hit.
The direction of rendezvous will normally be in the quadrant that contains own base. All planes will work around to this quadrant as quickly as possible. Rendezvous point should be approximately 10 miles from the target to reduce time individual planes are exposed to unsupported attack. If fighter escort is intact, and the rendezvous direction is to be changed, it should be announced before the attack by using the clock code with 12 o'clock meaning North, 3 o'clock meaning East and so on. This may be done by the Group Commander.
2230. METHODS OF ATTACK (DAY)
The actual method of delivering an attack is dictated to a great extent by weather conditions that exist in the target area. In general, the various methods of attack will be developed as described below. They are discussed in the order in which they will be delivered regardless of whether or not they constitute the entire attack or are but one phase of a coordinated attack.
2231. DIVE BOMBING ATTACKS.
Dive bomber groups will approach the target at altitudes from 8,000 to 30,000 feet. The higher altitudes are preferred because excess altitude increases visibility range, and by nosing over, increase the rate of closing the target after sight contact. It decreases the time in the target area and reduces the effectiveness of fighter opposition. The AA hazard is lessened and better dives can be executed. After the target is sighted, the group commences a high speed approach. When about ten miles from the target, deployment by divisions is executed. The leading division goes in first, followed by a second and third division which fan out, approaching the push-over point from different angles. If VF opposition is present, each division maintains close defensive formation as long as possible. Assigned escort VF remain with each division during deployment, attack and retirement. If the ceiling is below 8,000 feet, dive bombers become glide bombers. If less than 2,000 feet, a low-level bombing attack can be executed providing; bombs are fuzed with 4 or 5 second delay action fuzes.
2232. GLIDE-BOMBING ATTACK.
Glide-bombing attacks on ships and land bases should be initiated from an altitude above 4,000 feet. If in company with dive bombers, approach with them in close defensive formation. When signal for the group to deploy is given, glide bombers remain together at altitude until the first dive bomber has entered its dive. This is the signal for glide-bomber divisions to fan out and commence high speed descent. If VF opposition is present, each division maintains close defensive formation until attack signal is given. Final aiming glide is started by individual planes between 8,000 and 4,000 feet altitude. Assigned escort VF remain with glide-bomber division throughout.
2233. LOW.LEVEL BOMBING ATTACKS.
Low-level bombing planes, if part of a group, remain with the group until target is sighted and group deploys. When other bombing attacks are completed, low-level bombers, preceded by escort VF, commence high speed approach to minimum altitude. Not more than three planes should attack the same target simultaneously. This type of bombing lends itself most readily to night radar-controlled attack. For a discussion on radar attack, refer to part II, section 2500.
2234. INTERMEDIATE AND HIGH
This type of bombing may be effective from carrier aircraft against land (Area) targets but is not recommended for use against maneuvering, surface targets. Formations employing a master bomber equipped with a bomb sight, supported by planes carrying one or more bombs of the appropriate type and releasing on signal, are recommended. In general, the formations should be such as to obtain a reasonably high probability of hitting the target area without reducing too greatly the percentage of hits. For a detailed discussion of this type of bombing, refer to part V, section 5500.
2235. TORPEDO ATTACK.
Torpedo planes are part of the group defensive formation. When group is ordered to deploy, torpedo planesfan-out to one side, or, if divisions are to attack singly, to both sides of target. Maintain high altitude until bombs begin to strike. Divisions then commence high speed (200 to 300 knots) descent, gliding for a point which will be five miles directly ahead of the bow of the target. This point should be reached at about 2,000 feet altitude. An anvil attack is then delivered, each pilot seeking his own target angle. Target maneuvers cannot thwart this method of attack if properly executed. Second division may follow as a second wave. Escort VF accompany assigned divisions. For a detailed discussion on torpedo attack, refer to part V, section 5200.
2236. ROCKET ATTACK.
This type of attack is relatively new and specific doctrine therefore is still in the formative stages. However, it has been found that this weapon is extremely effective against small, highly maneuverable surface units and submarines which are difficult to hit other than by strafing. It is also effective against pin-point land objectives such as pill boxes and antiaircraft emplacements. In general, the rocket-firing technique employs a combination;on of glide bombing and strafing tactics. The number of rockets carried on planes equipped to do so is from six to eight. The Mark VIII sight is employed to aim the rocket and the rocket rails are aligned so t!at the rocket crosses the line of sight at about 400 yards. This is the most effective range of the weapon. Normally, rockets should be fired in pairs (one from each side) in a steep glide. The effect of gravity on the trajectory is negligible at ranges of 400 yards or less but must be allowed for at ranges in excess of this. From time to time techniques of employment of this weapon develop, supplementary bulletins on this subject will be disseminate.
2237. STRAFING ATTACKS.
Fighters who are not part of the escort group should strafe ahead of all types of attacks. Tactics of strafing are discussed in detail in Part III of this manual. This form of attack is very effective against lightly armored surface vessels and in support of amphibious operations.
2238. COMPOSITE ATTACKS.
In general, attempts to use effectively two types of weapons (such as guns and bombs, or guns and rockets) in one diving or gliding attack have proven less effective than devoting the run to the best use of a single weapon. The power of the rocket or the gun well used against a suitable target is usually productive of more damage to the enemy than a poor use of both weapons simultaneously.
2239. COORDINATED ATTACKS.
A combination of one or more of he above methods of attack is most effective if air groups have had recent training in their execution. There are three methods of executing coordinated attacks: (a) Mass Attack.-Used to deliver the heaviest possible volume of fire on the target in the shortest practicable interval. It is particularly applicable to attack upon an already engaged enemy. Mass attack requires continuous visual contact between units of the attack group. When ordered, the squadrons of the group remain concentrated and attack in as rapid succession as practicable. All approaches may be through one relatively narrow sector. For this reason, Mass Attack is particularly suited to exploiting approach conditions in any one sector: e.g.-cloud cover; attack from sun; weak sector in enemy AA screen; etc. (b) Divided Attack.-Attack in which the air group is held in close tactical concentration until an initial point, either with the objective in sight or such that its location is accurately known, has been reached. At this initial point the Air Tactical Commander executes the attack signal and the units of the air group split up in such a manner as to make the final approaches and actual attacks from different relative directions around the objective. Divided attack provides concentrated heavy fire on the target in brief period while taking advantage of the confusion resulting from simultaneous or rapidly successive attacks from widely separated directions. It is well suited to dive or glide bombing attacks on all types of targets. Following the group split-up, adjacent attack elements endeavor to retain visual contact as far as practicable in order to insure continuity in and expeditious completion of the group attack. Variations in the altitudes at which the elements of the group make their final approach will normally increase the difficulty of the target's AA defenses. (c) Dispersed Attack.-To be used when attack groups are proceeding in several waves. Initial waves using. urgent departure proceed to higher altitudes at a specified true air speed. Following groups use normal departure and each successive group uses a lower altitude level than the group ahead. If properly executed, attack groups approach the objective at different altitudes but fairly well bunched. If specified true air speeds are maintained by each group, good timing will result. If the target's position is well established, attack groups should fan out, each approaching from a different direction.
2240. METHODS OF ATTACK (NIGHT)
A fundamental difference exist between the requirements for a sound day attack formation and sound night attack formation. A short, wide formation best fulfills this requirement. At night, enemy fighters can best be avoided by single planes free to maneuver. Also planes can navigate better and negotiate bad weather better when flying singly. Due to the fact that coordination is desirable in night attack a compromise between the single plane procedure and the large compact formation is considered the best solution. Such a compromise can be effected by employing the loose two-plane section and four-plane division having the wing planes stepped down and nearly astern of the leaders and the second section stepped down, or up, and only slightly offset from astern of the first section. In this formation the leader is unhampered by the necessity for careful turns to keep from embarrassing the following, and the latter, with wider latitude in station keeping, have a better opportunity to navigate, check instruments, and observe the weather, hence, all are better prepared to shift to instruments or go on their own in an emergency. At night, attacking airplanes are (1) more difficult to counter with aircraft-hence need not be in compact defensive formation: and (2) are more difficult to counter with gunfire-hence may approach to closer range before releasing bombs, torpedoes, or rockets. This combination of circumstances should be used to afford night-attack planes greater freedom of action in the approach and increased accuracy due to the relatively safe short range of release. The following types of night attack are recommended.
2242. NIGHT ATTACK FORMATIONS.
The four-plane division is considered the basic unit, with two divisions recommended as the largest group which should be used as a group in night attack. If more airplanes are available additional attack groups should be formed rather than building a larger single group, and the attacks on the target should be spaced in time. Such a system simplifies the departure from the carrier, the coordination at the target, and the recovery of aircraft after attack.
2243. ILLUMINATION FOR NIGHT
There are two general types of illumination, Silhouette and direct. In the former a a target is visible because the background is lighter than the object, which appears as a dark shape. In the latter the object is visible because the intensity of illumination on the object itself is sufficient to render it visible to the eye. The moon is an excellent source of illumination. Illumination from the moon may be classified under three headings: (a) Silhouette illumination in the bright streak on the water visible between an observer and the moon when the altitude of the moon is low. (b) Silhouette illumination other than in the bright streak and when the moon is high but causesthe surface of the sea to appear lighter than ships on the surface. (c) Direct illumination when the observer is sufficiently close to the object to cause the object itself (decks, gray paint) to reflect sufficient light to be visible. In general, illumination from parachute flares may be classified in the same way. However there is considerable difference in the relative effectiveness of the two in the various categories: (a) Silhouette illumination in the bright streak on the water.-This form renders ships visible at a great distance from the observer. The distance depends on the state of the sea as well as the phase of the moon and atmospheric conditions but under average full moon conditions a DE will be visible to the naked eye at 15 miles. The bright streak made by a parachute flare depends to a certain extent on the altitude of the flare but in general is not as broad and not as effective as the moon for this type of illumination. (b) Silhouette illumination other than in the bright streak on the water.-This form is very effective when provided by a full moon in a clear sky. Although it is not generally effective to more than one quarter the' range of the streak type it possesses the advantage of much greater coverage in azimuth. Flare illumination of this type is rather ineffective, due in part to the fact that the flare itself usually is in the field of view and has a tendency to blind the eye to small differences in intensity of illumination necessary to be distinguished in order to use this type of illumination. (c) Direct illumination in moonlight seldom affords visibility at greater range than provided by silhouette illumination. This is due to the fact that visibility is dependent on the intensity of illumination on the object, which is inversely proportional to the square of the distance from the source of light. Due to the fact that the distance of the source of light in the case of the parachute flare is not handicapped by fixed distance from the objective a great range of intensity of illumination on an object is possible from a flare of a fixed candlepower. For this reason, although direct illumination in moonlight,is most effective so far as range is concerned, direct illumination by parachute flare can be at least as effective for range as silhouette illumination, while possessing the important advantage of much greater visibility in azimuth. Parachute Flare Silhouette Illumination: Advantages: (1) Flare plane does not need approach as close to objective. (2) Flare plane may be at a greater altitude. Disadvantages: (1) Difficult to determine proper position in which to release flares. (2) Large numbers are required for effective illumination. Parachute Flare Direct Illumination: Advantages: (1) Illumination effective at greater range. (2) Illumination effective from nearly all bearings. (3) Flare plane can easily determine correct position for good illumination. Disadvantages: (1) Flare plane must approach close to the objective. When artificial illumination is considered desirable direct illumination by parachute dares usually will be the most effective procedure. A succession of flares released singly or in pairs by a single plane making repeated passes and releasing flares from 1,800 feet slightly ahead of and up wind of the target is recommended. If silhouette illumination is to be used large numbers of flares are desirable because of the difficulty of releasing flares at a distance from the objective which will be in a suitable location to mark the target at the start of the approach and still be in position to afford illumination when the attacking plane arrives at the release point.
2244. LOW ALTITUDE BOMBING
ATTACK USING RADAR.
For search, approach to the target and release, a combination of radar and visual, if possible, should be used. If practicable, attacks should be coordinated with radar countermeasures to confuse the defense.
2246. GLIDE BOMBING ATTACK
To illuminate the target direct illumination is more effective and more reliable than silhouette illumination.
2246. TORPEDO ATTACK USING
This attack is recommended particularly for use in sinking ships crippled by previous attack. Direct illumination again is recommended but silhouette of the target by flares used in large numbers closely spaced can be effective.