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Après quelques discussions sur les torpilles aéroportées je suis tombé sur un forum très intéressant, dont j'ai reporté les commentaires les plus intéressants. forum torpilles

Firstly, it has to be accentuated that the most successful German torpedo-bomber in WW2 without a shred of doubt was a good old He 111, and the most enviable results of this type have been achieved through combat actions that were undertaken from Bardufoss and Banak airfields in Norway - predominantly by KG 26 (Löwen Geschwader) - against allied convoys plying the North Cape route from mid-June 1942 onwards.


He 111 H-6, KG 26, equipped with two Lufttorpedo LF 5B

Although slightly outdated, the He 111 possessed some very good flight characteristics. First of all, old "Doppel-Blitz" (double lightning) was a steady machine, unwavering in level flight, completely predictable within cruise regime, with a possibility to be smoothly trimmed, as well as with quite handy low-level cornering speed. The plane was initially designed to be an unyielding bombing platform and its behavior has completely reflected that assignment.

He 111H-6 produced from late 1941 was the first torpedo-variant of the type able to carry heavy external loads, including bombs larger than 250 kg, or a pair of torpedoes, beneath the fuselage. The He 111H-6 was both versatile and well liked by its crews, serving on all fronts with the Luftwaffe.


He 111 H6 Torpedo-bomber

Potentials of air-launched torpedoes, however, were discovered commensurately very late, because the German torpedo development had been completely in the hands of the Kriegsmarine since 1932, which had actually purchased the Horten naval torpedo patents from Norway in 1933 and the Whitehead-Fiume patents from Italy in 1938. Germans, essentially, had used a variant of the Norwegian aircraft-dropped torpedo – the 450mm Schwarzkopf F5 with a range of 2000 meters and maximum speed of 33 knots. It was armed with a 200 kg Hexanite explosive warhead. Subsequent German derivative, improved LF 5B travelled at a speed of 40 knots, and was armed with a 180 or 250 kg warhead filled also with Hexanite.

It has to be maentioned, however, that the technical development toward German air-launched torpedoes was pursued in a rather leisurely manner, mainly bcause it was conducted by the Seeluftstreitkrafte (naval air division of the Kriegsmarine), and the results of trials and reports of combat operations were jealously guarded by the navy. During extensive torpedo-dropping trials, carried out in 1939, both the He 59 and He 115 floatplanes were used, and the failure rate of the torpedoes was a amazing 49 percent!

In 1941, the Luftwaffe decided to pursue its own development trials with the intention of setting up a powerful force of torpedo-bombers. The first torpedo development establishment was formed at Grossenbrode, on the Baltic coast. Several aircraft types were intensively tested and it was soon apparent that the proven and long-established He 111, as well as the faster Ju 88 were the most suitable types.


He 111 H 6 – LF 5b launch

Luftwaffe unit Kampfgeschwader 26 was anticipated to play the leading role in this new torpedo plan, and Stab, I and III/KG 26 were selected as the specialized torpedo-units, while II/KG 26 remained in the classicist level-bomber role. It sounds almost unbelievable, but the tactical detachment of a few of KG 26’s He 111s to Flieger Korps X in the autumn of 1941 for torpedo operations was short-lived due to lack of torpedoes!

In January 1942, the Luftwaffe’s demands for the centralization and control of all German and Italian torpedo development were finally granted. Colonel Martin Harlinghausen was appointed as the head of all Luftwaffe torpedo development, supply, training and operational organizations, with the TorpedoTraining School established at Grosseto in Italy. During the early months of 1942, I/KG 26 underwent torpedo conversion-courses, lasting between three and four weeks. The Gruppe’s He-111H-6’s could carry two torpedoes slung on racks beneath the belly; the standard torpedoes used were the German LT F5 and LT F5W, both of 450-mm caliber, with the latter based on the Italian model made by Silurificio Whitehead di Fiume.

While I/KG 26 underwent conversion at Grosseto, its future and the bases from which it would operate had already been decided. Luftflotte V, based in Norway and Finland, needed additional bomber support to interdict Allied convoys on the Murmansk/Archangelsk route. In March, Göring ordered Luftflotte V to collaborate with the aerial reconnaissance units of the Kreigsmarine and to attack the convoys when they came into range, and also to shift bomber forces from the Finnish front to accomplish this task. Within I/KG 26, based at Banak and Bardufoss, there were 12 crews available for torpedo operations with the Heinkel He 111H-6 planes.

During March and April, various PQ [and retuning QP] convoys were succesfully attacked. Although the Luftwaffe claimed all 35 ships sunk, they had only sunk seven. New lessons had been learned, however, which were to form the basis of later tactics when greater torpedo forces were expected to be available. Coordinated torpedo and bomber attacks sowed confusion among the defensive screen. The most favorable time was at dusk, with the torpedo-bombers coming in from the darker hemisphere aided by the ships' pre-occupation with dive bombers and level bombers by the Ju-88’s of KG 30, thus affording the low-flying Heinkels of KG 26 an element of surprise. The tactic known as "Golden Zange" (Golden Comb) consisted of a mass torpedo attack by as many as 12 He-111’s flying in wide line-abreast, with a simultaneous release of torpedoes to obtain the maximum spread while dividing defensive fire.

Aircrafts have been spaced about 200-300 meters apart, and both LT F5b (improved version) and Italian LT F5W torpedoes were used. The F5W was preferred as the F5b’s whisker-type detonating pistol seldom operated when the target was hit at an sharp angle. Torpedoes were launched at a range of 1000 meters, and usually from a height of 40 meters (125 feet), the parent aircraft flying dead straight and level in order for the weapon to enter the water at the stipulated 12 degrees. AA fire, particularly that of 20mm Oerlikon guns, was considered a greater threat than escorting RN fighters. Observation of torpedo-tracks or hits was next to impossible, as the parent aircraft had to execute violent evasive action as soon as the weapon was dropped. The Ju-88’s of KG 26 had considerably more success than the Ju-88’s of KG 30, and sunk the majority of the merchant ships claimed.

Ill-fated convoy PQ-17 was set upon for five days, in which 23 out of 33 ships were sunk, and Luftflotte V accounting for fourteen of them. This action saw the use of a few He-115 floatplane torpedo-bombers too, but mainly the He-111’s of I/KG 26 and the Ju-88’s of KG 30 were in action.

By the end of July, III/KG 26, under captain Nocken, had completed the course at Grosseto and had transferred its Ju 88A-4 torpedo-bombers to Rennes-St.Jacques. They eventually wound up at Banak along with a considerable anti-shipping force of bombers, torpedo-bombers and reconnaissance aircraft.

Convoy PQ 18, which came under attack in mid-September 1942, differed from previous Arctic convoys in that its anti-aircraft defenses included an aircraft carrier. Though the Luftwaffe achieved its greatest success to date by sinking a large number of ships, they lost 41 bombers. Royal Navy Hurricanes and Martlets [Grumman F4F Wildcats in British service], the long and strenuous flights of the bombers, and intense AA fire made torpedo-bombing mostly hazardous. Chances of rescue for a downed crew were practically non-existing, and life in the freezing waters of the Arctic was measured in minutes only.


Initial submergement of the LF 5B aerial torpedo

The above mentioned attack saw the last of the massed torpedo attacks by the Luftwaffe, and never again were the concentration and results achieved in subsequent actions in the Mediterranean or elsewhere. With the Allied landings in North Africa, the Mediterranean became the pivot of Axis anti-shipping operations, but Allied air superiority forced massive casualties. The poor performance of torpedo-bombers thereafter was partly due to inexperienced replacement aircrews, Allied air supremacy, and relegation to night attacks where air opposition was weaker. The deepening fuel crisis and shortages further curtailed training. During the first ten days of the Normandy operation with hundreds of targets, only five vessels were sunk. Norwegian air strength was supplemented by the Ju 188, but during a four-day attack where 200 torpedoes were launched, all failed to hit. By early 1945 KG 26 had all but lapsed into inactivity.

Despite heavy losses, however, the experiences of KG 26 in Norway had confirmed the effectiveness of aerial torpedoes in maritime warfare. Ten of the thirteen ships destroyed were the victims of torpedoes delivered by KG 26. Of the 860 sorties flown by Stumpff's Luftflotte V aircraft against PQs 16, 17, and 18, over 340 were made by torpedo bombers. German assessments of these operations confirmed that the torpedo bomber was the most efficient mean of destroying enemy merchant ship. The calculations undertaken by Luftwaffe's 8th Abteilung have proved that while only one vessel was sunk for every 19 bombing sorties undertaken, torpedo missions sank an Allied vessel on every 8 sorties, that is, they were on average twice as effective as high-level or dive-bombing attacks, and one-quarter of all the torpedoes launched struck their targets.

(Previous text represents a selection From "Hitler's Luftwaffe" by Tony Wood and Bill Gunston, Salamander Books, [1997], "The Story of the Torpedo Bomber" By Peter C. Smith, Almark Publishing, London [1974],and Die grossen Luftschlachten des Zweiten Weltkriegs : Flugzeuge, Erfolge, Niederlagen. [1993], ISBN: 3704360295)

However, perhaps this thread is the right place for an additional aircraft presentation, for the introduction of Savoia-Marchetti SM 79 Sparviero – a legendary Il Gobbo Maledetto - probably the best land-base operated torpedo bomber of the WW2. Although not originally designed as a torpedo bomber, SM 79 was a strong, fast and maneuverable aircraft, completely suitable for this demanding role. In spite of its cumbersome appearance and outdated steel tube, wood and fabric construction, the SM 79 was a rugged, reliable multi-role medium bomber which did quite a bit of damage in the face of heavy opposition.


Savoia-Marchetti SM 79 Sparviero – the best land-base operated torpedo bomber in WW2

The torpedoes utilized by the torpedo-bombing squadrons of the Regia Aeronautica, the Aerosiluranti, were of the 450mm Silurificio Whitehead di Fiume type, produced by previously mentioned company as well as by the Silurificio Italiano di Baia in Naples. Both models had a range of 3000 meters with maximum speed of 40 knots. The torpedo was usually launched from an altitude of approx. 40 meters, at a speed of 300 km/h.


Launch of the Fiume-Whitehead Torpedo

It sounds incredible, but SM 79 actually caused more allied war and merchant ship losses in the Mediterranean than Italy's entire surface navy! Courageously flown, it was a considerable thorn in the side of the Allies in the Mediterranean theater until overwhelmed by Allied air superiority.


SM 79 - Reparto Sperimentale Aerosiluranti della Regia Aeronautica

Perhaps the best illustration of the SM 79’s effectivity is the "Operation Pedestal" that occurred in the August of 1942, when Allied naval forces have undertook a strong effort to relieve besieged Malta with 14 ships heavily guarded by Royal Navy escort. Among the enemy aircraft sent against them were 74 "Sparrow Hawks", a number of which had already scored hits on the battleship HMS Malaya and the carrier HMS Argus. "Pedestal" eventually got through to Malta, but at the cost of one carrier, two cruisers, a destroyer and nine merchant ships, many of them having been hit by 450 mm torpedoes launched from the S.M.79s.

It sounds almost unbelievable, but although the first experimental launches of airborne torpedoes dated back to 1914 Italy entered the war without a single squadron of torpedo launchers! The first aerial torpedo bomber squadron actually was formed in August 1940. After the surrender of the Fascist regime in 1943, the S.M.79 fought on both sides for the remainder of the war. Surviving SM.79s were converted into transports during the last phases of the war, serving in that role until the 1952.

Like Germans Italians have used Flying Boats in torpedo-actions as well, but due to insufficient production these were attached mainly to naval recconaiscene and naval rescue groups. The most distinguished Italian type was the Cant Z 506 Airone, with 57 machines assigned to naval bombardment squadrons.


Cant Z 506 Airone

Although Airone was a very good, durable airplane, with excellent maritime qualities and capability to withstand incredibly hard combat blows, its insufficient speed and a relatively small capacity for offensive weaponry haulage have created a decision toward reassignment of the type to reconnaissance duties.

Cant 506s from the naval bombardment units have distinguished themselves in numerous attack against the allied convoys, especially in the Battle of Calabria and the clash of Cape Teulada, but these battles were the last missions of the Cant Z 506 in a torpedo-bomber role.

First of all, my dear Mr. Pdf 27, allow me to express my sincerest appreciation toward your confidence in my humble investigation capabilities. I shall try not to disappoint you.

You have asked some indeed straight and intriguing questions, so here are my direct answers:

Yes, my dear Mr Pdf 27 - Germans have had at least one fully operational, quite modern and fully exploitable torpedo–launcher plane in summer of 1940 – Heinkel He 115. Regretfully - I have to admit that fairly and squarely! - in my previously posted article about German and Italian torpedo-bombers this airplane was completely neglected, because its combat activity was neither tremendously significant for the German war effort, nor spectacularly attractive while in German hands – at least not from the pure tactical, or technological standpoint. However, this machine surely deserves a dutiful mentioning, because she possessed good handling qualities, very high flying stability and completely acceptable performances - of course, within her own category.


He 115 – C4

Developed as a multi-role airplane, more precisely as a torpedo-bombing, mine-laying and reconnaissance-flying, twin-float, all-metal, mid-wing seaplane, this machine was somehow neglected by Germans, because it was primarily planned for coastal reconnaissance actions and mine-laying operations within different Küstenfliegergruppe.

Overall only 138 machines were built, including those six examples fabricated for Norway and subsequently actively used against German troops, as well as those ten pieces that were exported to Sweden. One of the most interesting facts connected with these machines is a verity that four airplanes previously delivered to Norway were flown away by their crews to Scotland and consequently enthusiastically used by the RAF! It sounds almost unbelievable, but one machine – equipped with proper German symbols - was used in North Africa for secret agent deliverance behind the German lines.


He 115, 3./Kü.Fl.Gr.206, Borkum

In august of 1940 fully operational weapon was the LT 5 - the German variant of the Norwegian Horton torpedo, introduced in 1935. Although equipped with highly limited operational combat values (maximum dropping height was limited to altitude of 15-25meters at speed of 140 km/h), although an improved variant, LT Fa 5a – an roughly experimental, intermittent model - fabricated in a very limited quantity (with increased dropping height of 50 meters, and improved dropping speed elevated to 260 km/h) was - at least theoretically! - producible and as a consequence available for combat use as well.


He 115 C4, loading a LT F 5b practice torpedo

And yes, my dear Mr. Pdf 27 – at the end of the thirties Germans had well-known PC (Panzersprengbombe Cylindrisch) cylindrical armor-piercing bomb family, developed in 1937-1938 and equipped with a cast-steel body with a hardened cast-steel nose cone, filled with cast TNT and Amatol (60/40) mixture, or TNT and wax combined explosive charge. They were available in weights of 50, 250, 500 and 1000 kg and represented a standard armament of well known, standardized German level and dive-bombers (He 111, Ju 87, Ju 88, Do 17).

In addition, as an old fashioned personality with a strong tendency toward addition of certain more reliable, hard historical facts onto your undoubtedly interesting historical edification interconnected with a generally highly tentative guesswork about notional operation Sea Lion, I am able to offer you the following piece of almost forgotten WW2 history, which actually happened near Norwegian coast on 9 April 1940.

On that day, at the very first light, Luftwaffe’s Küstenfligergruppen (Coastal Reconnaissance Groups) swept the area between Bergen and the Orkneys with 28 He 115 seaplanes, searching for British ships. They did their job tremendously well, because they had successfully located two major British naval groups: The first one – essentially main force of the Home Fleet - with two battleships, six cruisers, and numerous destroyers in protection screen northwest of Bergen, and the second one, with nine cruisers and eleven destroyers to the port’s west-southwest.

Being in possession of this highly important knowledge, command of the Fliegerkorps X mounted a large anti-shipping strike, consisting of 41 He 111 from KG 26 and 47 Ju 88s from KG 30. The leading formation of Ju 88s found the second group (cruiser force), and ferociously dived upon the british ships, sinking the destroyer Gurkha and heavily damaging both HMS Southampton and HMS Galatea cruisers. Further bomber formations found and attacked the Home Fleet, directly hitting the HMS Rodney – the flagship of the fleet – with a bomb that failed to penetrate the Rodney’s thick deck armor, while three other cruisers were damaged by near misses.

Commanding officer of the British naval forces, Commander in Chief of the Home Fleet admiral Charles M. Forbes, after 7 hours of factual battle and with 4 German Ju 88’s downed by British naval AAA decided to retire out of range of Fliegercorps X due to lack of aerial protection and evident shortage of AA ammunition.

In the meantime, as always - all the best

So sorry for my protracted silence, honorable ladies and gentlemen, but aforesaid verity is a depressing result of my unalterable official duties and factual dissemination of photographic material connected with this intriguing matter. However, I have finally prepared my answers, so here they are:

Yes, my dear Mr. Pdf 27 - proposed variant 1/b of your statement (capable of carrying out torpedo attacks, but deficient in that role because used in a very limited number) is the most accurate proclamation.

Putting aside the fact that previously mentioned machine confirmed itself as a fairly durable, obedient aircraft, that behaved very well on water as well as in the air, He 115’s intended use as a torpedo-bomber was always delayed by low – priority which this type constantly enjoyed within boundaries of the German war-production effort. However, a small number of the He 115’s successful combat-activity examples, mainly achieved in mid-1941 and 1942, are sufficiently convincing as evidence that aforementioned type represented a capable, potentially usable, although not sufficiently protected naval attacker, especially helpful against Allied merchant vessels.

Having usually only 15 fully operational machines, regularly flown by crews of the 1./ KuFlGr 406 and 1./Ku.Fl.Gr. 906 from the available hydro-bases in Kirkennes, Stavanger and Tromsø, He 115C’s were, for example, best used against Allied convoys on the Murmansk route in bad weather conditions, in circumstances when "classicist" level and diving bombers were incapable even to start on their combat missions.


He 115 is launching her torpedo against unidentified allied freighter, British Channel - 1940

For example, on July 4, 1942 a single He 115 flown by experienced commanding officer of the 1./Ku.Fl.Gr. 906, Hptm. Eberhard Peukert successfully torpedoed US freighter "Christopher Newport" under almost impossible flying conditions. Using low clouds and fog over the up-welling, turbulent cold waters, with his engines turned off, he carried over his airplane in completely unobserved shallow dive toward that ill-fated ship, and achieved a direct hit!

Do you happen to know if the bomb which failed against the deck armour of Rodney was an armour piercing one…
Alas, my dear Mr Pdf 27 – I don’t know! The final answer to this dilemma still remains up in the air.

You see, the only direct piece of information connected with this thorny issue is a pretty brief annotation written by a prominent naval historian S. W. Roskill in his outstanding, indeed colossal work "The war at sea", 1939-1945. - Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1961. - (Vol. I, p. 48), which described aforementioned occurrence with these words: "Battleship Rodney was struck by a 500 kilogram bomb which failed to penetrate the armour belt and caused only injuries to Paymaster Midshipman W. R. H. Lapper, Commissioned Gunner F. G. Roper, Midshipman J. C. S. Wright, seven ratings."

Alas, type of the bomb was not mentioned.

However, your remark about the factual effectivity of the Luftwaffe in the Norwegian campaign deserves just one tiny, but – as always – completely historically proven observation.

You see, bearing on mind the fact that heroic American destroyer Laffey (DD – 724), commissioned February 8, 1944, which participated in the D-day landings of Allied troops at Normandy four months latter, when transferred to the Pacific was crashed by five Japanese Kamikaze planes, and additionaly directly hit by three bombs during one single hour on April 16, 1945 off Okinawa - was not only kept afloat by her gallant crew, but even capable to shoot down eleven enemy planes during the attack, and comparing these results with a pretty skinny (four German airplanes downed by AA fire) effect of the whole British naval combat group… well, I think that fighting capabilities of the belligerent forces back there in 1940were... pretty well balanced.

More critically expressed, the main misalignment in that previously mentioned evaluation of yours is embedded in factual neglection of a practical strength of the applied German airpower. Were the British naval forces - indeed impressive, both quantitatively and qualitatively! - faced by a force in the air as overwhelming as allied on the sea, British job would have been much more difficult. Allow me, please, just a very brief explanation.

You see, I have to admit that I was almost shocked by the fact that Germans, for example, although the Luftwaffe amassed more than 1000 machines for the operation, only partially used the most effective aerial anti-ship weapon that was available: the Ju 87.

Furthermore – more than 350 additional, combat-ready level bombers were completely available as well, but still unused in this operation, because German operational airdrome capacity was severely overstrung. The Do 17, for example, the mostly used middle-seized bomber Germany had at the beginning of the war, was completely unexploited in the Norwegian campaign! And yes - I completely do agree with you, my dear Mr. Pdf 27 - that verity essentially represented a tactical and planning pretermission that was fairly and squarely committed by the OKW.

While the bulk of the Luftwaffe units which have participated in operation Weserübung, for example, started from their north-German bases at dawn on 9 April 1940, the only Stukagruppe (40 airplanes only!) to participate in the campaign against Norway - those Ju 87 R machines within the I Gruppe St.G. 1 under command of captain Paul-Werner Hozzel - was not ordered to take off until 10.59!

Even then, instead of participation in a coordinated, joint attack against British naval forces, their target was previously totally neglected, and nowadays superbly famous fortress of Oscarsborg, and later on that same day (at 12.15 H) Norwegian positions at Ackershus, with the bombings carried out throughout the whole day till 17.30, and with a lull of one hour between 13.00 and 14.00 hours. In the very same time when the British ships were already under heavy aerial attacks! The Ju 87s were in the role of a ground attackers, and not anti-shipping airplanes, although the good old Stuka was the most effective weapon in the Luftwaffe's armory carrying out the anti-ship sorties.


Ju 87 above the Norwegian coast, April 1940.

Being returned to their new, provisory and unsystematically forwarded airfield at Aarhus in Danmark, airplanes of the I. Gruppe St.G 1 were aloft again that same afternoon, this time heading not across the 250 km of the Skagerrak back to the still unfinished work at Oscarsborg, but out over the open sea in search of elements of the disengaged Royal Navy’s Home Fleet! Of course, as the British ships, previously exposed to fierce attacks of the KG 30 and KG 26 and with practically empty AAA ammo-storages, were at this time too far off, Hozel was instructed to turn back and to land in Norway at the Stavanger-Sola airfield. Indeed beautiful example of the completely unproductive tactics!

Aforementioned unit, however, demonstrated almost perfect case in point of unexploited tactical "Could-Have-Beens" on that very day, when – by pure serendipity! – JU 87’s encountered a lonely Norwegian torpedo-boat Aeger. Poor vessel was successfully, unproblemaically attacked, and only the vicinity of the Norwegian coastline saved the unfortunate crew – ship was conveniently stranded and scuttled by her illustrious captain.

So sorry, honorable ladies and gentlemen - forced brake of the post: that well-known message is again here in front of me! (The text that you have entered is too long (15672 characters). Please shorten it to 10000 characters long.)

OK - here we go...


Factual anti-ship capabilities of the Ju 87, as well as penetration qualities of the PC 500 against medium-sized protective armor covering are perhaps best illustrated with the following example. On 11 January 1941, HMS Southampton, accompanied by HMS Gloucester at position some 220 miles east of the Sicilian coast came under attack of the II/St.G. 2 with 35 Ju-87s. The Group Commander, Major Werner Ennecerus, led the planes.


Direct hit of the PC 500 scored upon HMS Southampton, January 1941

Southampton received two direct 500 kg bomb hits: the first detonated in the wardroom and the second in the officer's mess. Huge fires broke out and isolated some of the control for flooding the magazines, rendering the situation immediately critical. After 4 hours of fruitless efforts to bring the conflagration under control, HMS Southampton was abandoned at 19.00 H.

Conclusively, Weserübung aerial operations are representing the first tangible proof of the ascendancy of airpower over seapower. Standardized claims that the Luftwaffe was inadequate to stop a full-scale attack by the RN willing to take losses always will be countered by the fact that the RN never attempted to actually test this thesis by carrying out their proposed decisive incursion into Bergen or the direct assault on Trondheim - mainly because of the German airpower.

In this sense, the Luftwaffe played a decisive role during the campaign, conscientiously curtailing Britannia's command of the waves. Its effectiveness against warships operating without sufficient air support would be more than adequately demonstrated a year later at Crete, where the Royal Navy would suffer an even worse ordeal at the hands of German dive-bombers while endeavoring to evacuate allied troops from the island.

But that theme, my dear Mr. Pdf 27 is a completely different, independent story, completely unconnected with our main theme in this thread...

Did Fliegercorps X have it's specialist anti-shipping role at this point in time?
No, my dear Mr. Pdf 27- as far as I know factual specialization arrived at a much later time, more precisely in the Year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and forty one.

Panzerknacker got it right, the Ju-88a-18 and a sub type of He-111H series were main German types torpedo planes…
Excuse me, my dear Mr. Slong 63, but a specialized torpedo-bomber version of the famous Ju 88 was the A-17 variant. With a reduced crew to three, equipped with a pair of PVC racks, each one capable to carry one LF5 torpedo, and with a redesigned forward fuselage – additional large bulge on the starboard side that contained pre-launch torpedo guidance mechanism – this airplane was mainly used by the KG 28.


Ju 88 A-17

There are several ww2 and ww2 in color dvd sets out,show German torpedo planes with training torpedos,and one dramatic color (10 sec.) of actual Sm-79 attack
Oh, there is a plethora of pretty unknown black&white snapshots connected with bold Aerosiluranti torpedo-attacks too, my dear Mr. Slong 63. Here you have one definitely beautiful example:


Torpedo-attack of the Savoia – Marchetti SM 79 Sparviero, April 1941

And yes – here is another one B&w photo-rarity connected with the best Italian WW2 hidroplane, developed from a design of Ing. Filippo Zappata, fabricated almost entirely out of wood, which immediately gained eight world records in speed… An aircraft of excellent qualities, capable to cary out torpedo attacks, to withstand enormusly severe damages, machine with a skillfully streamlined fuselage, and a piece of military equipment that was capable to save 213 human beings, regardless to their nationality and origin – to rescue 167 italians, 16 Germans, 37 Britons and 11 Frenchman. One and only Cant Z 506 Airone:


Cant Z 506 Airone, Sicily – 1943

And now, honorable ladies and gentlemen, we should be obliged to examine an additional German airplane that is hardly ever associated with a torpedo-bombing operations, the least known of the trio of German twin-engined torpedo-bombers, a truly multipurpose aircraft, with roles ranging from long-range reconnaissance, bombing, dive-bombing, torpedo-bombing, anti shipping missile attacks and a wartime service as a day and night fighter – a truly unique Dornier Do 217.


Do 217

Although total production of the Do 217 in all previously mentioned variants numbered 1905 machines only, it is almost completely forgotten that the first aircrafts used operationally were employed in a recconaisance role as early as 1940.

The initial "A" model, equipped with DB 601 engines, was succeeded by the "E" model which featured more powerful BMW 801 radial air-cooled engines. With a bomb-load having a total weight of 3000 kilograms, equipped with one MG 151 cannon and five MG 15 machine guns, Rb 21 cameras, Lotfe 7A level-bombsight (an advanced mechanical system similar to the US's Norden, but much simpler to operate and maintain) Revi C 12 reflex sight, which could be used both as a gun sight and as a dive-bombing sight, Do 217 C multi-role aircraft took his first flying hours in september of 1940 under the command of captain Carl-Heinz Huber, but the first bomber unit to be equipped with this type (II/KG 40) was not formed until the spring of 1941.


Do 217 E somewhere along the Holland coast, 1942

The equipment of the Do 217 was capable of being supplemented to suit the various operational requirements, simply by the instalation of additional, specialized fittings. These fittings included guns and bomb carriers, photographic cameras and equipment, as well as supplementary fuel tanks. The first specialized anti-ship variant of this airplane was the E-2 version, with two additional 750 liters fuel tanks in the bomb bay, MG FF 20 mm cannon, and with PVC racks located on the under-surfaces of the both wings, outboard of the engine nacelles. This particular model became a first factual multirole platform, utilized for various reconnaissance and bomber roles, including that of torpedo-bomber for anti-ship duty and in its E-5 variant compatible even with the notorious Henschel Hs 293 missile.


He 217 K-1 equipped with two LT F5, II/KG2, Deelen, 1943

In almost every way, the Do 217 was a technical success. It could carry a much heavier bombload than either the He 111 or the Ju 88. It was also very fast, surpassing both previously mentioned aircraft in maximum speed, being Germany's largest bomber for nearly two years until the Heinkel He 177 was finally safe enough to be used. Production unhurriedly continued, although in surprisingly small numbers, especially if we consider that this machine obviously outclassed by its speed and bomb carrying capacity the He-111 and Ju-88 as a simple level bombers.

Well, that’s all for today, honourable ladies and gentlemen. In the mantime, as always – all the best!
Rubans :
Campagne de Stalingrad Campagne West Front Campagne Med 42-43