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"Protection Against Dive Bombing" from Tactical and Technical Trends

A brief report on German and Japanese aircraft dive-bombing attacks and the defensive response of U.S. troops during WWII, from Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 33, September 9, 1943.

[DISCLAIMER: The following text is taken from the U.S. War Department publication Tactical and Technical Trends. As with all wartime intelligence information, data may be incomplete or inaccurate. No attempt has been made to update or correct the text. Any views or opinions expressed do not necessarily represent those of the website.]


According to an American officer recently returned from Tunisia, while dive bombing is extremely trying to the nerves of unseasoned troops, it produces few casualties, particularly when slit trenches are at hand. If 50-caliber machine-gun fire is available, the bombers are forced to remain at altitudes from 500 to 1,000 feet, which makes their machine-gun fire ineffective and their bombing with from 100 to 300-pound bombs inaccurate. (See Tactical and Technical Trends No. 30, p. 6). If, however, 50-caliber fire could not be brought to bear, the bombers would come down close, even to 50 feet, and spray the ground with machine-gun bullets. Due to the speed of the plane, such fire was scattered over a large area and few hits, were scored. One unit of 190 men was bombed 26 times in a day, for the most part by individual planes, with the loss of three men; another experienced three 30-plane attacks, with very few casualties.

The reactions of men to dive-bombing differ. At times, they will stand up and watch an attack being made a short distance away, while at other times they seek cover when there is no danger whatever. Frequently, rifle and light machine-gun fire is opened at 500 to 1,000 yards--utterly ineffective ranges--and the widely dispersed bullets cause casualties among other friendly troops. To be effective, rifle and 30-caliber machine-gun fire must be held for extremely close range, a few hundred feet, practically pistol range.

Men should be gotten out of slit trenches as quickly as possible after the immediate danger is past.

In connection with antiaircraft fire against low-flying planes, a flying officer recently returned from New Guinea reports that at Buna, our strafing planes encountered heavy explosions at about 200 feet elevation, and suggests the Japs might have been using a mortar. This development offers an interesting field for experiment.


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