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"Small-Arms Fire Against Low-Flying Aircraft" from Tactical and Technical Trends

The following intelligence report on German and British small-arms fire against ground-attack aircraft in WWII was originally published in Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 9, Oct. 8, 1942.

[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.]


Small-arms fire against low-flying aircraft has been used extensively in North Africa.

It is reported that the Germans make the best use of this fire, though the British use it effectively. Effectiveness depends upon the training of the soldiers, their watchfulness for approaching aircraft, and the refusal to be stampeded and run when attacked.

The fighter pilots who carry out low-flying attacks consider this type of mission the most dangerous of all. The effectiveness of small-arms fire by Axis ground troops is illustrated by the history of the use of the Boston support bomber. This bomber, though built and designed for low-flying attacks, is being used at from 10,000 to 12,000 feet. It proved to be very vulnerable to small-arms fire from 50 feet to 100 feet. As the altitude of the attack was raised, the aircraft came within heavy machine-gun range and, later, light and medium antiaircraft fire, until 10,000 feet was considered the safest altitude.

As to the effectiveness of the British fire, one observer reports having seen three out of six Fiat CR-42 Italian fighters shot down within 5 minutes by small-arms fire while carrying out a low ground-strafing attack near Knightsbridge. It must be remembered, however, that the CR-42 is an obsolescent aircraft and that all of them were flying at about 100 feet, which is too high for such an attack.


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