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