Monday, April 18, 2011

Close Air Support - Dive Bombing with the Ju-87B "Stuka"

Dropping JDAMs from the DCS A-10C in close air support missions can be challenging. But all the gadgetry of this aircraft makes WWII  close air support look archaic ... Or does not? I just needed to try the old way.

It's not a derailed train of thought ... it's exploration of warfare through the ages! Just kidding. Something is derailed, without thought or train ...

Short interruption in the other scheduled blog entries: Ju-87B (AKA "Stuka"), close air support by dive bombing.

The flight simulator is IL2 1946. I'm using this one because Cliffs of Dover is not ready yet for this type of shows.

Completely made up mission: a flight of four Ju-87Bs in support of a German Army recon party that is having a tactical headache with a Russian forward detachment firmly entrenched in a small town. Our mission is to suppress/destroy the enemy machine gun bunkers in the outskirts of the town so the German troops can get a foothold on it.

The weapon of choice are free-fall bombs and I am more or less oriented on the position of the enemy bunkers. The Russians are in the reverse slope on both sides of the road that our truppen are using as the avenue of approach.

Orientation is difficult. I played this mission many times until I got my bearings on the target. Even when I manually placed the target/s in the editor. IL-2 1946 has an aircraft-to-target view (F7), and off course the map (M key) window that are tempting to use, but I didn't (all the screenshots are taken from a saved track). As for target acquisition, from above everything looks the freaking-same.

With the target located, I align the aircraft towards it. The airframe occludes the view of any target at my 12 low so I take a brief dive to align properly. In this case the target/s are where the dirt road gets into the town. Then I pull up and maintain course because I need every meter of altitude for a dive-bomb.

Flak! I am flying straight (not a good idea but this is all I can do with my bare training) towards the target and the Russian AAA gunners are taking advantage of it.

This window in the bottom of the cockpit is supposedly useful to visually acquire your target area before the dive. Note the outskirts of the town appearing on the top left of the window. Time to roll and dive: throttle to idle, extend dive brakes!

Rolling towards the target. The red puff is Russian 76 mm AAA fire from a battery within the town.

Almost 300 km/h, vertical dive towards the ground. Flak suddenly sounds that bad!

Aerial artillery shells ... 
Target almost in the crosshairs at the time of release.
Bombs fell short of my intended target, but the explosion's waves take care of the rest.
The target (in the background from my propeller) is smoking. Note the bomb craters. This my egress towards friendly held territory.
This airman needs more bombs training, maybe I should aim with the crosshairs much more carefully.

The Ju-87B is slow, takes its time to climb and is under-powered for a dogfight. Felt at home after flying the A-10C. :)

The delivery of bombs by dive-bombing was good enough even in my unskilled hands. Sure it was not precision bombing, but good enough for tactical air to ground attack.

Diving towards the ground at high speed was unnerving. I was also surprised on how air defenses were apparently not able to target and shoot at me while I was diving. I now understand what I read somewhere about Ju-87s circling target areas at high altitude, acquiring targets, dive-bombing and then returning into the relative safety of high altitude where AAA fire is less effective.



Erich said...

IL-2 still rules after all these years. It's always the first thing I install on a new PC. And it still looks amazing...a classic.

Thank God for Russian developers. There would be ZERO serious combat flight sims without them. I guess they still have attention spans over there. I even noticed where War in the East was languishing until some Russian programmer took over the coding. Love those guys :)

Anonymous said...

I never got good with the Stuka, but it is a cool aircraft. I'm surprised you didn't show a screenshot of the window angle indicator on the right side of the canopy. ;)

JC said...

Erich, you bet. I'm flying a lot of Il-2 lately.

tFS, I was too busy looking to the ground getting closer :p !


Jomni said...

Trivia: The A-10 was inspired by the Stuka and a particular Stuka Ace (Hans Ulrich Rudel).

JC said...

Hi Jomni,

Good point!