|Dive Bombing Doctrine|
US Navy SBD Dauntless
|Parent Tree||Close Air Support Doctrine|
|Parent Field||Air Doctrine|
Combined Arms Focus
|Main Effects||Improve CAS morale & organization|
|Prerequisites||Battlefield Destruction Doctrine|
|Required for||Night Strikes Doctrine|
Diving (nearly) vertically at the target, in the same direction the bombs will take, the aircraft will release the bombs very close to the target at high speed. This allows a dive bomber to accurately place bombs on relatively small and/or moving targets with relative ease. Additionally, no complicated precision equipment like the American Norden bombsight is needed. Dive bombers were widely used to attack high value targets such as ships and bridges. This also had the advantage of attacking ships at a weak spot; armour was the heaviest near the waterline and thin or nonexistent on the deck. In addition, dive bombing allowed relatively small airplanes carrying limited bombload to inflict disproportionately heavy damage.
However, on the minus side, optimizing an airplane for near-vertical dive came at the expense of performance. In addition, a dive bomber was extremely vulnerable to ground fire as it dove towards its target.
The first recorded use of dive bombing was an ad-hoc solution by RAF pilots during World War I. During 1917 and 1918 they practiced the technique at the Orford Ness Bombing Range, but the aircraft of the day were generally too frail to be able to withstand the acceleration generated when pulling out of the dive after releasing the bombload. Only a few years later, U.S. Marines nevertheless put the system to use in Haiti and Nicaragua.
As planes grew in strength and load capability, the technique became more valuable. By the early 1930s, the technique was clearly favored in tactical doctrine, notably against targets that would otherwise be too small to hit with level bombers. While the USAAC concentrated on mass attacks by very large bombers, the U.S. Navy ordered the first custom dive bomber aircraft, the Curtiss F8C Hell-Diver biplane (not to be confused with the single-winged Douglas SBD or later SB2C Helldiver).
In the early 1930s, Ernst Udet visited the U.S. and was able to purchase four F8C's and ship them to Germany. There they caused a minor revolution. The dive bombing technique would allow a much smaller Luftwaffe to operate effectively in the tactical role, and this was all they were interested in. Soon they had sent out contracts for their own dive bomber designs, resulting in the gull-winged Junkers Ju 87 Stuka (a contraction of Sturzkampfflugzeug, literally "diving warplane").
For its day, the Stuka was the most advanced dive bomber in the world. Using it as "aerial artillery" solved a major problem in the concept of Blitzkrieg—how to attack dug-in defensive positions. Normally this would require slow-moving artillery to be used, making the fast moving armored forces wait for it to catch up.
This was proven to great effect during the invasion of Poland and the Low Countries. In one particular example, the BEF set up strong defensive positions on the west bank of the Oire River just front of the rapidly advancing German armor. Attacks by Stukas quickly broke the defense, and combat engineers were able to force a crossing long before the artillery arrived.
The Stuka soon grew outdated, and repeated efforts to replace it with a newer and more capable plane all failed. By the start of the Battle of Britain it was already hopelessly outclassed, and suffered stiffly at the hands of the RAF.
The Japanese also spent considerable effort on dive bombers, for the same reason as the U.S. Navy—to allow it to strike ships. They started the war with one of the best designs, the Aichi D3A, but this design also quickly became outdated. They later introduced the much better Yokosuka D4Y Suisei, but at a time when their industry was already unable to supply them in any numbers. In contrast, the U.S. fielded the Douglas SBD Dauntless which was similar to the D3A in performance, but later replaced it with the faster, more complex Curtiss SB2C Helldiver. Both were provided in large numbers.
The most famous example of successful naval dive-bombing attacks took place in the Battle of Midway in June 1942 when American Dauntlesses scored fatal hits on three separate first-line Japanese aircraft carriers within a six minute timespan.
Oddly the only major force not to deploy a dedicated dive bomber were the inventors, the British. The Royal Navy attempted to introduce their own on several occasions, but were never able to do so due to various reasons, not the least of which was political interference by the RAF. The only produced hybrid of dive bomber and fighter Blackburn Skua was used for a short time and in a small number.
After the war, the dive bomber class quickly disappeared. Anti-aircraft artillery had improved as had the speed and effectiveness of fighter aircraft against the vulnerable, slow-flying dive bombers. At the same time the quality of various computing bombsights allowed for much better accuracy from smaller dive angles, and the sights could be fitted to almost any plane, especially fighter aircraft, much improving the effectivness of ground attack aircraft. Although the aircraft could still "dive" on their targets to some degree, they were no longer optimized for steep diving attacks at the expense of other capabilities as the dive bombers of old. As these same aircraft were capable of many other missions as well, they were no longer considered to be dive bombers.
|Aircraft Testing||3||Early Precision Bomb Runs|
|Combined Arms Focus||3||Offensive Air Support|
|Aircraft Testing||3||Diving Training|
|Piloting||3||Close Air Support Spirit|
Dive Bombing Doctrine provides a 5% boost to morale and organization of Close Air Support Wings. Along with Direct Ground Support Doctrine and Bomber Veteran Initiative it allows development of Night Strike Doctrine.
One of the more basic close air support doctrines, dive bombing is really only necessary for those nations actually employing close air support wings, as it has no ancillary benefits. It is cheap however, and even a small fleet of CAS aircraft should warrant development of this technology.
See also Edit
| Close Air Support Doctrines|
|Battlefield Destruction | Bomber Veteran | Direct Support | Dive Bombing | Night Strikes | Combat Unit Destruction | Bomber Ace | Hunt & Destroy | Low Echelon CAS|