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Old 30th April 2021, 16:39
Laurent Rizzotti Laurent Rizzotti is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

Of all the single engine fighters converted to reconnaissance roles, only the Spitfire was used often in a strategic role. P-51, Bf 109 and Soviet fighters were used mainly for tactical recon.

The level of quality needed for amphibious landing on a Pacific Island is probably higher than what can achieve carrier-based aircraft as there was a lack of other intelligence source to check where the enemy fortifications were, but also the beaches, the reefs, the passages open to ships of various size and so on.

But rather than a problem of stability or photo quality, the main issue in 1943 was IMHO the range: as carrier aircraft had a smaller range than Japanese aircraft, any carrier sent for a recon will be at risk, and so will require a stron escort. And bad tropical weather could screw up such a sortie. On the other hand long-range bombers could fly recon on any good weather day, were more stable and do not require any escort (most of their losses were due to bad weather, engine failure and so on rather than to Japanese fighters).

As the war went on, the US carrier fleet became more and more powerful, and was able to launch many raids on Japanese bases during which the carrier could launch photo-recon aircraft who flew along or near the strikes. But still the main photographic reconnaissance for preparing landings was done by heavy land-based aircraft.
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