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Old 30th April 2021, 11:43
Richard Aigner Richard Aigner is offline
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Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

"Battling the Elements", Harold A. Winters, p. 221:
"Of immediate importance to American planners was that only larger land based planes, and not carrier-based aircraft, could provide the stable platform needed for quality air-photo reconnaissance." (In the chapter dealing with the attack on Tarawa in 1943.)
If single-engined planes were not good enough for aerial reconnaissance, what of all those P-51s, Spitfires, Bf109s etc. laboriously converted to that role? Or were carrier based planes a different game entirely?
Richard

Last edited by Richard Aigner; 30th April 2021 at 11:43. Reason: correction of spelling
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Old 30th April 2021, 14:07
twocee twocee is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

I know nothing about the book you mention but it was the general view at the time of the Gilbert and Marshall invasions that carrier-based aircraft could not obtain the type of coverage necessary for planning an amphibious landing. As the War went on and equipment and techniques developed, this ceased to be the case.
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Old 30th April 2021, 15:59
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

For mapping, as used for planning and assisting invasions, larger cameras were normally used and these would have been too large for carrier-borne aircraft. The US tended to use B-24s for this kind of mission. Smaller cameras would mainly be used for "spot" targets over generally smaller areas.
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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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Old 30th April 2021, 17:08
twocee twocee is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

As the War progressed carrier aircraft, particularly the photo F6Fs, were used to obtain preliminary coverage for planning future invasions. For example, in February 1944 two Task Groups struck the Marianas, partly with a view to obtaining up to date photographs of the defences. Similarly, at the beginning of March 1945 Okinawa and the other Ryukyus were hit and photographic coverage obtained. By that time each Carrier Air Group had a number of pilots specially trained in photo reconnaissance..
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Old 3rd May 2021, 01:08
Jukka Juutinen Jukka Juutinen is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

I wonder why the Amis did not develop an equivalent of the C6N.
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Old 3rd May 2021, 11:48
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

Lack of interest in specialised types?
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Old 3rd May 2021, 13:19
twocee twocee is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

Yes, I think that is probably the case. With deck space at a premium there was no room for such a specialised type.
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Old 4th May 2021, 15:54
DavidIsby DavidIsby is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

The FAA's development of a PR capability has been documented, with pilots flying with RAF squadrons before flying modified Seafires and Hellcats in the Eastern and Pacific Fleets. One of the pilots involved, for those that remember 1970s British politics, was Tony Benn. Shipboard space and personnel for processing and interpreting films in required timeframes was a sticking point.
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Old 4th May 2021, 18:58
Graham Boak Graham Boak is offline
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Re: Carrier planes not good enough for aerial reconnaissance?

A good point, but these types were used more in the FR or Tactical recce role rather than for the more strategic PR and mapping. The USN was not without its similar Wildcat and Hellcats for this role - the latter being identical to that used by the RN.

it is perhaps worth considering whether the camera-equipped Tigercat would not have filled the same role as the Myrt. Or indeed the Mosquito for the FAA, had it been considered sooner. But the FAA didn't have the same requirements for strategic recce and large-scale mapping.

However, none of these types could carry the large trimetron(?) cameras used by the US for mapping.
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