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Resume of Skip Bombing by Hq. 43rd Bomb Gp (H)

9 March 1943

1.     General

Skip bombing is a low-altitude bombing attack that has been successfully used against naval targets. It consists of a string of from two to four bombs dropped from such an altitude and distance from the target that a complete miss is improbable. Unless the target is of such importance that heavy losses can be accepted this method of bombing should be attempted with large heavy aircraft only at night and under most favorable weather conditions. The attack should be delivered with the idea in mind of securing a maximum of surprise and should not be repeated against the same targets too often. Skip bombing attacks should be made with the target outlined against light of either flares or the moon, and in such a location that the pilot is able to accurately tie in his altitude with a visible beach or other well defined objects. The altitude of the attack should be from 200 to 300 feet and the bomb-release line from 350 to 200 feet from the target.

2.     Conditions:

Skip bombing attacks have proved effective under the following conditions:

a. First light of the dawn with the approach made from west to east. Then just enough light exists to silhouette the vessel.
b. On clear nights with the moon below 40 degrees elevation, the attack being made into the moon.
c. Directly out of a very low setting sun.
d. From very low clouds or poor weather where an element of surprise is completely possible.

3.       Rules:

a.  Start the bombing run from the darkness into the light, keeping the attacking plane against a dark background and silhouetting the target against the light.
b. Deliver the attack from a fairly steep dive with throttles retarded at a speed of from 200 to 250 mph.
c. Withdrawal should be made in all cases directly over the target and straightaway at sea level. Any attempt to turn near the vessel presents an excellent target.
d. Bombs should be spaced in train equal to the width of the [illegible]

 4.      Fuzing:

Either the American 405 second fuze or the Aussie 11 - 12 second fuze can be used. The shorter time fuze has greater effectiveness, since in deep water the 11 - 12 second fuze occasionally sinks below effective range before exploding.

5.       Action of Bombs:

Bombs dropped from this altitude will skip, hit the target direct, or go underneath the water. If the attacking airplane drops its bombs from a slight dive, the bombs will usually go through the water and explode underneath the target. In some cases bombs have been observed to leap completely over the target. Some of the bombs of the train will probably hit directly on the target. Either of these events is effective and it is not believed important to attempt to obtain any one of the three results to the exclusion of the others. In some instances, a low order explosion has resulted from a bomb hitting the side of a vessel but in general the bomb cases holdup very well.

6.       Advantages:

Skip bombing is effective when attempted under the above stated conditions and offers the following advantages:
a. Very little training is required to achieve accurate results.
b. No losses to date have been sustained by this organization from skip bombing.
c. A surprisingly high percentage of hits is obtained by this method.

7.       Precautionary Measures:

Skip bombing with heavy bombardment aircraft must be considered an attack of opportunity. Any attempt to skip bomb a war vessel in the light, unsupported, would probably be particularly hazardous because of lack of speed and manoeuvrability and small amount of forward fire power. Successful daylight attacks have been made on unescorted merchant vessels by heavy bombers, and light bombers heavily armed forward with .50 cal machine guns have been highly successful against war vessels. This success of light bombers was due to surprise, coordination, and heavy forward fire, none of which are likely to exist in a daylight attack on warships by heavy bombardment. Repeated skip bombing attacks in the same area would result in some form of protection designed to defeat it. It is, however, when the opportunity presents itself, an ideal surefire method of hitting the target.     

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