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Wing Leader: Victories 1940-1942» Forums » General

Subject: How This Game Helps You Learn - SBDs as CAP in V13 rss

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Christopher O
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Summer grasses / All that remains / Of soldiers' dreams. - Basho.
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Setting up V13 'Hey Rube' (a scenario that looks almost impossible for the Americans... until the flak opens up, and the sky darkens) I noted that the first flight on the American order of battle was an SBD-3, but it was listed as a CAP mission.

This is a scenario where Japanese dive bombers and torpedo bombers are attacking the American task force, so why are there SBD-3s?

For a few moments I thought it might be a misprint and the flight was supposed to be a Wildcat, so I checked the errata; no errata for V13.

I thought about it for a short time and dimly recalled that there were cases of light bomber vs. light bomber combat in some carrier battles - sometimes as they came back from missions. I also recalled that SBD-3 variants were sent out on recon, so perhaps they also flew CAP in a pinch where the opposition was not expected to be as difficult?

I looked up the Wiki entry for the battle:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Coral_Sea#Attack...

Quote:
As the Japanese aircraft completed their attacks and began to withdraw, believing that they inflicted fatal damage to both carriers, they ran a gauntlet of CAP Wildcats and SBDs. In the ensuing aerial duels, three SBDs and three Wildcats for the U.S., and three torpedo bombers, one dive bomber, and one Zero for the Japanese were downed.

This entry at Wiki also mentions the SBD-3's use as an anti-torpedo bomber CAP:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Douglas_SBD_Dauntless#U.S._Nav...

... learn something new every day!

I'll have an AAR for this scenario up shortly, but I thought I'd post this in case anyone else was setting up this scenario and found the SBD-3 on CAP to be a little strange.

In case LBW happens to be reading this, I assumed that since the SBD-3s were tasked with CAP, which is a modified Intercept mission (9.2.4.1), the SBD-3s are considered fighters per 3.2.1 and have 2 or 3 MP depending on whether they are alerted. In other words, they behave exactly as fighters, even though they are light bombers in real-world technical designation.

I understand that MPs are somewhat abstracted and represent the cruising or intercept speed of aircraft and do not reflect the top speed of a plane (which is taken into account with the planes' speed ratings), so this makes sense.
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Stephen Harper
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Yes, in the early war SBDs were used quite frequently for low altitude CAP against torpedo bombers. This came about mainly because it was discovered that the fighter contingent was not sufficient to cover both CAP and strike escort. As time went by, the fighter contingent was increased, allowing SBDs to attend to their primary roles of ship strike and ASW. See Lundstrom's excellent book, The First Team. Also, U.S. naval flak became very deadly after Midway, as the newer ships came online, and even more so when the proximity fuse came out, accounting for a fairly large percentage of enemy aircraft losses in the later Solomons battles and beyond.
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Michael Yentzer
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SBDs and HellDivers had forward firing Guns in the Wings and did participate in defending as Secondary and Tertiary Cap. The were even used against the Divine Wind late in the war as the Japanese used about every type of Aircraft in their inventory for that purpose. Some of those Aircraft were no match for a SBD or Helldiver on their tale or head on. There is a famous Dogfight of a SBD heading home after a strike when it encounters I believe 6 or 8 A6Ms or other fighter. This action was a topic of History channels DogFight series a few years ago. The story gives you a good Idea of how effective the SBD in a fighter role was in the hands of a well trained Pilot and his rear gunner. When it was all over the SBD was all shot up and several of the Japanese Fighters had been shot down and shot up. this is also a good testament of how roughed the Radial engines were, I believe I read somewhere that this plane was flying on only 3 or 4 cylinders, the rest were shot up.d
 
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