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View Full Version : In real time - B-25 Strafer gun camera footage.



Waldo.Pepper
09-19-2009, 09:02 PM
I hear tell that there maybe a mod for this aircraft. Well to whet your whistle for it ...

"Although a 5th USAAF trademark, the B-25 squadrons of Thirteenth Air Force were also using strafers with deadly effect. Pilot Edward Brisck described a strafer mission over Rabaul; the missed rendezvous between bombers and fighters he described was all too common. However, with the Japanese fighter strength wearing down and strafers on the loose, Brisck's unit got aggressive:

Low-level runs were risky but an extraordinary experience. You didn't want to take a hit down there but you were sure firing back. Several missions we caught them by surprise. You'd see Japanese coming out of their foxholes pulling on their pants. We caught them by complete surprise near Rabaul once.

We had a briefing and a takeoff shortly after midnight. We were supposed to rendezvous with forty navy fighters. The idea was to be near Rabaul exactly at daybreak so we had enough light to see the target. We take off, look down, and see all sorts of lights circling and off we go thinking we've got a large escort. There were two squadrons of bombers, a total of twenty-four planes altogether. I was a flight leader. One of the escorts had gotten separated and was flying along and turned his landing lights on trying to read the numbers on our tail to see which way his flight was. Up toward Green Islands we had to turn all of our lights off. We had little blue lights on top of the aircraft. . . formation lights, but they are very hard to see. So we head toward Rabaul. Dawn begins to break, we look around, and we have one fighter with us.

One squadron leader decided to abort with no cover. Away they went. My squad leader said, "I don't see any fighters, let's hit them." We spread out and hit Vunakanau strip. We were twelve abreast with our one fighter. There were a lot of planes on the ground, a lot of revetments. That's when you bore in. When you see something to shoot at, you do it. We dropped our bombs over revetments if possible then peeled off to make our escape over Simpson Harbor. As we broke over a cliff toward the harbor we saw a line of Japanese ships beneath us that had pulled into Simpson and they were all shooting at us. That navy fighter got right down on the deck and started strafing those ships, taking the heat off us, and got the hell out of there. When you start on the run all twelve machine guns are firing. They quit one by one due to overheating or jamming. In the last two or three seconds you've got one gun going "put-put-put." But it was extremely exciting, hard to describe. Once you start a low-level run there was really no sense in sweating. Everything was so fast and you were very busy."

From Fire in the Sky page 652-653.

"Phil Caputo manned the top turret on a strafer and had the kind of freakish and instantaneous experience that could come from mowing the grass:

Antiaircraft wasn't that big of a threat because we came in so low. Light ground fire was the real danger. They had these little pits with machine guns and light antiaircraft guns in them. You'd see the parafrags float into them. The gun crew would look up watching these things float down and jump. You'd have to be lucky to make it out. But once we had a guy killed with a single shot. It was from some kind of small arm. A bullet went right through his neck. It could have been a pistol for all I know.

We had a few wounded, but that was pretty rare. It was much more likely to live or get killed. I had a real scare. We were flying low, very low, and some of the planes ahead had already dropped their bombs. I turned to look over my left shoulder and my turret was covered with blood. We were going fast and it was fresh: The air had blown it over my turret and then blew it off. The moment I saw that blood I started looking down at my own body, checking for hits. I'd heard you could be hit and not know it, so I was frantically looking for a wound. Then it dawned on me there was no wind rushing into the turret so I must be okay. This all happens in seconds. It was instinct. I thought it over and decided that a bomb hit someone on the ground and threw him up into our prop. An arm or leg hit the turret. I didn't see anything, just the blood, and the pilot flying wing staring over at me. We were that low. It was hard to explain that kind of thing, it was so strange." Page 632.

And here is the footage.

Real time B-25 Strafer gun camera footage (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZttUNTy57E)

Engadin
09-20-2009, 10:19 AM
Thanks Waldo, nice read.

LEBillfish
09-20-2009, 10:37 AM
Great Post!

K2

xTHRUDx
09-20-2009, 11:07 AM
I have a doubt, a small one, that this is from a 25 strafer. all the terrian in the footage does not look like PTO terrain to me. I say this because i've been staring at PTO terrain for the past 10 months trying to get this New guinea - New Britian map out the door. Also gun camera placement vs where the tracers are comng from looks odd to me for being a 25. Without more data such as unit or time taken, it will be hard to confirm. And yes i know they were used in the MTO too.

ElAurens
09-20-2009, 11:14 AM
Thank you sir!

Some of those areas look pretty built up. Did the Japanese have rail lines at Rabaul?

Waldo.Pepper
09-20-2009, 01:20 PM
Originally posted by xTHRUDx:
I have a doubt, a small one, that this is from a 25 strafer.

I completely agree with this sentiment. Skepticism is very much needed in order to keep the data stream as pure as possible. No need to pollute history any further.

The entire film in some 30 minutes long. I only posted a small sampling of it. The footage was shot by the 38th Bomb Group. Sadly I don't know the targets location depicted by the footage.

Here are some stills from the portion of the film showing some personel milling about the airfield presumably pre mission. Hope this helps to alleviate residual skepticism. B-25's are in the background of one of the stills.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v516/WaldoPepper/book/strafer/untitled2.jpg

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v516/WaldoPepper/book/strafer/untitled3.jpg

Scolar
09-20-2009, 04:39 PM
why are the bullets so dispersed? It looks like the plane is shooting very little bullets as well with the ammount of ground impacts.

Choctaw111
09-20-2009, 04:47 PM
I looked at the movie this morning but didn't have time to leave a message.
I was also wondering why there seemed to be so little gunfire coming out of a plane with 12 50 cals up front.
There just didn't seem to be a whole lot of lead flying.
Anyway, thank you very much for the post and the link.

Waldo.Pepper
09-20-2009, 05:20 PM
Originally posted by Scolar:
why are the bullets so dispersed? It looks like the plane is shooting very little bullets as well with the amount of ground impacts.

Originally posted by Choctaw111:
I was also wondering why there seemed to be so little gunfire coming out of a plane with 12 50 cals up front. There just didn't seem to be a whole lot of lead flying.
Which is why I took the time to post the quote from Fire in The Sky. Specifically this segment ..

"When you start on the run all twelve machine guns are firing. They quit one by one due to overheating or jamming. In the last two or three seconds you've got one gun going "put-put-put."

This was the reason I posted the quote from the book. I kind of figured that there would be someone making such a comment. Year of playing a game kind of leads us to think this way. That when you pull the trigger - the guns fire. (Like flipping a light switch or something extremely reliable like that.)

The guys on the planes are human. They got excited. Their fire discipline went out the window, and they held down the triggers - no matter the consequences. Reality, different from any game, yet again. Hours of flying seconds of firing. Make the most of the time firing you have. Kind of makes sense. Guns over heated/broke (unlike the game) and then all they had was the rare single gun going putt-putt. Result, theoretically devastating, reality more complex, yet again.

Once again - human behavior trumps (is more influential) that the technical aspects of the plane/armament.

I was surprised and how the nose of the aircraft was wallowing around. It looked to me like it was either being hosed around or it was a poor(er) gun platform than I had assumed/been lead to believe/had believed. Either that or the pilot of that plane was less experienced that the pilot of other planes later in the film

Don't suppose that there will ever be an answer to that one. Anyway I thought you like the flick.

RepublicofTexas
09-20-2009, 05:42 PM
Good show ol' boy!

RPMcMurphy
09-20-2009, 08:44 PM
Good post Waldo.
The bloody turret, oh gawha-hawd.
Thats low flying when you catch an enemies body part in your prop.

HerrGraf
09-20-2009, 09:07 PM
Perhaps the pilot was using rudder to bring the plane on an offset target? Kind of hard to tell when the picture quality is so poor.

WTE_Galway
09-20-2009, 09:40 PM
Don't think its a B25 but some good ship strafing shots ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v...next_from=PL&index=7 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DYOFt4IaHxA&feature=PlayList&p=A5DFD10A82D134C3&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=7)

M_Gunz
09-21-2009, 12:42 AM
S! Waldo, I got the first guncam video you put up on the aviation group and then browsed around. Is the full one of this up?

The more I watch of those, the less I believe that these tracers should be easily visible.

Waldo.Pepper
09-21-2009, 01:49 AM
I suspect that it is many factors conspiring to make the tracers harder to see. The 16mm film stock, its age. Also remember that by the time we see it the footage has been though the wringer a few times. Also time of day-lighting conditions etc all play a role. And lastly the tracer could have been of poor quality.

The British seem to have thought tracer a help. At least they promulgated that notion to their crews in a September 1944 edition of the TEE EMM. Here is the relevant page of that issue.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v516/WaldoPepper/book/TM.jpg

They assert a 50%(ish) improvement in hits.

Next Fridays posting will be this flick.(and another one about a B-24 (Utah Man) raiding Ploesti). It is of excellect quality - so maybe you will find some greater visibility to the tracers. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_smile.gif

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v516/WaldoPepper/book/Thumbs.jpg

I am planning on posting the entire strafer flick to a.b.m.a but it won't be for a few weeks.

WTE_Galway
09-21-2009, 05:36 AM
http://www.researcheratlarge.com/Aircraft/VMF-121/
USMC Medal of Honor winner Joe Foss on tracer:


Q. What do you think of the use of tracer? Did you use your tracer for sighting?

A. Yes, sir. To start out I used the sight. After I got started, however, I just dropped my seat clear down so that I wouldn't have my neck stuck out and just barely looked over the edge. Then I used my tracer altogether, but, I had previously used the sight enough to know right where to shoot. As for deflection shots, I'd always lead enough so that I'd never underlead. I'd always over-lead. When you overlead, you just ease forward on your stick and you can always see as far as the axis where he's going to go. You shoot in front of him and just ease forward on your stick. He flies right into it - you see your tracer work right on him. And on the tail end shot just give a burst of tracer, If it's over or under, you just go up or down. I never wanted to sit up high enough to look at the sight. I just stayed down. To start with, I flew around looking in the sight. It works fine, as far as the sight goes; but after a while you don't need it. Is fact, I don't believe any of the boys that had been in combat a lot were using it; they all slid away down in the seat.

Q. Depended entirely on tracer?

A. Yes, sir.

ibeagle
09-23-2009, 07:05 AM
Outstanding footage, I've not seen that before. I think I read in Warpath across the Pacific about pilots using rudder to spray the 50cals about.

Also, looks like General Kenney in the top still.

dglasal
09-23-2009, 08:43 AM
I am going to have to find the source but I remember reading that tracers were needed by inexperienced pilots to help them get their shooting eye, however, there is an aspect of the tracer they were reminded of. The tracer round had a different flight charactoristic from other rounds meaning that the tracers had a different tragetory. Not sure how different but the further away you are from your target the greater the difference.

ibeagle
09-24-2009, 05:56 PM
I notice on this film and others that some tracers appear to float on a much different path than others, I had wondered if some were return fire. But a thought just occurred - does anyone know if the burning tracer part sometimes becomes separated from the bullet?

Choctaw111
09-24-2009, 06:05 PM
Originally posted by ibeagle:
I notice on this film and others that some tracers appear to float on a much different path than others, I had wondered if some were return fire. But a thought just occurred - does anyone know if the burning tracer part sometimes becomes separated from the bullet?

Yes. That is the reason.
There are other times where you see many tracers "floating" around, and some of those are bullets that bounce off the ground and back up at a high angle, sometimes back toward the plane. A combination of the two gives this appearance.

VMF-214_HaVoK
09-24-2009, 06:08 PM
Thanks! http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/25.gif

S!