Low Level Attack: The Mediterranean and Europe (Air Combat Photo History 3)
By John Lambert
Publisher: Specialty Press 1999 112 Pages
PDF 11 MB
There is no question but that the art of low level attack against ships was perfected in the Pacific in 1943 by General George Kenny's Fifth Air Force, although the RAF is due recognition for their early efforts at shipping strikes beginning about 1940 - more credit as they flew the North Sea missions with aircraft not designed for the task. It was a different war in the Pacific, with relatively small land areas and vast oceans, it became largely a naval war. Interdiction in the Pacific meant shipping strikes. (See Volume One of this series, Low Level Attack - Pacific).
The war with Germany was largely fought specifically for the great land masses. Light and medium bombers had little need to adopt mast head taotics, although there were occasions when they attacked ground targets at low level. However, the Germans' superb 88mm cannon, used both as conventional artillery, and also as an anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapon, along with 20 and 40mm cannons, played a role in keeping Allied air units at a respectable distance.
With the great land area in Europe and North Africa and the lack of dense jungle cover, close ground support by fighter aircraft became a highly refined exercise. In addition, fighters were called on to interdict the conventional means of transport, rail and road.
The few ship attack exceptions took place in the Mediterranean and the North Sea. Unfortunately for history, there is little photo documentation of these operations.