Recommendations for new weapons with which to combat the suicide plane have appeared in a great many action reports from ships which have been attacked or which have witnessed attacks on other ships. The proposed weapons vary from a hand-held bazooka to chain shot. Virtually all of them are predicated on increasing the structural damage to the attacking aircraft at very short range.
Adoption of new weapons invariably requires replacement of some existing armament because of space and weight limitations. If such a weapon has limitations which restrict its value to a specific form of attack its value must be weighed carefully because of the initiative resting in the enemy aircraft. In general, a new weapon is of value only if it can be demonstrated as being several times superior to the weapon it replaces, if it can be made available in quantity, and if it is sufficiently versatile to retain its value in the face of changing tactics.
As stated elsewhere in this publication, the improvement to be expected from any weapon described below cannot approach the increase in effectiveness of AA. defense available by expert use of the weapons now installed.
Previous models of this fuze are now being replaced by the Mark 53, Mod. 3. This fuze has a very considerably increased sensitivity, higher operability and shorter arming time (450 yards) than any previous influence fuze. It should double the effectiveness of 5-inch effectiveness in the destruction of aircraft. Mods. 1 and 2 are equally effective in performance, but have an arming time of 800 yards. This ammunition is now en route to the Fleet.
The Mark 58 fuze for the 3"/50, while not matching the performance of the Mark 53, is now in production, and should give at least three times the effectiveness of the time-fuzed burst.
The Mark 47 fuze for 6"/47 is now under test and is expected to be available shortly.
The smallest size projectile in which it appears the VT fuze can be fitted and still leave some projectile cavity available for a bursting charge is the 3"/50. Many suggestions that this fuze be developed for 40mm. projectiles have been received. There appears to be no possibility for its development. The lethal area for a 40mm. so fuzed would not be appreciably larger than the presented lethal area of a plane to contact hits.
Development of the rocket is still in its infancy. However, it bears considerable promise for increased striking power at a limited expenditure of
weight and space. Work is proceeding toward development of the 5-inch spinner with a VT fuze, an attractive possibility for anti-suicide work. A tremendous volume of fire is readily obtainable. The fire control problem created by the rocket's relatively low velocity, and the obtaining of a satisfactory arming time, are present major difficulties.
Heavy Automatic Weapons
There is little gain in use of a point detonating projectile larger than the 40mm. in this type of weapon. The next step, therefore, requires a gun capable of using the greatly expanded lethal area that occurs by use of a VT-fuzed projectile. Twin 5-inch automatic loading guns with rates of fire up to 90 rounds a minute per barrel are in design. While giving every prospect of an extremely effective weapon at intermediate and short ranges, such a weapon is not expected" to be available, other than for test, in the very near future.
Light Automatic Weapons
While comment from the Fleet has been almost entirely adverse as to the effect of light automatic weapon fire, the 20mm. has been responsible for a very respectable percentage of the defeats of suicide planes. The twin 20mm., mounting two barrels on the conventional free-swinging mount, is now being installed in quantity, resulting in either increased fire power or a saving in weight essential to other armament increases. Tests are also going forward on quadruple barreled 20mm. and .50 caliber guns, mounted on small power-driven mounts. Investigation of the feasibility of use of 37mm. aircraft guns also is being made.
Development has proceeded toward small lead-computing directors employing both pointing and ranging by radar. The Mark 63 and 57 directors are currently being installed for control of the 40mm., and indicate about two to four times the probability of hitting over the presently installed Mark 51 director. Application to 5-inch fire with VT fuzes is also being made to take care of the intermediate to short range problem, where existing systems suffer in the face of fast-breaking evasive attacks.
Ticonderoga (CV-14) burning off Formosa at 1212 on 21 January after suicide attack on Task Group 38.3
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