F4F-4 Bombs?

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Brady
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F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Brady » 05 Apr 2021 04:18

I have a ton of references indicating that the F4F-4 carried two drop tanks, But there are also vague references indicating that it could carry two 250 pound bombs, in Lou of the drop tanks, but I’m not seeing anything confirming this, and I think it might be for the FM-2, not the F4F4 ?

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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by EwenS » 05 Apr 2021 11:20

My sources indicate that the F4F-3, F4F-4 and FM-1 all had provision for a bomb rack under each wing to carry a 100lb bomb. Whether they actually did so operationally is a different matter.

The FM-1 was basically an F4F-4 built by General Motors instead of Grumman but with one major exception, the FM-1 had only had 4 MG instead of 6, but carried more ammunition.

The FM-2 was a different beast - a more powerful engine, taller tail and other changes. Some sources say they could carry 100lb bombs as earlier versions and others 250lb bombs. The last 1400 were equipped to carry 3 rockets under each wing which would equate to an ability to carry the 250lb bomb. So maybe the earlier aircraft were limited to 100lb. Oddly the 1945 pilots notes make no reference to bombs, just MG and rockets.
http://www.theshermantank.com/wp-conten ... ildcat.pdf

Edit - the bomb racks for the 100lb bombs were outboard on the wings and were not the racks for the fuel tanks. BUT there is photo evidence for a Fleet Air Arm Wildcat VI of 881 squadron using the racks for the fuel tanks to carry 250lb bombs during Operation Dragoon in Aug 1944.

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Juha Tompuri
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Juha Tompuri » 05 Apr 2021 14:03

EwenS wrote:
05 Apr 2021 11:20
My sources indicate that the F4F-3, F4F-4 and FM-1 all had provision for a bomb rack under each wing to carry a 100lb bomb. Whether they actually did so operationally is a different matter.
F4F-3 did:
https://www.warhistoryonline.com/instan ... hip-m.html

Regards, Juha

Brady
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Brady » 05 Apr 2021 14:08

Those were F4F-3’s I believe, but it does suggest that the F4F4 could do the same thing, thank you

And apparently the dual use racks Were something that came with the later aircraft?

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R Leonard
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by R Leonard » 05 Apr 2021 15:40

The F4F-4 was designed to carry two 100# bombs, just like the -3. Pages from my original 1942 pilot's manual. Bombs mentioned at bottom of first attachment. Characteristic in various configurations including carry bombs in second.

F4F-4 cover info from original 1942 manual.JPG
F4F-4 wt & cg info from original 1942 manual.JPG
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Brady
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Brady » 05 Apr 2021 17:38

If I am reading that correctly they are Removing 4 Guns if it fly's with Bombs ?

.........................

On a separate topic, I just came across a reference stating that the Wildcat's (F4F4) in the SWPA could not really climb any faster than 500-1000 ft per minute with a combat load ?

.................

Thanks for the Shots of the manual btw.

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R Leonard
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by R Leonard » 05 Apr 2021 18:18

That's what it says, though I seriously doubt anyone actually removed the guns. I asked my source, now gone, who flew both the -3 and the -4 in combat about that & he told me, no, removing the guns was not a normal practice in a combat zone. On the other hand, the -3s he flew in combat were from Yorktown's VF-42 where it was widely agreed that F4Fs hauling bombs was a little silly, so not only did they not, they also removed the under-wing mounts so that they could not. Every pound counts was the theory.
Last edited by R Leonard on 05 Apr 2021 20:32, edited 1 time in total.

Brady
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Brady » 05 Apr 2021 20:02

One of the reasons I asked was that I read where the F4F4 with the drop tanks was something of Dog to fly.

Suggesting that with the Bombs it would of been the same.

Maybe that's why they say remove 4 of the 6 guns ?

Clearly you could not use the drop tanks and the Bombs at the same time either because of the loading ?

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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by R Leonard » 05 Apr 2021 20:42

Brady wrote:
05 Apr 2021 20:02
One of the reasons I asked was that I read where the F4F4 with the drop tanks was something of Dog to fly.
That was the general consensus. The -4s were considered dogs when compared to the -3s anyway, you can find all sorts of comments to that effect from the practitioners. In VF-11 in the summer of 1943 drop tanks were pretty much restricted to long over-water ferry flights. I'll check the man's log book where I know there are some comments regarding the first instances of their use in that squadron.
Brady wrote:
05 Apr 2021 20:02
Maybe that's why they say remove 4 of the 6 guns ?
Keeping in mind the -4s ammo capacity, no one wanted to be short either guns or ammo vice bombs in an environment where fighter action was more likely than not.
Brady wrote:
05 Apr 2021 20:02
Clearly you could not use the drop tanks and the Bombs at the same time either because of the loading ?
Same answer.

Brady
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Brady » 07 Apr 2021 04:50

Can you think of an example where drop tanks were used operationally in a combat environment, for escorting, or any other type of mission , from land or from Sea ?

There is plenty of photographic evidence indicating there are use, but it’s difficult to determine the context.

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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by EwenS » 07 Apr 2021 08:05

Photos here on pages 7, 8 & 9 with captions giving context.
https://ww2db.com/photo.php?list=search ... &image_id=

From late 1943 large numbers of US CVE were deployed in the Pacific where their air groups were employed covering various landing operations. So much CAP work, ASW protection both en route to and during landing operations, as well as close support of troops on the ground. Mostly Casablanca class with air groups of approx 18 FM-1/2 Wildcat and 12 TBF/TBM Avenger. If you look at the histories of these ships on Wiki or at DANFS you will get a flavour of the work they were involved in eg USS Makin Island
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Mak ... d_(CVE-93)
https://www.history.navy.mil/research/h ... danfs.html

Look up the work of the various Taffy carrier groups at Leyte for some of the best known actions.

At the start of the Okinawa campaign TF52 deployed 3 CVE groups with 4 Sangamon class and 13 Casablanca class CVE. There the CVE fighters were part of the anti kamikaze “Big Blue Blanket” protecting the various Task Forces. CVEs with operational air groups were also deployed to protect the various replenishment groups that kept the fast carriers of TF38/58 at sea during 1943-45.

Use of drop tanks was an everyday event come the latter part of the war especially for aircraft on CAP, extending the time they could remain on patrol, so it is not something that rates specific mention in reports.

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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Brady » 07 Apr 2021 14:45

That is helpful, but, and I probably should’ve mentioned this, I’m looking specifically at the F4F4, and the late 42 early 43 timeframe, my thinking is the FM2 with it’s more powerful engine could better deal with the added weight of the two drop tanks. And I have some conflicting reports that I’m looking at, some indicate that with a combat load the F4F4 could only climb at about 500 to 1000 ft./m so for example over Guadalcanal The Wildcats We probably not using drop tanks Because it would’ve slowed the rate of climb particularly if they were trying to intercept Betty’s, yeah there are pictures of them on Henderson field with drop tanks ...

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R Leonard
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by R Leonard » 07 Apr 2021 17:16

Off the top of my head, I can only think of one action vis F4F-4s and drop tank, this the strike escort of VF-10 at Santa Cruz. So, I broke out my trusty Lundstrom and some VF-10 documents.

There were two divisions assigned to this strike, Red 1 (LCDR Flatley, LTJG Reiserer, ENS Witte, and ENS Axelrod – Axelrod had to abort about five minutes into the mission with prop control malfunction and ENS Coalson was quickly launched as his replacement) and Red 6 (LTJG Leppla, and ENS Mead, ENS Reding, and ENS Rhodes).

Red 6 bore the fighter brunt of the Japanese attack on the strike and suffered grievously. Only one plane/pilot survived this encounter. As the Japanese came in Leppla ordered his division to release their drop tanks. I presume Leppla was successful in doing so as there is no further mention of his release. Mead reported post-war that he successful jettisoned his tanks and noted that they barely missed hitting other planes in the division. Reding lost fuel suction with his release and spent what no doubt were some frantic moments on a restart while his F4F dropped like a rock; he was able to restart after dropping several thousand feet. His wingman, Rhodes, stayed with him on the way down and could not anyway get his tanks to release. This small crisis probably saved them from the initial onslaught of the Japanese fighters. Mead was shot down and ended up in the water. Reding and Rhodes managed to defend themselves with a demonstration of Thach’s Beam Defense, though during the course one of Rhodes’ tanks caught fire and blazed away until the fuel ran out. Rhodes was eventually forced to bail out when his engine seized. Leppla was killed in the action, Mead and Rhodes were ultimately picked by passing Japanese destroyers and spent the rest of the war as POWs. Reding managed to nurse his shot up F4F back to Enterprise.

Flatley, leading Red 1 on the other side of the formation, ordered his division to drop their tanks which was evidently accomplished without incident. His division latched on an A6M at the tail end of the attack and shot it down without a loss.

Flatley makes no mention of either bombs or drop tanks in his “Combat Doctrine Fighting Squadron Ten” document nor in his memorandum to ComCarPac, “The Navy Fighter.” He does, however list in his minimum training hours for VF-10 two hours allocated for glide bombing.

A VF-11 pilot's log notes testing of drop tank on 17 Feb 43 at NAS Barbers Point and again on 21 and 22 Apr 43 while at Nandi, Fiji. The Remarks column notes for 21 April “Rt. one fell off.” As a little more information and flavor of the times, below is the fuel management instructions for the squadrons flight from Nandi to “Button” – Espiritu Santo. That flight took place on 25 Apr and the next day the squadron flew from Espiritu Santo to Guadalcanal. Both of these flights were in excess of four hours (4.5 and 4.3, respectively) so I presume that as the flight on the 25th utilized drop tanks, so did the flight on the 26th.

FIGHTING SQUADRON ELEVEN
8 April 1943.

GAS DATA FOR FERRY NANDI TO BUTTON (605 nautical miles)

Tank capacities in gallons.

Left droppable tank........50
Right “ “ .....................50
Main Tank...................117
Emergency tank.............27
...............................144

NOTE: Some droppable tanks carry 53 gallons.

General information -

1. Use automatic lean (AL) or lower.
2. Use lowest RPM setting possible with Full Throttle (FT) to obtain desired speed.
3. When settled down use Manual Prop.
4. Use Neutral Blower (NB) unless impossible to obtain prescribed speed.
5. If cylinder head temperature runs above 230 crack cowl flaps.
6. If oil pressure runs below 75 PSI drop left tank when dry.
7. At the time given below for the tank to run dry watch fuel pressure. When pressure fluctuates shift to automatic Rich (Prop is already in Manual) to prepare to shift suction.

Consumption (Time versus Fuel)

0:00 Takeoff from Main after testing all tanks for one minute each.
0:30 Planes rendezvous and proceed. Shift to Right for one minute then to left and run it dry. Using FT, AL, NB, Manual prop. At 5,000 feet set air speed at 140 knots. Ind (154 true) equals 50 gallons per hour.
1:30 Left dry. Shift to Right.
2:30 Right dry. Shift to Main which has 90 gallons. Distance traveled 306 miles; remaining 297 miles. Increase speed to 160 Ind. (176 true) equals 45 gallons per minute.
4:10 Arrive Button. Fuel remaining. Full Emergency, 14 in Main. Land on Emergency.

With 15 knot head-wind time of arrival is 4:40 with full emergency tank.

F. B. QUADY
Lieutenant, U.S.Navy
Engineering Officer


Rich

Brady
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by Brady » 07 Apr 2021 18:31

That's Brilliant, Thanks,

Apparently the drop tanks came in different sizes, as some references note a 58 Gal drop tank, or maybe they did not fill them up all the way ?


It would seam they did use them though, not just for ferry flights, but on operations, through they seamed to be problematic.


Any Comment on this:

Rate of climb was noticeably worse in the F4F-4; while Grumman optimistically claimed the F4F-4 could climb at a modest 1,950 ft (590 m) per minute, in combat conditions, pilots found their F4F-4s capable of ascending at only 500 to 1,000 ft (150 to 300 m) per minute.[22]

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R Leonard
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Re: F4F-4 Bombs?

Post by R Leonard » 14 Apr 2021 00:54

While I am sure you can find unflattering comments in the literature and, yea, even performance graphs (not something I've never worried my poor little head over, being more interested in who, when and where) about the -4 versus the -3, whatever unkind things could be said were certainly offset by the toll taken by -4 pilots, navy and marine corps from Midway through the Solomons campaign, on their Japanese adversaries. It was sufficient to do the job. Certainly my own father (an ace flying in VF-42 in -3's through Coral Sea, VF-3 in -4s at Midway, and VF-11 in -4s in the Solomons) always said the -3 was a better performer, but on the other hand, I'm here aren't I. Further, he cross checked in a P-40E in Maui in 1943 and said he would not want to face a Zero in same, give him his trusty F4F-4.

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