How B-24s Got New Guns to Hunt Submarines
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The B-24 is predominantly known for its bombing prowess. But bombing crucial infrastructure isn’t the only thing this bomber is capable of.
A Change of Plans
Initially, the B-24’s weaponry was intended for air-to-air combat and not air-to-sea submarine combat. However, when the Germans modified their U-boat Allied aircraft engagement tactics in 1943, this pushed the Americans towards American patrol planes.
Odds Were in the B-24’s Favor?
In August 1943, 30 B-24s were supplied and equipped with twin 50-caliber power-driven machine guns.
The deck personnel of U-boats were successfully targeted by the B-24 front machine guns and the odds were in the plane’s favor when it came to submarine versus aircraft combat. Fire from planes is more accurate than that from submarines, and U-boat deck guns had a difficult time hitting B-24s that move relatively quickly.
The B-24’s cabin was also modified with new windows providing 120 degrees of forward view. Also, the upper turret may be removed and switched for an astrodome. The B-24 subhunters will move more quickly despite a heavier weight.
Installing a motorized nose turret that’s equipped with a 50 caliber U-boat strafing machine gun was the most significant change, however.
The B-24 would fly low over the U-boats using upgraded weaponry and armor which includes conning towers and deck guns to silence them. This improved weaponry and armor proved successful in attacking surface U-boats because older versions have little forward-facing firepower.
Consolidated Aircraft Corporation developed the B-24 prototype, which eventually became the PB4Y-1 variant, and later the PB4Y-2, which had a large single fin, a lengthened fuselage, and many other improvements and changes.