Naval Aviation of WW2
Naval aviation emerged during WW1 already with all belligerents. The post-war years however saw either attempts of a dissolution or fusion of these service with regular air forces. The interwar years were crucial to the development and demonstrating the capabilities of this service, and to be independent. The later 1930s saw it generally accepted as an autonomous service but the belligerents were not all equal in that guise: On the axis side in 1939-41, only the Japanese Imperial Navy benefited from an interference-free, well trained and well-supplied naval air service, with some iconic models such as the A6M zero, and a complete panel from seaplanes/floatplanes, carrier-borne aviation to land-based bombers.
The Luftwaffe and Regia Aeronautica on their side were to provide for the needs of the navy, which they did with limited enthusiasm. On the allied side, the former RNAS became the Fleet Air Arm in 1924, independent again from 1937 and assumed a considerable panel of missions throughout the Empire which only grew exponentially in WW2, as did the Canadian and Australian naval air services. Outside UK, France and the Netherlands had both developed naval air service as well. In the US, the independence of a USN air service was a long fight, even within the USN itself, still attached to the Mahanian view ("battleships first"), but shaken by Mitchell and William A. Moffett. Again, this service was developed to a dramatic way during WW2. Also the Soviet Union possessed a Navy and a naval air component, albeit reduced and provided with regular air force models.
Stunning photo showing the extent of the USN air power in WW2: In addition to the numerous interwar models, Vought Vindicator, Curtiss Helldiver (i), Douglas Devastator & Dauntless, Gumman F3F, Brewster Buffalo and many seaplanes, floatplanes and observation models, the "trinity" of carrier operation rested on the SBD Dauntless, F4F Wildcat and TBD Avenger and later the F5F Hellcat, SB2C Helldiver and Avenger again, plus a wide variety of ground-based USN planes, included the Vought F4U Corsair.
For all nations concerned: Belligerents of WW2, both the axis and allies, used seaplanes, floatplanes, and for the only three naval powers with aircraft carriers, a plethora of dedicated models over the years.
In this portal page, we will see the creation (WWI), interwar development, controversy, and spectacular expansion in WW2: All models from all nations, their organization and tactics. The fleet air arm was called as such by the British, was known under many local variants. It had a hard time to be accepted, but in WW2, naval aviation revealed itself playing a vital part of all naval operations.
In Europe, British naval aviation opened the ball back in 1914, pioneering naval aviation and expanding it dramatically all the way through the interwar, influencing other nations. In WW2, its naval aviation
grew a very important part, in Europe, from the attack on Taranto in November 1940 to the torpedo attack that jammed the Bismarck's rudder in May 1941, securing its doom for the allies or Patrolling the Atlantic, spotting and attacking U-Boats. While in the Pacific, its became instrumental. After the loss of its capital ships, the USN maintained its presence for two gruelling years with an arguably inferior naval force, surviving to Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal and taking the offensive, until the final march of the Philippines sea. These were all naval air battles, with a few naval battles in between, in the context of an amphibious campaign.
British Barracuda, Operation Mascot, July 1944. One of the numerous air raids against the Tirpitz.
All these famous battles, for the first time in history, were played "over the horizon": Ships never saw each others. It was a fight by procuration, like an introduction to the missile age of the 1950s. A crucial fact in 1939, was that nearly all belligerents never measured the full scope of the revolution naval aviation would bring to the table. Mahanian doctrine was still prevalent in admiralties. Nevertheless, another crucial fact for the allied victory was that only one of the three axis powers had aircraft carriers.
IJN aviation was probably among the world's best in 1941, certainly in Asia, contributing to the early campaign's quick successes. But over time, Japan paid the price of the assumption of the supposed lack of will of the US people, and of the submarine threat. Both would cost its Empire the war. By 1944, after two years of wartime industrial production, USA was ready to steamroll its way back to Japan. The lack of experienced pilots and aviation gasoline played against the IJN and as a symbol, both the mighty and so Mahanian Yamato her sister ship, Musashi, were destroyed entirely by air power. And among the most significant losses by the USN in the late period of the war (like USS Franklin), Kamikaze were responsible.
German naval aviation
The Luftwaffe used the He 111H for anti-ship warfare, armed with two torpedoes.
Göring's Luftwaffe has little place to the Navy
The Luftwaffe was created as a natural inheritance of the Luftreistkrafte
of 1914. Soon placed at its head, Hermann Göring was a former (minor) ww1 ace, and in no haste to draw links with the Kriegsmarine. Both were completely strangers to naval matters, and prior to 1939 no serious attempt as ever made to create an independent naval force, for several obvious reasons:
-Created from 1933, the new Luftwaffe gave priority to continental aviation fit for quick "blitzkrieg" operations, in a context of limited credits to the Navy.
-Germany had no colonies and therefore no Empire to link and defend with its aviation.
-German access to the sea was limited to the Baltic and north sea coast, therefore had little needs but for patrols.
The Kriegsmarine itself had no independently attached naval aviation, although the Luftwaffe did planned and ordered seaplanes and floatplanes to care for its basic needs of patrol, reconnaissance, search and rescue. The weak Kriegsmarine was steps beyond many other naval powers in Europe and prioritized asymetric warfare, submarines and the use of commerce raiders, including for the limited military surface fleet.
The question of carrier-borne aviation
Hitler personally still favoured battleships, like most leaders of his generation, but trusted Admiral Raeder enough to carry out a project of fleet aircraft carriers, first of a serie which was part of plan Z, before it was abruptly stopped in September 1939, leaving the Navy with an unfinished program and unfinished aircraft carrier as well: The Graf Zeppelin
. For her, considerable time and resources has been spent, including the creation of a dedicated carrier-borne air group, consisting of the following:
-20 Fieseler Fi 167
Her sister ship, Flugzeugträger B, was laid down Germaniawerft Kiel, 1938 (Slipway 2) in 1938, but construction was stopped and cancelled in 1939.
As the war progressed, other planes were made for more improvized, cheaper aicraft carriers, while ideas to convert the battlecruisers Scharnhorst, Gneisneau or the remaining Panzerschiffe Admiral Scheer and Lützow were soon withdrawn. Focused turned istead, like Italy, to existing, roomier passenger ships and two incomplete cruisers. Note: They will be the object of a dedicated article.
- Kleiner Flugzeugträger (CVL): A cheaper alternative of Plan Z for a light carrier (6,000 tons) carrying up do 15 aircraft. They were planned with diesel engines, so likely to be used as escort carriers. Paper project only.
- Hilfsflugzeugträger II: The former French cruiser De Grasse was captured while in construction since 1938. In August 1942, it was considered to complete her as a light aircraft carrier. In February 1943 allied bombings and sabotages made the site dangerous and the project was cancelled.
- Europa: The former liner Europa (Hapag Lloyd) built in Blohm & Voss in 1927-29 was available for conversion. As the largest passenger ship in Germany she was selected in the 1942 auxiliary carrier program, but after a study, conversion planning was terminated in November 1942.
- Gneisenau: The passenger ship of this name was also available for the 1942 program, one of the three passenger ships selected for conversion as auxiliary carriers in 1942 (Project Jade). The study was completed in 13.05.1942, Wilhelmshaven chosen for it, but eventually terminated on 25.11.1942.
- Postdam: Third carrier selected in early 1942 for conversion, the North German Lloyd line's ship for the far east became Project "Elbe". Blohm & Voss was selected, but like the others, terminated after a study from November as a training aircraft carrier but stopped on 02.02.1943.
- Hilfsflugzeugträger Seydlitz: The last of the Hipper class heavy cruisers, KMS Seydlitz, launched in 1939 saw her construction stopped and in 1942 it ws decided to study her conversion as an auxiliary fleet carrier, project "Weser 1 ". From fall 1942 to spring 1943, turrets were removed, superstructure, and funnel, when Bremen was bombed and she was moved to Königsberg, but never completed.
Luftwaffe Naval Warfare
In September 1939, there was in effect a "naval aviation" in existence, as the 30 or so floatplanes carried by the various cruisers and battleships of the Kriegsmarine were -at least- managed by it, not the Luftwaffe. At the same time, the German coastal naval aviation was equipped with a variety of seaplanes and floatplanes used for reconnaissance, antiship (torpedo) attack, sea-minesweeping, and search and rescue (SAR) from several bases along the Baltic and North sea coast (see later).
-At operational level
, dependent of the OKL was the only German naval air command, based in kiel (HQ), Luftkreis VI. There two naval air districts in effect, Luftgau I
(Königsberg) for the baltic and Luftgau X
(Hamburg) for the north sea. The OKL directorate for naval aviation was Luftwaffen Inspektion 8
which was disbanded in 1942. Before 1939, Konrad Zander was put in charge of Luftkreis VI
, supporting the naval units in western operations (notably in Norway).
Among the precise naval units of the Luftwaffe were:
: Kampfgruppe zur besonderen Verwendung 108. Formed on 1.10.37, it operated from seven bases, plus three more later occupied. More
: Coastal Combat units More
Naval Recce units More
Mostly ju-87 Stuka and ju-88/188 equipped units dedicated to antiship warfare. Comprised the III. Gruppe/Kampfgeschwader 100 and 1., 3./Kampfgeschwader 200.
During the interwar, many models were already developed for the civilian market, but many models entered service with the Reichsmarine:
- Dornier Do A Libelle – sport flying boat (1921)
- Heinkel HE 1 – reconnaissance floatplane (1921)
- Caspar U1 Submarine-launched patrol seaplane (1922)
- Dornier Do J Wal – twin-engined flying boat used for military and commercial purposes (1922)
Dornier DO X (civilian only, landmark)
Dornier Do 16 – 'Wal' military flying boat (1923)
Heinkel HE 2 – reconnaissance floatplane (1923)
Junkers A 20/Ju 20 – single-engine military floatplane (1923)
Rohrbach Ro II – transport flying boat (1923)
Rohrbach Ro III – transport flying boat (1924)
Dornier Do D – torpedo bomber floatplane (1924)
Dornier Do E – reconnaissance flying boat (1924)
Junkers G 24 – trimotor transport floatplane version (1924)
Rohrbach Ro IV – transport flying boat (1925)
Heinkel HD 14 – torpedo-carrying floatplane (1925)
Heinkel HE 25 – single-seat reconnaissance floatplane (1925)
Heinkel HE 26 – reconnaissance floatplane (1925)
Heinkel HE 24 – floatplane trainer (1926)
Heinkel HE 4 – floatplane (1926)
Junkers W 33/34 – single-engine transport floatplane version (1926)
Heinkel HE 5 – reconnaissance floatplane (1926)
Rohrbach Ro VII Robbe – flying boat (1926)
Rohrbach Ro V Rocco – twin-engined 10-passenger flying boat (1927)
Heinkel HE 31 – reconnaissance floatplane (1927)
Heinkel HE 8 – reconnaissance floatplane (1927)
Arado W II – 2-seat twin-engine monoplane floatplane trainer (1928)
Heinkel HD 9 – floatplane (1928)
Heinkel HD 16 – torpedo-carrying floatplane (1928)
Heinkel He 55 – reconnaissance flying boat (1929)
Heinkel He 56 – reconnaissance floatplane (1929)
Heinkel HE 12 – catapult-launched mailplane floatplane (1929)
Heinkel He 57 – single-engine cabin amphibious flying boat (1929)
Arado SSD I – biplane catapult-capable floatplane fighter (1930)
Junkers Ju 52 – single- or three-engine transport floatplane version (1930)
Heinkel HE 42 – seaplane trainer (1931)
Heinkel He 50 – floatplane dive bomber version (1931)
Heinkel He 59 – reconnaissance bomber floatplane (1931)
Arado Ar 66 – training biplane floatplane variant (1932)
Heinkel He 58 – catapult-launched mailplane floatplane (1932)
Junkers Ju 46 – single-engine shipborne catapult-launched floatplane (1932)
Klemm Kl 35bW – floatplane trainer
Heinkel He 62 – reconnaissance floatplane (1932)
Heinkel He 60 – reconnaissance floatplane (1933)
Heinkel He 51 – floatplane fighter version (1933)
Models of the Luftwaffe
- Arado Ar 95 – two-seat coastal patrol and light attack floatplane (1937)
- Arado Ar 196 – two-seat shipboard and coastal patrol floatplane (1937)
- Arado Ar 199 – two-seat floatplane trainer (1939)
- -Arado ar 233 floatplane prototype (1942)
- Blohm & Voss Ha 139 – long-range mail, mine-sweeping and reconnaissance floatplane (1936)
- Blohm & Voss BV 138 – diesel trimotor, maritime patrol flying boat (1937)
- Blohm & Voss Ha 140 – twin-engine torpedo bomber/reconnaissance floatplane (1937)
- -Blohm & Voss BV 222 – Maritime transport flying boat (1938)
-Blohm & Voss BV 238 – Six-engine transport floatplane (1942)
- Dornier Do 24 & Do 318 – three-engined maritime patrol/search and rescue flying boat (1937)
- Dornier Do 18 – four-seat coastal reconnaissance flying boat (1935)
- Dornier Do 26 – coastal patrol flying boat (1938)
- Dornier Do 22 – three-seat utility floatplane (1938)
- DFS Seeadler – sailplane flying boat (1936)
- -Fieseler Fi-167 (1938): Carrier-borne Torpedo bomber biplane
- Focke-Wulf Fw 58W – twin-engine trainer floatplane (1935)
- Focke-Wulf Fw 62 – single-engine reconnaissance floatplane (1937)
- Heinkel He 114 – shipboard biplane reconnaissance seaplane (1936)
- Heinkel He 115 – maritime reconnaissance floatplane (1936)
- Heinkel He 119 – high-speed reconnaissance floatplane version (1936)
Arado AR-95 D-ODGY, testing aerial torpedoes
It made little doubt that the Luftwaffe in 1939 was probably the most effective air force in the world. It was almost dwarved by the Soviet aviation, but compensated in quality, tactics and organization, despite a very personal management by Goering. However there was no proper naval aviation, to the dismay of Raeder and later Dönitz. The few FW-200 Condors consented to the Kriegsmarine command proved invaluable in the Atlantic, until the allies manage to have a permanent air cover thanks to numerous "jeep carriers". Goering had no intention to cede a part of his beloved Luftwaffe and in that matter, inter-service cooperation was non-existent, in a very similar way in Italy.
Despite of this, the Luftwaffe "coastal command" once Europe was occupied, installed bases along the French, Dutch and Norwegian coasts. There were seaplanes units in activity along the coast and in the Mediterranean. There was no shortage of models, while the rarest and largest (in fact record-beaters) were built by the naval yard Blohm & Voss. But their role revolved around patrol, SAR, transport, reconnaissance and sometimes attack. On the other hand, the Luftwaffe also sank many vessels during the war. The Junkers 88/188 and Ju 87 "Stuka", both dive bombers, proved absolutely devastating. Later this was, modified Dornier 217 were fitted to carry the first airborne antiship missiles and sank several ships, including the Italian battleship Roma.
He-59A floatplane (1935). Only 142 of this model were available when WW2 broke out. Used at first for torpedo attacks and minelaying, it became a recce and SAR plane (search and rescue), gradually retired in 1942 and only retained for training.
The nimble Arado 196 floatplane (1937), deployed on Kriegsmarine cruisers and battleships was also used for coastal reconnaissance, in particular from Norwegian coastal bases. 540 were produced until 1944. It was also used by the Bulgarian, Finnish and Romanian Air Forces.
Dornier Do-18 G1, interwar seaplane used for SAR and reconnaissance. About 100 were still operational when WW2 broke out.
Dornier Do 24 T-1. The Do-24 was probably the most ubiquitous German long range SAR and patrol seaplane of the Luftwaffe in the Atlantic
Heinkel He-115 (1939): The standard Marine Floatplane of the Luftwaffe, used in torpedo attacks, SAR and recce until 1945. 138 were delivered and it was also used by other Axis aviations.
Junkers Ju-52 3MW: This variant of the ubiquitous "Tante Ju" (1932) was fitted with floats and used to carry mostly recce and transport missions.
Junkers Ju-87 B2. The famous Ju-87 "Stuka" was widely used for antiship missions from land bases, where it excelled, being able to place a bomb in a funnel opening, notably in the confines of the Mediterranean, with great success, credited with more than 25 ships.
Junkers Ju-88 A4. The other successful dive bomber of the Luftwaffe, the Ju-88 was even more produced and often used for antiship missions, especially in the Mediterranean but also the Atlantic thanks to its longer range.
Blohm & Voss 222C, an impressive 6-engine long range transport and patrol seaplane. The even more enormous BV-238 never past the production stage.
Another depiction of the BV 222 by Ed Jackson.
Depiction of the gigantic BV 238 by Ed Jackson.
Focke-Achgelis fa-330: Usually deployed from destroyers, it was an early form of on-board helicopter but stayed largely experimental.
Italian naval aviation
The Italian fleet air arm was created before WW1 already (since 1913), and there were already quite interesting records for the Italian aviation in the Adriatic, operating against the Austro-Hungarian naval assets at sea and along the coast, and perform reconnaissance. During the interwar, the Italian Navy Royal started to plan for an aircraft carrier long before the Aquila
, but were opposed by Benito Mussolini, the Duche arguing Italy, for simple geographical reasons, was already a giant "aicraft carrier" bulging into the central Mediterranean.
He also expected that Greece would ultimately fell under his banner as well, allowing the covering of the aegean sea as well and threatening Malta. It would take until the dreadful losses at Taranto in November 1940 and at losses at Cape Matapan in 1941 to drive the admiralty on the path of creating two fleet carriers again, this time with the Duce's greenlight. Despite their effort, Aquila went close to completion when Italy surrendered in September 1943. In between the Regia Marina had to make due with its a naval aviation which was part of the air force. The service was indeed disbanded and integrated into the Italian Air Force, upon the creation of this new branch in 1937, when a law gave control of all national fixed-wing air assets to the Italian Air Force. It was only back as an independent arm in 1956.
SM76 Sparviero, which proved to be a redoubtable torpedo bomber
During WW2, the poor coordination bewteen the Regia Marina
and the Aeronautica Militare
proved an hinderance to naval operations. Whenever this support was asked for, it was never efficient and the "aicraft carrier italy" was nothing more in reality than wishful thinking. Nevertheless, the Navy more or less operated with greater livery proper naval planes as they were of little use for the air force. That's out main ficus here, and the associated types. Italy did not lacked both talent and engineering skills to produce escellent aircraft and it was true for seaplanes and floatplanes as well. The major issue for the industry was its inability to produce powerful aicraft engines, including inline-water cooled engines, marring performances. For this reason, the majority of Italian medium torpedo bombers and patrol/ASW floatplanes were trimotors.
Imam Ro 43 Idro
The workhorse of the land-based aviation deployed in the benefit of the Regia Marina, but operated by the air force, was the excellent Savoi-Marchetti SM79, a fast and potent torpedo bomber.
On the pure naval side, the main recce flying boat was the single-engine IMAM Ro.43
- CANT 6 – maritime patrol flying boat (1925)
- CANT 7 – trainer flying boat (1924)
- CANT 18 – trainer flying boat (1926)
- CANT 25 – fighter flying boat (1927)
- CANT Z.501 – reconnaissance bomber flying boat (1934)
- CANT Z.506 – reconnaissance bomber and rescue floatplane (1935)
- CANT Z.508 – heavy bomber floatplane (1936)
- CANT Z.509 – transport floatplane (1937)
- CANT Z.515 – reconnaissance bomber floatplane (1939)
- CANT Z.511 – long-range military transport floatplane (1943)
- Caproni Ca.316 – maritime reconnaissance floatplane (1940)
- Fiat CR.20 Idro, single-seat fighter floatplane version (1926)
- Fiat RS.14 – long-range maritime reconnaissance floatplane (1939)
- IMAM Ro.43 – catapult launched reconnaissance floatplane (1935)
- IMAM Ro.44 – fighter floatplane (1936)
- Macchi M.18 – three-seat reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1928)
- Macchi M.24 – three-seat reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1923)
- Macchi M.26 – fighter flying boat (1924)
- Macchi M.40 – catapult-launched reconnaissance seaplane (1928)
- Macchi M.41 – fighter flying boat (1927)
- Macchi M.53 – reconnaissance seaplane (1928)
- Macchi M.70 – light biplane floatplane (1929)
- Macchi M.71 – fighter flying boat (1930)
- Maachi MC.73 Idro – floatplane training biplane version (1931)
- Macchi MC.77 – two-seat maritime reconnaissance flying boat (1935)
- Macchi MC.99 – military flying boat (1937)
- Piaggio P.6 – catapult-launched floatplane (1927)
- Piaggio P.8 – single-seat floatplane (1928)
- Savoia-Marchetti S.55 – twin hulled mulitrole flying boat (1924)
- Savoia-Marchetti S.56 – three-seat trainer amphibious flying boat (1924)
- Savoia-Marchetti S.57 – reconnaissance flying boat (1923)
- Savoia-Marchetti S.59 – reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1925)
- Savoia-Marchetti SM.62 – four-seat reconnaissance/bomber flying boat (1926)
- SIAI S.13 – reconnaissance and fighter flying boat (1919)
- SIAI S.16 – bomber-reconnaissance flying boat (1919)
- SIAI S.67 – fighter flying boat (1930)
Imperial Japanese naval aviation
A group of Nakajima B5N2 over the fleet - Colorized by Irootoko jr.
Japanese aviation was divided between the Army and Navy models, with a great deal of rivalry between the two, a bit like the USA. A code was soon created to differenciate between the two: Two letters and a number, coding the plane origin and purpose, a Japanese symbolic name, and on top the allied intelligence code, versus the factory designation for Japanese Army planes with the Type in Imperial years. For example, the N1K "Kyofu" (Rex), where N signified "floatplane fighter", 1 as it was the first of the factory of this type, and K for "Kawanishi". "Rex" was the allied intelligence code. A6M for example designated the sixth type of carrier fighter under this designation system, and that it was built by Mitsubishi. Zeke was the Japanese symbolic name and "Zero" the allied code, inspired by the Imperial year code Reisen ("year zero"). Note: Foreign planes built under licence are not included there.
Without contest, the A6M was the most famous IJN fighter in 1941. Agile, fast, with a long range and top-tier pilots, it brushed aside all opposition until late-1942 when the Hellcat and Lightning started to be introduced. Its army equivalent was the equally agile Nakajima Ki-43 "Oscar".
(1921) 138 built, retired 1930
-Heinkel HD 23/Aichi Type H (1926) semi experimental fighter, 4 built
-Kawanishi K-11 (1927) experimental fighter, 2 built
(1928), based on Gloster Gambet, 151 built, retired 1935
(1929): 166 built, retired 1941
Note: The Navy also used the Gloster Sparrowhawk from 1931, 90 were in service.
(1935), main fixed-train monoplane, 1094 built, retired 1945
(1935) 221 built, until 1940, second line 1942.
-Mitsubishi A6M Zero
"Zeke" (1939): By far the most famous navy fighter. 10,939 built in any variants
-Nakajima J1N Gekko
(1941) "Irving" fast twin-engine heavy fighter, 479 built
-Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden
"Georges" (1943) derived from the "Rex" floatplane fighter, circa 1400 built
-Mitsubishi J2M Raiden
"Jack" (1942), 621 built
-Mitsubishi A7M Reppū
(1944): Planned replacement of the legendary "Zeke", codenamed "Sam", 10 preserie built.
-Yokosuka MXY-8 Akigusa
(1945), a clone of the German Me 163 Komet, which plans and parts arrived via U-Boat. About 50-60 were built but apparently never used.
The IJN also tested the Dewoitine D.510J in 1936, the Canadian Car & Foundry AXG1 in 1938, Heinkel A7He1 (12), Seversky A8V (20) the same year, the American Douglas HXD and Fairchild LXF1, and used 20 Seversky A8V recce monoplanes.
(1934) dive bomber, 590 built codename "Susie"
(1938), main IJN dive bomber, 1,486 built
(1942) codename "Judy" diver bomber, 2,038 built
Navy land-based Torpedo Bombers
(1935), 1,048 built, long range twin engine navy land-based bomber, codename "Nell".
(1939) "Betty", Main long range twin engine torpedo bomber of the navy, 2,435 built
-Nakajima G5N Shinzan
(1941) "liz" long-range quad-engine heavy bomber, 6 built
-The navy also experimented with the Mitsubishi Ki-67 bomber, with a torpedo-bomber, the "Yasukuni", and a dedicated ASW plane, the Mitsubishi Q2M1 Taiyo.
-Nakajima B6N Tenzan
(1941) coldename "Jill", 1,268 built planned replacement for the "Nate".
-Aichi B7A Ryusei
"Jack" (1942), last IJN carrier-borne Torpedo bomber, 114 built
(1922), triplane 20 built retired 1928.
(1923), 443 built, retired 1936.
(1932) 206 built, based on Blackburn Ripon, retired 1939-1940
(1935) 205 built, biplane, retired 1943
(1936) fixed carriage monoplan bomber, 125 built
(1937) 1,150 built, main torpedo bomber
-Yokosuka P1Y1 Ginga
"Frances" (1943) Navy Land-Based twin engines Bomber, 1098 built
Mitsubishi MC-20-II, close to the L4M, Naval transport plane
(1929), main navy trainer based on Avro 504, rarely mounted on floats. All 464 built were used by the Navy.
(1930) staff carrier developed with Fokker, used by the navy and army (Ki-6), prod. unknown
(1930), navy trainer and liaison, recce, 625 built, retired 1940s
(1932), carrier-based recce biplane, 159 built, retired 1937-38 as trainers
(1934) 5,770 main IJN biplane trainer, with undercarriage or floats, used during WW2
(1933) 8 long-range recce/bomber land-based biplanes, most destroyed at Cheju Island in 1937
(1934), light transport biplane, small prod.
-Nakajima C3N (1936) experimental recce monoplane with fixed undercarriage
-Nakajima L1N (1936) main transport monoplane twin engine, 351 built
(1939) main twin-engine transport plane, 406 built
(1939) large navy transport plane codenamed "Tabby", DC-3 copy.
-In 1939 also first flew the Nakajima LXD-1, transport four-engined prototype.
-Kyushu K9W1 Momiji (1942) biplane trainer based on the Bücker Bu-131, 339 built
-Kyushu K11W1 Shiragiku
(1942) monoplane advanced operations trainer, 798 built
-Nakajima C6N Saiun
"Myrt" (1943) Navy Carrier Reconnaissance Plane, the fastest built by Japan, 463 built.
-Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka
(1944) codename "Baka" the famous suicide rocket plane, 852 built
Floatplanes & seaplanes
IJN Haguro and IJN Nachi's Nakajima E8N (Type 95) "Nate" recce plane - colorized bi Iroo Toko Jr.
-Yokosho Rogou Kougata
(1918), 218 built, retired 1928
(1925) Main trainer/spotted floatplane of the Navy, 104 built, retired 1941
(1925) recce and ASW patrol seaplane, 60 built, retired 1938
-Aichi Type 15-Ko Mi-go (1925), semi-experimental seaplane, 4-5 built
(1926): Main recce floatplane, 320 built, retired 1938
-Aichi Navy Type 2 (1928), experimental floatplane
(1929): 80 built, retired in the late 1930s
(1929), submarine-based recce floatplane, 10 built, retired 1943
(1930), trainer/recce floatplane, 211 built, retired 1940s.
(1930) 20 built, recce floatplane. Used by NOTORO, phased out late 1930s
(1930): Recce floatplane dev. with Heinkel, 20 built
(1930), recce floatplane, 153 built, retired late 1930s
(1933) recce seaplane, 47 built, retired 1940
(1934) main recce floatplane, 533 built, served in WW2
(1935) Main recce floatplane, 755 built, served WW2 codename "Pete"
-Kawanishi E10K (1934) experimental transport/recce floatplane
(1936) four engine flying boat, 215 built.
(1936) 944 recce, last biplane floatplanes in the IJN
(1936) Type 99 Flying Boat Model 11, 20 built
-Watanabe K6W (1937) experimental florplane trainder/recce
(1937) 17 gunnery spotting seaplanes (E11A Type 98)
-Kawanishi E11K (1937), two transport flying boats
-Nakajima E12N (1938), 2 recce floatplanes
-Nippi K8Ni1 (1938), 2 trainer floatplanes
(1938) 35 shipboard recce biplanes
-Watanabe K8W (1938) 3 built, recce seaplane trainers
(1938) main recce monoplane floatplane, 1,418 built
-Kawanishi E13K (1938) 2 built, 3-seat shipboard recce.
-Kawanishi K6K (1938) seaplane trainer, 3 built
-Kawanishi K8K (1938), same, 15 built
-Nippi K8Ni1 (1938), same, prototype
-Nakajima E12N (1938), recce floatplane, 2 built
(1940), recce seaplane, 31 built
(1939), shipboard recce floatplane, 126 built
-Kawanishi E15K Shiun
(1941) codename "Norm", 15 built, floatplane Torpedo bomber
(1941) codename "Emily", main long-range aquad-engine, 167 built
-Kawanishi N1K1 Kyofu
(1942) "Rex", main IJN floatplane fighter, variant, land-based fighter Kawanishi N1K-J Shiden- 1,532 built.
-Aichi M6A1 Seiran
(1943) Navy Special Strike Submarine Bomber developed for the I-400 submarines, 28 built.
-Also was tested a flotplane trainer, the Aichi M6A1-K Nanzan Navy Special Strike Submarine Bomber trainer (1943, 2 built) and the Kyushu Q1W1-K Tokai-Ren, a twin-engine the same year codenamed "Lorna".
Author's illustration of the H8K "Emily"
Soviet naval aviation
Soviet naval aviation (Morskaya Aviatsiya
) was initially created under another name, in 1918: the Workers and Peasants Red Air Fleet. Prior to that, it inherited from the Emperor's Military Air Fleet (1909–1917). This had oc creation of the "reds" participated in the Russian Civil War, cooperating with ships and army at Petrograd, on the Baltic and Black Sea, as well as over the Volga, Kama, Dvina rivers and Lake Onega. It was a hotchpotch of some 76 obsolete hydroplanes with poor maintenance and unskilled staff. Due to its condition it was used mostly for reconnaissance and supplies.
However when the Soviet Army and air forced consolidated in the 1920s, Naval Aviation started to increase in capabilities. Thanks to a first 5-year plan, it receive a massive influx of new reconnaissance hydroplanes, but also coastal defence bombers and fighters. By the mid-1930s, it grew so large that it needed to be separated, by creating at first the Baltic, Black Sea andt Pacific Fleet own naval aviation branches. In 1938–1940, Soviet Naval Aviation became a very important components of the Soviet Navy, with formations of torpedo and bomber planes. The Great Patriotic War the two fleets of the Black sea and Baltic combined some 1,445 aircraft, most of these being the Beriev MBR-2.
During the war, Naval Aviation provided air support to the Soviet Navy over the Barents sea, the Baltic and Black Sea as well as the Sea of Okhotsk.
It was composed almost exclusively of land and shore based planes, since the limited size of the Navy saw few ship-based planes in action: Thos of the three Gangut-class battleships, and about seven cruisers. Flying boats were of course the most recoignised asset of the Navy, using specific aircraft, while torpedo-bomber units relied on air force models, converted in some cases to carry torpedoes or equipped with floats. In some cases, transport plaanes of the Navy were used for land operations, in support of the Red Army during coastal offensives, but also landings and special wartime joint army-navy operations. Air cover to Allied convoys in North Sea and up to the Barents Sea was also one of its missions, as well as in the north Pacific and Sea of Okhotsk.
Naval Aviation was noted in the defense of Odessa
in June–October 1941 (Crimean campaign) where naval troops were very active. The Black Sea fleet air arm
also carried out many air strikes during the 1944 offensive. In terms of sunken ships it was quite successful, achieving a 2/3 better success ratio than any other unit of the Soviet Navy. In all, 17 naval aviation units were awarded the title of 'Soviet Guards' and 241 naval air personal were awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union, some pilots twice.
-1st Guards Fighter Aviation Division VVS VMF
-2nd Torpedo Rananskaya Red Banner Aviation Division in the name of N.A. Ostryakova VVS VMF
-3rd Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-4th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-5th Torpedo Aviation Division VVS VMF
-6th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-7th Bombardment Aviation Division VVS VMF
-8th Torpedo Gatchinskaya Red Banner Aviation Division VVS VMF
-9th Assault Ropshinskaya Red Banner, Order of Ushakov Aviation Division VVS VMF
-10th Seysinskaya Red Banner Aviation Division of Dive Bombers VVS VMF
-11th Assault Novorossiysk Twice Red Banner Aviation Division VVS VMF
-12th Assault Aviation Division VVS VMF
-13th Aviation Division of Dive Bombers VVS VMF
-14th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF
-15th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF
-16th Mixed Aviation Division VVS VMF
Beriev MBR-2 (1931)
A well-known patrol multi-purpose flying boat which entered service with the Soviet Navy in 1935. Out of 1,365 built, 9 were exported, notably Finland and North Korea. It was nicknamed "Kорова" and "Амбар" and stayed the beast of burden of coastal patrols in WW2, with a production from 1935 up to 1941.
Beriev BE-2 (KOR-1) (1936)
The small cruiser-based KOr-2 was the default observation plane in the Soviet Navy in the late interwar. This two-seat reconnaissance seaplane was designed to replace the Navy's obsolete license-produced Heinkel He 55 and only 12 were delivered to the Navy for cruisers and battleships use, in service 1938-42.
Beriev BE-4 (KOR-2) (1940)
BE-4 at Krasnoyarsk Base, Siberia, fall 1944
The Beriev Be-4 was a reconnaissance flying boat built to operate from Soviet warships during World War II, logical successor of the BE-2. It was far more sturdy, faster, and has almost twice the range, but only 47 were delivered in 1941-42.
Shavrov Sh-2 naval ambulance (1930)
The Shavrov Sh-2 was a 1930s amphibian, first Soviet mass-produced flying boat. It could carry two crew members and one passenger, also equipped with skis in winter. Light, simple and reliable it was still in service in limited numbers out of a production of 700, in 1941 in roles such as flying ambulance, liaison, and training.
Chetverikov MDR-6/Che-2 (1937)
The Chyetverikov MDR-6 was a late 1930s reconnaissance flying-boat aircraft. It was also the only successful aircraft designed by Igor Chyetverikov bureau. 27 were built from 1939 and it served until 1945.
Ilyushin DB-4T (1936)
The famous VVS Ilyushin Il-4 was used as a long-range bomber and was also declined into a successful floatplane torpedo-bomber, the DB-4T used by Soviet coastal squadrons. It could carry two regular naval torpedoes, as well as up to 2,700 kg (6,000 lb) of bombs or mines.
Tupolev MR-6 (1932)
Inspired by Heinkel models, the all-metal cantilever monoplane twin engine reconnaissance Tupolev R-6 was also used by the Navy as the MR-6, equipped with floats. MR-6
stands for Morskoj razvyedchik
, maritime reconnaissance (also sometimes called "KR-6P"). It was also used as a torpedo bomber version from 1932 and still used for training in 1939-40. It was retired in 1941 for good. The MP-6 2M-17 was a seaplane passenger transport powered by two 507.1 kW (680 hp) Mikulin M-17 V-12 engines.
Tupolev MBT-1 (1934)
The Tupolev MTB-1 (MDR-4, factory ANT-27) was a patrol flying boat designed as a refined version of the unsuccessful Chyetverikov MDR-3. It kept the MDR-3's hull, but with a new full-cantilever wing, tail, and engine installation with two tractor and one pusher. The second prototype designated MTB-1 was to be used in a torpedo-carrying role. It was accepted for production before the end of the tests and 15 were produced, remaining in service until 1942.
Tupolev MBT-2 (1937)
Certainly much more ambitious, the Tupolev MTB-2 was marked as an Heavy Naval Bomber and flying boat (internally ANT-44), with four-engine. Two prototypes were built and performance was good but it was decided to prioritize land-based bombers which could already care for the needs of the Soviet Naval Aviation and it was cancelled in 1940. However the second prototype fought and served actively in WW2 in the black sea.
Land-based Soviet naval aircraft:
Tupolev R-6 of a pacific squadron, 1939
One of the remaining R-6 of the land-based coastal squadrons still used for training and patrols in 1939-40. It was retired in 1942.
Tupolev TB-1 used for training in 1939
Ilyushin DB-4 used by the coast guard
Tupolev ANT-9 Naval transport plane
Yakovlev UT-1 navy trainer