According to an American officer recently returned from Tunisia, while
dive bombing is extremely trying to the nerves of unseasoned troops, it produces
few casualties, particularly when slit trenches are at hand. If 50-caliber
machine-gun fire is available, the bombers are forced to remain at
altitudes from 500 to 1,000 feet, which makes their machine-gun fire ineffective
and their bombing with from 100 to 300-pound bombs inaccurate. (See
Tactical and Technical Trends No. 30,
p. 6). If, however, 50-caliber fire could
not be brought to bear, the bombers would
come down close, even to 50 feet, and spray the ground with machine-gun bullets.
Due to the speed of the plane, such fire was scattered over a large area and few hits,
were scored. One unit of 190 men was bombed 26 times in a day, for the most
part by individual planes, with the loss of three men; another experienced three
30-plane attacks, with very few casualties.
The reactions of men to dive-bombing differ. At times, they will stand up
and watch an attack being made a short distance away, while at other times they
seek cover when there is no danger whatever. Frequently, rifle and light
machine-gun fire is opened at 500 to 1,000 yards--utterly ineffective ranges--and the
widely dispersed bullets cause casualties among other friendly troops. To be
effective, rifle and 30-caliber machine-gun fire must be held for extremely close
range, a few hundred feet, practically pistol range.
Men should be gotten out of slit trenches as quickly as possible after the
immediate danger is past.
In connection with antiaircraft fire against low-flying planes, a flying
officer recently returned from New Guinea reports that at Buna, our strafing
planes encountered heavy explosions at about 200 feet elevation, and suggests the
Japs might have been using a mortar. This development offers an interesting
field for experiment.