The Pacific War Online Encyclopedia
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Medium bombers were aircraft whose role lay somewhere between those of heavy and light bombers. Lacking the range and bomb load for strategic bombing, and too valuable to risk on most ground-support missions, they were typically employed against enemy lines of communication. They were usually twin-engine aircraft with a crew of around 5.
The Japanese Army designated all its bombers as
either heavy or light, but most Japanese heavy
bombers and a few light bombers could better be
described as medium bombers. Nevertheless, we list them under their
classification. The Japanese Navy designed G3M "Nell" and G4M "Betty" as long-range naval
strike aircraft. These proved unsuccessful in daylight attacks, in part because they lacked
the survivability to operate out of range of friendly fighters. However, by 1943, the Japanese had turned to night torpedo attacks by "Bettys" that proved effective at the Battle of Rennell Island. The Allied response was to use radar pickets and low-flying night fighters.
The Americans had better success with daylight attacks, equipping their medium bombers with large numbers of forward-firing machine guns and using them in low-level skip bombing and parafrag attacks.
A number of medium bombers were designed as fast bombers, including the
A-20 Havoc and the A-26 Invader. The British Mosquito was perhaps the ultimate
expression of this design philosophy, though it saw service in the
Pacific primarily as a reconnaissance
aircraft. These aircraft were thought to be fast enough to evade fighters, but advances in fighter
design meant that they could usually be intercepted. The Mosquito was
the exception, because its construction gave it a low radar cross-section. Nevertheless, some
of the other fast bombers were highly successful as low-level strafers.
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