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Thach Weave Revisited

 
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Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 2:54:10 AM   
Joe D.


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I thought I understood the Thach Weave, but when I learned from a video that it was originally called the Beam Defense Position, allowing pilots to bring more guns to bear on an approaching enemy -- as opposed to the traditional leader and wingman in trail -- I'm not sure I understand the entire concept.

Apparently "weaving" was just one aspect of the Beam Defense, but it wasn't anything new for Navy escort pilots who had to loiter in wide S-turns just to stay on station above the lower, slower torpedo bombers.

According to Shattered Sword, Thach commanded a two-element division, but I have no idea how many planes make up an element, or comprise a fighter division.

In any case, the separate division elements flew far abeam of one another; depending on which element was attacked, the other element would look for a head-on snapshot, or even a deflection shot as the attacked element weaved towards them with the enemy in tow.

Can any aviators confirm this?

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 3:02:51 AM   
JeffK


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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thach_Weave

Give a pretty good explanation, it sounds like 2 sets of wide S turns on opposite tracks.

SS might have poor terminology, an element should be 1 aircraft but a 2 element division sounds like it should be a 2 element section.

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 3:13:23 AM   
USS America


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Where's The Elf when we need him?

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 3:16:20 AM   
jcjordan

 

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From what I've gathered but Elf being more qualified than I -

element/section = 2 a/c
2-3 elements = div
3 div = squadron

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 8:31:41 AM   
Cannonfodder


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Even in a simulator/air war game "weaving" with your wingman is extremely hard to pull of, but when succesful excellent for disengaging in a slower aircraft.

The tricky part is gunnery and avoiding collision...

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 1:56:04 PM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: jcjordan

From what I've gathered but Elf being more qualified than I -

element/section = 2 a/c ...


Leader and wingman?

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 2:01:32 PM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Cannonfodder

Even in a simulator/air war game "weaving" with your wingman is extremely hard to pull of ...


... esp. when an infuriated, fanatacial IJN aviator is on your 6!

Beam Defense Position was said to be a very complicated series of maneuvers that can vary with the planes involved.

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 2:40:27 PM   
Mundy


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It probably requires good deflection shooting skills, since the element being tailed is dragging the Japanese fighter(s) across the path of the other element.

Ed-

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 3:38:23 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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Something I always wondered about the thatch weave, is that it assumes a 2-plane "defender" team fighting against one "aggresor". whoever he picks, the other plane will be able to ruin his attack

however, what if you have 2 aggresors, each going after one defender? wouldn't that invalidate the tactic?


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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 3:51:12 PM   
Cannonfodder


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Two vs two makes it harder, but it is still possible to pull it off. Attacking a weaving pair is all about overloading situational awareness... The only threat you can defend against is the one you can see. Whichever side has the best SA, communication and timing wins....

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 4:48:58 PM   
crsutton


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Cannonfodder

Two vs two makes it harder, but it is still possible to pull it off. Attacking a weaving pair is all about overloading situational awareness... The only threat you can defend against is the one you can see. Whichever side has the best SA, communication and timing wins....


Good point and Allied pilots were operating with the benefit of radios while Japanese pilots rarely had that luxury. Once the Japanese planes separated any tactical coordination would have been lost.


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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 10:27:33 PM   
Knavey

 

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http://www.history.navy.mil/download/ww2-25.pdf

Interesting article on this subject.

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/7/2012 11:54:07 PM   
spence

 

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The communications advantage would have been decisive...the Allied pilot could tell his "cover" which way he was going to go (THREE dimensions) allowing the cover to know which way to go (THREE dimensions). Meanwhile the IJN/IJA pilot following gets guess and/or react to his target without any knowledge that he might be driving into the kill zone for 4,6 or 8 x .50 cals.

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/8/2012 11:00:06 AM   
Apollo11


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Hi all,

Western pilots (USA, RAF, German) tend to fight as a unit (whatever size). Radios help tremendously with that.

Eastern plots (Russians to some degree and Japanese very much) tend to fight individually (i.e. old fashioned WWI style). Lack of radios necessitated that.

BTW, "Teach Wave" was devised as defensive (NOT offensive) tactics!

It helped keeping USN pilots alive - it didn't help that much with shooting down the IJN aircraft...


Leo "Apollo11"

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/8/2012 3:09:19 PM   
sandman455


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Joe D.

In any case, the separate division elements flew far abeam of one another; depending on which element was attacked, the other element would look for a head-on snapshot, or even a deflection shot as the attacked element weaved towards them with the enemy in tow.

Can any aviators confirm this?


ACM wasn't my specialty, but I do believe you are visualizing the aircraft a little too far apart. You don't want a to end up with a head-on shot. You want to fall in behind the advisory that is attempting to attack your wingman.

While not completely defensive the Thach Weave was A PLAN and in ACM any plan is usually a lot better than nothing. Also I don't think radios had much to do with it working so well. This a very fluid engagement. Your ability to express yourself in the few seconds that would transpire during and just prior to the execution of your plan was not good. You could call out bogeys but that's about it.

Wasn't it Maverick who said "You don't have time to think up there. If you think, you're are dead."

While taken literally it's a ridiculous statement, its does have some truth to it. The Thach weave was a great substitute for making the terrible mistake of thinking too much during these first few seconds.


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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/8/2012 3:29:56 PM   
Cannonfodder


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Best example I could find. It is not a pure weave but the pilots (56th fg in BGE, my former squad mates) use elements of the move.

This is a classic example of how to disengage as a wing pair when outgunned and fighting aircraft faster and with better climb rate.

Hammered made a lot of videos, good to watch if you are interested in simming.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QWzKuv61crs

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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/8/2012 11:04:03 PM   
Jorge_Stanbury


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I found this regarding Japanese radios

http://www.j-aircraft.com/research/gregspringer/radios/radio_systems.htm

"The radio sets were well designed and at the beginning of the war, well built. As the war went on, shortages of raw materials began to affect the quality of the radio components. One of the earliest problems encountered was a lack of coordination between the manufacturers of the radios and the aircraft builders. Frequently, no provision was made for mounting points for the radios in the initial cockpit designs of aircraft. As a result they were fitted as an afterthought in whatever space was available. This led to problems of accessibility in some aircraft types. Crewmembers had difficulty adjusting frequencies, volume and other parameters of the radios. The greatest problem encountered was that of correctly installing the radios with proper wiring, shielding and grounding of the equipment. It seems that little attention was devoted to this problem until late in the war. Insufficient shielding of the ignition system of the aircraft caused interference with reception of signals to a great degree, as did static charges generated by the passage of the airframe through the atmosphere. It seems that there were very few officers at fighter group level who were familiar with radio systems or who cared to conduct effective programs to maintain them. The resulting poor performance quickly led fighter pilots to cease using the radios and resort to the old visual methods. In the case of some land-based groups, they removed all radio equipment to enhance the performance of the planes. Ship-based planes needed to retain their radios for navigation and homing purposes.

Very early in the war the lack of radios severely limited tactical control options that could be exercised by flight commanders. Sakai, Saburo wrote of the death of fellow pilot Miyazaki, Yoshio and the near ambush of Lt. Sasai, Junichi under circumstances where formations had drawn apart and he was unable to tell the straying aircraft that they were about to be bounced. These incidents occurred over New Guinea in May 1942. Later, during the air battles around Guadalcanal, Japanese fighter formations had great difficulty coordinating escort actions due to heavy cloud conditions degrading visibility at multiple altitudes. John Lundstrom cites this on page 192 of “The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign”.


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RE: Thach Weave Revisited - 12/9/2012 12:30:55 PM   
Joe D.


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Jorge_Stanbury
It seems that there were very few officers at fighter group level who were familiar with radio systems or who cared to conduct effective programs to maintain them. The resulting poor performance quickly led fighter pilots to cease using the radios and resort to the old visual methods ...


Like IJN CAP watching its ships shooting in the direction of incoming bogies; one poster here described this as "Nelsonian".

IJN flight deck officers were also in charge of their CAP and had to vector it w/o a CiC and reliable radios, making a "Midway" inevitable.

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