A-36 ✪ Apache
Dive Bomber and Attack Aircraft
On April 16, 1942, North American received an order from the US AAF for the supply of 500 vehicles, designated P-51, but as a dive bomber. In connection with this specific designation, the aircraft's marking was changed to A-36A on September 21.
The dive bomber was designed to destroy small and moving targets near the front line with high accuracy. Similar aircraft in the United States were previously built only for naval aviation, but the experience of the war has shown that they can also be of great benefit on land.
The aircraft of this modification were distinguished by more powerful V-1710-87 engines with 1325 hp. The radiator did not have a scoop-deflector at the entrance. The armament of the A-36A consisted of six 12.7 mm machine guns: four were located in the wing, two in the fuselage, while at the front, the fuselage machine guns were sometimes removed to facilitate the vehicle. Bomb pylons were mounted under the wing, designed for bombs up to 500 pounds (227 kg) in caliber, with a total bomb load of 454 kg.
However, the main difference between the dive bomber was the brake flaps located on the upper and lower wing surfaces. Aerodynamic brakes in the form of slotted plates were released by a cable mechanism when the aircraft entered a dive, being installed perpendicular to the wing surface.
A-36A has become heavier than previous modifications; the normal takeoff weight was 3800 kg, and the maximum - 4858 kg. Accordingly, the maximum speed also decreased - to 570 km / h without bombs and 495 km / h with two bombs of 227 kg each. An increase in aerodynamic resistance due to brake flaps and bomb racks also played a role here. Both factors affected the decrease in the flight range to 880 km and the practical ceiling to 7655 m.
But the A-36 did not become a good dive bomber. Even with the brake grilles extended, it still accelerated too quickly. Therefore, a vertical dive on the A-36A was prohibited. Bombing was carried out only at angles of no more than 60 °.
The first dive bomber was flown on September 21, 1942. The entire order was completed by March of the following year. One of the last planes was donated to the British for study.
Usually, the A-36A entered a gentle dive at an altitude of 3000 - 4500 m. With the grids released, the speed was kept within 480 km / h. Bombs were dropped from 1000 m, and the exit from the dive was carried out at 500 m.
They tried to evade the battle with enemy fighters A-36A, leaving at high speed. If the battle became inevitable, the dive bombers went to an altitude of about 2500 m, where they could fully use the capabilities of the machine. The robust design allowed them to withstand significant overloads.
Under favorable conditions, the A-36A could use its powerful weapons as an attacking side. He could successfully operate against slow and clumsy bombers, flying boats and transport aircraft. Sometimes the A-36A was used to cover ships and ships, escort bombers and transport aircraft when there were not enough fighters. According to American data, the A-36A has 101 destroyed enemy aircraft (84 in the air and 17 on the ground).
The A-36A was withdrawn from the combat units of the US AAF by the beginning of 1945. During the period of participation in the hostilities, they made a total of 23,373 sorties, dropped about 8,000 tons of bombs on the enemy. The enemy shot down 177 A-36A attack aircraft.
|Wing span, m
|Wing area, m²
|PE Allison V-1710-87, power hp
|Maximum speed, km/h
|Cruising speed, km/h
|Service ceiling, m
|6 × 12.7 mm machine guns, bombs, kg
||2 × 227