You are not logged in.


Friday, December 14th 2012, 3:46am

Yugoslav Recce Options

(OOC Discussion)

One of the issues facing the Royal Yugoslav Air Force is the growing obsolescence of its corps reconnaissance aircraft, coupled with changing tactical requirements that question the continuing utility of the corps reconnaissance aircraft as a type.

My current thinking is a three-phase approach to the issue of aerial reconnaissance.

1. Divisional artillery spotting and observation (Aerial Observation Post) - in the short term, a variant of the licence-produced RWD-13 could fill this role.

2. Tactical reconnaissance (Fighter Recce) - the logical choice in the near term would be a recce variant of the Jastreb fighter-bomber.

3. Long-range reconnaissance - while the RYAF does not have a strategic reconnaissance requirement, something longer-legged than a recce Jastreb might be worth having. Logically, a small quantity of recce-equipped Zmaj bombers might work.

Suggestions for alternate approaches are welcome, together with your reactions.


Saturday, December 15th 2012, 11:36am

I'll attempt to answer OOC using the strategies I've used in WW so far.

I would agree that the Kracuj is getting long in the tooth and vulnerable to both AA and fighters. The requirement for smoke laying now might be receeding, but without modern war experiences who can really tell for sure. Most modern wars in WW have been small affairs composed of highly-trained regulars against small irregular forces as opposed to the mass slaughter of modern mechanised warfare. The Lithuanian crisis was a mix of all kinds of warfare but was six years ago. However I'll lay down my thoughts on the topic below.

The Kracuj is probably no more obsolencent than the Westland Lysander, however it probably lacks the very good STOL of the Lysander which maintains its role and indeed has seen requests for more by those nations which have used it in wartime. Generally attempts to modernise the concept have been rejected as increasing weight only destroys the one attribute that makes it so worthwhile despite its vulnerability, its ability to operate almost anywhere.

So what can replace it? A) another Lysander, B) a light aircraft like an Auster AOP, C) an autogyro or helicopter. A gets us no further along as light AA improves unless you intend hedge-hopping flight and a consequent loss of reconnaissance vision. B is very suitable and such light aircraft exist. Auster is making planes in WW but the RAF has not yet considered such flimsy machines as viable. Air superority is demanded to operate A or B anyway, but B has to operate in low altitudes and a modern 20mm or 37mm or 57mm mount could shred an Auster without sweat. On the bonus such an aircraft can be easily patched up (if it doesn't crash or burn) but the load for radio and camera gear is very small. On the basis of field performance and load ability the Lysander seems peferable in my eyes. As I say, the Krackuj may not have equal STOL ability. A comparison with the Lysander indicates smaller span, longer length, higher wing areas, higher loaded weight and slower speed and more range. What about C, the rotary-winged option? Well, the RAF has done tests but realistically such machines are too small to carry enough usable load and are vulnerable to ground fire, if less so to fast interceptors if flown by experienced pilots.

The RAF has gone for specialised high-altitude recon planes like modified Spitfires and Mosquitos thanks to the influence of Sidney Cotton. Lower-level tactical recon fighters or fast bombers make sense and the RAF is looking into those. The RAF in the longer term might replace the Lysander with fighters with a consequent loss of detailed low-level recon for smaller units (dropping the results over the lines for example).

In 1935 Argentina faced the need to gain recon info on SAE positions. All it could do was equip Vanquish and later I-100 fighters with cameras in an attempt to gain intelligence and get past the RSAF and RSAA defences. The I-100 fighter offered speed and agility if bounced by fighters, the bombers being used on quieter sectors and over water. Small light aircraft were brought for use by smaller formations as integral recon capability but are mainly used a laison aircraft and offer only an artiellery spotting capability with radio. Today, a small batch of converted Mosquito bombers will be used, again speed for protection. And in Italy work is ongoing on an ultra-speciailised diesel-powered very long-range high-altitude aircraft to fly at altitude over Grand Uruguay and far out to sea. It is felt this is needed to get past the SAE defences. The acquisition of converted Zmaj might be useful for Yugoslavia but realistically, any enemy, Italy is not that far away. Yugoslavia might find, like Argentina did during the war, speed and camera fit matter more to get the info and get it home intact than pure range.