Radio-controlled bombs made common before WW2


I'm dissatisfied, which means, I exist.
May 30, 2013
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One thing that puzzled me about weapon development of 1930s, is how everyone - engineers, inventors, flyers - managed to completely miss the idea of a simple, radio-controlled vertical-dropped bomb? An analogue of VB-3 RAZON, tracked visually by operator onboard the plane and guided to the target by "left/right/up/down" commands? Such weapon, requiring nothing more than a four-command radio control system (which was not a problem by 1930s) and primitive roll-stabilization autopilot, could increase the accuracy of level bombing significantly, for quite reasonable cost. But instead, the inventors suggested different radio-controlled planes, flying torpedoes, complex homing bombs. It was almost like simple radio-controlled, visually-tracked munition was considered... too simple, too obvious, and inventors wanted to put their efforts into something more advanced.

Let's assume, though, that inventors weren't that blind. So, in early 1930s, some - say, American - radio engineer with military aviation experience, came with the idea of very simple radio-controlled, roll-stabilized bomb for improving the bomber's accuracy. He attracted the attention of USAAF, which have an interest in circumventing somehow Navy's control over Norden bombsight production. So a test batch of radio-controlled bombs was produced, tested, and demonstrated that while hardly a superweapon by itself, a simple radio-guided bomb actually allow accurate high-altitude bombing of small targets (like ships, bridges, factory building).

US tests became widely known, and Britain, France and Italy immediately started to work on their own weapons. USSR, Germany and Japan followed quickly.

So as a result: by the 1939, all major military powers have in their arsenal visually-tracked, radio-controlled vertical bombs of 500-kg (1000 pdr for Imperial-users) caliber at least in some quantity. Essentially, an analogues of much later VB-3 RAZON.

How would the World War 2 looks like, if precise high-altitude bombing would be possible from the earliest days of the war? If long-range level bombers would actually have the ability to hit bridges and railroad nodes, moving ships and factory building - at least at daylight?


David Douglass Merriman lll
Senior Member
Mar 18, 2013
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Smoke screens and Lockheed type false cities would become a thing on and around strategically important targets. And eyeball to vehicle resolution diminishes with distance/altitude. TV guidance would be the answer -- no need to loiter over the target presenting your belly to AA, and vehicle to target resolution improves as the range closes. I believe America actually employed the TV bombs in operations.