Today, hand-held battering rams are one tool among many used by law enforcement and military personnel for door breaching. Forcible entry by criminals has been implemented using such methods as vehicles rammed into buildings.
Ramming in air combat is a last-ditch tactic that was used when all else had failed. The ramming pilot could use his entire aircraft as a ram or he could try to destroy the enemy's controls using the propeller or wing to chop into the enemy's tail or wing. Ramming took place when a pilot ran out of ammunition yet was still eager to destroy an enemy, or when his plane had already been damaged beyond saving. Most ramming occurred when the attacker's aircraft was economically, strategically or tactically less valuable than the enemy's, such as by pilots flying obsolescent aircraft against superior ones or by single-engine aircraft against multiple-engine bombers. Defenders rammed more often than invaders.
A ramming attack was not considered suicidal in the same manner as kamikaze attacks — the ramming pilot stands a chance of surviving, though it was very risky. Sometimes the ramming aircraft itself could survive to make a controlled landing, though most were lost due to combat damage or the pilot bailing out. Ramming was used in air warfare in the first half of the 20th century, in both World Wars and in the interwar period. In the jet age, as air combat speeds increased, instances of ramming became rare. It was too risky.
Nine rammings took place on the very first day of the German invasion of the Soviet Union, one within the first hour. At 04:25 hours on June 22, 1941 Lt. I. I. Ivanov drove his Polikarpov I-16 into the tail of an invading Heinkel He 111. Ivanov didn't survive but was posthumously awarded the gold star, Hero of the Soviet Union. Lieutenant Boris Kobzan survived a record four ramming attacks in the war. Alexander Khlobystov made three. Seventeen other Soviet pilots were credited with two successful ramming attacks. About 200 taran attacks were made by Soviets between the beginning of Operation Barbarossa and the middle of 1943, when enough modern aircraft had been produced to make the tactic obsolete (even if Russian fighter pilots were still trained to perform it). However, Evgeny Stepanov stated in an interview that more than 580 taran attacks were made by VVS pilots in WWII.
On 15 September 1940, Flight Sergeant Ray Holmes of No. 504 Squadron RAF used his Hawker Hurricane to destroy a Dornier Do-17 bomber over London by ramming but at the loss of his own aircraft (and almost his own life) in one of the defining moments of the Battle of Britain. Holmes, making a head-on attack, found his guns inoperative. He flew his plane into the top-side of the German bomber, cutting off the rear tail section with his wing and causing the bomber to dive out of control. The German crew were killed in the crash, while the injured Holmes bailed out of his plane and survived. As the R.A.F. did not practice ramming as an air combat tactic, this was considered an impromptu manoeuvre, and an act of selfless courage.
On April 6 1941, the first day of Invasion of Yugoslavia 36th group of the 5th fighter regiment of the Yugoslav Royal Air Force, equipped with obsolete Hawker Fury biplanes scrambled to defend their airfield, Režanovačka Kosa, from a strafing attack by aprox. 30 Bf-109 and Bf-110s. In the ensuing uneven dogfight at least three Yugoslav pilots: Captain Konstantin Jermakov, Captain Vojislav Popović and Lieutenant Milorad Tanasić rammed a German fighter each with fatal results on both sides.
Starting in August 1944, several Japanese pilots flying Kawasaki Ki-45 and other fighters engaging B-29 Superfortresses found that ramming the very heavy bomber was a practical tactic. From that experience, in November 1944 a "Special Attack Unit" was formed using Kawasaki Ki-61s that had been stripped of most of their weapons and armor so as to quickly achieve high altitude. Three successful, surviving ramming pilots were the first recipients of the Bukosho, Japan's equivalent to the Victoria Cross or Medal of Honor, an award which had been inaugurated on 7 December 1944 as an Imperial Edict by Emperor Hirohito. Membership in the Special Attack Unit was seen as a final assignment; the pilots were expected to perform ramming attacks until death or serious injury stopped their service.
In the 1960 U-2 incident, Soviet pilot Igor Mentyukov was scrambled with orders to ram the intruding Lockheed U-2, using his unarmed Sukhoi Su-9 which had been modified for higher altitude flight. In 1996, Mentyukov claimed that contact with his aircraft's slipstream downed Gary Powers, however, Sergei Khrushchev asserted in 2000 that Mentyukov failed even to gain visual contact.
See also kinetic projectile.
Another significant success of the ram in wartime was at the battle of Lissa, between Italy and Austria. The Italian ironclad Re d'Italia had been damaged aft by gunfire, and had no rudder. Lying helpless in the water, she was struck amidships by the Austrian Ferdinand Max, the flagship of the Austrian Commander-in-Chief Admiral Tegetthoff. The Austrian ship retreated unharmed as the Italian vessel rolled over and sank.
During World War I, HMS Dreadnought rammed and sunk German submarine U-29.
In World War II, naval ships often rammed other vessels, though this was often due to circumstances, as it could cause considerable damage to the attacking ship. The damage that lightly constructed destroyers took from the tactic led to it being officially discouraged by the Royal Navy from early 1943, after the HMS Hesperus was dry-docked for three months following sinking U-357 in December 1942 and HMS Harvester was torpedoed and sunk following damaging her propellers during the ramming of U-444 in March 1943.
During anti-submarine action, ramming was an alternative if the destroyer was too close to the surfaced submarine for her main guns to fire into the water. The tactic was used by the famous British anti-submarine specialist, captain Frederic John Walker from December 1941 to the end of the war.
Superannuated British destroyer HMS Campbeltown was disguised as a German ship for the purpose of ramming the lock gates of the U-boat base at St. Nazaire on 28 March 1942. A large explosive time bomb charge in the bow of the ship exploded the next day, putting the dock out of commission for five years.
PT-109 was rammed and crushed by a Japanese destroyer, though the incident was at night and the PT-boat was idling to avoid detection, making it doubtful the destroyer's actions were intentional.
In 1988 two US naval ships, destroyer Caron and cruiser Yorktown, were lightly rammed by Soviet Mirka II class light frigate (FFL 824) and Krivak I class frigate Bezzavetny (FFG 811) inside contested Soviet territorial waters in the Black Sea, near the port of Foros. None of the ships involved suffered significant damage.
During the "Cod Wars" between Britain and Iceland, unarmed fishing trawlers found themselves opposed by Icelandic Coastguard vessels and converted trawlers. As well as Royal Navy coastguard vessels, Britain sent large, ocean-going tugs and lightships to protect them and there were numerous ramming incidents against both sides, sometimes with very serious consequences.
Ramming renaissance; Railroads are turning to the established method of pipe ramming to rehab and install key ditching and drainage components.(PIPE RAMMING)
May 01, 2008; There are some issues that strike across the rail industry, no matter how large or small a railroad. One of these concerns is how...