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Channel 4 Programme on Tirpitz Sinking

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Channel 4 Programme on Tirpitz Sinking

Old 31st Mar 2014, 00:03
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Channel 4 Programme on Tirpitz Sinking

In case you haven't spotted it, Channel 4 has a rather good programme on the sinking of Tirpitz here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/t...et-history/4od.

At the risk of repeating a cliche, what a generation.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 08:37
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A very good programme it was! The footage taken on the raid was remarkable. You have to have some sympathy for the poor guys aboard the ship when the 12,000 pound bomb hit.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 09:24
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The footage was taken from Lancaster PD329 JO-Y of 463 Sqn, RAF Waddington, flown by Flt Lt Bruce Buckham. 463 Sqn hosted the 5 Group Photographic Film Unit and possessed 3 modified Lancasters with extra filming positions. Some brave cameramen went along to film many of the daylight raids (and some night ones) during the war, and much of the airborne film seen today about Lancaster bombing raids was taken by these Waddington crews.


One of the filming pilots was Flt Lt Tottenham whose name appears on an engine nacelle of PO-S in the RAF Museum at Hendon. He was killed on 26 September 1944 while on a photographic mission on a daylight raid over German gun positions near Calais in support of attacking ground units. Having just completed his first tour on 467 Sqn (where he was one of "Sugar's" regular pilots) he was flying his second mission of his second tour when he and his crew died. This mission was not recorded in the 463 Sqn F541 (Tottenham's aircraft is often erroneously listed as lost during a raid on Karlesruhr).
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 09:45
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Which Bombing computer?

Enjoyed the program, and amazed at the accuracy of the bombing considering the technology that was available then. Anyone know which variant of Bombsight computer was used on the raid?
The first "computer" I worked on after joining the RAF was the T-3 Bombsight computer and can recall it had ballistic setting data for Lancaster, Stirling and many other WW2 bombers on the inside of the main cover. I would imagine it would have been an earlier mark, maybe the T1 or T2?
It was an amazing piece of kit to see operating, it had a slow cyclic movement oscillating around 1 hz from what I remember.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 10:23
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The computer used was the Stabilized Automatic Bomb Sight - a more accurate form of the Norden bomb sight that was used for daylight raids by the USAAF during the War. This bomb sight was issued to specialist units such as IX and 617 Squadrons to allow them to drop their single big bombs with more accuracy. The usual main force bomb sight at this time was the Mk XIV which was excellent for use during night bombing but not as accurate during daylight. The T1 series of sights were developed for use post war as the Lancaster sights were not deemed suitable for the faster aircraft that came along later (and eventually replaced by radar bombing systems).

Last edited by Wensleydale; 31st Mar 2014 at 13:27.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 10:48
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Ok, stupid question of the day- why should a bomb sight be more accurate by night than by day? My simple mind cannot understand the logic of that.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 10:49
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This looked like a recently produced programme and I thought it did a good job of recounting the events. Of course, historical accuracy is always a contentious issue and I don't think 9 Sqn or their association will be too pleased with almost all the emphasis going to 617 Sqn.

However, it is indeed a remarkable feat to drop bombs ballistically from 15,000ft and score direct hits on 3 out of the first 5 bombs.

The new(?) information regarding the fighter wing at Bardufoss & the English-sympathising German radar officer was very enlightening and just proves how close we came to disaster but for a few other minor events.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 12:37
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Ok, stupid question of the day- why should a bomb sight be more accurate by night than by day? My simple mind cannot understand the logic of that.

Probably my bad use of English... the Mk XIV was equally accurate during night and day and was designed for dropping sticks and clusters of weapons at night when main force was bombing visually on flares often dropped by use of electronic targeting aids - quantity of bombs on target area over quality of aiming was the order of the day (think shotgun). Something more accurate was needed for single bombs in daylight and hence the use of the SABS for this tasking. No doubt, cost, rate of manufacture, and ease of setting up the sight was also a factor in which system to use, although I believe that targets were more difficult to find when using SABS at night. Also note that both bomb sights were integrated into the aircraft systems and could not be easily transferred - hence their use by just IX and 617 as the 2 precision bombing squadrons in their "special" modified Lancasters.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 13:03
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Wensleydale - very many thanks. W
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 15:02
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JAJ,

This looked like a recently produced programme and I thought it did a good job of recounting the events
Definitely recently produced as Phil Tetlow (WOP/AG from 9 Sqn), the guy with the sense of humour, was just recounting his Tirpitz experiences, and the filming, to us at last month's ACA meeting in Nottingham. Unfortunately, the edit cut out the bit about the landing conditions when the Lancs arrived at the FOB in Russia before the first raid. Evidently horrendous, many aircraft did not 'make it' and many were forced to turn back and/or seek an alternative landing site. So not quite as portrayed by Channel 4 but a good documentary nonetheless.

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Old 31st Mar 2014, 15:47
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"The computer used was the Stabilized Automatic Bomb Sight - a more accurate form of the Norden bomb sight that was used for daylight raids by the USAAF during the War. This bomb sight was issued to specialist units such as IX and 617 Squadrons to allow them to drop their single big bombs with more accuracy. The usual main force bomb sight at this time was the Mk XIV which was excellent for use during night bombing but not as accurate during daylight. The T1 series of sights were developed for use post war as the Lancaster sights were not deemed suitable for the faster aircraft that came along later (and eventually replaced by radar bombing systems)."

Thank you Wensleydale for the comprehensive answer, must see what I can find on the MK xiv sight, very capable as was proven.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 15:57
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Which Computer ?

A quick Google finds this excellent view of the T1-A Bombing computer linked to a MKXIV bombsight. Could this setup have been used on the Tirpitz?

That T1-A computer looks very similar to the T-3.

Glenn's Computer Museum
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 16:00
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The standard bomb sight at the start of the war was the Mk IX Course Setting Bomb Sight. All parameters (aircraft speed; height; bomb type; wind velocity etc) had to be manually set by the Bomb Aimer. The aircraft had to set a steady heading and the bomb sight could not cope with any aircraft manoeuvre on the bombing run. Later marks had an attachment for moving targets such as shipping.


The Mk XIV had many advantages - the main one being that aircraft movement was automatically fed from the aircraft's instrument system into a bombing computer that gave an output for the bomb sight leaving just 3 parameters for the bomb aimer to enter into the computer. This computer then fed an illuminated line onto a piece of gyro-stabilised Perspex in the bomb sight which the bomb aimer used to line up the target (think of the spitfire gyro-stabilised gun sight but as a straight line). Being stabilised, the bomb sight could cope with a certain amount of aircraft manoeuvre on the run in - a distinct advantage when running through a flak box! The disadvantage with the Mk XIV sight was that any damage to the aircraft systems could lead to loss of the entire system, in which case the bomb-aimer was issued with a "wiz-wheel" type computer (similar idea to the circular slide rule on the Nav Computer) which would allow him to either set up for a purely visual drop or indeed give a "dive-bombing" angle for the pilot to assist hitting the target!


A Google search gives lots of info and images of the various sights.


Edited to add... the Mk XIV bombsight and associated computer was the complete system - I am not sure if the bomb computers for the Mk XIV could also be used with the SABS sight and vice versa but I think that it is unlikely in which case the SABS sights fitted to the Lancaster specials flown by 617 and IX would have had their own specific computer.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 16:34
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Did the bomb aimer have to aim directly at the target? Or was it possible to apply some kind of offset so the aimer could line up on something easy to pick out and the bombs would actually be aimed at the real target several hundred yards away?
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 17:15
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No offset (unlike the Vulcan H2S radar bombing system). The projected lines formed a cross on the Perspex plate. The bomb aimer talked the pilot to fly the aircraft along the fore/aft line (track) and released his bombs when the crossing line met the target. The bombing computer took care of the effects of wind, altitude, bomb type etc leaving the bomb aimer free to concentrate on the aircraft heading.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 17:50
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It seems to me that it isn't so much the accuracy of the bombsight used on the raid that is significant, but the German fighters based at Bardufuss in order to intercept raids on the Tirpitz. "But they didn't Holmes". "Precisely, Watson, precisely!".

Lt Carl Heinrich Vesna (Sp?) was i/c the inland facing Wasserman Radar positioned to detect a follow up raid using the same technique of coasting in further south, entering neutral Swedish airspace, then attacking Tirpitz from the East. The programme suggests that it was not until Tirpitz itself detected the raid and alerted Bardufoss, an hour after the initial radar contact, that fighters were scrambled. Even then they were held for an inbound Ju52! By the time they got to Tromso the Tirpitz was sunk and the Lancs just gone.

Patrick Bishop suggests that Vesna was part of the German Resistance and deliberately sabotaged the Tirpitz's defence, hence saving the stripped out Lancasters of IX and 617 Squadrons, and instead enabled the destruction of the Tirpitz and 1000 members of its crew. How do we feel about that? What does the present German population think about that? Sobering thoughts indeed!

BTW, repeated tonight (Monday) at 1900 Hrs.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 18:22
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Definitely worth watching. Apart from the interest most of us here would have in the challenge of getting there and conducting the attacks, the description of the Tirpitz crew members trapped in the space with the tide rising is chilling and thought provoking, as are the last few seconds of the whole programme, when the German Me 109 pilot reveals his still deeply felt emotions on what he had to do at such a young age. (I think he was a 109 pilot but someone will probably shoot me down if you'll excuse the expression, they did use pictures of a FW190).

Incidentally, for those who have wandered the streets of Andoya with an expensive hangover looking for something to do there is a bit of nostalgia as they pay a visit to interview a resident.
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 19:25
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Was a good programme. Apart from the "Bloody Hell, you brave and talented sods" that is a given, I was amazed that the raid violated neutral Sweden - that was a jaw-dropping moment. Were they given DipClear, or just said "Sod the Swedes"?
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 20:55
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I got the impression that the programme was a bit rushed and left out a lot of important information. I've had an interest in Turpitz since visiting the Turpitz museum at Tromso while on Det a few years ago. The biggest omission in my view was that when Turpitz was finally sunk it was already considered to be unseaworthy by the German Navy and was only moved to Tromso to be used as a fixed coastal defence battery.
The damage caused by the previous raid was such that after the bow was patched up at Alta the ship was only able to move at 10knots to its new berth at Tromso. Once at Tromso there was no intention for the ship to move. This was completely ignored in the programme but is in Patrick Bishops book.
While the technical details of the raid were fascinating, and the bravery of the crews on both sides never in doubt, by the time of the sinking Turpitz was of very little strategic relevance.
Remember, by that stage of the war the Red Army was already in Poland and the western allies were closing up to the Rhine. Whatever the Turpitz did would not affect the outcome.
Of course hindsight is a luxury we can afford!
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Old 31st Mar 2014, 21:05
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Papa

Not so rushed that they forgot how to spell Tirpitz though.


Strategic relevance is not based on actual capability so much as perceived capability.
If we didn't know it was useless, we had to treat it as if it were useful.
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