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WWII Start 80th Anniversary

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WWII Start 80th Anniversary

Old 9th Sep 2019, 11:48
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WWII Start 80th Anniversary

An extract from my Dad's logbook marked the start of his war, when he was with 149 Squadron;

(1939) Sept 4th; Wellington 1A; L4259; Pilot Self; Crew FO Macrae, AC Hartnell, Cpl Roberts, AC Wyndham; OPS Brunsbuttel; 4/500lb GP.

He returned safely from that and his next sortie over Germany was 4 years later in September 1943, as a Lancaster pilot. Most of the time in between was in Rhodesia as an instructor with 20 SFTS.

(He completed 4 sorties between 22 Sept and 30 September 1943, and was then shot down on 2nd October near Munich.)

Does anyone else have any record of that Brunsbuttel raid on 4th September? There was another on the same day on Wilhemshaven, with Blenheims and Wellingtons, with many losses to fighters and flak. They were the RAF's first losses in the war.
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Old 9th Sep 2019, 21:43
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old, not bold
Does anyone else have any record of that Brunsbuttel raid on 4th September? There was another on the same day on Wilhemshaven, with Blenheims and Wellingtons, with many losses to fighters and flak. They were the RAF's first losses in the war.
There's a bit here: HyperWar: Royal Air Force 1939–1945: Volume I: The Fight at Odds [Chapter II]

While Doran was attacking near Wilhelmshaven, fourteen Wellingtons of Nos. 9 and 149 Squadrons were making their way towards Brunsbüttel. Here McPherson had reported two battleships. But bad weather and fierce anti-aircraft fire shielded the targets, and only one crew claimed a possible hit. Two of the Wellingtons which penetrated the harbour failed to return.

These operations of 4th September, which cost seven of the twenty-nine aircraft taking part, may be regarded as characteristic of our first attempts to damage the enemy from the air. The over-optimistic view of what might be achieved: the care taken to avoid harming the German civil population: the large proportion of aircraft failing to locate the objective: the ineffective bombs and inconsiderable results: the expectation that crews would be skilful enough to find and bomb in atrocious weather a precise and hotly defended target on the other side of the North Sea: and the unflinching courage with which the attacks were pressed home—all these were typical, not merely of September 1939, but of many months to come.
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Old 12th Sep 2019, 21:16
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The over-optimistic view of what might be achieved:
I thought it might be useful of my experience in visual bombing. Over 50 years ago I did a visual bombing course in what was effectively a development of the Wellington and at the same speeds.

Typically we were at 4,000 feet whereas they would have been higher and we used a newer gyro stabilised bombsight of a type not developed until later in the war. Our problem, as it was for them, was measuring the wind. We would fly a race track near the target area and measure wind drift using the bombsight and a wind finding attachment. This was not a good idea. I don't know if they had a WFA or tried such techniques.

What they could have done is flown a dog leg manoeuvre and calculated a three drift wind.

The drift would be set on the bombsight, the groundspeed and altitude would be used on a bombsight computer - a black circular slide rule that had a specific scale for the bombs used and allowed for the length of the stick. The resultant was the bombsight angle to determine the release point. This would be done near the target.

Approach the target from an initial point, say steadily identified point about 15 miles or 6 minutes we would fly a steady heading until we identified the target. Any evasion that the pilot did would make target identification harder and the aircraft less stable. Once the target was sighted the bomb aimer would command either a hard turn on or a gentle turn depending on track error. As the bomb line on the bombsight neared the target he would call steady. The pilot would level the wings and the bomb line should be close to the target.

If everything was correct the would be approaching the target with only small corrections. The command would be LEFT LEFT STEADY or RIGHT STEADY with either a slow call for a long change or a very brief succession say RIGHT STEADY RIGHT STEADY then STEADY STEADY STEADY BOMBS GONE. The cadence would suggest urgency.

To make these corrections the pilot would kick the rudder rather than bank.

From 4,000 feet, with everything right and no enemy action a first rate crew might get within 15 feet of the target half the time. More average was nearer 50 feet.

Flying at such a slow speed, that accuracy, and adding any evasive flying the chances of hitting a ship target when level bombing was almost pot luck. Fortunately, at that time of the war, and anti aircraft gunners were not that well practised either.
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