Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Military Aviation
Reload this Page >

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Military Aviation A forum for the professionals who fly military hardware. Also for the backroom boys and girls who support the flying and maintain the equipment, and without whom nothing would ever leave the ground. All armies, navies and air forces of the world equally welcome here.

Gaining An R.A.F Pilots Brevet In WW II

Old 7th May 2017, 05:43
  #10581 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Japan
Posts: 1,944
Received 143 Likes on 86 Posts
Many thanks for the informative follow-up, Danny.


Nothing to do with the price of fish, but the overkill comment on the Sydney Spitfire Association site yesterday regarding 20 mm cannon on human targets reminded me of something my mother experienced in Burma during the war. Her (first) husband was stationed at a particular airfield and she used to go for walks when the day was not too hot. One day on the edge of the woods at the end of the runway she heard frantic shouting and the roar of engines, and some Japanese 'sharks' swooped down and strafed the airstrip. She said they were so close that for one instant she locked eyes with one of the J pilots.
She had been advised to stand upright and still as many considered that you presented less of a target that way.

Last edited by jolihokistix; 7th May 2017 at 06:50.
jolihokistix is offline  
Old 7th May 2017, 10:25
  #10582 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2012
Location: Co. Down
Age: 82
Posts: 832
Received 241 Likes on 75 Posts
Chug's 'what if' scenario looks as if it will run and run! Now, what if the Germans had been able to drop poison gas on the invasion beaches in the run-up to D-Day? The Daily Mail is running a very well-researched series on how this could have been accomplished:
Nazis killed 40,000 on Alderney 'chemical weapons' island | Daily Mail Online

Having visited Alderney on several occasions, I was fascinated by its wartime fortifications which are still far more formidable than those on Jersey and Guernsey. The Germans even built a railway to haul materials from the harbour to construction areas. Even then I wondered why, so for me this story has the ring of truth.

Wandering the coastal paths one cannot miss the heavy flak positions, machine-gun posts and bunkers built into residents' houses, while concrete ducts criss-cross many open areas. Even before we learned about its grim past, we both remarked on the eerie atmosphere around the Sylt concentration camp. It was the only place on the Channel Islands where the birds did not sing.
Geriaviator is offline  
Old 7th May 2017, 10:44
  #10583 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 79
Posts: 7,803
Received 135 Likes on 63 Posts
The Germans even built a railway to haul materials from the harbour to construction areas.
They did here in Jersey too. Started in the Harbour at St Helier and made its way to the West Coast where much of the concrete was laid [St Ouen's Bay = nice beach for invasion, you see].

Very interesting article, even if it is in the DM
MPN11 is online now  
Old 7th May 2017, 11:43
  #10584 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Japan
Posts: 1,944
Received 143 Likes on 86 Posts
Spent a summer on Guernsey many years ago and the heavy concrete gun emplacements and tunnels were quite something too.
jolihokistix is offline  
Old 7th May 2017, 13:13
  #10585 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
jolihokistix (#10582),

Your mother's "sharks" would almost certainly have been "Oscars". Why the Japanese Army Command only used these excellent fighters on these "hit and run" ground raids, instead of putting them up in the sky (where they would've been bad news to us, among others), is one of the mysteries of that conflict.

Whereabouts in Burma was this ? Was she on the Long March North from Malaya ? Did they catch her, or was she able to get to the (relative) safety of India ? There is a good story there which needs the telling.

I was once under ground attack by one of these. A party from the sqdn had been invited over to see a primitive Radar installation which had been set up on a nearby airstrip. We marvelled at this new magic, and stood in awe of the magician, who confidently assured us that there was no air traffic at all within thirty miles.

We thanked him for the hospitality, strolled leisurely out into the sunshine to our truck - and were promptly set upon by a pair of these marauding "Oscars". Standing still did not seem a good option; we dived into a nearby waterlogged ditch and kept our heads down.

There did not seem to be any aimed fire, they just flew low down the strip spraying bullets willy-nilly. But as the resident Spitfires were all well dispersed in the trees, and they didn't bother with our truck, no harm was done. After the one firing pass, they went off somewhere else.

We warily crawled out of the ditch, and spent the next ten minutes de-leeching each other (by getting out the fags and applying the hot end to the leech's bum) They don't like it and drop off. Then we went back, with our trust in the magician and his magic somewhat diminished.

Danny.
 
Old 7th May 2017, 13:26
  #10586 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 79
Posts: 7,803
Received 135 Likes on 63 Posts
Ha!! A wise radar operator never states absolutes. "No known/observed traffic" is much safer!

An undortunate introduction to the wondrs of radar, though.
MPN11 is online now  
Old 7th May 2017, 14:35
  #10587 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: sussex
Posts: 1,836
Received 16 Likes on 12 Posts
You can of course postulate many 'what ifs' about WW2. But if the war in Europe had continued past the testing of the A bomb then Germany may well have been the first unwilling recipient of such a device. After all the Manhattan Project was built around the premise that Germany may be developing such a weapon.
ancientaviator62 is offline  
Old 7th May 2017, 14:40
  #10588 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Geriaviator (#10583),

Don't think "nerve agents" in WWII. "Germany did not use nerve agents against Allied targets" [Wiki]. And the "Zyklon B" used in the gas chambers was Prussic acid-soaked granules [Wiki].

For possible use at Alderney, I would have thought "Mustard" (in liquid form) the agent of choice. I have some slight knowledge of the stuff, as my 1340 Flight at Cannanore was set up to bomb and spray the stuff on the test sites of the Chemical Defence Research Establisment, itself a tropical off-shoot of Porton Down (which has been on the telly recently).

I spent my last year in India on that job. A drop of mustard left on the skin for twenty minutes will cause a third degree burn. The calculation after that is: Area of Body affected (in %) x Age = (%) Mortality. (Daughter, who is professionally skilled in these matters).

We dropped the stuff in 65lb tins (which burst open on impact), the Army volunteer "guinea pigs" marched about in the splashed ground to see how long it would take for it to soak through their Army boots (then the boffins developed dubbins to proof the leather). They tried out various designs of gas capes: we sprayed it on them low level. A gas cape was devised for a camel (still used as a draught animal in present Pakistan).

I suppose enough would have vaporised for them to need to wear gas masks (don't know, but should've asked) as I never visited the ranges (40 mi away). The tins (which we carried in the VV bomb bays) leaked a bit at the joints, the fumes came up to the cockpit via the "letter-box" slot in the floor. We always flew with canopies open.

Assad seems to have used "Sarin" on at least one occasion, but "Mustard" mostly.

Danny
 
Old 7th May 2017, 14:43
  #10589 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 82
Posts: 4,758
Received 219 Likes on 68 Posts
jolihokistix, thank you for translating the various Japanese language websites you link us to. Interesting that the Helen was seen by them as a Heavy Bomber, although only twin engined. Given that their war spread over the far reaches of the Pacific, it is strange that neither the Navy nor Army saw fit to equip themselves with 4 engine bombers. Even the explanation that it was designed for a war against the USSR hardly answers the question, for it was the lack of an operational long range bomber (in any numbers) that stymied the Luftwaffe in their assault on the USSR.

BTW, just as well you did translate the Japanese text. I have just added "Translator for Microsoft Edge" to my PC, and turned it loose on the same sites. It produced utter gobbledegook that makes Yoda's speech seem like the Gettysburg Address!

Geriaviator, your DM link is fascinating. The fortification of the Channel Islands, particularly Alderney, as against the woeful lack of it in most of the rest of "The Atlantic Wall", has always been a mystery. That it would thus deter British attempts to liberate them was self evident, so we didn't until after the garrisons surrendered!

The macabre explanation that it was to disrupt the invasion ports of Weymouth and Plymouth with Sarin armed V1s is persuasive but triggers yet more questions. Would those ports have been targeted in preference to say East Coast ones or Portsmouth, Dover, Folkestone, etc? Were all such South and East coast ports to be bombarded thus? It rather challenges our belief that we convinced Hitler and his High Command that the invasion was to be at the Pas de Calais rather than Normandy if they weren't.

Did we find such V1 sites as this elsewhere that had hardened storage tunnels for chemical warheads? Did we find such Sarin stocks at Alderney, if not how had the isolated Germans there disposed of them? What happens if you drop such warheads into the sea? Over to you Danny, as our resident chemical weapon expert.
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 7th May 2017, 14:59
  #10590 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: sussex
Posts: 1,836
Received 16 Likes on 12 Posts
I suspect that rather like Germany Japan thought it would only be fighting a short 'blitzkreig' war and that any longer range requirements would be covered by the aircraft carrier. Hence the production of medium bombers only.
Another point is they were relying on operating from conquered or 'friendly' territory (eg Siam) so again a medium bomber would suffice.
IMHO the biggest mistake the Japanese made in WW2 (apart from the tactical success but strategic error par excellence, the Pearl Harbour attack) was to allow hubris to set in after the early victories against a hard pressed foe. The caused them to expand beyond their original plans and that well know military disease overstretch contributed to their inevitable defeat.
ancientaviator62 is offline  
Old 7th May 2017, 15:11
  #10591 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: where the north starts
Posts: 104
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A few years ago I published in this thread the wartime memoirs of Hawker Typhoon pilot Peter Brett of 183 squadron.

Peter's next of kin have passed me the attached photographs which I thought might be of interest to some on here.

The first picture has "Wings Parade 13 SFTS, St Hubert, Montreal" written on the back. Peter is third from the left in the second row.

img004.jpg

In the second photo, which unfortunately has no supporting info, Peter is second right in the middle row.

img003.jpg

I wonder if anyone can put any names to the other faces.
tow1709 is offline  
Old 7th May 2017, 15:35
  #10592 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
Chugalug (#10590),

Our Posts must've "crossed in cyberspace": I would not regard myself as an expert on "Sarin", having never handled the stuff (and wouldn't want to !). All I know is what Wiki tells me.

As for V1s full of Sarin to foil invasion, I think we had the measure of the V1, which started in mid June, 1944, fairly quickly with our new "Meteor". And, didn't it need a "ski jump" built-in to align it with its intended target ? How much room is there on a small island like Alderney to build several of these ? And how hard would it have been for the RAF and USAAC to rub them out, given that we had full air supremacy over the Channel at the time ?

Dunno, and had my hands full 5,000 miles away just then, and a bit of unexpected amorous dalliance on the side to "take my eye off the ball". But that is another story !

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 8th May 2017, 02:11
  #10593 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Japan
Posts: 1,944
Received 143 Likes on 86 Posts
Well, there you go, Danny, a story for a book perhaps?


To answer all your questions about my mother in Burma I would have to read her book again, between the lines, as it is a more personal account and hard to grasp her movements. She mentions Mandalay, Maymyo, Landaur, Missourie, Mingaladon, Delhi and Rangoon. The book is long out of print, but it was a pretty good read.


Oh, and she did throw herself into ditches, mentioning that the risk of a krait bite was the safer option.
jolihokistix is offline  
Old 8th May 2017, 12:13
  #10594 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
jolihokistix (#10594),

Clearly your mother got out OK, as you list "Delhi". But why "Rangoon" after that ? Did she go back to Burma after the end in August 1945 ?

My "bolt from the blue" bit of good luck is described in: "Military Life on the Malabar Coast in WWII" Thread (on Military Aviation). The whole thing is worth a read (IMHO), but the beef in the sandwich starts in Page 2. #25 et seq.

Cheers, Danny.
 
Old 9th May 2017, 07:18
  #10595 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: West Sussex
Age: 82
Posts: 4,758
Received 219 Likes on 68 Posts
Ancient Aviator, your point about Japanese Naval Aviation being Carrier based is well made, but it was essentially an offensive weapon system. Had they developed long range maritime aircraft similar to those of the RAF and USN they could have better defended their merchant shipping against the focussed USN Pacific submarine campaign on them. Perhaps another feature of the post Pearl Harbour hubris of which you speak?

Danny, we did indeed cross. According to the article, the excavation of the tunnels provided for earthworks that could have acted as foundations for the launch ramps of which you speak, and which were aimed towards both Weymouth and Plymouth. It also claims that the tunnel layouts matched those built on the mainland for V1 sites. What seems arguable though are that the hardened storage chambers therein were for chemical warheads rather than conventional ones.

As Alderney was under SS rather than Luftwaffe control (whose V1's they were), it is possible that this was a one off. Though the Nazis produced both Tabun and Sarin in quantity in the war, neither were used operationally AFAIK. Hitler himself had been gassed in WWI and was notoriously unwilling to invite reprisal in kind if he utilised either offensively. Perhaps the Alderney project was abandoned for that reason, if it was indeed intended for such use?
Chugalug2 is offline  
Old 9th May 2017, 08:44
  #10596 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: UK
Posts: 5,222
Likes: 0
Received 4 Likes on 3 Posts
Taking the tunnels at Jersey as a comparison, further evacuation was abandoned because of the requirement to send the labour to Germany to construct their underground factories.

Late 1944 they would have run out of hardware.
Fareastdriver is offline  
Old 9th May 2017, 10:06
  #10597 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Often in Jersey, but mainly in the past.
Age: 79
Posts: 7,803
Received 135 Likes on 63 Posts
At which point I would observe that today is Liberation Day in Jersey. There are still many here who lived through those days, or were interned in Germany. Not surprisingly, they attach great significance to the proceedings.

https://www.jersey.com/liberation-day-programme-2017

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberation_Day_(Jersey)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Libera...hannel_Islands
MPN11 is online now  
Old 9th May 2017, 12:01
  #10598 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Glasgow
Posts: 21
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Army Air Cooperation and Support

This lengthy message is prompted by Danny42C’s account (some time ago) of the way in which a small group of Vultee dive-bombers could accurately deliver munitions to a small, hardened target under circumstances where conventional artillery could not be brought to bear. Why did the RAF not make more use of dive bombers and why were those they did have in India/Burmah retired sooner than (perhaps) necessary or sensible?

Some sort of answer to the basic question appears in a book that happened to come my way:
The Development of British Tactical Air Power 1940-1943. Powell, M., London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 261 pp. ISBN 978-1-137-54417-9,

and I will try to summarise some of the relevant issues it describes. This is an academic history, with many references, and I found it slightly heavy going. But it gives a lot of the background history, of which I can give only an inadequate and partial summary. The book’s focus is on Air Army Cooperation and Support (AACS), its history, principles, and doctrine, with little detail about implementation. Note that 14th Army is not indexed, and the Vultee Vengeance gets only a passing mention.

As I understand it, the major practical problems that bedevilled AACS included: Who would issue orders to the airmen and through what channels of communication? How could the air element respond in good time to a call for action? How could ground targets be identified and nearby friendly forces be kept safe? An important factor in solving these problems seems to have been the co-location of Air and Army headquarters at the relevant levels, together with development of the necessary wireless communication systems.

The major political factor that led to weak development of AACS despite its good start in the WW1 period of static trench warfare, seems to have been the fragile state of the RAF’s political and financial existence post-WW1, coupled with the infamous “ten-year rule”. Trenchard and the Air Staff saw the RAF as having a potentially vital, strategic role and thought that this would never develop if the Air was parcelled out to the Army and Navy. Because of this danger AACS was never an RAF priority, although some basic studies and exercises were carried out during the inter-war period. After the Battle of France in 1940, during which AACS had clearly failed, an Air Cooperation Command was reluctantly established, its main remit being to develop ideas and procedures. This Command may not have been what the Army expected or wanted, but was also more than the Air Ministry had hoped to provide. At the same time the war in the North African desert forced the evolution of more successful AACS doctrine and practice so that, by 1943, planning for the invasion of Europe could proceed, what had been learned being incorporated into the foundations of 2nd Tactical Air Force.

Little of the resulting operational doctrine appears to have had a “flying artillery” flavour at first, the emphasis being on Air Observation, which was developed successfully (though limited by available planes) until ground attack by fighter aircraft became practical as the Luftwaffe lost control of the air. As we know, dive bombers did not enter into these developments because the aircraft did not exist; the RAF never wanted them. Intriguingly, it transpires that the Luftwaffe use of the Stuka JU87 dive-bomber has been largely misunderstood. Its main use was not for impromptu AACS but was generally pre-planned to supplement the ground assault immediately before the latter was launched.

It would be interesting to see an historical analysis of AACS in the 14th Army’s area. Were there independent and divergent developments or did the higher direction simply mirror what was happening in Europe and Africa? In any scenario I can envisage the exchange of dive bombers for Mosquitos, even if the latter were rocket-firing, is hard to understand.

If I have misunderstood or mis-reported anything please be kind; I am a biologist, not an historian.

No doubt other readers will expand on the issues raised here and I look forward to reading those posts.

end
BernieC is offline  
Old 9th May 2017, 12:50
  #10599 (permalink)  
 
Join Date: Dec 2015
Location: s e england
Posts: 103
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
During the relief of the first siege of Tobruk, my father , as a 2nd Lieutenant, was involved in the breakout southwards into the desert, to link up (it was hoped) with forces coming west along the coast from Egypt. Initially expected to have to hold their position for 24 hours, they held on for 8 days before the expected meeting eventually occurred. In his memoirs (unpublished) he tells that allied air cover was conspicuous by its rarity, and when it did occur, was only in the form of defence from air attack, and there was no communication, let alone cooperation, with the RAF. He always spoke highly of the RAF, but was always sad that they had not been of more use, although he acknowledged the problems they were faced with. (By the end, the 2 companies of troops had been reduced in strength by over 75 percent, and were using captured weapons and ammunition).
pettinger93 is offline  
Old 9th May 2017, 15:20
  #10600 (permalink)  
Danny42C
Guest
 
Posts: n/a
BernieC (#10599),

I was but a very small cog in the machine of the Burma conflict, and can only supply my own personal opinions in answer to the questions asked in your first paragraph.

The RAF had no dedicated true dive bomber. It was conceived as a purely defensive force, and the (land based) dive bomber is only at its best as: "the spearhead of an advancing Army" (Peter C. Smith, "Vengeance!" (Airlife Publishing, 1986 - ISBN13 9780906393659)

EDIT: Correction: . [ISBN 0 906393 65 5]

The success of the "Stuka" early in the War caused a re-think. The French ordered a dive bomber from the US firm of Vultee, then France collapsed and we took over the contract. What we got was a very good dive bomber, but "too clumsy to fight and too slow to run away". If we had used it in the European theatre, it would have been massacred like the "Battles" in France in 1939-40. Then the RAF lost interest in the whole idea, wished it had never bought the things in the first place, and put them as far way out of sight as they could (India, Burma and Australia).

Now some clippings of an old Post of mine (on this Thread):

"The Vengeance was mainly used in Burma as a substitute for artillery. The hilly jungle country made the deployment of of guns difficult, and in any case the 14th Army didn't have enough of them. From the end of '43 onward it was trying to push the Japanese armies back down south in the Arakan, and east on the Assam fronts.

The Jap was a very good defensive fighter, especially skilled in digging-in in strong points from which it was very difficult to dislodge him. He didn't give up when he was tired or wounded. He didn't give up when things were hopeless. He didn't give up if he were sick or starving. He fought till he died. He never surrendered.

This was where we came in handy. From our rough, dry-weather "kutcha" strips 30-40 miles away, we could put up "boxes" of six aircraft, each carrying two 500lb and two 250lb bombs. It adds up to a formidable total of 9,000lb, nearly four tons of high explosive. This we could deliver accurately, on a point, in about 30 seconds.


It was more than a battery of 25-pounders could put down in a morning, even supposing they could bring up so many rounds. Moreover, the concentration of the bombing meant that, even if every Jap were not killed in the strike, the noise and blast would stun him long enough for our forward troops, who would be close nearby, to rush the position and finish off with grenade, rifle and bayonet before he came to his senses.

The difficulty was the "point". From 10,000 ft the jungle is just a bobbly green wooly jumper. The formation leader can map-read into the general area of the target, but needs help to pinpoint it.

We worked an answer out with the Army. The forward troops got smoke bombs for their mortars. They made sure a mortar was zeroed-in on the Jap position, then waited until they could hear and see us coming. With practice they could put the smoke down early enough to alllow the formation leader room to plan his bombing run, but not so soon as to allow the smoke to drift away. This smoke was the key to the whole thing. The formation leader's bombs had to be spot-on, for they kicked up so much dust that you couldn't see the mortar smoke. Each following pilot aimed for the centre of the dust cloud covering the target. Results were surprisingly good. There was often the odd bomb adrift, of course, and as our troops were usually fairly close by, some sad acccidents. But then, there has never been a war in which that hasn't happened (and never will be)".

As for the premature withdrawal of the VVs on the onset of the 1944 Monsoon, I have no idea why ACSEA did it, for we could have have done some good in that last dry season (and nobody knew that it was to be the last). It was a pity. We'll never know now.

''''''''''''''''''''
Chugalug (#10596),

In the matter of the Alderney and Jersey tunnels and V-1 ramps, I would've thought that the Lancasters and B-17s could have taken a morning off to pulverise them, and some rocket-firing Typhoons would help, too. Surely there was no Luftwaffe opposition to speak of by then ? If we'd had any VVs there (which there weren't), they would have been pleased to lend a hand (but a "box" would need a squadron of fighters to escort them if a Me109 was in the sky !)

But then, what do I know ? I was a long way away at the time !

Cheers, both, Danny.

Last edited by Danny42C; 9th May 2017 at 15:57. Reason: Spacing, Correction.
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.