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

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

Old 19th Aug 2018, 21:42
  #12141 (permalink)  
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Though we rightly hold Eric Winkle Brown in high esteem, it as a test pilot and an operational FAA pilot. What he never was, AFAIK, was an operational dive bomber pilot. We are blessed indeed to have here one of our own, and he has added greatly to our understanding of that rare and esoteric occupation. Captain Brown praises, it seems, the VV4's performance in that regard as superior to the earlier Marks. At the same time he states that its natural dive angle to be about 70 degrees. From what Danny tells us, those earlier marks had a dive angle of 90 degrees, ie truly vertical. So no throw forward; where the a/c nose points is where the released bomb will strike. Now, perhaps the error induced by the 70 degree dive is relatively slight. Perhaps it can be corrected for to some extent, but when you are in the Japanese bunker busting business anything off target is a miss.

Danny's chariot must have been a real challenge with one's view permanently obscured by that massive nose high radial, other than when it was doing the job it was designed for, ie diving vertically at the enemy. It was, as he has told us, a one trick pony, but that one trick was invaluable in Burma and I suspect would have been less successful using the Mk4. It would also appear that Captain Brown's account of the VV genesis is at variance with Peter C Smith's, but that is perhaps to quibble rather. I would though take issue with his dismissive remarks of the Mk's 1, 2, and 3. They weren't designed to be 'nice' aircraft. They were designed to be very accurate dive bombers, a job they did with great effect that won them the approval and gratitude of their customers, the men of the 14th Army.

I second Danny's thanks to Megan for the quote he posted, and also to welcome our new member, jjjackson, to our virtual crew room and to thank him for his fascinating link.

Last edited by Chugalug2; 19th Aug 2018 at 21:56. Reason: Thanks
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Old 20th Aug 2018, 02:23
  #12142 (permalink)  
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Only too glad to have made your day Danny. I thought you may be interested also in what "Winkle" thought of the Stuka, from his "Wings of the Luftwaffe".
STUKA! What other acronym that saw common usage in Europe during the first eighteen or so months of World War ll could evoke such terror in the minds of so many? To those countless European refugees jamming the roads in frantic endeavour to escape the advancing Wehrmacht, Stuka was synonymous with death and destruction wrought from the sky with terrifying precision; in military circles it was the generally-accepted sobriquet of a warplane that had greater réclame than any other — the controversial Junkers Ju 87 dive bomber.

When first committed to combat, the Stuka — a derivation of Sturzkampfflugzeug which was a term descriptive of all dive bombers — was widely believed by its advocates, not least among whom was Ernst Udet, to be the supreme weapon. The legendary reputation that it acquired during the Polish and French campaigns lent credence to claims for its invincibility so assiduously propagated. But the Stuka was not solely a highly effective precision bombing instrument which, if not capable of ‘putting a bomb in a pickle barrel’, was at least able to hit its target in a diving attack with an accuracy of less than 30 yards; it was a mass demoraliser, hurtling vertically earthwards with a banshee-like wail that had a devastating psychological effect.

From its inception, the Luftwaffe had displayed a marked predilection for the Stuka. The service was first and foremost a tool for the direct support of the ground forces and the Stuka was seen as a successor to long-range artillery. Unfortunately for the Luftwaffe, use of the Stuka presupposed control of the air; a desirable situation that was to be enjoyed increasingly rarely as the conflict progressed. Once control of the air could no longer be guaranteed, the Stuka, in the form of the Ju 87, had become an anachronism. Sturdy and tractable a warplane though this angularly ugly creation of the Junkers Flugzeugund \/Iotorenwerke undoubtedly was, it was also the natural prey of the fighter, and the sight of the Ju 87’s evil-looking shape sitting squarely in his gunsight was the dream of every fighter pilot. The career of the Iu 87 had reached its zenith over France, had entered its eclipse over the British Isles and had seen its nadir over the Soviet Union.

This was all in the past, however, by the time I finally found an opportunity to realise my ambition to fly this once much-vaunted warplane. I had gained considerable experience of dive bombing techniques with the Blackburn Skua, the Vultee Vengeance and the Douglas Dauntless. While none of these had been a hot rod in so far as level flight performance was concerned, I was convinced that all three were a cut above the Ju 87 which, inview of its reputation, must therefore have something of which I was unaware up its sleeve.

The opportunity arose on 23 August 1945 at Husum, in Schleswig Holstein, not far from the Danish border. Some of the more obsolescent ex-Luftwaffe hardware had wound up at this airfield and included in this miscellany was a solitary Ju 87D-3, presumably flown in by some pilot as the Third Reich finally crumbled. A cursory inspection of this rugged-looking juggernaut revealed the fact that all gun armament had been removed — possibly for use with ground defensive positions during the last days of fighting —and that, in general, it was in pretty good shape. There was certainly no evidence to suggest that it had ever been flown operationally, and despite the anachronistic appearance of the aircraft, I formed the opinion that it could not have come off the 'Weser’ Flugzeugbau assembly line much earlier than the previous summer.

The Ju 87D was obviously a machine of great solidity, with its heavy cranked wings, sturdily braced tailplane and massive fixed undercarriage. From its broad-bladed Junkers VS 11 constant-speed airscrew to the trim tabs on its big, square cut rudder, the Junkers dive bomber gave an impression of immensity and certainly a lot of aeroplane for one engine to pull — in this case a liquid-cooled 12-cylinder Junkers Jumo 21 ll-l which gave 1,420hp at 2,600 rpm and 1,190hp at 2,400 rpm. The cowling embodied quite an amount of armour plate to protect engine and cooler, and I was to discover liberal quantities of additional armour distributed beneath and around the two cockpits, whose occupants would have had little else going for them if they had encountered a determined fighter.

Relatively few of the WW II German aircraft could be considered beautiful in the accepted sense. But the Ju 87D was undeniably ugly in the true sense, and it was hard to believe that this sub-type of the Stuka had represented a serious attempt on the part of the aerodynamicists to clean up the basic design. Its predecessor, the Ju 87B, could certainly have been the product of an aerodynamicist’s nightmare, with its fixed spatted undercarriage and large radiator bath looking, head on, for all the world like the extended talons and gaping maw of some monstrous bird. The Ju 87D, on the other hand, lacked some of the angularity of the earlier model but was not, in my view, much of an improvement aesthetically, and its design was incredibly obsolescent. Small wonder that, apart from its service with 1 Gruppe led by the inveterate Hans-Ulrich Rudel which persisted in flying this aged warbird by daylight on the Eastern Front, the Ju 87 had spent much of its declining operational years in the nocturnal assault role with the Nachtschlachtgruppen.

Big enough and slow enough...

I clambered into the pilot's cockpit and settled down to look around, and my first impression of a very big aeroplane for one engine was reaffirmed. Following the Pilot's Notes, I placed the fuel cock in the ‘both tanks’ position, gave a few strokes of primer, switched on the fuel booster pumps, set the throttle to figure ‘1' on the quadrant, switched on both magnetos and energised the inertia starter and booster coil by pushing a handle on the lower left side for 10 seconds, then pulling out the handle until the engine fired. Warm up could be made up to 1,600 rpm on the brakes but higher revs demanded that the tail be anchored in case the aircraft nosed over. After such anchoring, the engine was run up to 2,200 rpm and 1.3 atas of boost, and then throttled back to 1.0 ata for magneto checks. After the engine checks the tail anchorage was released and the aircraft was taxied with the tailwheel lock in the free position. I found that the aircraft needed controlled braking to manoeuvre and was sensitive to any crosswind.

Before taking off it was necessary to straighten out and lock the tailwheel, switch the fuel pumps on, set the flaps to take-off position, the trims to zero and airscrew pitch lever to START. The Ju 87D-3 was fairly lightly loaded and with full power accelerated surprisingly well, unsticking at about 116km/h (72mph) in a distance of some 457m (500 yards). The climb was made at 2,300 rpm and 1.15 atas of boost, the flaps retracting mean-while until two signal lamps indicated that they had reached the zero position. Climbing speed could then be increased to 215km/h (133mph) and was eased off 10km/h (6mph) for every 1,000m (3,280ft) of altitude gained. At an altitude of 3,500m (1l,480ft) the supercharger was moved from low gear to the automatic position, but climb throughout was laborious.

Once settled down to the cruise the feeling of vulnerability became almost oppressive, probably accentuated by the high position of the pilot's seat and the good visibility through the large glasshouse canopy. The Ju 87D was big enough and slow enough to present an ideal target to the humblest tyro among fighter pilots and it rnust even have corne high in the popularity stakes with anti-aircraft gunners. Certainly its large ailerons failed to instil any liveliness into evasive manoeuvres, and although its elevators were reasonably light the aircraft was just too stable longitudinally to be very manoeuvrable. It was hardly surprising that once Soviet fighters of respectable performance began to put in an appearance in quantity over the Eastern Front the Ju 87D-equipped Stukagruppen were decimated.

There could be no doubt that the Ju 87D needed fighter cover on its way to a target area as surely as a fish needs water. But my consuming interest was to learn how this aircraft, anachronism though it undoubtedly was, performed in the area in which it had displayed such astonishing bombing accuracy and precision in its heyday. So I flew out over the North Sea to put in some dive bombing practice on the mudbanks that lie off the coast.

The check list for preparing the Ju 87D to enter the dive was as follows:

Landing flaps at cruise position
Elevator trim at cruise position
Rudder trim at cruise position
irscrew pitch set at cruise
Contact altimeter switched on
Contact altimeter set to release altitude
Supercharger set at automatic
Throttle pulled right back
Cooler flaps closed
Dive brakes opened

This last action made the aircraft nose over into the dive under the influence of the pull-out mechanism which was actuated by the opening of the dive brakes which also actuated the safety pilot control. The most difficult thing in dive bombing training is overestimating the dive angle which invariably feels much steeper than it actually is. Every dive bomber of WW ll vintage featured some form of synthetic aid to judging dive angle, and in the lu 87 this consisted simply of a series of lines of inclination marked on the starboard front side screen of the cockpit.

These marks, when aligned with the horizon, gave dive angles of 30 degrees to 90 degrees. Now a dive angle of 90 degrees is a pretty palpitating experience for it always feels as if the aircraft is over the vertical and is bunting, and all this while terra firma is rushing closer with apparently suicidal rapidity. In fact, I have rarely seen a specialist dive bomber put over 70 degrees in a dive, but the Ju 87 was a genuine 90 degrees screamer! For some indefinable reason the Ju 87D felt right standing on its nose, and the acceleration to 540km/h (335mph) was reached in about 1,370m (4,500ft). Speed thereafter crept slowly up to the absolute permitted limit of 600km/h (373mph) so that the feeling of being on a runaway roller-coaster experienced with most other dive bombers was missing.

As speed built up, the nose of the Ju 87 was used as the aiming mark. The elevators were moderately light in the initial stages of the dive but they heavied up considerably as speed built up. Any alterations in azimuth to keep the aiming mark on the target could be made accurately by use of the ailerons. These also heavied up as speed increased but always remained very effective. Use of the elevator or rudder trimmers in a dive or pull-out was strictly forbidden. During the dive it was necessary to watch the signal light on the contact altimeter, and when it came on, the knob on the control column was depressed to initiate the automatic pull-out at 6’g’, a 450-m (1,475-ft) height margin being required to complete the manoeuvre. The automatic pull-out mechanism had a high reputation for reliability, but in the event of failure the pull-out could be effected with a full-blooded pull on the control column, aided by judicious operation of the elevator trimmer to override the safety pilot control.

The sequence of events on selecting the dive brakes was most interesting. On extension of the brakes, red indicators protruded from each wing upper surface. This action automatically brought into play the safety pilot control and the dive recovery mechanism. The object of the latter was to return the elevator trimmer flaps to their normal position after release of the bomb, thus initiating pull-out from the dive which had been started by the elevator trim being brought into action to nose the aircraft over. The safety pilot control was a restriction introduced into the control column movement whereby this was limited by means of hydraulic pressure to a pull of only 5 degrees from the neutral position, thus obviating excessive g loads in pulling-out. In an emergency this restriction could be overridden to give a 13 degrees movement. Once the aircraft had its nose safely pointed above the horizon from the pull-out, the dive brakes were retracted, the airscrew pitch set to take-off/climb and the throttle opened up to 1.15 atas of boost, although in conditions of enemy flak it was recommended that the full 1.35 atas be used. The radiator flaps were then opened.

When I finally turned for Schleswig, to \/vhere 1 was supposed to deliver the Ju 87D-3, I must confess that I had had a more enjoyable hour's dive bombing practice than I had ever experienced with any other aircraft of this specialist type. Somehow the Ju 87D did not appear to find its natural element until it was diving steeply. it seemed quite normal to stand this aircraft on its nose in a vertical dive because its acceleration had none of that uncontrollable runaway feeling associated with a 90 degree inclination in an aircraft like the Skua. Obviously, the fixed undercarriage and the large-span dive brakes of the Junkers were a highly effective drag combination.

However, the Ju 87D also had a reputation for standing on its nose in an entirely different context — during a landing! Although a somewhat ponderous aircraft, it could carry out all normal aerobatics, and it was easy and fairly pleasant to fly, but a three-point landing was desirable every time. A structural weakness in the undercarriage could lead to failure of the upper mainwheel fork and a subsequent collapse of the wheel assembly, particularly on a rough airfield surface. The leg could collapse forward or backward, and in the latter case there was a grave danger of the aircraft turning over on its back with somewhat dire results for the crew which could expect little protection from the cockpit canopy. Another weak point was the tailwheel, and the Pilot's Notes gave warning that unless a three-point landing was achieved there was danger of tailwheel damage.

Duly warned, I set about the simple preparations for landing at Schleswig which were to reduce speed to about 200km/h (1 25mph), select flaps down on the crosswind leg at approximately 180km/h (112mph), lock tailwheel, set airscrew pitch to fully fine and approach at 150km/h (93mph), progressively reducing to 120km/h (75mph) at hold-off. View for landing was excellent, the brakes proved powerful and could be applied almost immediately after a three-pointer, and the landing run was very short indeed. The Ju 87D could, I understand, be landed with full bombload or, in an emergency, with the dive brakes extended, although to three-point the aircraft in the latter circumstances apparently required a 27-kg (60-lb) pull on the control column to overcome the safety pilot control.

The Ju 87 will always be associated with the victorious German blitzkrieg tactics employed in Poland and France during the first year of WW ll; campaigns that fulfilled the most sanguine expectations of the Stuka’s protagonists. lts first encounter with determined tighter opposition was during the Battle of Britain. This forced the withdrawal of the Ju 87-equipped Stukagruppen frorn the Cherbourg area to the Pas de Calais where they were to sit out the final phases of that epic conflict, pricked the Ju 87's bubble of success and revealed the fact that this aircraft had become an anachronism in the context of fighting in the West. But the day of the Stuka was far from over, for the Ju 87 was to enjoy further successes wherever the Luftwaffe succeeded in maintaining a measure of mastery in the air, the Stukagruppen ensuring that even the Soviet campaign initially proved a repetition of the debacle suffered by the French.

The Ju 87 was, nevertheless, a poorly armed, somewhat cumbersome and highly vulnerable aircraft by any standard. Yet it was the mount that carried the most highly-decorated Knight's Cross winner of the war - Hans-Ulrich Rudel who flew no fewer than 2,530 sorties and claimed the destruction of 519 tanks! That Rudel should have survived the war that he fought almost exclusively in this obsolescent Junkers design must speak volumes not only for his piloting skill but also for the capabilities of his rear gunner, who also won the Ritterkreuz. It will always remain a mystery to me how these stalwarts escaped destruction if there were any enemy fighter pilots of even mediocre skill in the same area of sky as their Ju 87. There is no gainsaying the fact, however, that shortcomings galore though the Junkers dive bomber undoubtedly possessed, it gave resolute service from 0426 hours on l September 1939, when three Ju 87Bs of 3.Staffel of Stuka-geschwader 1 took-off from Elbing for the first bombing sortie of WW ll, until the closing months of the war when the Ju 87D soldiered on with several Nachtschlachtgruppen and its tank-busting derivative, the Ju 87G, fought on with the specialized anti-tank Staffein.
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Old 20th Aug 2018, 09:49
  #12143 (permalink)  
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Like a long-burning fire on the brink of extinction, this matchless thread has once again burst into brightness! Thanks to those who discovered our new content, which show how the Vengeance's poor reputation came about. As Chugalug says, we are fortunate in having our senior pilot whose brilliant memory recalls every detail of what the aircraft was like to fly and how the early versions were designed to achieve pinpoint accuracy -- and nothing else. As Danny says in his book, the Vengeance was a one-trick pony, but it performed its trick very well indeed.

Ah yes ... Danny's e-book, In with a Vengeance. Chapter 10 gives an enthralling account of Danny's first attack, following his squadron in vertical dives upon a Japanese HQ at Akyab. And Chapter 15 sums up the Vengeance in attack (excellent, a guided missile with guidance system hopefully extracted half a mile above target) and defence (terrifyingly little). We have mailed dozens of copies round the world but there's plenty left in our electronic bookstore. If you want one, send me, Geriaviator, a PM giving your email address.
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Old 20th Aug 2018, 16:03
  #12144 (permalink)  
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megan (#12143),

Pelion piled on Ossa ! Mercy, dear Sir, for the Lord's sake ! Now I have another enormous screed to fillet and comment on. How is Volume II of my memoir "Danny and the Cold War" ever going to get written at this rate ! Yet there is another (harder) way for anybody interested - go to the source, it is all on this Thread already.

Do what reefrat (#12129) has done (and Congratulations to him for Sticking At It !) My weary tale starts on P.114 of this Thread (#2262) - I've checked, and it is still there; but Pprune has done strange things with Pages and Post numbers in the past (just to keep us on our toes ?) and anything can happen.

"The Longest Journey starts with a Single Step", so watch this space !

Old 20th Aug 2018, 18:10
  #12145 (permalink)  
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This is the best I can do so far with megan's first tranche of Capt. Brown's report.
Attributions; [PCS] Peter C. Smith ("Vengeance!"); [PK] Personal Knowledge] ; [H] Hearsay - I was told.
...Although of American origin, the Vultee Vengeance owed its existence to the British. It happened like this. The RAF’s Air Staff had been so impressed with the blitzkrieg effectiveness of the Stuka dive bombers, that it decided it must go into the dive-bombing business, and so in 1940 the British Purchasing Commission initially ordered 400 of Vultee’s dive bomber design, the V-72 or Vengeance...
Not exactly. The French were the first "Me, toos" after seeing what the Stuka could do, and they ordered the first Vultee V-72 (A-31). Then France collapsed sand Vultee were left with a production line and no customer. [PCS] They were very glad indeed when we appeared to take over the French contract ! (at $63,000 each) [PCS]
...Most of these early Mk.I and II aircraft went to the Royal Australian and Indian Air Forces, and the few that came to Britain were primarily for performance and handling assessment...
No, the first four squadrons to receive the VVs in India in late 1942 were the RAF 45, 82, 84 and 110. These were old Blenheim squadrons that had come out to India early in that year, and then had their aircraft taken off them and flown back to the M.E. [H]

These operated from early 1943, it was later decided to form two IAF VV Squadrons (7 and 8). There were not enough trained IAF air or groundcrews to man both, so 8 was formed as a "mixed" IAF/RAF (one Flight of each) Squadron and operated from October 1943. 7 was all IAF, and did not go into action till March 1944. [PK]

Don't know anything about those supplied to Britain and the RAAF. On the onset of the 1944 Monsoon (say May), the RAF India Command decision was taken to stop all further VV operations in Burma (I believe the American Commanding General in New Guinea at the same time ordered all RAAF VV ops to cease, but would like confirmation of this. [H]

The IAF Sqns would convert onto Spitfire XIVs and the RAF onto Mosquitoes, at least that was the idea, but it didn't quite work out like that for the RAF Sqdns. They effectively gave up their numbers abd traditions to the new influx of Mosquito crews and aircraft (when their aircraft stopped falling apart in midair). The "Old Guard" of experienced VV crews and their aircraft were still in India, and could've done a further "dry season's" work for the 14th Army (which was pushing the Jap back on all fronts) from October 1944 to May 1945. But it was not to be. Instead we were frittered away on odd jobs like Calibration and my Special Duty Flight, until the end in August 1945. [Pk]
...The USAAF purchased 600 Mk.IAs, Mk.IIs and Mk.IIIs for Lend-Lease and also retained some Mk.IIs for their own operation. A decision to continue purchasing V-72s for Lend-Lease led to some redesign. The zero wing incidence was changed to reduce the aircraft’s nose-up ? flight characteristics, and the armament changes saw 0.50 in. guns replace the four 0.30 in.wing guns, and a single 0.50 in. replace the two 0.30 in. guns in the rear cockpit. This was designated the A-35A, and 99 were built for the USAAF...
The RAF designated this the Mk.IV Vengeance: it did not come into service until war's end. Then I believe RAF 110 Sqdn took some to Takoradi (W.Africa) for ant1-malaria spray trials in 1946 (using the same type of spray tanks that we'd used for liquid mustard spraying from Cannanore the year before). [H]
[QUOTE]...The signifcance of the different Marks of Vengeance were that the Mk.I was built by Northrop on direct British contract, the Mk.IA by Northrop on USAAF contract, the MK.II by Vultee on direct British contract, the Mk.III by Vultee on USAAF contract.

Further modifications were introduced in the RAF Vengeance IV and USAAF A-35B. Wing armament was increased to six guns, the bomb load doubled to 2,000 lb...(/QUOTE]
No, not "doubled" - the Mk.I and II load was 1,500 lb.
...and a more powerful version of the Wright Cyclone installed...
Even so, 2,000 lb ? You try it mate, I'll just watch.
...A simplified fuel system was fitted, together with spring tabs to all control surfaces.

We received Vengeance IV FD2l8 at RAE Farnborough in August 1944 for comparison with other types of dive-bomber we were testing, and also to assess the effects of the design improvements over the Mk.I, which had four major faults, namely poor take-off, bad view in normal flying attitude, a complex fuel system, and heavy out-of-trim rudder foot loads in the dive.

My first impression of the Vengeance was that it was big for a single-engined aeroplane...
Not of the the period, the Grumman Avenger and others was much the same weight and size
...and its mid-wing had a most unusual planform. The wing at centre section had marked sweepback on the leading edges, while the trailing edges were straight. The outer wing panels, which were set at a slight dihedral angle, had straight leading edges, while the trailing edges swept sharply forward to squared-off wing tips. Dive brakes were fitted both above and below the outer wing panels, hinging upwards and backwards, and forward and downwards respectively...
They were mechanically linked, so that the airflow effect was neutral
...The Vengeance cockpit was in the roomy American style, but instrumentation layout was haphazard with no thought given to rational grouping for the operational task...
The term I heard was: "A pawnbroker's shop window" !
...The controls consisted of statically and aerodynamically balanced fabric covered elevators and rudder, with controllable trim-tabs in the rudder and port elevator, while the differentially-operated metal ailerons both had electrically operated trim-tabs.

Starting up the Cyclone produced that powerful throaty growl I have always associated with that engine, which in this case drove a Hamilton Standard Hydromatic constant-speed airscrew..
Growl ? Sounded more like bolts being shaken in a 40-gallon drum !
...The undercarriage, in spite of its laborious gyration backwards through 90 degrees to lie ?at beneath the wings in “bathtub” fairings, retracted remarkably smartly, and the tail wheel partially disappeared into the tail cone...
Why a retractable tail wheel on an aircraft that above all others had no need for such a thing ? Extended, it was lockable fore-and aft.
...Once the ironmongery was raised and the slotted trailing edge flaps followed suit, the rate of climb became fairly respectable, with stability neutral round all three axes

At 10,000 ft. I levelled off into the cruise at 215 mph and again stability was neutral. View dead ahead was poorish due to the slightly nose-up normal ?ying altitude of the aircraft, but the controls were quite well harmonised. Then up to 15,000 ft. to check the stalling characteristics, which were remarkably mild, with slight buffet some 8 mph before the nose dropped gently.

And so to the main objective — to assess the Vengeance IV as a dive bomber. On the run-in a shallow dive is usually entered to build up speed and at this stage the bomb doors are opened, so the higher their permitted operating speed the better. The Vengeance had a high restricting speed of 335 mph thus allowing great operational ?flexibility in that respect. In the light of the poor view ahead I found it best to approach the target keeping it in sight on either bow until it drew abeam to disappear under the wing tip, and then peel off on to it.

On entering the dive the ailerons on FD2l8 were suprisingly light and the elevator force small, but the aircraft soon started to yaw to starboard and this had to be trimmed out. Speed build up to 270 mph was quite fast, requiring constant directional trimming to avoid skid, but the rudder foot load was light because of the spring tab.

At that speed I popped the dive brakes, which opened rapidly without affecting trim. However, to open the brakes necessitated removing one’s hand from the throttle, as the control was at one’s left elbow. Also the actuating lever had to be returned to neutral after completion of the operating movement.

Terminal velocity with the dive brakes extended was 300 mph and this was also the restricting speed for operating the brakes — a significant operational advantage. Although the elevator force built up progressively after 270 mph it never reached a force that could not easily be held by pushing on the stick without using the trimmer. The yaw to starboard still required constant trimming to avoid skid. Any corrections for line on the target are made by rolling in the dive, and the Vengeance IV’s ailerons remained delightfully light and effective throughout the speed range.

In the actual dive the view over the nose was excellent for the top cowling was flat and smooth, and the front windscreen panel wide enough to accommodate a dive bombing sight without completely obliterating direct vision sectors.

The Vengeance’s natural dive angle seemed to be about 70 degrees, which feels to the pilot more like 90 degrees, and pull-out after bomb release only required a light stick force per ‘g’ so that it was easy for the pilot to black himself out. However, the aeroplane was so highly stressed there was little fear of causing structural damage.

The dive brakes were closed immediately the bombs were released and pull- out commenced, but the bomb doors were only closed on resuming level ?ight so as to avoid trapping the bomb displacement gear, and their action was very quick thus speeding up the vital getaway.

The whole dive bombing sequence was so efficient with the Vengeance IV that it seems incredible that items such as trimmers should be so inef?ciently designed in the cockpit. There was no indicator for the aileron trimmers, that of the rudder a mere electric bulb which lit up when the trimmer was at full nose right setting, while the elevator trim position was crudely painted on a disc above the operating handle.

In my opinion the trimmers for dive bombing should be low geared wheels working in the conventional sense and placed on a level with the pilot’s seat on the left-hand side, and should have pointer indicators marked in degrees of tab setting to each side of neutral.

The internal bomb bay accommodated two 500 lb. bombs, and as overload two further 250 lb. bombs could be carried on external wing racks. This gave the Vengeance a useful punch, which delivered with high accuracy because of the aircraft’s good dive-bombing characteristics, made it a potentially powerful attack weapon.

Surprisingly the Vengeance had a reputation of being somewhat difficult to land, but one must remember that it was being operated mainly in hot and high conditions, and often from hastily prepared strips hewn out of the jungle and of limited dimensions.

Actually the approach speed of 125 mph was quite high, but a lot of speed could be killed off in the last 100 ft. of height before touch down at 105 mph, and indeed the dive brakes could be extended at 10-15 ft. off the ground to give a positive sink on to a three point landing and at the same time act as drag brakes to reduce the landing run...
Never even saw the thing, but would not try that ! "Sink" was never a problem with Mks I-III - it would do that at the drop of a hat.
...However, once on the ground the view ahead vanished and the pilot had to keep his wits about him to keep straight on a narrow strip on an aircraft with comparatively narrow track undercarriage. I have read a number of pilot impressions of the Vengeance I and the great majority of these are far from enthusiastic, so Vultee did a great improvement job on the Mk.IV, albeit a little late for it to reap the operational benefits..
Too late, in fact - it never did anything useful (for us) except tow targets. [PCS] says the Free French and Brazil got some, don't think they had much joy with them.
...After the Ju.87, the Vengeance IV is the best dive bomber I have flown. The irony of this aeroplane is that although it was a vast improvement on the previous Marks of the type...
We must agree to differ on this, Sir - maybe a better aircraft (I cannot think of a worse), but a worse dive bomber as well.
...only the latter saw operational service, while the Mk.IV arrived at a time when the Air Staff had gone cool on dive bombing, and so it was relegated to the ignominious task of target towing. The early Vengeances earned themselves a bad reputation...
Give a dog a bad name and hang him ! Ask the troops of the 14th Army - they were happy enough with us ! And there is always the simple fact that you fight a war with what you've got - not with what you would like to have !
...and therefore it is a great pity the Vengeance IV was not given a chance to redeem that situation...
Don't think it would. The "situation" didn't need redeeming. The I and II can stand on their record. The III (exactly the same thing) came in after it was all over. All water under the bridge now.


Last edited by Danny42C; 20th Aug 2018 at 18:27. Reason: Tidy Up.
Old 20th Aug 2018, 21:02
  #12146 (permalink)  
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Dear Danny42C, I will say this in public ... because it deserves to be said [probably again] following that last post.

You may be the oldest, tottering, member of this Forum. Indeed, you may even secretly do Cabaret acts at local "Retirement Homes", for all we know. Or be a cyberspace clone inserted by the Chinese, although I doubt that!

But ... your recall, attention to detail, analysis and indeed humour, is utterly inspiring and enthralling.

Bless you, Danny, for being here ... you remind me, and I assume others, that there was a better World out there where men got sweaty, got on with the job in hand, and lived and died by their skill. And then, amazingly, remembered [most of] it!! You are a bloody STAR!

Have a cyber-hug, if that's permitted in the cyber-crewroom without causing embarrassment?
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Old 20th Aug 2018, 21:27
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Hear, hear, MPN11. You speak for us all, and very eloquently too, if I may say.

Danny, on the subject of the VV I'll take your word any day of the week, even against such an oracle as Winkle Brown. He did of course tell of his interviewing Herman Goering before his trial at Nuremburg, and agreed with him that the Battle of Britain was merely a draw! Which all goes to show that if you deviate from what you know to what you believe then you are as likely to develop feet of clay as anyone else.
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 13:18
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MPN11 and Chugalug,

Please - you're turning me crimson with embarrassment with all this undeserved praise ! Knock it off ! (and we didn't go round hugging ourselves like great Jessies in my day, if you don't mind). Same again ? - why, thankee, kind sir - that'll do nicely!
...agreed with him that the Battle of Britain was merely a draw!...
In military terms (losses on both sides), probably correct - a score draw. But I take your point, Chugalug. However, it was one of those draws that is far more advantageous to one side than another. Hitler had to destroy the RAF before his planned "Sealion" could be launched with any hope of success .... He failed .... We had to keep the RAF in being as the last-ditch defence of Britain .... We succeeded.

"Hitler knows", growled Churchill, "that he must crush us in these islands or lose the War". He did not crush us and he did lose the war - and "the rest is history".

Now as to the second tranche of megan's Captain Brown assessment of the Ju-87, Brown has the advantage of me here - he flew the thing and I did not. "Whereof you know nothing", said Wittengstein, "thereof should you be silent". But I'll have a go ....


Last edited by Danny42C; 21st Aug 2018 at 13:23. Reason: Spacing.
Old 21st Aug 2018, 13:21
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MPN11 passes Danny42C a very large tot by way of apology
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 14:12
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Duly chastised after standing on the Chief Pilot's thoroughly worn out carpet. You make the point entirely, Danny. Goering had to neutralise Fighter Command for Hitler's Sea Lion to be possible and failed (he also lost so many aircraft in the battle that it compromised the Russian Campaign to boot). Goering was thus being somewhat disingenuous. Was Winkle also?

As to the Ju87, we can now all become expert in its operation (if only vicariously) thanks to that South American river lot:-

Amazon Amazon
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 14:51
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There was, of course, little chance of the VV surviving in the BofB ... it would have suffered the same fate as the Ju-87. Post D-Day it would have been useful, especially in the Falaise Gap, but by then we had Typhoon offering greater capabilities against precision ground targets. As Danny noted, ‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man”, and Burma was the VV’s forte.

But just like the 14th Army, it was never in the limelight ... just slogging away seemingly unloved and unregarded. However, I’m sure a lot of 14th Army were very glad Danny and his colleagues were there.

BTW, very clever of Haines switching to these aircraft ‘manuals’. There’s a limited market for DIY car maintenance these days, when everything seems to involve/need computery!
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 16:34
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… or a ferret with an HNC in engineering!
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 16:36
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Not only aircraft MPN, as can be seen further down the Ju87 page; tanks, ships, locos, 88mm guns, war campaigns, etc. They even do an Owners Manual for the Starship Enterprise, with technical details of the cardboard bridge modules no doubt! Interesting comment in the "top critical review" about the Ju 87 Kanonenvogel, that it could only take out the T 34's one at a time, whereas a fleet of long range strategic bombers could instead have taken out the very factories churning them out.

BTW, anyone thinking of getting this book (or indeed any of the others), might consider The Works instead. For the same price they deliver free with click and collect if you have a nearby branch (they give TCB/Quidco cashback too!).
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Old 21st Aug 2018, 21:04
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Daughter Mary bought me the Haines Manual for "Concorde" a year or so ago. A bit of a change from a Vultee Vengeance (don't think they've a Manual for that !)
Old 22nd Aug 2018, 14:12
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Martuba - 1942
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Old 22nd Aug 2018, 14:48
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Old 22nd Aug 2018, 17:48
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reverserbucket and ian16th,

Did not think anything could be uglier than a Vultee "Vengeance" - but now see I was wrong !
Old 22nd Aug 2018, 23:53
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I think that pic is dying for a caption, don't you Danny?
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Old 23rd Aug 2018, 00:19
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I am intrigued as to how targeting and aiming was done in a 90deg dive. As Winkle says you can correct for azimuth errors in a 70deg dive by ailerons but surely that’s not available in a pure vertical dive? When you tip in you’re either directly above the target (unlikely) or you have to make a correction leading to a less than purely vertical dive. Can someone explain please?
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Old 23rd Aug 2018, 12:50
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"Never mind, its Mother loves it (Ahhhhh)" ?


No problem - you just use aileron to "weathercock" the VV until the target is at 12 o'clock again on your yellow line sight, then slightly lift nose end of line onto it. Means you are probably diving at 89 degrees now, but what the heck !

Bonus: also means the "box" will pull out every which way at the bottom, which makes it difficult for any A.A. there may be around.


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