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Halifax : Another Drewes victory

Discussion in 'Air War in Western Europe 1939 - 1945' started by Martin Bull, Mar 18, 2003.

  1. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Through the J-For-Johnnie thread, I have found some fascinating Continental links for the airwar over Europe.

    Check this one out if you are interested in Halifaxes, aviation archaelogy or Martin Drewes....

    http://users.pandora.be/airwareurope/lw682.htm
     
  2. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Yes, Martin you have keyed onto one of the best sites for air-war links around. This site used to be a side link to the Allied/Luftwaffe discussion boards
     
  3. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    I really like the painting of the Halifax posted on that site. I wish I could buy a copy for my living room wall but alas it is tax time in the good old USA and I am broke. I like the wallpaper on that site also.
     
  4. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    This has been niggling me for some time. We had a quite heated discussion about Halifax v. Lancaster recently with all sorts of reasons being given as to why the Air Staff planners favoured the Lancaster.

    I think I've at last found some stats to give a clue : -

    LANCASTER I & III
    Rate of climb : 480 ft per min
    Max speed : 287 mph
    Ceiling : 24,500 ft
    Max combined bomb & fuel load : 27,000 lbs
    Range with maximum bomb load : 1,660 miles


    HALIFAX III
    Rate of climb : 440 ft per min
    Max speed : 281 mph
    Ceiling : 22,000 ft
    Max combined bomb & fuel load : 22,140 lbs
    Range with maximum bomb load : 980 miles.

    ( Source : Martin Middlebrrok, 'The Nuremburg Raid' )

    It's the range. The Lancaster could simply haul a bigger load further.
     
  5. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Martin :

    did not the Hali's take a lower section of the bomber stream while the Lancs flew higher ? I think Stevin sent a pic or did a scan showing an RAF attack stream but it was not labeled as to whom flew what postions. And because of the looser formations there wasn't a "Tail-end Charlie", correct ?

    E
     
  6. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Not actually my cup of tea again,

    but I think I read on this something like as Lancaster crews heard that Hali´s (?) or Stirlings (?) were flying below them , the Lancs crews "cheered" about this...

    :eek:
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    That's true - I think it is quoted by Len Deighton in his classic novel, 'Bomber'. .

    I think that this attitude was mainly prevalent in the 'Battle of Berlin', winter '43/'44. Statistically, bomber crews were already dead and some indeed made cruel remarks to conceal their fears.
     
  8. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    The Sterlings were always the low planes due to their wing span limitations. They also usually carried incendinarys.

    I don't have my Halifax books in front of me now but I can't see how it could be true since they both used the same engines, so they should have similar ranges and bomb loads.

    I shall return with the truth in a few hours !!

    I think the A .V . Roe company just had a better Public Relations department than H. Page. :eek:
     
  9. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    Martin, I was not able so far to find good comparison data on the marks you used between the Lancaster and Halifax but I have found the following comparison for the Lancaster I and the Halifax 2 Srs I from the A&AEE reports 760 and 766 of 1942.

    Engine for both types is the Merlin 20
    All up weight at take off is 60,000 pounds for both aircraft.
    Service ceiling for Lancaster is 20,500 feet and 20,100 for the Halifax
    Rate of climb, max. 830 feet/min Lancaster
    800 feet/min Halifax
    Take off distince. 1010 yards Halifax and 900yards for the Lancaster
    Wing area; Lancaster 1297sq feet and 1250sq feet for the Halifax
    Max speed at height 269mph Lancaster and 263 for the Halifax.
    Stalling speed with power on and flaps down. 85 mph for the Halifax and 92 mph for the Lancaster.
    Time to height 47mins to 21,000 feet for the Halifax and 46.2 mins to 21,500 for the Lancaster.

    Of course the Halifax III had Hercules engines so the above can not be used but I am still looking !

    I too want to know why more Halibags were not used by the main force.
     
  10. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Maybe there are some clues here. This is from 'Reap The Whirlwind - The Story Of 6 Group' by Dunmore & Carter ; -

    'In service for two years, the Halifax ( Mk II ) was still plagued by technical problems. Hydraulic failures were daily occurrences. Far more serious, however, were the chronic lack of power ( for some reason the Merlin that served the Lancaster, Spitfire and Mosquito so superbly was never a success in the Halifax ) and the fatally flawed tail unit, which was likely to stall at low speed due to a condition known as rudder overbalance. Among the crews of Bomber Command, the Halifax quickly gained a reputation as a 'killer'. Take the approved evasive action - the 'corkscrew' - and there was every chance that your rudders would lock, completely overpowering the ailerons, and that you would find yourself in an uncontrollable spin....In 1942, Bill Swetman of Ontario flew the Halifax II as a relatively inexperienced sergeant pilot with 405 squadron. 'It was a catastrophe', he recalls, 'When you were fully loaded there were only about twenty knots between cruise and stall speeds'...Most airman loathed it in its original form, although some grew perversely fond of it despite its flaws....Eventually, the Halifax became a vastly improved weapon....' ( pp13/14 )

    Dunmore and Carter refer to a document ''Losses Of Halifax Aircraft : July 1941 - June 1942'' in the PRO.

    To be absolutely fair, nearly all the Lancaster's faults were 'ironed out' ( at great expense in time, effort, money and lives ) in the Manchester ( now there was a real disaster ! ) thus making the Lanc' seem right 'out of the box'. The hydraulic system, for instance, was a total nightmare and was completely changed, thus giving the Lancaster a near-foolproof system.

    By all accounts, the Lancaster was ( and still is, for the lucky few ) a delight to fly, whereas the Halifax was not. Crew accounts seem to agree that, if you had to start 'chucking the aircraft about', the Lancaster was preferable to the Halifax.

    At the end of the day, though, I think that range was probably the over-riding factor. The Halifax, especially the Mk III, wasn't a bad aircraft - but the Lancaster was that little bit better ( agreed, unless you were in one that got shot down although even Halifaxes caught by Schrage Musik were difficult to survive from ).

    Your point about Avro's PR is actually quite interesting. In fact, the 'boot was on the other foot'. Avro, way up in Manchester, had a very close working relationship with 5 Group - often making detail design alterations very rapidly without going through 'official channels'. This enraged the Air Ministry who were constantly at loggerheads with the senior staff at Avro. Handley Page, however, had their main factory just a few hundred yards from where I live, in Cricklewood, London. Sir Frederick Handley Page himself maintained a flat in Grosvenor Square and frequently entertained VIPs who also found Cricklewood agreeably easy to visit. This was a continual irritation to Avro, who felt that H-P always had a 'head-start' with the Air Ministry for this reason.... :rolleyes: But again, 5 Group had very close relationships with the National Press ( even having a well-known journalist serving on their Staff ) so there were lots of lovely photo-opportunities made available from that angle.

    ( Then again, I'm a diehard Lancaster fan, and you obviously stand foursquare behind the Halifax, so maybe we should just meet in mid-Atlantic for a punch-up ! ;) [​IMG] )

    [ 25. March 2003, 12:46 PM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
  11. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    If I may interject again....Martin/Tank.

    Hali's flew 500-1000 feet lower than the Lancs in the bomber stream and the Stirlings even flew lower ?

    E
     
  12. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Maybe some things to explain differences between the bombers. Some following choices, some not. The bomb load seems to be the matter that in the end solved the No 1 bomber question as well as the teething problems for Halifax (?).Opinions?

    http://uboat.net/allies/aircraft/halifax.htm

    Halifax

    The Mk.II with more powerful 1280hp Merlin XXII engines, appeared in early 1942, and during its production run various modifications were made. To reduce drag, the nose turret was replaced by the smooth "Z-fairing", and later by a perspex bubble with a single machinegun. A number of other modification were also made to reduce drag. The tailfins were replaced by rectangular ones.

    In early 1943 the B Mk.V entered service, similar to the B Mk.II in all but its landing gear, because there was a shortage of Messier undercarriage legs. Unfortunately, the poor production quality of the Dowty legs resulted in a large number of failures. The Halifax was not easy to land, and accidents were frequent.

    The B Mk.III, appearing in 1944, had a far more complicated modification: The Merlin engines were replaced by Bristol Hercules XVI 14-cylinder air-cooled radials. The demand for the Merlin outstripped production, and the Hercules was an available alternative. The Hercules was also more powerful, with an useful increase in the performance of the Halifax B Mk.III.

    As far as Bomber Command was concerned, the Mk.II and Mk.V were now obsolete for the long missions over Germany. The final wartime mark was the VI, fitted with 1800hp Hercules 100 engines and larger fuel tanks. The Mk.VII was nothing but a Mk.VI fitted with the Hercules XVI, again because of a shortage of engines.

    The Halifax was more troublesome than the Lancaster, perhaps also because it was the pioneer in many ways, and the Lancaster had better performance. The Lancaster became the main bomber of the command, and dropped nearly three times (?) as many bombs as the Halifax; although the latter still had a larger share than all other bombers in the Command combined.

    It was obvious that the four-engined long-range bombers could be very useful to Coastal Command, but Bomber Command was very reluctant to release even a few aircraft. It always argued that the bombers combatted the German U-boats more effectively if they were used for attacks on the German production base and the U-boat pens. When Bomber Command was eventually forced to release some of its four-engined bombers to other branches of the RAF, it preferred to release Halifaxes rather than Lancasters. Hence the Halifax also served as maritime patrol aircraft, meteorological reconnaissance aircraft, glider tug, and transport. Bomber Command was especially anxious to get rid of the Halifax Mk.V with its brittle undercarriage legs.

    ------------

    http://www.nucleus.com/~ltwright/halifax.htm

    The Halifax however, suffered through several initial teething problems. The most serious of which was that the rudders had a tendency when exposed to violent maneuvers, to overload, jam and therefore become ineffective. When this happened the pilot usually was unable to free the rudder from its locked position and several crashes initially determined to be caused by "unknown circumstances" were eventually traced to this problem. This design flaw along with other minor problems, were to lead to the Halifax squadron's suffering higher than expected losses in the aircraft's early months of service. Various modifications were made to the initial rudder design, including limiting the amount the rudder could be moved, but the problem was not completely eliminated until the introduction of the Mk.III, which had a rectangular, rather than a triangular shaped rudder.

    In addition to the revised rudder, the Mk.III also took on a totally new appearance. Where as the Mk.I's had a front turret, a bomb aimers' nose blister, similar in configuration to the Avro Manchester and later the Lancaster, the Mk.III's nose section eliminated both the turret and bomb aimer blister. Replacing these with a streamlined plexiglas nose fairing, which allowed the bomb aimer adequate downward visibility and also included a single 0.303" machine gun on a pivot mount. This also slightly improved the overall performance of the aircraft, although this was probably due more to the replacement of the in-line Merlin X engines with 1,615 hp Bristol Hercules VI radial engines.

    -----------

    http://www.constable.ca/halifax.htm

    Unfortunately, the Halifax Mk. I had a serious flaw in the design of it's tail structure that caused it to go into a rapid, uncontrollable spin if it was flung about the air too much. This undoubtedly caused a number of fatal crashes. The design of the tail structure was changed in the Mk. II and III versions. These proved to be far superior to the Mk. I.

    Only four Halifaxes made it to 100 missions.

    At the time Merlin engines were in great demand and the AVRO Lancaster with Bristol engines proved to be underpowered, so it got the Merlins and the Halifaxes got the Bristols.

    http://members.lycos.co.uk/esar/halifax.html

    The veteran Halifax of Bomber Command was a Mk.III (LV 907), Friday the Thirteenth of No.158 Squadron at Lisset, which survived the war with 128 sorties to its credit.

    The last Halifax operation of the war by Bomber Command was an attack on two coastal gun batteries in the Frisian Islands on 25th April 1945.

    http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/sballance/history.htm

    From September 1943, a new ruling came out, (due to increased losses on operations), restricting the Halifax to less 'hazardous' targets, this being overturned in February 1944 when the MK.III made it's appearance. At the peak of it's strength in 1944, Bomber Command had 26 Halifax Squadrons in operation, and it was with the invasion of France, (D-Day), that the Halifax finally returned to daylight ops., attacking German front-lines and V-1 'rocket' sites. A record, set by the Halifax and not even equalled by the Lancaster, was 33 enemy fighters destroyed in June1944.

    The only V.C. awarded to a Halifax pilot went to P/O C. J. Barton, 158 Sqn, Burn, who brought home his badly damaged Halifax from a raid on Nuremberg on 30th March 1944. P/O Barton crash-landed at Ryton Colliery, Northumberland and lost his life, but his crew survived. The aircraft was Halifax III (LK 797). Memorials to P/O C.J. Barton can be seen on the site of Ryton Colliery and also in Selby Cathedral.

    The Hamilcar glider could only be towed by the Halifax, the first flight being at Newmarket in February 1942. The 'Horsa' glider, as used in the Normandy & Arnheim operations and the final crossing of the Rhine, (towed by Halifaxes of course !), was also towed to South Norway in 'Operation Freshman', for the attack on the German heavy water plant installations, and also in the invasion of Sicily, towed from England to North Africa. Two other theatres in which the Halifax took part, although not many details are known, were with Special Duties Squadrons for the parachuting of agents, and the dropping of weapons to resistance fighters, and also as a radio counter-measure aircraft with 100 Group.

    Another 'first' for the Halifax was its service in the Middle East, operating there with No.462 Squadron, which was made up of detachments from No.10 and No.76 Squadrons, stationed in Palestine, and it was the only British four-engined bomber in the Middle East to bomb the Africa Korps from Egypt.

    The last Halifax in first-line service with the R.A.F. was a G.R.6 of No.224 Squadron, which made its last sortie from Gibraltar on 17th March 1952.

    Lancaster

    http://www.constable.ca/lanc.htm


    The Lancaster I was fitted with the Bristol Hercules radial engine and renamed the Lancaster II. After a long testing program it went into operational service in March, 1943. The Mark II possessed good overall flying characteristics, but it never equalled the Merlin-powered model. The Hercules-powered aircraft had better takeoff, ascent and low altitude flight characteristics than the Lancaster Is, but they flew slower and used more fuel. The arrival of American-built Merlin engines (built under license by Packard) doomed the Lancaster II after a production run of 301 aircraft. The Packard Merlin-powered Lancasters were the III model, however, they were nearly identical to the I.


    http://techcenter.davidson.k12.nc.us/spring023/rafbombers.htm

    Only 24 Lancasters completed more than 100 successful missions.

    http://www.geocities.com/CapeCanaveral/Hangar/8217/fgun/fgun-de.html

    The Lancaster had Frazer-Nash turrets, initially in the same arrangement as on the early models of the Halifax. The Lancaster happened to have much better aerodynamics than the Halifax, and the great majority of Lancasters retained their nose, dorsal and tail turrets.

    It seems as well that the bomb load was the important factor to Harris. Because it just was.Almost for the same reason he probably disliked the B-17 (?)

    http://motlc.wiesenthal.com/text/x18/xr1835.html

    British planners were cool toward the projected American strategy, and none more so than Harris. The leader of Bomber Command had already heard the case for precision bombing from a number of his own countrymen; once, in a moment of fury, he had suggested that such "panacea mongers" were the tools of a German plot. Though he sometimes employed precision bombing when it suited a particular mission, he regarded it as essentially a futile exercise. The Germans, he argued, could easily repair or otherwise compensate for the damage to a pinpoint target. Harris also opposed the American plan on a technical basis. He did not share the Yanks' high regard for their Flying Fortresses. Early in 1941, a score of Forts-as they were called-had been sent across the Atlantic for the British to use on daylight missions and, in Harris' words, "got the hell shot out of them." From their performance in action, he had concluded that they were too slow and clumsy. Worse still, they accommodated only about half the bombload carried by his beloved Lancaster.

    As well the slight advantage with ceiling and clearly better range were Lancaster´s advantages. And as well less teething problems it seems
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Bomber stream

    http://www.raf.mod.uk/bombercommand/raids/thousands.html

    The major innovation was the introduction of a bomber stream in which all aircraft would fly by a common route and at the same speed to and from the target, each aircraft being allotted a height band and a time slot in the stream to minimize the risk of collision. The recent introduction of Gee made it much easier for crews to navigate within the precise limits required for such flying, although there would always be wayward crews who would drift away from the stream. The hoped-for advantage from the bomber stream was that the bomber force could pass through the minimum number of German radar night-fighter boxes. The controller in each box could only direct a maximum of six potential interceptions per hour. The passage of the stream through the smallest number of boxes would, therefore, reduce the number of possible interceptions, particularly if the bomber stream could be kept as short as possible and pass through the belt of boxes quickly. This led on to the next decision, to reduce still further the time allowed for the actual bombing at the target. Where four hours had been allowed earlier in the war for a raid by 100 aircraft and two hours had been deemed a revolutionary concentration for 234 aircraft at Lubeck, only 90 minutes were allowed for 1,000 aircraft in this coming operation. The big fear in these matters was always that of collisions but, on this occasion, this was accepted in return for the opportunity to allow the bomber stream to pass through the night fighter boxes quickly, to swamp the Flak defences at the target and, above all, to put down such a concentration of incendiary bombs in a short period that the fire services would be overwhelmed and large areas of the city would be consumed by conflagrations.

    -----------

    Harris almost did not make the 1,000 planes for Cologne...

    But, as the planning period came to an end, potential disaster struck. The Admiralty refused to allow the Coastal Command aircraft to take part in the raid. This was obviously a step in the long-running battle between the R.A.F. and the Royal Navy over the control of maritime air power and the Admiralty realized that a success for this grandiose Bomber Command plan was not likely to help their prospects for building up a force of long-range aircraft for the war against the U-boat. They were quite correct in that belief. Harris now appeared to be falling well short of the dramatic figure of 1,000 aircraft with which he intended to carry out what was evidently a massive public-relations exercise.

    Bomber Command redoubled its efforts. Every spare aircrew member and aircraft was gathered in by the operational squadrons but the decisive reinforcement came from Bomber Command's own training units, which committed more crews from the bottom half of their training courses. Every effort was made to provide the training crews with at least an experienced pilot but forty-nine aircraft out of the 208 provided by 91 Group would take off with pupil pilots. When the operation was eventually mounted, 1,047 bombers would be able to take off, all but the four from Training Command being provided by Bomber Command's own resources, in spite of the fearful risk of sending so many untrained crews. When Churchill and Harris discussed the possible casualty figures, Churchill said that he would be prepared for the loss of 100 aircraft.

    In addition to the bombers, forty-nine Blenheims of 2 Group reinforced by thirty-nine aircraft of Fighter Command and fifteen from Army Co-operation Command would carry out Intruder raids on German night-fighter airfields near the route of the bomber stream.

    :eek:
     
  14. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Ha! Did not run out of sites, what did you think?

    http://www.gatch.freeserve.co.uk/aero/aero_curr_feat.htm

    The basic soundness of the Lancaster design is reflected by the fact that the airframe remained basically unaltered throughout it's bombing career. This could also possible be explained by short-sightedness on the part of the British government, where there may have been a feeling that the Lancaster would make it to the end of the war and after that the need for a strategic bomber was expected to decline. There was certainly no B29 Superfortress equivalent being conceived.

    However, the Mk.I airframe remained in production throughout the war and just beyond, the last being delivered to the RAF in February 1946.

    Although there was no shortage of Merlins (??), the Mk.II actually had a poorer performance than the Mk.I, in particular in terms of altitude that was essential to minimise exposure to anti-aircraft fire.

    the Stirling limited its wingspan to under a 100ft to allow use of the hangars available in 1936.

    Although this is similar to the Lancaster (and Halifax), the Stirling was actually a the biggest of the three planes (7000lbs heavier than the Lancaster when empty).

    the Stirling suffered from a relatively low operational ceiling that left it within range of more anti-aircraft fire. The Stirling's bomb-bay was also divided into two, limiting the size of the weapons it could carry when bigger bombs were developed. The Stirling flew its last bombing raid in September 1944, but before that had found a new role as a glider tug.

    the Halifax had a more limited range than either the Lancaster or Stirling: this may help to explain the Lancaster's apparent pre-eminence. However, Halifax production reached over 6000 and it served in more theatres than the Lancaster.

    The Avro Lincoln, the RAF's next heavy bomber, was a direct development of the Lancaster.

    :D
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Whew :eek: - haven't had time to read all that, yet !

    One thing jumps out though - the number of Lancasters to exceed 100 ops was 34 , not 24.

    The full story of each of those 34 can be found in Norman Franks' excellent book, ' Claims To Fame : The Lancaster ' ( Arms & Armour Press, 1995 )
     
  16. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    Thank you KP and Martin for all that information. I will grant you that the early marks of the Halifax were dogs. I did not know so few of them made the 100 mission mark and I was just being sarcastic about the PR of both companys and I was not aware of the cities the planes were produced in during the war. Politics seems to be a factor in all military aircraft through out the years.
    I did come across some new information about the Short Stirling while looking for Halifax information.
    The operations of the night of Nov.22/23, 1943 was the last time that the Stirling participated in a long distance Main Force attack. The attack was on Berlin and 764 Bombers were dispatched of which 640 attacked the main target and of this force only 50 were Stirlings. Of the 25 Bombers lost in the attack,4 were Stirlings. The bomb load delivered by the Stirlings were 5 x 2,000 HC, 1 500 GP, 644x30lb bombs, 91,714 x 4lb bombs, and 1,806 4lb type X incendiaries.
    A raid on Berlin in late August 1943 started the decline of the Stirling on main force ops. as out of 106 Stirlings dispatched only 66 attacked Berlin, and 16 Stirlings were lost. 15.1% was deemed too high for the crews to endure.
    Service ceiling was only 14,500 feet. They should have court martialed the idiot who put the 100 foot wing span limitation on the aircraft :mad:
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx Martin, Thanx Ta 152!

    I guess though there´s still alot to look for here, little things that add to the full picture of Bomber Command, and I hope to find more. Already in many places quite different views what happened, like whether the night bombing was chosen or made to choose by Bomber Command. Halifax did not have maneuverability problems/did have lots of them. Lancaster´s hatch for bailing out? Too small? There was a problem with Merlin engines production-not enough/ No problem at all..

    The main issue, or so I feel, is that if Harris had accepted precision bombing for most operations, the Lancaster´s capability might not have been that important for choosing the Bomber Command´s main plane.With area bombing you need loadsa bombs, otherwise you don´t really have area bombing as your strategy...And of course the range.

    :confused:
     
  18. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    http://www.elsham.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/raf_bc/

    Short Brothers' Stirling was the third of the "heavies" and the first to be introduced in late 1940. Restricted by the Air Ministry to a maximum wingspan of 100 feet (so it could fit inside the then-standard hangar!) it was a very strongly-built aircraft which suffered from insufficient speed and altitude.

    Many operationally tired Stirlings could not climb above 13,000 feet where they were sitting ducks for both light and heavy flak defences. Also, many Stirling crews consisted of eight men, including a 2nd Pilot as well as a Flight Engineer.

    It has been reported to me that a skilled Stirling pilot could turn the 4 engined bomber inside an “attacking” Hurricane or Martinet, on fighter affiliation exercises. This was apparently due to the Stirling's very high wing loading which allowed astonishingly tight turns.

    -------

    Lancaster

    The "Lanc" could easily fly on three engines, could manage on two and limp away on one.

    One documented source calculated that the Lancaster, in one successful operation, destroyed enemy production equal to that of its own manufacture.

    -----

    Halifax

    Handley Page's Halifax was a heavier, more square but sister design, also all-metal with 4 engines and very similar firepower. Early models with Merlin engines suffered from being overweight; and a serious design flaw in the tail section caused many fatalities when the arrow-shaped rudders locked over at full reach, causing a usually fatal spin. Having removed the front turret, armour plate, removed completely (or changed for a different type) the mid-upper turret, fitted more powerful Bristol Hercules engines and redesigned rectangular fins and rudders, it was transformed into a solid, dependable, but unexciting (?) aircraft.

    Halifax crews, even today, insist that it was a better aeroplane than the Lancaster. Its early design faults and haphazard arrangement of internal controls, dials and switches made it harder work to fly. One pilot [the late Jack Currie] said "The Halifax always seemed reluctant to leave the ground and glad to be back down again. If left to fly itself, it would porpoise its way back to straight and level. It was in fact the ideal aeroplane to go to sleep in. But the instruments were arranged as if they had been flung in through the window and fitted where they landed. The flight-engineer and I were in constant communication." Halifaxes, however, had a much better reputation for survival when baling-out.

    -------

    Other stuff

    Most bombers were inadequately heated, with only one heat outlet, with the result that one lucky crew member sat in a sweat and everyone else froze. The air gunners were equipped with electrically heated oversuits, boots and gauntlets, but these were notoriously unreliable. The stunning cold at high altitudes often froze equipment solid, leaving guns unable to fire at a crucial moment, or crew members injured when they touched metal with their bare hands. Thus, enemy action was not the only hazard they faced.

    At the peak of heavy bomber production in December 1943, the aircraft industry employed 1,711,600 workers, and expenditure in 1942 was £690 million. At least £200 million was spent by the RAF in constructing the new concrete three-runway aerodromes, with a heavy bomber, two squadron base costing £1 million in 1941.

    Wartime figures showed that the average number of operational sorties completed by a bomber aircraf5t was between thirteen and fourteen.

    -------

    The popular expression "Gone for a Burton" meaning "dead" referred to Burton on Trent. This was (and still is) home to a very substantial brewing industry. "Burton Ale" was advertised at the time on a billboard in two parts - two men carrying a ladder - one at each end and then in the second panel one man carrying but the other had disappeared with the slogan - "Gone for a Burton" under it. Hence went for a beer, became RAF slang for "buying the farm" "getting the chop".

    Once on an operational Squadron, a tour of duty was 30 completed operations. An "op" was a successfully completed flight or sortie, where the primary or secondary target had been attacked. Crews turning back early through technical problems did not count as having successfully operated. The loss rate was around the 4 to 5 per cent mark, so mathematically it was impossible to survive. Yet about 35 per cent of crews survived a first tour, after which they were classed as "tour expired" or "screened", trained as instructors and sent to HCUs and OTUs to train more crews. After a six month rest, they came back for another tour of 20 operations. If they survived this, they could volunteer for more; but if they chose not to, they remained as instructors unless promoted to higher things.

    Heavy bomber crews had a ten percent chance of baling out after being shot down. The German anti-aircraft system was extremely well organised, with the Kammhuber Line, a strong belt of 88mm guns and powerful searchlights extending along the German / Dutch border. Many aircraft came down in the Zuider Zee (Ijsselmeer) and are still being discovered as the land is gradually drained. The Luftwaffe's night fighter force was also very highly developed, with ground radar stations directing airborne radar-equipped night fighters into the bomber stream, freelance roving fighters, and high-flying Luftwaffe aircraft dropping flares to mark the bomber stream's progress.

    --------

    The Battle of the Barges : August 1940. The Germans were poised to invade, and the Channel ports crammed with invasion barges. RAF Bomber Command mounted low-level attacks and destroyed significant numbers as well as much other materiel.

    The Augsburg Raid : 17th April 1942. The recent introduction of the Lancaster led some to believe that it could defend itself in a deep penetration daylight operation, and selected crews from No 44 and 97 Squadrons attacked the MAN Diesel works at Augsburg, Bavaria. Bad luck and inattention to timing caused the loss of 7 out of the 12 aircraft, with unspectacular results. The operational commander, Wing Commander John Nettleton, received the VC for this attack.

    "Operation Robinson" the attack on the Schneider Armaments Works at Le Creusot, France, 17th October 1942. No 5 Group trained for weeks in low-flying formations and the attack was a success with very low losses.

    The final "Main Force" operation of any significance was a double attack on the night of April 24/25th 1945 against Hitler's Redoubt at Berchtesgaden and Naval installations at Sylt, on the Dutch/German coast. By the end of the war, RAF Bomber Command had flown 372,650 sorties and lost 8,617 aircraft and 47,268 aircrew, the highest pro rata loss rate of any Allied military unit. Almost 1 million tons of bombs had been dropped.

    At the end of the war the Polish Air Force personnel in Britain numbered over 14,000 people (aircrew, ground crew, WAAFs, etc.). In 1947 about 3,000 decided to return to Poland whereas 11,000 chose to stay abroad. In 1947-48 about 2,500 of the latter emigrated to South America, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, USA, South Africa and various countries in western Europe. The remainder settled down in Britain.

    RAF Bomber Command dropped thousands of tons of food to Dutch civilians in what was termed Operation Manna. Retreating Germans had laid waste land, and many families were starving. The Dutch have never forgotten this and to this day maintain very friendly relations with England. An unofficial cease fire was agreed with the Germans, and safe passages granted; but such trips counted as "ops" for the crews.

    RAF Bomber Command also flew home many liberated Prisoners of War, during Operation Dodge.


    ;)
     
  19. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Harris accepting the idea of precision bombing - well, he could possibly have done, but the Luftwaffe had other ideas, as the USAAF found out to their ( literal ) cost.

    And even in daylight, of course, Europe is obscured by cloud for a lot of the time, so very often the 8th AF were bombing 'blind' on their precision raids.....
     
  20. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Even prior to any formal orders being received for the twin-engine Avro Manchester, Roy Chadwick, Avro's Chief Designer, had unofficially proposed a four-engine variant of the Manchester to the Air Ministry.
    Although, the initial four-engine proposal was not given the total support of either Avro or the Air Ministry. With the Manchester design not fully finalized, a group of six draftsmen were assigned to the project. The Type 683 four-engine variant named Manchester Mk.III was already well under way long before the first Manchester rolled off of Avro's production lines.

    The new design called for the use of the basically sound Manchester fuselage and center wing section. To which it was proposed to mount an increased main wing with a span that was initially to be 90'-0" (27.43 meters), this would later be increased to 102'-0" feet (31.09 meters.) The tail plane was also to be enlarged, but the early design retained the Manchester's tri-fin design. This to would be revised shortly after the first flight of prototype and would also include the deletion of the central fin and an increase in the size of the twin rudders.

    With the initial design nearing completion; design calculations showed that the four-engine Manchester, which was now unofficially being referred to as the Lancaster, showed significant improvement in performance over the twin-engine version. The design team surmised that even with a new all up weight of nearing 58,600 lbs, the aircraft would be capable of reaching a top speed slightly over 300 mph at 18,000 feet and a have a bomb lifting capacity of 12,000 lbs.

    By August 1940, correspondence between senior members of Avro, Avro's sub-contractors and the Air Ministry reveal all parties were actually discussing the new four-engine design. But as yet no commitment had made towards producing a prototype aircraft.

    At about the same time as the correspondence discussing the new Manchester version was occurring. A decision was made high in governmental echelons that the entire bomber force should be equipped entirely with four-engine types.

    Within twenty-four hours of this decision being made, a letter arrived at the Air Ministry suggesting that once the original order for the two hundred twin-engine Manchester's, currently under production with Avro, was completed. The entire Avro manufacturing facility should be converted for production of the Handley-Page Halifax.

    This suggestion can only have been received in the most unfavourable way by the management of Avro. As their reaction was immediate and they submitted a counter-proposal to the Air Ministry for the production of the four-engine Manchester variant.

    etc..

    http://www.nucleus.com/~ltwright/lanc_h.HTM

    The following is an approximate cost to the British economy based on 1943 prices to build, arm, supply ground and air crew for a Lancaster Bomber for one (1) operational bombing sortie.


    1 Lancaster cost £42,000.00 to purchase. (This assumes minimal profits being made by the manufacture.)
    1 Lancaster required 5,000 tons of hard aluminium or the equivalent of 11 million sauce pans.
    1 Lancaster required the equivalent manufacturing capability required to build 40 basic automobiles of the period.
    1 Lancaster absorbed the equivalent manholes as it takes to build one mile (1.61 Km’s) of a modern highway (motorway).

    1 Lancaster carried the equivalent radio and radar equipment to fabricate one million domestic radios of the period.

    Each member of a Lancaster crew cost £10,000.00 to train. The average cost for a Lancaster was therefore £70,000 or £80,000 if the crew consisted of 8 crew members.

    To fuel, bomb, arm and service a single Lancaster required an additional £13,000.00. This also includes an allowance for the cost to raining the ground crews.


    Thus the average cost to the British economy for EACH Lancaster bombing sortie was on average £100,000.00
     

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