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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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    Special bulletin for Ta152 !

    Just had my subscription copy of ' Aeroplane ' magazine delivered ( May '03 issue ) which features one of their excellent 'Database Specials '; 20 pages devoted to - The Handley Page Halifax ! ;)

    Type history, cutaway drawings, scale plans, first-hand accounts, surviving relics....grab a copy NOW ! [​IMG]

    [ 31. March 2003, 12:10 PM: Message edited by: Martin Bull ]
     
  2. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Martin :

    I'll take 1 copy please ! :D is it an English publication ?

    E
     
  3. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Yes, Aeroplane and FlyPast are the two 'warbird' magazines to have over here.

    Take a look at : -

    http://www.aeroplanemonthly.com

    I think it's available in the USA via : -

    Aeroplane Monthly c/o M.A.I.L. America, 365 Blair Road, Avenel, New Jersey NJ 07001.
     
  4. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    Thanks for the information in the Halifax in the Aeroplane May issue. I will look for it at the hobby shop I go to in Austin. It may take a while to get over here but I will get it eventually. Let us know if it sheds any light on why the Halifax got so badly overshawoded by the Lancaster.

    I was listening to the BBC news yesterday and I am embarresed by our military killing so many of your military. An A-10 pilot should know how to tell a British tank from other tanks. I am also ashamed at the American press for not covering the story. Or if they did they did not do it for very long ! I did not see anything about it on CNN but in the last Gulf war they did not cover the English troops killed by F-16 pilots either. If I had any power to change things,I would at least air the story in the American press and give aircrews a refresher course on what the enemy looks like ! The guys at work feel bad about so many British losses by Americans also.

    Again if I had the power to change things, I would change this. It is really a shame how arrogant polititians,businessmen, and high ranking military can be. They don't have to die for their country as long as they can get some 20 year old to do it for them. :mad:
     
  5. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    One is reminded of the 'American Luftwaffe' over Normandy....

    Plus ca change .... :( :(
     
  6. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Thanks Martin ! I will seek a copy out. Not to warp this thread but a German friend/vet just recently said to me.....

    "would it not be great if the world's leaders could get together in a boxing ring armed with only big, heavy rubber bats and fight it out instead of using the battlefields ?"

    no doubt !

    E
     
  7. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I'd make it a darkened room with Bowie knives and one arm tied behind their backs but I'm just in an exceptionally grouchy mood this pm....

    Anyway, let's go away and think over the weaknesses of the Halifax ;)
     
  8. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    ok, they should of had a 4 .303 belly turret ! of course this should of been standard in all the RAF heavies.....

    E
     
  9. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    OK, here it is : -

    DRAG.

    We could argue forever about turrets, rudders, escape hatches, etc etc etc.

    But drag was the real problem.

    On paper, as we've said, the Lancaster and Halifax look close. And I have to admit I wondered about the lower altitude problem, and also as to why the Halifaxes were withdrawn from the Battle of Berlin.

    The frontal aspect of the fuselage was much greater ( which came about because the Halifax was indeed much more 'roomy' for the crew, giving higher survivability ), and the wing had much greater thickness than the Lanc'.

    Additionally, the overall design was less 'clean' than the Lancaster, all of which led to increased drag and, very importantly on the Berlin long-haul in winter 43/44, increased icing.

    Take a full bomb/fuel load, high drag and then icing as well - and you have decreased performance and altitude.

    Yes, a lot of this changed with the Mk III, and yes, the Halifax suffered by being designed much earlier than the Lancaster. But there really is no sinister reason for the Lancaster taking precedence ; it really did perform better at its' job.

    I've gleaned this information from the Aeroplane article and from Merrick's Halifax book.
     
  10. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Martin :

    Quickly as I am running out the door......to the mag Aeroplane, have they covered the Lancaster extensively in an older issue or the Mossie night fighters ? This would be also something of interest to me.....

    E
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Got anything on the emergency exits on the bombers, Martin? Like I´ve said the Lancaster has always fascinated me since it played such a big part in the films I saw, and always will. But is there a problem with the Lanc´s hatch? And was it corrected?

    http://www.bomber-command.info/Tailgunner.htm

    Just some interesting info on the Lanc and especially the tail gunner´s view:

    The take off, in a Lancaster with full fuel and a full bomb load totaling anything up to 65,000 lbs+ (one third of the weight was fuel) was not always straight forward and the aeroplane could be wayward in strong crosswinds.

    'Snaking' on take off or when taxiing may have been seen as 'normal' and 'under control' by the pilot and other crew up front, but in the darkness of the rear turret, sitting almost over the tail wheel it was something different! It sometimes felt as if the tail wheel was made of wood everything at the back end strained, banged, shook and rattled, and it was a tense hold on to everything few moments, including the stomach. Ammunition jostled and rattled in the fuselage as the turret swayed shook and vibrated it was the closest one could get to being airsick on the ground. When the tail of the aeroplane lifted into the air one could then relax.

    The times taken to get to the same target and back to base would nearly always be similar if one was to navigate as the crow flies, but it was never like that. Targets were reached and bombed from various compass points. Bombers were routed sometimes towards ‘spoof ‘ targets and then turned away towards the intended area. Sometimes a mission would be flown towards a specific target, then flown past only to return from a different and hopefully unsuspected heading, hoping if nothing else to confuse the enemy defences on the ground.

    Constant adjustment to planned tracks was the Navigators task because of head or tail winds, forecast or not, engine malfunctions, airframe icing, known flak areas, or new ones ,searchlights and evasive action and not forgetting 'Gremlins’

    Gremlins were wee fellas, like Pixies, and they were invisible. They could get into everything and cause terrible trouble. Their current equivalents would be called bugs or glitches.

    The Bomb-Aimer often sat in the right hand seat beside the pilot , if a second or screen pilot wasn't carried. On this Gremlin occasion both the navigator and the pilot were getting edgy because of apparently unnecessary and too frequent track deviations called dog legs (if a delay was needed, or cutting a corner if behind time).

    Emergency exit from the Lancaster was usually made from either the front escape hatch or the main entrance door. The procedure when leaving from the rear door was to dive out with your head down to avoid hitting the tail plane (I was definitely there and awake the day they told us that), but there were a lot of ‘if’s and buts’. To exit by the main door was going to take time, which I/we didn't have, and I was just as much averse to queuing as swimming I was quickly getting my wits together Get the parachute! Quick glance! Yes its there in the fuselage, an arm’s length away Okay, open turret doors and hope they don't jam (they sometimes did) that's it - drag the chute carefully into the turret (it wouldn't have been the first time a parachute had accidentally deployed inside an aircraft) - consternation ! there's no room to put it on. This situation wasn’t in the design and Hey! You know your lower harness is loose, well you cant do anything about it now so get on! rotate the turret 90 degrees, otherwise you'll be bailing out into the fuselage.

    --------

    http://thunder.prohosting.com/~kopper/bcors.htm

    The following are excerts from the book, 'Disturbing the Universe', written by Freeman Dyson and published in 1979. Mr. Dyson was a civilian scientist working at Bomber Command HQ in the Operational Research Section (OPR). The OPR was supposed to give the C-in-C of Bomber Command, for most of the war Sir Arthur Harris, independent scientific advice about strategy and tactics, etc.


    Crew experience and surviving a tour

    "I was engaged in a statistical study to find out whether there was any correlation between the experience of a crew and their chance of being shot down. The belief of the Command,… was that a crew's chance of surviving a mission increased with experience…It had been true in the early years of the war that experienced crews survived better. Before I arrived I arrived at Bomber Command, the ORS had made a study which confirmed the official doctrine of survival through experience. The results of that study had been warmly accepted by everybody."

    "Unfortunately, when I repeated the study…,I found that thins had changed. My conclusion was unambiguous: the decrease of loss rate with experience which existed in 1942 had ceased to exist in 1944. In the ORS we had a theory to explain why experience no longer saved bombers. We now know the theory was correct. The theory was called "Upward-Firing Guns." The normal tour of duty for a crew in a regular squadron was thirty missions. The loss rate during the middle years of the was averaged about four percent. This meant that a crewman had three chances in ten of completing a normal tour. The pathfinders crews signed on for a double tour of sixty missions. They had about one chance in eleven of completing the double tour."

    Ideas to reduce losses

    In the ORS, those of us who studied the causes of bomber losses thought we had a promising idea for reducing the losses. We wanted to rip the two gun turrets with all the associated machinery and ammunition out of the bombers and reduce the crew from seven to five. The evidence that loss rate did not decrease with experience confirmed our belief that gunners were of little use for defending bombers at night. The basic trouble with the bombers was that they were too slow and too heavily loaded. … Bomber losses varied dramatically from night to night. We knew that the main cause of the variation was the success or failure of the German fighter controllers in directing the fighters into the bomber stream before it reached the target. An extra fifty miles an hour might have made an enourmous difference."

    :confused:

    Every bomber had a trap door in the floor through which the crew was supposed to jump when the captain gave the order to bail out….A far larger number died because they were inadequately prepared for the job of squeezing through a small hole with a bulky flying suit and parachute harness, in the dark, in a hurry, in an airplane rapidly going out of control. The mechanics of bailing out was another taboo subject which right-thinking crewmen were not encouraged to discuss. The actual fraction of survivors among the crews of shot-down planes was a secret kept from the squadrons even more strictly than the odds against their completing an operational tour.

    From American bombers hot down in daylight, about fifty percent escaped. From the older types of British night bomber, Halifax and Stirling, about twenty-five percent. From, Lancasters, fifteen percent. … It was easy to argue that the difference in the escape rate between American bomber and Halifaxes and Stirlings was attributable to the difference in circumstances between day and night bombing. The Americans may have had more warning before they were hit and more time to organize their departure. It was obviously easier to find the way out by daylight than in the dark. No such excuses could account for the difference between Halifaxes and Lancasters. Mike discovered quickly the true explanation for the low escape rate from Lancasters. The escape hatch of a Halifax was twenty-four inches wide; the width of a Lancaster hatch was twenty-two inches…. Mike spent two years in a lonely struggle to force the Command to enlarge the Lancaster hatch. Ultimately he succeeded…. When total casualty figures for Bomber Command were added up at the end of the war, the results were as follows: Killed on operations, 47,130. Bailed out and survived, 12,790, including 130 who died as prisoners of war. Escape rate, 21.3 percent. I always believed that we could have come close to the American escape rate of fifty percent if our commanders had been seriously concerned about the problem.

    :confused:
     
  12. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    Your point about the Halifax wing thickness was a good find. I never even thought to check that out. I know in the book they showed pictures of various flame dampners they tried to reduce the drag in the Halifax,and the different turrets tried and the problems they had with the triangler rudder,but thick wings and a wide body will kill your airspeed.

    I think American aircrew had their parashoots attached to their flying suites, so that would save some time over the British way of having the shoot stored someplace in the plane and you have to find and put it on in the dark in a dying aircraft. Also B-24's and B-17's had the side gunners hatches to go out and you could go out the bomb bay if it was open. Of course on the down side, if you were an American bailing out in the top front of the bomber formation, you got to fall through all the other planes and hope you did not get splattered on someone's windscreen !

    The rough ride in the rear turret on the ground is also something I never thought of but I know it is true from having to ride in the back of a van. Every motion and pot hole is exagerated by 10 and the people riding up front don't have a clue what you are cripping about.

    Anyway the thick wings is the answer to the puzzle I think. You win a trip to Disneyland!! :D

    [ 01. April 2003, 02:06 PM: Message edited by: TA152 ]
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    The Halifax Mark IV - a potted history.

    http://www.hucknall99.freeserve.co.uk/The%20Halifax%20Mark%20IV.htm

    from mid-1943 a special high-altitude day bomber force of 20 Halifax Mark IVs were operating from Marston Moor airfield. This unit was not assigned a squadron number, but was simply identified as "S" (Special) Squadron and was administratively controlled by the all Halifax equipped 4 Group HQ of RAF Bomber Command. The document said that the Halifax IV had been designed to fly at high speed, extreme altitudes and was fitted with revolutionary engines. Similarly, the aircraft was fitted with the latest in blind bombing aids, namely H2X, and the very accurate Mark XXVI tachometric bombsight.

    :confused:

    [​IMG]

    Halifax sunset
     
  14. TA152

    TA152 Ace

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    Nice photograph KP!! I have found alittle more on the painting with the mid upper turret we thought was alittle too big. The Boulton-Paul Defiant type four gun dorsal turrets were at first installed in a raised deck so as to give the guns a 10 degree depression downward firing. The turret was later installed lower in the fuselage to decrease drag.
    The special Halifaxs did not have front or dorsal gun turrets and the nose was faired over with mostly medal,except for a few small windows. They called this a Z fairing nose.
    Also the thicker wings had bomb bays inbetween the fuselage and inboard engines that could carry a total of 6 500pound bombs.
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    As usual, quite a lot to think about.

    Escaping from the aircraft.

    The Halifax was built in fifteen separate sections, which would often 'break apart' if hevily hit in the air or during a crash-landing. This often 'helped' the crew to escape. The B-17 was a little similar ; one often sees photos of Fortresses broken in half just aft of the wings and I have read many accounts of crewmembers being thrown out and surviving. The Lancaster tended to remain in one piece.

    As for the escape hatches, I have honestly never heard of the front hatch being enlarged from 22 to 24 inches. That's not to say it didn't happen, but I've never read any accounts complaining that the hatch was difficult to 'bale' through. The main problem in the Lancaster as opposed to the Halifax was getting to the hatch. The high main spar of the Lancaster ( which gave the aircraft its enormous strength and carrying capacity ) was almost impossible to clamber over quickly, in the dark and burdened with parachute.

    So, for escaping, the Lancaster was almost split into two divisions, with the large rear entry hatch accessible by the rear gunner ( if he was very lucky ) and the mid-upper. The other crew had to squeeze past the pilot, down a step into the bomb-aimer's position and out through the front hatch. The pilot either had to follow, or try to escape through the top canopy ( often hitting the tail as a result ).

    The through-the-bomb-bay escape route of the B17 saved many lives; this option was simply not available in the British bombers.

    The Lancaster pilot wore a 'seat-type' parachute ; other crew members hung their parachutes on hooks in the fuselage as their positions were generally too cramped to allow 'chutes to be worn. This again was very tough for the rear gunners.


    Freeman Dyson.

    A very interesting 'what if?' - Dyson's proposal to discard all turrets, guns and ammunition.
    I honestly don't know. Yes, it worked with the Mosquito but don't forget that, at the time, the Mossie was one of the world's fastest aircraft. Would another 50mph have kept the Lancasters clear of the Luftwaffe ? I think that Dyson's proposal was just too radical for the time - I really can't imagine the crews being at all happy to go in totally undefended.

    His mention of 'Upward-Firing Guns' is interesting, though. My own opinion is that the Nachtjagd , certainly in the mid-43/late 44 period, was a very fearsome and effective adversary indeed with their sophisticated radar, skilled crews and Schrage Musik .

    I believe that a skillfully-delivered SM attack, setting fire to the main fuel tanks and almost immediately severing all control to two engines and all control surfaces on one wing, resulted in such total loss of control and immediate destruction that talk of 'escaping' from the victim aircraft becomes academic.

    It's thankfully impossible for us to imagine how terrible it must have been to be trapped in a blazing Lancaster, diving to earth at 400mph, probably inverted as well.....
     
  16. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    your last statement says it all from a SM attack Martin ! It's absolutely viscious. have a couple of short stories of US crewmen trying to get their all black B-24's out of harms way from Ju 88G-6 I./NJG 100 a/c in the area of Austria and Yugoslavia when on leaflet and bombing missions. They stated (the ones who were able to bail out), that theyn could not figure what hit them and it must have been a German secret weapon of some sort....

    E
     
  17. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Thanx Martin,

    very interesting and mind opening things again!

    A man Bomber Command hated for sure:

    Martin "Tino" Becker

    http://www.luftwaffe.cz/beckerm.html

    Martin “Tino” Becker was born on 12 April 1916 at Wiesbaden, Hesse. His service with the Luftwaffe began in 1940 flying with an unknown reconnaissance unit. He flew 27 reconnaisance missions. In early 1943 he joined 11./NJG 4, later redesignated 2./NJG 6. Becker scored his first victory on the night of 22/23 September 1943. A short time later he became Staffelkapitän of 2./NJG 6. He was a master of multiple victories shooting down six RAF bombers on 23 March 1944, seven on 3 March 1944 and, finally, nine on 14 March 1945. On the night of 30/31 March 1944 Becker, his radio operator Johansen and his rear gunner Welfenbach were flying a Bf 110 G-4. They took off from Mainz Finthen at 23:45. Between 00:20 and 00:50 they shot down six British bombers in the area of Wetzlar and Fulda. On their way back to home base they shot down another bomber over Luxemburg at 3:15. Becker was awarded the Ritterkreuz on 20 April 1944 for 26 victories. Most of his victories were scored while flying a Bf 110 G-4 with a "Schräge Musik" installation. In September 1944, after claiming his 43rd victory, he was promoted to Hauptmann and on 20 October became Kommandeur of IV./NJG 6 flying Ju 88G-6. On the night of 14/15 March he scored 9 victories while flying Ju 88G-6 "2Z + MF".

    1. 21:53 Lancaster over Bad Berka, SE of Erfurt
    2. 21:59 Lancaster area of Weimar-Naumburg
    3. 22:03 Lancaster over Naumburg
    4. 22:05 Lancaster over Naumburg
    5. 22:06 Lancaster over Naumburg
    6. 22:15 Lancaster over Jenna
    7. 23:00 Lancaster NE of Schwabisch Hall with rear gunner Johanssen using his MG 131
    8. 23:15 Lancaster a radio fire developed near Unterschlauersbach, but Johanssen shot the Lancaster down with his MG 131
    9. 23:37 B-17 TB (area near Crailsheim) with rear gunner Johanssen using his MG 131 again

    On 20 March 1945 he was awarded the Eichenlauben after his 58th and final kill (Lancaster) which he scored on the night of 16/17 March near Nürnberg with Ju 88G-6 "2Z + MF".
    Martin Becker flew 83 nightfighting missions, in which he shot down 58 enemy aircraft, mostly four-engined bombers.

    :eek:
     
  18. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    and do you know where Petr got his info on "Tino"......hmmmmmmm ? hee, hee.....by the way Karl Johanssen his bordfünker said they never flew on one mission that is listed for one of his victories.
    Martin evidently did not use his SM installation on his two Ju 88G-6's very much and resorted to using his forward firing 20mm's.

    E
     
  19. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Should have known better, Erich!

    Nachtjagd pilot pics:

    http://www.pilotenbunker.de/Nachtjaeger/Luftwaffe/Drewes_Martin/drewes.htm

    [​IMG]

    Erich,

    been reading David Williams´ Night fighters.
    Is the falcon from Wolfgang Falck´s coat-of-arms, and the emblem done by Viktor Mölders or is there another story?
    And the lightning is hittíng England due to the fact that the British bombers were often "disturbing" Falck in Denmark in 1940 ?
    More to this?

    :confused:
     
  20. Erich

    Erich Alte Hase

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    Kai :

    that's what I get when I try to ammasse a monster data base and just llok at it without giving info away until about 10 years ago.....

    The Englandblitz or Blitzvogel is a combination of everything you've mentioned. It is a result of the Mölder brothers working closely with Wolfgang Flack's wappen, and the end result was this. Since NJG 2 was doing fernenachtjagd over England the result were thus in 1940-41. The lightining bolt hit which to me means hit and run, but this is my opinion. More in the new book on Wolfgang coming soon from www.eagle-editions.com

    E
     

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