e-Newsletter for August 2002

BOOKS:

Aircraft of World War Two: A Visual Encyclopedia. by Michael Sharpe, Jerry Scutts, Dan March - If it flew during WWII, it is in this book. Everything you wanted to know, and more. Includes some beautiful photography of restored aircraft and historical images. If you flew it, maintained it, or just to love reading about old warbirds, this is a great book to have. Retails for $24.95.

Ghosts II: A Time Remembered by Philip Makanna - A follow on to the original "GHOSTS" book co-authored with Jeffrey Ethell. Beautiful images of beautifully restored aircraft. This would make a great coffee table book. The only shortcoming of this book, is the photo of the Bf-109, is actually a Spanish built version of the 109 made to look like the German original. Retails for about $30.

The Great Book of Bombers: The World's Most Important Bombers from World War I to the Present Day by Jon Lake, Ray Bonds. The title says it all. If you flew it, maintained it, it is in this book. From the wood and fabric bombers of WWI to the strategic bombers, and fighter/bombers of today, you'll find plenty of information about all the aircraft, and some great photos of restored aircraft, and historical images. Retails for $39.95.

The Messerschmitt Me109: Volume I From 1939 to 1942: by Anis Elbied and Andre Jouineau (published by Historie & Collections). Mistakenly, and commonly  referred to as an Me109, the actual designation was Bf109 (Bayerische Flugzeug Werk). That technical error aside, this is a wonderful book for the modeling enthusiast. This book details the markings of groups and staff that adorned the aircraft of the Luftwaffe as well as camouflage schemes.. This book describes the "Berta," "Clara," "Dora," "Emil," and "Friedrich" (B- through F) variants of the famous German fighter. Fighter markings of other nations flying the 109 are also included. This is a must have for the aviation modeler! Retails for $19.95.

MISSIONS:

It is a bitter fact of warfare, that there will always be a "last to die" in direct combat. Many will continue to succumb to their wounds, die in accidents, or die of war related causes long after the ink on the surrender papers have dried, but to hear the last call when peace is so near is hard to imagine. For the 486th Bomb Group, that distinction belongs to the Bartl crew (so far as records have shown). The 486th lost the Allbright, and Bartl crews on April 17th, 1945, as they flew on a mission to bomb Dresden. The first groups over the target left a mess for those that followed to deal with. On a mission that involved 1,054 B17s, and B24s, the 8th AF lost only two. Both from the 486th. Smoke, fires, weather, and contrails led to navigational errors that took the 486th over the Brux/Most Flak zone in what is now the Czech republic. The Allbright crew would survive their ordeal, and would be repatriated shortly thereafter. The Bartl crew would never return. Following the mission on the 21st, the 8th Air Force would stand down. Peace came on the 7th of May (the 8th is the publicly recognized date.)

For the past year, I have been working with Radovan Helt of the Czech Republic sending him historical information. He in turn is writing a history of the Brux/Most area of WWII. On June 1st of this year, he dedicated a memorial to the Bartl Crew at the Brux/Most Airfield.

What follows is a portion of the After Action Report sent to the 8th Army Air Force HQ at High Wycombe:

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Consolidated Lead Crew Mission Report

4B Group in Division Column - 5

  1. Factors affecting mission:
    1. Weather - Heavy haze increasing from Belgian Coast in restricted visibility greatly. In vicinity of 1200E at 21000 ft, squadrons became separated and were lost from each other in the prevailing weather.
    2. Assembly and formation - Assembly was excellent, and very good formation was flown till CP 4. At this point, squadrons were lost in the soup.
    3. Fighter Escort - Good up to target and then lost in the clouds.
    4. VHF - good except for being jammed in target area.
    5. Enemy Opposition - Moderate, accurate FLAK in Brux area. Two (2) A/C lost here.
    6. Interference from other groups - Mad rushes, scrambles and generally disorganized bomber stream in target area, where all groups (their squadrons) emerged from clouds and haze to create a general condition of confusion and havoc.
  2. General Comment:
    1. 4A group flew at slow airspeed on route in causing 4B to ess and fly at minus standard operating procedure airspeed. The high squadron of 4B indicated a minus 5 to 10 at all times.
    2. Kodak advised wing to come in at 21,000 ft, but this altitude simply resulted in general confusion and loss of group integrity which a lower altitude might have remedied.
    3. 486B made a second run on the target because bombardier, in attempting a visual run, lost the target in haze and clouds, target was attacked H2X on second run. This squadron, beforehand, had overshot CP 4 by about thirty miles in following what they thought to be the bomber stream going into Dresden, realizing the mistake, the squadron turned to make the briefed IP good and ran into the Brux FLAK area. Coming out of this, they completed a 360 degree turn in trying for position.
    4. 486C attacked the M/Y at Aussig, Germany, about twenty-nine miles SE of the briefed target, believing this to be the first priority at Dresden. Previously, this squadron had become separated from the Group lead and had circled in the vicinity between CP 4 and IP, following the 13th CBW into their target area, believing them to be groups of the 4th wing. Squadron made a visual run because H2X was inoperative. The Navigation error involved here was due to the Dead Reckoning Navigator relying too much on the fixes furnished by the R/N and the pin points of the bombardier.

Navigator Report 486A Squadron (W. J. Earley, 1st LT, 5 group leads). Times and Positions:

English coast 5219N-0141E 1131 MET 3,000 ft
Continent 5124N-0330E 1206 MET 3,500 ft
Add. Pts. 5023N-0702E 1257.5 MET 12,000 ft
5014N-0845E 1320 MET 18,000 ft
5001N-1211E 1400 MET 21,000 ft
IP 5040N-1320E 1422.5 MET 21,000 ft
Target 5102.5N-1344E 1431.5 MET 21,000 ft
RP 5103N-1322E 1437 MET 19,000 ft
Add. Pts 5041N-1125E 1512.5 MET 13,000 ft
5042N-0807E 1607 MET 10,000 ft
5038N-0710E 1626 MET 10,000 ft
Channel 5124N-0330E 1728.5 MET 8,000 ft
England 5205N-0130E 1808.5 MET 3,000 ft

 

Actual Winds
Enroute: 318 deg/26 kts - 293/40 - 267/36
Target: 295/29
 
Difficulties:
A, B and C squadrons became separated between CP 4 and the IP on the route in due to weather. B squadron made a 360 deg turn between CP 4 and the IP and made 2 runs on the target, circling to the left and making the briefed IP good each time. B squadron followed the briefed route back and was unable to contact A squadron. C squadron made a 360 deg turn to the left between CP 4 and the IP. They attacked the town of Aussig, about 29 miles SE of the briefed target, mistaking it for Dresden. They made a 270 degree turn to the right off target and joined the B squadron between the RP and CP 5 on the route back. This Navigator error was due to the DR navigator relying too much on the fixes furnished by the radar navigator and the pin points of the bombardier.

 

Recommendations:
Air leaders should consult their navigators before making decisions to change headings and follow preceding groups.

Navigation Report B squadron (C. B. Holcombe, 2nd LT, 1st lead)

 Time and positions:

IP (1st time) 5034N-1315E 1428 MET 20,900 ft
Target 5104N-1344E 1442 MET 20,900 ft
IP (2nd time) 5039N-1315E 1457 MET 21,000 ft
Target 5104N-1344E 1504 MET 21,000 ft
RP 5101N-1320E 1507 MET 19,500 ft
Add. Pts.
5028N-1126E 1542 MET 9,800 ft
5035N-0700E 1654 MET 8,200 ft
Channel 5125N-0330E 1756 MET 4,000 ft
England 5217N-0138E 1836 MET 3,500 ft

Note: Lead Navigator of "C" squadron lost his log when the chin turret cover was opened in flight. Examination of wing logs show that C squadron made a 360 deg turn in the Brux area, used a point (5019N-1333E) as the IP and made a run on Aussig (5040N-1401E); made a 270 deg turn to the right at Aussig and intersected the briefed route back at 5100N-1310E, joining B squadron at CP 5.

Bombardier Report (J. W. Nolte, 1st LT, 24 leads)

Attacked Dresden M/Y with H2X. At IP:

  1. Turn made at briefed IP.
  2. weather 10/10 undercast - contrails encountered - poor visibility
  3. True heading 020 deg
  4. Formation: squadron
 

Bombing Data:

  1. Time for synchronization in minutes: None (H2X)
  2. Bombing aids used: AFCE, H2X
  3. Bomb Load:
    1. 14 x 250 lb M57, 1/10 nose and 1/40 tail fusing.
    2. 4 x 500 lb M17 incendiary fused to burst at 5,000 ft.
  4. Intervalometer setting: 30' for wing aircraft, salvo for lead.
  5. Drift: 10 degrees right
  6. change in trail: none.
  7. true heading at time of bombs away: 019 deg
  8. time of release 1431 1/2 MET
  9. true altitude 20,600 ft
  10. faulty release: none.
  11. Ground speed: 209 MPH

 

Narrative:
While maneuvering for interval we became separated from B and C squadrons, so we proceeded alone. The second priority target was attacked (PFF). Visibility was very poor. After leveling off and starting run, we were forced to ess on run to avoid collision, then we got back on course in time to clutch in at 70 degrees. We were at 21,000' at the IP, and after starting the run, we descended to 20,000 ft, and still in the clouds, we attacked the target. There was no flak encountered, and the target was never picked up except by H2X. The radar navigator sighted for both rate and deflection, and we picked up the target fifty miles away. Squadrons were attacking at all altitudes and on all headings, and I believe one squadron on a heading at right angles to ours held their bombs to allow us safe passage below them. There were nine aircraft attacking in this squadron.

Bombardier Report 486th B (A. Goodman, 2nd LT, 5 leads) Target attacked: Dresden M/Y (H2X).

Data at IP

  1. Turn made at briefed IP
  2. Weather 4/10 to 6/10 undercast with heavy haze. Visibility 10 miles.
  3. True heading 029 deg
  4. Formation: squadron

Bombing Data:

  1. Time for synchronization in minutes: none (H2X)
  2. Bombing aids used: AFCE, H2X
  3. Bomb Load
    1. 14 x 250 lb M57 1/10 nose and 1/40 tail fusing
    2. 4 x 500 lb M17 incendiary fused to burst at 5,000 ft
  4. Intervalometer setting: 30' for wing, salvo for lead.
  5. Drift: 6 deg right
  6. Change in trail: none
  7. true heading at bombs away: 038 deg.
  8. Time of release 1504 MET
  9. true altitude 21,480 ft.
  10. Faulty release:
    1. #663 - electrical rack failure. Returned 7-M57 and 2-M17.
    2. #867 - Battle damage returned 14-M57 and 4-M17.
    3. #615 - Battle damage returned 5-M57 and 2-M17.
    4. #253 - Battle damage returned 5-M57 and 2-M17
  11. Ground speed: 206 mph.

NARRATIVE: The second priority target was attacked (PFF) because of obscurations over the first priority target. I could not see the squadron ahead of me, so I don't know in what order we went in. I picked up the first priority on the first run, but lost it in the haze and light clouds. We then did a 360 deg and attacked the second priority. Results were unobserved. There was meager FLAK over Dresden, but accurate FLAK and moderate FLAK over BRUX. The radar navigator picked up the target at 30 miles. The clouds broke over the target, and we noted that we were off course and managed to swing in 12 degree correction right before bombs away. The radar navigator synchronized for both rate and deflection. Eight aircraft attacked in this squadron.

Bombardier report 486th C (T. A. Roberts, 2nd LT, 3 leads). Attacked secondary target Dresden M/Y (H2X)

Data at IP:

  1. Turn not at briefed IP, but at 5142N-1345E, following turn made by another group.
  2. weather - haze and contrails. Visibility 8 miles.
  3. true heading - 002 deg
  4. Squadron formation

Bombing data:

  1. Same as above
  2. Bombing aids used: AFCE, Bombardier hot plate, H2X.
  3. Same as above
  4. same as above
  5. Drift: 2 deg right
  6. Change in trail: added 12 mils.
  7. True heading at bombs away: 358 deg
  8. Time of release: 1448
  9. True Altitude: 18,780 ft.
  10. Faulty release: none.
  11. Ground speed over target: 175 mph.

Narrative: The second priority target (PFF) was attacked. Accurate and heavy FLAK was encountered. We were following other groups into the target in hopes of dropping on their smoke bombs, as our radar set was out. There was no traffic interference encountered. AFCE was not properly set up due to changing of altitude from 24,500 ft to 18,800 ft. Sighting was done for both rate and deflection. And bombs were released on, and hit a marshalling yard. Eight aircraft attacked in this squadron.

1. NOTE: Photo interpretation shows these bombs dropping on the marshalling yards at Aussig, Germany. Critique of all crew members returning in this squadron indicates that extreme weather conditions with this area caused difficulties bringing about this failure to attack the assigned target and ultimately target misidentification. The Navigational error involved in taking the squadron into this area is explained elsewhere in this report.

3rd AD operational intelligence report - Dresden - Aussig - Roudnice Mission:

  1. Leaflets dropped:
    1. 1 A/C of the 34th BG dropped 9 containers of VG-5 on Roudnice
    2. 1 A/C of the 390th BG dropped 5 containers of T-360 and 5 containers T-362 on Aussig.
    3. 1 A/C of the 447th BG dropped 5 containers WG-50 and 5 containers VG-4A on Dresden
    4. 1 A/C of the 487th BG dropped 5 containers T-361 and 5 containers WG-43 on Dresden.
  2. Dresden/Neustadt RR facilities were bombed by 7 squadrons using H2X with visual assists or by visual technique.
    Dresden south M/Y was bombed by 9 squadrons using H2X technique.
    Aussig RR facilities were bombed by 9 squadrons using visual technique.
    Roudnice oil storage was bombed by 12 squadrons using visual technique.
  3. No fighter attacks.
  4. FLAK:
    1. Roudnice - None
    2. Aussig - None
    3. Dresden - Meager to moderate accurate, tracking
    4. Brux - Meager to inaccurate, tracking.
    5. M/Y activity
      150 freight cars reported in Freiberg M/Y (5055N-1322E)
      50 cars observed in Eger M/Y (5005N-1222E) at 1414 hours.
      M/Y at 5014N-1156E (south of Hof), full of cars.
      M/Y at Falkenau (5011N-1238E) full of cars at 1423 hours.
      M/Y at Karlsbad (5014N-1254E) full of cars at 1424 hours.
      M/Y at Saag (5020N-1333E) full of cars at 1424 hours. 150 freight cars reported on small RR east of Louny (5021N-1350E) at 1437 hours.

A/F activity:

4 enemy A/C observed burning on Eger A/F (5005N-1224E) at 1444 hours. 15 to 20 E/A observed on A/F at 5049N-1230E (North of Zwickau) at 1441 hours. 2 or 3 E/A parked on A/F at 5016AN-1419E (possibly Prague/Ruzyne A/F).

Ineffective smoke screen observed at Brux at 1409 hours. Much traffic on autobahn between Chemnitz and Dresden. Heavy traffic was noted on the road between Meissen and Nossen at approximately 5110N-1325E. Large forest fire covering approximately a 3 mile area reported at 5054N-1025E (SW of Gotha, behind our lines) at 1605 hours.

1st AD

450 A/C were airborne of which 189 A/C attacked Dresden main RR station visually with fair to excellent results, 121 A/C attacked Dresden M/Y visually with fair to good results, 117 A/C attacked Dresden West M/Y on H2X with visual assist with unobserved results. Weather was generally good on route with ground haze at target and 10/10 cloud and high cirrus at 20,000 '. FLAK was meager and accurate at targets (battle damage: 99 minor, 31 major, 1 salvage). 6 to 7 Me262s attacked the seventh group in the bomber column over Dresden. E/A came in singly from the nose and tail but did not press attacks very closely on formation. Only one pass was made by these E/A. Claims: 8 A/C lost (1 to FLAK, 1 to E/A, 3 to collision, and 2 for unknown reasons).

2nd AD

194 A/C were airborne of which 61 A/C attacked Beroun RR junction and station, visually with very good results. 55 A/C attacked Fishern RR junction and facilities, visually with good results. 37 A/C attacked Flakenau RR bridge and facilities visually with fair results. 36 A/C attacked Kladno RR junction and facilities visually with fair to good results. Weather was good with haze. FLAK was nil. No E/A sighted. All returned.

3rd AD

410 A/C were airborne of which 162 A/C attacked RR facilities in Dresden using visual and H2X techniques with fair to unobserved results. 87 A/C attacked Aussig RR facilities visually with very good to fair results. 115 A/C attacked Roudnice oil storage visually with very good to poor results. Weather was 8/10 to 10/10 high cirrus clouds over Dresden and clear with heavy haze at Aussig and Roudnice. Flak was nil at Aussig, and Roudnice, and meager to moderate at Dresden. (Battle damage: 40 minor, 7 major). No E/A sighted, and 2 A/C lost to FLAK.

E/A claims: 11-0-4 (mostly Me 262s) in the air and 273-0-103 on the ground.

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The next mission report was written by George Rubin, 835th BS, who flew with the Wiley Crew. They were shot down on the 25th of February, and the entire crew would become POWs. The following page is a lengthy download:

The last mission of George Rubin

July | Association | September

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