AHC: Peerless Air Ministry

That sound like the same reasoning behind the original choice of wavelength for Chain Home Radar which was based IIRC on the halfwave reflection of an average bombers wingspan in the mid 1930's.
 

perfectgeneral

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There is a big difference between Village Inn and removing the gunner from the tail. 80% of contracts in the bomber stream are friendly, and IFF at the time was a pair of IR lamps. The gunner is there as a lookout and IFF system.
And to reload the guns.
 
Also, how often were defensive turrets actually used in combat, especially nose and ventral turrets
From B-24 gun position effectiveness report
6 MONTHS
November 1943-APRIL 1944TOTALDESTROYEDPROB.
DESTROYED
DAMAGEDNO.
CLAIM
GUN POSITIONENCS.%NO.%NO.%NO.%NO.%
NOSE16416
72​
15.1​
18​
18
25​
15.6​
49​
17.2​
TOP TURRET17717.2
75​
15.6​
20​
20
31​
19.4​
51​
18​
BALL TURRET535.1
30​
6.3​
3​
3
7​
4.4​
13​
4.6​
LEFT WAIST15815.6
85​
17.8​
13​
13
24​
15​
36​
12.7​
RIGHT WAIST15815.6
66​
13.8​
19​
19
24​
15​
49​
17.2​
TAIL TURRET31230.5
150​
31.4​
27​
27
49​
30.6​
86​
30.3​
TOTAL1022100
478​
100​
100​
100
160​
100​
284​
100​
 
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From B-24 gun position effectiveness report
Interesting.

There are some obvious inconsistencies e.g. the Nose row ..64 encounters & 75 destroyed plus 18 probable + 25 damaged + 49 misses?!
but more importantly, May I ask who compiled those figures, when and from what sources?

Unless compiled after the war with a cross-check with enemy sources,
I suspect the ratios of encounters may be useful but strongly doubt the claimed results.
(ignoring that dodgy nose row,
the other figures claim to only miss a quarter of the time, destroy the target a full half and damage the rest to some degree)

No disrespect to those who served, but I DON'T BELIEVE IT (acknowledgement to Mr V Meldrew)
IMHO wrt to "claims" of air combat kills and damages in WW2 the rule of thumb should be
  • if fighter on bomber divide by at least two
  • if fighter on fighter then dividing by threes the safe bet
  • if bomber on fighter divide by at least 4
  • if bomber formation defending against multiple fighters divide by ten
    (even if an attacker visibly goes down in flames
    - every gunner on whatever plane that got off a three-round burst at 300 yards 90 degree deflection will claim it!)
I mean it,

one B-17 box claimed to have shot down 40 German fighters when the German records show only 35 attackers were involved
and almost all of them returned safe (some with damage of course)
 
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Over Claiming is still a problem in the PAM. This is where the earlier use of OR by Bomber Command ITTL will make a difference. Having an effective Committee for the Survey of Air Offence (CSAO) will start to have cause some butterflies.
 
but more importantly, May I ask who compiled those figures, when and from what sources?
OCR may have messed things up into the new chart, should be 164
it's from this
HEADQUARTERS 2D BOMBARDMENT DIVISION
AAF 147 APO 558
21 MAY 1944

SUBJECT: Removal of Lower Ball Turret in B-24 Aircraft
TO : Commanding General, Eighth Air Force, AAF Station 101, APO 634

1. Operational experience in B-24 aircraft in this Division has increased the belief that under present combat conditions, the benefit derived from the Sperry ball turret may not be commensurate with the weight and parasite drag involved in this installation. Many of the group commanders wish to have the opportunity of removing this turret in at least some of the aircraft in each formation to improve the performance and the ability to maintain tactical formation with improved altitude performance, gas consumption, engine performance, etc.

2. This Headquarters concurs with this belief and is of the definite opinion that increased overall efficiency in operations may be achieved through the removal of the ball turret.
 
Unless compiled after the war with a cross-check with enemy sources,
I suspect the ratios of encounters may be useful but strongly doubt the claimed results.
Of course is not perfect, but things were better with the B-29 in showing what happened since the sighting stations had cameras, that led to the removal of all but the tailgun position by order of LeMay, the defensive guns were not worth the weight.
The ratios is the important data.

Since overclaims would be pretty much constant between positions, it showed that the tailgunner was most likely to engage(and miss!)
but also damaged and destroyed the attacking fighters the most often, followed by frontal attacks.

The Ball Turret was later removed by many B-24 groups, along with leaving one waist gunner back at the base

The midwar date is important, as this would be before the introduction of the Consolidated,Emerson or ERCO turrets, that had proper reflector gunsights
 
should be 164
OK

that total encounters for where the Nose Turret engaged makes the arithmetic sensible

AND

confirms my assessment that all gun positions claim to

only miss a quarter of the time, destroy the target a full half and damage the rest to some degree
so I'm afraid I still don't believe it (especially given the technical differences between the gun positions)

The date in letter cf. the date in the data clearly implies that this a simply crew claims from post-mission debrief with no reality check.

21 MAY 1944
However the simple ratio of usage of ball turret : tail turret : all other positions is ~ 1 :6 :3
which surely does raise doubt about the worth of the dorsal position

Aside: On checking some on-line sources, I note that other weight saving schemes involved changes to the armament mounting
but some late versions of the B-24 bombers even lost the TAIL armament as well (B-24L?)

(VLR anti sub versions, especially in British service, lost even more .50s but eventually gained zero point rails for "rocket spears" to attack surfaced UBs)
 
The above is, as stated, for daylight operations. At night a night fighter can place itself close under the target unseen often which would be impossible in daylight. There would be an argument in night bombing to have a viable ventral position even if one abandoned nose and upper positions but, in British heavy bombers, the obvious designed position became the mount for the more important radar. Just a vision port would be almost as effective as a gun position ventrally in these circumstances to alert the pilot for evasive action. Perhaps with a VGO gun with all tracer as a scare gun if the night fighter had seen the bomber and was positioning itself for attacking with upward firing guns. Myself I would not go with a gun at all, The last thing the observer needs is to lose night vision during an attack.
 
Well you could go and do what @Sbiper 's Reap the Whirlwind did with its Lancs. Strip out the chin and top turret, lengthen the nose and put a vision blister under it to give the Lanc a belly/below view. He also had the rear guns replaced with a pair of Vickers .50cal MGs amongst other things (larger escape hatches, more electronics, more powerful engines etc as marks went on and the like). *grumbles about him leaving us a bit hanging on that story, yes it finished buuuuuuuut....*
 
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One answer to the attack from below is radar itself. In OTL Fishpond was developed as an adjunct of H2S that gave warning of an aircraft below. In the PAM Fish pond will defently be developed earlier.
 
One answer to the attack from below is radar itself. In OTL Fishpond was developed as an adjunct of H2S that gave warning of an aircraft below. In the PAM Fish pond will defently be developed earlier.
Didn't Fishpond radiate constantly and basically became a "I AM HERE!!!" for Luftwaffe night fighters?
 
Fishpond as I understand it (and I am no radar engineer) actual worked in conjunction with the normal H2S signal. In order not to drown out the distant returns with the strength of the close returns, which on H2S was basically the vertical ground return, these signals were timed out. Fishpond was a separate display that AFAIU reversed the time out so that the near vertical signal was retained and this gave a look down image that could detect an aircraft between the host bomber and the ground. IDR that Both H2S and Monica were thought to be used by German night fighters as a beacon to home in on but IIRC the RAF considered that H2S did not unduly increase the Hazard to the host bomber,
 
Fishpond as I understand it (and I am no radar engineer) actual worked in conjunction with the normal H2S signal. In order not to drown out the distant returns with the strength of the close returns, which on H2S was basically the vertical ground return, these signals were timed out. Fishpond was a separate display that AFAIU reversed the time out so that the near vertical signal was retained and this gave a look down image that could detect an aircraft between the host bomber and the ground. IDR that Both H2S and Monica were thought to be used by German night fighters as a beacon to home in on but IIRC the RAF considered that H2S did not unduly increase the Hazard to the host bomber,
Yup, the detector the German's had success with, Flensburg, was detecting Monica's emissions. Naxos, which would detect HS2, was more effective on U-boats for warning of ASV equipped aircraft rather than in the air. It only could detect the 10cm H2S, not the latter 3cm versions and was by all accounts hard to make and fragile.
 
So, it does make sense to remove all turrets from Night Bombers, keeping only the Tail Turret? If this is done, and the rear turret is changed to either twin .50 or even 20mm arrangement, instead of 4x.303s, what weight savings could we see, and what would be effects on flying altitude, range or bomb carrying capacity? Also, how fewer crew would be needed per bomber, due to reduction in defensive armament, which is should be a rather positive change, as it would also keep the casualties down, less crew lost per bomber shot down?
 
Such changes may well happen later but at the moment there is no driver for such action. With more experience and data then there is a distinct possibility the OR and other people might push for such changes.
 
Such changes may well happen later but at the moment there is no driver for such action. With more experience and data then there is a distinct possibility the OR and other people might push for such changes.
Yes, while Air Ministry is much better led then IOTL, not even they can know what exact changes will be needed, and some time and combat experience will be needed until they recognize the need for certain changes. But, they are still much better off then they ever were IOTL, and many of the small changes that have happened from POD onwards are likely to make RAF (and others) a much more formidable force then they were in OTL. I mean we have Short Stirling as a purpose designed LRMP aircraft, something that will certainly be felt as time goes on, with reduced sinkings, U-Boats driven off and a couple of them perhaps sunk as well. Many similar things have happened, some great and some small, but those small percentages will certainly going to add up over time, gradually having a substantial impact on the war.
 
10.39 There Is No Hiding In The Dark
20,39. There is no hiding in the dark.

Several times during the daylight battles the King, amongst other VIPs, had visited Fighter Command HQ at Stanmore, one of the other HQs or an airfield but the request from the Royal Household to visit an operational GCI/PPI station at night had come somewhat as a surprise and caused not a little consternation amongst Sir Hugh Dowding’s Staff. After a little bit of to and from, the staff at Bentley Priory had arranged for the Royal Party to visit the GCI station at Sopley in Hampshire. This location had been chosen for a number of reasons, it was close enough to London and Windsor to be easily accessible but far enough away that it was unlikely to be caught in a major raid. It was very close to the Bournemouth/London railway so the Royal train could be used as an overnight base for the King and Queen and lastly but by no means least, Sopley had the record of being the most successful of all the GCI stations with almost double the number of intercepts, so therefore statistically it was the best station to choose from the point of the King actually witnessing an interception.


Having decided the where, the AM and Fighter Command had now to decide the when, the word from the Royal Household had been that it should be as soon as was practical and involve as few Brass Hats as possible and cause no disruption to the normal operation of the station. So it was that on the night of the XX of September the King and Queen were quietly ushered into the PPI and plotting room, where they were shown how the PPI screen showed the position and range of the target which could be passed directly to the intercepting pilot and plotted on the station’s map board, so that the control staff could track the enemy and it’s position relative to adjacent stations and other contacts. For the King’s visit the personnel at Sopley had been thoroughly briefed, one important aspect of his visit was that he was there in his capacity as a senior officer of the RAF and not as the King. So if he addressed any of the personnel they would respond with a curt “Sir” rather than “Your Majesty”.


So that the King could observe the operating procedure he was provided with a seat in front of the large Perspex grid reference map upon which the duty fighter plotter was marking and recording the plots and tracks of the various RDF returns. From these plots the duty fighter plotter would pass the course and speed of the plots to the duty controller. The Duty Controller would then use this information to direct the night fighter towards a hostile contact. So as to allow the duty fighter plotter to concentrate on the task in hand the King, who was sitting to his left, was separated from him by a curtain.


This carefully orchestrated demonstration was interrupted when as the duty plotter was concentrating on passing accurate courses and speed on a potential target to the controller, the curtain was whisked back by the King, who enquired in his guttural low voice ‘’and what are you doing?” completely unnerved by the unexpected interruption the duty fighter plotter forgot his prior instructions and leaped to his feet, sending his chino graph crayon flying to the floor, stood to attention and stated loudly “plotting, Your Majesty”. With nary a pause the King bent down, picked up the errant chino graph crayon and place it back on the ledge on the edge of the plotting table with the words “Oh are you” upon which both men sat down and the chase continued as if nothing had happened, which was fortuitous. The enemy aircraft had approached Sopley from the north and as the King now quietly observed an RAF night fighter was calmly and carefully coxed into a position below and behind the enemy aircraft. There was a brief flutter of excitement in the room as the night fighter reported gaining an RDF contact and the hushed silence as the two plots came ever closer to each other as they came ever closer to Sopley. Final the night fighter pilot radioed that he had visual contact and confirmed it as a ‘Hostile’ and was about to engage. At this juncture the senior RAF officer escorting the King and Queen discreetly invited then to step out side as there might be something to see. As they cleared the blackout curtain the party was directed to look towards the north. Hardly had these words been spoken when distinct streams of flashing lights were seen in high in the sky followed shortly by the sound of distant cannon fire. Seconds later a glow appeared which grew into visible flames that descended at an ever decreasing angle and increasing speed until disappearing into the darkness of the horizon. The door of the Control room opened and a measured voice announced, “pilot reports target destroyed, Sir’

The German aircraft crashed close to the town of Ringwood on the edge of the New Forest some six miles north of Sopley.

On their return journey to the Royal Train the King had turned to his Aide de Camp and remarked that “it had been quite a ‘Command Performance’ and that He would personally endorse the awarding of a DFC to the night fighter pilot, who he understood to be one of the service’s leading aces”. The King added that if RAF Command could arrange It, he would like to visit the night fighter squadron in question and carry out the investiture himself at that time.


After a quick flurry of activity between the RAF and the AM, arrangements were duly made, Dowding as an Equerry to the King and the Commanding officer of the proposed recipient of the medal had a couple of salient observations of which he advised the King. One was that the Reaper night fighter aircraft had a crew of two, the pilot and the RDF operator and the success of the pilot was wholly tied to the skill and competence of the RDF operator flying with him. In the case of Flight lieutenant Cunningham his RDF operator was a Sargent, Cecil Frederick Rawnsley but known as ‘Jimmy’ and as a Sargent could not be awarded the DFC. The non-commissioned equivalent award was the Distinguished Flying Medal (DFM) and Sir Hugh Dowding suggested that it would be appropriate in this case to awarded both members of the air crew. That then lead onto Sir Hugh’s second observation and that was that the awarding of a medal to the RDF operator in a night fighter-had all sorts of security and operational implications. The very existence of airborne RDF and its use in fighter aircraft was a very sensitive security matter and the attention drawn to it by an investiture which included the reading of the citations for the medals awarded would be problematical. Sir Phillip and others working with both the Royal Household and Sir Hugh Dowding as the Commanding officer of Fighter Command came up with a workable solution.


Whilst Cunningham’s award of the DFC would be duly Gazzeted, under the Official Secrets Act the award of the DFM to Sargent Rawnsley would not be published.

A couple of weeks later the King paid a visit to the Worthy Down air base where all the squadron personnel both commissioned and non-commissioned were presented to him. Then in the full glare of the Newsreels and print media Cunningham was with full pomp and ceremony duly decorated with the DFC. An hour later in a closed hanger, a second ceremony was held where Sargent ‘Jimmy’ Rawnsley was decorated with the DFM by the King, a nice touch was that the actual citation was read out to the assembled company by the newly decorated pilot John ‘Cats-Eyes’ Cunningham.

Forever afterwards there was a friendly rivalry over whether the Sergeants Mess or the Officer’s mess threw the best celebration party.

Both men had the distinction of being the first RDF night fighter crew to be decorated for their actions.
 
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