Sunday, 21 February 2010

153 Sqn. 20th and 21st Feb 1945 - Dortmund/Duisburg

These posts follow 153 Sqn operations from Jan '45 to the end of hostilities in real time.

The raids against Dortmund (20th Feb) and Duisburg (21st Feb) were linked in that for each it was their final major Bomber Command attack. Because of adverse weather, specific targets at Dortmund were not identifiable, and results were inconclusive. However, nightfighters were very active: among those shot down was NN 785 (P4-2ndD) on only its second operation, which crash-landed at Stefansbogge, near Hasslinghausen, some 10 miles south-west of Dortmund. Four Canadians, including F/Lt Holman the pilot, his navigator, bomb-aimer and rear gunner, survived to become POW's. Four others (three of them RAFVR, including a second pilot, P/O Peter Thorne, whose name appears nowhere else in squadron records) were killed.

Airborne 2125 20Feb45. Cause of loss not established. Crashed at Stefansbogge. Those killed were taken to the Hauptfriedhof at Dortmund. They have been subsequently re-interred in the Reichswald Forest War Cemetery. F/L W.Holman RCAF Inj P/O P.Thorne (P2) KIA Sgt A.Martin KIA F/O R.C.Taylor RCAF Inj WO2 V.S.Reynolds RCAF Inj F/S A.J.Burton RCAF KIA F/S E.S.Neill RCAF KIA F/S A.D.Kall RCAF Inj F/L W.Holman, F/O R.C.Taylor, WO2 V.S.Reynolds and F/S A.D.Kall were confined in Hospital due injuries until Liberation. No PoW Nos.

The attack on Duisburg firstly concentrated on a synthetic oil plant which, being successful, was switched by the master-bomber to the rail marshalling yard. Fighter flares were seen, but defensive measures were confined to a heavy box barrage.

No Squadron losses were recorded on this mission.

Night Fighter Tactics - Schräge Musik.

Schräge Musik, derived from the German colloquialism for "Jazz Music" (the German word "schräg" literally means "slanted" or "oblique"; it also has a secondary meaning of "weird", "strange", "off-key" or "abnormal" as in the English "queer"), was the name given to installations of upward-firing cannon mounted in night fighters by the Luftwaffe and Japanese Imperial Navy during World War II. This allowed them to approach and attack British bombers from below, where they would be outside the bomber crew's field of view. Few bombers of that era carried defensive guns in the ventral position.

Schräge Musik
Wide-scale adoption began in late 1943, and in 1944 a third of all German night fighters carried upward-firing guns. The Revi 16N gunsight was modified to allow the pilot to aim at the target by placing a reflecting mirror above the pilot’s head, while the sight itself was further to the rear. An increasing number of these installations used the more powerful 30 mm calibre, short-barreled MK 108 cannon, such as those fitted to the Heinkel He 219. The installation contributed significantly to the successes of the German nightfighter force in the winter of 1943-1944. The definitive night fighter version of the Messerschmitt Me 262, the Me 262B-2, was also designed to carry such an installation, but none were built before the end of the war.

Schräge Musik proved to be most successful on the Jumo 213 powered Ju 88G-6, which was both fast and manoeuvrable. Using the Schräge Musik (or Schrägwaffen, as it was also called) required precise timing and swift evasion; a fatally damaged bomber could fall directly upon the night fighter who had just shot it down if the fighter could not quickly turn away. The He 219 was particularly prone to this; its high wing loading left it unmanouevrable, and the 61-victory night fighter ace Manfred Meurer lost his life 21/22 January 1944 as a Handley Page Halifax bomber he had just shot down fell upon his He 219.

Handley Page Halifax

1 comment:

Kat_RN said...

Another interesting post. This is the first time I have heard of Schräge Musik. I did know that there were a lot of design problems in the early days for fighters. Some designs could literally shoot themselves down.

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