Aviation of World War II
BRITISH ALLY, No. 38 October 17, 1944 Publication of the British Ministry of Information. The price is 2 rubles.
400 Kilometers in 3 Weeks
Last week, some details were published of the offensive of the British troops, who passed 400 kilometers from Normandy to the Dutch border in three weeks.
The offensive began with the blow of the British armored forces, based on the bridgehead in Normandy.
Coming to the Seine, the British troops concentrated at Vernon and crossed the river here. On the night of August 27, a strong bridgehead was created on the east bank of the Seine.
The tanks got stuck in the mud in the fields and were forced to move only along the roads. However, on August 31, our tank units had already covered 70 kilometers. After the capture of Amiens, the advancing armored forces made an average of 60 kilometers daily for six days. During the occupation of Brussels, the Germans actually offered no resistance.
Units of the 11th British armored division in the last throw to Brussels passed 120 kilometers in 13 hours.
On September 8, a column of Canadian tanks turned left, captured Ostend and then proceeded to create a bridgehead behind the Ghent Canal.
Another column captured Antwerp and cut the land lines of German withdrawal, located to the west of the Scheldt River.
Allied aircraft attacked barges and tugboats, with which the enemy tried to cross the Scheldt near its mouth. The effect of the Typhoon attacks, equipped with rocket launchers, was so great that it can only be compared with the defeat of the remnants of the German 7th Army while crossing the Seine.
To the east of Antwerp, British troops created two bridgeheads behind the Albert Canal - at Gal and Beringen. Here, for the first time since the crossing of the Seine, the Germans put up really serious resistance. Their aim was to delay the British troops at the canal line while the concentration of German troops in Holland was carried out.
American Footholds Beyond the Moselle
Parts of the First American Army, which entered Belgium from the Hirson area, occupied Liege on September 2 and reached a point located a few kilometers from the defensive position of the Siegfried Line. On the Aachen sector of the front, enemy resistance began to intensify.
Further south, the troops of the American Third Army entrenched themselves on the east bank of the Moselle River in the Metz and Nancy region. The enemy, using the mountainous terrain, offers strong resistance here. On one of the bridgeheads south of Metz, a difficult situation was temporarily created. American troops here came under heavy fire from the camouflaged German forts that dot the east bank of the river. The enemy managed to inflict heavy damage on the units crossing to the east coast, but the Americans held their narrow foothold.
Meanwhile, the US Seventh Army, which had traveled 550 kilometers along the Alpine roads in three weeks, was moving from the south, approaching the most important Belfort Passage.
This passage is known in history as one of the most convenient routes leading to Germany. A column of French troops, moving parallel to the Americans, liberated the city and the important communications center of Dijon. The advanced units of the army of the southern front closed with the patrols of the army of the northern front south of Troy.
The number of prisoners taken by the allies since the landing in France, by the end of last week, reached 350,000 people.
The Times of London wrote:
“The battles behind the Albert Canal, the battle on the Moselle River, the resistance in the area between Besançon and Belfort - all this suggests that the Germans are trying to delay the pursuers, buy time to saturate the German defensive lines with troops and to fill those gaps in the human resources and equipment, which can be filled in the short time that the Germans had left before the resumption of the Allied offensive in all its might.
At the moment, the movement of the allied forces remains under the cover of secrecy. This is necessary so that the Germans cannot guess the direction of our main attack.
The peoples of the allied countries will easily understand the need for this precautionary measure.
HE FIGHTED IN RUSSIA
Air Force Colonel Anthony Harfard Miller has been appointed commander of the Air Defense Night Bomber Base in Southern England.
He holds the Distinguished Flying Cross and other British and Russian decorations for commanding a squadron of Hurricane aircraft on the Soviet front in 1941.
Colonel Miller was awarded the Order of Lenin for his work in the USSR. Not a single Soviet bomber from those that went under the cover of his squadron died.
Born in Calcutta in 1912, Colonel Miller was in the Air Force Reserve in 1935 and was appointed commander of a night fighter squadron at the start of the war. Upon his return from the USSR, he commanded the London City Fighter Squadron.
He was also in charge of training military units and performed staff duties in the fighter brigade.
BATTLE FOR THE SEINE
The victory on the Seine will be considered one of the decisive historical battles. The major role of the Americans in changing the whole strategic situation in France deserves full recognition, but this battle on the Seine was won mainly by British and Canadian troops.
She raged for forty days. First, for the capture of Kan, then for crossing the Ori, and finally for Falaise, which was so essential for the Germans. But the battle had another objective, not as obvious, but no less important than any territorial conquest in Normandy.
Marshal Montgomery's two armies fought to give the Americans freedom of action. To do this, it was necessary to involve the mobile part of Kluge's army in the battle and thereby tie it down.
It was done, and the breakthrough was made. We do not set ourselves the goal of repeating events, perhaps already obsolete in a rapidly changing military situation.
What happened on the Seine can be called the key to victory not only on this river, but also on the Rhine. Because the ultimate goal is the Rhine and Germany.
At least two allied armies in the west are moving towards the borders of the German state.
The Third Army under Patton, who had been on the road for 26 days, at the moment these words were written, had traveled 800 kilometers since their breakthrough.
Another allied army, hastily advancing from the Riviera, covered 480 kilometers in 11 days.
Neither slowed down in spite of the difficult problems of supply and equipment, especially tanks, problems solved by the amazingly efficient work of the Supply Service, which kept up with the advancing troops and supplied all their needs without delay or confusion.
The speed of the advance of the allied troops was greatly facilitated by the help of the French internal resistance forces, which did not give the Germans the opportunity to carry out destruction.
But most important for the rapid advance of the troops of Generals Patton and Patch towards Germany was the certainty that they would meet only a small number of German troops on their way. This was achieved by the battle on the Seine.
What's next? There is no longer a solid front in France. In the Pas de Calais area there is also an army of 10-15 divisions. But these divisions are not like those that the Allies met in Normandy. Maybe there are one or two armored ones among them, but the rest were not intended to act independently, without the motorized and armored divisions that were actually destroyed in Normandy.
The Germans still have detachments of marines and coastal defense and divisions suitable for trench warfare without the corresponding motorized transport.
All of these units are immobile and under threat from the rear.
The German defense partly foresaw these circumstances, but did not expect anything other than a lightly armed air force in the rear.
Soon, General O'Connor's armored units, Montgomery's massed artillery appeared, and the German troops were cut off.
What troops do the Germans have on their state border? They hope for the Siegfried Line, because the Maginot Line has been dismantled. However, the Allies have the opportunity to hit Germany in many places between the Ardennes and the Swiss border on a front of 320 kilometers.
The Germans have a number of prefabricated divisions made up of garrison units. Some parts of the 19th Army on the Riviera managed to escape. But even here it is very unlikely that the Germans could collect a large number of mobile military units.
Now moonlit nights have come again. The Germans are anxiously waiting for the continuation of raids on the bases of their night fighters.
Although the Germans theoretically have enough troops to avert the threat looming over them, their high command will no longer be able to concentrate them in the right place in time.
The strategic picture of martial law would not be complete without mentioning the calm and forbearance of the inhabitants of London and southern England, on which 7,000 tons of "flying bombs" were dropped.
The activities associated with the launch of these shells diverted a significant amount of German manpower and vehicles that could have been used in Normandy. The launch stations had to be protected, and this was probably the main reason why the Germans kept significant forces on the banks of the English Channel instead of fortifying other areas.
London also contributed to the suspension of the movement of the 15th German army, which made possible the rapid advance in France of the armies of Patton and Patch. The 30,000 casualties resulting from the "flying bomb" raids in London alone can be compared to the losses of the most brutal battle.
These are the conditions under which the Allied troops pursued the Germans. It is difficult to predict where and when it will end.
But one important circumstance is already becoming clear. The victory of the allies forces the fascist command to abandon its goals. Their hope of creating an internal army to continue resistance even after the final defeat is becoming more and more doubtful.
The losses of the SS divisions in France, in all likelihood, closed this opportunity for them forever. They have to mobilize all their resources to defend their border.
WEAPONS FOR PARTISANS
Lt. Col. L.V. Frazier
Well-trained battalions of French internal resistance forces operate in all departments of France.
Patriots took possession of Paris, seized cities and villages. How did they achieve their brilliant victories? It is still impossible to tell about it completely.
The Invasion and the sensational events that followed it were considered many years ago. A special section of the Royal Air Force had long been engaged in the preparations for the insurrection at home, which has now been carried out so brilliantly.
Work began modestly. Separate planes flew to the continent, dropped ammunition, people and returned to their bases.
There were cases that women were transported to France by planes and left there to perform any special tasks along with members of the resistance movement.
As the war went on, the work expanded. Armaments and all sorts of supplies were delivered by this "underground air organization" under the cover of night and each time at the greatest risk.
British Bomber Aircraft worked closely with the Special Operations Organization. Later they were joined by American aircraft flying from British bases. American bombers soon began to play a large role in these operations.
All members of the Royal Air Force certainly understood the need for a well-organized and experienced ground staff to be responsible for preparing special commissions to receive cargo, although the delivery of the main cargo had to be delayed until the British and American pilots cleared the French skies from enemy aircraft.
From the moment the underground movement was organized, in January 1941, until June 6, 1944, about 30,000 units of cargo were dropped in Europe alone. As the day of the invasion approached, the pace of work increased. In three months, 30,000 units of cargo were dropped.
Tens of thousands of rifles, anti-tank guns, hand grenades, pistols, machine guns and other light weapons were dropped.
The total weight of food supplies and weapons dropped within one month reached 1,000 tons.
In addition to food and weapons, medicines were also dropped. They were of great benefit to people wounded in clashes with German troops and the Gestapo.
The supply of shoes was another major problem for the partisan units.
In addition to all kinds of supplies, the pilots continued to transport people who constantly informed the parties operating on both sides of the strait about mutual successes and needs.
This daily communication made it possible for the French partisans to carry out their underground work in time and effectively in the hours preceding the invasion and to a large extent prevent the enemy from carrying out his defensive measures.
Cadres of pilots for the underground air organization were trained at special training centers. Heading to their destination, they had no idea about the work that lay ahead of them, and therefore strictly kept the secret.
The pilots were well aware that the lives of thousands of brave men and women depended on it.
Usually, supplies were dropped at night by moonlight, but as the demand for various kinds of supplies increased, tactics had to be changed. In the first place, the day of the invasion was approaching, and it was necessary at all costs to transport as many weapons as possible; second, the Gestapo agents and patrols became more and more active. So I had to fly in the dark nights. This required careful preparation. There were frequent training flights over Britain.
The parties receiving the cargo were always ready. The pilots were required to immediately recognize the sites of the air signal posts and drop the cargo in exactly the right place.
In areas where the enemy could appear every minute after the arrival of aircraft, the speed of action was everything. It turned out, as it were, a competition in speed and courage between pilots and partisans, on the one hand, and the Gestapo and enemy patrols, on the other.
No matter how skillfully the cargoes were dropped, we always had to reckon with the weather. Changing wind, heavy fog sometimes decided the fate of the cargo, but the partisans always fought energetically for their cargo.
Often their courage, patience and endurance won. Once they worked 72 hours in deep snow, so as not to miss the precious cargo. On another occasion, they retrieved a load that had fallen on the roof of a factory.
5,4 - TON BOMB
Captain E. Watkins
The 5400 kilogram bomb, which is in service with the Royal Air Force, is the largest projectile used by all the air forces of the world. The explosive power of this bomb is enormous.
In terms of size, the largest bomb in existence, which under present conditions can be used with maximum effect, it is successfully used for the special tasks for which it is designed.
The main purpose of the bomb is the destruction of areas densely built up with factories and plants. With its help, many military enterprises in Germany itself and in other parts of Nazi-occupied Europe were turned into ruins.
The bomb razes to the ground all buildings located within a 400-meter radius from the explosion site, and can completely destroy even the largest factory.
Destruction is carried out exclusively by the blast wave. The shell of the bomb is made of thin steel and is not designed to hit the target with shrapnel. The bomb is also not designed to penetrate armor. It's just a big, thin-walled metal canister filled with a high-explosive and designed to hit a target accurately.
The task of an aerial bomb designer is relatively clear.
The main goal sought in the construction of bombs of any size is the instantaneous detonation of the entire contents of the bomb. This process is similar to kindling a fire. The bomb has a fuse that matches the match and is exceptionally sensitive. Therefore, the fuses are inserted into the bomb at the very last minute - at the airfield, before the bomb is loaded onto the plane. Then comes the detonator, which corresponds to the paper placed in the fire. The detonator is less sensitive than the fuse, but more sensitive than the explosive filling the bomb shell.
Usually, a detonator in the form of a chain of pills or cartridges is placed in a channel left in the center of the bomb's explosive. One end of the detonator is in contact with the fuse. The flash from the fuse instantly passes to the detonator and covers the main charge, which, figuratively speaking, corresponds to the branches of the fire and occupies more than 95 percent of the volume of the bomb.
Thus, the main task of the designer is to ensure that the fuse flashes exactly at the right time and remove all obstacles for the instantaneous propagation of the explosion throughout the bomb body.
If the explosion is delayed even for a fraction of a second, then the bomb will lose a significant part of its effectiveness.
Thus, when filling the bomb, there are two main tasks. First, the mixture that forms the main charge must always be correctly composed, have the correct consistency and be homogeneous.
Secondly, the bomb must be carefully filled, so that after cooling the explosive mixture, no voids form. Otherwise, the air contained in them will act as an insulator and prevent the explosion from propagating throughout the mass of the main charge. Only part of the contents will explode, the rest of the mass will simply burn. From this it is clear that the mixture must necessarily fill the entire interior of the shell.
The difficulty lies in the fact that one of the components of the explosive mixture - tol - is a poor conductor of heat. The outer layers of the mixture give off their heat to the air through the steel walls and harden.
The inner parts of the contents retain heat for much longer and shrink when cooled, often creating voids in the process. To prevent this, pieces of the already solidified mass of the same material, called "biscuits", are added to the liquid mixture. By absorbing a lot of heat, they speed up the cooling process and thus prevent the formation of voids.
All munitions factories in the UK are run by the Ministry of Defense and operate under the same basic scheme, which ensures maximum safety for workers and engineering staff.
For this purpose, factory buildings are erected away from each other, free passages are left between all workshops, all buildings are one-story. Each workshop threatened by an explosion is surrounded by a high earthen dam, which should limit the action of the blast wave in the event of an accident.
The wide placement of factory buildings gives rise to a number of inconveniences and difficulties. The transportation of products is complicated, but in general, such a system, which increases the confidence of workers in their safety, eliminates the risk of destruction of the plant, is considered correct and profitable.
A typical British enterprise of this kind covers about two and a half square kilometers, it employs over 5,000 workers, 90 percent of them women. Here, among other things, 1800-kilogram and 5400-kilogram bombs, which are in service with British aviation, are equipped. The filling of bombs with explosives takes place in one of the three sections into which the plant is divided.
Substances. which are part of the charge, come from chemical plants already and ready for the preparation of an explosive mixture, however, a procedure has been established for mandatory verification of samples taken from each newly arrived batch by factory chemists.
One of the components has the appearance of a white powder, which easily absorbs water and "sinters". This powder is passed through a mill, heated in boilers to evaporate the water, and then sieved.
Tol is a yellow crystalline substance that, when heated, turns into a thick liquid resembling honey. This liquid goes to the heaters, which are controlled by the working girls. At the same time, special attention is paid to ventilation, since the evaporation of the heated roof is poisonous.
The third component is in the form of a powder.
The equipment shop resembles a bakery. The girls are dressed in white coats with bandages on their heads of various colors, depending on the specialty of the worker. It is necessary to work with a covered head, as the dust from the mixture can cause skin diseases.
All tools are made of wood or aluminum to eliminate the possibility of sparks when working. Along one wall there is a whole battery of agitators, where the components are poured. After the set time has elapsed, a liquid resembling a gray cream is poured into jars, which is then filled into the shell of bombs standing in the center of the workshop.
The work is done in three shifts, around the clock.
Here, as in any production, the possibility of accidents is not ruled out, but in equipment factories this danger is of a slightly different nature. First of all, there are fewer mechanisms.
There are few mechanical processes when filling bombs of any size. There are only crushers for one of the components and agitators. From the mixers, the contents in a liquid state are poured into the shell of the bomb, solid pieces of the “biscuit” are poured in by hand, and then the mixture is compacted with wooden mortars, again by hand.
Within 22 hours, the cooling process takes place, after which the detonators are left.
At the plant we are describing, the contents of the fuses are produced in another group of workshops. This is the most dangerous work, since the substance of the fuses is the most sensitive.
This plant is located in the thick of industrial cities, and most of the women used to work in production. Of these, about 60 percent are married. Most of them are young people, but there is also a small part of older women who are busy painting and checking cartridges.
Those who work in the filling shops find that their work is better than in the shops where cartridges are made, since the filling shops have more variety of operations and the work is not of such a mechanical nature. The whole process of mixing the material and the contents of the shell takes much more time.
Workers and administration work closely together. This is facilitated by numerous factory joint committees of workers' representatives in the administration. By the nature of their activities, these committees vary from industrial to social household.
All elections of shop stewards and workers' representatives in the shops are made by secret ballot. After the election, the shop elders, while continuing to receive a salary, take a course of familiarization with the organization of the plant within a week. Administration representatives claim that this helps to save time for production meetings.
Shop elders are respected by both workers and administration. Being elected is considered a high honor. The administration strives to ensure that everyone at the plant feels that they are working not for the administration, but together with it in the interests of the state.
A lot of useful work has also been done to improve the overall organization of work. So, for example, we have already written that the workers of equipment factories are prone to skin diseases. Strict adherence to hygiene and cleanliness can eliminate this danger. Each employee receives a special face cream and lip ointment before leaving for her shift. At the end of the shift, she wipes off the ointment and cream along with dangerous dust.
In order to popularize these precautions, "beauty rooms" have been organized, where protective cream and ointment are applied in the form of a face cream and regular lipstick.
In canteens, administrative and technical staff and workers receive the same food for the same price.
There is one central canteen with a small stage for the weekly lunchtime concerts and smaller canteens catering to certain groups of shops. All dining rooms are served by a common central kitchen.
Some workers of this plant are working for the war for the third time. One of the workers, a 70-year-old woman, made bandages in 1899 during the Boer War. In the last war, she filled shells, now she makes fuses.
All workers have relatives at the front. The offensive in the west caused a general upsurge. They know that their products help bring Victory Day closer.
December 09, 2014