Aviation of World War II
BRITISH ALLY, No. 50 December 12, 1944 Publication of the British Ministry of Information. The price is 2 rubles.
RAID TO TOKYO
DENIS WARNER Daily Mail Special Correspondent
The rear gunner, wounded in the head, lies unconscious. We have lost the height, the fuel is coming to an end. It hardly makes sense to write this correspondence.
If we land at sea, there is no hope of rescue at night. Japan is far behind. We are heading southeast.
It was quite light when we started from Saipan in the morning. I was assigned a seat behind the aircraft commander and co-pilot. Commander Captain Hamilton is a battle-hardened veteran. On account of his 43 sorties over Europe. He is the only crew member with combat experience. "Ten million people," he said, "would give anything to trade places with us."
Hamilton is 26 years old. His head is already gray.
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The takeoff was very difficult. Sweat trickled down Hamilton's face and neck.
Gradually, we picked up speed, turned north, then northwest and headed for Tokyo.
The scorer removes the cover from the sight, the navigator determines our position for the last time. There is still a decent distance to the object, but enemy fighters may appear at any moment.
The radio operator has just received a radiogram from the "Flying Fortress", the first to reach Tokyo. Brigadier General O'Donnell's car, driven by the general himself, hit the first object with its bombs - the Nakajima aircraft factory, fourteen kilometers from central Tokyo. Great news!
The general reported that the object was visible from the air. This is especially nice to hear for us, because in an hour we will be there. The only unpleasant thing is that O'Donnell's planes will disturb a swarm of enemy fighters ...
Suddenly Japan appears out of the mist, a distant foggy outline of the coast. I am filled with joyful excitement. I pause for a moment...
Crossed the coastline. Before us appeared a huge, apparently concrete airfield. For the first time after the start, I feel some fear. My throat is dry. It was very difficult to line up in battle order. We spent a lot of precious fuel on this. Houses, villages loomed below...
Having passed countless airfields, we came to Fujiyama volcano. In the rays of the setting sun, the snow cap of the mountain sparkled. I've always wanted to see Fujiyama. The volcano was not very beautiful, but it was a good landmark.
Our radar installations are aimed at Tokyo. We make a small detour - about a hundred kilometers - and go out to the object.
Clouds almost completely cover the ground. Only from time to time through the windows flashes the earth below.
The flight to Tokyo did not last long. To us, it felt like an eternity. I strained my eyes to get a quicker view of the city, while at the same time looking around for any Japanese fighters.
Here they are... One meter six hundred below us. The Japanese stubbornly gained altitude. Slowly but surely he went up. While I was watching him, another Japanese fighter came over the tail. The Japanese opened fire at the same time as us. We saw how the enemy plane, interrupting the battle, climbed up. Surprisingly, our cannon suddenly ceased firing. For about thirty seconds, other things occupied our attention. Already earlier below, several hundred meters below us, shells from light anti-aircraft guns were exploding. Now we were groped and heavy batteries.
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In the space between our car and the neighbor on the left, ten heavy shells exploded with a wild roar. The Nakajima aircraft factory is obscured by clouds, the central part of Tokyo is clearly visible. To the left, far far below, stretch the piers.
For twenty seconds we walked with open bomb hatches. The signal light came on. The bombs were dropped... I saw that other planes were also dropping their deadly cargo on the enemy. Bombs lay along the line of berths.
The Japanese emperor outside the walls of his palace and hundreds of thousands of his subjects probably heard the echoes of these explosions and realized that the war had come to their country.
Turning around, we saw more and more Japanese fighters going up. Some time after crossing the coastline, Hamilton called all the people of his crew on the phone.
There was no response from the rear gunner. The second pilot went to him. But he did not return either. Then another crew member went to help. He discovered that the co-pilot, while trying to get the gunner out of his cockpit, had passed out from lack of oxygen.
The wound on the gunslinger's head was bleeding heavily. Apparently, he was hit by a Japanese fighter bullet. From lack of oxygen, the shooter was barely breathing.
There was no choice - it was necessary to go down, try to save the wounded.
The loss of altitude almost sealed our fate... The night has fallen... We still have hundreds of kilometers to go... The return now seems so incredible that I stop writing. I'm terribly tired, exhausted...
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Saipan. Evening of the same day. We returned an hour ago with a dead gunner and empty gas tanks.
British long-range aviation now has a group of experienced commanders - masters of bomb strikes, who control the raids of our formations on military installations of Nazi Germany.
In any weather, day or night, they point their cars precisely at the target.
By supporting the ground units directly on the battlefield, commanders are responsible for ensuring that all bombs are dropped on predetermined areas and that the attack is concentrated in such a way as to guarantee the suppression of enemy defenses in such heavily fortified centers of German resistance as the cities of Düren and Julich.
The master of bomb strikes is the first to look for signs dropped in the target area by "illuminators", descending lower than the entire group of bombers.
If the signs are correct, the facilitator calls the whole group. In the case of an incorrect "illumination" of the object, the bombs are dropped only after the error has been corrected.
Identification marks are checked several times by the presenter.
The entire group of bombers "processing" this object is subordinate to the leader, just as in a naval battle, individual ships follow the orders of the flagship. The responsibility of the leader is as great as the commander of the ground formation leading the battle.
The leader has the right to cancel the raid in the event of bad weather in the area of \u200b\u200boperation and the impossibility of conducting targeted bombing, which may endanger the lives of the civilian population. This happened more than once during direct air support for ground forces in France.
The leader determines the height from which the machines will bomb the object.
The deputy leader is ready at his first order, at any moment to take over the duties of his boss.
The leader is responsible for hitting the entire high command target with incendiary bombs - a task that requires at least the same accuracy as when targeted high-explosive bombing attacks on individual enterprises.
Thanks to the masters of bombing strikes, who lead long-range aviation formations, in the operations of the summer and autumn of 1911, a group of 250 machines destroyed such objects, the destruction of which even last year required much larger forces.
December 28, 2017