Aviation of World War II
BRITISH ALLY, No. 51 December 17, 1944 Publication of the British Ministry of Information. The price is 2 rubles.
THEY ARE CALLED "EARTHQUAKES"
Air Maj. John Strachey on the radio
The sinking of the Tirpitz at the anchorage near Tromsø by 20 Lancasters of British long-range aviation struck the whole world.
For the past fifty years, battleships have been the backbone of military power. Each battleship costs a lot of money and takes several years to build. The crew of such a ship has one and a half thousand highly qualified specialists - officers and privates. The battleship is literally stuffed with complex mechanisms.
The range of the main battery guns is 24 kilometers. The weight of the projectile is one ton. The sides and decks are covered with solid armor. All the fleets of the world, taken together, have never had more than a hundred ships of this class in their composition.
No matter how important the sinking of the German battleship, we should not forget that until recently, our long-range aircraft delivered a number of strikes of greater importance than the destruction of the Tirpitz. Indeed. as far as Germany is concerned, the loss of the Tirpitz at this stage of the war is most likely a serious blow to her morale.
The Tirpitz was sunk by the third Lancaster raid. But before them, he was attacked first by submarines - "babies" and later by aircraft based on aircraft carriers.
It is probably impossible to find actions in the history of this war that would surpass in their brilliance and courage the operations of our sailors against the German battleship. Each time they managed to put the Tirpitz out of action for many months.
In the last raid, the Lancasters each received one 5.5-ton special-purpose bomb. These bombs are figuratively named "Earthquake". The sinking of the Tirpitz is an example of the power of this wonderful weapon.
Bomb designer Mr. Wallis was involved in the creation of the first truly effective British bomber, the Wellington. He also designed special mines that broke the Mene and Eder dams.
Wallis - a man of clear and precise ideas - had to go through the tests that are common for every designer in wartime. Now his ideas have found universal recognition. And they have a lot of new things. The bombs with which our pilots sank the Tirpitz are not only very large, but absolutely streamlined.
This last feature greatly increased the accuracy of the hit and the speed of the bombs falling in excess of the speed of sound. Thus, you hear the sound of her approach after she falls. In this, it is similar to enemy long-range V-2 missiles. A kind of duel takes place between Wallis's bomb and Hitler's rockets. Throughout the spring and summer of 1943, British reconnaissance aircraft delivered photographs of the mysterious construction projects that the Germans were doing on the coast along the English Channel.
The sites on which these works took place were much larger than the starting stations of the "flying bombs". The enemy built about a hundred such stations, and we thoroughly bombed them.
The American "flying fortresses" managed to destroy one of the mysterious buildings in Watten before the Germans put it into operation. In a number of other places, and in particular in Withern and Mimoek, construction robots continued despite our blows. Soon the Germans resumed construction in Watten.
In the end, aerial reconnaissance brought us very detailed photographs of all three objects. It was found that they are absolutely not similar to each other.
So one object had reinforced concrete walls 8 meters thick. The walls went underground for 30 meters. The thickness of the floors was also 8 meters. Other objects had tunnels built into the rocks of the French coast of Pas de Calais and covered with concrete domes.
We strongly suspected that these structures were related to some new type of long-range weapon that the enemy was about to use against us.
The day set for the allied armies to invade the continent was approaching. We were faced with the important task of delaying the entry into service of these monsters until that time. until British and American troops are in France.
To solve this problem, we used the bombs of Mr. Wallis. Only they could damage the 8-meter reinforced concrete wall. It is very possible, therefore, that precisely these bombs played a decisive role in delaying the entry into operation of the launch stations of German long-range missiles.
If this is true, then those of us who live in the southern regions of the country may owe a lot to Mr. Wallis and all those who worked with him on the creation of the bomb, as well as all the crews of the aircraft that smashed the launch sites of long-range missiles.
Having occupied the territory of the stations, we found huge warehouses of electrical equipment there. At a number of stations, holes in the ceilings were preserved, through which, as expected, rockets were supposed to fly out. These holes have an ominous appearance. The enemy is now launching his V-2s from mobile launch stations located on the territory still controlled by him.
The use of long-range missiles had even less effect than the "flying bombs". The number of missiles produced by the Germans is small.
The picture would have been completely different if the Germans had succeeded in putting long-range missile launch stations into operation on the English Channel coast before we liberated France.
Long-range aircraft "Flying Fortresses" and "Liberators" of the 8th American Air Corps struck three times on the Dortmund-Ems and Mittelland canals.
The bombers smashed the high walls that separated both canals from the surrounding area below. The water from the channels left, flooding the surrounding fields. The barges were left lying on the bottom.
Before the Germans had time to restore the damaged sections of the Dortmund-Ems Canal, the Americans destroyed the Mittelland Canal, which is a kind of continuation of the Dortmund-Ems Canal in Central Germany. As soon as the Germans began to restore the Mittelland Canal, British long-range aircraft attacked the Dortmund-Ems Canal, and precisely on the section of it where they had already visited once.
This is what we call strategic bombing. The fact is that the Dortmund-Ems and Mittellland canals play a much more important role in the economic life of Germany than any canal in our country.
Excluding attacks on the German oil industry, this is the largest operation carried out by strategic aviation in the autumn months of 1944.
On the first day of the Allied general offensive in the West, over a thousand American bombers and an equal number of British bombers were assigned to interact with our ground units directly on the battlefield.
The implementation of such a task at this time of the year is associated with serious difficulties. In the absence of flying weather, and in fact it never happens in November, a certain number of bombs will always fall on the location of our own troops.
Army commanders, of course, understand this. But they attach exceptional importance to the support of heavy bombers, breaking into the enemy defenses, as this reduces the losses of our ground troops, and therefore, when the situation justifies the risk, the commanders take it. Fortunately, in this case, everything went well.
But regardless of this or that special task, strategic aviation continued to carry out its main work. Again and again the US 8th and 15th Air Corps and British long-range aircraft bombed German strategic fuel plants and oil refineries. As the weather worsens, strikes against these targets become more and more difficult.
Very often, when approaching a target, pilots find the object covered by clouds. They have to bombard blindly, on instruments. It becomes much more difficult for reconnaissance aircraft to photograph objects in order to establish the degree of their damage and the need for new strikes.
Operations continue. Over the past few days, photographic evidence has shown some slackening in the frantic efforts of the Germans to rebuild damaged factories.
When meteorological conditions do not allow targeted bombing of individual targets, such as oil refineries, synthetic fuels or canals, Allied heavy bombers operate over the main German industrial centers and major railway junctions.
In October they dropped 100,000 tons of bombs on Germany. I would like to recall how two years ago, in some memorandums of the headquarters, the task was set to drop 35,000 tons of bombs on Germany every month. And now we are dumping 100,000 tons per month.
Heavy bombers have become our weapons of modern warfare. They sink battleships and destroy canals. They lay minefields and drop ammunition and weapons on the partisans: they smash the launching stations of long-range missiles and interact with ground troops directly on the battlefield; they destroy liquid fuel factories and deal crushing blows to industrial centers.
Allied heavy bomber aviation is proud to be able to cope with the tasks it received. We paid dearly for these successes—the lives of tens of thousands of hero pilots. The English people will never forget this.